Jeff Kunde and Craig Calvert.

Calvert’s and Ninth Street Wine Market teamed up for another outstanding wine dinner Wednesday night, featuring the wines of Kunde Estate and owner Jeff Kunde.

Jeff kept the diners entertained all night while his wines kept them asking for more. All seven of the wines were great, and most of them were great bargains as well. As always the food prepared by Craig and Beverly Calvert’s staff was wonderful and a perfect match to the wines.

Diners enjoyed the food and the wine.

[scrollGallery id=476]All the wines from Kunde Estate are estate wines, meaning the grapes are grown in Kunde family vineyards in the heart of Sonoma Valley. As Jeff says, the history of this estate shows a zeal for life, a fervent, working spirit that their family set in motion over a century ago.

Founder Louis Kunde emigrated from Germany and in 1904 purchased the original 640 acres. The estate has now grown to 1,850 acres, but it remains a family operation. Jeff Kunde said it is one of only four wineries in California that has been family owned for 100 years or more.

The family’s dedication remains the same today as it did five generations ago when the first grapes were harvested. They believe in sustainable winegrowing practices without the use of harsh chemicals.

Jeff with a Chardonnay.

Sniffing the wine.

The tasty food and wine would have been enough for anyone, but Jeff dazzled the sell-out crowd with tips and tricks. He showed everyone how to swirl wine in their glasses, and explained why that is important. (It releases the aroma, which enhances the taste of the wine.)

He explained all Kunde white wines are packaged with screw caps because 2-3% of bottles closed with cork end up tainted. He also showed a flashy way to open screw top bottles that involves rolling the bottle along your arm.

A lucky door prize winner.

Jeff also told everyone the secret behind the fancy crest on the Kunde label. “People think it’s our family crest from Germany,” he said with a laugh. “But my great-grandfather took it off his diploma.”

Finally, he took a good-natured shot at Napa Valley, the better known wine growing region next to Sonoma. “I tell people with Sonoma you get families, tradition and great wine,” said Jeff. “With Napa you get glitz, glamor and auto parts.”

Where: Calvert’s Restaurant, 475 Highland Ave., Augusta, GA 30909 (706) 738-4514
When: April 25, 2012. 6:30 PM
Cost: $65pp INCLUDING tax and tip. Reservations are required at 706-724-1442

Sole amandine.

Course 1

Sole amandine with lemony yukon potatoes, parmesan haricots verts and sauvignon blanc parsley butter sauce.
Paired with:Kunde Sauvignon Blanc “Magnolia Lane” 2010.
Tasting notes: This might have been the best wine of the night, and it was certainly the best bargain. The wine is named after the vineyard where it’s grown, along the main drive to the winery that is lined with magnolia trees. The wine was great with the fish, with a mellow, pleasant taste, lots of fruit. It’s not as sharp as some Sauvignon Blancs, so it’s perfect with many foods. It does have a good, firm backbone, but without the sharp bite that mars some Sauvignon Blancs. Jeff said it is outstanding with oysters.

Course 2
Salad of mixed geens with fried mozzarella and green tomatoes, drizzled with champagne vinaigrette.
Paired with: Kunde Chardonnay and Kunde Chardonnay Reserve 2008.
Tasting notes: Both wines were very good. The regular features 60% aged in oak while the reserve is 100% oak. The reserve is more buttery, with a creamy oak texture. “We’re trying for nicely balance wine,” said Jeff Kunde. They succeeded.

Course 3
Grilled lamb chop and ratatouile with a zinfandel chimichurri sauce.
Paired with: Kunde Zinfandel “Century Vines” Reserve 2007.
Tasting notes: This is an elegant, sultry Zin that’s perfectly made. It’s not like the over-the-top Zins that won’t pair with anything. Pairing this with the lamb chop was the best pairing of the night. The flavors blended together perfectly, bringing out lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” around the dining room. The vines are 130 years old. They don’t produce much fruit, but what they produce is sublime.

Flat iron steak.

Course 4
Spice rubbed flat iron steak with grilled asparagus and merlot mustard sauce.
Paired with: Kunde Merlot 2006.
Tasting notes: This is a full, robust Merlot, loaded with luscious fruit. It’s dense and powerful and likely will age well for several years.

Course 5
Chocolate bread pudding.
Paired with: Kunde Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.
Tasting notes: Both of these were great expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon, loaded with ripe fruit and oaky tanins. But the Reserve was a smash hit. It had layer after layer of subtle flavor that washed over your taste buds. Because we tasted the wines side by side we were able to see what a little extra care can do to make a good wine great.

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