S everal weeks ago Calverts held a spectacular wine dinner with Ketcham Estate to benefit the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital. The two private rooms were packed, and everyone had a great time.
Owner Allie Ketcham told the lucky attendees about her beautiful wines, and Craig and Beverly Calvert also were there. You knew this had to be a special dinner because we don’t see Beverly at wine dinners much any more.
It is a little late to be posting these notes and photos, but I thought it would give us a pleasant memory to look back on during this time of social isolation. Who knows when we will be able to attend another wine tasting or wine dinner? I hope it will be soon.
As usual, Craig and his staff prepared an amazing four course meal plus hors d’oeuvres and dessert. The food was perfectly matched to the outstanding wines that Allie Ketcham brought.
Ketchum Estate is a small, family-owned boutique winery in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County that makes many award-winning wines, but it is especially known for its estate-grown pinot noir. All of the wines served with dinner were over the top.
Mark Ketcham had long dreamt of owning a vineyard in the Northern California wine country. That dream came true in 2000 when he purchased a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley.
The vineyard was quickly converted to 100 percent Estate Pinot Noir, while retaining the Old Block Pinots that were its heritage. The goal was to develop a perfect matrix of Pinot Noir clones, married to the terroir of sun, soil, wind and location, all bound by the small creek that borders the perimeter of the property.
In 2004, Mark and Allie founded Ketcham Estate to make wines from the heritage pinot vines.
Ketcham Estate’s mission is to make seductive wines with rich fruits, that have structure and balance and are very food friendly. Ketcham Estate is also now making award-winning Chardonnay, Viognier and estate grown Pinot Noir Rosé wines.
The Ketchums say they believe in good wine with food, family and friends. “Wine should not be some grand complication and neither is our philosophy,” says the mission statement on their website.
At the Calverts dinner we started with a sparkling rosé that went with the hors d’oeuvres, including stuffed tomatoes, mushroom caps with cheese and what looked like chicken. (I seldom eat the appetizers at the Calverts wine dinners because you get so much food I want to leave room for the main courses.)
The wine was the 2018 Ketcham Estate Savannah’s Rosé de Pinot Noir. It was a grand start to a festive evening. It was a light, bright smooth wine with good acidity and a hint of sweetness. It is a dry sparkler, but not bone dry the way some are. It is styled with the beautiful salmon color of the great rosés of Provence. It is a double gold winner that the winery calls “flat out sinfully good.”
“We were waiting for the pinot grapes to ripen, and we said to each other, ‘let’s make rosé out of it,’” Ketcham told the group. “Our daughter was 7 and she wanted her own wine.”
Spice rubbed seared scallops with salsa verdé, paired with 2018 Ketchum Estate Russian River Valley Viognier.
This was a perfect pairing. The smooth mouthfeel and rich flavors of the wine were just right for the spices in the scallops and salsa.
Allie called the wine “an elegant alternative to chardonnay,” and it was. This is an aromatic wine, with aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle and lemon. On the palate I tasted pear, honey and a touch of citrus balanced by a crisp acidity.
Tuscan vegetables and collard greens with duck, paired with 2015 Ketcham Estate RRV 5 Clone Pinot Noir.
This dish had fabulous flavors. It was served almost like a soup, in a small bowl, with lots of juice. I love duck, and this was a great way to serve it. It had so many rich flavors it almost tasted like a duck gumbo.
The wine was up to the challenge of this great dish. It was fruit forward, with a smooth, fruity taste, but not so much fruit that it overpowered the duck and vegetables. Each sip of wine seemed to play off the flavors of the duck and vegetables. I kept wanting more of each.
Ketcham said stylistically this is the winery’s most modern pinot, a big, gorgeous Russian River Valley wine. The color is dark raspberry with elegantly layered aromas of ripe red cherry, berry and hints of cola and French oak.
The grapes come from 13 acres of pinot noir grapes of several different clonal types.
Grilled pork tenderloin with cherry pinot noir reduction sauce, paired with 2015 Ketcham Estate RRV Savannah and Nick’s Cuvée.
The tenderloin was tender, almost melt in your mouth tender. The reduction sauce added wonderful sweet, smooth flavors. Another fabulous dish.
It paired perfectly with the wine, which is named after Mark and Allie’s two children. It is a blend of the vintage’s four best barrels. The wine is full of bold aromatics of cherry, chocolate, cola and coffee with flavors of dark cherry, strawberry jam and vanilla. The finish is long and smooth.
Beef tenderloin with mushrooms and blue cheese, paired with 2016 Ketcham Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir.
I’m not usually a big fan of blue cheese or mushrooms, but in this dish, they were heavenly. It is a great blend of flavors that brings out even more flavor from the tenderloin.
This was another great match to the wine, which presents sweet spices and minerals on the nose and flavors of dark cherry, ripe berry and dark chocolate. The heart of the wine comes from the oldest block on the property, planted to Pommard-4 clone.
Eclair with chocolate, Grand Marnier and raspberries paired with 2016 Ketcham Estate Allie’s Reserve Pinot Noir.
As always the meal finished with a spectacular dessert. The cream-filled eclair was covered in chocolate sauce with fresh raspberries and Grand Marnier as a sauce. The orange in the Grand Marnier really added a nice flavor to the mix.
Ketcham said the winery looks for its best barrels to go into this blend. “We might go through 120 barrels to get the right blend,” she said. “I think it pairs beautifully with chocolate.”
The pinot was spectacular, rich, smooth and full of fruit flavors.
During the evening there also was a silent auction for two nights in the Ketcham guest house. Everyone came away laughing and with full stomachs.
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