Last night 36 members of the Saddle Creek Wine Society and guests were served some of the best wines and a spectacular meal at The Golf Club at Copper Valley in Copperopolis, California. Assistant Winemaker Tana Cole along with Suzanne Burns (co-owner of Jessie’s Grove Winery) presented five wines to match with an exquisite food assortment. Chris Cox, Executive Chef at The Golf Club at Copper Valley, paired each serving with imaginative food and with an artist presentation. Jessie’s Grove makes award winning wines and you can read more about them from a previous article at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/04/26/jessies-grove-winery-and-vineyards/ . On their property exists 130 year old ancient vine Zinfandel as well as 120 year old Carignane vines!
The first course was a creative in house made butternut squash ravioli, with brown butter and fried sage. This was paired with a 2016 Chardonnay (unoaked) which was a silky smooth, full-bodied wine with a light golden color, inviting baking-spice aromas, ripe and concentrated fruit flavors and an especially rich mouthfeel.
The second course was a unique arugula salad with duck confit, roasted goat cheese stuffed plum, and a strawberry-rhubarb vinaigrette. This was served with a 2015 Carignane Reserve which was intense and with freshly crushed berry aromas. Flavors seem to light up this full-bodied, bold and ripe wine. The fruit flavors were focused and pure and the texture is vibrant, giving the wine a lot of life.
The third course was a bit daring and perhaps a bit avant-garde for the evening! However I think trying something “out of the box” was a great way to show his creativity. Chris Cox prepared baked salmon with scallop mousseline, wilted cabbage with a Petit Verdot sauce. This was paired with one of the best wines of the evening (in my opinion), a 2013 Petit Verdot. This dark dramatic and inky-colored wine has tight aromas of pencil lead, blackberry and mint followed by extremely concentrated flavors like berries, black cherries and black pepper, but with lighter floral accents (violets), too. The structure is huge due to very firm tannins and robust alcohol.
The fourth course which “blew away everyone in the room” was a peppercorn crusted venison tenderloin, with whole grain mustard smashed potato’s, Cover’s Farm Heirloom vegetables, wild berry compote and red wine demi! If a blind food pairing was held, most would think of it as a $65 filet mignon as it was tender and cooked to perfection. This was served with a 2015 West Wind Zinfandel with aromas of berries and chocolate covered cherries with a hint of black pepper. Finishes with berry fruit and leather flavors. At our table, a few folks were hunters and many had eaten venison, but no one had venison like this before! This was an award winning entrée and wine pairing.
The dessert by sous chef Janet Weissbeck featured a unique and beautifully plated fig and honey mascarpone shortbread tart. This was almost “too gorgeous to eat” but we continued steadfastly and consumed the last morsel on the dish. This was paired with their 2013 Tokay port which was airy and light compared to many ports. This wine had a luxurious mouthfeel and hints of butterscotch and crème brûlée.
At the conclusion, each person left pleasantly pleased respecting the creativity and artful presentation by Executive Chef Chris Cox and Sous Chef Janet Weissbeck. Simultaneously, the guests, whom most had not tasted Jessie’s Grove wines, ordered many of the wines served! Tana Cole gave a complete and insightful expression as to why each wine paired appropriately with each course. A special note of thanks on the detailed and pleasing table arrangements by Tammie Littlefield, Food & Beverage Manager. Winemaker dinners are to feature and showcase both the best wines from the winery and creative food dishes from the restaurant. They both deserved a stand up ovation for a job well done!
Note: Wine tasting notes provided by Tana Cole.