Last weekend, Neeta & Kunal Mittal, kicked off their Cabernet Franc Day, Paso Robles hosting a few writers and winemakers at their home. Neeta & Kunal own LXV Wines and Wine Lounge in Paso Robles. They have been awarded by Wine Spectator as being one of the top 10 wine tasting experiences in America. Their passion for Cabernet Franc, be it from Loire Valley, France to Hungary to Paso Robles and regions in between has been unwavering. Neeta is a “foodie extraordinaire” and provides both an innovative and creative touch for food pairings with exotic spices and flavors. This coincided with December 4th being International Cabernet Franc Day.
The intent of the evening was to pair various Cabernet Franc’s with key characteristics of the varietal. The four main themes were Violets, Fruits, Herbs (Pyrazines & green vegetables traits), and earthy characteristics of Cabernet Franc.
The dinner started out with Raclette cheese with Violet Oil and seared sous vide Octopus with lemon. This was paired with LXV’s 2020 Reserve Cabernet Franc. Made with 100% Cabernet Franc from the Portico Hills Vineyard in Los Alamos district. The grapes were fermented and macerated on the skins for 19 days before being pressed. Aged in one third new French oak for 20 months before bottling. This provided a most aromatic and deep purple wine.
The second course was a Boeuf Bourguignon with scalloped potatoes. The flavors of miso and a hint of cardamom were added to this traditional French dish. Paired with a Union Sacre 2020 Cabernet Franc which Wilfred Wong of Wine.com called “…fresh & bright on the palate with aromas of candied fruit and spices”. This provided just the right counterbalance to the Boeuf Bourguignon.
Next up was the most creative Street Tacos of lamb braised in herbs and grilled vegetables. The juxtaposition of the earthiness of the lamb and sweet grilled veggies was splendid. This was paired with a robust and hearty 2021 Austin Hope Cellar Select Cabernet Franc. Again the contrast and comparison of the food and wine was exquisite.
The final course was truly provocative being a chicken mole dish with rice. The recipe while having the sweetness of mocha/chocolate, had some unique hotness and spice included in the mole. The rice was perfect in “calming it down”. This was a paired with an ever so enjoyable J Lohr 2017 Cuvee St E “Bordeaux style blend”. This is comprised of 63% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and 1% Malbec. This wine as Steve Peck, VP of Winemaking in attendance called “dark in color and provided strong overtures of roasted coffee and dark chocolate” was spot on simpatico with the meal.
Several other wines were generously offered and tasted during the evening. However the rare treat of tasting a 1985 Chateau Fonroque, Saint Emilion Grand Cru was heavenly. This was provided as a surprise by Steve Peck. While perhaps a bit over its optimal offering, it provided a glimpse of its true pedigree from France.
A wonderful food and wine pairing evening to kick off the Cabernet Franc Day, Paso Robles. Neeta and Kunal provided a fantastic, creative and enjoyable start for the festivities. More on the other events to shortly follow.