We went to Pappas Grill last night for the Beringer Vineyards wine dinner. The food was spectacular as always and I got to try several wonderful wines. Chef Michael Gaspard began our evening with pieces of rolled tuna/avocado sushi and artichoke fritters which were paired with 2007 Alluvium Blanc from Knights Valley. This white blend is predominantly sauvignon blanc and semillon with some chardonnay and viognier. It was very fragrant with aromas of toasted nuts and baked pineapple. It was crisply acidic but also had a honeyed creaminess with flavors of pineapple and citrus which I really enjoyed.
Spicy crab salad on top of chilled english pea bisque with lemon and herbs was served next. This was so delicious, I could have eaten several bowls. This course was paired with two Napa Valley chardonnays, the 2006 "Limited Release Sbragia" and the 2005 "Private Reserve". They were both full-bodied with a long finish. I would say that the Sbragia was my favorite of the two although they had similar profiles of lemon, figs, butter and hazelnut, for both aromas and flavors. The differences were the Reserve had more oak and mineral flavors while the Sbragia had a caramel with a cinnamon/nutmeg quality and was also a bit more acidic.
The next course was warm beet salad with figs, leeks, pancetta and local Texas blue cheese. This was topped with red wine vinaigrette which was paired with the 2007 Napa Valley Pinot Noir. This medium-bodied wine was surprisingly fresh tasting with black cherry flavors along with pepper and dried herb accents.
The main course was a 55 day dry aged rib-eye with wild shitake mushrooms in smoked red wine served with 2002 and 2006 "Private Reserve" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. These two wines also had almost identical profiles: sweet ripe blackberries, dark chocolate, a bit of minerality and toasted oak with smooth tannins and a long finish. It was easy to see how well this winery maintains their style through the different vintages. The 2002 was a bit more creamy while the 2006 was more fruit-forward, both were excellent. The room was evenly split on which was preferred.
Summer berry shortcake came next, this was an almond cake with lightly-macerated berries and orange-scented whip cream served with 2004 "Nightingale", a blend of botrytis-affected sauvignon blanc and semillion. This Napa Valley dessert wine had flavors of apricot and peach with hints of caramel. I generally prefer coffee with dessert so I was surprised when I really did enjoy this one.
Angela Balboa was the winery representative at the dinner. I always appreciate these events more when someone is there to talk about the production of each wine. As Beringer is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley, she had many stories to share. Once again, my expectations for the evening were exceeded and an excellent time was had by all.