Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Nice Wine Dinner at the Strip House


Last Thursday night, I attended the Nice Winery dinner at the Strip House. While I have eaten dinner there a few times, this was the first wine event of theirs that I had enjoyed. Ryan Levy & Ian Eastveld, the winemakers and owners of the Nice Winery, were at the event to present each wine with each course and answer questions about the selections. They have an interesting history as they are both Le Cordon Bleu trained Chefs, Certified Sommeliers and, since their initial harvest in Napa Valley in 2007, winemakers. This boutique winery is located in Houston and the wines are handcrafted from grapes sourced from premium vineyard locations.
The 1st course was a vine ripened tomato salad with red onions, basil and balsamic reduction paired with the 2010 NICE Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is sourced from  a single vineyard in the Lujan de Cuyo area of Mendoza, Argentina. I really enjoyed the balance of this wine and it was excellent with the salad. It was crisp with a citrus blossom nose and tropical fruit flavors; if I were to compare it with other Sauvignon Blanc styles, I would say that it did not have the searing acidity or bell pepper notes so typical in New Zealand nor the too flat, non-refreshing style often seen in California. It retails for about $22.

The 2nd course was the Strip House roasted bacon with wild arugula and heirloom tomatoes served with the 2009 Malbec Reserve. This course was phenomenal. I will never think of bacon quite the same way again, it was thick cut with a sweet and spicy barbeque flavor. The wine was sourced from old Malbec vines also from the Lujan de Cuyo area of Mendoza. Again, nicely balanced with a black cherry/blueberry character and some vanilla and licorice notes, retail price of approximately $35.


The 3rd course was sliced New York strip with black truffle creamed spinach and goose fat potatoes served with the highly rated 2007 NICE Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon. Again, absolutely delicious. This wine was the first wine produced by NICE with the artisanal talents of acclaimed winemaker, Steve Reynolds and it is everything that you would expect it to be, including its premium price of $110 retail.

The final course was creme brulee with the 2007 Demi-Sec Sparkling made from Muscat de Alexandria which was also sourced from Lujan de Cuyo. I know I enjoyed it but I did not note any specifics as I was quite caught up in conversation with another dinner companion at that time.

The food was fantastic, the dinner group was quite lively and the wines...they were beyond NICE. I have recommended the Strip House for dinner in the past and now I would definitely recommend their wine events as well.

NICE Wines are being poured in many of Houston's top restaurants and have won several awards. Ryan and Ian are currently in the process of negotiating with a new source in an acclaimed area of Tuscany, so we can expect to see some premium Sangiovese-based wine from them in the future, which is certainly something to look forward to.