By Rick Riozza

There is no better way to enjoy your new year’s resolutions of healthy dining, a broadening wine experience, and enhancing romantic scenarios than to begin with the up-coming wine dinner series over at the Miramonte Resort & Spa. The next fabulous dinner event in this series is scheduled for Friday, January 24, 2014.

In Italian, we call it Le Serate di Vino [ley say-RAH-tay dee VEE-no], in English, The Evenings of Wine. Last year the series was one of the top highlights in the valley’s culinary scene. This season we’re all expecting the same, and, the excitement is way up as the resort’s new Executive Chef Adam Votaw takes center stage: A master chef who’s traveled the world and launched restaurants in his wake.

Chef Adam is a graduate of the C.I.A. and a covert international operative; just kidding of course—but he cooks like James Bond with flair and confidence and is able to prepare stellar meals when entertaining movers & shakers while simultaneously saving beautiful damsels in distress. Actually it’s the Culinary Institute of America that’s on his résumé as well as his classic French training with Chef Michel Roux at the esteemed Le Gavroche in London.


You may recall Chef Adam directed the opening of the award-winning Circa 59 restaurant at the Riviera Resort & Spa and served as their executive chef. Recently he held the culinary helm at Amalgamated Holdings, that Australian entertainment and restaurant giant, overseeing 45 hotels and 12 restaurants. So the guy can cook and run a kitchen and keep America safe.

The dinner’s theme is World Class Wine, as selected by the prestigious publications Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate. These magazines go on to state that wines rated between 90 and 94 are considered to be “outstanding” with “exceptional complexity and character”. When I spoke to Chef Adam as to his “attack” or gustatory game strategy to pair with the panoply of wines, he stated, “Oh—the wines offered bespeak a ‘global take’, there’s French, Italian, Napa Valley, and Washington State. And the weather here is perfect—we’ll accentuate with high-end comfort food to match the warmth of the day and the cool of the night.”

Chef continues, “We’re playing with so many fabulous flavors here, it’s a chef’s dream working with such a variety of great wine”. The Wine Reception will begin with hors d’oeuvres that include Shrimp Brochette, Smoked Duck & Date, Prosciutto & Melon Spoon, and a Brie, Walnut and Orange Canapé.

Pairing with the above appetizers is the French Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut. This 92 pointer is rich and creamy with dried fruit, nut and spice notes, and flavors of lemon meringue, quince and honey. It’s elegant with wonderful citrus acidity. With such an onslaught of savors, Chef Adam said he was keen to match the combo of flavors in the Champagne with the smoky, salty, citrusy verve of the food. Plus he’s marrying the shrimp with chorizo for the dual dash of tastes en Brochette.

The Starter Course will match Panko-Searched Halibut to the Napa Valley 2012 Antica Chardonnay. This 92 pointer Chardonnay is such an élite wine from a fantastic vintage. It’s pure, ripe, and richly flavored, yet fine and delicate. Lots of distinctive nectarine, pear and lemony notes, finishing with subtle hints of vanilla and toast flavors.

To be accompanied with Roasted Baby Artichokes, Oven Tomatoes, Lobster Nage, and Rainbow tiny greens, chef says the Lobster Nage will be a flavorful “essence”—a very lightly reduced bisque with butter. The harmonization between the plate and the Antica will be divine. Yum!

The Second Course will be Pan Roasted Breast of Duck with a Kumquat Glaze, Baby Lola Rosso, Mâche, Frisée, and Green Oak. This duck is lightly marinated with grapeseed oil and cooked with the skin side down allowing natural flavors to permeate the breast. The lola russo, mâche and frisée will serve as fresh palate cleansers, and as you’ll see, the kumquat glaze is an inventive turn on sauce a l’orange where Chef hinted there could be a light chutney flavor lilting about.

The pairing here is the 91 pointer Italian 2009 Prunotto Barbaresco—which is 100% Nebbiolo grape—and opens with aromas of sweet marzipan and bright forest berry, with subtle tones of ginger, cola and underbrush. A medium to full-bodied wine, the palate is of dried herbs, tobacco, crushed flowers and sweet red berries. This course definitely sets the stage both as an elegant and romantic dish with the vino.

The Main Course will be Roast Brandt Beef Tenderloin Wellington with Porcini Duxelle, Truffled Jus, Haricot Verts, Fondant Potatoes, and Baby Gold Starburst. The Wellington will be prepared medium-rare in traditional puff-pastry alongside with the tastiest of beef-brined potato coins and the freshest starburst squash. The wine match-made-in-heaven selection is the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Stag’s Leap Fay Vineyard.

This 93 pointer Cab is the current darling of the famed Stag’s Leap Winery. This wine opens with vibrant blackberry compote, black cherry and dark chocolate aromas that lead into the signature bright cherry note of the vineyard. The aromas are followed by rich dark berry and plum flavors with enticing hints of French vanilla and sage. Full-bodied—perfect for the evening, with fine-grained tannins and a smooth texture.

For Dessert, none other than the scrumptious 92 pointer Chateau Ste. Michelle Late Harvest Riesling to be complemented with a Blackberry Triple Chocolate Demi Sphere, Grand Mariner Glaze and Candied Orange. The fun thing here, said Chef Adam, “the dessert is still a work-in-progress”—so what other sweet ideas are we looking to?

Miramonte Resort & Spa, 45000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, CA92210; $95 Wine Dinner Reservations: (800) 237-2926