by Rick Riozza

Allora! Benvenuto! Welcome back to extraordinary dinners and world class wine pairings as the Miramonte Resort & Spa proudly introduces their five wine dinner event series for the 2012-2013 season.
Serate di Vino means “Evenings of Wine”—the title for this wine dinner series—and what better accompaniment to these up-coming soirées than the culinary talent of one of the desert’s master chefs, Robert Nyerick, Executive Chef of the Resort’s acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, Grove Artisan Kitchen.
Already known as a most romantic and Italianesque resort and spa, Miramonte continues with the Italian theme that will become electric when the representative from the Antinori family of Tuscany comes to the Resort toting their world class wines to celebrate an abondanzza! on the lawns this coming November.
But Wait! we’re jumping ahead of ourselves—fortunately for us foodies and vino lovers, the wine dinner series begins on Friday September 21st ushered in by the wines of Paso Robles’ world famous Justin Winery and hosted by the winery’s founder himself, Justin Baldwin.
For over 30 years, Justin Wines have fueled their focus on providing outstanding “Old World Bordeaux” style wines and tradition with the “New World’s” soil, climate, and techniques of California’s Central Coast. It was a wine lovers dream recipe in 1981 as it is today where a balanced flavor profile is the desire. And who doesn’t stop in at the
winery while in Paso Robles. Their wines proudly speak for themselves. It’s a wonderful choice for the overture of the Serate di Vino dinner series.
I had the pleasure to again sit and converse with Chef Robert about the new season of food and the up-coming events. We actually began talking about Henry Fenwick, the Desert Sun’s previous food columnist, who has left our valley and gone on to Miami Beach. I knew that Mr. Fenwick was particularly fond of his “stable” of the valley chefs that he covered regularly, and that Chef Robert was in this elite group. I enjoyed listening to some of their personal anecdotal history. We then got down to the meat and potatoes of this Justin Wine Dinner.
(If you have the opportunity, please go on-line to where you can click on to Archives to see my previous Vino Voice columns. In the June 14 issue, #12, “The Pleasures of Food & Wine Pairing,” Chef Robert took us through the fun and interesting dynamic of matching fantastic food to the world class wines of Rodney Strong, all part of the last wine dinner held in June. It’s a great little primer on food & wine pairing!)
As we spoke, Chef Robert offered me a glass of Justin Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s such a tasty wine by itself and is absolutely balanced for most dinners; Chef readily admits to having a slew of Justin Wines at home. As with my previous June interview, we took the time and discussed his mind frame in matching the flavor profiles of the scheduled array of Justin wines to his fresh seasonal California and Mediterranean cuisine mindset.
But as opposed to reading about the Chef’s talent to bring the food and wine to another level in a perfect pairing world, I’d rather see you folks over at the Justin Wine Dinner on Friday September 21st at 6pm so that you may savor for yourselves the pleasurable art of food & wine.
The evening and the menu consists of an Hors d’Oeuvres Reception followed by a Four Course Dinner.
The hors d’oeuvres will include White Pacific Shrimp, Salmon Mousse, Ratatouille Crostini, and Daniele Prosciutto which will be perfectly paired with the crisp and refreshing 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. This lemon-lime quaffer with guava notes will absolutely highlight all the flavors of the appetizers.
The first course of Pan Seared Sea Bass is matched to Justin’s 2010 Chardonnay. Although matured in French Oak for half a year, there is a minimal sense of toasted oak in the aroma; the palate however owns white peach, toasted almonds and spice with a touch of minerality. The winery calls this wine “a Paso Robles-style rendition of a classic Chablis.” We West Coast vino lovers are Chablis-starved so this will be a treat with the Sea Bass.
Next up, Grilled Glazed Quail with Orange and Rhubarb Compote along with Justin’s 2010 “Savant” for the second course. Now this is art in a bottle when the two of Paso Robles’ most popular varieties, Syrah and Cabernet are combined for a bold, spicy, and complex blend, but, exquisitely balanced to match the grill, the glaze, and the fine flavors of quail.


The third course consists of Braised Short Rib Ravioli, Roast Brandt Tenderloin of Beef and Rainbow Chard with an “Isosceles’ glaze. The glaze is made from this course’s wine, the 2009 Isosceles. The wine is known as one of California’s best red blends for the last 20 years. This 09 vintage is flashy, intense, and balanced. Definitely Bordeaux-style in Central Coast soil.
And for dessert, Chef Robert will be matching his imaginative sweet-tooth to Justin’s port-style “Obtuse”. This is not the usual Zinfandel or Syrah Port that everyone is pouring, rather, it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon confection. Sweet success and sweet dreams!
The cost of each event is $75 plus tax & gratuity. Tickets for the full series of five wine dinners is $325. Reservations are required & seating is limited. Reservations: 760.341.7200. Miramonte Resort & Spa 4500 Indian Wells Ln, Indian Wells Ca. 92210.
Bon Appétit! Cheers!
Rick continues to host wine tastings & events. Contact