By Rick Riozza
Okay—whether one pronounces Chateau “St. Jean” as “Saint-Gene”, or, the French,
“SÃn Zjoh(ñ)”, ( I know—better heard than spelled ) all that doesn’t matter when
enjoying this season’s wine dinner finale to one of the most successful wine-pairing
dinner programs that we have experienced in our fair desert surrounds.
So let’s switch from French to Italian and exclaim “Le Serate di Vino” (“Evenings of
Wine”) which was the heading to this wonderful nine month parade of great cuisine and
fine wines. Felicitations to Miramonte Resort & Spa for their stellar program!
Congratulazioni! Questo è stato semplicemente fantastico!—what a delicious
It’s really been my pleasure to go inside the kitchen, the world, and the mind of Chef
Robert, as I’ve covered these “Evenings of Wine”, where we’ve seen the thought
process of matching food, mood, and weather to a spectrum of wines from bold and
expressive to light, fragrant, and fancy.
Executive Chef Robert Nyerick has fashioned cuisines to match the likes of the
six hundred year Italian wine dynasty, Antinori, and, to meet the high-end wines of
Ahnfeldt Winery who partners with the famed Paul Hobbs as their winemaker. The
results allowed us to enjoy exquisite dining at even a different level—where food & wine
come to be a gastronomical enchantment.
Chef Robert is the Executive Chef of Miramonte Resort & Spa’s acclaimed farm-to-
table restaurant, Grove Artisan Kitchen. Full of culinary credentials, Chef Robert is
one of the desert’s top epicurean artists creating in the kitchen. His métier encompasses
ingredients simply prepared with time-honored techniques accentuated with organic
produce, fresh herbs, local ranch raised meats and poultry, fresh Pacific seafood, house-
made pastas, prime dry-aged meats and innovative vegetarian dishes.
Chef Robert will perform his customary but stimulating magic with an all-star wine
line-up from the acclaimed Chateau St. Jean Winery. For you wine enthusiasts,
you’re probably well aware of St. Jean’s famous vineyard specific wines; in other
words, these vineyards have proven themselves as sensational: Chardonnays from the
acclaimed Robert Young, Belle Terre and Durell Vineyards as well as a Pinot Noir from
Durell Vineyard and Fumé Blanc from the La Petite Étoile (“The Little Star”) Vineyard.
The evening will commence with an array of playful hors d’oeuvres that will include:
Caprese Bruschetta, Chicken Satay, Carnitas Empanadas & Vegetable Lumpia. And
the stellar wine match to open the festivities is everyone’s favorite, the 2011 Sonoma
Fumé Blanc which offers fragrant aromas of green tea, lemongrass and lemon
meringue pie. Flavors of grapefruit, spice and wet stone combine with lively acidity,
creating a beautifully balanced wine with a lingering lemon zest finish. How fun is that!
The chef’s culinary artistry, fashioned specifically for the evening’s California cookery
themed wine-pairing dinner, will include Pan Seared Sea Bass, Ballotine of
Capon and Wild Mushroom Duxelle, and Roast Brandt Beef Natural Filet,
accompanied by unique side dishes.
And of course, Chef Robert clearly understands the wine’s principal role of pleasure is
best played at the table in the context of the menu:
Look for the Pan Seared Sea Bass to be matched with St. Jean’s 2010 Chardonnay
Belle Terre. This medium-bodied Chardonnay opens with pleasing stone fruit,
vanilla and floral spice aromas. On the palate, the wine is well-structured and perfectly-
The Deboned Leg of Capon re-stuffed with Wild Mushroom Duxelle will meet its
heavenly match with the 2009 Sonoma County Pinot Noir that displays lovely
aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cranberry as well as hints of rose and leather.
The Premium True Natural Brandt Roast Beef will take stage with St. Jean’s world
famous Cinq Cépages [SANK-say-PAH-juh]. This wine put Chateau St. Jean on
the map and this 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon “Bordeaux Blend” is their 20th
Anniversary celebration vintage! How fortunate we are to get in on this wine-
Previously awarded the “1999 Wine of the Year” from Wine Spectator Magazine,
the 2009 is a complex and layered wine. Its deep garnet color meets vibrant aromas of
blackberry, black plum, clove spice and rich mocha notes in the glass. Secondary aromas
of raspberry and cherry mingle with notes of violet and pomegranate. Nuanced notes of
roasted coffee, black tea and a distinct dark chocolate component add to the complexity.
The full-bodied wine has smooth, silky tannins that offer solid structure but do not
overwhelm. I’ve had this delicious wine and it is everything one desires in a great
For dessert, look to the 2011 Pinot Gris with its lively acidity, purity of fruit flavors
consisting of citrus and kiwi and notes of orange blossom to meet with a trio of Mango,
Blackberry & Meyer Lemon Sorbets with fresh berries and Almond Tuile.
This lightly sweet course will commiserate the bitter-sweet feel of the finale event. The
good news, of course, is that we get to anticipate a new season of wonderful wine-pairing
Bon Appétit! & Cheers!
The cost of the wine dinner is $75 plus tax and gratuity. With limited
seating, reservations are required. (760) 341-7200.
Rick conducts wine events & tastings. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org