Ah, summer in Livermore! Sunny days and cool nights, just perfect for ripening wine grapes. Nothing is better for building anticipation of the coming harvest like a summertime wine club release party! We were excited to see that next on our schedule was the summer release party at Darcie Kent Vineyards.
As is our practice, we arrived promptly at the stated noon opening time. We were only slightly surprised to see that the party was already in full swing, with much of the parking already engaged and a bit of a line at the check-in desk. The Darcie Kent staff softened the mild sting of standing in line the best way possible: with wine! Staffers worked their way down the line handing out wine glasses with a blend of Grüner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc called Alpine White. Originally conceived for a ski resort, we were able to sample some of this refreshing wine (with bracing apricot and grapefruit notes) without the hassle of driving up to the mountains. In no time we were checked in and ready to party.
As relative latecomers to the party, we weren’t surprised to see that the covered tables were already occupied. There’s no way to get ahead of this burgeoning club membership! We settled in at a picnic table and felt grateful for our hats and mid-summer sun protection. We quickly elected a foraging team to bring back the first pairing and got down to business. Our expectations were high: Chef Eduardo of Posada Restaurant was responsible for the food, and our previous experiences with his cooking had been amazing.
The first pairing was a 2016 Rava Blackjack Grüner Veltliner served with a mahi mahi ceviche with avocado-raspberry chutney. Those of us without seafood allergies reported that the pairing was inspired. I donated my ceviche to my lovely bride and reported that the Grüner Veltliner was delicious all by itself.
The next pairing was their 2014 Firepit Red Wine paired with portobello ravioli in a New Mexico chile sauce and topped with picadillo and queso fresco. Now this was a pairing I could get behind! The Firepit blend is a favorite with our family year after year, and this vintage shows good promise. We enjoyed how the ravioli brought out the blackberry and vanilla notes in the wine. Nicely done, Chef Eduardo!
Table three was pairing their 2015 Madden Big Petite with brothy black beans with roasted corn relish carnitas with sweet pepper panache. We appreciated the skilled pairing and promised to save our bottle of Big Petite for the next tritip BBQ. The final pairing was pronounced “spectacular” by our table: 2014 Tesla Neighbors Cabernet Sauvignon served with wild rice corn tamale pie with short ribs in blackberry mole poblano. The food enhanced the wine. The wine enhanced the food. This is what food and wine pairing is all about!
About then, we noticed winemaker Julian Halasz working on a massive stainless steel tank full of baby wine. Ever the gracious host, he volunteered to pause his work and give us a personal tour of his bottling line. He did not have to ask twice! We each came to the bottling process from a different perspective, but were each fascinated by the process. Julian proudly explained how each gleaming device operated, along the path of producing filled, sealed and labeled bottles of lovely Darcie Kent wine. What an incredible experience!
We reluctantly let Julian get back to making wine, picked up our club pack (the Cabernet Sauvignon, Firepit and Big Petite) and left the party, making space for more happy club members to join in on the fun.
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?