Rounding up the family and heading out to a fancy dinner is a foreign experience for many farmers. The Clampett’s…err…Lowrey’s are no exception, and really don’t get out much. My own culinary expertise is limited to impeccably microwaved Michelina’s (down to the second!) and hastily constructed lunchtime wraps.
“Pa”, however, puts me to shame with his mastery of outdoor, open-flame cooking. He is aloof in the kitchen, but can skillet fry just about anything over his gnarled pile of burning grape trunks. I once saw him make perfect toast using welding gloves, a long-handled frying pan and diesel fuel. He ended the show by flipping eggs with a one-iron (he could never hit it anyway).
Suffice it to say, we always jump at the chance to get dolled up and host a civilized Winemaker’s dinner every year at Treadwell’s. Thankfully for the patrons, we are only responsible for bringing the wine. Seriously, we treasure the opportunity to share this annual experience with so many of our supporters. The signed menu, seen below, has become a treasured memento for us, growing in names each year. It’s something we display with pride in our barn and reflect on fondly with many of our guests.
As you can see, this year’s menu was a masterpiece. I can easily recall the distinct flavours of each dish as I write this, a sure sign of a wonderfully skilled kitchen and chef. My compliments to James and the entire staff for the seeming ease at which they managed each course.
Of the wines I tried on this evening, the 2008 Syrah was a highlight for me – perhaps for sentimental reasons. We decided to raid the cellar and bring our last case to share on this appropriate occasion. The smoked duck was an astute pair, picking up on the smoky, earthy and savoury elements of the Syrah. Many commented on how much the flavours and mouthfeel had changed since they last tried it. The classic Syrah pepper, earth and floral elements were still there, but the once subtle dark fruit components had come to the fore both aromatically and on the palate. It leads me to think that this wine is probably best consumed during this exciting time in its evolution (for those who still have a bottle).
The sumptuous “pulled pork” course might have been James’ nod to our participation in the most recent Pigs and Pinot celebration in Healdsburg, California. My parents were thrilled to visit Sonoma and represent Canada at the “Pinot Smackdown”, which they managed to escape without a scratch.
We ended the night with a barrel sample of the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. I figured this was appropriate given that Sauvignon Blanc is, in many ways, the reason we have forged such a strong relationship with Treadwell’s. The feedback was promising with many not letting me leave without guaranteeing them at least a six-pack.
The 2012 has a ripe nose very reminiscent of the 2010, which makes sense because both were generally warm, dry years. The mouthfeel and flavours were still a work in progress though, following bentonite fining, cold stabilization and possibly ongoing malolacitc fermentation. As with most classy dames she didn’t want to give away all her secrets on the first date!
A heartfelt thanks to all who attended.