Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Gold Winner in Carmel Valley

            Carmel Hills Winery has some fantastic wines.  Their 2010 Pinot Noir just won a Gold Medal for the third year in a row at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
        We were lucky enough to experience it, and other Carmel Hills wines, at a festive food and wine pairing dinner held at Will's Fargo in Carmel Valley.  Lynn Sakesegawa, the winemaker/co-owner of Carmel Hills, was there to personally introduce her wines and Will's Chef de Cuisine Jerome Viel prepared the innovative meal.
            Will's was packed with about sixty revelers who enjoyed every minute of the fun dinner.  The restaurant was its woodsy, cozy self, and guests could take any seat they wanted in the main dining room. 
        There was quite a cast of characters at the event, all having a good time, many making toasts, all in the spirit of the Will's of our "youth" when we used to go sit at the bar and philosophize about our love lives.  Ah, how times have changed. 
        Now we are a part of a food and wine groupie-group and talk about that.  Just as much fun, but in a very different way.
        So here's our take on the dinner:
        The first course, a "Vol Au Vent" puff pastry of mussels and leeks, was light and perfect with the 2010 Carmel Hills Chardonnay, a dry, smooth wine with a "long grapefruit finish."
        The second course was a Pork Belly, which had been cooked for 40 hours, accompanied with chanterelle mushrooms and salad frissee, all served with the Pinot Noir award winner.  Just released this week, it is a beautifully balanced and elegant wine, with wonderful touches of pepper and plum.  The pairing between the two was perfecto. 
        Carmel Hills' 2009 Syrah was the next wine and is their biggest selling wine.  It is a drinkable smooth wine, with some spiciness and black pepper flavors that were the perfect complement to the main course of Duck Confit with Dijon mustard sauce.  Their 2010 vintage will be coming out in a few months.
        The finale was Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake with black pepper ice cream and Bourbon caramel sauce, served with the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, a nice blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Merlot.  A sweet ending to a very lively event.
        Be prepared, though, if you do go to one of these wine-food pairing events that it involves stamina.  Not for the dieters or hurried eaters among us, but for the adventurous of palate, it's an opportunity to try some new taste treats.
        Our recommendations?  Definitely Will's Fargo for its monthly special dinner.  Call 659-2774 to find out more about the next one on March 14, featuring Parsonage wines. 
And, Carmel Hills Winery (, which now has two tasting rooms--one in the village at 12 Del Fino Place, the other on Cannery Row.  Both Will's and Carmel Hills are winners in CVBTG book…that is blog.

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