Last Thursday I attended this wine dinner at Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern in Raleigh as part of Triangle Wine Experience (fundraiser for Frankie Lemmon School.) One of the Beaulieu winemakers, Domenica Totty, was present along with a Diageo regional representative and a saleswoman who sells to Raleigh restaurants and hotels. Second Empire is located in an historic home on Hillsborough Street. The Dodd-Hinsdale House was completed in 1879 in Victorian Second Empire architectural style with fourteen-foot ceilings and deep bay windows. The more casual tavern is on the lower level and the ground floor and upstairs rooms are more formal and traditional. We were in a dining room on the ground floor and a Bevan Winery dinner was taking place in a back room of the house the same evening.http://www.second-empire.com/pictures-tour/
Daniel Schurr is the executive chef and he provided us with a superb meal. We had a 2009 BEAULIEU VINEYARD CARNEROS CHARDONNAY, NAPA VALLEY to accompany grilled Atlantic swordfish with butternut squash risotto, garlicky spinach, black eyed pea salsa, cider vinegar and ginger jus. I really liked this Chardonnay which is $25 a bottle from the winery. It is in a restrained style that allows fruit to shine along with minerality and structure. I much preferred it to the second wine poured, the Chardonnay Reserve. The Reserve Chardonnay is in a more opulent California style that doesn't appeal to me but which has its fans.
The next two courses outshone the swordfish in my estimation. We had Australian lamb shank and Ditalini pasta with smoked tomatoes, escarole, Beecher's Flagship cheddar cheese crumble and rosemary jus. The lamb was very tender and the dish was aromatic and delicious.
We had this with 2009 BEAULIEU VINEYARD BEAUROUGE, NAPA VALLEY, a red blend made to be approachable on release. It contains eight varieties of grapes including Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon and is $32 from the winery. Not as complex or serious as the Tapestry, but quite pleasant and I ordered two bottles of this and two bottles of the first Chardonnay we tried to be picked up later.
The 2010 BEAULIEU VINEYARD RESERVE TAPESTY RED WINE, NAPA VALLEY, was served with molasses and ginger braised beef brisket with creamy cannelini beans, baby bok choy kimchi, rutabaga slaw, and thyme and roasted garlic jus. Again, the meat was so tender and delectable. I couldn't pick a favorite between the lamb and the beef brisket courses but the couple to my right liked the lamb better although they thought the beef brisket was also delicious. The Tapestry paired well with the beef.
I think the BEAULIEU VINEYARD GEORGES DE LATOUR PRIVATE RESERVE we had was 2007 vintage, but the vintage was not listed on the printed menu. This was paired with the dessert course of a small round of Empire chocolate and banana bread pudding with a warm truffle center and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. I have been dubious in the past on the pairing merits of Cabernet Sauvignon with chocolate but this time it really worked. The rich dark chocolate of the bread pudding melded nicely with the chocolate and cassis notes in the Private Reserve. I wish the Private Reserve were more affordable but at $135 a bottle from the winery, I hesitate to purchase it. The food and wine made for a great "Triangle Wine Experience."