under the radar wines

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Center for Enology & Viticulture here in Walla Walla, like many state-supported educational institutions, is grappling with severe and ongoing budget cuts. The two-year program does not have the sort of high-profile funding and support as the much larger, research-oriented viticultural program at WSU.

But Walla Walla Community College, to which the Center is attached, was recently named one of the top five community colleges in the nation. And the Center has turned out scores of graduates over the past decade with valuable hands-on winemaking experience, thanks to the many internships offered by regional wineries, as well as the Center’s own College Cellars in-house winery.

I am on the Advisory Board and at a recent meeting the idea was floated to do a series of winemaker dinners as fundraisers. I suggested a new twist – how about a wine writers dinner? The advantages are that it does not simply duplicate or compete with the many winemaker dinners already in the area, and it would allow for a broad selection of wines, organized along some specified theme.

So that is what we decided to do.

We’re putting together a Wine Writers “Under The Radar Wines” wine dinner, at the Center, on Saturday, March 17th. Yes, it's Saint Patrick's Day, but no green wine will be served. Instead we’ll generate some much needed green for the college!

I have selected a fascinating group of varietal wines representing some of the most interesting new frontiers in Washington, sourced from wineries all across the state, most of them quite new and small. Working with the College’s Chef Dan Thiessen and his culinary arts team, we’ve paired these wines with a six course dinner. All proceeds will benefit the culinary and wine program.

I have attended countless winemaker dinners over the years, some of them quite elaborate. In all honesty I have never seen a more interesting lineup of wine and food at such a modest price, and for a good cause to boot.

Here is a look at the menu and the wines, course by course:

Kumamoto Oysters, Ver Jus Reduction
House Bratwurst, Pretzel Bread, Stone Ground Mustard
Curried Potato Samosa, Roasted Shallot-Yogurt Cream
Treveri Cellars “Blanc de Blanc” Brut
2011 Barnard Griffin Rose of Sangiovese

Salad of Frissee, Parsnips and Arugula
Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette, Drunken Goat Cheese,
Crouton of Dried Cherry Brioche
2008 Stottle Winery Barbera

Seared Prosciutto Wrapped Manchego
Pepperonata, Olive Tapenade
Herb de Provence Tuile
2010 Airfield Estates Tempranillo

Cream of Butternut Squash
Spiced Cream
2009 Angel Vine Stonetree Vineyard Zinfandel

Pepper Crusted Lamb Loin, Goat Crépinette
Crispy Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Fennel Salad
Tomato Chutney & Herb Demi-Glace
2009 Nefarious Cellars Defiance Vineyard Malbec
2009 Trio Vintners Far Away Vineyard Mourvèdre

Mélange of Miniature Desserts
Poached Pear Tartlets, Lemon-Grapefruit Granita
Salted Caramel-Almond Clusters, Dipped Truffles
2011 College Cellars Ice Wine of Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 College Cellars Port of Barbera

The cost is just $65 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. I will host and be joined by Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman Catie McIntyre Walker. Just 26 places remain as I post this (I’ll put updates as I get them). For reservations, call Danielle Swan-Froese at 509-527-4215.

I look forward to sharing a wonderful evening with you there!

3 comments:

Chris said...

Great work by you and Catie! Need to look at the calendar, but would love to get down to W2 for this.

Ruth A. said...

As of today, March 9th, are there still spots available for this wine adventure?

PaulG said...

Ruth, it is sold out, but a waiting list is being taken.

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