Thursday, March 15, 2007

And...we're back: Society for American Wines at Rock Creek Tap and Grill

A long hiatus on this blog, we know, but...well, it's been a busy time.

But we're back, and what better way to start than with some comments about the most recent event of the Society of American Wines?

Tuesday's event was held at a new Regina restaurant out in the booming east end of town. The Rock Creek Tap and Grill isn't particularly Irish in feel or decor, but SAW decided to call the event a St. Patrick's Day winetasting anyway (although of course it wasn't actually held on St. Patrick's Day, either...)

No green wine was served, in any event. Instead we began with two California sauvignon blancs, one from Redwood Creek (we didn't catch the vintage) and one from Sutter Home (2002, in that case).

We didn't, unfortunately, care for either one of them. The Redwood Creek was...well, "simple" is what we wrote down. "Thin" was another word (and one which kept coming up over and over). The Sutter Home was marginally better. We suspect we've been spoiled by drinking too many Marlborough sauvignon blancs from New Zealand ("anything with Bay in the name!" is our motto). These two just weren't up to that standard.

The appetizers were very good, though: sirloin lollipops (skewered steaks covered with a crispy mashed-potato coating) and "tipsy scallop and potato galette with harissa chevre," which must have been good, because Ed ate his helping and helped someone else eat theirs, too.

Dinner itself kicked off with Guinness and Dubliner cheese soup (the most Irish thing on the menu); essentially an onion soup, but with chunks of potato and bread floating in it. The cheese was sufficient without being one of those choke-threatening masses one sometimes sees in onion soups in restaurants.

Accompanying it but not, alas, matching up with it in anyhing more than an adequte fashion was the 2002 Delicato Chardonnay. According to the Delicato website, this wine "has a soft nose of tropical aromas of pineapple, coconut and honeysuckle with hazelnut, oak and spice nuances. With layers of forward fruit on the palate, the wine opens up to flavors of green apples, bananas and hints of nectarine with a creamy texture."

We didn't get all of that, although Ed certainly noted the nice mouth feel and also picked up a lot of green apple in the taste, as advertised. (Bananas, though? Not so much.)

As a palate cleanser, strawberry key lime sorbet hit the spot (though it was perhaps a bit too sweet). Then came the main course, marinated beef rolled with seasoned vegetables over mashed potatoes. The wine was the only red of the evening, the Concannon Vineyards Central Coast Petit Syrah, 1998 vintage.

And there was that word again: "thin." The wine may well have been better when it was first released. But all we got was leather...maybe a little spice...and lots of woodiness. Not enough fruit to make it interesting. And we didn't find that the food improved it.

Actually, our favorite wine of the evening was probably the dessert wine, Quady Essensia 2004 Orange Muscat. Lots of orange flavor (natch), sweet but nicely balanced. It even worked pretty well with the dessert, pistachio mousse with caramel drizzle barnbrack (think bread pudding).

A great evening for food, for wine...not so much. But then, it's just as important to discover the wines you don't really care for as the ones you do, isn't it?

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