Do the angels sing when great wines meet a chef’s undeniable talent? I know I do. And I was sure singing at Currents’ Chateau Ste. Michelle wine dinner, during which some of Washington’s tastiest vintages were brilliantly paired with some of Bend’s best cuisine.
The evening, which took place in the private dining room, started out with flutes of Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut and pass-around appetizers of endive with blue cheese and white truffle oil along with tiny puff pastries topped with smoke salmon and caviar. Hello! Talk about a way to break the ice and help guests mingle before the main event.
After half an hour or so, we all sat at a long table to an amuse bouche of translucently tender poached lobster in a fluffy citrus cream with green onion ribbons. Lobster? Citrus cream? Perfectly paired sparkling wine that offset the shellfish’s slight sweetness? Really? If this had been a guy courting me, I would have already said yes.
Rich, velvety foie Gras Torchon with glazed apple, brioche and maldon salt followed. The dish was as balanced as the 2015 Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay it was served with, which somehow managed to hit buttery as well as crispy pear and apple notes.
I’m not much of a rabbit eater, but I did enjoy the rabbit tortellini in a light rabbit consommé (poured over the pasta from pitchers by the evening’s top-notch servers) and capped with pepper cress. While I didn’t love the dish as much as my friend Viv, who would order it monthly if Currents put it on the menu, I did downright adore how the peppery 2013 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot played off the rabbit and the slightly bitter greens. I wasn’t the only one. “This paring is off the chain,” announced my friend Leah. I even loved the different glasses the wines were served in.
This double pairing perfection is not a coincidence. Currents’ manager Ben Edel chose his favorite Chateau Ste. Michelle wines, then turned the menu over to superbly talented executive chef Michael Stanton. In the meantime, Ben and a friend tasted all the wines in a variety of glassware and figured out which pairings worked best on that front. (Note to Ben: I’d be more than happy to help you out with that next time.)
We moved on to roasted quail with grains, dried cherry and cassis jus, perfectly accented by the 2012 Artist Series Red blend. In keeping with a food journey that featured tastes not often found in Central Oregon, we then enjoyed the ISR Lamb Saddle with black trumpet mushrooms baby leek and fig. The lamb was not overly gamey and impeccably prepared, and the combination, which initially struck me as surprising, was ridiculously delicious. Add in the accompanying 2013 Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with its complex depth, and who could ask for anything more?
The evening closed with a chocolate tart with candied kumquat and a graham-cracker crust. This decadence-on-a-plate was served with a delightful 2015 Widbeys Washington port. After finishing that glass, I just had to see what it tasted like with the peppery merlot. Winner, winner, winemaker’s dinner!
“To new friends, good wine and great food,” announced Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker Raymon McKee at the start of the dinner that would so brilliantly showcase his wines. I’ll drink to that and to many more winemaker dinners at Currents, starting with the next one on April 12, in which Marietta Cellars’ Rhone- and Bordeaux-style wines will be featured.