My best friend, Donna Atkins and I decided to have an impromptu Holiday dinner at my house this past Saturday night. I picked up some fresh halibut, cruised the farmers market in downtown Ventura and she brought the wine.
Donna asked what wine she should bring and I told her just bring a bunch and we’d select them as we wanted them. She brought a Biale Black Chicken, Sextant Zinfandel, Herman Story Nuts & Bolts and a Jada Jack of Hearts. All big boy wines with probably the Sextant being the lightest of them all.
The dinner I planned was kale wrapped halibut in parchment with a butter, lemon and herb mixture, grilled asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a Mediterranean couscous with kalamata olives and roasted tomatoes.
We started out with the Jada Jack of Hearts as we picked this up during our wine tasting excursion in Paso Robles over Thanksgiving, and found it to be a perfect start, big, ripe and juicy fruits with a nice backbone. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Merlot. Sounds dry I know, but not in the least – much fruitier then you’d expect, plus you don’t find many Cab blends (or even Cabs for that matter) in Paso Robles where they’re all about their Rhone’s. Excellent blend of dark fruits just bursting out. Yummy.
Next, we decanted the Biale Black Chicken – one of our favorite Zinfandels from the Napa Valley. A very elegantly styled wine, not your over-the-top and in-your-face Zin like Turley, but nicely balanced blue and black berry fruits, refined tannins and a smokiness quality we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Okay, so now we’ve already downed two of the four bottles (there was three of us) and dinner was just about to be served so we popped the cork on the Sextant as we knew the Nuts & Bolts would totally overpower the food. Wow, I was quite surprised by the sweet fruit in this one. Definitely drinks easily and paired very nicely with dinner. The halibut was cooked to perfection with just a hint of red pepper flakes in the herb mixture really brought out the sweetness in the wine. The kale wrapped around the fish gave it a slight earthy flavor and made for a beautiful presentation. The couscous was a lovely redish color from the roasted tomatoes which also gave it sweet and tangy flavors along with the saltiness of the olives – great combo with the fish. Kudos to the chefs…oh yeah, that was me and Donna I love it when a meal turns out just as you hoped it would.
So now we’re 3 bottles down and definitely feeling the effects of 3 hours of drinking – time to break out the games and that last bottle of vino! We cracked open the Herman Story Nuts & Bolts and a game of Rummikub – a combination between Rummi and dominoes I think. Anyway, it’s a thinking game, but we needed the stimulation at this time of the night. The wine seemed less bold than I recalled, but this could have been due to our tastebuds not up to par at this point. Allowing it to sit and open up a bit really made all the difference. The wine just blossomed with dark berry fruit and tons of spice – whew, and with a whopping 16.1% alcohol, probably not the best wine to finish with, but it was so darn tasty we just couldn’t help ourselves.
It’s now midnight, time for bed! What a great night.