Pinot Posse: Decadent food, better wine



Andrew Vingiello. Click to enlarge.

Last night, we were honored to be guests of The Broadmoor as it hosted the Pinot Posse: eight winemakers from across California and Oregon who have banded together with a "rising tide lifts all ships" mentality to promote each others' wines at venues across the country. Though 80 people were expected to attend, the event drew 120 to Summit at The Broadmoor.

"It's very rare to see Napa [Valley] Cab[ernet] guys around one table. For us, it's more 'the rising tide'," says Andrew Vingiello, owner and winemaker for A.P. Vin, a San Francisco-based Pinot Noir winery with a 2009 vintage that was just rated 95 points in Wine Spectator.

All the wines were incredible, starting with a white Pinot Noir from J.K. Carriere, which owner Jim Prosser says is basically "an 1895 Rosé champagne without the bubbles." From there, they grew progressively bolder, with bigger ripe-red-fruit notes.

Along with the previously mentioned two, the owners of August West Wine, Keefer Ranch in the Russian River Valley, Kosta Browne Winery, Owen Roe Winery and Cargasacchi each mentioned a love of dirt and farming as motivation for their work.

White bean soup. Click to enlarge.

Not to be outdone was the five-course menu served at Summit by chef Bertrand Bouquin. (See our story on the Penrose Room, the other restaurant within his purview, here.) He started with a grainy-textured white bean soup with a pool of nutty black truffle cream over the top that finished with smoky ham. It was paired with a Pinot from August West that was 45 percent new oak and offered a light fruit taste that cut right through the cream.

Ricotta cheese gnocchi. Click to enlarge.

Next was a ricotta cheese gnocchi with chanterelles, cippolini onion, wilted romaine and verjus. The bitterness of the romaine actually helped offset the deep potato-ness of the gnocchi, a brilliant combination. It was pared with a balanced, floral 2008 Pinot from Keefer Ranch, a wine that actually uses three different Pinot clones.

Third up were brilliantly poached eggs that were then lightly fried and laid over a meurette sauce with lardon (a bit of pork fat), mache (a small, nutty green) and a toasted baguette. Gourmet breakfast, with a 2008 pairing from Kosta Browne, a dark and fruity wine that "lifted up" the flavor of the egg white, if that makes any sense.

Crispy poached eggs meurette. Click to enlarge.

Braised lamb. Click to enlarge.

Poached halibut. Click to enlarge.

Fourth came the highlight of the night: black olive oil poached halibut, over mustard greens, carrots and fingerling potatoes. The halibut flaked into incredibly soft steaming chunks, with intense caramelized edges. The sweet of the greens was the perfect complement to all the savory going on, as was the Pinot from Owen Roe, which is influenced by a dry summer and very wet fall season. A second Pinot from J.K. Carriere — that Prosser said was "made for food and built to age" — was excellent as well.

Lastly came a lightly minty, braised Colorado lamb shoulder, topped with shelled pistachios and surrounded by braised turnips over a bed of creamy polenta. It was joined by two wines as well: a Cargasacchi Pinot that owner Peter Cargasacchi said was used as a "libido-enhancer" for his previous venture — a fertility clinic; and an incredible 2009 vintage from A.P. Vin, the wine that garnered Wine Spectator's much-deserved attention.

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