Two wineries owned by the Stewart Family (Quail’s Gate – B.C. & Lake Sonoma – California) join up with talents from Glowbal Restaurant (Vancouver) to put on a 5-Course wine-paired dinner showcasing the best of both wineries to complement and enhance the meal.
Set in an intimate room upstairs at the beautiful Glowbal restaurant on West Georgia at a long table of twelve, we scanned through the menu salivating at the decadent meal and pairings that awaited us. “A Glowbal Affair” was one of the first events to kick off the Vancouver International Wine Festival (and what a great one at that). A five-course meal complete with canapes and delicious wine paired with every bite for $120 all in! You can’t get better value than that.
The first wine poured was the 2016 Quail’s Gate Dry Riesling, a light bodied, refreshing white with a floral aroma and tart green apple/lime acidity on the tongue. This was paired with all three canapes, the first of which (my favourite of the canapes) was Peking duck wrapped in a spring onion pancake. The duck was moist and flavour and the acidity of the Riesling was a welcome contrast to cut through the richness of the duck. A seared rare Wagyu beef roll was served next which was the least flavourful of the three and not an ideal pairing with Riesling (It’s hard to pair one wine with three very different bites). The last of the canapes was a goat’s cheese & leek tart and while it didn’t quite surpass the flavour of the duck, it was my favourite food and wine pairing of the three. The acidity of the wine cuts through the creaminess of the cheese and leeks while rounding out the tangy flavour perfectly. The citrus notes also tie in with the candied orange garnish on top.
The next wine offering, also from Quail’s Gate was their 2016 Chenin Blanc. Medium-bodied and bursting with citrus, pear and melon while finishing with a nice minerality, the wine was the perfect next step in the progression of the meal and wines. Paired with the Chenin Blanc was a ceviche noted in the menu as, “Scallop ravioli, chili oil, scallop tuile, blood orange sauce”. Although the description was misleading, this was a gorgeously plated and delicious bite that married perfectly with the wine. The Chenin Blanc on its’ own was not my favourite wine of the lot, but the mineral notes paired with the delicate sweetness of the scallop and the citrus notes with the blood oranges complimented the wine in such a way where each made the other taste even better.
Next up in our glasses was the 2014 Lake Sonoma Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc (100%) which boasts flavours of Asian pear, Meyer lemon, cantaloupe, creamy peach and honeysuckle. I found this Sauvignon Blanc unique, delicious and fresh. They paired it with an artistically composed dish of butter-poached King crab, Granny Smith apple, shiso, curried almonds and mandarin foam. While both the wine and dish were showstoppers on their own, the flavours of each seemed to fight a bit on the palette when had together.
With the third course we were poured a ‘battle of the chardonnays’; a glass of each the 2015 Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay and the 2014 Lake Sonoma Russian River Chardonnay. At this point the vineyard CEO Tony Stewart, winemaker Nikki Callaway, and chefs Omar Hadi and Zuzuna Harasaghy came out to chat with the group about the meal and answer any questions about the vineyards and wines while the food was served. As we began to indulge in the bacon-wrapped sea bass with Lobster, leeks, pickled squash and pepper jus, a great conversation was had about the wine-making process and Nikki enlightened us as to why and how the wines are made a certain way. The Quails Gate Chardonnay was buttery-smooth with hints of vanilla and Okanagan fruits whereas the Lake Sonoma counterpart exudes flavours of sweet ginger, lemon, and orange with a light oaky, rich finish. I loved them both, but the Quails Gate Pairing with buttery seabass, bacon and leeks was a hands-down winner.
Finally, time for some red with a duo of pinot noirs! Served for the fourth course was the 2015 Quail’s Gate Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2014 Lake Sonoma – Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The Quail’s Gate flagship red wine is made in limited quantities with grapes from vines up to thirty years old and aged in oak barrels after fermentation; its flavours include a mix of ripe red fruits and warm spices. Likewise, the Lake Sonoma Pinot oozes with cherry and warm spices, while finishing with an oaky, vanilla touch. After the wine was poured, the crowning jewel of the meal was placed in front of us; a perfectly cooked rare herb-roasted rack of lamb with crispy sweet breads, tortellini, carrot, chanterelle and a pickled mustard lamb jus. Although not the most natural pairing for Pinot Noirs, the warm spice notes in the wine complimented the meat and sweetbreads well. I must say I was yearning for a more full-bodied Shiraz as the lamb and mustard flavours were overpowering some of the nuances of the wines. Between the two of the wines, I’d have to again go with the Quail’s Gate as the better pairing with the meal.
Now, for a little something sweet to round off a delightful meal, poached pear and hazelnut tart topped with ice-cream. Although not exactly what was listed on the menu, this was a welcome end to the night for this girl’s sweet-tooth. Unfortunately, half the group had chocolate tart shells while the other had traditional ones. I think the cocoa in the shell wasn’t the greatest pairing with the wine and everyone was confused about why they weren’t all the same so everyone was having the same experience. The final wine of the night in our glasses, 2016 Quail’s Gate Late Harvest Optima dessert wine, abounding with well-balanced flavours of blossom, pear, quince, apricot, apple and almond. This was an “Optima(l)” match with the juicy poached pear, creamy ice cream and hazelnuts.
Overall the meal was delicious and there were many excellent wine pairings that showcased the best of B.C.’s Quail’s Gate wines (I swear I’m not biased). If they offer this event or something similar for next year’s VIWF, I will be there in a heartbeat! The contrasts of the two wineries both paired with the meal was a fun touch and really highlighted how much wine can make a difference to a meal when enjoyed together.
*Written by our contributor, Alysha Rohla!