One of my favorite things about being a wino and a foodie is that there are always unsavored pleasures awaiting discovery. What better way to experience new gustatory and enological flavors than attending a food and wine pairing dinner. And in Las Vegas, the best and most interesting wine dinners are regularly at Marche Bacchus French Bistro and gourmet wine shop.
On May 8, 2014, over 100 fellow food and wine explorers gathered at Marche Bacchus to enjoy a four course meal prepared by Chef Alex Stratta paired with four wines from Husic Vineyards, a much-acclaimed Napa Valley winery.
To be honest, Husic Vineyards is not a winery that I was familiar with. But, as it is located in the middle of prime hillside Stags Leap District land, Husic certainly has the pedigree to make outstanding wines. Coupled with Marche Bacchus owner Jeff Wyatt’s gushing recommendation, I had high expectations for the evening.
I was not disappointed!
First, a bit of history about Husic Vineyards… The winery and vineyard was founded in 1995, when Frank and Julie Husic purchased a tract of undeveloped hillside land rising to 1000 feet above the Napa Valley floor, right in the middle of the Stags Leap District on the east side of the valley. At the time, regulations were in the works to limit steep hillside plantings – Husic vineyards was among the last to plant on a 45 degree slope. While such a vineyard is costly to establish (and extremely difficult to harvest), the hillside plantings provide additional stress to the vines that results in very concentrated, full-bodied reds.
The 2001 Husic Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was hailed throughout the wine world. In a blind tasting with a dozen cult favorites including Screaming Eagle and Harlan, the Husic Cab came in second behind a favorite of mine, the 2001 Pride Mountain Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Husics have outstanding support in making their wines, employing Jim Barbour as their vineyardist and Michael Hirby as their winemaker.
Since 2005, Husic has expanded its portfolio of wines to include a Chardonnay made from famed Dutton Ranch fruit grown in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County and a Pinot Noir sourced from rare vineyards on the Sonoma Coast.
Their flagship wine remains the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, produced from the three vineyard sites on their property. It epitomizes the saying about the best Stags Leap District Cabs, clearly presenting as “an iron fist in a velvet glove.” At once powerful and softly smooth, it is a red that can be enjoyed in its youth or cellared for a decade or more to develop secondary aromatic characteristics and greater complexity.
Chef Alex Stratta hit a Gland Slam with his savory food pairings, bringing home all four dishes with the wines served.
Below is the menu for the event. It is followed, in order, with the wines that were paired with each course.
Crab and Parsnip Ravioli with Lobster Butter Sauce, served with Savoy Cabbage, Tarragon, and Wild Mushrooms
Red Snapper with Red Wine Reduction, served with Roasted Vegetable Relish, Currants, and Pine Nuts
Tenderloin of Beef, served with Truffled Port Wine Reduction and Potato “Gratin”
Chef’s Cheese Selection, with Bread Crisp and Candied Fruit and Nuts
2012 Husic Chardonnay, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley
Straw color with light cloudiness from minimal fining and filtering. The wine opens up with an enticing nose full of ripe pear, peach, and tropical fruit, baking spices, and creamy butter. A palate-coating mouthful of wine, it also shows some wet stone minerality and a thread of citrus acidity that keeps it bright and focused. The finish lingers on.
MSRP: $45 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 93
2012 Husic Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
A nearly opaque dark ruby hue. Effusive aromas of sweet black cherry, light notes of orange, vanilla, and baking spices lead to rich flavors of extracted black cherry, a whisp of fennel, and strawberry compote. Purely California Pinot, and thoroughly seductive and hedonistic.
MSRP: $55 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 92
2010 Husic Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap, Napa Valley
Glass-staining opaque purple/black color. There are oodles of black currant/cassis fruit up front, accented nicely by pencil shavings, sweet tobacco, and herb notes. This is a style of Cabernet Sauvignon that Bordeaux winemakers dream about producing in the very best vintages. It coats the palate with sweet fruit and wood notes, with very fine-grained, rounded tannins that do not detract in its youth. This is outstanding now, and should only improve and gain complexity over the next 15 to 20 years. It went perfectly with filet mignon.
MSRP: $110 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 95
2010 Husic Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Palm Terrace,’ Stags Leap, Napa Valley
Not made every year, this is additional juice left over from the assembly of the Estate bottling. A glass-staining opaque purple/black color. It shows the same abundance of cassis and black berry fruit, with perhaps a bit less laser-sharp focus. It would be a mistake to dismiss this bottling, as it easily could hold its own (and more) with most Napa Valley Cabs. It paired perfectly with the cheese selection course, especially the blue cheese and the aged chedder.
MSRP: $60 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 92
For more information about Husic Vineyards and to order wines, use this contact information:
189 Ridge Drive
Napa Valley, CA 94558