By Glen Frederiksen
Some of the most enjoyable times I have had while following the wine muse have happened serendipitously. That is to say, there was no real plan involved – the day unfolded in a magical way. Perhaps it was a random stop in an obscure winery off the beaten path, or a bottle of wine I’m not familiar with is recommended by a knowledgeable sommelier…
Or, as in this case, Your Humble Scribe and the missus, AKA The Happy Cooker, stumble into a wine dinner at the Circus Circus Steakhouse in Reno featuring Surh Luchtel wines.
We were in Reno for a three-day respite from the heat of Las Vegas. A seven hour drive through desolate high desert dotted with several ghost towns and barely gasping settlements took us from daily temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit to beautiful highs of 75, with nightly lows into the 40s. Ah, relief!
Naturally, I began looking for things to do. A show here, a foodie restaurant there… Then I noticed that a wine dinner was slated for the last night we were in town. Voila! I signed us up, not knowing what to expect.
We had dined at the Circus Circus Steakhouse before, and found the food quite tasty. Still, you never know what might happen at a wine dinner. The winery, Suhr Luchtel, was from Napa Valley, but I had never heard of it.
However, the Steakhouse Food and Beverage Manager Dave Brody raved about the quality of the wines. I know Dave to be as big a wine lover as I am, so that was good enough for me.
We took our chances, dove in, and had a sublime evening. Did I mention that the feast cost only $75 per person (plus Tax and tip)? That is a pittance in today’s world of wine dinners. They even came around and offered second pours to those of us who were (ahem!) thirsty. And threw in door prize drawing for eight bottles of wine.
Executive Chef Daniel Pfeiffer did a superlative job of matching the four wines served to his five dishes (there was no wine with the dessert course). The pairings were inspired – white fish with red wine? – and we relished every morsel and sip, as did the other 60 or so attendees that night.
Below are the five courses, along with wines paired and my notes about the four wines:
Maine lobster consommé, spring vegetables, lobster ravioli, and lavash with orange aioli
2010 Surh Luchtel Viognier, Oak Knoll Vineyard, Napa Valley
Aromas and flavors of peach, pear, papaya, and cream, with racy, citric acidity and minerality.
MSRP: $25 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 88
Alaskan Cod, Hong Kong Style
Cod steamed with ponzu sauce and sizzling oil.
2011 Surh Luchtel Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Aromas of clove, tea, and black cherry lead to a mouthful of spiced black cherry fruit. On the palate, it is sleek and feminine. The food pairing amplified the flavors and brought out a pleasant earthiness.
MSRP: $30 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 91
Telaggio Eggplant Lasagna
Japanese eggplant, ratatouille vegetables, porcini mushrooms, and telaggio double cream cheese.
2008 Surh Luchtel Mosaic Red Blend, Napa Valley
This red sports a pretty nose full of spiced black fruits, vanilla, and a flowery perfume. It is integrated and smooth; nicely balanced. Some dusty minerality shows up mid-palate. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.
MSRP: $28 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 90
Lamb Chops Dijonaise
Lamb chops served with smoked gouda potato gratin, baby turnips, and a mint demi-glaze.
2008 Surh Luchtel Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Great volcanic minerality in the nose is followed by vanilla, dark flowers, ample dark fruit, and a kiss of fennel. It’s lush and plush in the mouth, with fine-grained tannins. An outstanding match with the lamb dish.
MSRP: $40 (May 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 91
Poached peach sabayon with pistachio ice cream.
You may have noticed the high scores and miniscule (for Napa Valley) prices on these wines. These are excellent values. Unfortunately, since so few cases are produced, these wines tend to sell out quickly. For more info about this boutique winery, check out their website, or give them a call:
Surh Luchtel Cellars
P.O. Box 2486
Napa, CA 94558
For more info on the monthly wine dinners at the Steakhouse in Circus Circus, check out their website: