Daniel’s Broiler (Bellevue Place) recently welcomed iconic Napa Valley wine producer Stags’ Leap Winery for a five-course dinner. Assistant winemaker Joanne Wing, a native of New Zealand, introduced herself and the wines, highlighting her decade of experience in the industry spanning the northern and southern hemispheres. She described Stags’ Leap as a “stunning property” and once there, she never wanted to leave.
Not to be confused with the region’s other deer-labeled winery Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stags’ Leap Winery “won the war of the apostrophe” (a very long legal battle) because they “represent all stags.” Grammar aside, Stags’ Leap differentiates itself from Stag’s Leap by stylistically striving for an Old World finesse utilizing New World fruit.
Servers passed the first course around the 40 or so attendees: Two varieties of crostini paired with the 2016 Stags’ Leap Viognier – a smoked sable fish, soft scrambled egg, ikura (fish eggs), and chive and a chevre, watermelon beet, grilled apricot, and chili spice combination. The second was more successful, hitting sweet, salty, and tangy notes with a chili heat chaser. However, the Viognier – a medium-bodied wine redolent with honeysuckle, apricot, and floral notes – is definitely well-suited for a seafood pairing like the sable fish.
The second course – a spring salad with baby kale, avocado, marcona almonds, and preserved kumquat vinaigrette – was paired with the 2016 Stags’ Leap Chardonnay. Not your grandmother’s California Chard, this Chardonnay is fairly lean thanks to a combination of mostly neutral oak and stainless steel, with only about 25 percent new oak used and no malolactic fermentation. The wine’s citrus notes and high acidity made for a bright flavor profile.
Wing paired the velvety soft 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (black cherry, milk chocolate, blackberry, minty notes) with a tender braised short rib accompanied by sweet seared scallops, and morel mushrooms drizzled with demi-glace. The fourth course, a Piedmontese New York steak with spring vegetables and blackberry demi-glace, was paired with the 2014 Stags’ Leap “The Investor” – a red blend with nearly equal parts of Merlot and Petite Sirah plus some Cabernet and Malbec. The roasted carrots and crispy herb polenta triangle carried the dish, as the steak was almost too chewy to manage.
The dessert course was one of the best of the night. A devilishly chocolate torte, it’s rich cocoa cut with the slight tang of the Devonshire cream, served with an addictive coconut crisp. We all wanted to go home with a box of those crisps! Normally I think dessert should be paired with a sweet wine, but the 2014 Stags’ Leap Petite Syrah was rich enough to work well with the torte.