Whenever I get the chance, I encourage people to attend winemaker’s dinners. They are a great way to meet new people, taste new wines and foods, and have a really good time at a relatively inexpensive price for the value you receive.
Last Saturday night, I had the unique opportunity to help pair wines at a winemaker dinner for Will Wolfeil, my friend, and the executive chef at the Hilltop Restaurant in Pullman.
I was able to bring two winemakers to the event. Jay Dewitt from Dumas Station, and Bob and Crista Whitelatch from Claar Cellars. Dumas Station is a small winery that offers Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Claar has several offerings, and has been in business since the 1980s.
The dinner started out with a wonderful salmon wrapped scallop on a mixed bed of greens, and finished with a citrus dressing. I paired this with the Claar Savignon Blanc. The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc has a wonderful nose of honeysuckle and pears. It finishes crisp and light.
Course two was a wonderful cheese and mushroom soup, made with dried chantrelle mushrooms, which gave a wonderful texture to the soup. I paired this with the 2007 Claar Riesling. It is lightly sweet and shows wonderful flavors of apricot, honey, and nectarines.
Next, Will brought out a wonderful dish called stuffed zucchini tubes with roasted tomatoes. This dish is both beautiful and delicious. He hollows out a zucchini and roasts it with fresh tomatoes and various fresh herbs. It has a wonderful Italian zestiness to it. For this dish I chose the Claar 2006 Sangiovese. It is bright with flavors of cherry and floral accents, and finishes with a nice spiciness. This vintage has won several awards throughout the United States.
After a great Palate cleanser of homemade lemon sorbet, we were on to a sesame crusted Ahi with wassabi horseradish. For this I paired the Claar 2007 Chardonnay. The Chardonnay is non-oaked, which pairs very well with all types of fish. It’s flavors are of ripe citrus fruit and crisp green apple. It finishes with a light minerality.
Next we were served a Smoked Chicken Roulade with roasted peppers and Proschuito on a saffron cream sauce. The smoked meat and spiciness paired nicely with the 2005 Dumas Station Merlot. This wine just received a 92 in wine spectator. It is rich with plum jam, cocoa, vanilla, and a wonderful balance of tannin, fruit, and acid. It finishes long and beautiful.
The sixth course was a Bison Strip with Blackberry Brandy Sauce. I paired this with the 2005 Dumas Station Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2005 vintage is pulled from Walla Walla’s Minnick vineyard. It has deep, rich flavors of blackberry and currant, and spice box.
Dessert was a wonderful cream cake with huckleberries. The natural pairing for this was Claar’s 2007 late harvest Riesling. The rich flavors of apricot, peaches, and pears in the wine mingled nicely with the buttery richness of the frosted cake.
If you ever have the chance to enjoy a meal at the Hilltop, I would highly recommend it. Will is a fantastic chef, and his staff was great to work with. Also, when traveling Hwy 12 between Dayton and Waitsburg, I suggest stopping to visit Dumas Station. Claar Cellars is located in Zillah just off of I-82. On your next trip to Seattle, stop in and tell them I sent you.