Saturday, June 19, 2010

Winemaker’s Dinners Leave You Feeling Like Royalty

I think I’m finally figuring out how the other half lives, and I think I like it. To say the least I would admit that I feel a little spoiled. To say the most, I feel like a fat king on his Eastern Washington throne.

Last Sunday was the dinner at Wildhorse Resort with Long Shadows and Forgeron wineries. I wrote about this dinner a few weeks ago in this column, and was pleased to see several of you there. Chef Brian and team did an amazing job pairing local foods with the skilled enology and presentations of Gilles Niccault and Marie Eve Gilla. If you are not a member of the Plateau Wine club then I suggest you need to call Jeff at the Plateau and get signed up.

This most recent Sunday was spent with my friends at the Tuscany Grill in Prosser. Jessie and Susanne Ayala opened Tuscany in January and have turned their little 6th street Italian diner into a spectacular eatery.

Jessie, a 5 star executive chef, who has developed restaurants throughout the region over the years, and his beautiful wife Susanne decided last winter that it was time to open a place to call their own. With a lot of hard work and great family support they are doing it fantastically well. One of the things that they are really excelling at is doing winemaker’s dinners.

On Sunday, Jessie and Susanne joined forces with Apex Cellars and Master Sommelier Angelo Tavernaro. The Ayalas provided the amazing food, Denise from Apex provided the wine, and Angelo offered pairings and advice to the fun-loving crowd.

To begin, a well adorned cheese tray was paired with Sparkling Syrah and Brut from Apex. I love a good sparkling Syrah, and this one truly hit the spot. A slight amount of residual sugar brings out the fruit in the wine to balance with the yeast in the bubbles, finishing smooth and dark.

Jessie then offered a delicious smoked salmon canapé with olive tapanade. Ayala’s tapanade still has my mouth watering. The beautiful, slightly fatty salmon dish was paired perfectly with an 2008 Apex Pinot Gris to cleanse the palate. This semi-dry wine offers up flavors of apple, pear, and melon throughout.

The second course was a Gnocchi Puttanesca. Jessie and his assistant chef made beautiful Gnocchi by hand in the kitchen, and coated them liberally with Ayala’s spicy Puttanesca sauce. Tavernaro paired this dish with the 2008 Apex Chardonnay. The Chardonnay uses 30% stainless and 70% mixed oak fermentation program. This leaves the wine citrusy on the mid-palate and butterscotch flavored on the finish.

After a short break with a homemade Limoncello Gelato, Ayala brought out an amazing Pork Osso Bucco. This was paired with the 2006 Apex Merlot, which offers up dark cherry and cocoa flavors.

The dinner was finished in most galiant fashion with a moist chocolate cake topped with genache and a homemade raspberry chipoltle gelato. Denise, the General Manager of Apex offered a very special 1992 Apex Tawny Port for the occasion. This port is truly a must buy while it lasts at $35/bottle from the tasting room.

Isn’t it time that you got to feel like royalty? Well, here’s your chance. The next winemaker’s dinner at Tuscany is next Sunday with Davenlore winery. Call Susanne to get your hands on these very limited tickets. Her number is (509) 786-7600.



  1. Thanks so much for the great review. We had such a great time and were so glad to have you there! Look foeward to future outings...

  2. We had a great time. Thanks for you and Angelo inviting us in. It was fun to crash a wine tasting dinner.

    Jerry and Janet

  3. It was great meeting you Jerry and Janet. Hope we crash another winemaker's dinner together sometime soon!


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