I was excited to meet one of the stalwarts of women and wine, Margo Van Staaveren the winemaker from Chateau St. Jean, at a wine dinner at Bailey’s Prime. Sadly, the stars did not align and Margo was unable to make the dinner due to family commitments.
Originally a chemist, Margo has been responsible for 32 harvests at the winery and she has a philosophy of making sure the wines truly express the uniqueness of the grapes from year to year. Chateau St. Jean, which is based in Sonoma, has been making wines since 1973.
We started the reception with the 09 Belle Terre Chardonnay, which had notes of lemon, oak, vanilla and a buttery flavor.
We then moved to the 10 Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc paired with an Ahi Tune Crudo with English peas, red radish, shaved pearl onion and meyer lemon vinaigrette. The grapefruit, minerality and acidity was a perfect companion for the tuna.
Our next course was the 09 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir with its red fruit and Asian spice paired with a squab breast “sous vide” with smoked bacon braised little gem, lardon, cauliflower puree and natural jus.
We paired the 08 Chateau St Jean Cing Cepage, which was the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the “Wine of the Year” in 1996, with Lamb Bacon Wrapped Prime Beef Tenderloin with spiced octopus, carmelized spring onions, potatoes “Pont Neuf” and red wine braise. This meritage of five Bordeaux grapes was a match made in heaven for the tenderloin.
Our dessert was a native peach “crisp” with caramel ice cream and sea salt paired with the 08 Gewurztraminer. It had notes of honeysuckle and apricot and was an awesome finish with the dessert.
Carbery and Kucwaj
I also had a chance to sit down and talk with Bailey’s new General Manager, Ken Kucwaj, and executive chef, Ryan Carbery. You may recall I was worried about the future of the restaurant and its stellar wine program built under the guidance of Jennifer Jaco, who is now the lead sommelier at Ruth Chris Steakhouse. Over a bottle of 05 Rudd Cabernet, they both told me their vision about the food and the wine program. I believe they will continue to make Bailey’s Prime a destination for great food and wine.