Last July, I became acquainted with Evening Land Vineyards through an event with Pioneer Wine Company. So when I got the invitation from Natalie Vaclavik, the company’s Southeast Regional Sales Director of Evening Land, to attend a dinner at Bailey’s, I jumped at the chance. When I got there, I found out that I was the first media outlet in Dallas to cover the wine. Based on what I tasted, I’d make sure you try a bottle or two before the word gets out.
Originally, Larry Stone, master sommelier, president of Evening Land and one of only two Americans to have won the competition for International Best Sommelier in French Wines and Spirits from Food and Wines from France, was supposed to attend. However, as it often does, life got in the way. But, Natalie made up for his absence with her knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for the wines. And when you add the insight from Bailey’s Sommelier, Jennifer Jaco, you have created a wine lover’s dream. FYI – Jennifer has built one of the best wine lists in town at Bailey’s with over 715 labels and it’s on par with the Fairmont Hotel’s, which was the best I have found in terms of fun/unique and scope of wines.
The winery owns land in Occidental Vineyard in Sonoma and Santa Rita Hills Estate in California, Eola-Amity and Seven Springs in Oregon as well vineyards in Burgundy in collaboration with Dominique Lafon of Domaine des Comtest Lafon. Evening Land is committed to selling the best pinot noir and chardonnay possible. The wines have a color-coded, tiered label system of blue, silver, gold and white, which reflects pricing. Blue is the most affordable and starts at about $25 leading up to the white label, which runs about $120 a bottle. Isabel Meunier is the wine maker in Oregon; Christophe Vial is the winemaker in Beaune, France, and Sashi Moorman in California. Lafon continues to consult in France.
Executive Chef Grant Morgan created a number of dishes matched with the different wine regions from France to Oregon to California. We were served a pinot noir and chardonnay with each course.
Our first course was Foie Gras, Black Pepper Lavash and Apricot Jam served with the 10 Evening Land Vineyards Etoile Pouilly Fuisse ($28.99), France, which had notes of lemon, minerality, a little butterscotch and a nice mouth texture. It was fabulous with the food and the Old World style of white that I enjoy. The next wine served was the 10 Evening Land Blue Label Bourgogne Rouge ($25.99), France, which earthy with notes of black cherry.
The second course was served with my favorite white wine of the night, which is almost impossible to procure since only 100 cases are made. The 09 Evening Lane Vineyards Summum Chardonnay, Seven Springs Eola-Amity Hills from Oregon ($125.99) was a treat. Citrus, apple, tropical and minerality. Very old world style and my favorite chardonnay. When served with the cherry stuffed Oregon quail breast with creamy polenta and sweet onions, it was a match made in heaven. The 09 Evening Land Vineyards Seven Springs Estate Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills from Oregon ($39.99) was the epitome of Oregon in a glass — earthy, Old World, black cherry. I really liked this wine.
We then moved to California with roasted duck breast, almond toast, braised California rhubarb and watercress. The almond toast was almost like dessert, and when I asked Grant about it, he told me I didn’t want to know how fattening it was because it was cooked in duck fat. Sigh. Oh, but it was worth it. The wines served were the 10 Evening Lands Blue Label Chardonnay, which was full bodied with some apple, flint and citrus. The 09 Evening Land Vineyards Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir, had ripe blackberry and dark fruit with a big finish.
We finished with a fabulous tray of desserts, that I couldn’t stop eating, and joined Natalie and Jennifer for a fun chat about wine and a rich 20-year-old glass of Ramos Pinto 20 Years Old Quinta do Bom Retiro Tawny Port from Portugal.