There's an indescribable sense of comfort I glean from wine dinners; the joy of sitting down with friends to handcrafted cuisine and tasty wines carefully paired with each morsel.
I enjoyed one such meal recently, an organic Farm-to-Table menu prepared by Executive Chef Sean O'Connell at bluEmber Restaurant inside Rancho Las Palmas Resort. Chef O'Connell selected produce from locally based County Line Farms, which David Dees of JAQK Cellars then paired with some exquisite wines.
Selections included Chanterelle-baked pan squash with grilled asparagus matched with the lush and easy-drinking Pearl Handle Chardonnay.
The earthy and flavorful mushroom and squash combined well with the creamy and lemony notes in the wine. I'm not typically a Chard lover, but this version has certainly captured the attention of my fickle palate.
Zippy heirloom tomato and tender squash blossoms were a tasty treat when matched up with the tummy-warming favorite of the night, Soldiers of Fortune Syrah. Full of cherries and chocolate, taking the first sip of this wine is like opening gifts on Christmas morning. It is easily my favorite in the JAQK lineup.
We also enjoyed vanilla salmon confit with JAQK's spicy Black Clover Merlot, the notes of vanilla bean in the wine making it a solid choice for this dish.
JAQK's tobacco-inflected High Roller Cab was smooth on the palate with a pull-apart slow-braised wagyu short rib beef perched atop creamy polenta.
For the grand finale, we inhaled a cardamom-spiced pumpkin cheesecake that was light as air and also paired with the High Roller Cab, which took on an almost sherry-like quality when sipped with this decadent dessert.
Suffice it to say, I'm still dreaming of Syrah and squash blossoms...