Have you seen the movie "Bottle Shock?" If so, then you know all about the legendary Judgement of Paris that rocked the wine world.
Also called the "Paris Wine Tasting," it was a competition staged in the City of Light in 1976, in which French judges interpreted two blind tastings.
One competition pitted top-quality Chardonnays against white Bordeauxs and the next tasting placed red Bordeauxs opposing Cabernet Sauvignons. To the disbelief of judges, the California wines rated best in each category and it set the French wine world on its ear.
DUO Steak & Seafood’s Restaurant Manager Cecil Kepner showcases two of the bottles of Stag’s Leap wine he’ll pour at the Feb. 17 dinner.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
"Stag's Leap Wine Cellar's cabernet sauvignon took first prize against all of the famous French first-growth Bordeaux wines in that Judgement of Paris tasting,' " says Chef Alex Stanislaw of Plantation House in Kapalua, who will present a special dinner with the current winemaker of Stag's Leap on Thursday, Feb. 16.
Along with Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley that won for its Chardonnay, Stag's Leap catapulted California wine to the top of the heap, giving it "street cred" for the first time ever. It continues to excel with sought-after wines, never resting on its laurels.
Besides Plantation?House, the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea will present a special Stag's Leap dinner with the winemaker Feb. 17. The first is in West Maui, the other in South Maui. The dinners have totally different price points and menus. Of course, Stag's Leap's reputation as well as tempting menus at both of these restaurants make the events highly recommended.
Let's talk about the dinner at Four Seasons first. It will be set up at the resort's DUO Steak & Seafood restaurant. An intimate reception will be uncorked starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. It will be four-course, mostly sit-down affair, situated in a new spot never before used at DUO, the lower court near the fountain and the pool surrounded by lush foliage and ocean views.
"The dinner will be held outside, under the stars, and not in an enclosed room," says Four Seasons Executive Chef Roger Stettler. "At the reception, I'll serve confit of salmon trout with 2009 Karia Chardonnay. Two other courses will include veal medallion with morel mushroom sauce and Maple Leaf Farm duck breast."
Cabernet Sauvignons such as Artemis, S.L.V. and Fay along with Sauvignon Blanc will flow. The resort will then do something different.
"Part of the dinner, including the cheese course and the dessert course, will be set up so you may get up and move around," says Stettler. "It creates more interaction with the guests," adds Stephane Castera, Four Seasons' new director of food and beverage. "You can talk to the winemaker, Nikki Pruss, and it will be fun, a nice scenario."
Pruss originally had a career as a podiatric surgeon, but she was sidetracked by her fascination with wine and she hasn't looked back since.
"Winemaking offers the chance to combine the technical aspects of science and artistry. I enjoy the creative challenge of working with nature to produce world-class wines," says Pruss. Cost is $160 per person, plus tax and tip. Space is limited. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 874-2201.
Plantation House will kick off its version of a Stag's Leap dinner at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16. Chef de Cuisine Maro Gjurasic will serve three appetizers with 2008 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Savor island seafood ceviche with avocado mousse, roasted local tomato crostini with shaved pecorini, and Asian-Cuban pork on buns with hoisin aioli and kimchee onions.
"Maro is an incredibly talented chef, and a bonafide wine enthusiast as well," says his boss, Chef Stanislaw. "He puts together ingredients and flavors that blow me away, and combinations of tastes that really complement the total wine experience."
Other courses will be barbecue jumbo prawns with Maui lilikoi glaze and roasted-corn pudding; grilled wild salmon with gruyere whipped potato, wild arugula and blackberries; and house-made gnocchi with duck confit and Hamakua Ali'i mushrooms. Hawaiian-chocolate truffles and cheeses will be served family style. Stag's Leap wines such as Karia, Artemis and Hands of Time will flow. Cost is $85 per person, plus tax and tip. Call 669-6299.