Saturday, March 27, 2010

Swinging into Spring at Bing's

Winewomen and friends filled Bing Crosby's banquet room last week on the first day of spring. Tables sparkled with rosy reflections cast by rays of late daylight that shone upon our aperitif – 2009 Mulderbosch rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon. The pretty South African rosé was watermelon-fresh with cherries and fresh strawberry on the palate and light spice on the finish. We were off to a lovely start.

Lisa Wherry introduced the evening's wines from The Estates Group and Cape Classics. She held up an article in the latest issue of Wine Spectator about groups and vintners who foster social justice programs in South Africa's wine industry. Next, James Martinez cued us in about Stroke Recovery Center, our March charity. Families tell us about the remarkable work they do for clients living with the aftereffects of stroke. Thank you, all.

Appetizers arrived along with Indaba 2009 Chenin Blanc to give us a taste of South Africa's most widely planted wine grape. Despite being under-chilled, we could still enjoy the lemon-scented, stone-fruited delight from the Western Cape. That made two wines already checked off on our order list.

A pause in the dining action gave the happy-footed party crowd time to break into full swing on the dance floor. Lady in Red danced with obvious joy, all poised in lock step with her sinewy partner. Didn't she look fabulous?

Bing's staff made a grand entrance as they hoisted platters of massive half-chickens that quieted a few tables. Hmm, the salmon and short ribs folks wondered, what's up with that? No worries – the salmon and shorties were big in rich flavors that satisfied just right. Meats paired well with medium-bodied 2007 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon, the best-selling South African cab in the United States, juiced by a small amount of Syrah and Petit Verdot.

Our server, who nearly swooned as she described Bing's crème brulee, swayed even suckers for red wines with chocolate desserts. One bite and we understood. Its creamy texture was divine. A firmer-than-expected taste of the ultra-rich chocolate decadence mousse proved a chocolate-lover's dream. It too paired quite well with 2009 Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz, which we found pleasantly jammy, rather than truly sweet.

The room was half-full when our dining group headed home. From the looks of it, the other half was still jumpin' on the dance floor. Happy Spring to all!

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