Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rodney Strong Vineyards: Who Knew?

Bellatrix at the Classic Club rolled out a grand welcome for our April 30th wine dinner that featured six outstanding wines by Rodney Strong. Representatives from the Sonoma County winery and director of fine wines Stefen Soltysiak transformed the desert setting into a virtual winery experience, complete with tidbits of history, tasting-room only wines and tales that made each sip all the more enjoyable.

Many wine lovers trace their wine romance with the stories – of people, earth and nature, hard luck, hard work and struggles that all come together in an aromatic glass of deliciousness. This winery has great stories.

Rod Strong was a Balanchine-trained professional dancer who fell in love with the sights and tastes of Parisian life as a Lido dancer in the 1940s. Knowing how unkind age can be for dancers, Strong sought out a post-ballet life for himself and dance partner-wife Charlotte. Read more about their remarkable journey here.

Back to Bellatrix, Executive Chef Gregg Monette turned out five delicious courses punctuated by a raspberry sorbet intermezzo for the six wines:

Sauvignon Blanc 2008, "Charlotte's Home" – Named for Rodney's wife, this grass-scented earthy white paired well with Chef's flaky mushroom tarts.

Chardonnay 2008, Sonoma County – Part barrel- and tank-fermented, this food-friendly Chard was a table favorite, despite an unconventional food pairing with goat cheese and intensely seasoned vinaigrette.

Chardonnay 2008, "Chalk Hill" – This new release is 100% barrel fermented with aromas and flavors of toasty oak. Round and rich, it was served with soy/sake-marinated halibut with lump crab crust.

Pinot Noir 2008, Russian River Valley – Aromas of rose petals with black cherry flavors and delicate clove-scented spice on the finish. More, please.

Meritage 2006, "Symmetry" – The winery's flagship wine is a hand-sorted Bordeaux-styled Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend with 10% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot aged in French oak for 21 months. A luscious pairing for grilled filet mignon with mushroom ragout.

"Gentleman's Port," 2006 Sonoma County – A winery-only pleasantly sweet and silky curtain call made from Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah served with chocolate sweets, macaroons, berry crumbles and other delicacies.

As though the restaurant's majestic setting, décor and a roomful of VIPs weren't enough, our 100-strong group also enjoyed piano music by impressive 13-year-old Colt Bosson. Thanks to Gigi Muth and our April charity, the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women campaign, the Auen family, PGA general manager Greg Rubino, Christine Paxton and all who made this evening a huge success. Enjoy their Roses and Rosé Mother's Day brunch at Bellatrix tomorrow!

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