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Restaurant Scene/ Getting a Taste of Virginia


By Jordan Wright

A splendid collection of vintners, savvy insiders, Washington oenophiles and a bona fide wine guru savored the grape at “A Taste of Virginia” wine event presented by Domasoteca and Domaso Trattoria on Oct. 29 at very posh Hotel Palomar in Rosslyn.

The event, a benefit for the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, drew those who know and appreciate their Virginia wines.  Seven wineries from the Charlottesville/Monticello area were on hand including several of the very knowledgeable vintners themselves.

Hosting the event was Christianna Sargent, manager of Domasoteca, the wine shop and salumeria on the ground floor of the Palomar.

This destination shop, which bills itself as a “global wine experience,” provided the beautifully arranged table of fresh berries, international cheeses, “salumi” (cured artisanal Italian meats), and house baked breads that aided the tasters in their wine quest.

At eight a separate dinner of wine and food pairings designed by consulting Chef Massimo De Francesca was served in the sleek mid-century modern restaurant, Domaso Trattoria, and a number of devotees peeled off from the large group to enhance their experience.

Chad Zakaib of Jefferson Vineyards served its “homage to Thomas Jefferson” Chardonnay Reserve 2007 with a Seared Sea Scallop with Thyme and Butternut Squash and Horseradish Cream that had enough brine and smokiness to stand cote a cote with his wine.

Michael Shaps of Virginia Wineworks, who under the Michael Shaps label, perfectly paired his 2007 Viognier with a meltingly tender-sweet Lobster Tartare.  SAVEUR Magazine declared this vintage “the Best Viognier in America” and his winery is considered one of the Top Ten Wineries in the United States.  He describes this vintage as, “an exceptional citrusy wine with peach and apricot aromatics”.

Shaps brought out his Cabernet Franc 2007, and though it was still young, it showed tremendous promise.  Its dark Loire Valley-style depth enhanced a silken Lamb Loin Carpaccio lacquered with Roasted Expresso Oil.

A notable wine I had been following since first experiencing it at the early evening tasting, Jefferson Vineyards Meritage 2006 appeared alongside Venison Tenderloin with Pepper Confit to provide a most harmonious coupling.

Legendary Virginia wine guru, Brad McCarthy, was on hand to introduce his Bradford Reed Merlot Reserve 2006.  McCarthy defined, “its mineral quality and gravelly acid that reflect the foothills region of the Blue Ridge Mountains where it is grown”.  It is reminiscent of the Pomerols and St. Emilions from the ancient Bordeaux region of France.

The pairing was with slow-braised Veal Cheeks with Morels and Cohiba Sabayon.  Yes, as in the cigar.  Chef De Francesca explained, “A Cohiba cigar was soaked to extract the liquid that was then whisked into the savory sabayon sauce”.  I couldn’t pinpoint if it was Dominican or Cuban, but it was an intriguing concept.

McCarthy has worked to establish many of the top vineyards in the area, such as Chrysalis, White Hall, Blenheim, James River and Veritas and has consulted with a dozen more vintners.   His charm and expertise are renowned.

The creatively styled six-course meal culminated beautifully with White Hall’s Edichi Port served with Poached Pears and Gorgonzola Mousse.  Similar to a ruby port, this little gem was charming as a nightcap.  Now don’t you wish you were there.

Jordan Wright is a private chef and food writer based in Alexandria.  She can be contacted at [email protected].

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