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Dining | Wine: Feasting on Vino

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At last week’s Feast of the Five Senses fund-raiser dinner hosted by Slow Food Utah (see Dining), each course was paired with a unique wine, ranging from Italian bubbly to earthy Syrah. The wines, purchased for the event by Slow Food Utah, were part of Francis Fecteau’s Libation portfolio. I’ve mentioned Fecteau in other Grapevine columns and those who know him are already aware of his vast wine knowledge and enthusiasm. He spews wine facts like George W. Bush spews malapropisms.

Most of the Feast of the Five Senses’ wines were ones I’d never tasted, so it was a good opportunity to swill something new. The evening began with appetizers from Liberty Heights Fresh and Adami Prosecco Garbel ($15). Frankly, I couldn’t get enough of this stuff. Even in an old-fashioned shallow Champagne glass, Adami Prosecco has a fine mousse and pretty, green-apple scents. It’s fairly dry on the palate, and Fecteau talks about the flavor in terms of “the peachy, honeysuckly fruit that is the essence of most every hillside in Italy’s Valdobbiadene,” where this Prosecco is made. It’s a lovely sparkler to sip on the patio in the waning days of summer.

Next up was Louis Latour’s Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2005 ($14), a wine I’m very familiar with since it’s one of my go-to cheap substitutes for more expensive Burgundy. This Pinot from the south-of-France Languedoc offers up lots of vivid red cherry flavors, spice, and is surprisingly harmonious for the price.

With Pizzeria 712’s summer squash gratin, Fecteau chose an interesting white wine from Mendocino called Atrea “The Choir” 2006 ($16). It’s a Rhone-style blend of Roussanne and Viognier with the pretty honeysuckle, nectarine, peach and jasmine aromas and flavors you’d expect. I’m probably biased because I simply love the pairing of Roussanne and Viognier; it reminds me of days in the south of France sipping wine in a Bonnieux courtyard. So shoot me. I heard someone say that Atrea “The Choir” tasted like an orange creamsicle. That’s about right.

A last-minute switch in the wine line-up substituted Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2006 ($15) for the scheduled Jeriko Estates Sangiovese 2005 with Greg Neville’s stupendous goat-cheese agnolotti. Given the goat cheese filling and fresh Bell Farms organic greens and zebra tomatoes, I’d have probably chosen a white wine like Sauvignon Blanc to pair with the agnolotti. But there’s no reward without risk, right? I’m partial to Borsao in the first place, but I thought this inky-purple wine was really unique—almost frizzante, as they say in Italy. This Spanish Garnacha on the tongue tastes like a coffee and chocolate explosion. I’m still not convinced that it was the perfect wine for Neville’s agnolotti but, boy oh boy, was it ever lip-smacking!

Maybe the revelation of the evening for me at the Feast of the Five Senses was a nose-and-tongue-teasing California Syrah: 2006 Clos Mimi Petite Rousse Paso Robles Syrah ($25). This was a sneak-peak since the 2006 vintage isn’t officially released until September. It’s a biodynamic and organic Syrah with lots of deep, dark, brooding black fruit, chocolate and roasted pepper notes. At Clos Mimi’s state-of-the-art winery the cellar is even designed with elements of feng shui, intended to “channel positive energy throughout the winery.” Well, I don’t know about all that mystical stuff. (Winemaker Tim Spear also plays classical music for his wines, giving them “instant culture.”) But I do agree with his notion that Petite Rousse is the “iron fist in a velvet glove.” Try it with an expensive dry-aged steak.

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