Recently, Ivar’s has launched a new series called Food and Wine Adventures, in which they pair local wines with local seafood.  On March 10, 2010 we attended a Food and Wine Adventure of white wine and shellfish, showcasing Chateau Ste Michelle.

Chef Chris Garr

Chef Chris Garr

Executive Chef Chris Garr planned a menu that highlighted the bounty of the sea and married the characteristics of a diverse assortment of white wines from Chateau Ste Michelle. This was an intimate reception, set up with small tables where guests could sip and nibble before moving on to the next offering. The space was easy to move about in and we appreciated that they kept the event small and intimate. So many wine events are over sold and over crowded, where you end up waiting in long lines and jostling your wine as you navigate the mob. That is not the case at Ivar’s Food and Wine Experience.

Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc de Blanc paired with Penn Cove Oysters served with Strawberry Mignonette

Penn Cove Oyster

Penn Cove Oyster with Strawberry Mignonette

We were greeted with a glass of Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc de blanc, the driest of their sparkling wines. This sparkler has tart pear notes on the nose and the palate. Chef Garr and his staff were shucking delicious Penn Cove Oysters. A refreshing strawberry mignonette was served with the oysters, giving a bright burst of fruit to accentuate the fresh saltwater freshness of the oyster.

2007 Marier Sauvignon Blanc paired with Chef Creek Oysters with Cantaloupe Granita

Chef Creek Oysters

Oyster pairings

Chef Garr told me that he loves to pair oysters with granita. Granita does not always work in a busy restaurant but Chris really likes the icy contrast to the briny oysters. This reception was the perfect opportunity to introduce the wonders of granita topped oysters. I really appreciated Chris’s skills at pairing. I loved the cantaloupe granita topped Chef Creek oyster with the Sauvignon blanc but I naively tried the strawberry mignonette topped Penn Cove oyster with the Sauvignon Blanc as well. It made the wine taste metallic and Chris explained that it was the briny nature of the oysters that determined the pairing.

We were really impressed with the Marier Sauvignon Blanc. Wendy Stuckey, white wine maker at Chateau Ste Michelle, explained that this Sauvignon Blanc is aged in 100% neutral oak, giving it excellent body and luxurious mouth feel. In addition, this wine was aged five months on sur lie. The wine has the characteristic grassy notes of Sauvignon Blanc but has much more body and complexity than most Sauvignon Blancs. This limited release wine was our favorite wine of the evening and we were grateful that the staff refilled our glasses of this wine!

Scallops Ivar

Grilled Scallops

Eroica Riesling paired with Grilled Weathervane Scallops

This was my favorite pairing of the evening. Dr Ernst Loosen’s Eroica Riesling was golden and full of citrus notes. This off-dry Riesling was a great match to the scallop dish.  The scallop dish was composed of grilled weather vane scallops, fennel, vanilla tuile frisee and caramelized apple. It was succulent and sweet with great texture. Yum!

Nellie’s Garden Dry Rosé paired with Poached Mussels

Penn Cove mussels

Penn Cove mussels

The Nellie’s Garden Dry Rosé is Syrah based, giving it a lovely light raspberry color. Full of raspberry and strawberry notes but this wine is dry. The mouth feel was bigger than I anticipated. Wendy told us that a percentage of this wine was also aged in neutral oak barrels and on sur lee.

The rosé was paired with poached mussels served a top saffron aoli, herb marinated tomato on a baguette.  Ed liked the dish, but to pair it with the Nellie’s Garden Dry Rosé he wished that the mussels had been smoked instead of poached. Our favorite pairing with this wine was the smoked cheddar from the cheese plate.

Late Harvest Chenin Blanc paired with fresh fruit tart topped with lemon cream

fruit tart

Fruit tart with Chenin Blanc

This was Ed’s favorite pairing of the evening. The (mango, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry) fruit tarts caught his eye when we first walked in the door and  he couldn’t wait to try them. The tarts were good he said but it was the Late Harvest Chenin Blanc that perfected the pairing for him. The sweetness of this Chenin Blanc and the hint of tartness in the fruit tart balanced both the wine and the tart. He loved how creamy the tart tasted when paired with this wine.  Ed was encouraging other guests to make sure that they tried that pairing.

The Late Harvest Chenin Blanc is a very pale straw colored wine with intoxicating aromas of tropical fruit and melon. It is sweet at 13.6% residual sugar but the botrytis (noble rot) adds some spice to the palate adding complexity to the peach and melon notes.

Wendy Stuckey, White Wine maker

Wendy Stuckey, Chateau Ste Michelle White Wine maker

If this looks good to you, check out Ivar’s Washington wine month celebration on 3/23. I have also heard that a third Food and Wine Adventures is in the works!