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Under the Tucson Moon: Icicle Ridge Winemaker Dinner

Last night, we enjoyed a beautiful winemaker’s dinner at Icicle Ridge Winery. Seated at tables, beside the pond, we enjoyed a bounty of delicious dishes prepared by Leo Haas of Cascade Catering. Each course was paired with an Icicle Ridge Winery wine.

Under the Tucson Moon Menu

Under the Tucson Moon Menu

As guests arrived, they were greeted by Kristen and Don Wood. Under the arch, guests received a glass of Icicle Ridge Winery Sparkling Syrah. This is one of my favorite wines. The bubbles tantalize the tongue but don’t overpower the complex fruit flavors of this off-dry sparkling wine. Some sparkling wines can be consumed  in greedy gulps but this one demands that you sip slowly, taking the time to savor. Savor it we did as guests continued to arrive and take their places.

We were lucky to be seated with a couple celebrating their 45th anniversary. Last year, at the first Icicle Ridge Winery Tucson Moon dinner, we shared a table with them and like us, they decided to make this dinner an annual affair. About 75% of the guests had attended the first Tucson Moon winemaker dinner and were back for more! It was a feast for celebrations as at our table of 8, four were celebrating anniversaries and two were celebrating a birthday. The Icicle Ridge Sparkling Syrah a lovely way to start our celebration.

First course with Icicle Ridge Winery Sauvignon Blanc

First course with Icicle Ridge Sauvignon Blanc

Icicle Ridge Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008 was the second pour of the evening. This is a pale lemon colored wine. The aromas are predominantly pear and spring blossoms, grounded by slate. Ed was reminded of those hard Valentine candies and initially wondered if this was going to be a sweet wine.No worried there, this Sauvignon Blanc was off dry.  I got more pear on the palate tempered by refreshing acidity and minerality. This wine struck a nice balance.

The 2008 Icicle Ridge WinerySauvignon Blanc was served with our first course:

  • Pepper Dusted Seared Ahi Tuna with a Pomegranate Reduction, Zucchini and Lemon Verbena Chilled Capellini accompanied by Arugula Pesto
  • Dungeoness Crab Cake with Saffron Aioli and Candied Fennel
  • Prosciutto Baked Prawns with a Cannellini Bean Puree and Heirloom Tomato Confit

It’s no surprise that the crab cake was Ed’s favorite. It was juicy, rich and delicately seasoned so the true crab nature remained the spotlight. The refreshing acidity of this Washington State Sauvignon  Blanc was really nice with the rich crab cake. The crab cake was topped with a lovely piece of fresh crab and candied fennel. Kristen Wood, eldest daughter of the winery founders Louie and Judy Wagoner and wife of wine maker Don Wood, LOVED the pairing of the candied fennel with the Sauvignon Blanc. She went around the tables with extra candied fennel. She wanted to make sure that every guest was able to experience the savory, sweet anise flavors of the fennel alongside the bracing fruit and acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc. I have to agree with her that it was an amazing pairing.

The tuna was cooked to perfection and I liked the pepper and pomegranate together. It was tasty but for some reason my brain just didn’t want to accept this combination. I had competing messages in my brain: “this is good” and “this is strange”. The zucchini and cappellini was a great taste sensation. The zucchini was sliced as thin as the cappellini. Both were cooked al dente and together provided a nice mouth feel. The lemon verbena and the bite of arugula pesto was really nice with minerality of the 2008 Icicle Ridge Sauvignon Blanc.

Each of the three segments of the first course brought out different aspects of the Sauvignon Blanc  The sweet-salty prosciutto baked prawn brought out more fruit in the wine, especially pear and citrus.

Salad course served with Icicle Ridge Riesling

Salad course served with Icicle Ridge Riesling

Icicle Ridge Winery’s Riesling can vary quite a bit from year to year, but I am delighted that the last two vintages have been less sweet than prior vintages. The 2008 Icicle Ridge Winery Riesling has a heady tropical nose of banana, pineapple and mango with a touch of floral. The palate is kiwi, tangerine, pineapple and honeydew.  There is some sweetness in this wine but this vintage is more like a fresh picked strawberry where some Rieslings are like the strawberries after you have coated them with sugar for shortcake. I really liked the citrus flavors in this wine. They that really help create the balance in this Washington State Riesling.

The 2008 Icicle Ridge Winery Riesling was paired with:

  • Baby Greens tossed with Riesling Herb Vinaigrette
  • Juniper crusted Smoked duckling breast slices
  • Layered Gorgonzola Crepe

I don’t normally think of Riesling when pairing duck, particularly smoked duck but this worked. the sweet fruit of the Riesling softened some of the peppery heat of the juniper and the wine was subtle enough to not overwhelm the delicate complexity of the smoked duck. The gorgonzola crepe was delicious but it totally overpowered the Riesling. We wish it had been saved for  one of the red wine courses. Although we liked everything on this course, and Ed really liked the Icicle Ridge Winery Riesling, we felt like it  was the least successful in terms of food-wine pairing.

Intermezzo

Intermezzo

To help us with the transition to the reds, we had a chilled peach and nectarine intermezzo. This was really popular at our table and served as nice palate refresher for most. It was too sweet for me, but then again I was born without a sweet tooth. Everyone else at my table loved this fruity concoction.

The 2007 Icicle Ridge Winery Reserve Merlot was a luxurious Merlot, with softer tannins and a lush mouth feel. The nose was complex with aromas of tobacco, blackberry, eucalyptus, cherry and violet. The flavors of blackberry and cherry, evolve into violet, cocoa and tobacco. Although it is only a 2007, this Washington State Merlot is absolutely drinkable today but it has the fruit and tannic structure to allow it lie for awhile. Quantities are very limited though, if you want to snag some of this Merlot to drink now or to cellar, call Icicle Ridge Winery today before it is gone.

Under the Tuscon Moon Tenderloin

Under the Tuscon Moon Tenderloin

The Icicle Ridge Winery Reserve Merlot was paired with a fantastically tender tenderloin.

  • Grilled Beef Tenderloin with a Merlot Demi Glace
  • Truffled Portabellas
  • Sage Gnocchi
  • Green Bean Bundle

This was a beautiful cut of beef, perfectly prepared. It was tender, juicy and flavorful. It was a fantastic pairing of juicy beef and full bodied Merlot. The truffled Portabellas were also so rich but the Merlot stood its own with its great balance of fruit, acid and tannins. The green bean bundle wrapped with bacon was delicious and brought out a bit of smoke and herb in the Merlot, bringing more complexity to the wine. The sage gnocchi was the only culinary disappointment this evening. We have had Leo Haas gnocchi before and it was delicious but tonight they were dried out.

Dessert at Icicle Ridge Winery

Dessert at Icicle Ridge Winery

The Icicle Ridge Winery 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was a little tighter than the the 2007 Reserve Merlot. Although it is tasty now, I would cellar this wine a bit to allow it to reach its full potential. Blackberry and cassis on the nose with a bit of vanilla and a touch of green bean. Blackberry, cassis, blueberry and bay leaf flavors on the palate. Sturdy tannins provide a lot of structure to hang the juicy fruit of this Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • Chocolate Hazelnut Torte
  • Creme Anglaise
  • Brandied Cherries

I admit that I only snitched the fresh fruits off of my dessert plate. I will have to let Ed share his delight in this dessert. I can tell you though that several guests threatened to lick their plates!

It was a lovely evening. Icicle Ridge Winery makes some fine wines but where they truly excel is in creating fine wine experiences for their guests.

2 Responses to “Under the Tucson Moon: Icicle Ridge Winemaker Dinner”

  1. Melinda (KSyrah) says:

    Nice write up! I love going to Icicle Ridge. They make you feel so at home there, like you are one of the family. IR was the first wineclub my husband and I joined. We went to a winemakers dinner there a couple yrs ago with Chef Leo Haas and it was exquisite. We have been trying to get back over to Leavenworth for the weekend. Hopefully soon.

  2. Edward says:

    Bean wanted me to talk about the attributes of the desert served at this lovely dinner. This was a chocolate lover’s treat and was extremely rich. The fresh berries and brandied cherries helped to cut into the richness but I very much appreciated the full bodied reserve Cab that was poured with this course. I would not normally want a merlot or cab with desert but I could not imagine a better pairing then this one.

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