At one point close to the evening's end, I scanned our table and counted 30 wine glasses in use between seven of us — that's just how the Pinot Posse executes gustatory justice, people.
If not, just click that link and read his excellent rundown of the event's Pinot-pushing mission, which I won't repeat at length here, other than to say that we're discussing a group of Oregon and California winemakers who've joined forces to promote their wine varietal on a January tour of Colorado.
View a brief slideshow of featured wines and food courses here, which I'll also describe in brief below.
First off, a note about Pinot growing in Sonoma in 2011 via A.P. Vin winemaker Andrew Vingiello. He called it an "anemic" and difficult growing year due to drought — in a good year he'll produce 2000 cases; he'll be lucky to hit 1300 for 2011 — but added that low yields do contribute to "added depth" in the grapes, essentially due to lower concentration on the vines.
On the topic of small batch and low yield, these Pinot Posse winemakers are the type who do only produce two to three thousand cases annually, making them pretty special and not that easy to find on shelves. Your best bet here is to hit up event co-host Broadmoor Wine & Spirits.
As for the menu — here's something I've never done before in a blog — here's a copy of mine complete with my scribbles (good luck with my lousy handwriting), wine splatters and notes that didn't make it into the other notebook I was carrying. You should still be able to read all the wine and food descriptions (fun!):
Let's look at food first (some of it currently available on Summit's seasonal menu): As always, chef Bertrand Bouquin's food half of the event was borderline phenomenal, with overall greatness throughout and some definite highlights courtesy little accents on each course.
His gnocchi was fantastic on course one, especially with the hearty black trumpet mushrooms.
The escargot was my favorite savory course, coming early in the meal (always hard to follow such a killer course) and being paired with the best and priciest wine of the evening (more on that below). The snails met an ample butter bath with a lovely garlic kick, peppers and onions also lending wonderful flavor.
Fresh pasta really enhanced the goat plate, as did mint garnish, which eaten along with the goat hunks was just divine. Makes sense since goat has that mild gaminess or tang to it that is similar to lamb in a way; and lamb classically gets a mint pairing.
Our swordfish was all smoke thanks to the applewood bacon wrap, making one of my dining mates from Denver Life Magazine essentially read my mind and comment on just how good a sip of scotch would taste with the fish.
An Emma Farm's Wagyu beef Stilton cheeseburger was appropriately kick-ass and noticeably fatty in texture. No complaint at all, but I couldn't get the echo of something I recently read in Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw out of my head:
In the book, he calls the use of Wagyu in a burger "utterly pointless" and "supremely wasteful."
What makes a Wagyu steak so desirable is the unbelievably prodigious marbling of fat that runs through it — often as much as 50 percent. Its resulting tenderness and richness, and the subtle — repeat — subtle flavor. When grinding a hamburger, you can put in as much fast as you like ... so there's no reason to pay a hundred bucks for a burger. A burger, presumably, already is about as tender as a piece of meat can be — and a taste as subtle as real Wagyu's would, in any case, be lost were you to do something so insensitive as bury it between two buns and slather it with ketchup.
Now, in fairness, the Broadmoor's Wagyu burgers don't cost anywhere near $100 — Bourdain was poking some trendy New York City spots frequented by "the cream of big-city douchedom."
And like I said, it was a damn tasty burger regardless of whether it might be the less than optimal use of precious meat as a burger vs. steak.
Onward, the evening finished with a fantastic Pinot Noir sorbet from Broadmoor pastry chef Remy Funfrock's recipe, constructed in this case by pastry tournant Michelle Vitera.
Topping my prior favorite wine-infused sorbet, a Holy Cross Abbey apple blossom wine construct, this sweetie was made with a Hungarian Pinot according to Summit sommelier Bucky Buckelew.
Vitera reduced the wine, then added orange peel, star anise and cinnamon, as well as Crème de cassis and 'Creme de Framboise' and blueberry and blackberry purée to the sugar. The result was super rich and slightly creamy, with more body and fruit depth than the average sorbet.
And lastly, the starring wines.
My first thought, scribbled on the top of that menu at some point during the meal: What doesn't Pinot Noir work with?
Honestly, I wouldn't know where to begin weighing these Pinots against one another descriptively. Even side-by-side, sipping from one to another, our table struggled to characterize the subtle differences, none of us nearing sommelier status.
Velvety textures were omnipresent, with a general lightness and softness that never came close to overpowering any of the food pairings. Some fruit hints would show up in the nose and aftertaste, but none so strong that they became hugely defining characteristics, at least to me.
Many of us hung onto earlier courses' wine pairings to continue sampling them with later foods, and near meal's end, we shared an extra pour of the stupifyingly delicious Kosta Browne 2009 Gap's Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Pinot Noir.
Price doesn't always dictate the best wine, as we've all probably discovered, but in this case, it's hard to argue against this show-stopping $109 bottle of goodness (as compared to the others, that ranged from $39 to $53).
It's the single best wine I've sample since becoming enchanted by Continuum at a 2009 Summit dinner.
Now that even I am tired of listening to myself prattle on, I'll conclude with what you need to know about upcoming wine dinners at the Summit, should you be interested in attending.
On Sunday, Jan. 29, catch The Wines of Italy for $79 per person, featuring "lesser known wine regions."
And for an early Valentine's Day, attend a Champagne dinner on Sunday, Feb. 12 for $99 a head, if the bubbly stuff doesn't bludgeon your head as it does mine.