Thursday, May 28, 2015

DUKES Family Winery wins me over deliciously at the Blue Duck Tavern in DC (5-27-15)

Over a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Jackie & Pat Dukes at a wine tasting here in DC and fell in love with them both as well as their awesome wines.

Last summer, while in Oregon's Willamette Valley, Will & I visited their gorgeous home which is where they make magic with grapes, and once again fell in love with the view, the wine and the family--even the dogs.

This week, the Dukes are in DC and last night they hosted a spectacular wine dinner at BLUE DUCK Tavern at the Park Hyatt in the private dining room overlooking the open kitchen, where only 19 people (including the Dukes and their distributor) assembled. It was a momentous evening of great wines and food from start to finish.

Speaking of starting, Pat had reached into the recesses of his cellars and started us off with his own stash of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2004 which was a superb year and truly a gorgeous taste on the palate as we all assembled and sat down. With this tasty treat a selection of shaved meats from the Berkel were served and it was a perfect companion and display:

Bresaola, American Prosciutto and Chorizo were the three shaved meats accompanied by housemade pickles, housemade pickled mustard. The meat was superb as was the mustard and the pickles, but the star was the Chicken Liver/Bone Marrow Pate that sent me to heaven and back for more several times as I shmeared it on the thick tasty bread.

The Dukes made their first Rose in 2014, eleven years after they first started producing only Pinot Noir, and we were treated to the Blushing Kate 2014 Pinot Noir Rose that was superb, refreshing and crisp. All their wines are Willamette Valley/Eola-Amity Hills designated (so I won't write that each time), but this location is south of the larger wine producing area and offers a new variety of Pinot that really is fabulous. Only 50 cases were made of this wine; a real treat. It was served with King Mackerel Tartare(from Beaufort, SC) with a Cilantro Puree, Charred Avocado Puree, Crispy Fried Watercress and Cucumber as well as Coriander Blossoms & Champagne Vinaigrette. It was a superb tartare and beautifully presented (photo on my Facebook page).

The next course was Pan Seared Scallops(from Viking Village, NJ) cooked beautifully to perfection and indeed bigger than I have ever seen with Glazed Pork Belly Confit that had virtually no fat and was crispy to perfection, White Asparagus charred with Fish Sauce, Chili Flakes and Fermented Green Garlic. I adored everything in this dish, but especially the subtle spice from the fish sauce, chili and garlic that was beyond imagination. It was served with two sides:

Creamy Stone-Ground Grits (Anson Mills, SC) with red Eye Gravy and Smoked Gouda-ooooooooooooooh yum and

Roasted Wild mushrooms (Kennett Square, PA) Soubise with Warm Herbs that reminded me again how superb Pinot goes with almost any mushroom.

All the Dukes Pinots were poured from double magnums (etched) and the first was a 2009 Charlotte that was divine and a truly brilliant pairing as they all were. I know our cellar has a good selection of Dukes Pinots, but just not sure which years (have to check). The legs on this wine were thick and unctuous; as they should be.

Oven-Roasted Duck Breast with Crispy Leg Confit (Grimaud Farms CA) had a Spiced Honey Glaze that was a revelation and again virtually no fat on the breast (foto also on my FB page). On the side was Potato Puree(Path Valley, PA) with Soft Garlic that was nice, but just a yummy mashed potato to me. The Charred Asparagus (Path Valley, PA) was awesome with Soft Egg broken on top, Pine Nut Gremolata and Parmesan Cheese.

These dishes came with the 2009 Nipple Hill Pinot Noir which is a newer area on the Dukes Vineyards that sits down the hill a bit from the others. Only 50 cases were made in 2009 and this wine is more acidic with less of a bold fruit in it and is clearly a food driven wine not to be drunk alone (as the more elegant sisters are) I know we just received the 2012 last year in our shipment! Pat explained that the fermentation process is different in that they use larger 60 gallon barrels and do an extended fermentation process giving it a "layered complexity" perfect for this kind of food!

The last two wines were poured side by side and are so elegant and both drink alone that I could have them on any day. Alyssa 2008 was more complex for me and darker, but the 2009 Alyssa was more fruit forward and also excellent. These were served with array of exciting farmstead local cheeses presented by Chef Sophie Slesinger in a true presentation:

Cabra La Mancha is a  brined MD goat that has 6 months aging and I love (it is sold at the Bethesda farmer's market I go to on Sundays from time to time)

Great Hill Blue is from Massachusetts

& Elsa Mae (the name of the cow) from Calkin's Creamery (Penna) is a brie style cheese that oozed all over the plate just the way I like it.

These came with strawberry rhubard jam, Marcona almonds, sliced apple and small fig chunks (that I could have lived without) making a superb overall effect and sending us home more than sated after a wonderful evening with truly spectacular food, wines, service and great conversation!