Arnot-Roberts’ innovative, ambitious approach to making wine has been garnering growing critical acclaim from both the media and the wine industry for several years. In early 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine editor, Jon Bonné, named themWinemakers of the Year.
On Tuesday, June 18th, Comal will welcome co-founder Duncan Arnot Meyers for a special dinner showcasing a selection of Arnot-Roberts wines paired with dishes by executive chef Matt Gandin. Dining in Duncan’s company, dinner guests will have the opportunity to meet him and hear the story behind each wine selection.
A notable offering from Arnot-Roberts is their galvanizing Clary Ranch Syrah, to be served with Gandin’s wood-roasted pork loin. This particular wine is the perfect example of the winemakers’ approach: utilizing an unconventional area to harvest a particular grape varietal or seeking out “vineyards on the edge,” then finding that careful balance and between flavor and alcohol content.
This is the second in a new series of producer dinners (the first one featuring Wind Gap’s Pax Mahle) held in Comal’s private dining room, Abajo.
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, June 18th at 6:30 PM
PRICE: Tickets are $100 inclusive of food, wine and gratuity
RESERVATIONS: Space is limited – to purchase tickets, follow this link:
ADDRESS: Comal is located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue (at University Avenue) in Berkeley
Ahi tuna crudo nopal salad
2012 Chardonnay, Watson Ranch
Tomato-cucumber gazpacho cured King Salmon roe
2012 Rosé, Luchsinger Vineyard
Rabbit and English pea tamal mole amarillo
2011 Trousseau, Luchsinger Vineyard
Wood-roasted pork loin mole coloradito, seasonal vegetables
2011 Syrah, Clary Ranch
Oaxacan Chocolate Budin Maldon salt, whipped crema
Founded in 2001 by childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, Arnot-Roberts focuses on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay, as well as several other varietals uncommon in Northern California vineyards, including trousseau. Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines.
The number five seems to be enjoying its day in the sun lately. In his book In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan put forth some basic rules of eating. One memorable rule is “Avoid Food Products That Contain More Than Five Ingredients.” Soon after, clever, manipulative products and ad campaigns followed, most notably Häagen-Dazs’s Five line of ice creams featuring only five ingredients and Lays Classic Potato Chips boasting that they are made with “three simple ingredients” – neither of which are particularly healthy foods.
And in an unrelated but locally relevant example, there’s Five restaurant down the street.
Anyway, we didn’t necessarily set out to have five ingredients in Cinco de Mezcal, our special Cinco de Mayo cocktail, but that’s what we ended up with nonetheless: mezcal, lime, pineapple, chartreuse and hoja santa. The first three are no doubt familiar and require no explanation. Chartreuse is a French liqueur made by Carthusian monks since the 1740s that includes over 130 herbal extracts (there seems to be a long tradition of monks making all manner of spirits, but that’s for another time). Hoja santa is an oft-used herb in Mexico, whether for tamales, wrapping whole fish or mole verde. It is a plant with heart-shaped leaves that grow up to a foot in size and have a complex flavor, with notes of sassafras, mint and anise.
Matt Campbell’s idea for Cinco de Mezcal evolved from the Mexican flag, but we didn’t want to make a layered drink with cinnamon schnapps. The Chartreuse, lime, pineapple and hoja santa mingle to create a nice balance between earthy and fruity, and the mezcal adds some smoky intensity. The ‘flag’ on top is comprised of mint for aromatics and a pineapple chunk dipped in a salt of morita and guajillo chiles and tomato powder. As barman Matt says, “A little spice alongside a good amount of lime and mezcal is exactly what I want to beat the heat this weekend. It’s a good sweat. I’m starting to sound redundant but this drink is meant to be refreshing and quaffable-on the patio or in paradise-oh wait, it’s both.”
Hope to see you at Comal on this momentous weekend that includes both our one-year anniversary (on Saturday) and Cinco de Mayo.
Tonight we host what we hope is the first of many pairing dinners in Abajo, our private dining room. I can think of no better winery than Wind Gap to kick things off. Pax and Pamela Mahle are good friends and make delicious wine, so when we opened Comal I reached out to them about occupying one of our tap slots, which they’ve done for the past year to rave reviews. Pax has cultivated relationships with some of the most legendary vineyards in northern California, from Paso Robles to Sonoma, many of which grow interesting, lesser-known varietals, and with these grapes he crafts distinctive wines with great finesse.
The dinner tonight has been sold out for some time, but I couldn’t resist sharing some recent rave reviews that Wind Gap received from the Wine Advocate for two of the wines Pax will be pouring tonight.
2010 Chardonnay Brosseau Vineyard, Chalone (95 Points):
…one of the great wines of the year. Crushed rocks, gun flint, graphite, lemon and green pears are all alive in the glass. The 2010 is ultimately all about energy, tension and pure minerality, qualities that aren’t often associated with California Chardonnay, but that are very much present here.
2011 Pinot Noir, Gaps Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast (92 Points):
Dark red cherries, flowers, mint, spices and licorice all flesh out in an expressive, generous Pinot Noir that captures the very best qualities of the year. In 2011, 75% of the wine was aged in concrete eggs, an unusual approach with Pinot that yielded stark, naked expression of fruit that is remarkable for its purity.
Congrats Pax and Pamela – should be a memorable night!