On Wednesday night, I enjoyed a lovely, festive dinner at Indigo, the first in their series of four winemakers' dinners througout the month of August. This one featured Richard Bruno, one of two partners at Vinum Cellars, a relatively new operation focusing on Rhone varietals and unusual blends (Their cabernet franc is a favorite of my BF and mine, especially after I enjoyed a bottle nearly single-handedly on New Year's Eve last year, resulting in my unintentionally celebrating the New Year on "east coast time :) )
Anyway, I'd been to Indigo before and thought it was pleasant, with good if not great food, but an impressive wine list and pleasant atmosphere. I'm also on their mailing list and am regularly impressed with their creative ways to beat slow times and highlight their wines, inclduding putting a large selection of wines on sale a couple months ago and a regular special of 3 courses (you choose any app, entree, and dessert) plus unlimited pours of their approx. 10 wines by the glass for $46 (after 8pm, any night). Even with less than amazing food, this is a pretty good deal.
So naturally, I was excited about the event with Vinum, as it featured 5 wines and 5 courses for $65 (incl. tax and tip), which I thought quite reasonable. The evening began with a reception of passed hors d'ouevres and glasses of 2000 Pointe Blanc, a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, and Roussane. Crisp and refreshing, went well with the canapes which included smoked salmon on toast, pate a choux filled with cherry tomatoes, tuna tartare in mini pastry shells (pastry was a bit too thick for my taste), and a couple of others I don't recall. Richard Bruno mingled with the crowd of about 60, and was pleasant and happy to talk as much as anyone cared to (which of course became more and more as the night progressed!).
We sat down to the first course at tables which were set to accomodate 2 or 3 groups, depending on the size of the party. First course was crenshaw melon and prosciutto salad with a honey poppyseed vinaigrette and the 2000 Viognier. The salad was a nice twist on a somewhat tired dish, with the prosciutto in thick chunks mixed in with the salad and the melon in several small pieces. Good flavor. The wine was lovely--fruity and sweet (forgive my lack of descriptiveness on the wines; I'm still very much in a learning phase--but enjoying the process as i go!). Service throughout was efficient and pleasant, with the courses moving at a nice pace. Bruno got up to give a 2 or 3 minute discussion of each wine as we drank them, and was also circulating for questions, especially toward the end of the meal.
Course 3 was grilled chicken with a mushroom and carmody cheese pie and salad with blackberry vinaigrette, served with 2000 Mourvedre. My chicken was rather dry, although I enjoyed the flavor...but overall I think this was the least successful dish. Tasted just a bit too much like a wedding banquet for 200...I must admit I don't recall much about this wine specifically, although I liked it (actually i liked them all, and for the prices (all $22 or less), I would buy them all.
Next was lamb grilled on a rosemary skewer, marinated in ponzu and served with heirloom tomatoes and potatoes in a cardomom-mushroom sauce. The chef told us he immediately thought of cardomom when tasting the 2000 Cabernet Franc served with the lamb, and so designed the dish to include it. The flavor on the lamb was quite good, the rosemary skewer a nice touch, and the wine as good as I remembered it (or thought I did, anyway!) Quite an earthy wine, but seems to have plum/current taste to me as well. Or not, but I do like the flavor :)
The dessert was a cheek-puckering lime tart with blackberries on top, on a (again) too-thick pastry crust (not enough flakiness for my taste, either). I liked the tartness, especially as it was accompanied by a rich, sweet 2001 Late Harvest Gewurtztraminer (yum!) though my friends thought it a bit too much. But they also had not thought ahead to save room (which I ALWAYS do).
After dinner, we had another 20+ minute chat with Bruno--a friendly and engaging guy. Overall, this event was great and well worth the $65 price tag. More information can be found on the restaurant's website, though I know two of the other wineries are Ravenswood and Louis Martini--can't remember the 4th. They are all on Wednesday nights.
I might be going back to Indigo for one of those $45 dinners...if I could try 5+ glasses of wine there and enjoy a decent dinner too, I'd be a happy full customer.
687 McAllister St.