The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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{ }  95 aging the other, but one could still taste the characteristics of each partner in the enterprise. Then the same two wines were matched up with a wet- aged ribeye, and this time the Insignia came to life. There were notes of buttered popcorn, and the delicious molten fat seemed to linger on the lips forever. There wasn't as stark a falloff with the Mt. Brave, as there was still lots of luscious butter to enjoy, but the experience was more fleeting. Or pleasingly shortened, take your pick. Then came Set B, in which the somms blind-tasted the Oakville Ranch 2012 Cabernet Franc and the more rounded Spottswoode 2011. The first steak in this group was a grain- fed, wet-aged tenderloin, which had notes of nutty goodness with, yes, more butter. With the Oakville, the result tilted toward the lean and herbaceous, but with the Spottswoode, richness and fullness took over. The second pairing also fea- tured a wet-aged tenderloin, but this time the meat had been grass-fed. With the Oakville, there were unpleasant notes of violet candy, but with heartier Spottswoode, the herbaceous notes of the meat were enhanced. For Set C, there was an E. J. Church 2012 from Long Meadow Ranch and a Barnett Vineyards 2005 Cab from the Spring Mountain District. The steaks were a grass-fed, grain-finished, wet-aged ribeye, and a grass-fed, grain-finished ribeye that had been dry-aged for 65 days. The E. J. Church enhanced the layered secondary flavors of the wet-aged ribeye, while the Barnett seemed to add a bit of roundness. For the dry-aged meat, the E. J. Church seemed bruised by the mushroom-y, somewhat metallic notes of the meat, but the Barnett suffered no ill effects. Quite the contrary, actually. The takeaway for the somms was clear and practical: The differences in the pairings were not subtle; in fact, they were boldly convincing. There was the terroir of the wine to con- sider, of course, and the origin and methodology used for the meat. But one is not enjoyed without the other, and not all choices will lead to equally happy results. Well, that may be overstating the case, but the goal for the somms would be to make the eating and drinking experience even more than the sum of its parts. The wine and beef tasting opened some eyes and motivated more than a few somms to consider a similar exercise at their restaurants. It was an exploration of variables. The Steak Somms Our group of prime somms (left to right): David Foran, Wine Director at Hy's Steakhouse, Ottawa Clayton Graham, Sommelier, Shanahan's Steak House, Denver Mark Griffith, Sommelier, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Houston Robert Gravelle, Wine Director, The King St. Food Company, Toronto Matthew Mannick, General Manager, Bistro AIX, Jacksonville Shaun Adams, Wine Director, Four Seasons Resort, Scottsdale Charles Yuan, Wine Director, Roosevelt Prime Steakhouse, Shanghai Johnny Liebscher, Wine Director, Vince Lombardi's Steakhouse, Appleton, WI Britton Stewart, General Manager, Boulevard Steakhouse, Oklahoma City Shelby Peterson, Wine and Beverage Director, C-Lazy U Ranch, Granby, CO Beki Miller, Sommelier, Alexander's Steakhouse, San Francisco Johna Willis, General Manager/Wine Director, Boston Chops, Boston Joshua Steiner, Wine Director, Carnevor, Milwaukee Mariette Bolitiski, Wine Director, American Cut TriBeCa, New York Andrew Santella, Wine Director, Bob's Steak and Chop House, Plano, TX Mo Tajvar, Owner, Omaha Prime, Omaha, NE Brandt Lens, General Manager, Mastro's Steakhouse, Chicago Shaun Page, Beverage Development Manager, MGM Grand Detroit Matthew Berkman, Managing Partner, Capital Grille, Las Vegas Chris Clark, Wine Director, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Washington, D.C. Michael Paddock, General Manager, Trib Steakhouse, Calgary Christopher McFadden, Restaurant Manager/Sommelier, Hy's of Canada–Gotham Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar, Vancouver Matthew Bills, Wine Director, David Burke's Primehouse, Chicago Amber Mihna, Marketing Manager, Trade Relations, Napa Valley Vintners 3. Unexpected White Wines of Napa Valley Spring Mountain Vineyard 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery 2013 Estate Moscato, Napa Valley Staglin Family Vineyard, 2012 Estate Chardonnay, Rutherford Uproot Wines, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley Young Inglewood Vineyards 2014 Vin Clair Rosé, St. Helena

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