The Country Club Costa Mesa went all in when they featured Quintessa wines paired with Chef Zach Scherer’s creative classic American cuisine at their first winemaker dinner earlier this month.
The comfortable clubby ambiance of The Country Club is perfectly suited for bringing friends and family together over better-than-good food and drink, especially when Executive Chef Zach Scherer and Chef de Cuisine Edward Hyman and team put their collective palates together with beautiful pairings highlighting the exceptional wines of Quintessa.
Planning a wine pairing dinner begins with designing a balanced pairing menu that highlights both the wine and cuisine and progresses in incremental order — beginning with lighter fresher dishes and finishing with heavier, bolder flavors. It is a complex orchestration of kitchen equipment, cooking times, plating, and pacing. The Country Club culinary team executed this beautifully, once things got rolling.
Wine: Flowers Sonoma Coast Rose 2017
Whipped Yogurt Panna Cotta | tomato & raspberry mam
Chicken Liver “Toast” | baguette, caramelized grapefruit, candied shallots
Potato Rosti | caramelized orange creme fraiche, caviar
Since 1989, when Agustin and Valerie Huneeus discovered 280 acres of unspoiled and never before cultivated land on the eastern edge of Rutherford at the foot of the Vaca Mountain range in Napa Valley, Quintessa has farmed using organic practices creating a balanced ecosystem that promotes thriving, healthy vines and long-term sustainability. Posing both a challenge and an opportunity, the hills and valleys are a mosaic of soils and microclimates that beckoned the Huneeus’ to fulfill its destiny as a great wine estate; Quintessa was born and became the culmination of a lifetime dedicated to wine.
Wine: Illumination 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
Brown Butter Poached Scallop | late harvest peas, charred peach,
whipped honey sherry buerre blanc, pea tendril, chervil
For me, the fresh scallops with bright Spring flavors (above) and the classic pairing of duck breast with cherries (below) were the evening’s best dishes. Flowers Pinot Noir also happens to be a favorite wine that my husband and I savor often.
Wine: Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016
Charred Duck Breast | Cherry Miso puree, glazed baby turnip,
charred frisbee dressed with hibiscus & cherry pit vinegar
For the fourth course, the culinary team called on the classic pairing of steak with Cabernet Sauvignon and impressed with perfectly cooked medium rare NY Strip loin complemented with Morel mushrooms and a black pepper demi glaze. The Faust 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is their newest release rated 92-94 by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate — it is bold, yet sophisticated, and ideal for sipping on its own or paired with meaty comfort food.
Wine: Faust 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
NY Strip Loin | plums poached in coffee, Morel mushrooms, crispy celery root, black pepper demi
The dessert course featured a Japanese goat cheesecake texturely reminiscent of Angel food cake and served with an interesting savory olive caramel sauce. Paired with Quintessa 2014, this dense and dark Cabernet Sauvignon blend screamed for chocolate.
Wine: Quintessa 2014
Japanese Goat Cheesecake | Castevetrano olive caramel, whipped truffle honey, mulberry
During the dinner, John Rice, Southern California and Hawaii Market Director for Huneeus Wines, circulated among the tables, chatting up guests and offering tasting notes and answering questions. It was interesting to learn that Huneeus Wines includes Flowers, Faust, Quintessa, Benton-Lane, Leviathan, and Illumination.
I also heard, from a member of the restaurant team, that the next wine pairing dinner will likely be in the Fall and feature Plumpjack wines whose winemaker is known for a certain Screaming Eagle. At the time of publication, I don’t have confirmation of that, but follow The Country Club CM on Facebook for notifications on upcoming events.
The Country Club CM
330 E 17th St
Costa Mesa, California 92627
For reservations, menus and more information: https://countryclubcm.com
Disclosure: I enjoyed the Quintessa wine dinner as a guest of The Country Club CM. While pleasing my palate for fine wine and food, all opinions are my own. Plating and chef photos courtesy of The Country Club CM.