Back Bay Bistro overlooks the tranquil waters of the Back Bay in Newport Beach, a beautiful nature preserve with an incredible richness and diversity of wildlife. Their Sunday Champagne Brunch draws a crowd and stellar reviews on Yelp, but it’s their new wine dinner series that I thought you should know about.
Last month, I attended Back Bay Bistro’s Winemaker Dinner featuring the wines of Cakebread Cellars, a favorite of mine since 1987 when my husband and I first visited their winery, discovering them at the beginning of their trajectory as world renowned winemakers. Fantastic food and wine, combined with the casual ambiance of Back Bay Bistro, made for a delightful evening shared with a small, intimate group of fun wine lovers, all savoring Chef Bruno Massuger’s cuisine and Cakebread’s award-winning wines.
The five course dinner presented by Chef Bruno was thoughtfully paired to complement Cakebread Cellars’ wine and to tantalize our palates. Dinner began with a casual gathering at the bar overlooking the bay and sipping champagne while guests arrived.
Moving into the private dining room, Master Sommelier James Huston, introduced himself and educated us on Cakebread’s Napa Valley roots and details of the first wine: the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley. The wine boasts characteristically fresh, pure and complex fruit (grapefruit, guava, green apple, honeydew melon), mineral aromas and a lively finish of bright citrus, light spice, it was the perfect accompaniment to the welcome starter of Crab Salad with Avocado Sauce, Ruby grapefruit, micro greens salad, and Tobiko caviar.
Our first course was a single pan seared Day Boat Scallop atop a slaw of roasted apple and brussels sprouts in a chardonnay sauce. The wine accompaniment was the 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay, one of Cakebread’s Signature Flagship Wines. The richness and full mouthfeel with yellow apple, nectarine, and honeydew melon fruit flavors and a hint of oak spice segue into a long finish of refreshing mineral and touch of spicy oak tones.
The second course ventured away from seafood with a Roasted Duck Breast with Pinot Noir sauce was complemented beautifully with Cakebread’s 2012 Two Creeks Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Cooked perfectly pink, the thick rounds of lean, tender duck breast was served simply with green beans, allowing it to shine. The 2012 Two Creeks Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir – a new project for the winery, is simultaneously silky and bright with layers of roses, raspberry and spice. Overall the Cakebread wines are universally balanced and precise – evidence of their obsession to detail during the winemaking process.
Gorgeous thick slices of grilled Kobe bavette with spring vegetables and an interesting creamy quinoa and polenta cake was presented as our third course along with a tasting of Cakebread’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. Tasting notes from the winery: “Our 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon boasts alluring, complex aromas of dense dark cherry, boysenberry and blackcurrant fruit supplemented by enticing toasted oak and dark chocolate scents. Rich and lush on the palate with deeply concentrated cassis, blackberry and black fig flavors, the wine culminates in a remarkably long finish showcasing ripe fruit, dark chocolate and wood spice tones framed by finely grained tannins.”
By this time, our group was quite satiated and wine jubilant, but not too full to rebuff a cheese plate with winter greens and a serving of Napa Valley, Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2010! Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gives this wine 90 points and describes it as “an attractive blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. This fruity, still grapy 2010 is nicely concentrated with lots of cassis and plum notes. Medium to full-bodied, pure, juicy, sexy and alluring, it will clearly age for 15 or more years despite its early appeal. (RP)”
Fortunately, we saved a little bit of room for the grand finale of Moscato d’Asti Baba – Chef Bruno describes it as similar to Baba Rhum, but with champagne. Now he had my attention. The cake was light and fluffy with tiny nuggets of currants, brightened with raspberry sauce and a crown of fresh raspberry and mint. Appropriately served with Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont, Italy, our wonderful evening came full circle and ended with a bit of bubbly – just as it had begun.
The next Back Bay Bistro’s Winemaker Dinner Series features the wines of Hess Family Wine Estates on Thursday, March 26th. Whether you’re a budding oenophile or a seasoned connoisseur, you’ll have a delicious evening of fun, food, and vino. For the Hess Family Winemaker Dinner menu and more information on Back Bay Bistro click on the link. The Back Bay Bistro wine program is designed to set new standards in the Newport Beach food and wine scene and assure the Bistro’s position as a premier destination for wine lovers.
The program consists of a diverse wine menu structured around moderately priced wine carefully selected from among the great classical wines from around the world. The wine menu includes strong representatives of all the great appellations of France, Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as the best of the New World from California, Oregon, Washington, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Australia.
Back Bay Bistro is located within Newport Dunes in Newport Beach and features American cuisine favorite served up with a panoramic view of the Back Bay nature preserve. The Bistro is famous for Family Brunch on Saturdays and the Champagne Brunch on Sundays, which earned the “diners Choice Award by Open Table for Top 10 Brunch Location in Orange County.” They’re also one of the few places with Happy Hour every day from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday). Dog-friendly dining is also offered on the bistro’s waterfront patio, so bring your pup and soak up the sun and stunning bay view.
at Newport Dunes
1131 Back Bay Drive
Newport Beach, CA
Back Bay photos courtesy of Patty Mitchell.