Review – C. G. Di Arie Wine Dinner at ZacJack

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to join about thirty other people for a wine dinner at ZacJack Bistro in Cameron Park. The featured winery was C. G. Di Arie, a superb El Dorado County winery with a tasting room just across the line  in Amador County.

Winemaker and C. G. Di Arie owner, Chaim Gur-Arieh, was graciously there to describe the wonderful wines while Chef John Evans, owner of ZacJack Bistro, explained the dishes and the “hows and whys” of pairing food and wine.

The evening started with shrimp cocktail tacos with wild, white prawns and a silver tequila-chipotle cocktail sauce. The paired wine was 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.

The pairing was excellent, with both the food and the wine enhancing each other. The small tacos were almost too small to eat by hand and too crisp to eat with a knife and fork. However, we managed.

The wine is very floral, but doesn’t have the grassy, herbaceous or vegetal flavor of many foothill sauvignon blancs. Chef John commented that the next time he might grill, rather than poach, the shrimp to get a little different flavor.

The second course was Gorgonzola queso fondido (cheese fondue) with caramelized torpedo onions, Placerville Bartlett pears and Camino Granny Smith apples, accompanied by slices from a fresh baguette. The wine was their 2010 “Break Away” Zinfandel.

At first I wasn’t sure about this pairing, but as I ate small combined bites of the cheese, fruit, onions together on the bread, while sipping this blend of 78% zinfandel, I began to really appreciate it.

The third course was Painted Hills, grass fed Angus coulotte steak with organic arugula, Placerville heirloom tomatoes and crispy Frites. This pairing was with their 2009 Interlude.

A trained expert in aromas and flavors, winemaker Chaim Gur-Arieh can blend wines like no one else and Interlude is a great example of what he can do. An interesting blend of zinfandel, syrah, petite sirah and primitivo, it can work with many dishes and was excellent with this course, from the crispy skin-on French fries, that arrived first, to the last morsel of tender steak left on the plate. Probably the best pairing of the four.

The final course was a dessert of Bombe Cake. I should have asked the meaning of the word “Bombe,” but it appeared to be slices of several different kinds of rounded top cake, all of which were delicious (yes, lots of chocolate). It was paired with 2008 Vintage Port, a wine made from five Portugese, estate grown varieties.

What more can I say about a combination of a sweet dessert that includes chocolate and port. Always outstanding and a great finale to a delicious meal.
The October winemaker dinner at ZacJack Bistro features the wines from David Girard Vineyards in Gold Hill. Their winemaker, Mari Wells Coyle, has been producing world class wines since their first vintage a number of years ago. Her speciality is Rhone varietals.

For reservations for that upcoming winemaker dinner, call ZacJack Bistro at 530-676-2969

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