In August, The Market Restaurant + Bar launched their first Wine Maker's Series, with four dates planned for multi-course wine dinners hosted by a featured wine maker for $85 per person. On September 23rd, I was a guest at the Kivelstadt Cellars wine dinner led by the funny and entertaining Jordan Kivelstadt, founder and winemaker. His goal is to produce approachable, affordable wines, "small lots of unique wines that challenge the conceptions of the 'California Style'. We’re not your typical winery and we certainly don’t want to be. Although we offer classic wines like our Estate Syrah, we also push the envelope with skin fermented whites such as our Orange Wine. We want our family of wines to be as eclectic as the people who make them." The creative menu that Chef Jennifer Russo created displayed this same philosophy and as we were seated, I read it over with anticipation.
Our evening started with Twice Removed rosé, made in the European style from whole cluster pressed Mourvèdre grapes. "This rosé is driven by a savory minerality that is unlike many of its domestic counterparts" read its description and it paired wonderfully with both the amuse and the first course.
Our amuse bouche was a creamy pate of Spanish anchovy with a hint of fresh nutmeg and bright lemon zest with house crackers. Simple but savory, this was one of my favorite pairings of the evening. Quoting my tablemates: "I love these perfect bites, they just make you want more." There were similar praises for our first course. Salade Niçoise is a classic accompaniement for Provencal rosé, and was the inspiration for this delicious melange of ahi tuna, fried quail egg, haricot vert, piquillo pepper, new potatoes, and tomato dressed with a white balsamic vinaigrette and a sprinkle of GoLBSalt Hawaiian Black sea salt.
Introducing the second-course wine, Justin calls The Family Secret an homage to old world-style Sauvignon Blancs. "I pick early, about 2-3 weeks ahead of everyone else to create this Sauvignon Blanc with more minerality as opposed to tropical fruit. To give it some depth and texture, I barrel ferment half of it. So half goes into neutral French oak and half into stainless steel, and then I blend the two back together. " He tells an amusing anecdote about finding a vineyard for his grapes through George MacLeod of Indian Springs Ranch. "When I first met him in the vineyard, he greeted me with 'Jordan, do you want to see your plot?' And then he takes off on his ATV. I literally ran after him for a quarter of a mile. His response when I caught up? 'I get the ATV because I'm 81 and you’re not.'"
This was paired with tender golden-crumbed veal scallopini served with paprika sauce, watercress, grapefruit and capers.
I was looking forward to the third course and the Orange Wine. I've been a fan ever since friends introduced me to this ancient style of wine (it was a Gravner Breg Anfora from their collection). Orange Wine is not made from oranges; it's a white wine whose name comes from the orange hue imparted from prolonged maceration with the skins and seeds. For Wayward Son, Jordan uses co-fermented Viognier, Roussanne, Vermentino and Picpoule Blanc grapes. "I only ferment for about 9 days on the skin and then I press it off and let it go through secondary fermenting in old French oak barrels. It's a white wine with tannins and the aromatics are truly unique." And the name? "Wayward Son is named after me. I was a management consultant in a prior life and my parents told me I was crazy to quit and become a winemaker. When I told them I wanted to make orange wine, they said I was even crazier." Enjoyed with a moist and flavorful salmon burger topped with sauce gribiche and micro arugula, this was another favorite pairing of the night.
As Jordan introduces The Inheritance, a cool-climate 100% organically grown Estate Syrah, he tells us, "I called this one my baby...until I got married and really did have a baby. It spends 18 months in French oak and a year in the bottle. I passionately love this wine, and we make only about 200 cases." We're told every bottle is hand-dipped in wax as he jokingly tries to recruit help for next year (he'll pay volunteers in wine). Our fourth course paired this with a rich duck confit and chanterelle mushroom risotto.
Father's Watch (Syrah, Mourvedre, 140-year-old-vine Carignane, and Grenache) has a touching story behind the label. "My dad gave me a beautiful 1942 Vacheron Constantin watch on my wedding day. He tells me, this is your grandfather’s watch and he would really love you to have it. And then he turns it over. On the back of the watch, it was inscribed Arnold and Claire, their names. My wife's name is also Claire. so this wine is named after my grandfather’s watch and it comes with an amazing story." This Rhone-style blend was a perfect partner for juicy lamb chops embellished with mint pesto and red wine reduction.
Our sweet finale to this feast was a Mexican dessert trio of camote enmielado (candied sweet potato), churros with Oaxacan chocolate sauce, and horchata sorbet. We indulged in this final course as we decided which wines to purchase to take home, offered at a discount as a nice bonus.
Interested in the upcoming Wine Maker's Series? Make a reservation for November 12th's wine dinner with Mas de Daumas Gassac. Visit this link for more details.
I didn't just come home with wine, though. I did some shopping at The Market - fresh chicken and duck eggs, local Go Lb Salt herb bacon and truffle salt, and Arizona dates.
I was hosted by The Market by Jennifer's and our dinner was complimentary.