Charity Dinner - 2007 Naples Winter Wine Festival

  • Robert M. Parker, Jr.

  • 01 Jan 2007 | Events

Chef: Daniel Boulud
Special Guests: Elaine and Manfred Krankl, Sine Qua Non

The venue for this dinner, hosted by two generous members of the Naples community to benefit local children’s charities, was a sensational 12,000 square foot penthouse overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The food and wine were as spectacular as the extraordinary views. We started with a terrific selection of hors d’oeuvre from Chef Daniel Boulud and his superb sous chef, Eddy Leroux. The summer roll of crab and mint, foie gras tartelette, and the risotto had me drinking one glass after another of the good Veuve Clicquot Rosé champagne. The hors d’oeuvre were followed by some gorgeous dishes, including a velouté of curried cauliflower, apple, and langoustine, and warm hamachi with caviar. The delicious SQN 2002 Whisperin’ E, a blend of Chardonnay, Roussanne, and Viognier, offers abundant quantities of exotic fruits, lemon oil, and nectarines in a medium to full-bodied, superbly pure style with the texture of a grand cru white Burgundy. It worked marvelously well with the food, which was interesting given the fact that some guests thought that New World California wines and French cuisine might be a tough match. This combination of food and wine easily dispelled that myth.

We next moved to a Pinot Noir Manfred Krankl used to produce from a plot of Oregon’s Shea Vineyard (he had the fruit trucked down to his winery in Ventura). The 1999 SQN OX exhibited beautiful pomegranate, plum, Allspice, earth, and smoke characteristics. This fully mature Pinot was a perfect foil for the lobster civet with sarawac pepper sauce. The 1998 The Antagonists(one of Krankl’s first Grenache-based wines) displayed a lovely plum/garnet color along with sweet kirsch liqueur notes intermixed with plenty of licorice, pepper, and spice. One would think a big Grenache would not work well with wild turbot, but the combination was sensational thanks to the black truffle and spinach added to the turbot. One of my favorite dishes was the duo of dry aged beef, which included seared rib eye and short ribs layered with pasta and black trumpet mushrooms. Accompanying the beef was an elegant, restrained Syrah, the 1998 SQN E-Raised. A stunningly rich effort, it offered up hints of blueberries, camphor, smoke, and black fruits. The tannins were largely resolved, and any evidence of new oak had been absorbed by the wine’s concentration and fruit. The result was a symmetrical, velvety textured, opulent wine boasting terrific aromatics, purity, and richness. This 1998 is entering its plateau of full maturity where it should remain for another decade. Another perfect food-wine match up was the much younger 2003 SQN Papa Syrah served with the selection of artisinal cheeses from Chef Boulud. Full-bodied, with blueberry, blackberry, and cassis notes interwoven with hints of road tar, truffles, and new oak. Full-bodied, voluptuously-textured, and mouthfilling, this knock-out Syrah possesses both power and elegance. It should drink well for another 10-15 years.

We finished with the sweet, but never cloying, gorgeously fresh, lively, nectar-like 1999 SQN Mr. K Eiswein. This still young beauty was perfect with the desserts created by Chef Boulud.

All in all, this evening, which was entitled

“Essential Indulgence,”

 lived up to its name. Manfred Krankl spoke eloquently about his philosophy of wine, and of course, Daniel Boulud was, as usual, both gracious and generous.

As a postscript, I was seated with a real superstar celebrity, Martha Stewart, and also enjoyed meeting the feisty Judge Judy. Interestingly, Ms. Stewart was not familiar with the Sine Qua Non wines, but she had seconds on virtually all of them, and was obviously enchanted by them. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was negotiating with Manfred Krankl to get on the winery’s mailing list. I didn’t have much time to talk with Judge Judy, but I did ask her if her verdict about the quality of the wines was “guilty” or “innocent.” She laughingly replied they were all great, and she was thoroughly thrilled with the wine/food pairings...and to her witty credit, offered the view, “What would you know – anyhow?”

“What would you know – anyhow?”

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