It was a real treat to participate in the first-ever winemaker dinner at Ocean Prime Beverly Hills. This dinner featured the new 2012 releases from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars presented by winemaker Marcus Notaro. Having just attended a special luncheon that included The Art of Aging by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, it was an added bonus to combine in one day the oldies with the current wines available for purchase.
This event was my first visit to Ocean Prime, and it will not be my last visit. Talking about a wine library, think books instead of wine with a rolling library ladder, and you have got one of Ocean Prime’s bars. As you walk into the dining room, you cannot miss the very appealing Raw Bar. The colorful array of seafood would entice anyone to order shrimp, lobster, or crab off the menu.
The dinner was officiated by Jonathan Mitchell, who spontaneously ingratiates his presence on whomever he meets. He did a splendid job of making sure the guests were well taken care of and happy. The excellent cuisine of Ocean Prime prepared by Chef Matthew Briggs paired perfectly with the outstanding wines of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
Marcus Notaro began his tenure at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 2013. He relocated to Napa from Col Solare in Washington State, where his specialty was producing Cabernet Sauvignon. Marcus’ concept of a great Cabernet is, “a rich, powerful wine without being heavy” yet at the same time, “expressing where it was grown.”
In looking at the 2012 new releases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Marcus did not produce this vintage from start to finish. He inherited what was already in barrel aging, and he added the final touches that you taste today. You might say from barrel to bottle was Marcus’ creation. Starting with the 2013 vintage, he will lead the way entirely, making his real mark on the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignons.
The Sauvignon Blanc became our palate teaser as we waited to be seated. This wine, as well as the Chardonnay, are Marcus’ through and through. Everyone seemed to enjoy the 2014 Aveta Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is named after the water goddess, who is seen carrying fruit. In the case of this Sauvignon Blanc, it is the fruity aromas of lemon, grapefruit, and grass and the mild flavors of citrus that accents the subtle minerality of this wine.
Ocean Prime Chef Matthew Briggs
Prior to our meal, Chef, Matthew with his wife, experimented in his home to determine the perfect cuisine to pair with The Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars line up of wines for the evening. There is something to be said about taking your work home, and in this case, it justified the means for those who attended the dinner.
We began our meal with a Crudo of Fresh Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, Blood Orange, Kiwi, Charred Pineapple, Habanero Beurre Blanc. This dish paired with the 2013 Karia Chardonnay. Karia means graceful in Greek and definitely describes the attributes of this wine. With aromas of fresh fruit, apples, and peaches with some vanilla added, the wine has nice acidity and minerality with lingering notes of honey.
Our second course was a Roasted Squab with Sweet Mole & Cognac, Heirloom Carrots, Cipollini Onions, and Micro Cilantro. The squab was succulent and moist and paired wonderfully with the 2012 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Consisting of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon the wine aged for 21 months with 85% being new French oak. The wine is a bit shy but opens up beautifully with its silky and velvety texture. The wine is elegant and shows off the red fruits marvelously.
Dinner guests considered the third course the most outstanding. I found a Lightly Smoked Braised Short Rib of Wagyu Beef, Roasted Lobster Mushrooms, Pink Peppercorn Jus, and English Peas. It was rich and flavorful and paired wonderfully with the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2012 “SLV” Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfumed with Lavender aromas and dark fruit, the wine was rich and vibrant. It is a wine that makes a big statement. It aged in 100% new French oak.
We finished our meal with a decadent Sticky Toffee Pudding, Whipped Mascarpone, and Drunken Apricots, Medjool Dates. It was a rich yummy dessert and the perfect conclusion to dinner. You might say it puts Ocean Prime on the map for being not only an excellent seafood and steak restaurant but a place where the chef can think outside the box and create an incredible meal that would make any wine lover want to come back for more.
Finally, 2012 is considered an optimal year in grape growing and one where every winery is happy to showcase their wines. This exceptional year was perfect in terms of showcasing the wines of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and perfect to inaugurate Ocean Prime’s first Winemaker dinner.
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9595 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212