Whitehall Lane Wine Dinner at Sullivan’s Steakhouse Houston: The Palate Dance
I will have to acknowledge that for Whitehall Lane Winery presented last Thursday evening, the Frog’s Leap wine dinner at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in May was a hard act to follow. For that event, everything seemed to hit on all cylinders: the wine, the food, the service, and the dark ambiance of Sullivan’s party room.
But, at this event, right out of the box the combined forces of Whitehall Lane Winery & Vineyards, the cuisine of Sullivan’s Chef Teli Trikilis and Sous Chef Horacio Degante, and the wine service lead by Sommelier, Kristie Farmer, hit it out of the park. Right now you’re probably saying, “With what? Was it a big, bold and brawny Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon? Was it a deep, dark and mellow Napa Merlot? Or possibly, a Carneros barrel fermented Chardonnay?” Wrong, wrong and wrong, again! Getting great palate-popping Cab, Merlot and Chard from Napa Valley has become no surprise, at least for me.
Whitehall Lane’s first wine at Sullivan’s called my attention back to what is now a reoccurring theme of northern California wine tastings that I have attended during the past year; not once, twice or three times. It’s been four times now that I’ve been surprisingly impressed with the sleeper wine of the region: Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. At this event, it was the Whitehall Lane 2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (9% Semillon added for body, partial barrel fermented for mouthfeel, aroma and complexity). It was crisp and refreshing, really hitting the spot on that humid Houston night.
In fact, last year the San Francisco Chronicle called out the Ten Best Napa Valley Sauvignon Blancs and Whitehall Lane’s was in the pack. They said, “2010 Whitehall Lane Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($16, 13%): A lean, fresh effort from this St. Helena name that shows off its charming dry-grass presence – hay and apricot skin aromas, with a mineral edge to ripe lemon fruit.” This wine is not in competition with the intensely “grapefruity” New Zealand wines. It is more a step back into time and place of central France – the classic wines of Sancerre and Graves. My hat’s off to winemaker Dean Sylvester and thanks to special guest Edd Lopez for making a stop back in his old stomping grounds of Houston, Texas, to present the wines.
One last point that needs to be made is the great food pairings by Chefs Trikilis and Degante in each and every course, but particularly the fine accompaniment to the Whitehall Lane Sauvignon Blanc. With a wine of this finesse, it would have been easy to overshadow the wine with the passed appetizers. But, their creations were both flavorful, yet in balance and complementary with this wine. Shrimp on Grit Cakes (with tomato basil and balsamic reduction) and Togarashi Tuna on Cucumber (with chipotle lime aioli) worked their magic. Both the wine and appetizers did their palate dance to my delight, as well as in the following courses of the dinner.