Annual Tomato Dinner at Zely & Ritz (with wine pairings) - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 08-13-2010

I attended the sixth and final tomato dinner of the season at Zely & Ritz in Raleigh last night. Check out the writeup on Zely & Ritz and photo of co-owners Sarig and Nancy Agasi (with Richard Holcomb, not in the photo) in the latest issue of "Wine Spectator."

It was delicious. The heirloom tomatoes were from Richard Holcomb's Coon Rock Farm. All Oregon wines this time. Nancy attended a Pinot Camp in Oregon and found some new favorites. We started with a 2009 FORIS VINEYARDS EARLY MUSCAT FRISSANTE, Rogue Valley, OR. The winemaker is Brian Wilson and Nancy says he wears Hawaiian shirts like the Beach Boy did. He produces mostly white wines. The Foris Muscat was a pleasant, sweet, slightly fizzy summer drink. It was quite aromatic with white peach and white flowers. Peach plays a big part in the flavor as well. I ordered a bottle for $15 for later pickup.

The first course was a delicious gazpacho (the women at my table all took home copies of the recipe.) It was paired with the 2009 MONTINORE BOREALIS, North Willamette Valley, OR. It is a blend of Muller Thurgau, Gewurz-traminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling. This is a biodynamic winery. The acidic grapes in this blend matched well with the acidic tomatoes in the gazpacho but I was not impressed enough to make notes on the wine.

The second course was a salad of various heirloom tomatoes (Kellogg Breakfast, Green Zebra, Purple Cherokee, etc.) with Chapel Hill Creamery Mozzarella and fresh basel and sweet balsamic vinegar glaze. This was paired with 2009 SOLENA PINOT GRIS, a blend of grapes from sites in the Chehalem Mountains, Yamhill-Carlton District and Rogue Valley, OR. I met the French owner/winemaker, Laurent Montelieu, at the Charlotte Wine and Food Weekend in April.
Again, I didn't really take any notes on the Pinot Gris which is usually not one of my favorite varieties.

Third course was a roasted tomato stuffed with chicken and techina (a sesame paste with lemon flavoring). It was paired with
2007 STOLLER JV ESTATE DUNDEE HILLS PINOT NOIR. The color was pretty but the lighting wasn't sufficient to really describe the hue. The wine was pretty transparent. Leggy on the glass. Nancy said the grapes are grown on volcanic soil and are from young vines. They are destemmed. 2007 was a cool and rainy season. This resulted in firm and acidic grapes reflected in a slight tartness and spiciness to the wine. The nose attracted me from first whiff--dark cherries mainly (some have said strawberry but I thought plum more than strawberry.) The flavor matched the nose with cherries and fruit that was not overripe or extracted. This was my wine of the night and I purchased two bottles at $24 each (sligthly less than normal retail price.)

Fourth course was overnight slow-cooked beef brisket (very tender) with roasted new potatoes, grilled and slow roasted roma tomatoes, eggplant chunks and crispy stips of okra. I'm not a fan of okra usually but liked it in this guise. The wine was
2008 BERGSTROM CUMBERLAND RESERVE PINOT NOIR, Willamette Valley. Nancy said it was about 75% Bergstrom Vineyard grapes and 25% Shea Vineyard, grown on marine sediment soil. Unlike the destemmed Stoller wine, these were pressed whole cluster. The wine appeared darker and denser than the Stoller and was also leggy on the glass but perhaps less viscous than the Stoller. A penetrating nose and slightly chewy texture. I sensed something earthy or herbal along with the fruit. Nancy later remarked on a certain earthiness to the wine. Some tannins showed on the palate. This might benefit from a year or two in the cellar. It was being sold for $30 a bottle last night. Nancy said the diners had been about 50-50 in their preferences for the Stoller or the Bergstrom Pinot Noir.

Dessert--for the third (?) year in a row, Sarig went with the best tomato dessert he has devised--a sungold (heirloom tomato) panna cotta. It was a very fitting conclusion to the meal. One man at my table eschewed red meat for health reasons, so while we had beef brisket and vegetables in a kind of stew, he had a tomato tarte tatin.
A young UNC grad at the table is headed to France soon to teach English to young children.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 08-13-2010).]

- TheEngineer - 08-13-2010

Thanks for the notes WoW!! Sounded FUN, and DELISH!