Last weekend I attended an absolutely fantastic special event dinner at Laetitia where their guests (most of them wine club members) were privy to dining at the estate house high atop the winery’s hillside vineyards. I was so glad that Dan and I were able to be there because it also provided an opportunity to get to know the new chef at Thomas Hill Organics (THO) in Paso Robles, Christopher Manning. Unfortunately, the chef fell ill that day and couldn’t attend. I am quite happy to report that this dinner was still an outstanding feast thanks to his sous chef Kenneth Toledo and his team of cooks, plus THO’s special events director Karen Wakefield.
I must confess that I am disappointed that I was not of the presence of mind to take photos of the hors d’oeuvres passed around whilst we sipped from delicate crystal flutes Laetitia’s 2010 Cuvee M sparkling wine. The tiny quail eggs couldn’t have been more perfectly cooked, the center of the yolk just barely cooked, and set atop a buttery slice of toasted brioche. It was exquisite. We also enjoyed tiny, crunchy crab cakes that were delightfully fresh, both of these appetizers were exquisite with Cuve M sparkling wine.
Our first course, like every other course, was beautifully prepared with Laetitia’s wines and we left nary a crumb on our plates, nor a drop in our glasses. I can’t imagine anyone is surprised by this news. We started with the Cayucos Abalone (who doesn’t love this local delicacy?) with shaved cauliflower, Upland cress, oyster mushrooms, and beurre maltais. A perfect pairing with Nadia 2013 Rhone white blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Viognier; which was a floral, full-bodied white wine with flavors on citrus and minerals, highlighted with notes of spice.
Next we were served a rich dish of pan roasted duck breast slices positioned atop creamy polenta with tat soi, and Cippolini onions, topped with cranberry chutney and onion sprouts. It was paired with the fabulous Laetitia 2012 Pinot Noir Whole Cluster. One employee of Laetitia said that Pinot was her favorite. I don’t mind admitting that I was hard pressed to say which one of the Pinot Noirs served was my favorite because I loved them all that much! I could have been quite satisfied by then, but there were two more delicious courses to come, and I relished them.
We all loved the Piedmontese New York striploin served withe creamy Yukon Gold potatoes, heirloom carrots, and black kale, topped with a “Romeo y Julieta” sauce Bordelaise, which was served with two Pinot Noirs (that’s the typical strategy at Laetitia–serve them the best and add something more!). We had the 2012 Les Galets and the 2012 La Coupelle, and while I normally easily pick a favorite at a dinner such as this, I absolutely loved all three Pinots and they are available now at the tasting room which is open daily! While Laetitia may be known as a California sparkling wine house first, don’t overlook their their outstanding still wines!
The grand finale was the Meyer lemon creme brulee topped with a ladyfinger cookie paired with a NV (non-vintage) XD dessert sparkling wine, which provided an unforgettable, sweet finish to this grand meal!
As I noted in my From the Vine column today (11/16/14) in the Santa Maria Times (when you’re looking to join a winery’s wine club, pick one that consistently produces great wines. And, if that winery offer their wine club members outstanding winemakers’ dinner, too, that locks in the deal!
For your convenience, here is a link to my From the Vines column in the Santa Maria Times.
Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive
Arroyo Grande, CA
Thomas Hill Organics
1313 Park St.
Paso Robles, CA