LongboardSteve is a surfer and wine aficionado. While playing football, he broke his nose badly and has since lost his sense of smell but he still has his eyes and a pretty good taster. Because of his loss of smell, he is all about the broader enjoyment of wine and the wine experience that you can read about here.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar in Newport Beach has been focused on successfully pairing contemporary California regional cuisine, with (as they say) "a hip, vibrant, sophisticated setting, to create a cutting-edge dining experience." The bottom line is that the restaurant has earned the title of "Restaurant of the Year" in Orange County multiple times! So when they offered up an event called Battle of the Somms, I decided that I must attend.
The format of the Battle of the Somm's event is have each meal course pared with two glasses of wine (note that these were not tastings but full glasses.) The Somms would then engage in story telling and salesmanship, each trying to win your vote. A vote was taken before and after the food tasting. So the wine had to stand on its on and and after the food. I loved the voting process (more on this later.)
We have arrived with empty stomachs and open palates. We walked in not knowing what to expect but were excited to be back to one of our favorite restaurants.
It has been a long time since I have been to The Winery so it was a special treat. The food is always great there and the wine selection is extensive. The Winery features a list with 650 selections that change weekly and climate-controlled cellars, which can house up to 7,500 bottles!
The table settings were very elegant. It was shockingly beautiful to each table (this was one of 20 tables) prepared with pours and ready to go. The glassware was perfectly laid out which each table in perfect alignment to the other.
The night started with a forgettable Rose (but to be fair, I am not really a Rose fan) and Daou Pessimist, a California blend, out of Paso Robles. It was a very drinkable wine that I enjoyed very much.
We sat down with our score card ready.
The Master of Ceremonies, like any good ring master, announced the Somm's who were competing, their backgrounds, and the voting process. He reminded the Somm's to keep the punches above the belt.
The Somm's - Master Sommelier Michael Jordan and Master Sommelier Fred Dame - told us about themselves, their personal history, and how they selected the wines.
The first course was a house cured king salmon dish with horse radish creme fraiche. Stunning. It was paired with Daou Sauv Blanc 2018 and Stonestreet Sauv Blanc.
We tasted each wine and voted. Then we ate and tasted the wine and then voted again. I won't tell you how the voting went, but, it was very interesting to see how split the room was and how it differed from before and after the food.
Course after course, wine after wine, and vote after vote. It went on like this for hours. Two notes of interest; (1) the food was wonderful (I always find it amazing that you can turn out such great food for so many people) and (2) the people were wonderful too. We had a great table and quickly got lost in conversation and food and wine and voting.
After having way too much good wine perfectly paired with the planned courses, the great wines started coming out. Here we enjoyed the Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. This was purchased by our table-mates to share.
And the wine kept coming. I am so glad I took a Uber to this event. This is a Lewis Cellars of Napa, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
We will be back. I am already looking forward to the next Battle of the Somm's.