Some nights just sparkle with great conversation, delicious food, fine wine, and new friends. Red White Boston’s Women Winemakers dinner at Sandrine’s Bistro on Tuesday night was just one of those evenings.
Sandrine’s is a small, elegant restaurant tucked away on Holyoke Street in Harvard Square. I have heard of it before, but I had never actually seen it. It is definitely worth finding.
The entire event was built around the theme Women in Wine, Putting the “I” in Team: Inspiring Individuals for Team Success. The special winemaker guests for the evening were Maureen Martin from Clos du Bois and Janet Myers from Franciscan Estate.
Sandrine’s was abuzz with great energy, a few local bloggers, Elina, Amanda, Jason, and Justin, and lots of great California wine starting with 2008 Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc. Served with passed flammekeuche, Alsatian pizza, the Sauvignon Blanc was my favorite white wine of the evening.
The cocktail reception led into the dinner and speaking portion of the event. We had the great pleasure of sharing a table with Maureen Martin, winemaker from Clos du Bois.
Dinner started with Spring Pea Veloute with smoked mussels, paired with Clos du Bois Calcaire Vineyard Chardonnay and Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage Chardonnay, both 2007.
For me, the Clos du Bois Chardonnay was the perfect balance for the smoky mussels and sweet peas in the soup. It was light, crisp, and elegant, lacking the oaky flavors that I try to avoid in Chardonnay. I enjoyed the Franciscan Chardonnay as well but found it to be more buttery and creamy.
Our second course was grilled beef with baby spinach and mushroom ragout and a black pepper Cabernet reduction. While I don’t often eat beef, I had a few bites of the tender meat dipped in the sumptuous sauce. The earthy flavors in the dish went well with both wine pairings, Franciscan 2006 Magnifcat and Mt. Veeder 2006 Reserve Red.
The third course was a light and refreshing salad. Salad after the entrée just makes perfect sense for cleansing the palate and adding a light freshness before the sweetness of dessert. The salad course also brought my favorite wine of the evening, Clos du Bois 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir. There are wines that I breathe in, and immediately I smell Sonoma. This was one. The aromas coming from the glass were heavenly, lots of dark fruit. The wine was silky smooth with a nice level of acidity, and there were those gorgeous dark fruit flavors again, black cherries, plum. Yum.
The final course of the evening was dessert, lavender crème brulee. Once I tapped open it’s crispy burnt-sugar crust, the smell of lavender greeted me. Paired with the sweet creaminess of the crème brulee, the lavender was subtle and lovely, one of my most recent favorite flavors in drinks and dessert.
Throughout the course of dinner, Janet Myers and Maureen Martin shared with the crowd how they put the “I” in team, that is engaging each employee at each stage of the process of getting their beautiful wines in the bottle and at our dinner tables. They talked about making sure each person had a significant role and felt empowered, that his or her contribution affects the rest of the team and the final product. To help bring home that point, Clos du Bois is engaging its employees in a Cinco de Mayo scavenger hunt which will have employees going through various parts of the winery and needing to depend on one another’s individual expertise to get through each stage.
In addition to the official topic of the evening, sitting with Maureen Martin gave us the great benefit for learning a bit more about her and the winery. It was quite exciting for Sonoma wine lovers like me.
I always enjoy Red White Boston events (and I mean that, even if I do help promote them!). At every event, I meet at least a few new, interesting people whose path I may never have crossed otherwise. The app does a great job of connecting people with wine, but the greatest success has been connecting people with people, over wine.
The next tasting crew event is May 16 at WGBH, join me there!