June 21, 2007

Grape Expectations!

After pondering a question that was posed to me Tuesday night at Jimmy’s, I finally came up with a suitable answer. The question was why do I do what I do; in other words, why the Blog and why this particular niche? The answer is simple: I am a regular person. Like most other regular people I know, I like to get the most out of every dollar (I’ve been told that I know how to pinch a penny till it screams), but at the same time, don’t mind spending a little extra if the quality is there. I don’t like getting ripped off, and I like to be taken seriously. Bundle all those together along with a gift for writing and a passion for wines and good food, and you have, well, *me.*

One of the reasons I like Paso Robles so much, for instance, is because there is a real Wine Country with people who have a genuine passion for their wines, make wines of wonderful quality, and except for a couple of notable exceptions (i.e., Turley and Linne Calodo), sell their wines at everyman prices. Most of the winemakers - and their staff - are also so very *nice*! In other words, they make you want their wines, love their wine country, and want to learn more, just by being genuine, regular folk.

Jimmy’s Café had a tasting of Stanley Lambert wines Tuesday night for members of the wine club, Grape Expectations. The whole evening fit beautifully into my philosophy.

Lindsay Stanley – an unpretentious, craggy Aussie with a wicked sense of humor – was the MC Tuesday night and regaled us with stories about his life down under and his lifelong interest in wines. I was fortunate enough to be seated at the table where Jeff, Ali, Jody, and Chris were also being entertained by Lindsay’s ribald stories and sparkling banter.

I have to share some Lindsayisms with you:

“To make wine you don’t have to be clever – I’m living proof of that.”

(Referring to the Merlot in Black Sheep as a single varietal) “We Aussies think of Merlot the same way as we think of foreplay – totally unnecessary!” (the women booed him).

“Its my female wine – spend a lot of money on it and it never says thank you.” (more booing).

There were several others, but this is a “family” column, lol.

According to Jimmy, the wine evening was thrown together at the last minute to accommodate the guest appearance of Lindsay, but the menu didn't seem "last minute" at all. It was beautifully prepared and presented. Period.

The first course was Zucchini-Wrapped Jumbo Scallops over Celery Root Puree with Sweet Garlic and Basil Pesto. Absolutely delicious, and the wrapped scallop had been hand tied with a strand of chives, giving it a gift-wrapped appearance. As “they” say, presentation is everything. The wine paired with this delicious appetizer was Stanley Lambert’s 2005 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. As Mr. Stanley explained, the terrain of Adelaide is similar to that of New Zealand, whose Sauvignon Blancs have become a modern-day phenomenon. He noted that the similarity between the two styles is almost indistinguishable, and he was quite correct.

The surprise came when he and Elliot also served their 2002 Full Sister Semillon and their 2004 Pristine Chardonnay. These two were not on the menu!

The second course was Grilled Double-Cut Lamb Chops in Fresh Herbed Butter with Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Gold Beets. Okay, so that I won’t have to say it again, *everything* was delicious. This dish was served with the 2002 Thoroughbred Cabernet Sauvignon. For me, it was an *almost* ideal pairing. To go along with the other surprises of the evening, the 2001 Black Sheep (Shiraz, Malbec, Merlot), 2005 Sensitive Cousin Pinot Noir, 2001 August Shiraz, and their flagship wine, the 2004 Family Tree Shiraz. My favorite with the lamb chops was the Family Tree, a Shiraz with a lush, velvety texture and the characteristic dark fruit, cherries, and black pepper with an amazing and subtle undertone of eucalyptus.

The final course was Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Cake with Crème Chantilly. Yum. Served with the Choc-a-Bloc Australian Tawny (Mr. Stanley said that they don’t use the word “Port” because that indicates that it came from Portugal) which was perfect with this dessert.

My only criticism for the evening is a very personal one. I hate Reidel "O" glasses. It's the whole swirl thing, you see. :-)

Jimmy Stanfill, the proprietor of Jimmy’s Café, is a cherubic man with a genuine passion for fresh food and good wines. The prices on his menu reflects his and Michaelina’s (isn’t that a pretty name?) belief that good food should be affordable. The food is genuinely fresh and the recipes are Jimmy's own. Jimmy’s Café is located at 8427 W. Lake Mead Blvd., just about ½ block east of Rampart in Las Vegas. Their phone number is 869-3663.

You *have* to try the Crossings Tri-Tip Salad. I had it with a luscious, full-bodied Zinfandel. Yum.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just looking to try to get in contact with you. I have read through your blog and enjoy it a lot. I didn't know Vegas had so many wine events.

    I am a member at 3 places. Tablas Creek, Justin and WildHorse's Pinot Lovers Club. I was once a member of Tobin James and Chumeia but have since stopped thoes memberships.

    Feel free to contact me at robert.corbett.ctr@nellis.af.mil