Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Inovasi for Superb Wine & Food Pairings

Inovasi for Superb Wine & Food Pairings

An evening outing landed us at Inovasi Restaurant in tony Lake Bluff. We discovered a vibrant atmosphere in a chic stylish setting with fine-crafted dinner plates and perfect wine-by-the-glass pairings. It was a perfect getaway from a hectic stressful day in the pleasant comfortable setting. A half dozen entree selections include Steak Frites, Shepherds Pie, Baked Haddock, Wild Sockeye Salmon and Crispy Chicken Thigh or Grilled Chicken. There's a larger selection of imaginative small plates and appetizers. A carefully and thoughtfully selected wine list also offers a dozen red and white wines by-the-glass. The result was two great value wine finds that perfectly complemented our meal for a delightful and memorable dining experience.

Inovasi roasted beet salad (half)
We started with the Roasted Beet salad that was delicious with fried onion, goat cheese and a spicy peanut vinaigrette. My Steak Frites was perfectly prepared and nicely presented in a tasty butter au jus reduction. Linda chose the Haddock served on a bed of smoked lentils with a bit of spice.

With my steak I tasted Aviary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from the By-The-Glass (B-T-G) list. It was a perfect pairing complementing the beef and the au jus reduction. It was also spectacular with the roasted beet salad with feta cheese and peanut ragu.

Aviary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

This was a pleasant surprise, exceeding my modest expectations for a B-T-G selection. I am not familiar with this producer or label and upon researching it further found it in distribution throughout the northeast US. Perhaps the setting and an ideal food pairing taints my perspective but I'd say at the $20 retail price point on offer, this is an exceptional QPR (Quality Price Ratio) and I'd say go get a case for every day as well as special occasion drinking. Its a perfect blind tasting candidate!

According to their website, Aviary source grapes from 'nearly a dozen distinct vineyards from Calistoga... to Coombsville'.  Gregory Ahn the Executive Winemaker/GM works with a team of consulting winemakers and a cellar crew to craft the grapes and wines to his specifications.

This is serendipity as it provides a wonderful wine find and dining experience such as this evening. But for lack of terroir or consistent sourcing, one can't infer anything from one label to the next label or even vintage to the next which may be totally different. This the the state of non-estate bottled or broker negotiant labels. Enjoy it while you can .. but caveat emptor with each label. One time you might get premium or ultra premium grapes in a 'private label', the next it may be excess production, or sub-standard product not suitable for the primary flagship label. There's fun in the hunt and great reward when it turns out to be winner at a great price such as tonight. There were 4900 cases of this produced so you should be able to find it.

This was dark garnet colored, medium to full bodied, moderately complex but nicely balanced, the muted aromas deceive the burst of Blackberry fruit on the front pallet followed by a layer of black currant, cassis with a hint of dark chocolate and tones of tobacco and tea on the smooth moderate tannin finish.

The blend is Cabernet Sauvignon 88%, Merlot 8% and Petit Syrah 4%.

RM 91

Barrique Sonoma County Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2012

With Linda's entree we chose this Barrique Sonoma County Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2012. Once again, this was an unknown label or producer. This wine is produced by Brack Mountain Wine Company, made from hand-selected blocks from one of the oldest vineyards on the Sonoma coast. A recent earlier vintage of this label was offered by K&L in the Bay Area, one of our favorite wine merchants for their value, selection and expertise, for under $15. Even at the suggested retail $20 price it represents great value.

This was magenta colored, light bodied, flavors of dusty rose with notes of red fruits accented by a layer of rhubarb, hints of black tea, earth and a touch of tangy white pepper.

RM 88 points.