Thursday, July 20, 2023

Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir Inniskillin Ice Wine at Beach Walk Café, Henderson Park Inn, Destin

Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir and Inniskillin Ice Wine at  Beach Walk Café, Henderson Park Inn, Destin

Date night out during our vacation getaway to The Cove in Destiny East in Destin, Florida, we dined at the Beach Walk Restaurant at the Henderson Park Inn at the end of our beach adjacent the Henderson State Park with views of the Destin harbor towers in the distance.

Destin sits on the Emerald Coast of the Florida panhandle and is noted as one of the top beaches in the state, nation and world, by various travelogues and reviews, with its powdery sugar white sands. 

The Beach Walk Café at the Henderson Park Inn is an award-winning, fine-dining restaurant that overlooks the beach with views of the towering condo towers along the Destin beach and harbor two miles to the west. 

It has been named one of the most romantic restaurants in North America for its pairing imaginative cuisine rooted in the freshest, local ingredients with spectacular sunsets and starry skies amidst the surf.

Our server said she has stayed there for a half dozen years because of their executive chef, Destin native Daniel Peters. Daniel first worked a professional kitchen at the age of 26, gaining his first taste of fine food and wine knowledge at Chan’s Wine World. 

In 2011, he moved to Napa Valley to further his culinary skills and experience. There he studied under a number of world-renowned award-winning chefs, including Douglas Keane, Sang Yoon, Jake Rand and Stephan Barber. He returned home to apply what he learned to elevation Destin’s food culture, with his Gulf-to-table concept at Beach Walk.

For our dinner this evening, we started with the Corn and Crab Bisque and the Iceberg Wedge salad with Applewood Bacon, Shaved Red Onion, Tomato, Maytag Blue Cheese Crumble and Dressing.

For our entree we selected the fresh catch Snapper with Corn Truffle Risotto, Madeira Mushrooms, Truffle Fries in a Citrus Beurre Blanc.

While the limited but carefully selected wine list offered several favorite producers and selections such as Nils Venge Saddleback, Chardonnay and Cabernet, no less than five of our selection choices were not available. 

We settled on an our fifth choice the Belle Glos Pinot Noir, which proved to be a superb pairing choice, perhaps testament to the quality of offerings, but there were few alternatives at that point. 

When I expressed my displeasure at the out of date wine list, and admonished them that we brought more wine from our home cellar in Chicago for our week away, than they had available, General Manager Mike Frey appeared and was extremely gracious and attentive. He granted us a complimentary Domaine Chandon California Carneros sparkling wine, a taste of the evenings WBTG special offer red, followed by a premium icewine accompaniment to our dessert, another offering not shown on the winelist.

Despite it all, we had a delightful long discussion throughout the evening on common interests, backgrounds and fine dining and wine experiences.

The Belle Glos Pinot was delightful with dinner.

Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2021

Belle Glos is the wine of owner winemaker Joseph Wagner, son of Chuck Wagner of Napa Valley Caymus notoriety. Belle Glos was the name of his grandmother, Chuck's mother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, Matriarch and co-founder of Caymus Vineyards, original land and vineyard owner. Joe focuses on single vineyard designated Pinot Noirs including this Clark and Telephone Vineyard from down in Santa Barbara County in the Santa Maria Valley.  

As a fifth-generation Napa Valley winemaker, Joe learned his way around a vineyard long before he was able to drink wine.

By the time he was 19 he knew that he would continue his family’s winemaking legacy, working alongside his father at Caymus Vineyards. In 2001, he created Belle Glos, with a focus on vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from throughout California’s best coastal regions.

More recently, he has launched a number of new brands under Copper Cane Wines & Provisions. Joe has a keen interest in contributing to the evolution of the wine industry, by discovering new wine growing locations and through experimentation in the cellar.

Joe lives in Napa Valley, has six children, and maintains a healthy balance between his family life and a passionate dedication to his business.

Belle Glos showcases distinctive Pinot Noirs produced from California’s most noteworthy coastal wine-growing regions.

While each vineyard location lies near the Pacific Ocean, the climate differences are significant, varying with the amount of fog, wind, sunlight, and soil type at each site. Each Vineyard Designate is crafted to distill the purest essence of the locale into elegant expressions of California Pinot Noir.

Owner/winemaker, Joe Wagner chose the name Belle Glos (pronounced “BELL GLOSS”) to honor his grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner. Lorna was a co-founder of Caymus Vineyards, an inspirational figure to Joseph and an avid lover of Pinot Noir.

I wrote last year about Belle Glos Vineyard Select Pinot Noirs from the Wagner family vineyards. This selection is from their Clark & Telephone Vineyard, named for its location near the corner of Clark Avenue and Telephone Road in the Santa Maria Valley. The site is cooled by wind and fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean following the Santa Maria River. The vineyard was planted in 1972 with the Martini clone of Pinot Noir, one of the first to be used along the California coastlands.

This was surprisingly robust and flavorful, yet smooth and polished so as to nicely complement the fresh seafood entree. 

Dark ruby colored, medium to full bodied, smooth and polished with nicely integrated full flavors of black raspberry, with hints of blueberry, subtle strawberry and cherry. There are tones of cinnamon, spice, sweet oak and tea on a lively acidity long finish with supple tannins.

RM 91 points.

With our desert course, Mike presented us with this ultra-premium Inniskillin Ice Wine.

Inniskillin Vidal Blanc Niagara VQA Icewine 2018

We visited the Inniskillin estate, vineyards and winery on the Niagara escarpment during our Inniskillin Niagara on the Lake Wine Experience back in 2012. It is the 'first growth' premiere grand cru of Canadian wines. 

 Innisklillin Wines was founded in 1975 by Austrian-born Karl J. Kaiser, and native Canadian Donald J.P. Ziraldo, a decendant of a family of winegrowers in Northern Italy. They were granted the first winery license granted in the province of Ontario since 1929. 

Inniskillin was founded dedicated to producing the finest possible wines from vinifera wine grapes grown in the Niagara Peninsula. Karl and Donald tested the ground of Niagara, seeking the optimal terroir and located the Inniskillin estate and vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the historic Brae Burn Estate. Inniskillin gained international notoriety when its pioneering 1989 Vidal Icewine was awarded the Grand Prix d'Honneur at Vinexpo 1991 drawing worldwide attention to Canada's burgeoning wine industry.

VQA Icewine is a highly concentrated dessert wine made by harvesting grapes naturally frozen on the vine at -10 C in December-January. Inniskillin VQA Icewine is internationally awarded and recognized and is exported throughout the world.

 Vidal is a hybrid grape varietal, produced from Ugni Blanc and Seibel varietals, that has a thick skin suitable for harvesting late in the season. It is the most popular Icewine grape grown in Ontario. It’s noted for good natural acidity that gives great structure to the lusciousness of its tropical aromas and flavors of mango and lychee.  Inniskillin produces Vidal Icewine in two distinct styles, one without oak aging to highlight the fresh fruit emphasis, and with oak aging for added complexity.

This is the same wine, one vintage removed from that which we tasted at a fine dinner we had at the Herrington Inn Atwaters Restaurant in Geneva last fall.

Winemaker Notes - "Aromatics of tropical fruit including mango and orange dominate, on the palate fruit flavors including peach, nectarine and lemon are balanced by crisp, lively acidity. Perfect on its own; a variety of cheeses (blue veined, aged cheddar, rich cream cheeses with dried fruits); seared scallops; lobster; rich pates; fruit based desserts."

This release was awarded 94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, and 93 points by Decanter

The 2018 Vidal Icewine comes in with 245 grams of residual sugar, 10.5 of total acidity and 9.5% alcohol. An early harvest began on December 14 and continued for several consecutive days. 
Golden straw colored, fulled bodied, rich concentrated unctuous classic peach and apricot notes with tongue coating sugar sweetness, hints of spiced orange, caramel and almond in the lingering finish. 
RM 93 points.