Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Belle Glos Pinot Noir at Firefly Grill Effingham, IL

Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir at Firefly Grill, Effingham, IL

Enroute back to Chicago from our Florida Destiny Cove getaway last week, we stopped and dined at the Firefly Grill in Effingham, IL for a delightful, memorable fine dining experience. Firefly American Grill is now on our itinerary and plans for future trips through the area.

Firefly is just off the highway I57 in a large expansive freestanding building surrounded by flowerbeds, gardens and a pond. 

Firefly is a farm-to-table cuisine artsy restaurant that focuses on dedication to growing and serving "some of the best food on the planet", imaginative food creations crafted from the finest ingredients. They have a stated wholehearted dedication to their community, eco-system, clients, farm, the Earth and their teammates. 

Firefly is the handicraft of proprietors Kristie and Niall. They met in Puerto Rico while helping mutual friends open a new restaurant there, the Blue Macaw. Kristie and Niall embraced the challenge and wonderful experience of getting a restaurant off the ground.

After a few years in Puerto Rico, they decided to get married and return to the mainland. Niall had taken a job at Bradley Ogden's Lark Creek Inn outside of San Francisco. On the way to California, they stopped in Kristie's hometown, Effingham, IL. They commented to folks there how Effingham could benefit from a restaurant like the one they dreamed of and wanted to create someday.

The establishment of Firefly was the idea of local entrepreneur/developer Jack Schultz who orchestrated the fulfillment of the vision and dream of Kristie and Niall Campbell to open a restaurant. Jack had heard through the grapevine that Kristie was marrying a chef and that someday they want to open a restaurant. 

Jack loved their ideas and with the help of their incredible community, Jack and his team at Agracel, some investors, a visionary at Newton State Bank, and architect Cass Calder Smith, Kristie and Niall's dream to open a restaurant was born, in Effingham.

In Firefly, they created a space that is like coming into their own home, with the kitchen the heart of the Campbell house, with an exhibition kitchen, customers see everything that goes into the dishes firsthand.

Their vision of sustainability is also manifested in the building with recycled steel, reclaimed barn wood, chairs recycled from Hard Rock in Manhattan, and a pond that irrigates the gardens reducing firefly's carbon footprint. They grow mint in the gardens on the site, not only for the menu, but also to keep the mosquitos away. 

The rustic dining room with wood ceiling and hardwood floors is lively and almost boisterous. 

Food they can't grow themselves is sourced locally whenever possible by using sustainable fisheries, artisan farmers, and foragers. Their website lists about twenty suppliers including Trader's Point Creamery in Zionsville, IN, not far from several of our family and friends in the area that we occasionally frequent when in town. 

The firefly philosophy on food is: keep it simple, source the best ingredients possible, and stay out of their way.

We dined outside on the front porch overlooking the landscaped lawn with gardens and Illinois agricultural fields in view across the road.

From the lunch menu, we selected the wedge salad, I had the grilled petit filet with mashed potatoes and asparagus, and Linda ordered the beef wellington. For a wine accompaniment, I chose BTG the Belle Glos Pinot Noir.

Following the delightful tasting of Belle Glos Santa Maria Valley vineyard designated Pinot we had on vacation in Florida last week, it was fun trying another Belle Glos Vineyard Pinot. I wrote extensively about producer/winemaker Joe Wagner and the Belle Glos brand in a blogpost about that dinner.

Linda tried the Caymus Quilt Reserve Cabernet.

Belle Glos Monterey County Las Alturas Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021

This is another single vineyard designated Pinot Noir. It is sourced from the 15 acre Las Alturas Vineyard located in one of the highest-plantable sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County. The yields are deliberately kept low in order to preserve the fruit intensity from the vines.
The name “Las Alturas” in Spanish means “the heights,” a fitting name for this vineyard located on one of the highest grape-growing benches in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA up to 1,200 feet. At this elevation, it has a terroir of sunny but very cool climate from the breezes that blow in from the Pacific coast that creates wines bearing all the hallmarks of the coastal region: robust, expressive, full-bodied, and balanced by a firm acidity

The wine was aged in 100% French oak (60% new) for up to nine months. After the wine underwent malolactic fermentation, it was racked twice before making the final blend.

Winemaker's Tasting Notes: "Rich crimson in color withfragrant aromas of blackberry, sage, cherry, and hints of rich dark chocolate. Bold and elegant on the palate with boysenberry pie, black currant jam, dark plum, and subtle notes of ground nutmeg. Balanced and structured, this wine has beautiful acidity that lingers through to a long, mouthwatering finish."

A wonderful accompaniment to the grilled beefsteak, especially on a warm summer afternoon, its a nice departure from the big bold hearty Syrah's/Shiraz's we enjoy, and the robust Bordeaux varietals, to the finer, more refined, less bold and forward Pinot Noirs. 

In the midst of summer, its a nice departure from the big bold hearty Syrah's/Shiraz's we enjoy, and the robust Bordeaux varietals to the finer, more refined, less bold and burdensome Pinot Noirs. 

What sets Belle Glos apart is its beautiful acidity that gives it a long, mouthwatering finish. It's a wine that is perfect for those who appreciate a well behaved structured, bold, and complex wine. With every sip, you feel the balance between the fruitiness and acidity making it a fantastic accompaniment to hearty meat dishes or simply enjoyed on its own as a sipping wine.

Winemaker Notes - Scarlet red in color with an aromatic medley of gooseberry, raspberry, and cranberry with hints of ginger, black pepper, and shaved milk chocolate. Dark fruit on the palate with flavors of wild berries, milk chocolate, toffee, black cherry, and ground nutmeg. Rich and structured, this wine has beautiful acidity that lingers through to a long, mouthwatering finish.

This was rated 91 by Wine Enthusiast. 

Dark ruby colored, medium-full bodied, aromatic, complex full flavors of black cherry with notes of toast, caramel, milk chocolate and hints of cola, toffee, spice and licorice.  

RM 91.