Thursday, December 28, 2023

Plumpjack Reserve Napa Chardonnay at Entourage Restaurant Naperville

Plumpjack Reserve Napa Chardonnay 2022 at Entourage Restaurant Naperville 

Son Alec & d-in-law Vivianna gave us a gift card to their latest favorite restaurant Entourage in Naperville, IL. It turns out Alec discovered the GM and Principle of the restaurant is a college buddy of one of his best buds from NYC, AJ, who has been to our home several times for wine and dinners. Hence, we were eager to try their restaurant find, which they highly recommended. 

Entourage features craftfully dry-aged cuts of beef, seafood, sandwiches, and small plate dishes. The founders opened a similar Entourage restaurant in suburban Schaumburg, IL in 2006 that was named “Restaurant of the Year” by a Chicago magazine, and neighboring Vai’s Italian Kitchen which earned best Italian restaurant honors two years in a row.

There is seating in and adjacent the lively bar, and a dining room to the rear with a couple booths, cushioned bench and table seating.

We decided on two seafood dishes for our entrees and hence ordered a bottle of Napa Valley Chardonnay as an accompaniment.

For a starter we had the Roasted Beets and Whipped Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula, Baby Gem, Spicy Pecans, Hot Honey, Blood Orange Vinaigrette and Fennel. Linda loved it but I found the whipped goat cheese uninspiring.

I chose the Branzino based on my favor for Meuniére sauce and for whipped potatoes. It too was uninspiring, okay but not great, a bit bland, perhaps because it was served less than hot. 

Linda ordered the Miso Marinated Chilean Seabass with Broccolini, Charred Peppers, Shiitake Mushrooms with Black Truffle Risotto, Yuzu and Sake Butter Sauce. This was extraordinary, delicious in all respects, the fish artfully prepared and served hot, and the Black Truffle Risoto was spectacular. I tried it and loved the Charred Peppers accent which Linda found slightly offputting to the dish. 

The Wood Grilled Branzino Meuniére was served with Yukon Pommes Puree, Baby Tomatoes, Artichoke Brussel Sprouts, Basil and Lemon Caper Sauce.

Entourage service was super, attentive and professional throughout the evening.   

The Entourage winelist offers a thoughtfully and carefully selected winelist of fifteen White wines and 30+ Reds, half of those BTG - By-The-Glass. It is mostly from the US but also offers some selections from Australia, Italy, France and some reds from Spain and whites from Germany.  Five Chardonnays were on offer in a range of five price points.

It includes several notable and some favorite producers including Darioush, Long Shadows, Shafer, (Cabernets), Domaine Drouhin, Foxen and Brave (Pinots), Rombauer, Fontanafredda Barolo, Anaperenna Barossa Shiraz, and Chateau LaNerthe Côtes-du-Rhône (Rose).

Despite our serious disdain for and distrust of the despicable owner producer, hypocrite politician, we order the Plumpjack Reserve Napa Chardonnay, putting politics aside for the evening to enjoy our wine dinner outing.

Plumpjack Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2022

Plumpjack Estate Vineyards and Winery sits on the east end of Oakville Cross Road, just off the Silverado Trail, in southern Napa Valley. It used to be one of our favorite producers and sites to visit in Napa Valley before their ownership became so political, and regretably so radical and divisive. 

We visited the winery several times over the years and hosted their winemaker for a special dinner back in the early 90's. Over the years we acquired an extensive collection of Plumpjack Estate Napa Cabernets, some Merlots and Syrahs, including several vintages of their Cabernet Reserve offering dating back to 1995 through 1997. 

Some of these visits were chronicled in these pages's blogposts - 

Plumpjack Napa Valley Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

Plumpjack Founders Reserve Cabernet

I mentioned our cellar collection of Plumpjack vintages during our last visit there during a private tasting and they eagerly tried to supplement our collection of those vintages from their library, but at $500 to $700 per bottle, we politely passed. 

We first visited Plumpjack in its earliest days at the PlumpJack Wine Store on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, opened in 1992 by partners that included former San Francisco mayor and current Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, and some of his benefactor supporters. 

Over the years the investment group backing Newsome as their high profile figurehead lead has amassed a collection of premier Napa Valley properties and brands including PlumpJack Estate Winery, CADE Estate Winery, Odette Estate Winery and 13th Vineyard.

They also own and operate the rustic PlumpJack Inn boutique hotel set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in North Lake Tahoe, and several restaurants including Balboa Cafe in San Francisco, PlumpJack Cafe in Olympic Valley, Wildhawk, a neighborhood bar in San Francisco’s Mission district, and White Rabbit neighborhood bar in the Marina district.

The PlumpJack Winery sits in the heart of Napa Valley's renowned Oakville appellation, surrounded by the 42-acre estate vineyard. Both the winery building and the vineyard date back to the 1800s. The east  boundary of their vineyard lies along the foothills of the Vaca mountain range and yields grapes with the kind of bold fruit character that comes from well-drained hillside soils. To the west, their estate lies in the Napa River flood zone, where the vines take root in rich, deep clay soil yielding grapes with softer, more supple varietal character. From their oldest, rockiest section, the "I" Block, they source their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, of which we hold a half dozen bottles from several aged vintages.

Plumpjack Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2022

This Chardonnay is sourced from grapes grown in two vineyards in Napa Valley – one in the southern Napa Los Carneros appellation near San Pablo Bay, and another in St. Helena in the Central Valley. Just 30 miles apart, Los Carneros can be 10-15° cooler than St. Helena. Due to this difference and other important differences, such as soil type, these two vineyard sites vary significantly in character and expression. When blended, these differences in expression add layer upon layer of flavor to the nose and palate, creating a beautiful and complex Chardonnay.

Winemaker's notes - The 2022 PlumpJack Reserve Chardonnay is a gorgeous, multi-faceted wine. The nose delivers layers of aromas—apple, baked pear, and lemon curd mingle with white peach, apricot, and honeysuckle with a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon just beneath the fruit. The palate is energetic and dynamic, beginning with a rich, mouth-filling texture reminiscent of lemon curd, followed by bright acidity that evokes lemon zest and honey-crisp apples. Finally, the beautiful acidity pulls the wine through the back of the palate, creating a long, structured finish. 

Light straw colored, light medium bodied, crisp, tangy citrus with notes of apple and pear with bright acidity on the lingering finish. 

RM 89 points.

We look forward to returning to Entourage, next time to try to Indiana Farm Raised beef with some favorite red wine (s).