I have eaten at Temper Grille (1213 E. University Drive, Granger, Ind., 574-273-0443) a number of times but never attended one of Chef Sean Kelley’s wine dinners until this Penfolds’ tasting. I picked this rather pricey (pricey in our market at $225 per person) wine dinner to attend for several reasons:
First, I have learned personally that Sean Kelley is a very kind person, who under a sometimes rough exterior has a very generous heart. He is the kind of person who you want to support because of his generosity. As an example of this generosity, when Chef Kelley learned that my grandson, Adler Bear Carris (see more on Adler and an upcoming benefit for him here) wanted to be a Chef someday, he organized a “Chef for a day” event for Adler at Temper Grille. Sean even went so far as to have a special Chef’s jacket made for Adler in commemoration of this very special day.
Secondly, it isn’t often in a market the size of ours, that you get the opportunity to taste Penfolds wine, especially the famous Penfolds Grange. If you know about wines you most likely know about Penfolds wines. And to get to meet renowned Sommeliers such as DLynn Proctor and Robert Ord, Penfolds Winemaking Ambassadors for the Americas, along with tasting the wines is something special. Both Sommeliers were in attendance for the evening’s festivities.
Penfolds Wines is an Australian company founded in 1844 by Dr. Christopher Dawson Penfold, an English physician who immigrated to Australia with his wife Mary Penfold. Penfolds is one of Australia’s oldest wineries. Annual production at Penfolds is 1.4 million cases.
Penfolds is widely known for production of its world renowned Penfolds Grange red wine. It is primarily a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and considered one of Australia’s “first growth” wines. It is often compared to French Bordeaux wine. Many of its vintages are considered as a collector’s item.
The 2008 vintage (not the vintage we tasted at the dinner, but one that I wanted to use for an example) was just one of those very special vintages sought after by collectors. It is considered one of the best Grange vintages ever produced. The 2008 vintage received a 100 point rating from both Robert Parker and Wine Spectator magazine. The price of the 2008 vintage ranges from $475 to $800 in the United States and has drinkability to 2060. Is it worth the price? You’ll have to be the judge of that.
Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador
The quality of Penfolds wines is simply world-class. To promote the reputation and position in the world of fine wine, Penfolds has a unique program featuring Winemaking Ambassadors.
These Ambassadors are charged with promoting Penfolds’ wines as well as being instrumental in their education programs, media relations and participating in Penfolds Red Wine Re-Corking Clinics (a complimentary service offered to collectors around the world for any bottle of Penfolds wine 15 years and older). They also contribute content for TV, radio and magazines and they travel extensively on behalf of Penfolds Wines.
We were fortunate to have these two renowned Penfolds Winemaking Ambassadors at the Temper Grille wine dinner. All of us in attendance had the pleasure of meeting and listening to presentations by both Robert Ord and DLynn Proctor after which they came to our tables to chat with all of us. Both are very personable and there is little doubt of their extensive wine knowledge.
In the “It’s Small World” category, it turns out that DLynn Proctor lives in Yountville, Calif., and we have a number of the same friends in Napa Valley including Sean Larkin, Jack Edwards, Didier Loustau, Susan Quinn and Kerrin Laz to name just a few.
DLynn Proctor came to Penfolds in 2011 as a Winemaking Ambassador to the Americas. DLynn has a long list of accomplishments including being one of the four Sommeliers followed in the 2013 documentary “SOMM” as the four of them pursued the Master Sommelier exam.
Although DLynn wasn’t successful in passing the exam he continues practicing his craft around the Americas. DLynn comes with a very impressive resume. He has been in the wine industry for over 12 years and was named the “Best New Sommelier in America” by Wine & Spirits magazine in 2008. He was a finalist in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Société Mondiale du Vin Best Sommelier in America Competition in 2008 and 2009. He is also a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and the American Sommelier Association.
Robert Ord’s passion for wine began while traveling through France where he took part in the grape harvest in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Originally from Cardiff Wales, a relocation to Seattle, Wash., found Robert working in the hospitality world…first as a bar manager and later as a Lead Sommelier.
Robert received a diploma from the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). After graduation in 2007 he began teaching classes for the ISG in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Recognized for his academic endeavors, Robert received the prestigious 2008 Rudd Scholarship for his exceptional performance in the Advanced Sommeliers’ Exam. He also received the first ever Jeffery H. Johnson Award of Excellence in 2009, presented by the Guild of Sommeliers’ Education Foundation and was also named one of three Rudd Scholars in 2008.
In addition to his duties as a Penfolds Ambassador, Robert continues as an educator and wine judge both in the U.S. as well as internationally.
Needless to say, for me and I am sure for the other folks attending the dinner, it was a real treat to have these world renowned sommeliers in attendance and to speak to us on wines in general and the great Penfolds wines we were tasting.
I asked Robert Ord for his thoughts on the dinner and he responded by saying, “It was really a treat to be a part of the dinner at Temper Grille. Sean’s food was spectacular and I thought the use of kangaroo in the ravioli was inspired. I truly do like pairing our Penfolds wines with great food, whether it is classical or non-classical in style. I am glad that everyone was able to enjoy our wines paired with such fantastic food.”
Southern Wines & Spirits
I would be remiss in not mentioning and giving credit for all the hard work and efforts of the Southern Wines & Spirits team that represents Penfolds wines in our market. They played a major role in getting the Penfolds team to participate in the dinner. Thanks to our local Southern Wine & Spirits friends Meghan Kirwan and Dan Peña for all their efforts to pull this event together with Sean Kelley and the Temper Grille team. Great job guys!!
The Wines and Food
Before I get into describing the wine and food for you, I would like to thank my table mates for the evening, Tom and Kathleen Brickley. They were kind enough to allow me to share their table for the dinner. I really enjoyed meeting them and the conversation that ensued. They are fellow wine collectors as well and their son is involved in the wine industry…all of which made for interesting conversation. Interestingly, their palates seemed to parallel mine and that enhanced our discussion on the wines we tasted throughout the evening. Tom and Kathleen: it was a pleasure meeting you guys and I hope we get to taste wine together in the future.
As I mentioned earlier anyone who knows wine knows that Penfolds produces some really top notch wines. They have been producing remarkable wines since 1844, and they are the undisputed leader in fine wines in Australia. Not only have they made their mark in Australia but around the world.
Personally, I was anxious to see how Chef Kelley approached the food pairings. When I asked him about the dinner afterwards here is what he said:
“I thought the food and wine pairing was one of my best,” Kelley said. “I was worried on two of the wines, the Grange and the 707. I went blind into the pairing and the only thing I could do was a lot of research on them. I was really skeptical on the Kangaroo ravioli, but everyone talked about how great it was. So it came out better than I thought.”
What follows are my thoughts and comments on the wine:
For the reception we all sipped the 2012 Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling which was paired with artisan meats and cheeses. Personally I am a big Riesling fan…perhaps due to my German heritage. This Riesling was really tasty. The nose was full of aromas of oranges and peaches. This was a light bodied wine with tastes of green apple and a hint of lime. The finish was dry, crisp and of a great length and provided a nice mouth feel. This wine reminded me of, and perhaps could pass for, a French Sémillon…also a favorite of mine.
Chef Kelley’s salmon crudo (in Italian crudo means raw) with a peach salsa and blood orange vinaigrette was paired with the 2013 Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay. This was a light Chardonnay which needed a little aeration to get it to open up. When it did open the nose threw off hints of apples, peaches and grapefruit. On the palate you had a refreshing lightness of white fruit and a touch of silkiness…a very pleasant mouth feel. The finish was balanced with just the right amount of acidity. This is a tight young Chardonnay with a great future.
You’ll get no argument out of most people and certainly not me, that Penfolds makes great wines. Their wines are made in the style of Old World wines which require a good deal of aging. The red wines that started with the 2nd course of the dinner were all very young and will require another two to five years of aging to begin to reach their potential. In several of the courses I believe the youngness of the wines was a deterrent to making the food and wine pairings perfect. This condition however didn’t prevent me from eating or drinking.
Chef Kelley paired a crispy smoked, coffee rubbed chicken thigh with the 2012 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/ Shiraz. This was my favorite pairing as well as my favorite wine of the evening. I thought the smokiness and coffee on the chicken overpowered the wine, albeit ever so slightly. This condition existed in my opinion because of the youngness of the wine.
On the nose, which was tight and required some coaxing to open up, there were hints of black fruit and perhaps a little oak. The palate was intense black fruit, spice and oak. The finish was excellent, well balanced and long. The dryness of the wine provided a nice mouth feel.
This course consisted of a blackened ostrich loin and beetroot puree paired with the 2010 Penfolds RWT Shiraz. The nose of this wine had aromas of cedar and black fruit. On the palate this wine was full bodied and rich with flavors of black fruit, mint and a little black pepper at the beginning of the finish. The finish featured some oak and tannins. The mouth feel was nice and corresponded with the length of the finish. When I quizzed other attendees this was one of the more popular wines of the evening.
As Chef Kelley commented on his concerns on pairing his food selections with the wines, this course he felt was one of his challenges as he paired kangaroo ravioli with a red wine demi reduction and béchamel (béchamel sauce is a white sauce made from a roux (butter and flour) and milk. It is one of the “mother sauces of French cuisine.” This plate was paired with the 2012 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707. The fruit for this wine comes from multiple vineyards and regions which make for challenging conditions for the winemaker. This wine was aged for 14 months in 100% new American Oak. On the nose there were hints of coffee, black fruit, floral notes plus a little oak. On the palate the wine was full bodied, mouth-filling with hints of spice, oak and perhaps a little chocolate with layers of black fruit. The finish was balanced, with good mouth texture and the finish length was very long. Again this wine is very light and would benefit from additional aging. This wine should drink well for 10 to 15 years.
The fifth and final course was the grand finale with chocolate truffle-stuffed French toast, with duck butter (foie gras), smoked goose bacon crumbles and smoked bleu cheese crumbles. This delicious desert was paired with the world renowned 2010 Penfolds Grange Red Wine, which is a blend of 96% Shiraz and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Once again the fruit for this wine came from multiple vineyards.
This wine was really a little disappointing to me. Not that the wine wasn’t good, because it was. It just wasn’t as good as it will get in the future. It is still so young and tight even after five years of aging. Even Penfolds says this wine will not begin to reach its peak drinking period until 2018, after which they claim is drinkable for a period of 42 years. I only hope I can taste a bottle of this 2010 Grange in another five to seven years. At that point I believe it should be in the “Boy is this wine good” stage of development.
I did some research on this wine for us and found the 2010 vintage has a price range of $500.00 to $625.00 per bottle in wine shops around the country. The wine scores were as follows:
Robert Parker 99/100
Wine Spectator 98/100
Cellar Tracker 97/100
Robert Parker, the wine critic who rated this wine in October 2014 at 99/100 points called it “among the finest Grange vintages produced.” The wine was impressive but as I mentioned earlier, it was still very young and will require at least another five years of aging to begin to reach its potential.
On the nose the wine, after some aeration, provided aromas of youthful black fruit, hints of floral and oak and perhaps a little cedar at times. On the palate this is a medium- to full-bodied wine. It was a little grainy or textured in the mouth with tastes of black fruit, dark chocolate and mocha. The finish was of good length although again a little tight. The tannins are balanced, with hints of oak or spice. This wine’s flavor profile will just get better with time.
This was a simply a great evening for all of us oenophiles and foodies. Congratulations to Chef Kelley for putting together some delicious food and pairing it with some wonderful wines. Thanks again to the team at Southern Wines & Spirits for their contributions to the event.
As people were finishing up and preparing to leave I asked several friends for their opinions of the evening and Brian Bernth had this to say: “Only Sean Kelley can pair kangaroo ravioli with the right wine. We do a lot of wine dinners, but Sean is as close to perfect with food and wine pairings as it gets. I also thought the moderately priced wines were just as good as the higher-end offerings.”
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Until next week,