Napa Valley is small in size but giant in impact. With over 400 wineries and counting, this valley first put California wine on the world map by winning the Judgement of Paris blind competitions 40 years ago, an event recounted in the film, “Bottle Shock.”
A celebration of this historic event—along with 39 other events—comprised the 5th annual festival, aptly named, Flavor! Napa Valley. Yes, you will find Napa wines being poured at many other festivals around the globe, but there is no better place to sample its pleasures than Napa itself.
The Festivities for Flavor! Napa Valley began on Wednesday eventing on the grounds of the CIA campus at COPIA in the city of NAPA. Called the “Downtown StrEAT Market,” this event showcased the talented chefs, artisans, sommeliers and artists of the city itself, which has become a mecca for famished foodies.
Among the dishes we tasted at this exciting event were “Curried Shrimp” from Kitchen Door, “Wood Fired Pizza” from Ca’Momi,
“Ribs and Slaw” from Bounty Hunter and “Truffle Risotto” from Tarla—all enhanced by some of Napa’s boutique wineries.
Things heated up in the kitchen, as we listened, learned, watched and ate at two of the many chef’s demonstrations held at the CIA, Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.
First up was graduate Christopher Kostow who quickly rose to stardom garnering 3 Michelin stars for The Restaurant at Meadowood. Having predicted his meteoric rise long before it happened, we were particularly keen to experience his culinary prowess up close and personal. He shared a recipe for “Fresh Cheese Gnudi” from his soon-to-be opened casual restaurant, The Charter Oak in St. Helena.
Next up was Chef Tony Gemignani, who was throwing a pie. It was a pizza pie, that is. This 11-time World Pizza Champion—who owns a cadre of eateries in the bay area—demonstrated his prowess like a true showman. Not only did we watch, we learned the finer points about dough, toppings and oven temperatures, as we gobbled up slices like there was no tomorrow.
But tomorrow did come, none too soon, to experience perhaps the most anticipated event of the weekend, the all-star cast of chefs, vintners and sommeliers gathered to celebrate the “40th Anniversary of the 1976 Judgement of Paris.”
This grand and important dinner commemorated the first time that the wine world acknowledged the superior quality of Napa wines.
At the 1976 Judgement of Paris Napa wines were selected as “Best in Class” against previously uncontested French vintages in a blind tasting with French judges. And the rest is history.
After a reception of JCB No. 21 Sparkling Wine and three different caviar selections provided by The Caviar Company, a five-course menu was paired with current releases of those very winning wine varietals from the Judgement of Paris .
Co-host Master Sommeliers Andrea Immer Robinson and Gilles de Chambure, entertained us with witty stories, wine notes, and full glasses of wine.
Dinner highlights included Chef Bradley Ogden’s “Spring Market Salad.” This dish was paired with Chateau Montelena 2009 Chardonnay. The next dish was Chef Richard Blais’s “Pan Roasted Cod with Seared Foie, Smoked Potato Puree, Morel Mushrooms, Rosemary Oil and Flowers.” This dish was paired with three cabernet sauvignons: Heitz Cellars 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Cab; Freemark Abbey 2010 Cab; and Mount Veeder & Spring Mountain Vineyards 2012 Cab.
An extended weekend of world-class sipping and supping came to a finale at the “Brunch Party” on Sunday. “Lobster Eggs Benedict,” and a selection of sparkling wines — all produced in Napa—were the perfect wrap for the forty events of this year’s Flavor! Napa Valley lineup.
If this is your idea of a gourmet getaway come true, you too can experience this culinary and viticulture cornucopia—as only Napa Valley can do it. Plan now for next March at Flavor! Napa Valley