Ermanos Craft Beer and Wine Bar teamed up with Cochise County’s Sand-Reckoner Vineyards to host the Sand-Reckoner Vineyards Tasting Dinner on June 8th. The upcycled wooden panelling and exposed brick walls of Ermanos became the backdrop for a laughter and conversation -filled six course meal, during which six of Sand-Reckoner’s wines were paired with inventive and original recipes by chefs David Valencia Jr., Jesus Cayeros, and Bri Grateron.
The tasting kicked off with Sand-Reckoner’s award-winning 2013 “W”: a white blend described in the tasting notes as having “floral aromas of honeysuckle with tropical mango, melon, and lemon custard” and being “round and focused with clean, zesty citrus and orange blossom” with a “refreshing mineral finish.” To complement the wine, the salad course was frisee, a watermelon reduction, and locally-sourced chevre. As a sweet-and-savory fiend, I was delighted by the way the chevre and watermelon played off each other, and the light, not-too-much-but-just-enough-sweetness of the wine complimented the dish well.
The second course was a divine rendition of honeydew—listed on the menu as “honeydew, too many garnishes.” Cumin and fennel were among the many seasonings sprinkled over the juicy melon slice, and the resulting flavor was met with rave reviews by everyone within earshot. I made a personal note to attempt recreating the effect at home the next time I eat honeydew. The dish was paired with Sand-Reckoner’s freshly-bottled 2013 Rosé, being premiered at this tasting. Described as having “aromas of spring flowers, raspberries and zesty lime” and being “round, juicy and concentrated with ripe strawberry, raspberry and red cherry” with “thirst quenching acidity” on the finish, it was pleasingly dry for a rosé, and made for excellent sipping with the sweet and spicy honeydew.
The third course was a last-minute deviation from the original menu plan, after Chef Valencia decided the original dish didn’t quite work. Instead, he served up an inventive combination of potatoes, freshly-grated parmesan cheese, and fresh raspberries, to pair with Sand-Reckoner’s 2012 “5.” A sangiovese grosso listed in the tasting notes as bringing scents of “cherry cola, fresh herbs, eucalyptus, and desert rain” and having a full-bodied taste of “cranberry, pomegranate, and mineral notes with finely textured tannin,” the wine set the night’s selection of reds off to a great start.
I confess, I failed to get a picture of the fourth course, due to my being so excited to taste the fresh pasta made from smoked flour and providing a base for top knot duck and pickled blackberries. This dish rivaled the spiced honeydew for memorable flavors of the night, and played very nicely with Sand-Reckoner’s 2012 “3,” a zinfandel described as “brambly fruit of blackberry and boysenberry along with aniseed, oregano, and lavender” with a “lively acidity” and a “black licorice and woodsmoke finish.” It was only after my plate was clean and I was tipping back the last of my wine that I realized I had completely skipped over the all-important photograph – but perhaps that indicates all the more clearly about how much I enjoyed the pairing.
Sand Reckoner’s 2012 “7” was served next, along with a double-check bone marrow garnished with raspberries and red onions, with French bread to assist in marrow-to-mouth delivery. I had spotted this dish being prepared in the kitchen during my tour before the meal started, and my anticipation was rewarded by the marrow’s appealing presentation and rich flavor. The wine, described in the notes as a full bodied syrah, “woodsy with smoked plum and blackberry fruit along with warm spices of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and vanilla” and “rich with a velvety and creamy palate,” was a good balance to the marrow, and had an incredibly smooth flavor.
Dessert brought back the sweet-and-savory theme in a big way, with ice cream, grilled pineapple, and almond paste, sprinkled with blue cheese. Paired with Sand-Reckoner’s award-winning 2011 “11,” a zinfandel dessert wine, the dish provided a delicate contrast to the richness of the wine, and was an excellent flavor blend with which to end the night.
Of course, Ermanos is hardly wine-only territory–they keep an impressive selection of beers on tap, and will host a five-course beer tasting dinner this Monday, 6/29, at 6:00pm featuring brews by Founders Brewing Co. from Grand Rapids, Michigan. As for their Sand-Reckoner event, the dinner will be private, so interested parties should purchase their tickets in advance by emailing email@example.com or visiting Ermanos in person (tickets are $55/person including tax). The menu will be crafted from locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, and it sounds like Chef David Valencia has another excellent line up of dishes in mind:
Mosaic Promise Session IPA
Mango and halibut
Double Trouble Double IPA
Devil Dancer Triple IPA
Curmudgeon Old Ale
Apple, bacon, thyme
To learn more about Ermanos Craft Beer and Wine Bar, visit their website. To discover the wines of Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, check them out online. For more information on Founders Brewing Company, visit their site.