Last night, DC kicked off it's inaugural DC Wine Week with a bash at Sonoma (http://www.sonomadc.com/.) The event was filled to capacity with Washingtonians and even those of us who came in from Virginia and Maryland.
I had been to the restaurant before (which is terrific and has a fantastic wine selection.) The main restaurant is located on the first floor of a three story facility. The second floor and third floor loft were used for the Wine Week party and the surroundings were perfect for the occasion. Sonoma has understated decor with a lot of interesting low lighting perfect for sipping wine and mingling.
The front room had a full bar and a food buffet that mainly consisted of cheeses and charcuterie (and later, desserts.) The back room, where we spent most of our time, had more substantial hors d'oeuvres, such as meatballs, chard, potatoes, carrots, buffalo mozzarella, a chickpea dish and vichyssoise. More importantly, it had the formal wine tasting bar featuring six wines individually selected by Sonoma's wine director, Patricia Ely. (See the interview with Patricia Ely from earlier this week on CellarBlog.)
We started our tasting with the sparkling wines: Gruet Blanc de Noirs and Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut. The Gruet was a lovely fruity wine with notes of honey and plenty of effervescence. The Mirabelle was dry, even tart, with hints of green apples and a great finish.
The tastings were really nearly full glasses so we had to pace ourselves and couldn't finish all the wines. Luckily plenty of food was on hand as well.
We then moved on to the Castle Rock selections. The first was a 2009 Castle Rock Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley. It was an extremely delicate wine, with a good balance of fruit and acidity. It had aromas of herbs and grass and even slate, with a clean crisp finish. This would be a perfect patio wine on a hot day. The second selection was a 2009 Castle Rock Pinot Noir from Sonoma. This was a perfect silky wine with a nose of anise and a little lingering spice. We definitely appreciated this wine more than most Pinot Noirs we've tried recently.
After pausing for desserts that included spiced nuts, biscotti and a heavenly fudge infused (we think) with Grand Marnier, we tried the final pair of wines. The first was a 2009 Italian Terre del Grillo. This wine was fruity with notes of pineapple, citrus and toast, with a mild almond finish. Definitely an easy drinking wine with or without food. The final wine was our favorite, a 2009 Terre Nero D'Apola. This wine was packed with red fruit flavors - cherries, raspberries and plums - and a wonderful long spice finish.
The event itself had a great vibe with an eclectic mixture of fashionable people of all ages - though the thirty-somethings had a slight majority. The atmosphere, great food, wine and service as well as the enthusiasm for DC Wine Week encouraged mingling and dialogue among friends and strangers alike. All in all it was a great success and if the events the rest of the week go half as well, the inaugural DC Wine Week will be a big hit.
We had a wonderful time at the event and thank the organizers of DC Wine Week and Sonoma for their hospitality. You can count on CellarBlog to continue to support DC Wine Week!