Colorado vine to table dinner

Homegrown Colorado products were truly the stars last Friday night at a VIP dinner kicking off the Colorado Winefest.

Chef Vaughn Hobbs fires things up as he pours some rum onto his rendition of Peaches Foster during the cooking demonstration at the dinner. Chef Vaughn has cooked for such notables as Presidents Ford and Carter.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Debbie Kovalik, executive director of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, and Guy Drew, co-owner of Guy Drew Vineyards in Cortez and member of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, enjoy the Colorado Vine to Table dinner June 10.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Famed chef Hosea Rosenberg, who prepared lobster and mascarpone ravioli as one of the courses, raises his wine glass for a toast.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Dinner guest Jill Jenkins, standing, and Nancy James, owner of Whitewater Hill Vineyards in Grand Junction, share a toast at the conclusion of the five-course dinner.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman
Colorado Wine Industry Board member Naomi Sheppard-Smith of Grande River Winery in Palisade, Julie Balistreri, vice president of Balistreri Vineyards in Denver and vice president of the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology, and Sarah Catlin, executive director of Colorado Winefest, toast Colorado wine and a wonderful dinner the night before the Colorado Winefest in Denver.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Held outside in a tented area at the Northfield Shops at Stapleton, the lovely and well attended five-course dinner featured wine produced from grapes grown on the Western slope and samples of haute cuisine cooked up by the state’s best chefs. Each of the five chefs was primarily responsible for preparing one of the courses, but were assisted by their fellow chefs throughout the evening. Sommeliers paired seven Colorado wines to complement the dinner.  

Appropriately called The Colorado Vine to Table Dinner, the menu consisted of different courses that had Colorado products as the main ingredients. The acclaimed chefs, including Chef Hosea Rosenberg, previously of Jax Fish House, and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef season 5, prepared the fare on special high grade Viking kitchen appliances loaned by Kimball Distributing. Vintners and winery owners alike were on hand to describe their locally produced wines as each course featured a short presentation beforehand.

After the reception, which featured Zephyr Cellars Rosé of Cabernet Franc and Grand Valley Cabernet Franc Reserve from Mesa Park Vineyards, guests were served mixed grill Polidori sausages with homemade sauerkraut and whole grain mustard prepared by Chefs Brian Laird, formerly of the esteemed Barolo Grill and Diane Snyder of TAG restaurant. Vintner Guy Drew from Cortez provided the accompanying wine, a dry Gewurztraminer with floral, rose and citrus aromas and flavors of honey, dried fruit, lemon peel and spicy nutmeg and allspice. The wine had a silky texture with lively acidity to balance the mouth feel with a rather dry finish, and went beautifully with the German rope sausage manufactured in north Denver.

The second course was a stand-out lobster and mascarpone ravioli with spring peas and carrots, prepared by celebrity chef Rosenberg. Garfield Estates Winery provided Viognier, a true medium bodied wine. It was fruity but dry and showcased signs of complexity. The acids were evident, including a hearty showing of the mouth-watering kind that made this a solid bet for the delicate seafood pasta.

Chef Rosenberg was back at the helm for the third course, a delicious grilled Nicoise made with asparagus, roma tomato, baby Yukon potato, romaine hearts, saffon aioli and Red Bird chicken. Grand River Vineyards brought their award-winning Sauvignon Blanc and Spero Winery, a family-owned boutique winery in Denver, supplied the Chancellor wine, both delicious.

The fourth course featured Chef Evandro Caregnato, of Texas de Brazil, who wowed with Picanha — top sirloin coated with rock salt and cooked in the Brazilian tradition with signature peppercorn and chimichurri sauces. It was a total knockout with everyone. Bookcliff Vineyards served their Grand Valley Reserve Syrah 2009, which is noted for its exceptional good ripeness. A 2009 Colorado Petite Sirah, Balistreri Vineyards’ double gold award winner, was voluptuous, earthy, and chock-full of spicy black pepper and ripe fig flavors.

And finally, the fifth course was a sensational take-off of the traditional Bananas Foster, only Chef Vaughn Hobbs substituted peaches from Palisade to show off the local angle. The dessert featured a rum sauce, brown sugar, and bacon atop the vanilla ice cream.

Whitewater Hill Vineyards ZeroBelow Late Harvest Chardonnay was the perfect pairing, with its after taste of peaches and brown sugar-slicked nectarines.

“I’m thrilled to showcase the wonderful wines we have right here in our backyard!” said Chef Rosenberg.  

Jeff Parr, president and founder of Rocky Mountain Restaurant Consultants, added: “I’m seeing a tremendous amount of support for Colorado wines from Colorado chefs these days.”