Well, they did it again. Last Saturday night, Appellation St. Helena presented bASH, a competition for pairing food and wine held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone featuring wines from this Napa Valley appellation. This was the second year for bASH and we found significantly more white wines being poured this time as well as more food pairings with white wines, a development we heartily endorse.
What made the evening so terrific? First of all, the spectrum of wines. Napa Valley may be Cabernet Sauvignon country but the Appellation St. Helena wineries were also pouring Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel. In fact, one table even had a Sparkling Wine as an option.
The second major attraction at bASH was the variety of delicious and well-executed food offered alongside the wines. It was clear that a lot of thought (and effort) had gone into the chefs’ creations. The small plates used Sliders, Tostadas, Cones, Crostatas, Ravioli, Croquettes, Lettuce Wraps, and even Breadsticks as delivery methods for tasty dishes based on Beef, Pork, Lamb, Duck, and a variety of Vegetables.
So what did we like? A lot. The wines were outstanding, many of the dishes made us want seconds, and multiple times we were excited to find highly effective and interesting pairings of food ingredients and spices with the flavor components of the wines they were paired with. Which was, after all, the whole point of the evening.
Keep reading, and we’ll tell you what our favorite food and wines were at the 2013 bASH. Some of the food offerings came from local restaurants and caterers, and other dishes were developed and prepared by student teams from the CIA’s Culinary Program.
Favorite Food and Wine Pairings at bASH
There were 28 Food and Wine Pairings offered at bASH this year and we’ve listed below our personal favorites. In each case, we were impressed three ways: the wine itself, the food alone, and how well the elements of the food offering complimented the flavor nuances of the wine.
Calafia Cellars 2008 La Reina paired with Whipped Goat Cheese Tart with Reconstituted Cherries, Walnuts, and Port-Spiked Whipped Cream from CIA students Jason Raffin (Los Altos Hills, CA) and Connor Castelli (Jacksonville, FL).
Chase Cellars 2009 Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel paired with 5-Spice Braised Pork Belly on a Homemade Steamed Bun with Fennel Relish and Pickled Beets from CIA students Alvin Tsao (Cupertino, CA) and Nick Mazzuca (Hockessin, DE).
Pellet Estate 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Mini Beef Wellington from CIA students David Moosman (Detroit, MI) and Stephanie Torgerson (Winter Park, CO).
Titus Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc paired with Pickled Piquillo Pepper stuffed with a Three-Cheese Blend (Blue Cheese, Cream Cheese, and Boursin with Lemon Zest) from CIA students James Dagleish (Aberdeen, Scotland) and Cody Bucholz (Fairfax, CA).
Trinchero Napa Valley 2009 Central Park West Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Braised Short Rib Croquette with a Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Dijon Sauce from CIA students Bryan Owens (Hollywood, MD) and Addison Girdner (Eagle, ID).
V Madrone Cellars 2009 St. Helena Zinfandel paired with Moroccan Spiced Waffle Cone filled with Raisin Chutney, Sweet Potato and Bone Marrow Purée, Roasted Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds, and a Sunchoke Chip from CIA students Daniel Kim (Burlingame, CA) and Kaitlin Steets (Houston, TX).
In addition to the dishes included in the pairings above, we particularly enjoyed these other small plates during the bASH event as well:
- Macaroni and Cheese from Market (St. Helena, CA)
- Ravioli with Braised Pork and Chicken Liver from CIA students Louis Lin (Hacienda Heights, CA) and Anai Arzola (Grand Prarie, TX)
- Short Rib Sliders with Horseradish Aioli from Tra Vigne (St. Helena, CA)
Favorite Wines at bASH
If you are looking for excellent wines from the St. Helena Appellation in Napa Valley, we found several at bASH and highly recommend you seek these out in stores, at a restaurant, or from the winery itself. Please follow the links below to the wineries’ websites to learn more about wine availability and whether or not the winery has a tasting room open to the public. The list below includes the wines mentioned in the Favorite Pairings section above as well as 10 additional ones:
Calafia Cellars (St. Helena, CA) – 2008 La Reina (blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 11% Malbec)
Charnu Winery (St. Helena, CA) – 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Red Dye Cabernet Sauvignon
Chase Cellars (St. Helena, CA) – 2009 Hayne Vineyard Zinfandel
Crocker & Starr (St. Helena, CA) – 2010 Stone Place Cabernet Sauvignon
Ehlers Estate (St. Helena, CA) – 2012 Sauvignon Blanc
hope & grace (Yountville, CA) – 2009 Lewelling Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Parry Cellars (St. Helena, CA) – 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Pellet Estate (St. Helena, CA) – 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Biale Vineyards (Napa, CA) – 2009 Thomann Station Vineyard Petite Sirah, 2011 Varozza Zinfandel
Titus Vineyards (St. Helena, CA) – 2010 Cabernet Franc, 2011 Zinfandel
Trinchero Napa Valley (St. Helena, CA) 2009 Central Park West Cabernet Sauvignon
V Madrone Cellars (St. Helena, CA) 2009 St. Helena Zinfandel and 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Varozza Vineyards (St. Helena, CA) – 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Petite Sirah
For the second year in a row, we had a great time at Appellation St. Helena’s bASH. It was a pleasant way to try wines from the appellation all conveniently gathered into one location, and savor thoughtfully composed and prepared food items. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, our personal favorite of the CIA teams didn’t ultimately win the Food and Wine Pairing Competition (sorry Mr. Moosman and Ms. Torgerson…we had our fingers crossed).
Appellation St. Helena is a non-profit organization of over 50 winery and grape grower members who actively promote their wines and the local community through charity events, wine tastings, and community involvement. If you are interested in learning more about the organization and its activities, or to be one of the first to hear about next year’s food and wine competition, we encourage you to go here to get onto ASH’s mailing list.