Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wine: Its In His Blood

California winemaker Kirk Venge's family has been in the wine business in some form or fashion since the early 1900's. His father was the first American winemaker to receive a 100 point rating from esteemed wine critic Robert Parker. So it makes perfect sense that Venge (Kirk) is now at the helm of  the vineyard  producing highly acclaimed, hard to find wines.

Venge made a rare appearance in Southwest Florida last week at a winemaker's dinner at Bistro 41 in The Bell Tower Shops. I've had Venge wines before so I was really looking forward to the meal and to meeting the man behind the vines. Venge was gracious, hospitable and handsome; and Bistro 41 served up a spectacular meal, as usual.

We began with a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. It was paired with conch and crab ceviche, a warm and creamy combo on the palate.

Next up was the 2010 Scout's Honor which, to me, still needs some time in the bottle compared to last vintage. But it is still a delicious blend of mostly Zinfandel with some Petite Syrah, Charbono and Syrah. This wine and food pairing was my favorite of the night. Chef Heath Higginbotham made a Pan-roasted Mallard Duck Breast on top of green pea puree, with baklava and Scout's Honor plum sauce. When I put all three flavors on the fork for the perfect bite (the fatty salty duck, sweet baklava, nuts and vegetable) it was a musical match to the wine.

Third course was a 2009 Silencieux Cabernet, full dark chocolate, cherry and smoke. Only 100 cases were made. The wine was a bit overpowered by the smoke of the Osso Bucco it was served with, however, it was superb with the marrow inside of the bone.

We finished the night with a chocolate parfait, each layer contained a new, delicious surprise. It was a rich treat with the Late Harvest Zinfandel.. Only three barrels of the Zin were made and it typically only leaves CA if you pack it in your luggage. So next trip to wine country, make an appointment to visit Venge's winery.  It will be well worth the effort.


  1. Your reviews always make me hungry ;-)

  2. They make me hungry too....hungry for more!