“Carlos is a genuine Bon Vivant, who pours his passion and love of life into his wine-making, and we are the better for it!”
Famed French chef, Alain Ducasse, once mused that “food is one part of the experience. And it has to be somewhere between 50 to 60 percent of the dining experience. But the rest counts as well: the mood, the atmosphere, the music, the feeling, the design, the harmony between what you have on the plate and what surrounds the plate.” Indeed, Blackwood Lane’s January Winemaker’s Dinner perfectly reflects Ducasse’s sentiments. When you have two epicurean masters such as Carlos Lee and Savoury City’s Executive Chef, Mathew Koyanagi, you know nothing less than culinary synesthesia will ensue.
The Long Table
As we walked into the solarium, the impressive long table, built for 32 guests, was elegantly set and replete with personal touches, including candle holders made from the reclaimed wood of wine barrels – crafted by Carlos himself. This was not going to be any ordinary dinner party! Looking out over the romantic fire-lit terrace, one could be forgiven for thinking we were somewhere in Tuscany or Provence. However, that is part of the magic of Blackwood Lane Winery.
The setting was a mere prelude to a memory-making experience! Taking our seats at the table after champagne and mingling, we collectively embarked on a gastronomic journey. Each of the 5 courses was expertly paired, evoking delight and even surprise, as the food and the wine complemented each other in unexpected and exciting ways. Like all great relationships, one amplified and accentuated the flavours of the other. Sometimes surprising – at times even daring – each course was met with joyous approval by all guests.
Kirsten, who has been a member of the Sommelier Club since 2011, describes Blackwood Lane’s wine as complex, nuanced, rich and deep. “These dinners are about the narrative of wine, how it’s made, how it pairs with food, and how to enjoy it in the glass. I love and appreciate learning from Carlos!” When asked about her favourite pairing of the evening, she had a hard time narrowing it down. One of her favourite pairings was the 2014 Sea Buckthorn Riesling with the cold smoked soy chicken. “The saltiness of the dish with the slight sweetness of the Riesling created an amazing dance.” This was an example of a delightfully unexpected pairing that worked beautifully.
Chris, a member of the Sommelier Club since 2016, loved the pairing of the 2009 Alliànce with the venison tenderloin. He also gave honourable mention to the pairing of the 2012 The Rebel Syrah with the grilled hearty greens. “Most people would play it safe, pairing the salad with a white, but the Syrah turned out to be a surprising combination that worked perfectly!” Chris further explained what everyone who gets to know Carlos and his wine come to understand that “true premium wine takes time and care, and Carlos has a strong ethic and principle – he won’t release his wine until it’s perfect and up to his high standards. For Carlos, it’s clear that this is a labour of love.”
The Bon Vivant
This dinner event was also Carlos’ birthday celebration, and it was evident that people love him as much as they love his wine! That is not surprising as Blackwood Lane’s motto is “Bonus Vita et Bonus Amici”, which translates from the Latin to “good life and good friends.” Indeed, Carlos is a genuine Bon Vivant, who pours his passion and love of life into his winemaking, and we are the better for it!
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Confit duck leg, whipped black pepper boursin, and tarragon oil
Cold Smoked Soy Chicken
Fraser Valley chicken breast, water chestnut & scallion filling,
Szechuan beans, crispy wonton
2014 Sea Buckthorn Riesling
Grilled Hearty Greens
Lightly grilled radicchio, endive and kale with scallions, pumpkin seeds, parmesan,
olive oil and red wine vinegar
2012 The Rebel Syrah
Porcini dusted medallions, roast purple potato, pearl onion,
grilled heirloom carrot, and cassis demi-glace
Goats Cheese Pannacotta
Honeyed fig compote, graham cracker crumble,
and toasted black pepper tuile