Wine tastings spread joy to people such as myself like Disney World spreads joy to children and most high school to college-aged females, so I'm really glad I recently got take part in one (a wine tasting, not a Disney World) at the Camelot Club in downtown Baton Rouge. The Camelot Club sits perched on the top of the south Chase Tower and is one of the more exclusive settings in the city with a picturesque sight of the State Capitol to the north and a bird's eye view the Mighty Mississippi peacefully rumbling below. Eusebio and I previously met Kris Kimball, the Membership Director of the Camelot Club, at the Baton Rouge Culinary Classic when we sat at the same table as her during our gluttonous feast. At the Assemblage Wine Tasting, Kris and the Camelot Club and Purveyor of Fine Wines invited guests to sample vino that mostly came from smaller distributors and wine makers on the West Coast of the United States.
Wines Set Up for Tasting
Eusebio and I walked around the event, mingling with wine makers and winery representatives while tasting exquisite vintages that are hard to come by in South Louisiana. Some of the vineyards and varietals that I enjoyed the most were: Andrew Geoffrey's Diamond Mountain 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cancilla Cellars' 2007 Pinot Noir, Miner Family Vineyards' 2005 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Justin Winery's Paso Robles 2006 Savant (Syrah/Cabernet blend), the 2005 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Astral from the Dierberg Family of Wines in Santa Maria, the 2007 Epiphany Gypsy, Morgan Winery's 2006 Double L Pinot Noir and 2006 Tierra Mar Syrah, and my gold medal winner, Boudreaux Cellars' 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State.
Chocolate Fondue Fountain with Fruit, Cheese, Cookies, and Brownies for "Dipping"
The food at the Camelot Club attempted to equal the quality of the wine, though it had a lot to live up to. Apparently they got the memo that it always helps when there is a chocolate fondue fountain! One twirl under the flowing rich milk chocolate coated the fruits, cheeses, and cookies that were there for dipping pleasure. Yum! More events should have these!
Plate of Hors D'oeuvres
The chocolate fountain wasn't the only thing worth snacking on in between wine tastings. There were also mini duck egg rolls with Thai chili sauce, crawfish and cheddar croquettes with dilled sour cream, and other special finger-food treats. I ate enough to keep something in my stomach while we continued to sample and taste the delicious wines that formed a border around the room.
Another Table Full of Delicious Wine
As I mentioned before, my favorite wine of the evening came from the Pacific Northwest state of Washington. Rob Newsom, the owner and winemaker from Boudreaux Cellars, spoke passionately about his wine while I sampled the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2006 Chardonnay, and my personal favorite of the evening, the 2005 Reserve Cab. Rob is a Louisiana native who now makes outstanding wine in the "middle of nowhere," Washington. I could try to explain Rob, his wine, and his passion, but it might be better to just let you see for yourself in this video clip:
Rob's wines upheld the standards that have been set by multiple publications which have raved about his vino over the past several years. I especially love that Rob is still a new, small batch wine maker who puts love and shows his skill for the craft in every barrel and bottle that he produces. I'm going to make sure I visit his winery when I go to Seattle this summer (although it is a several hour drive through the Cascade Mountains from Seattle).
After an evening of drinking wine the time had come to eat a real meal. Since Eusebio and I had been drinking together, a logical choice was to revisit and old favorite, Bonefish Grill. While it is a corporate restaurant, you can't beat the price when dining with Eusebio. It's one of the perks of being best friends with the Sous Chef from Fleming's!
Bang Bang Shrimp
We began our meal with an order of Bang Bang Shrimp. These tasty crustaceans are fried and then tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce and are best eaten with the provided chopsticks. While not my favorite shrimp in town, these are a standby that have never disappointed.
The Mussels Josephine features Prince Edward Island mussels sautéed with tomatoes, garlic, basil, and lemon wine sauce. This is one of my favorite apps on Bonefish's menu. I wish mussels were more available around Baton Rouge because they are an underrated seafood option around here. I guess since they don't really come of out the gulf they aren't very popular, but they sure are good!
Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout
Naturally the wine buzz started to wear off after some appetizers. In order to fix that travesty, I ordered a Jefferson Stout from Lazy Magnolia. This Sweet Potato Cream Stout beer is dark and smooth in nature with hints of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Its creamy head and dark body is sweeter than most stouts which is due to the sweet potatoes and lactose (milk sugar) that are used in the brewing process.