Tom Douglas restaurants seem to cover all the bases, from pizza to comfort food; from fine dining to peanut butter cookies that you could almost justify homicide for. (I do not mean to endorse the practice of homicide for baked goods, nor does anyone at The Oregon Wine Blog.)
Thanks to Facebook and the lovely Tom Douglas staffer Katie O, it was recently brought to my attention that Palace Kitchen does a monthly chef's table event. For a mere $10 you can swing by the Palace Kitchen and snack on some tasty bites paired with some excellent, and often little known, Washington wine. (In the interest of full disclosure, required by the Federal Trade Commission, my tasting was comped.) Perhaps the coolest part of the Chef's Table event is that we're literally back in the kitchen, at the Palace Kitchen, at the chef's table. You're in the middle of the action and the place was packed on a Thursday night.
On October 22nd, Palace Kitchen welcomed Sleight of Hand Cellars from Walla Walla. It's obvious that Sleight of Hand really has a good time with just about everything they're doing. Just check out their website. The winery is named after a Pearl Jam song and you can tell that Trey Busch, the wine maker, is just a fun guy. He's got the coolest business card I've ever seen, and he also has nice hair. (Trey got his start with Dunham Cellars.)
Trey and Palace Kitchen chef Brian Walczyk did three pairings. They started us out with the 2008 Gewurztraminer with spicy clams. The wine was really well made, and blended with 15% Riesling from the Columbia Valley. I really enjoyed this Gerwurztraminer. I think it's a varietal that can tend toward being overly sweet, or almost bland when done in a dry style. SoH seemed to nail it. The pears and honesuckle are definitely present, and the sweetness is really well balanced. The Gerwurztraminer and spicy clams (which I was surprised to find were served cold) were an excellent combination.
After that we moved to my favorite pairing, and truthfully, favorite wine of the evening. The Spellbinder with a really amazing pairing, both visually and taste-wise: a crouton, with melted telme cheese topped off with a roasted black grape. It was delicious; I could have eaten a handful of these, but the guy pouring the wine was standing right there, looking at me and speaking to me. Being so close, I think he would have noticed my lack of decorum. The Spellbinder is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, and truth be told, I credit the Sangiovese with making this wine so approachable this early. It was excellent, I got a lot of berry and cherry flavor but excellent balance and really mellow tannins. Thank you, Sangiovese. At $19 a bottle I would say buy some of this when you see it. (I had a glass at the bar after the tasting.)
The final pairing was the SoH Syrah paired with wood grilled flat iron steak. The Syrah was made with the 100% Syrah grapes sourced from both Yakima and Walla Walla. The steak and Syrah paired really well together. I would imagine that this Syrah has a lot more to tell us in the future, and that a little aging will be very good to this wine.
Sleight of Hand makes some good wine, they use quality Washington fruit, and they make small enough lots that the craftsmanship is evident.
Check out Sleight of Hand's tasing room over in Walla Walla, and if you're in Seattle check out the next Palace Kitchen Chef's Table. For $10 you can taste some fine wine, and nibble on some well paired appetizers. Maybe I'll see you there.