Appellation St. Helena (ASH) continues to be synonymous with first class events which promote this historic and pastoral American Viticultural Area (AVA) in northern Napa Valley. The 2018 bASH (7th Annual) Food and Wine Pairing Competition at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) established new limits in exceptional food and wine pairing events.
Over Thirty (30) wineries collaborated with forty-eight (48) CIA student chefs and a unique mix of professional chefs from St. Helena restaurants and Estate Chef’s from local winery estates to produce creative food and wine pairings to complement the elegance and dignity of the CIA Barrel Room. This year’s smart and upscale event perpetuated the truism that ‘great wine and food’ make for great experiences.
Participating St. Helena restaurants and Estate Chefs included Acacia House by Chris Cosentino, Charles Krug Winery Estate Chef Daryl Muromoto and Goose & Gander restaurant. These chefs bring an air of experience, creativity and confidence to their dishes as ell as extensive wine and food pairing knowledge.
The food pairings were judged by the public attendees and the top vote getters were announced near the end of the event. “Sip, Taste, Vote!”, is the over-arching theme. Chef Lars Kronmark, CIA Chef Instructor and present on the Barrel Room floor of the CIA, did his usual amazing job of guiding these chef students to success. Although the dishes prepared by the professionals at times had a quality and completeness that contrasted with the sometimes unevenness of the student dishes, that is merely a sign of experience and practice that the students will gain as time goes on. Unmatched, however, is the wide eyed enthusiasm of these young neophyte chefs and the burst of confidence they displayed as the evening went on.
As always, however, the strength of this event was the wineries. It is important to note that all the wines; Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Red Blends were all from grapes grown in the St. Helena AVA. These wineries, large and small, are so passionate about their wines that you will find many of the winemakers, vintners and family members pouring their wines. Examples include: Calafia Cellars (Mary Lee and Randle Johnson, owner), Flora Springs, Hall Wines, Raymond Vineyards, Rombauer Vineyards, Saint Helena Winery (Lesley Keffer Russell) and Varozza Vineyards (Jack and Dianna Varozza, owner) all present to pour and describe their wines. Each deserves mention and praise for the high-quality wines that are produced each and every year.
Student Team Winners:
1st place – Del Dotto Vineyards, St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, students David Ju and Chase Evans (Steamed Bao Buns with Braised Beef Cheeks, Shallot Aioli and Spring Vegetables)
2nd place – Parry Cellars, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, students Sean Smith and Reilly Brown (Ancho Beef Taco with Charred Salsa and Escabeche)
3rd place – Rombauer Vineyards, 2014 Stice Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, students Allison Komara and Nina Widjaja (Korean Beef Short Ribs “Galbi Jjim”)
4th place – Pellet Estate, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Pellet Vineyard, students Brandon Matthews and Carlos Ramires (Cornet of Red Wine Braised Kobe Beef, Creamy Polenta, with Morel and Black Truffle)
5th place – Ballentine Vineyards, 2016 Maple Station White Blend, students Cameron Hassell and Nicolas Stogsdill (“Wanna Wonton”)
Professional team winners:
1st place – Beringer Vineyards, 2012 St. Helena Home Cabernet Sauvignon, with Acacia House by Chris Cosentino (Oxtail Toast, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Wild Fennel)
2nd place – Ehlers Estate 2015 “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon, with Goose & Gander (Braised Lamb Neck and Candy Cap Mole, Steamed bun, Benne salad, Lemon Crema)
3rd place – Charles Krug Winery 2016 Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc, with Estate Chef Daryl Muromoto (Braised Pork Ciccioli Crostini, Estate Citrus Marmellata)
Chase Cellars received the “CIA Director’s award for Excellence in Creativity and Innovation” (2017 Zinfandel Rose, Hayne Vineyard), with students Charles Fulbright and Conner Black (pairing their “Saturday Special”)
Greystone is a National Historic Landmark, related to its operation from 1950-1989 as the Christian Brothers Winery which, of course, has its own historical and wine significance. There is nothing like this event anywhere in the Napa Valley, or perhaps all of California!
Appellation St. Helena (ASH), is an organization of over 80 winery and grower members, which promotes the highest standards of grape growing and wine making for which the St. Helena American Viticultural Area is famous. Originally founded in 1875 as the St. Helena Viticultural Society and then disbanded during Prohibition, the organization was revived nearly 20 years ago and includes associate membership for wineries outside the appellation that use grapes produced by member growers.
The Organizers of this event were:
Appellation St. Helena in partnership with: