Water Street Cafe | Noble Ridge | Wine Dinner first in a series…

It’s been awhile but except for vaccine cards and the wearing of masks the two wine dinners I had the opportunity to attend this past week felt just like old times.

Noble Ridge Winery owners Jim and Leslie d’Andrea pulled out their best wines for both dinners; the first evening on October 13 at the ever popular Water Street Cafe and the third evening of their trio of wine dinners at Qualicum Beach Cafe.

For the wine dinner at Water Street Cafe guests were seated in the beautiful Steam Clock Room on the second floor. The room was elegantly turned out with individual tables covered in white tablecloths, lending a welcome intimacy to the evening. A departure from previous wine dinners that have been long table style. The room is surrounded by windows with a view of the Gastown steam clock and the street below.

The evening started pleasantly with an atmosphere enhanced by sparkling lights and mellow instrumental sounds of a sitar. There was no doubt that Chef Alan really pulled out all the stops when it came to the dishes that were paired with the Nobel Ridge wines. At the risk of a cliche the pairings were absolutely perfect.

We started with “The One” Traditional Method Sparkling 2015 paired with BC kusshi oysters with salmon caviar. The One is a favourite and a classic pairing that worked well and started the evening of on a good note. The One is full bodied and fruity with just the right amount of effervescence with a dry finish.

With each course either Jim or Leslie d’Andrea gave a brief history of the wine which always makes the tasting experience that much more enjoyable.

The first course continued with a seafood theme with a deliciously pan seared scallop duo nestled in a sweet pea nage and topped with micro greens. The flavours worked exquisitely with the creaminess of the nage mingling with the sweetness of the perfectly seared scallops.

Paired with Reserve Pinot Grigio 2020. Wonderful aromas of apples, stone fruits, peaches, Meyer lemon and tropical fruits. Light and refreshing with good acidity, pronounced minerality and oh so easy drinking.

The second course of Foie Gras Torchon was rich and savoury. Matched with candied walnuts and a brûlée of raw sugar that added a crunchy sweetness to the richness of the Foie Gras balanced by a fresh arugula salad with a tangy vinaigrette, sweetly tangy apricot jam and a slice of brioche. Makes my mouth water just remembering this outstanding dish.

Paired with King’s Ransom Chardonnay 2018. This is a Chardonnay for those who aren’t really sure they enjoy a Chardonnay, or what might be politely termed “Chardonnay reluctant”.  Oaky on the nose with a slight floral aroma. The wine was rich and deep. It really is all about the right pairing and this one hit the mark.

The third course was a peppery Bison Tartare with shaved, cured egg yolk and crostini slices. Bison makes a leaner and more flavourful Tartare that was a local version of a European specialty.

Paired with Reserve Meritage 2017 that showed scents of ripe plum, black cherries, black currants, and raisins with intense flavours of ripe fruits, smooth with medium tannins. A mellow and luxurious wine.

The fourth course of Pan Seared Duck Breast was probably the one I was most looking forward to. I consider myself a duck connoisseur and was delighted that the presentation mirrored the excellence of the tender duck with crispy skin accompanied by Bailey’s Béarnaise sauce, parmesan duchess potatoes and pea shoots. The potatoes were soft, creamy mouthfuls bringing everything on the plate together in a burst of rich flavour.

Paired with the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. This was a pairing that surprised but delighted as the “big” wine did well against the duck. With dark, earthy aromas and flavours of dark fruits, a hint of dark chocolate and spice.

To end the evening the fifth course of an Apple Tart with lemon frangipane cream. A sweet/tart mix of thinly sliced tender apple slices with a tender and delicate crust with the lemon frangipane cream added a dimension of subtlety to the dish.

Paired with The Crown which of course was a welcome choice that balanced the delicate sweetness of the dish.  Beautiful in the glass, smooth and opulent on the palate.

Experience the wines of Noble Ridge for yourself. Visit their website for tasting notes and how to purchase the wines featured here and their complete line-up of wines.

If about now you are wondering why you weren’t at the Water Street Cafe enjoying the best of evenings, take heart, there is a Wine Dinner happening on November 18. Full details can be found here.

I received tickets for myself and a guest to attend the Noble Ridge wine dinner in exchange for pre-event promotion and this review. All opinions are my own. A gratuity equal to 20% of the value of the two tickets was given to the restaurant team.

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