Qupe' and The Ashby Inn - First and Second Courses

After a long lay off from the old wine site here, I'm coming back with a vengeance. Last night #1 and I had the opportunity to attend a wine dinner at The Ashby Inn in beautiful Paris,Virginia. Now we've never stayed at this lovely little B & B but friends of ours have and just rave about it, and the setting and grounds are exquisite. This wine dinner featured the wines of the Qupe' vineyard located in California's Central Coast. To be honest with you I wasn't familiar with this vineyard and their wines but I'm glad I've discovered them. They are definitely not in the under $10 category but more of a special occasion wine with the majority of them in the $17 - $55 range and topping out at $100 for one of their Syrah's. If you're ever in the Washington, D.C. area it is well worth the trip west, about 40 miles or so, to have a meal in this quaint inn and experience the peacefulness of the surrounding countryside. Now more about the dinner and the wines that accompanied each course:

Bien Nacido Cu
vee Viognier-Chardonnay

This 2009 vintage Viognier-Chardonnay mix was served with a variety of different finger food items that included a unique prosciutto wrapped pretzel stick with a spicy type mustard inside. Very different and tasty. This wine had a very nice nose with lots of floral and fruit picked up. Reminded me of a fruit orchard at harvest time. No oak picked up on the nose at all although I'm told this is aged in old oak barrels. A 50/50 mix of chardonnay and viognier the acidity was nicely balanced on the palate. This wine could easily be enjoyed by itself but was a great accompaniment to the first course. I gave this wine four corkscrews due to its excellent nose and burst of flavor on the tongue. This retails for around $20 so not a wine I would probably drink on a daily basis or even weekly basis.


The 2010 version of the Qupe Marsanne was served with a delightful dish that consisted of chilled shrimp very lightly poached, that had sorrel and saffron onion petals along with crispy heads. What are crispy heads you ask? They are actually the head of the shrimp fried to a crispiness that turns them into something akin to a potato chip. Now I've eaten and prepared a lot of shrimp over the years but the heads always ended up in the garbage can. I hesitated momentarily as I decided whether this was meant to be eaten or just a garnishment. Having learned that it was meant to be eaten, I dug in. To my surprise it was actually quite tasty. So much so that I ate the second one on my plate and the two on my neighbor's plate as she passed on trying them. A nice dish all the way around. The Marsanne exhibited notes of citrus, hazelnut, butter and a little peach on the nose. On the palate I picked up more of the peach that I had picked up on the nose as well as a little more nuttiness. A good pairing with the shrimp dish although not my favorite of the night. Not that it was bad just not quite as tasty as the Viognier-Chardonnay that we'd had with the first course. This also retails in the $20 per bottle range so another one that I wouldn't drink on a regular basis. I really need to open a wine shop so I can start buying at wholesale!
Stay tuned for the rest of my review of this five course wine dinner in the coming days.
Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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