Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wining with Francis Ford Coppola and Mr Chow...

As you know, sometimes the Goddess of Wine can't make it to trade events during the week, and so her trusty First Acolyte, JD, makes the sacrifice to cover and report on said events. This puts JD on the map for various mailing lists - and this week we are both very grateful for that.

JD was invited to a special dinner at Mr Chow in Beverly Hills highlighting the wines of the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Mr. Coppola wasn't there himself, but was ably represented by winemaker Corey Beck, accompanied by an enthusiastic staff of publicists and marketing folks.

We arrived and were immediately ushered upstairs to the meet and greet area. Wait staff proffered aperitif wines - either the 2012 Sofia Chardonnay or 2012 Votre Santé Chateau Red (a Rhone-style GSM blend) along with hot passed hors d'oeuvres. As other media guests arrived, JD and I chatted with Associate Brand Manager Rose Thorssen, who put us at our ease, and stayed with us through dinner.

Corey Beck
And the dinner! Winemaker Corey Beck was seated at our table, upping the enjoyment and education quotient of the evening considerably. He provided a brief history of the Coppola winery, delightful anecdotes about FFC himself (a fairly hands-on owner, considering all his projects), and background on the wines being served. The most important question of all: Why feature California wines at a Chinese restaurant? The answer: Francis loves Chinese food and wants people to share his enjoyment.

First course:
Squab with Lettuce, Fresh Scallop on the Shell, Vermicelli with Lobster, Shanghai Cucumber paired with 2010 Su Yuen Riesling

Second course:
Ma Mignon, Black Cod, Nine Seasons Prawns, Pineapple Sauteed Rice and Lily Bulb with Mountain Yam paired with 2008 Director's Cut Cinema

Third Course:
Beijing Duck paired with 2011 Diamond Collection Claret

I have to admit, Coppola wines have really not been on my radar. I've had many glasses of Coppola Rosso over the years, and a few bottles of the Diamond Collection Claret - because I love the word 'claret' - but honestly, I've kind of thought of most of their wines as table wine, nothing fancy. This wine dinner reminded me that wine doesn't have to be expensive to be delicious and food-friendly. It's a good reminder!

The highlights of the evening for me were the Su Yuen Riesling and the Director's Cut Cinema. The Riesling, of which very little is made, and Mr Chow is the primary customer, is a demi-sec with good fruit and a dry finish. It paired beautifully with the foods in the first course; it would make a nice sit-on-the-porch-and-sip wine, too. Oh, and it's named for the Coppola CEO's wife - a lucky lady! The Cinema, in a bottle with a wraparound label resembling zoetrope film, is a blend of Dry Creek Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Sirah. The priciest of the wines poured ($30), it is still a very affordable way to enhance a pairing with Filet Mignon and highly seasoned seafood. It also stood up to that Beijing Duck - which was perfect in every way. The suggested pairing of the Claret was also delightful.

The one theme that pervaded the evening was that when Francis wants to do something, it gets done, and it gets done well. Corey recounted a story about the boss wanting to create a sparkling wine in a can for the Sofia brand, and Corey sent him a long email explaining why they shouldn't do it. The response: "Do not be the roadblock to creativity."

Good words to keep in mind.

Rose Thorsson of FFC, JD, GoW

Photos courtesy of Chelsea Lauren Photography.

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