Recently, we were lucky enough to be invited to a wine event that blended three tremendous wines from Fantesca Estate & Winery with food and ambiance from the new Sixty Vines now open at the Crescent in uptown Dallas. Hosted by the ever-gracious somm-extraordinaire DLynn Proctor, with a special appearance by winery owner Duane Hoff, this was a seriously fun event!
The lunch started off with a glass of champagne and introductions, then quickly moved into a tasting of Fantesca’s tremendous 2014 Sonoma County Chardonnay. This was paired with three different sets of appetizers—hummus, a charcuterie and cheese board, and a selection of gourmet “toasts” (including a bacon and fig version) that were delicious. The universal comment on the chardonnay was that it had a real purity of essence not often seen in California chardonnay. Definitely old-world in style, with plenty of acidity, minerality, and a flinty backbone. Not over-oaked, and certainly not a butter bomb. At $75, it is much cheaper than most Grand Cru Burgundy, but you get that kind of quality and enjoyment. It was absolutely delicious. And, the only chardonnay currently crafted by fabulous winemaker Heidi Barrett. We also liked the catchy sayings imprinted on each cork—a fun take on opening a bottle of Fantesca wine. Easily a 93-94 point wine in our book.
The chef sent out individual salads next, followed by two tremendous pizzas, and two pastas that were even better. We can highly recommend the spinach and shrimp pasta, which was interestingly made with coconut milk in place of water. Really, really good! These were paired with Fantesca’s 2014 All Great Things “Hope” Red Blend. Inspired by a Winston Churchill quote, the “Hope” is a Napa Valley red wine blend that allows Ms. Barrett ultimate flexibility in blending to get a well-balanced Bordeaux-like wine that drinks extremely well young, but has the backbone to age for years. There were notes of cassis and plum on the front of the palate, moving seamlessly to chocolate, leather, white pepper, and hints of tobacco as the finish trailed off. Great effort. Very smooth and extremely enjoyable. Priced less than wines of similar quality offered by other wineries, we think the bottling offers a great quality-price-ratio, and an extremely enjoyable drinking experience. For those that care about such things, we thought it was a solid 92-93 point wine. We also thought it was extremely classy that the winery actually partnered with the Napa Valley Community Foundation to donate a portion of its “Hope” sales to the victims of the 2017 Napa Valley wildfires. Good people, those folks at Fantesca!
Finally, the chef sent out perfectly-grilled steaks and pork chops for us to enjoy, with accompanying dark-roasted veggies, and duck-fat fried potatoes that were fluffy and divine. The meat was really high quality and delicious, with the pork some of the best we’ve had in a very long time. This was paired with Fantesca’s flagship 2014 Napa Valley estate cabernet. It was certainly a big wine that was inky, full-bodied, and had notes of black fruit, chocolate and cola melding into green pepper, spicebox, cedar and leather throughout the palate. There was sufficient tannic astringency to make you believe this one has the structure to last well into its 20s. While not quite as approachable young as the “Hope,” this wine really illustrates what Fantesca and its owners are trying to accomplish at the property. It offers balance and backbone, immediate enjoyment yet refinement. It can be drunk within 5 years of its release, but can stand up to a significant amount of age. If drinking now, we would recommend decanting for at least 2 hours. If you can get any of it, that is. Available only on allocation to those that are members of one of Fantesca’s wine clubs, this wine is special, and is one that collectors will likely hang on to for years to come. We’d give this a solid 93-94 points, and recommend it to anyone who can get their hands on it. Delicious effort by a rockstar winemaker. And still a great quality-price-ratio compared to other blue-chip Napa Valley cabs out there.
While we weren’t that acquainted with Fantesca prior to this experience, we certainly plan to enjoy their wines in the future. We were impressed by what we tasted, and doubly so by the finesse and balance each wine showed, with thoughtful winemaking evident in every glass. We were equally impressed with the new Sixty Vines location at the Crescent. The chef and his team really outdid themselves with layered fresh and rich flavors, and the service was smooth and prompt. The design and build-out are really beautiful, blending casual sophistication with a welcoming ambiance that immediately puts you at ease and makes you want to enjoy a glass (or 4) of wine with friends. We’ll be back often—especially since we’re at the Crescent most weekends during the summer. We have a feeling this may turn into our go-to weekend brunch and wine destination. Especially if they start serving Fantesca chardonnay!