Fork It: Santa Julia Luncheon @ Black Pearl

DSC01539I knew it would be a formidable meal. There was Mitch Mayers, executive chef of Black Pearl restaurant, and Julia Zuccardi, part of a third generation of winemakers at the Familia Zuccardi Winery in Mendoza, Argentina, plus Ana Rodriguez Armisén, sous-chef of Casa del Visitante, the Zuccardi family’s restaurant—all three ready to treat a roomful of press folks to a luncheon that would involve many courses (and many glasses of Santa Julia wine), before all was said and done. Could I stay upright through the whole meal? I would certainly give it a try.

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Chef Ana began with a demonstration of how to make Argentinian chimichurri, a vinegary, herb-rich condiment often paired with grilled meat. We got to sample Chef Ana’s version with goat cheese croquettes prepared by Chef Mitch—creamy, light, and delicately crisp on the outside, and the perfect vehicles for the smoky, garlicky sauce. This course was served with Santa Julia Organica Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Santa Julia [+] Torrontés, a white wine from the Zuccardi family’s new sustainability-focused line.

DSC01495Next came a plate bearing a plump, expertly seared scallop on a smear of celery root puree, surrounded by wild mushrooms, shaved black truffle, and lashings of pumpkin vinaigrette, prepared by Chef Mitch. I knew there were several more courses ahead, but I definitely wouldn’t have said no to seconds…this dish was smartly paired with Santa Julia Brut Rosé NV, a refreshing sparkling wine.

DSC01509 DSC01517A second—and then a third—course followed. I found Chef Ana’s salad, with cured trout, grapefruit segments, and carob bread croutons in a grapefruit juice and manzanilla olive oil dressing (the olive oil also produced by the Zuccardi family) much too salty, but Chef Mitch’s roasted duck breast—juicy, tender, flavorful—in a mustard-peach sauce was excellent. The two courses were paired with Santa Julia Organica Chardonnay and Santa Julia [+] Malbec, respectively.

DSC01536And then there was lamb. A mighty, rare grilled chunk of it from Chef Ana, served with salsa criolla, grilled smashed potatoes, and a sweet malbec reduction that tied the dish perfectly with the Santa Julia Reserva Malbec paired with it. Each bite also went well with sips of the Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon we were served in addition.

DSC01541Wine, of course, was for dessert, too. In this case we tried the Santa Julia Tardio, a late-harvest wine that tasted of lychees and honey, with just enough acidity to balance out the sweetness. To go with it, Chef Mitch presented us with a lovely, rich lemon square, while Chef Ana put together an Argentinian-style Napolean using flat, flaky crackers, meringue, and Torrontés syrup.

With that, the luncheon was finally (and sadly) over. And I was surprised to find out how reasonably priced the Santa Julia wines are—nothing we tried was over $13, and all were very, very good. A new go-to wine for my next dinner party? Don’t mind if I do.

Black Pearl
1529 South Pearl Street

Santa Julia wine imported by:
Winesellers, Ltd.

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