Cincinnati’s elegant and stately Queen City Club was dressed in its sparkling holiday finest for our winter gala on Sunday, December 11, 2011. We entered to the soft glow of Christmas trees adorned in sparkling white lights and a charming rendition of the North Pole complete with Santa’s sleigh and snow. Over 100 members and guests made for our largest gathering as we were greeted with a glass of 2008 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs and perfectly paired canapés. Choices included a delicate adaptation of oysters casino, gougères flavored with Parmesan cheese, and smoked salmon served on whole wheat toast points topped with crème fraîche, cucumber, and black or red caviar.
Our incredible meal began with a very unusual cream of black walnut soup enhanced with a bit of crème fraîche. We wondered how many walnuts it must take to make the rich, earthy and smooth soup that was a fascinating pair with 2009 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay. The Kistler was a classic California style with pure ripe fruits leaning toward peaches and nectarines, citrus, unbuttered popcorn, hints of vanilla and cinnamon and a finish of earthy minerality on the palate. The second course was a delicate green salad with brandied poached pears, dried cranberries, Gorgonzola cheese, and dressed lightly with a pomegranate-orange confection. Our wine pairing was 2009 Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot Noir, clearly a new world style with forward fruit and strong oak influences. Spicy and peppery, with complex flavors of loamy earth, roasted coffee, cedar, and sage, it connected well with the cranberry and pomegranate elements as well as the Gorgonzola.
In an uncommon move, we returned to white wine for the third course, a poached cod filet plated on Mediterranean garbanzo purée. 2010 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe “La Crau” Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc was the star wine of the evening and the pairing allowed the wine to shine with each sip getting better and better. Essence of honey, grilled hazelnut, and heath notes were followed by nectarine, bitter orange, and lemon zest flavors.
Our entrée was a rotisserie prepared tenderloin “pinwheel” stuffed with sausage and herbs, topped with wild mushroom sauce and served with potato and celery root purée. 2007 J Davies Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was wonderfully complex with silky tannins, blueberry, black fruits, hints of black tea, and undertones of violet, licorice, and espresso.
Chocolate lovers were in for a rich treat of chocolate bread pudding topped with a rum-raisin sauce that seemed perfect to kick off the holiday season. Instead of a traditional pairing of sweet port, we had 2006 Torbrek “The Factor” Shiraz from Barossa Valley. Dark purple color, aromas of balsam wood, smoke, pepper, espresso, licorice, and exceptionally spicy flavors with layers of succulent fruit made for a satisfying finish. Signature macaroon cookies with a magical chewy coconut texture that have been the coda for generations of club diners also graced our plates. It just wouldn’t be right to close a meal at the Queen City Club any other way!
Kathy Merchant, Professionnel du Vin