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Looking Back at the Billecart-Salmon Wine Dinner

This dinner was one of our favorite events of 2018. Beverage Director Paula DePano recalls the evening course by course and sip by sip. Enjoy!

I have to admit that when the Triangle got hit by a snowstorm on the weekend before the Billecart-Salmon wine dinner, I was convinced that the event was cursed. The wine dinner was initially scheduled to happen on the 13th of September but had to be canceled the last minute due to Hurricane Florence deciding to ‘rain on our parade’ that day. Thankfully, the North Carolina sun gave us some sunny support and thawed the ice and snow in time for a fantastic dinner attended by more guests than the original date had!

The evening started with hors-d’oeuvres – Rutabaga Bubble and Vache Cheese Custard with Umeboshi Plum – enjoyed with the Maison’s Brut Reserve offering. Clement Calleja, the US Eastern Regional Manager of Billecart-Salmon, co-hosted the evening with me. It was a such a pleasure having a charismatic and knowledgeable guest for the event.Paula, Colin and Clement posing before the dinner

With Chef Bedford helming the kitchen, the dinner started with a refreshingly tart Scallop Ceviche paired with the Blanc de Blancs, with grapes harvested from five Grand Cru vineyard sites. It was a perfect marriage of fresh, briny, and apple-ly favors.
Clement and I collaborated on the second pairing after I urgently asked his input as I was unsure of what to pair with the Foie Gras terrine for the second course. We were only supposed to showcase five wines, but his suggestion of pairing an Extra Brut champagne with the rich dish contrasted textures beautifully as well as highlighting the crunchy Bartlett pear component of both the food and wine.

The third course was our take on a surf and turf featuring butter poached lobster and braised beef cheeks, with the addition of winter truffles. Richrich, rich flavors needed a wine that can hold its own and yet somehow elevate them both together. The Brut Sous Bois, a cuvée vinified entirely in oak had buttery and toasty notes that seamlessly joined all flavors together. It is a wine that was an immediate hit throughout the dining room.

Cuvee Nicolas Francois 2002 is one of the three prestige cuvées of the Maison, created in 1964 as a tribute to its founder. All the grapes harvested from Grand Cru sites and partially vinified in oak casks giving the wine a generous and mineral character. Its ability to age for the next 20-30 years is apparent with its bracing yet harmonious acidity. Even in its ‘youth,’ the wine is very giving, and we absolutely cannot wait to see its evolution and eventual full potential. Paired with the gorgeous wine is one of Chef Bedford’s favorite proteins to work with – Venison. Along with roasted parsnips, savoy cabbage, and Madeira, it was a dish that did justice to the wine’s complexity.Toasting the meal with guests

Out of all of the wines from Billecart-Salmon, their Brut Rosé is their most recognizable. It is one of my favorite NM rosé champagnes in the market with its sinuous texture and bright fruit flavors. It was paired with a bittersweet chocolate cheesecake topped with hazelnuts, vanilla, and clementine. The candied clementine gave the wine and dessert the perfect bridge, tying the all bold and vibrant tones together like the perfect ending for the evening.

The Fearrington House Team all had such a grand time planning and executing this wine dinner. We absolutely cannot wait for our next wine dinner! I am so thankful to spend the evening with fellow “bubble-heads” who share my philosophy that Champagne absolutely goes with everything. #ChampagneAllDayEveryday



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  1. It really was a wonderful evening. Thanks for the nice article ( and photo ) to remember it.

    See you Thursday.