Friday, June 18, 2010

Wine Dinner Features Eileen Crane, Founder of Domaine Carneros

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Bintliff’s Restaurant in Ogunquit is the scene of a rather rare wine dinner phenomenon this summer. While normally such dinners involve wine brokers or sales representatives, Bintliff’s dinners include the actual wine maker from the vineyard being highlighted. The first of these occurred on June 4, when Eileen Crane, the founding winemaker and CEO of Domaine Carneros of California attended a five-course dinner accompanied by two still wines and three sparkling wines from her vineyard.
“It’s very challenging to get the winemakers themselves,” said chef Norm Herbert, Jr.. “They are in high demand. When the wine maker is present, it’s a lot more fun.”
Hebert created a menu that began with a reception featuring baked brie en croute stuffed with spicy roasted pears and almonds, with a selection of Maine cheeses. Domaine Carneros Brut sparkling wine accompanied the food.
The reception was followed by an appetizer course of BBQ shrimp (paired with a Rose sparkling wine), a first course of pan roasted pork tenderloin over slow roasted peaches and Maine fiddleheads (with avant garde pinot noir) and a second course of roasted flank steak stuffed with roasted eggplant, baby spinach, goat cheese, and tomato demi-glace (with Domaine Carneros pinot noir). A dessert of lemon curd in puff pastry with grilled pineapple, Maine blueberries, and ginger syrup (with Vermeil Demi-Sec sparkling wine) completed the meal.
“We paired the wines with particular foods, trying to incorporate that spirit with the food preparation,” Hebert said. “For the first course, we made the sauce with the paired wine. That makes for a nice, cleaner package. The dessert ginger sauce was made with the sparkling wine.”
Hebert said the restaurant was sold out for the dinner, with more than twice the number of diners that usually attend such dinners at the restaurant. Part of the attraction was Crane, Hebert said. Known as America’s Doyenne of sparkling wine, Crane was selected personally by Claude Taiittinger, who founded Champagne Taiitinger in the 1970s, to lead Domaine Carneros upon its founding in 1987.
“She’s very highly ranked,” Hebert said. “The Amelia Earhart of the wine industry.”
Hebert said the restaurant tries to do four to five wine dinners each year. The next one is set for Aug. 19 and it also includes a wine maker - Peter Merriam of Merriam Vineyards in Sonoma.
“He is from New England,” said Hebert. “He owns a house here and will be the presenter and speaker.”
Hebert said the menu and price would be available on the restaurant’s website ( soon.
Photo caption: Norm Hebert, Sr. (left) and Norm Hebert, Jr., of Bintliff’s Restaurant with winemaker Eileen Crane. (Courtesy photo)