I would like to introduce you to an extraordinary winemaker. Maggie Harrison is making tiny quantities of some of the most exciting wines in America. They're hard to get. They're not cheap. They're worth every penny and more.
In the past, we've introduced you to winemakers like Paul Hobbs and George Hendry. When each of those quite famous winemakers first did a dinner in NJ, it was here; and few of our guests knew their names. This is another one of those moments.
Maggie just doesn't do dinners and her wines are very hard to come-by. We've been working on making this happen, since we had the great good fortune to meet her last year. It's late notice, but we prevailed upon her to come host a dinner on Monday, April 11. It will be an intimate and exclusive affair due to the late notice (and very little wine available).
Maggie was assistant winemaker to Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non for eight years before striking out on her own. She and her husband MIchael have made quite a name for themselves with the purchase of their own Antica Terra Pinot Noir in The Dundee Hills of Oregon.
The secret sauce however is the teeny tiny quantities of Lillian wine they produce from some of the best vineyards in California. Mark and I are beside ourselves with admiration for these wines. Lillian Roussanne is clearly the best Roussanne I have had from outside Hermitage in France, where it goes to make the rare, age-worthy and long-lived Hermitage Blanc. It is as good as a great white Hermitage. I know of no other white wine that can lay that claim.
Her Syrah and Reserve Syrah are equally mind-bending. They are at once lush and rich and soft, while being meaty and spicy with abundant soft tannin and great acidity. The finish on these wines goes on for a long long time. They are astounding. The Syrah is from the White Hawk Vineyard (56%), the Bien Nacido Vineyard (27%) in the Santa Maria Valley and Stolpman Vineyard (17%) in the Santa Ynez Valley.
I'll give you Lillian Cabernet Sauvignon in Maggie's own words: "sourced from the True Vineyard, which lies on a bench a few hundred feet below the summit of Howell Mountain. It was planted by Frank Dotzler in the late-90’s. The site is nine acres and was literally carved out of volcanic bedrock. It presents an entirely different feeling than the endless rows of vines that carpet the valley floor and lower hillsides... We harvested into tiny baskets and hauled the fruit up to the winery in a refrigerated truck. After sorting the fruit twice by hand and filling headless barriques with the whole, unbroken berries, I stood with Nate next to the fermenters. The fruit was so beautiful; the flavors so precise. It was completely unlike what we had been told to expect. No dehydration, no amelioration... Rich with violets, truffle and tobacco, the wine maintains a levity and energy that surprise us again and again. This wine found great harmony; with cascading aromatics and wild complexity, in a multi-vintage blend. Racked only twice, raised (like all of our wines) with minimal sulfite additions and bottled unfined and unfiltered.”
These wines are rare and they are not inexpensive, ranging from just under $100 per bottle to over $200 per bottle. They are worth every penny. We're going to offer this dinner at $199. That's actually less than you might pay retail for one bottle. It's just important for us to show these wines with dinner and for you to meet Maggie and for Maggie to meet you. This is precisely the kind of wine we love to discover and to represent and deliver to our guests. The menu is awesome.
Reservations@StageLeft.com or 732-828-4444
Monday, April 11
Hors d'Oeuvres at 6:30
Dinner at 7 PM
Silverfin with Mushroom Dumplings, Mirin, Soy, Potato and Pepino
Wild Boar with Trumpet Royal Mushrooms, Roasted Cippolini Onions and Polenta
Gold Series Syrah No. 1 2011
Gold Series Syrah No. 2 2011
Cabernet Sauvignon “Howell Mountain”
Selected Soft Cheeses
Pumpkinseed Malted Milk Shake
With Cookies and Pumpkinseed Brickle
We will also be sampling the next vintage of many of these wines.
Feel free to email me directly if you have any questions about this winery. It's a top pick