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Sip and Savor on Wednesdays at The Capital Wine Festival

by Lauren Sloat on Mar 12, 2012 in Wine for 2100 Prime
Sip and Savor on Wednesdays at The Capital Wine Festival

District food and wine enthusiasts have a unique opportunity to learn about some of the country’s top vineyards during a series of vintner-hosted dinners at 2100 Prime, the restaurant inside The Fairfax hotel. The Embassy Row establishment (previously known as The Jockey Club before an August 2011 revamp) hosts the Capital Wine Festival this year, a 10-part wine and food pairing series featuring California and Oregon wines alongside upscale American fare.

Chef Daniel Bruce started the annual wine festival at the Boston Harbor Hotel, eventually reaching out to the chefs at sister Starwood properties in Berkeley, New Orleans, D.C. and Boston to develop similar menus around the same 10 wine selections each year. Now in its third iteration, the Capital Wine Festival continues weekly each Wednesday through March 28. Upcoming featured wineries include Chappellet (March 14), Martinelli (March 21) and Cliff Lede (March 28).

We were treated to an evening of pairings from Cain Vineyard & Winery with winemaker Chris Howell, a Seattle native who was working as a chemist when he developed an interest in wine. We began the night with a flute of Champagne in The Fairfax Lounge, where Howell led guests through a lesson in geography and viticulture, explaining how variances in altitude and exposures at his St. Helena, CA winery are sources of complexity in the flavor of each bottle.

From there, we moved to the restaurant and began a four-course feast of toasted fennel pappardelle with lamb, pan-roasted veal tenderloin and prosciutto-wrapped venison, all followed by a light and flavorful strawberry buttermilk panna cotta. Howell made the rounds to each table throughout the course of the meal, stopping to chat with each party—ranging from couples to small groups of friends and even one corporate group—about the red blends he’d paired with each course.

As Howell continually reminded guests, the night “is all about the food,” but it was expertly prepared to accompany each pairing, including the 2007 Cain Cuvee, the 2001 Cain Five and a 2007 Cain Concept—all poured in pre-labeled glasses that made it easy to keep track of each taste as the night wore on.

Those interested in recreating a tasting at home can find Cain wines in D.C. at Ace Beverage and Wine World. For the full experience, it’s not too late to purchase tickets for the remaining events in this year’s festival. What to expect next year? Festival organizer and 2100 Prime spokesperson Denise Benoit hopes to include one night with varietals exclusively from local vineyards such as Boxwood, Tarara and Barboursville; after all, some of the best-ranked wine in the nation comes from just across the Potomac.

2100 Massachusetts Ave. NW; 202-293-2100

Photos by Lauren Sloat

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