Under the starlit sky, beneath a tented patio that twinkled with delight, guests gathered at the Atlantic in Edgartown for a recent night of wine and culinary pairings like no other. It was an intimate event where they had a chance to connect with the vintner and owner of Merriam Vineyard, Peter Merriam, while enjoying his wines and the food of Atlantic executive chef Joe Monteiro. A night to be remembered, and one I hope to be repeated later this fall or in the coming spring (with dates to be announced).
Nestled on the edge of the Russian River Valley and with a tasting room designed with the comfort and warmth of a New England–style home, Merriam Wines are California-crafted Bordeaux-style wines, where East meets West. Owner Peter Merriam, a native of western Maine, started collecting wines with his wife Diana. Somehow, a wine collection became a package store, which in turn led to the purchase of vineyard land. We all wish our personal wine collections evolved into a successful winemaking venture, but for the Merriams, that’s exactly what happened.
A quick learning curve, a passion for wine, and a love for nature — all components of this wine family. The wines were gorgeously paired with food from an impressive menu curated just for the occasion:
First course: Braised Manila clams in black garlic broth and fried clam mache salad
Wine pairing: 2013 Danielle, Sauvignon Blanc
The perfect way to start a dinner on a crisp fall night, this warm broth was sweet from the black garlic, and paired in a lovely way with the plump clams. The fried clam mache salad on top took it over the edge — in the best way possible.
Second course: Maine lobster tail, cippolini onion cream, truffled fried cauliflower
Wine pairing: 2012 Bacigalupi, Chardonnay
Lobster always feels decadent, but Chef Monteiro further elevated it with a cippolini onion cream: The richness was overwhelming. The guests thoroughly enjoyed the truffled fried cauliflower.
Third course: Venison carpaccio with arugula walnut pesto
Wine pairing: 2012 Cuvee, Pinot Noir
A lighter course to prepare us for the big bang that was coming, this carpaccio paired well with the bright pesto.
Fourth course: Foie gras, truffled brioche, Black Mission fig glaze, grilled peaches
Wine pairing: 2010 Windacre Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon
Brushed in a glaze of sweet fig, this foie was served towering on a grilled brioche bread with a grilled peach slice tucked in between. The sweetness of it all went well with the fatty richness of the foie.
Fifth course: Japanese BBQ Wagyu short rib, pineapple glaze, charred pineapple relish, kimchi rice
Wine pairing: 2009 Jones Vineyard, Cabernet Franc
I’m still dreaming about this dish (note to Chef: please add this to the menu!) — the fork-tender short rib was a dream when served with the slightly spicy kimchi rice and taken over the top with tableside pouring of the braising liquid. Hands down, my favorite of the night.
Sixth course: Chocolate beet cake, cream cheese mousse, pepita brittle, tangerine cremeux
Wine pairing: 2013 Late Harvest, Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon Blanc
Cake is always a good idea, yet this chocolate beet cake was unique and exciting. The earthy beet flavors paired with the light cream cheese mouse were divine.
Dates for the next wine dinner at the Atlantic are still to be determined, but follow the restaurant on Facebook for updates: facebook.com/atlanticmv.