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15 April, 2010

Jujube’s Semler Wine Dinner

Posted in : Cabernet Sauvignon, Dining in Chapel Hill - NC, Pinot Noir, Restaurants, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz / Syrah on by : The Gourmez

Jujube’s Semler Wine Dinner

There are few things I like more than wine dinners at Jujube. For $42 per person with four courses and four glasses of wine, they really aren’t a bad deal at all. Tuesday night, I went to one with my husband and a pair of foodie friends that was hosted by Malibu Family Wines, the parent company of the Semler and Saddlerock labels. Their representative was very passionate about the wines, and we heard about how the family imported the rootstocks to their Malibu vineyard from France over and over again. We were considering taking bets on if the next wine also had an imported rootstock by the end of the evening.

More importantly, however, the wines were all great. The first was the Semler Sauvignon Blanc, which the rep stressed as not being as grapefruity as New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s (I thought it was fairly grapefruity myself—shh, don’t tell!). The floral nose was great. It was tart, minerally, and also had some orange and lime qualities. It was almost salty and kept me entertained throughout the glass.

It went pretty well with the first course, too, which was a crab and arugula salad roll with pineapple coulis.

None of the pictures are that great, sorry. Dim, mood-setting lighting is the culprit. The rolls were very nice, with a solid wrapping, great vermicelli noodles and plenty of crab flavor. The arugula tasted too flavorless to really be arugula to me, but hey, I’m not always right about these things. The coulis almost tasted smoky.

Wine #2 was the Saddlerock Pinot Noir, and it was the winner for everyone at our table. The nose was luscious with vanilla, warm milk chocolate, and Cointreau aromas. The wine itself, along with all of the reds, had very soft tannins due to not leaving the grape skins in for long, and I quite liked that style. Here, it made it very easy to focus on those chocolate notes and round, blackberry fruit. It tasted a little more tannic with the dish, but nothing off-putting in the slightest. That dish was scallion crepes with roasted duck and hoisin.

The hoisin was fantastic and the duck itself pretty good, perhaps a little tougher than some of the other duck I’ve had this past year (Hi, Rue Cler). There just wasn’t enough of that yummy duck filling compared to the crepe, though, which was huge. The scallions seemed like an afterthought as a garnish, too, but it’s not like I didn’t eat every bite.

The Semler Cabernet Sauvignon was next, with its ridiculously fragrant nose, mostly of spice for me. The taste was intriguing, if a somewhat strange combination of pepper, lavender, and blackberry. The representative explained that some lavender plants had made their way into the soil of this wine’s vines.

The third course was herb-roasted pork shoulder with potatoes and Chinese mustard, and . . . um . . . I forgot to take a picture. Oops. Gosh darn, it was good, though, and I don’t even like mustard. It helps that there was none of that pungent mustard flavor in this sauce; it was more orange and spicy through and through. It went perfectly with the pork. That delightful meat had wonderfully crispy segments and lots of tender goodness. The potatoes were also roasted to perfection and the onions were cooked to the point that they seemed like little air pillows. Loved it.

The last wine was the Semler Syrah, which didn’t have any distinguishable nose for me. I believe it tasted like blueberry, but that might have been the sauce from the next dish taking over. It was thinner than I expected, and I also picked up some maple notes.

The last dish, black-bean-braised beef shortrib with blueberry and bacon jus, was up.

The meat was very tender, but I’m not the best beef taster so I’d just say it tasted like roast, which I usually try to avoid. I’m not a blueberry fan either, but they didn’t add a lot of flavor here so I was fine with them. I mostly just thought the dish needed more pizzazz. Not like that pork from the previous dish. Yum, yum, yum.

Being a lover of all things sweet, I had to get dessert afterwards. I opted for the flourless chocolate cake with Vietnamese coffee ice cream.

I’ve had a lot of chocolate flourless cakes, and this one is a winner. Very moist and dense—it would have been too rich without the bitter, strongly coffee-flavored ice cream. Together, they were heaven for this food blogger. Even more so than that pork dish.

Thanks again, Jujube, for your fantastic meals and wine pairings. I really out to branch out and try somewhere else soon for a wine dinner. Perhaps blu Seafood?

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