Eat-Drink SLC is a local organization dedicated to "raising the visibility of local businesses in the food and drink industry" and building recognition for Salt Lake City's dining and drink scene. It's inaugural event—a fundraiser for nonprofits Tracy Aviary, SB Dance and Comunidades Unidas—held at Tracy Aviary a couple of weeks ago, was a sell-out and a very well-executed affair. I and most of the attendees I spoke to were very impressed—not just by the excellent food provided by an array of local restaurants, nor by the bevy of beverages, but by the organization and smooth flow of the entire event.
A highlight for me was meandering through the aviary tasting some wines I hadn't tried before and getting reacquainted with others that I had. There were 20 different wineries, brewers and distilleries in attendance offering samples of everything from Rosé and hefeweissen to gin and port. Here are a few of my favorite discoveries from Eat-Drink SLC.
My first stop was at Starmont Winery, where I sampled a couple of Carneros wines: Starmont Chardonnay 2012 ($19.99) and Starmont Rosé 2014 ($19.99). The Chardonnay was surprisingly crisp and acidic, with nice texture and apple-pear aromas. The Starmont Rosé is a perfect summertime wine. Made from Pinot Noir grapes in the saignée style ("bleeding off" some of the juice from the wine must), this salmon-colored wine is bright with strawberry and white-peach notes. Another excellent Rosé was Lorenza 2014 ($17.99). Made from an old vines blend of Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Cinsault, Lorenza Rosé is a terrific Provençal-style wine with delicate floral aromas—a real Rosé that would satisfy the most discriminating Southern French palate.
Next door to Lorenza at Eat-Drink SLC was Utah's own Ruth Lewandowski Wines, the brainchild of wine wizard, Evan Lewandowski. I've written at length about Lewandowski's wines in the past, so I won't belabor the point here. Suffice it to say I was reminded how unique his Naomi ($24.99), Boaz ($27.99) and Chilion ($24.99) wines are—a definite departure from routine winemaking.
Turning my attention temporarily to bubbles, I discovered the refreshing Rotari Brut NV ($13.99) sparkler from Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. Apple flavors mesh with stone fruit and brioche aromas in this pleasant bottle of bubbles. And, I was happy to see one of my favorite domestic sparkling wines—Gruet Brut NV ($16.99)—which comes from New Mexico, of all places, being poured. It's all-American, yet this is very much a French sparkler in style, a méthode Champenoise wine that tastes like the real stuff, at about a third of the price of non-vintage Champagne. Even better is Gruet Brut Rosé NV ($18.99).
Utah-based Bon Vivant Imports brings attention-getting wines from Spain, Italy and Portugal to our state, and I especially enjoyed Luigi Voghera Langhe Arneis DOC 2013 ($12.49), from Piedmont, Italy. It's a crisp, dry, full-bodied wine that I'd pair with fish and seafood. I also liked the perfumed aromas and cranberry/currant/cherry flavors of Quinta do Romeu Reserva Douro 2010 ($17.99), from Portugal. This juicy red would be excellent with lamb tagine or duck cassoulet.
My favorite beer of the evening was Red Rock Brewing's Elephino Double IPA ($3.55/500ml). This American-style IPA is double dry-hopped with whole Amarillo hops—the first whiff whacks you upside the head. The crisp, heady hoppiness of Elephino tends to obscure the fact that this is an 8-percent ABV brew.
Other highlights included Graham's Six Grapes NV ($22.99), a good-value everyday port; Jack Rabbit gin ($27.99) from Beehive Distilling; and Baileyana "Firepeak" Pinot Noir 2013 ($20.99). Find your own favorites at the next Eat-Drink SLC event.