The philosophy of making wine accessible is shared by Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar’s David Schneider and Arik Markus and BIN 36 wine director Brian Duncan. Mr. Duncan and his wines infused a wonderful energy to the cuisine of chef Markus at the June 21 BIN 36 Winemaker’s Dinner at Row 14. Diners were in for a treat when the charismatic Duncan shared equal parts education, appreciation, and passion for wine. Over the course of the evening, Duncan, a former business partner of Row 14 owner, David Schneider, helped those present appreciate the accessibility of BIN 36 wines with Row 14’s imaginative offerings.
The evening began in the bar with the BIN 36 2001 Sparkling Brut, served with ahi tuna tartare with soy lime, green garlic, tobiko, and wonton chips, as well as bowls of arancini that disappeared quickly. The sparkling brut rosé was a nice nod to the summer solstice, with its substantive strawberry notes and structured bubbles. Once seated in the main dining room, the meal arrived in a layered series of textures:
First Course: BIN 36 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, paired with cured Scottish salmon, pink pepper crème, noodles made literally of thin-sliced cucumber, and mustard seed tuile. The room got very quiet when diners savored the equally crisp food and wine. Duncan described the good food/wine synergy, where the food enhances the wine and vice versa.
Second Course: BIN 36 2009 Chardonnay citrus notes paired beautifully with tombo ceviche cocktail, spicy chile-lime broth, cilantro, and popcorn.
Third Course: BIN 36 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 D&S Cabernet Blend supported the weight of duck and fig sausage with shaved pear, a delicate mache salad, and Szechwan pepper gastrique. Duncan used the double pairing to illustrate the “simple discovery of a flavor combination – what really happens at the table.”
Fourth Course: BIN 36 2007 Syrah was “a page turner” as it unfolded with a grilled New York strip, broccoli di cicco-tesa rosti potatoes, and citrus chimichurri. The wine’s dark fruit and smoke enhanced the almost perfumed blending of herbs.
Dessert: Whatever tastes of the three red wines remained had one more chance to shine with plates of local artisan cheese and mignardises.
Diners appreciated the well-crafted food and wine. Duncan, Schneider, and Markus more than succeeded in demonstrating the accessibility of their creations. Duncan described one of his goals as a wine manager as wanting to overdeliver on the quality of what people experience in his wines. From the simple, direct labels on his bottles to the elegance of what was in the glass and how beautifully it complemented the meal, it would seem that he did.