Locally sourced venison and produce paired with outstanding Texas wines were the stars of the show at the Wine Pairing Dinner at the 290 Vinery.
The evening began with a reception featuring green tomato gazpacho topped with blue crab, a light, cold soup elegantly served in tall glasses. The appetizer course featured shrimp served with escobeche, a vinegar-based sauce that paired perfectly with the sweet, poached shrimp. The shrimp was topped with a masa cracklin, a crisp cracker made of masa flour. Both were paired with Texas wines from Fort Stockton's Escondido Valley vineyard.
The salad course showcased local produce from Blanco County's Pink Tractor farmstand paired with the 290 Vinery's Little White Lies, a blend of Muscat Blanc and Roussanne grapes. Wild edibles, such as purslane, accented heirloom tomatoes, fresh cantelope and quick-pickled ribbons of watermelon rind. The salad was dressed with a reduction of Little White Lies and Texas olive oil.
The main course of the pairing dinner was masterfully prepared Hill Country Axis deer tenderloin, served with a “brush country” mole. Unlike traditional Mexican-style mole, this mole was made with flour from mesquite tree seed pods, prickly pear fruit, and pumpkin from last year's harvest. Its lighter flavor and spiciness accented the lean, smoky venison, also accompanied with charred eggplant puree.
The 290 Vinery's newest release was paired with this course. Sangiovese, a light, red wine with bold smokiness, paired perfectly with the venison and accompaniments.
Dessert was a tour de force of creativity. The peach semifreddo, made of mascarpone cheese, cream, eggs, plus peaches and pecans from the Pink Tractor, was lightly frozen, garnished with plum curd and caramel made with honey from Seguin and dusted with roasted white chocolate crumbles. It was served with a Semiseco Cava from Spain, a bubbly, light white wine similar to Prosecco.
The 290 Vinery, a wine tasting room located on Highway 290 in Johnson City, just celebrated its second anniversary. It features its own wines and others from around Texas curated by owner and winemaker Vilmaire. This was the third pairing dinner hosted by the 290 Vinery with another planned for fall 2018. For more information, visit 290vinery.com.