Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Virginia Wine and French Food: Winemaker Dinner with Joshua Grainer and his RdV Wines at L'Auberge Chez François in Great Falls, Virginia, USA

Picture: Winemaker Dinner with Joshua Grainer and his RdV Wines from Virginia at L'Auberge Chez François in Great Falls, Virginia, USA

The winemaker dinners at L'Auberge Chez François in Great Falls, Virginia, USA, are legendary and always quickly sold out. This time, Chef Jacques Haeringer and Sommelier Alex Bardsley a winery not too far away from L'Auberge Chez François: Rudger de Vink‘s RdV Vineyards, which is setting new standards in Virginia, both in terms of quality and price. Winemaker Joshua Grainer, who we had met earlier in the week, with Rudger de Vink, at a massive Chateau Montrose tasting in Washington DC, organized by wine-writer Panos Kakaviatos.

Picture: Rudger de Vink of RdV Vineyards with his Wife and Annette Schiller at the Fête du Bordeaux of Calvert and Woodley (2016). See: A Bordeaux Feast in Washington DC: Fête du Bordeaux of Calvert and Woodley (2016) USA

Picture: Annette Schiller and Anne Cuvelier from Château Leoville Poyferre, St. Julien, Bordeaux at RdV Vineyards in Virginia, see: Bordeaux Meets Virginia: Visiting Rutger de Vink and his RdV Vineyards with Anne Cuvelier from Chateau Leoville Poyferre in St. Julien, Bordeaux


Chef Jacques Haeringer: Please join us for a very special evening on Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 6:30pm as we pair up with winemaker Joshua Grainer of RdV, Virginia’s world class winery.

Thomas Jefferson, a native of Virginia and founding father of our nation, was also a “man of the soil,” an avid viticulturist who dreamed of creating a “great American wine based on a French model.” Today, Jefferson’s vision is a reality at RdV. Bordeaux grapes, planted on a rocky Virginia hillside, have produced world-class wines that marry the elegance of Bordeaux with the bold spirit of California.

Chef Jacques Haeringer, Sommelier Alex Bardsley and Pastry Chef William have composed a sumptuous menu to complement these amazing Virginia wines, which have been well-received in the Washington region’s dining scene. Just this past year, the White House served RdV’s Rendezvous during the Nordic state dinner.

L’Auberge Chez Francois

L’Auberge Chez Francois is an extraordinary place in the hills outside of Washington DC. It was founded by François Haeringer in the heart of Washington DC in 1954. Today, L'Auberge Chez François in Great Falls is much the same as when François first opened it - family-run, with Jacques’ brother Paul as the restaurant's sommelier and Jacques as Chef de Cuisine. L'Auberge Chez François is on the top 50 list of "Best Overall" Restaurants in US, as voted by users of the Open Table reservation system.

Pictures: Arriving at L’Auberge Chez Francois

Chef Jacques is one of America’s most respected culinary personalities. His menus feature classic Alsatian and French cuisine reinterpreted for American palates. While his father Francois used to say that the chef has to stay in the kitchen, Chef Jacques is very present in the restaurant. He clearly enjoys talking about food and to communicate with his guests. He is great fun to listen to. No wonder that Jacques can be found sharing his cooking secrets on radio and television programs across the country.

Pictures: RdV Vineyards Winemaker Joshua Grainer and Annette Schiller at L’Auberge Chez Francois - Welcome

Jacques is also a great writer and his articles have been featured in such journals as Gourmet, Wine and Spirits,and Cosmopolitan. Finally, Jacques is the author of “Two for Tonight,” a collection of recipes that inspire romance through food and togetherness, and the “Chez François Cookbook,” the bible of classic Alsatian cuisine featuring some of the restaurant’s most popular recipes.

Pictures: Chef Jacques Opening the Dinner

RdV Vineyards

RDV Vineyards is a rather new, small winery about an hour west of Washington DC, founded, owned and run by Rutger de Vink. RDV Vineyards produces some 2,000 cases of ultra-premium wines: the Cabernet Sauvignon driven Lost Mountain and the Merlot driven Rendezvous, which both costs close to US$ 100 ex-winery. Jim Law of Linden Vineyards, who many consider as the father of the Virginia wine boom, has described his close friend Rutger de Vink as “the next generation of Virginia wine.”

Picture: RdV Vineyards

With 6.5 hectares under vine, the vineyard is divided into eleven parcels and planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (40%), Petit Verdot (12%) and Cabernet Franc (8%).

When he started RdV Vineyards, Rutger de Vink also hired Eric Boissenot, a Bordeaux consultant, to blend his wines. Still today, samples of RdV are overnighted from Dulles International Airport to Paris, and from there to Bordeaux, so Eric Boissenot can taste and analyze them and electronically transmit recommendations back to RdV. He also visits RdV on a regular basis.

Pictures: The RdV Dinner at L'Auberge Chez François in Great Falls, Virginia

Winemaker Joshua Grainer

An adoration for the outdoors and a passion for all things food and wine related drew Joshua to life on a farm.  After earning a degree in environmental science and working in professional kitchens, he began his journey in the wine industry as an apprentice at Linden Vineyards, a pioneering Virginia winery. Josh’s path has led him from the cellars of Bordeaux to the vineyards of Tasmania, and back to his native Virginia, as he continues to hone his craft. At RdV, his vast knowledge and devoted attention to detail has earned him the title of winemaker. In addition to managing all of the technical operations for the vineyard, Josh leads the charge on implementing sustainable practices across the farm.

Pictures: RdV Winemaker Joshua Grainer

The Dinner

The dinner was lovely. Great company. Delicious food and extraordinary wines. 

Seasonal Canapés
Alphonse Mellot "La Moussiere" Sancerre Blanc 2015

Maple Leaf Farms Duck Confit, Roasted Potatoes, Duck Demi-glace

RdV Vineyards Friends and Family Red 2013 (US$35)

Chain Bridge Cellars: From arguably the best red wine estate on America's East Coast, this is RDV's third wine, a friendly blend meant for early drinking and sharing.  The blend is secret, but it's clearly a lot of Merlot with some Cabernet and, perhaps, Petit Verdot.  Rich, ripe, and very stylish, there's nice New World fruit here with plenty of Bordeaux cedar, tobacco, spice and class.

Grilled Grass-fed Lamb Tenderloins with Roasted Parsnips and Shallots, Rosemary Jus

RdV Vineyards Rendezvous 2012 Virginia (US$72)

17/20 Jancis Robinson: The 2012 Rendezvous showcases the refinement and finesse characteristic of the vintage. With aromas suggestive of forest fruits, patisserie, and hints of earthiness, the wine is supple and round and framed by sweet tannins that provide a vibrant, harmonious finish. Immensely enjoyable now, it will continue to please for years to come.


RdV Vineyards Rendezvous 2013 Virginia(US$72)

17.5/20 Jancis Robinson: Dark fruit and sweet pastry aromas fill the glass, hinting at the generosity of this very favorable vintage. A rich and vibrant entry slowly gives way to a creamy mid palate supported by a velvety finish. The wine is quite approachable in its youth, with a concentration that should offer pleasure for years to come.

“Very dark purplish crimson. Wonderfully friendly, creamy, broad and ripe. This is classic ripe, subtle, sweet-but-not-sickly fruit with a velvety texture. Just a little bit hot on the end. This does taste like fermented velvet! Quite enough freshness on the end. Really quite forward and already gulpable. Not for the long term and presumably long on Merlot. 14.5%, Drink 2016-2022”


Chef Jacques’ Classic Beef Stroganoff, Housemade Späetzles

RdV Vineyards Lost Mountain 2012 Virginia (US$96)

17.5/20 Jancis Robinson: Brooding and masculine on the nose, the 2012 Lost Mountain embodies depth, complexity and richness. A cloak of velvety Cabernet tannins support an abundance of black fruits and minerality concentrated in a dense mid-palate. Generosity and energy define this noble wine that has tremendous aging potential.


Baked Alaska, House-made Ice Creams and Sorbet

Gillette’s Locally-roasted Coffee, Selection of Harney & Sons Premium Tea


Many thanks Joshua and Jacques for a memorable evening.

Pictures: Joshua Grainer, Chef Jacques Haeringer, Annette Schiller and Christian Schiller

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