On March 12, guests gathered—many of them North Sound Life event regulars—at The Loft for an afternoon of wine and small plates. Dan “The Wine Guy” Radil presented wines from Lost River Winery located in Winthrop and Chef Steven Engels of The Loft created small plates to pair with the wines. Bellingham transplants John Morgan and Barbara House own Lost River Winery. Barb’s son Liam Doyle assists with marketing. Lost River self-distributes and specializes in European-style wines. May | June 2016 69.

The first wine of the afternoon was a 2014 Pinot Gris. Radil recommended that Pinot Gris be served at room temperature, belying the expectations for white wine. “If it’s too cold, you can’t get those wonderful fruit flavors,” Radil explained. Chef Engels paired the wine with an arugula salad with a citrus vinaigrette, orange wedges, and walnuts. A lovely balance of sweet, tangy and spicy, the salad paired beautifully with the slightly fruity wine.

Excitement was building as the salad plates were taken away and everyone received chopsticks. Nothing bad ever comes with chopsticks. Radil presented a 2012 Nebbiolo, traditionally an Italian wine. The wine has strawberry and cherry tomato notes with a hint of black licorice. Smoky and earthy for a lighter red, it paired very well with Engels’ second course—ahi yellowfin tuna rolls. Radil had concern about the wasabi served with the rolls, but the wine stood up well to the piquancy of the wasabi. The sushi was fresh perfection, jewel-like, and the wine and tuna were particularly strong together.

It seems unfair to call the preceding two courses a warm-up, given how excellent they were, but the third pairing was exquisite: a 2013 Barbera and beef  enderloin. Chef Engles said, “I wanted a really earthy plate to go with that wine, so I thought meat and potatoes. Can’t get earthier than that.” The tenderloin was served with a crisp potato and bleu cheese croquette. The Barbera was a perfect wine for a fine dinner with close friends and some perfectly cooked tenderloin or filet mignon. This was a pairing made in heaven.

The final dessert pairing was delightful—a lovely semillon and créme caramel served with Chantilly cream and a lattice of chocolate, almond, and orange. Radil’s recommendation about dessert wine is to ensure your wine is sweeter than the dessert, or the sugar of the dessert will overpower that of the wine. Radil and Engles carefully considered this pairing, and the marriage of the semillon and créme caramel was a beautiful one.

Lost River wines are available at the Bellingham Community Food Co-op, Haggen, and Seifert and Jones Wine Merchants. Our Sips of the Season for this month was sponsored by Overhead Door and the Bellingham Community Food Co-op. We wish to express our gratitude to the Loft and to Lost River for providing the food and wine. We also wish to thank all the businesses that contributed discounts and coupons for our swag bags. Our next Sips of the Season will be on July 9. Stayed tuned to northsoundlife.com for details and updates.

"Excitement was building as the salad plates were taken away and everyone received chopsticks. Nothing bad ever comes with chops"