Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Husic Vineyards Vintner's Dinner at Ma(i)sonry, Yountville

Last Saturday evening, every fiber of my cultural being was located, stimulated, and satiated at a curated gallery reception and wine-paired dinner hosted by Frank and Julie Husic of Husic Vineyards at the historically relevant, one-of-a-kind showcase that is Ma(i)sonry.  The event combined the wines of Husic Vineyards, the artistry of Guiseppe Columbo, the culinary magic of Cindy Pawlycn, and the sculpture-garden setting that is the external manifestation of Ma(i)sonry chic into a culture and pleasure mosaic that started at a fairly high level and ascended steeply over the course of the event.

Ma(i)sonry -- a construct drawing from the French word Maison (home) and masonry (stone craft) -- is focused on "pairing artisan wines with exquisite art and furnishings in a historic setting."  The original structure was built as the home of Charles Rovegno (an Italian stonemason) in 1904 and he resided therein until his death in 1954.  The building was converted to a hotel -- Burgundy House Inn -- in 1974 and then sold for its current use in 2007. 


The building is one of three stone structures in Napa and one of two listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Over 16 artisanal wines are showcased at Ma(i)sonry and customers can sample the offerings in rooms appointed with 16th- to mid-20th century furnishings and works of important artists or outdoors in a garden setting.


Husic Vineyards is one of the artisanal wineries showcased at Ma(i)sonary. Proprietors Frank and Julie Husic plant Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on a 40-degree-slope, 9-acre property that is located next to Stags Leap Wine Cellar's Fay Vineyard and divided into three plots: Julie's Knoll, FJs Terrace, and Paris's Terrace. The soil is of a heavy volcanic type and the micro climate consists of hot days with an afternoon cooling breeze coming in from Suisun Bay. The Husic vision is the production of wines with a French feel: Burgundy for the white and Bordeaux for the reds. Winemaker Michael Hirby is responsible for implementing this vision. The current portfolio consists of two Cabernet Sauvignons (Husic Vineyard and Palm Terrace) and a Chardonnay. Grapes for the Chardonnay are sourced from the Robert Young vineyard on Pritchard Hill. Plans are afoot for a Pinot Noir which would be made from grapes sourced from three Sonoma Coast vineyards.

The works of Guiseppe Palumbo served as the artistic foil to the vinous magic of the Husic Vineyards wines at the event.  According to the Ma(i)sonry website, Palumbo's "... figurative bronze sculptures are warm, spirited works that capture the essence of each being he portrays." 

Palumbo, who has studied in Italy, Mexico, and the US and has had his works displayed at many important shows nationwide, mingled attentively with attendees, answering questions and gracefully accepting compliments on the sometimes stunning, sometimes whimsical, sometimes comedic pieces positioned casually about and through the gardens and exterior dining area of the venue. 

In many instances, large-format bottles of Husic Vineyards wines were displayed alongside Palumbo pieces. Art and wine amidst a sculpture-endowed garden.  Idyllic.

Rather than entering through the front door, attendees turned left and walked to the garden which runs along the north side and rear of the building.  A wine station had been set up at the intersection of the path running across the face of the building and the one running along the building and the server behind that station offered arriving guests 2007 Husic Vineyards Chardonnay.  Wine glasses in hand, we ventured deeper into the garden, studying the sculptures and meeting our fellow attendees and sampling the hor d'oeuvres being offered by smiling servers.

Julie Husic, author, and fellow attendees
Frank Husic holding court

After an hour of this pleasurable interaction, we were ushered to a lengthy table set at the rear of the building for the sit-down portion of the event.

The event was officially opened by the Ma(i)sonry GM who welcomed us, spoke a little bit about the company, and then turned the floor over to Frank.  Frank thanked us all for being there and then asked us to check under our seats (It looks and feels kind of weird to be feeling around under your seat while sitting.).  There were two yelps and two pieces of paper were held up by the hands connected to the bodies from whence the yelps had originated.  Frank mentioned that these people were winners of a signed bottle of Husic wine each.  Smiles from ear to ear for the winners.  Fake congratulatory smiles from everyone else.

The dinner was catered by Cindy Pawlycn Catering with Chef John Trunk having on-site responsiblity.  The advertised menu consisted of four courses and four distinct wines:

  • Course 1 -- Halibut, Summer Bean Ragout, Aioli; paired with Husic Vineyards Chardonnay Napa Valley 2008
  • Course 2 -- Grilled Duck Breast, Wild Arugula and Balsamic Figs; paired with Husic Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005 and Husic Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006
  • Course 3 -- Idiazabal Cheese, fresh Cherries, Crostini; paired with Husic Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007
  • Course 4 -- Thumbprint Cookies, Coconut Macaroons and Mudslide Cookies

This was a truly wonderful setting which got even better as darkness descended and the lights were turned on.  We were dining in the open air, surrounded by sculptures which had morphed into the background through the combined effects of descending darkness and the glow that is brought on by good food, good company, and good wine.  Frank rose up time and again to introduce the wines to us as did the chef upon delivery of a new course. Most of the attendees had been strangers at the beginning of the event but our tongues had been loosened by the bounty of sensory pleasures to which we had been subjected.  We were busy chatting away as we indulged.

But wait.  It was not over.  Frank took to the floor and announced a special treat.  He was going to pour his as-yet-unreleased 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was a great capper to the evening and a total surprise.  This wine will continue the tradition of quality that the Husics have presented to the market. Concentrated without being jammy.  Hint of Pauillac with credible acidity.  Excellent finish.
The evening had been so successful in bringing people together that a group of us headed to downtown Napa  to listen to Jazz at Uva Trattoria.  We did not want the evening to end.  

No comments:

Post a Comment