Brix Wine Cellars & Restaurant in Houston hosted a wine dinner recently with David Arthur Vineyards and Lisa and I were thrilled to attend. We are big fans of Brix Wine Cellars (you might say it is our go to place when we want great food, wine and service in a relaxed atmosphere though be warned, they will spoil you). Brix is a standout wine bar and restaurant and has been recognized by Wine Spectator Magazine with seven consecutive Award of Excellence or Best of Award of Excellence awards. Brix is owned by Don James and Nita Miller. Their super talented chef is Lindsey Hargrove. Brix is one of only eight Best of Award of Excellence winners in the Houston area for 2017.
David Arthur Vineyards is located on Pritchard Hill. (If you are familiar with Pritchard Hill, you are smiling. If you’re not, you should be!) They are led by David Arthur Long, perhaps the best story teller/winery owner I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He also backs up his fun stories with fantastic wines. Their 19 acres of vineyards are located at an elevation of about 1,200 feet where they grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc and a few rows of Nebbiolo. David Long’s father bought almost 1,000 acres of land on the eastern side of the Napa Valley in the 1950’s and 1960’s, a fact that was disclosed to David one evening in 1976. At the time, David was working in the food and wine business but quickly realized the opportunity of growing grapes on a portion of the family estate. Fast forward to today and that realization has come to amazing fruition. Pritchard Hill is now one of the most prized elevated grape growing areas in all of Napa.
The evening started with the 2017 Annalyce Rose’ paired with a small bite of grilled watermelon, cucumber, and smoked yogurt with caviar and micro arugula. The wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Nebbiolo grapes using the Saignee method where juice is bled off the fermentation of the red wines. This method delivers a deeper, darker wine than a traditional Rose’ with lots of character. The food pairing was spot on with this wine. This is a great wine to drink around the pool here in Houston!
The story telling then began with David Long. I will say he is an interesting character (in the absolute best way) and his stories are incredibly captivating (and funny). I won’t go into detail but if you ever meet him I hope you hear about his early days when he was in college in Boulder, Colorado and drove an old VW microbus (that did not perform well going around curves at high speeds-enough said). He also might mention his attempt to call Pablo Picasso (David was an art major) on, unbeknownst to him, the evening before Picasso died. His college days were full of lots of life experiences that make great material for what he does best today.
We next enjoyed the 2016 David Arthur Chardonnay. The grapes for this wine come primarily from the Oak Knoll district on the valley floor and the wine goes thru full malolactic fermentation. It is aged roughly 1/3 in new oak barrels, 1/3 neutral oak barrels and 1/3 stainless steel. The wine has a beautiful straw color and is crisp with tastes of baked apples backed up with a citrus note. It was paired with a Halibut en croute with a sweet corn chow- chow and beet cured silver dollar potatoes in a ginger peach emulsion. A beautiful pairing if I might say so myself.
We next moved onto his red wines. The first one was the 2014 David Arthur Meritaggio, and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. The food pairing was smoked squab, fennel and strawberry salad with a vadouvan cashew crumble, Thai peanut sauce, and cherry balsamic, on a toasted brioche. The pairing again was spot on and the wine showed tremendous character with great flavors of red and black fruit as well as a hint of licorice and had a very rustic long-lasting finish.
We next enjoyed a sous vide venison tenderloin with confit fingerling potatoes, pickled rosemary cherries, herbed goat cheese with aquavit demi glaze. This course was paired with the 2014 David Arthur “Three Acre” Cabernet Sauvignon. It had a deep ruby color in the glass and was very full bodied with lots of upfront blue fruit and floral notes and great fruit on the palate. The finish was very nice with a small amount of grippy tannins showing up at the very end. This wine and food pairing was made in heaven in my opinion.
The final course of the evening was a seared NY strip steak served with fried green tomatoes and roasted red micro scallions with a mole negro sauce and was paired with the 2014 “Elevation 1147” Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 100% new French oak barrels and is the flagship wine of David Arthur Vineyards. The wine was a fantastic expression of the kind of wine you expect to find coming from Pritchard Hill. Big, bold fruit but silky sleek tannins that deliver a lingering finish and pair great with a piece of beef.
The evening finished with a small berry tarte with Meyer lemon crème fraiche.
It is difficult to adequately express how good this wine dinner was. Lisa and I attend many wine dinners at Brix and they are always wonderful but this one was one of the best ever. The food was world class and the wines were just what you would expect from a highly respected, Pritchard Hill winery. David Long was captivating in his descriptions of the wines as well as in telling us some of his funniest stories about how life led him to David Arthur Vineyards. Don James and Nita Miller (the owners of Brix) have really set the bar high in Houston for excellence in food, service and wines. When in Napa you should try to visit the winery and when you are looking for a great dining experience in Houston you should visit Brix.
I paid for my attendance to this function and have no connections to either Brix or David Arthur Vineyards except an extreme affection for what they both do!