It is an exciting time to be a drinker, and I mean that in the best way. Modern technology, social media, and growing interest in organic and high quality tipples have resulted in a buyer’s market and a multitude of ways to learn about beverages. Wine dinners, events, and festivals are some of the best places to start. I fondly remember my first wine festival, overwhelmed by so many options but armed with a strategy and excited to find out more about the depth and variety of this drink. This year, the Four Seasons Resort Maui launches their very own event bringing together food and wine lovers at the Maui Wine & Food Classic, three days of luxury wine affairs culminating in an intimate oceanfront gala finale on Saturday.
What will make their event so spectacular is the line up of wine, winemakers, sommeliers, and chefs never before seen on Maui. Four Seasons partnered with Wally’s Wine and Spirits of Beverly Hills and Westwood California to deliver a fresh perspective on wine culture curated by Christian Navarro, Wally’s president and chief taster, named “wine therapist to the stars” by the LA Times. The Maui Wine and Food Classic will have elite wine dinners, master classes with wine makers and somms, a gala, and end with a fancy champagne brunch.
“This event is exciting and unique, as it brings wine and food lovers together with winery owners, winemakers and winery dignitaries from around the world to spend three days together eating, drinking, and sharing paradise at Four Seasons Resort Maui, which has become one of the world’s leading wine destinations,” says Navarro. He has compiled a list on nearly 30 preeminent wine producers with headliners including Dom Perignon, Krug, Opus One, Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Colgin, Harlan Estate, Biondi Santi, Maison Louis Jadot, Billecart-Salmon and many more. Acclaimed spirit producers Louis XIII and Casa Dragones will also join the weekend.
Morgan Maureze is a fifth-generation winemaker currently practicing his craft at the historical Marciano Estate in Napa, California. On Friday night he and Marciano Estate owner Maurice Marciano will be hosting one of the elite wine dinners pairing Marciano Estate wines with cuisine by Wally’s Chef Ryan Kluver.
“For me winemaking is a way of life,” says Maureze. “My parents did not force me to go into this industry, it is my love of nature and wine that gives me the passion to do what I do at the level I do it. At Marciano Estate it’s all about true passion, respecting nature to produce the highest quality grapes possible from the amazingly diverse soils that we have. Once we have done that, the winemaking philosophy is simple. Minimal intervention. If you respect the fruit and the fermentation, you will capture the essence of the vineyard and terroir of this historical estate.”
Maureze also reminds me that wine, and how we taste it, is all part of a bigger picture interconnected with nature, perception, conception, and emotion.
“For me, wine is not just a simple product; wine has a lot of history, evolution, passion, attention to detail, textures, aromas, and flavors,” says Maureze. “All of these components can deliver pleasure on multiple levels. All things considered: the history of the property, the consumer’s personal experience, what was happening culturally that year, the weather conditions, etc – whatever led to the creation of the wine or affected the consumer’s perception of it. All of these factors inform what a wine is… how it tastes, how it smells, emotions it elicits, what connections it forges. All of that is designed and intended for one thing. For us to enjoy it.”
How we enjoy wine is another thing entirely. For Maureze some of the best pairings are surprising and start at home.
“My wife is an amazing chef and she has a gift for pairing,” says Maureze. “Recently she paired and vegetarian dish with a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to prove to people that a very well constructed vegetarian dish can be paired well with Napa Cab. She prepared a beet gnocchi made out of roasted beets, fresh ricotta, and citrus zest and sauteed them in citrus browned butter. This was then served with a kale and pistachio pesto, pecorino crisps, and sauteed maitake mushrooms. A sprinkle of pomegranate seeds for garnish is a great, fruity pop when they’re in season. Beets have a wonderful earthy sweetness that complements red wine very nicely. The richness from the brown butter reigns in bold tannin, allowing softer fruit to emerge. The deep textures of the nutty pesto and crunchy cheese, combined with the aromatic mushrooms make for a very satisfying dish that not only pairs extremely well with Napa Valley red wines, but doesn’t leave you missing the meat.”
Maureze has an easy going strategy when it comes to tasting and enjoying wine.
“I enjoy many wines, for me they all have a reason and occasion to enjoy them,” he says.
Fun Fact: The Four Seasons Maui in Wailea boasts a team of 20 trained beverage professionals. If you want to drink some knowledge, this is a place prepared for questions. Yeshua Goodman, chef at Kiawe Outdoor and sommelier at Spagos has been deeply involved in the Maui Wine & Food Classic.
“In the age of social media, we are getting a backstage pass to some of the greatest winemakers and personalities in the business,” says Goodman. “We’re also witnessing a paradigm shift from the mass produced and round-up sprayed vineyards to boutique and biodynamic produced wines. People want wine that tells a story.”
If you want to know wines then following winemakers is part of the deal.
“Pay attention to anything that Brian McClintic is collaborating on with his wine club Viticole,” says Goodman. “Brian is a tastemaker and trendsetter when it comes to wine..”
Despite all the social and digital media hubbub, Goodman believes grape is still king.
“Letting the grapes take center stage keeps me engaged,” he says. “The winemaker plays the pivotal role of letting the vineyard and grapes reach full potential.”
“Grapes are very complex,” adds Maureze. “Seeing them express their phenotype expressions from one area to another is always fascinating. Capturing those expressions in the pursuit of producing an exceptional wine is very exciting.”
Goodman is looking forward to tasting legendary wines at the festival, but if he could only choose five wines to consume for the rest of his life they would be “Champagne, Red and White Burgundy, German Riesling, and Northern Rhone Syrah.” Turns out he is a bit of a riesling fanatic.
“Hawaii’s food is perfect for the versatile white grape. Don’t be scared by a little residual sugar,” says Goodman. “These wines are special. For aged wines, try German Riesling from the 2000s or older.” On the subject, he adds, “Too many wines are consumed far too young. If the wine is meant to age, let it age; the difference in flavor and overall experience is mind blowing… Patience is a virtue.”
Four Seasons Maui Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst will share his kitchens with Michelin-starred chef Jason McLeod of CH Projects, Jason Fox of Michelin-starred Commonwealth, Top Chef star Jennifer Carroll of Spice Finch, Ryan Kluver of Wally’s Beverly Hills and Wally’s Santa Monica, and Peleg Miron of Spago Maui to create the cuisine for the three days of events. The focus is on local ingredients and letting each chef have their own unique style shine through. Dryhurst will have a lot of tricks up his sleeve like wine jellies on the pairing menu.
“I love making jellies with different gelling agents as interesting condiments for different foods,” says Dryhurst. “At the tasting menus we will be making pinot noir and Riesling jellies to pair with some mature cheeses at the end. We will also be baking truffle scented brie in brioche dough and shaving fresh truffles over the top, and serving with a red wine onion marmalade as part of our cheese course.”
The glassology class is going to be a highlight.
“It’s really different,” says Dryhurst. “Learning which glass goes with which wine is super interesting. Also having the 200th Anniversary of Billecart Salmon here in Maui at the Four Seasons. How many people can say they got to be a part of that amazing producer’s 200th year celebration!”
Four Seasons is offering kama’aina rates for the events (20% off), and rooms (starting at $349). For more information on the Maui Wine and Food Classic call (808) 874-8000
Friday, March 1, 2019, 5:00-6:00 pm
Wine tastings feature lively discussion moderated by sommeliers, rare vintages and sunset views. Guests choose from one of the following:
- Brunello di Montalcino Legend Biondi Santi
- Napa Valley Superstars featuring The Mascot, Realm, Dana Estates, Sinegal Estate and Opus One
- Louis Roederer Champagne & Roederer Estate: France vs. California
- A Discovery of Pinot Noir featuring Williams Selyem, Kistler, Peter Michael, Joseph Drouhin and Maison Louis Jadot
- Louis XIII Cognac
Elite Wine Dinners
Friday, March 1, 2019, 7:00 pm
Intimate under-the-stars dinners feature one of the top wineries in the world and a visiting celebrity chef. Following dinner, guests will enjoy access to an exclusive After Party at the Resort’s famed Serenity Pool featuring spectacular desserts by Four Seasons Maui Executive Pastry Chef Bruce Trouyet and Casa Dragones after-dinner cocktails crafted by the Resort’s Master Mixologist Ben Yabrow. Guests choose from one of the following:
- Colgin Dinner featuring Chef Jennifer Carroll, hosted by Colgin owners Ann Colgin and Joe Wender
- Harlan Estate Dinner featuring Chef Jason Fox, hosted by Harlan Estate director Don Weaver
- Pio Cesare Dinner featuring Chef Jason McLeod, hosted by Pio Cesare seventh-generation winemaker Pio Boffa
- Marciano Estate Dinner featuring Chef Ryan Kluver, hosted by Marciano Estate owner Maurice Marciano and winemaker Morgan Maureze
- Château Cos d’Estournel Dinner featuring Chef Peleg Miron, hosted by Château Cos d’Estournel brand director Etienne Nantes
Saturday, March 2, 2019, 1:00-2:00 pm
Resort Manager Martin Dell conducts a Riedel-certified glass tasting experience, leading guests through a hands-on experience where they discover how glass shape, density and size affects taste.
200th Anniversary Celebration with Champagne Billecart-Salmon
Saturday, March 2, 2019, 5:00-6:00 pm
Guests will enjoy eight cuvées, including rare vintages, at family-owned champagne house Billecart-Salmon’s 200th anniversary.
Saturday, March 2, 2019, 6:00-9:00 pm
Twenty-seven world-renowned wine producers, Casa Dragones luxury artisanal tequila and innovative fresh local cuisine from Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst and all celebrity guest chefs will delight guests at the grand tasting event set on the Resort’s stunning Ocean Front Lawn. Guests will mix and mingle with visiting vintners and master sommeliers, as well as the Resort’s robust staff of more than 20 sommeliers.
Brunch & Bubbles
Sunday, March 3, 2019, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
The weekend concludes with a lavish brunch featuring the best Champagne houses in the world and Italy’s top prosecco producer Bisol. Champagne producers include Dom Pérignon, Krug, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger, and Billecart-Salmon.
Ticket and Stay Package Information
The Resort invites guest to experience the entire schedule with tickets for two to all events and four nights in luxury room accommodations by reserving the Wine & Food Classic package. A la carte tickets are available through the Concierge. Guests must be age 21 years or older to attend all events. For reservations, tickets or inquiries, call 808 874-8000 or visit www.fourseasons.com/mauiclassic.