May 21, Maui Culinary Academy, 6-8:30 pm, $45 ZAP member, $55 non-member, $65 at the door
Call 530-274-4900 or go to zinfandel.org to purchase.
Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) first caught my eye (and pen) when Maui’s Surfing Goat Dairy got invited to their Annual Zinfandel Festival held in San Francisco in January this year. Maui’s Chef Beverly Gannon was their featured celebrity chef for the festival this year and she said the festival gave her, “the chance to expand the boundaries of Hawaiian cuisine with the pairing of world-class Zinfandels.”
The folks of ZAP apparently have a fondness for Maui as they are back in the foodie news here by sponsoring a brand new wine and tasting event and fundraiser, the likes we have not seen yet on Maui. They have teamed up with Maui Culinary Academy to offer a fabulous night of tasting Zinfandel with food pairings designed by student chef teams. The twist is that its also a competition for the students and you get to vote for the winner. Tickets are only $55 in advance (unless you are a ZAP member, $45), and $65 at the door. The students are challenged with expanding their knowlege of wine pairing while keeping within a budget. Their amazing creations include Hoisin Shortribs with sweet potato ravioli, Maui Cattle company Beef Sliders with Kim Chee Reduction, and Phyllo wrapped herbed goat cheese with dried blueberries.
Chef Teams and MenuTeam #1 Jonathan Pasion & Mark Mattos / Hoisin Shortribs with Sweet Potato RavioliTeam #2 Carolina Curtain & Taylor Wolters / Sous Vide Pork Belly w/ Poach Apricots & Pistachio CrustTeam #3 Gonzalo Gavina & Kathy Shipman / Poached Potatoes with Goat Cheese & ChivesTeam #4 Travis Motooka & Kristin Dougherty / Maui Cattle Company Beef Sliders with Sweet Kim Chee ReductionTeam #5 Amy Jackson & Vernon Tangaro / Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin with Poha Berry GastriqueTeam #6 Aaron Friesen & Noelle Potash / Phyllo Warpped Herbed Goat Cheese with Dried BlueberriesTeam #7 Gina Yoneda & Janell Tabon / Foie Gras & Duck Meatbllas with Crimini Mushrooms & Sauce BordelaiseTeam #8 Stella Lopresta & Leimomi Acia / Goat Cheese Croquette with Misa Beets & Yuzu VinaigretteTeam #9 Brianna Fujimoto & Remington Lewis / Poi Mochi with Kalua Pork
I got the privelege of sitting down with John Hanhauser who sits on the board of ZAP and Chris Speere of the Maui Culinary Academy. We meet outside the lobby of Class Act, the academy’s fine dining establishment that occupies the second floor. Downstairs the lunchtime hustle and bustle of the college’s food court run by the academy is going strong. Speere’s explains the facility here is top notch, built for 17 million dollars, and includes a top of the line bake shop, fine dining restaurant, the skills kitchen and food court, all operated by the student chefs. That is one of the reasons the academy has been designated by ZAP to be highlighted as a beneficiary and supported through this new fundraising event. The school’s Pa’ina food court will be transformed into the tasting room and the student chefs will be serving their tastings, and the winemakers will be pouring their wine. The bake shop will be baking fresh bread led by the San Francisco Baking institute’s bread class.
The ZAP organization has a very forward thinking strategy by targeting future chefs and educating them early on Zinfandels. Zinfandel is not the most popular or commonly known wine. It is known however for being an American wine, and through organizations like ZAP and their outreach Zin’s popularity and trendiness is expanding. Zinfandel grapes are only grown in America, it is our unique grape, and hence Zinfindels are known as America’s Heritage Wine. Formerly Zin had been pegged as a red that paired with red meats, but after Bev Gannon’s island cuisine approach to pairing this past January at the festival that stereotype has been broken. Ten different wineries will be pouring around 40 different Zinfindel wines at this groundbreaking event on May 21, 2010. The Maui Culinary Academy’s enrichment account will benefit enriching student and staff development at the academy.
Premier Zinfandel wineries pouring at Maui Culinary Academy include:
Alexander Valley Vineyards
Mauritson Family Vineyards
Michael David Winery
Peachy Canyon Winery
Rockwall Wine Co.
Storrs Winery and Vineyards
John Hanhauser, a member and a mover and shaker and ZAP is incredibly inspiring when it comes to Zinfandel. He has inspired other members and colleagues to donate their own time, money and effort to coming out to Maui to join in this event. The wineries will be bringing their wines to this tasting at their own expense. There will be a private trade tasting for wine buyers right before the event so local vendors interested in Zin can take advantage of this unique opportunity of the wines coming to us on Maui. Hanhauser believes wine is its own food group and that Zins pair beautifully with many different foods. He explains that each wine is related to the grape, and the grape to its own region, soil and climate. Hence the wines each have their own distinct character and flavors just from those elements. Hanhauser’s enthusiasm for Zinfindel is contagious, I ask him to suggest a Zin that I can try. True to his passion, he can’t suggest just one. I guess I will just have to try the Zin’s at this tasting.
From modest beginnings, making wine in his basement, Kent Rosenblum has always had a prowess for winemaking. Kent’s talents, vision and enthusiasm have been the foundational building blocks for Rosenblum Cellars, a winery dedicated to the production of Zinfandel and Rhone varietals. Today, thirty years after he started, Kent has remained dedicated to the winery and continues to oversees the creation of every wine that carries the Rosenblum family name.
A trained veterinarian, in 1970 Kent moved from his native Minnesota to join a veterinary practice in Alameda, California. He quickly fell in love with Northern California and its emerging wine scene. With his wife Kathy and several friends, he formed a weekly wine group, traveling to tasting rooms in Napa, Sonoma and other up-and-coming regions to explore the diversity of the state’s great appellations. Kent soon took up home winemaking. Applying his strong background in science, a keen sense of smell, and a natural inquisitiveness, Kent impressed his friends with the quality of his early wines. Intent on expanding his knowledge, Kent began studying his favorite wines, meticulously deconstructing their terroirs, and the techniques used in their production. Common themes began to take shape that would later define Rosenblum Cellars.
Kent found that there was high-quality fruit available if you knew what to look for. More than anything, Kent knew that he preferred grapes from steep, hillside properties with head pruned, old vines. Impressed by the flavor and intensity of this fruit, it became a fundamental element in Kent’s gentle and vineyard-driven approach to winemaking.
From his adoption of cold fermentation practices in 1973, to his trips to the great winegrowing regions of France, Italy and Germany in 1974, Kent worked constantly to refine his techniques and expand his skills. By the mid-to-late ‘70s it was clear that what had started as a hobby had evolved into something much more. In 1978, Kent founded Rosenblum Cellars along with a small group of friends. Producing a modest 400 cases in its first year, he was thrilled when his inaugural Cullinane Vineyard Zinfandel was widely praised.
From winegrowing regions to winemaking techniques, for Kent, making wine has always been about a willingness to explore and experiment. He has built Rosenblum to be a hands-on winery in every sense. This commitment begins in the vineyards with the personal relationships Kent has established with the owners of many of California’s top vineyards. He appreciates the flexibility of selecting grapes from numerous vineyards, seeing this diversity as strength in difficult years when individual sites or regions may suffer.
Nicknamed “The King of Zin”, Kent has cultivated a loyal following of zinfandel enthusiasts who eagerly await his new releases. Still focused on building personal relationships, he is active in his community and a welcoming presence at the winery. In addition to his role as consultant winemaker for Rosenblum Cellars, Kent has also served as president of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, the Alameda Chamber of Commerce, the West Alameda Business Association, as well as board member of the Humane Society. Kent remains a practicing veterinarian and continues to produce limited quantities of his beloved Cullinane Vineyard Zinfandel every year.