The sun was setting just as dinner started in the picturesque Napa Valley vineyards Texas natives Brenda and Clay Cockerell with Chef Dean Fearing cooking up a Texas sized barbecue paired with Brenda and Clay’s Coquerel Family Wine.
With local folk/country Juliane Band playing favorites from Willie, Patsy and Loretta under a lantern lit white tent, cowboy boot wearing guests joined together to celebrate the start of the 31st Annual Auction Napa Valley, Texas style.
After sips of the just bottled 2010 Petit Coquerel stainless steel, citrus filled Sauvignon Blanc the excited group from throughout the country settled into our seats. The great thing about Brenda and Clay is that they rarely meet someone they don’t immediately welcome in as family.
Over Chef Dean’s Barbecued Shrimp Tacos with mango and pickled red onion salad we sampled the just bottled Verdelho, a new varietal for the Coquerel portfolio. They have had the grapes for quite some time and had sold them to other wineries who mainly used them for blending. This year Brenda and Clay decided to make some of their own and see the response, similar to what they did last year with their now sold out Petit Sirah. Very vibrant and crisp with herbal notes and without too much acidity, this is a great summer patio wine without too much fruit to weigh down the clean flavors of the wine. They anticipate the release to be in a few months after the wine has settled in the bottle a bit more but still in time to be enjoyed on our 100+ degree summer days.
My favorite of the Coquerel portfolio, the Terroir Coquerel, was tasted with Chicken Fried Quail over a rich creamy corn and sage stuffing and Gun Barrel City greens with a spicy Tabasco and bacon gastrique.
The creaminess of the barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc was enhanced by the creamy, buttery corn with the crisp acidity of the fruit along with the spicy Tabasco/bacon sauce cutting through the dish with decadent goodness. Could there be a better plate – chicken fried anything is good, especially with a bacon sauce.
The other new varietal in the portfolio, Petit Sirah, was poured with the main course of Broken Arrow Ranch Antelope with juicy heirloom tomatoes perfectly seasoned and crispy fried okra. I hate to antelope was new for me. I was surprised at how tender and flavorful it was pairing beautifully with the dense, full bodied, meaty Petit Sirah, and the juicy ripe tomatoes lightened the heaviness of the plate and accentuated some of the earthy elements in the wine. This really was a celebration of why we love good food in Texas prepared by a master and paired with the lush and elegant wines Coquerel is producing.
Over dessert guests congratulated both the Cockerell’s and Chef Fearing on a beautiful meal paired with some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the valley. Perhaps the best toast came from Margrit Mondavi, who in her gracious manor congratulated all on a wonderful evening of wine and food. It was her first time to taste the Coquerel wine, which pleased her greatly and would have pleased her late husband, the legendary Robert Mondavi.
After a shout that the Maverick’s won and a loud applause from the native Texans in the room and friends alike, the night carried on with the band playing in high gear, the Coquerel dessert wine La Douce Revanche poured and a rousing game of chicken feet, Brenda’s favorite game in dominoes.
A fantastic and appropriate start to this celebration of Napa Valley, the wine makers and chefs who love the valley and fundraising to benefit Napa Valley charities.