Experiences are the threads used to create our lives. They are the details in the fabric. Time laughing with family and friends, goals achieved in one’s career, and milestones reached in one’s life define who we are as individuals. They define our life. They determine who we will be.
Have you ever noticed that many life experiences involve food? …Contracts signed over business lunches…watching a truly amazing sunset over dinner during vacation…family and friends gathered around the dinner table…that one perfect glass of wine while watching the sunset.
I had the immense pleasure of attending a spectacular Il Pranzo luncheon hosted by Round Pond Estate at Local Three Kitchen & Bar in Atlanta.
Round Pond Estate is a Rutherford farm and winery, as well as a working estate of vineyards, gardens and orchards, specializing in the creation of pure, expressive wines, extra virgin olive oils, premium red wine vinegars, and citrus syrups direct from the heart of Napa Valley. Round Pond is owned and operated by the second generation of the MacDonnell family.
My personal relationship with wine began when I was 19 years old. My first taste of wine was Sutter Home White Zinfandel. I remember it well. I also remember taking the first sip, and thinking. “This is horrid! How do people drink this stuff?” But, as wine matures in time, so did I, and I became an avid wine drinker.
Before long, I learned to understand and appreciate that wine was not only to enjoy drinking, but opened a completely new world when paired with foods.
I began to understand how wine could indescribably enhance a dish. I was enjoying a filet mignon and drinking a 2008 Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon. I closed my eyes, reveled in the flavors, and decided then and there my last meal on this Earth would be a wedge salad with Rogue Creamery Smoky Bleu Cheese and Pine Market Apple Smoked Bacon, a thick and rare filet mignon and one perfect glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. It was an epiphany.
On this day, we began our Round Pond adventure with an olive oil and vinegar tasting. Round Pond offers seven olive oils and two red wine vinegars.
Each of the estate olive oils is crafted from a selection of hand-harvested olives. Within minutes of arrival from their orchards, olives are sent to press. I was most intrigued and impressed that Round Pond built their mill. Their signature pressing method combines traditional stone and mill techniques with state-of-the-art technology. Oils are blended in small lots and bottling is on demand ensuring each bottle is at the height of freshness.
- Italian Varietal Extra Virgin
- Spanish Varietal Extra Virgin
- Blood Orange
- Meyer Lemon
- Lemon Pepper
In 2000, Round Pond began crafting gourmet red wine vinegars using estate-grown grapes. The goal was to create a partner for their oils. The vinegars are crafted using a technique that originated almost 200 years ago. They are barrel aged in French Oak and individual lots are bottled by hand.
Red Wine Vinegar:
- Cabernet-Merlot blend
- Sangiovese-Nebbiolo-Petit Verdot blend
We tasted the Italian Varietal, the Blood Orange and the Meyer Lemon. Each has distinct qualities with different fragrances and character. I found the flavored oils to have intense aroma and flavor while the Italian Varietal was more bold, full-bodied and buttery with a slightly peppery, yet silky, finish.
The olive oil and vinegar tasting was followed by an impeccable five course Il Pranzo lunch provided by the visionary and talented chefs of Local Three Kitchen & Bar. Each course was perfectly paired with wines from Round Pond Estate.
We began with Crudo of Maine Diver Scallop expertly prepared with Round Pond’s Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and paired with a crisp 2014 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc. The wine had gorgeous peach undertones and would be an excellent choice for a light summer meal on the patio.
The second course offered a sublime Root Beer Braised Mississippi Rabbit with Hand-Cut Tagliatelle prepared with Round Pond’s Sangiovese-Nebbiolo-Petit Verdot blend vinegar and paired with a medium-bodied 2012 Kith & Kin Cabernet Sauvignon.
This was my favorite pairing and dish of the day. It placed Local Three Kitchen & Bar on my personal list of “Top Five Favorite Dishes in My Lifetime” followed only behind filet mignon and stone crab at Joe’s in Las Vegas, Tyler Florence’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Wayfare in San Francisco, and seafood of any variety at Waterbar, also in San Francisco.
Next, was an immaculate Dr. Joe’s Pekin Duck Breast prepared with Bok Choy and Carrot in a Pho Jus, beautifully paired with Round Pond’s 2012 Proprietary Red Blend. This wine won my heart. It’s easy to drink, and elegantly accentuated the duck.
The fourth course offered Cocoa Dusted Cervena Venison over Smoked Potatoes and Thin Beans paired with a perfect 2012 Round Pond Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. I have been a Cabernet girl for many years. This cabernet is full-bodied and simply exquisite.
During the course of the lunch we were also fortunate to taste Round Pond’s Reserve Cabernet as well as a rare tasting of Rosato di nebbiolo. Both were complete show stoppers. I’ve never been a Rose fan, but this was extraordinary.
So many wines. So little time. This was a spectacular event, with simply fantastic wines. It brought back many memories of my first experiences with wine and reminded me of the endless experiences yet to come. I would encourage you to add Round Pond to your “must try wines” and if you haven’t had the pleasure of dining at Local Three Kitchen & Bar…GO.
Through the course of the luncheon, Round Pond CEO, Miles MacDonnell said the true thing Round Pond offers is an unforgettable experience. I concur Mr. MacDonnell. I concur. As I finished that last fantastic glass of wine for the day, a favorite quote came to mind; “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Thank you Round Pond Estate and Local Three Kitchen for the smile, but mostly, for the unforgettable experience.
Disclosure: All food and beverage for the Round Pond Estate Il Pranzo lunch was complimentary, but all opinions, swooning, and drooling are my own.