“This year,” Jordan says with obvious pride, “the food is going to be as exciting as the wines. We’ve got Iron Chef Cat Cora.” You may recall that Cora made television history in 2005 on The Food Network when she became (and still is) the only female Iron Chef. Since then she has become a world-famous author, restaurateur, television host, and philanthropist. Her trademark is simple yet sensational meals. Cora’s Greek heritage, married with her Southern U.S. upbringing, is part of the charm. “What a great combination,” Jordan says. “She brings that Greek love of food and wine, combined with good ol’ Southern hospitality.” Jordan plans to pair her menu with Greek wines for a truly exceptional experience.
“We also have Chef Andrew Sutton from Napa Rose.” If Jordan sounds a bit boastful, he has good reason. He and Sutton opened Napa Rose in 2000 (Jordan as general manager and sommelier); they remained together through 2008. Within its first year, Napa Rose became one of Zagat’s top-rated California restaurants. “The only restaurant with a higher score for food was the French Laundry,” Jordan says. “And what we were doing with our wine list was unheard of. We were pouring Williams Selyem pinot by the glass, and lots of it!” Sutton said in an interview with The Orange County Register, “I always tell the guest, ‘Taste the wine first with a clean palate, and then see if we can give you a one-plus-one-equals-three pairing.’” For their reunion, Jordan plans to pair Sutton’s menu with Williams Selyem wines: chardonnay, pinot, and zinfandel. Don’t miss it.
The food will be exquisite, but what we really come to the festival for, as Jordan says, is “the wine, and the people who make it.” High on his list of favorite panels is Family Tree: Scions of Family Wineries, scheduled for June 10. “This is our third year of bringing two generations from three famous families together,” says Jordan. “We have legends such as Gary Pisoni and his son Jeff, of Pisoni Vineyards; Lee and Regina Martinelli, from Martinelli Winery; and Herta and Lisa Peju, of Peju Wines. These folks embody the passion that goes into artisan winemaking.”
A surprise panel on June 11 (one I don’t want to miss) is Baja Mexican Magic, featuring the emerging wines of Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California. Just across the Mexican border, this region of green valleys and rocky hills is being dubbed “the new Napa,” though it is one of the New World’s oldest wine-growing regions. Jesuit priests were cultivating vines here as early as the eighteenth century. “There are five valleys there,” Jordan explains, “and amazing winemakers. We’re bringing four of the best. They have so many varieties of grapes, and are doing all kinds of groovy blending, such as tempranillo and nebbiolo; it’s like the Cracker Jack effect — a surprise in every package. These wines,” he says emphatically, “are delicious.”
Are you a pinot aficionado? Mark your calendar for the June 9’s New Oregon Wine Seminar & Tasting. “We’ve got a killer pinot panel from Willamette Valley,” Jordan promises. “These guys are rising stars, and will be household names very soon: Erik Kramer from WillaKenzie, Tony Rynders from Zena Crown Vineyard, Adam Lee from Siduri, and Jay Somers from J. Christopher.” Another panel I won’t miss is the always-fabulous Classic California Cabernet Sauvignon. Featured wines include Stags Leap (celebrating thirty years of Cask 23 Cabernet), Arrowood Vineyards, Jordan Winery, Melka Wines, and Arkenstone from Howell Mountain — a cab lover’s dream.
Whatever your wine-and-food dream may be, we think it just may come true June 8 through 11 at the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival. Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi will be there, once again hosting Best of the Fest at the Sunday-night Seafood Festival grand finale. For more information on all panels and events, visit KapaluaWineAndFood.com.