Buty Winery

Buty Winery

Bella Italia

Port Angeles, Washington

January 17th, 2005

Bella Italia in Port Angeles

The first Bella Italia wine dinner of 2005 was held on a wintry night. While it was warming up, there was still snow on the ground, and it was taking forever to melt. We were looking forward to hearty food and hearty wine to go with it. We knew Bella Italia, but we knew nothing about Buty (pronounced "beauty") winery, except that it was based in eastern Washington, and it hadn't been around very long.

Our guests were Taylor and Nina Buty Foster, who own the winery, and they told us a bit about their winery. They had both been in the wine business for some time now, but had recently bought an old farm in Walla Walla, and have started making a collection of wines. The rock on their label should be familiar to you if you are a rock climbing fanatic out in eastern Washington.

So far, they have not put in their own vines. They have been working with a number of growers, and several of their wines are made completely with grapes from single vineyards, while others are mixtures from different vendors and of different varieties. We found their wines to be delicious, and delightfully old fashioned. They are designed to be drunk with food, not to impress people at a wine show. There was a conscious decision to limit the alcohol levels and avoid producing an overwhelming fruit bomb.

Neil Conklin, who owns Bella Italia, and Dave Senters, the man at the stove, had been out to visit the winery a while back, and Dave had spent some time thinking about what dishes to prepare that would work with which wines. While the food at Bella Italia is Italian in spirit, there is a focus on ingredients from Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula in particular. Buty makes good, hearty, food focused wines, so they planned to pair them with some hearty cooking from the northwest by way of old Italy.

Read on for a blow by blow account of our meal.


Native Olympic oysters
Salami, provolone, mozzarella, roast red & green peppers,
Grilled portabello mushrooms and eggplant
Dates stuffed with parmesan cheese

Oyster mushroom and goat cheese crostini

Smoked salmon in filo pastry

2003 Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc
13.2% alcohol

As usual at these wine dinners, we were starving by six o'clock when the food was served. Normally, an antipasto course just wouldn't cut it, but Bella Italia came through with a three course antipasti, if there is such a thing.

There was a mixed antipasto, served buffet style, but the highlight was the oysters. These were the little Olympic oysters, chock full of coppery mineral goodness. They aren't easy to find, and they aren't very large, but they have flavor total per ounce than just about any other kind of oyster. It's a good flavor too, with a fresh sea note, and a deep copper base that almost makes them taste meaty. We loaded up our plate with oysters, grilled mushrooms and eggplant, roasted red and green peppers, baby mozzarelli, spicy salami and a couple of dates stuffed with cheese.

That sounds like a lot of flavor, and it was. Luckily, the Buty Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc mix was up to the challenge. This was a light, fruity wine, but its clear, bright flavor and little bit of sweetness cut through all the smoky, salty and mineral flavors.

By the time we had finished eating our oysters and other goodies, the next round of antipasti had appeared. We Assyrians came down like wolves upon the fold and chowed down on the crostini and smoked salmon purses. The crostini were good, but the filo pastry purses, stuffed with locally smoked salmon and salty capers, were excellent.

Once again, the Buty semillon / sauvignon blanc stood right up to everything.


Nash's Sequim Delicata squash and hazelnut soup

with lime sour cream

2003 Conner Lee Chardonnay
13.8% alcohol

Delicata squash is an unusual squash, in that it has attributes of a summer and a winter squash, and it has to be grown carefully, since it can hybridize with certain mildly toxic native squashes. It is sweet, with a honey note, almost like a sauterne in taste, and it makes an excellent soup. We have good hazelnuts out here in Washington, and they really added to the nutty notes in the squash. To keep everything from getting murky, the lime source cream added a citrusy bite.

The chardonnay was perfect with this. It had a bit of flint, a bit of fruit, and a fullness that balanced the deeper notes of the soup. This was an inspired pairing.


Red wine roasted porchetta and farro risotto

with collard greens and onion jam

2002 Merlot / Cabernet Franc
14.1% alcohol

Porchetta is sow belly, possibly the most tender part of the pig. Bacon comes from this part of the pig, but bacon is usually dominated by the slab of fat, while the porchetta is the meltingly tender meaty portion. Roasted in red wine, the porchetta was lighter than air. It was brought down to earth with the hearty flavors of the farro, wheat kernel, risotto, Nash Huber's dark collard greens and a rich onion jam.

Dave Senters outdid himself with this dish. The flavors married perfectly, and the folks at Buty winery outdid themselves as well. The merlot / cabernet franc mix had the heartiness of a cabernet france and the fruitiness of a merlot to complement it. It was a winter ready wine for a winter ready dish.


Buttermilk citrus sorbet with biscotti


Herb rubbed lamb loin served over root vegetable ragu,
with Taggiasca olives and mint

2001 Rediviva of the Stones
2001 Columbia Rediviva
13.8% alcohol

Rediviva is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah mix

Yeah, we were still eating.

It was winter. There was even snow on the ground, even near sea level. The baby lamb loin was exquisite with the green olives and fresh mint. This might sound like overkill, but this fullness of flavor was the main theme of the meal. Some times there is just no point in being subtle.

The redivia, a mix of cabernet sauvignon and syrah wasn't subtle either. It is a full bodied wine, with flavor to spare, but it wasn't one of those new fangled fruit bombs. Both wines brought back memories of the great Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons of the 1980s that are now merely memories. These wines tasted like wine, and they worked well with the food, and while 13.8% alcohol is near the high end of our range, we could still savor them with our meal.


Pannetone with lemoncello glaze

Copyright Kaleberg Symbionts 2005

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