Wine Feature of the Month – DeLille Cellars

Winemaker’s dinners are always a night to remember, but this one is sure to be extra special.  In celebration of El Gaucho Tacoma’s 10-year Anniversary, former El Gaucho wine steward Jay Soloff, now Co-Founding Partner of DeLille Cellars, will host an extraordinary Winemaker’s Dinner at El Gaucho Tacoma on Friday, September 21st.

The history between El Gaucho and DeLille Cellars runs deep: Jay and El Gaucho owner, Paul Mackay, worked together in the late 70s at the original Gaucho, located at 7th and Olive in Seattle.  Just as it is now, it was one of Seattle’s swankiest joints; Jay was the wine steward and Paul was the maître d’, and in their tuxes they worked side-by-side, offering patrons the impeccable, hallmark service that is El Gaucho. In his time as wine steward, Jay completely rebuilt the Gaucho wine program, and developed a communication system with his customers that would help match the wine with the meal and mood.  Today, that service is expected in a fine dining establishment, but in the late 70s, wine service was not as friendly.

Fast forward 30+ years, and Jay still loves teaching others about wine, but now represents DeLille Cellars, which he co-owns with Winemaker Chris Upchurch and the Charles Lill family (now run by his children Greg and Pat).  The business and family relationship has only strengthened with time, as the Lill’s and Mackay’s work tirelessly together in local philanthropic endeavors.

DeLille is a boutique winery located on the Lill family farm in Woodinville, and began producing wine in 1992.  Starting out with Bordeaux style wines, they immediately received impressive high ratings out of the gate, including being named Winery of the Year by New York Time’s in 2000.

At their start, they were the only Washington winery offering Bordeaux styled wines.  Now, over 400 wineries make a Bordeaux-style blend in Washington.  In 2002, DeLille followed another hunch and the Doyenne label was launched, inspired by Rhone, Provence, and Bandol wines.

Today DeLille produces about 12,000 cases a year, under three labels: DeLille, Doyenne, and Grand Ciel.

Jay will no doubt be entertaining, as well as educational, as he takes guests through each wine pairing for the evening.  El Gaucho chefs have created a spectacular menu to highlight each wine, two of which have just been released.  Some of the standouts are sure to be the Chaleur Estate Blanc 2011, which was just released last month.  This wine has consistently rated over 90 points by Wine Enthusiast since 2003. The 2011 vintage is already showing diverse aromas with a powerful richness that will pair perfectly with foie gras.

The popular DeLille D2, 2009 vintage is sure to be a knock-out, paired with Grilled Artisan Duck Breast with black lentils, bacon, sherry butter and stone fruit compote.  Of course, El Gaucho’s signature dish will be the last: Certified Angus Beef® Filet of Tenderloin, to be paired with powerhouse Doyenne Signature Syrah, 2009.

While this extraordinary evening is nearly sold-out, stay tuned: El Gaucho is creating another Winemaker’s dinner, sure to please wine and food enthusiasts alike.

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