If you read any of the other Atlanta food or wine blogs, you’ve probably already seen a post on Montaluce. I’m way behind everyone else, but the visit deserves a post, even if your tired of reading about it. Sorry.
I knew Georgia had a few wineries, but Montaluce was the first one I considered visiting. They have been diving into the social media conversation via twitter and their blog, and I had been eager to get up to Montaluce, especially as I’d been telling them I would try to get up there soon. It’s a solid hour drive, which sounds longer than it really is, but I’m often too lazy to even drive to East Atlanta for food.
Yes, the meal and wine was complimentary, and I must admit sometimes it feels funny accepting free products/meals/etc. But I don’t have an official food review budget, and these types of events give me an opportunity to try things I otherwise couldn’t. I also try to be judicious in which offers I accept. I receive PR emails almost every day, asking me to come check out a restaurant or promote a product. If right off the bat I know it’s something I’m not going to be into, I don’t accept. And I make it clear to them that I’m going to write my honest opinion. It’s up to the readers to decide if I’m full of shit or not, and people have pretty good BS detectors. If they decide I’m a shill, a mouth piece, then I lose readership, but that’s not really what I’m going after anyways.
My goal is to learn everything I can about food and wine, and share this information with friends. If accepting an invitation to an event is going to help me achieve that goal, I’m going to accept. That’s it.
With that out of the way, here are some photos from the event. I was a bit late, so I missed the winery facility tour. But thankfully I didn’t miss the food, because Chef Steven Hartman’s (@hogballs) food rocked.
The local, smoked trout below was fantastic. The smoky, rich aroma was wonderful with the sweet foam, and the crunchy boiled peanuts were a fun garnish. This was served with the risata (rose) photographed above, which was one of the wines I liked best.
I ended up buying one risata, one chardonnay, and one viogner to take home. Those three were my favorite, with the chardonnay being my top choice. I had never consumed Georgia wine, and had braced myself for mediocrity, but was pleasantly surprised. I think the reds we tried (merlot and cabernet) still have a ways to go, but were pleasant enough. I noticed the reds had a slight effervescence on the tongue that was a bit strange, and they didn’t have the depth or finish that I enjoyed on the whites.
Montaluce has gone to great pains to put together a good team at their facility. Below is food & beverage GM Brad Egnor.
This is the coppa di testa, which is like Italian head cheese. The meat is pieced together pig head and hoof, seared and served warm, which I like. The cold texture of head cheese can be a bit off putting to me. Even the squeamish would love this dish.
Chef talking about the dishes.
This was my favorite dish of the day – chicken thigh pieces “glued” together and sous vide with celery leaf. Everything was wonderful about this – the rich dark meat flavor, the texture, the sauce, the garnish. It was perfect.
I’m not a dessert person, but the butter nut custard had everyone at the table moaning. The sour buttermilk esposa was perfect, a much better choice than a regular sweet whipped cream.
After our marathon lunch we were able to tour the kitchen. I thought these pails full of vibrant vegetables looked awesome.
The winery is building a wine storage area for people who live in the neighborhood, and this room is temperature and humidity controlled – the perfect place for curing prosciutto.
Meat be hangin’ everywhere.
The view from the restaurant – while it was a crappy day outside, I think the fog and the iced over trees made for a great view from the safety of the warmth inside.
Somehow my camera was able to capture how my food & wine coma felt.
Thanks to Montaluce. I can’t wait to visit again. The wine was better than expected, the facilities were impressive, and the food blew me away. Seriously, there were food crazed people, who are often very critical, that were almost licking their plates clean.
I think next time I’ll go for Sunday brunch, then do some wine tasting in the area, do an early dinner, then head back to Atlanta before it gets too late.