Dinner with Opus One winemaker Michael Silacci

I’m currently away celebrating Sergio’s birthday on the Atlantis Caribbean Cruise. While travelling I have no internet connection so I  thought I’d feature some of my favorite and most read posts from the past year. I’ll be back to active blogging when I return in February.

Originally Posted September 2011

Last week I was invited to join my friend at 40-something life blog for a dinner with Opus One winemaker Michael Silacci and France Posener, the winery’s East Coast Sales representative at one of Boston’s premiere restaurants, L’Espalier. I loved the Summer Degustation which we ordered. It included 4 savory courses, followed by their grand fromage, signature sorbet and dessert. All told the 6 plates each accompanied by a different wine took us approximately 5 hours to eat – if you’d like to read in more detail what we ate, please link to my friend Tracey’s blog, here.

However, I would like to write a bit about the dining experience, starting with the exceptional service and attention we received due to Michael Silacci’s presence. The chef and proprietor of L’Espalier, Frank McClelland came over to meet us personally and chatted briefly with France and Michael. After seeing so many raging chefs on these quasi-reality cooking shows, chef McClelland’s calm, polite demeanor was a welcome dose of reality. We were also well tended by the sommelier, Erich Schliebe, who poured a new wine with each course and freely joined in our ongoing dinner repartee. Lastly, the restaurant’s Captain, Daniel Floyd, provided us with the most attentive service I can recall in recent memory. I know this was all for the benefit of the well respected winemaker to my right, but I enjoyed being privy to the opportunity.

One of the reasons Michael and France were in Boston was to premier the Opus One 2008 vintage.  It was pretty cool to be among the first to try this new vintage.  They brought a bottle of the award winning 2007 and the new 2008 and poured both for us to try side-by-side.

Between courses and wine, conversation flowed easily from start to finish. Michael is quite interesting and is equally comfortable talking about subject matter completely unrelated to his areas of interest or expertise. He is an attentive listener and has a dry wit.  One of the things I really enjoyed learning about my dinner companion is that he’s allergic to chocolate – it causes him to sneeze.  He joked the better the chocolate the more he sneezes.  I was able to witness this reaction when dessert was served and it caused all of us to laugh (again).

Dinner was filled with both personal stories from each of us as well as some interesting insights into the Opus One winery. I started my dinner not knowing the two guests who were treating my friend and me to this decadent dinner but left with a deeper appreciation for the work and attention they bring to their wines as well as some interesting insights into what makes them tick.


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