I was recently invited to celebrity chef Joachim Splichal’s Southern California home for an exquisite dinner paired with his new wines made at Domaine de Cala.
We watched an informative power point presentation about how this esteemed chef purchased a run down Domaine located outside of the medieval town of Brignoles, in the picturesque Coteaux Varois AOP in the heart of Provence.
Joachim’s culinary career began in Provence, where he worked at La Napoule and Antibes, a two and three-Michelin star restaurant. He fondly remembers visiting a truffle supplier near this area, and dreaming of one day buying a domaine in Provence.
As founder of the Patina Group, Chef Joachim was named “Best California Chef” by the James Beard Foundation in 1991. Born and raised in Germany, he grew up working in his parents restaurant. Food and wine are in his blood.
While traveling in France with his twin sons, Nicolas and Stephane in 2014, a realtor called him to tell him about an estate that had been abandoned for 30 years. The property offered acres of neglected vineyards. This area in Brignoles, is where 88% of the wine production is dedicated to rose’ wine. With its abundant sunshine, light rain, warm days and cool nights, the Mediterranean climate is ideal growing conditions for grapes.
Never afraid to tackle big projects, Chef Joachim has over 50 restaurants and cafes in The Patina Group. His Patina Catering is one of the top North American catering companies. His culinary team has prepared The Emmy’s Award dinners for years.
As Chef Joachim and his sons inspected the property, they noticed it’s potential and acquired it as a “dream come true” project. For the last three years they have worked in renovating a 19th century château that is adjacent to a newly renovated bastide. They built a modern wine making facility, and hired a world class winemaking team to help the grapes thrive again. The attention to detail in making the wines of Domaine de Cala is similar to how this great chef creates his food. The name Domaine de Cala is an homage to the place where Joachim’s career flourished, California and Los Angeles.
His winemaking team includes Bruno Tringali, known for his work with rosé wines, and acclaimed winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt, for the Rouge. All Domaine de Cala wines are made from 100% estate-grown and produced fruit.
After the presentation, we followed Chef Joachim to his pool house for a four-course sit down dinner paired with his wine. At my table was Patina Restaurant Group’s Sommelier Eric Espuny. He shared that Chef Joachim’s estate reaches 650 acres, with 120 acres planted to Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle.
We started with a deconstructed Nicoise salad and pour of his 2018 Domaine de Cala Classic Rose’. “This wine has length,” said Sommelier Eric Espuny. “There is energy, vibrancy and a clean finish with this wine.”
Next we enjoyed a softer Rose’ aged in oak with a beautiful filet of John Dory with an artichoke and leek puree. The 2018 Domaine de Cala Prestige Rose’ pairs well with grilled fish.
The beef braised in red wine was served with polenta and Spring vegetables. It was paired with a 2016 Domaine de Cala Rouge. “You are one of the first to taste this red wine prepared in a Bourdeaux method. This wine spent 12 months in new oak. It has good density with firm tannins,” said Eric, “This can stay in your cellar for five years.” After two sips I discovered a fresh, earthy and spicy nuance.
We finished with farmers market morning picked Harry’s Berries strawberries with a sphere of strawberry sorbet and crumbled cookies.
Domaine de Cala produced its first vintage of estate-grown wine in 2015, bottling only 250 cases. In 2016 production increased to 5,500 cases, then 6,500 cases in 2017 and a US debut. In 2018 the winery made 13,000 cases, with 6,000 cases imported to the United States market. The wine is available at many of the Patina Group restaurants, and at Whole Foods Market.