Mick Fleetwood hosted a wine dinner on May 27 at the L.A. Live branch of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. The legendary Fleetwood Mac co-founder and drummer paired selections from Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar with dishes from his favorite SoCal restaurant. It definitely added to the experience to share dinner with a down-to-earth rock star with mutual interests in food and wine, but I’m hardly starstruck, and the food and wines held up on their own.
“Mick’s Favorite Dinner” began with passed appetizers, including unmemorable Brie Cheese Bites and Crab Rangoon, a peculiar “Polynesian” classic consisting of fried wontons filled with oozing cream cheese and crab meat. The clear early winner: ultra tender and herbaceous Honey Dijon Lamb Chops. To accompany our hors d’oeuvres, we each received a glass of 2005 Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar Riesling from California’s Central Coast that was subtly sweet and not cloying.
Once everybody was seated and held a glass of 2005 Chardonnay from Lake County, Fleetwood made a short, humble speech about his private cellar. He “started in boutique fashion, garage style” using a “very simple formula…trust in what I like.” Fleetwood made it clear that he “wasn’t just somebody who slapped his face on a bottle…It’s been a lot of hard work.” He readily admits that he doesn’t have an exacting knowledge of the winemaking process, but he developed a trust in his taste.
Fleetwood’s approach seems to have paid dividends. Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar entered the marketplace in 2001 with Mick’s single vintage 1998 Cuvée. The portfolio has grown to include seventeen wines, several of which are available at Fleming’s nationwide and on shelves at Costco.
Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Cocktail was a highlight, featuring lump crab and jumbo prawns in a martini glass, set on a mix of spicy chipotle horseradish sauce and crisp vegetable relish. The crisp Chardonnay was a solid pairing.
Filet Mignon is my least favorite cut of meat, a “premium” cut of lean beef that packs the least amount of flavor and costs the most money. Filet could have easily made my list of most played out dishes and ingredients, and yet, Fleming’s managed to deliver a very good version that was juicy and well seasoned with salt and pepper. The lonely cut of steak came with shareable portions of crispy shoestring fries and a decent dish of sautéed zucchini and tomatoes. The wine pairing was a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendocino that wasn’t quite as full bodied or impressive as Fleetwood’s whites.
Dessert consisted of a simple scoop of vanilla bean ice cream strewn with plump raspberries and blueberries and plumed with mint. The dessert was so cold that some of the berries crystallized, leading to a surprising crunch. The accompanying glass of Inniskillin ice wine wasn’t my favorite, for the same reason I’m not a believer in mead or Dogfish Head Midas Touch beer; the sip was too sweet.
It was hardly a given that wines from a celebrity winemaker would deliver. There’s certainly been more than one celebrity to offer an undrinkable vanity project. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with Fleetwood’s wine. Before transitioning to the dinner, Fleetwood said, “If don’t like [my wine], you can chase me down the road.” No chasing necessary.
Note: Fleming’s hosted me at the Mick Fleetwood wine dinner.