Crystal Springs Resort, located in the beautiful mountains of Sussex County, is New Jersey’s premier culinary and leisure destination and less than 90 minutes from New York City. Grand Cascades Lodge at the resort offers an unmatched culinary and wine program at the award-winning Restaurant Latour and the Wine Cellar.
With its white-glove service, American cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients and 7,000-bottle wine list, Restaurant Latour has garnered the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award year after year and will delight the most discriminating oenophiles.
Restaurant Latour and the Wine Cellar were birthed as part of Gene Walter Mulvihill’s vision to bring a world-class cellar and restaurant to the area. Mr. Mulvihill was a pioneer, he was a visionary, he was humble and he was very well loved by his employees. He also really loved wine. Up until his death this past October, Mulvihill was the driving force behind Crystal Springs Resort in Sussex County and the curator of its award-winning wine cellar.
Mulvihill was a venture capitalist and financier with a distinguished career spanning many industries including cellular broadcast, cancer drugs, robotics, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), amusement park rides, ranching and real estate development. He was well-known for his long affiliation with Vernon Valley Great Gorge Ski Area and Action Park and, more recently, for his role at Mountain Creek and Crystal Springs Resort. In support of his resort and hotel interests, Mulvihill assembled a celebrated wine cellar, Latour, which has regularly received the designation of Grand Award by Wine Spectator.
I was fortunate enough to be invited recently to tour this 135,000 bottle cellar and to sample some of the glorious selections at a wine pairing dinner.
Chef John Benjamin, who has worked at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Napa, CA and Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in New York City, marries modern techniques with seasonal ingredients from local purveyors and the resort’s organic farm to create a true farm to table dining experience. Chef Benjamin prepared the following meal and Sommelière Susanne Lerescu did the fantastic pairings.
Red Mullet with White Asparagus, Fava Bean “Cake” and a Purée of Stinging Nettles. Wine pairing: 2012 Bukettraube Cederberg – South Africa.
Chesapeake Bay Soft Shell Crab with Heirloom Tomato Confit, Espelette Pepper and Sauce Grebiche. Wine pairing: 2005 Chassagne-Montrachet Les Champs Gains – Colin Morey.
Crystal Farm Organic Harvest Greens, Earliglow Strawberry Vinaigrette.
Loin of Young Rabbit Roulade with Belly Confit and Sweet White Onion Jus. Wine pairing: 2007 Sfursat Valtellina Nino Negri – Lombardia.
Filet Mignon of Milk Fed Veal with Cheek Rillette, Ris de Veau and Wild Mushroom Forest.
Latour Rifle Ranch Lamb Chop with Provencal Vegetable Pithivier, Kalamata Olive Emulsion and Natural Thyme Jus. Wine pairing: 1982 Vieux Château Certan – Pomerol.
Warm Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with Local Pickled Ramps abd New Crop Potato Vinaigrette. Wine pairing: 1920 Madeira Barbeito Malvasia Reserva Velha.
Restaurant Latour offers three menu options: a three-course prix fixe menu ($75), a five-course vegetarian Garden menu ($95) and an eight-course Tasting menu ($135). A wine pairing can be added to the Tasting menu for an additional $60. The menus change with the seasons but always feature Rifle Ranch lamb from the resort’s own ranch in Rifle, Colorado. The ranch raises free-range lambs on wild pasture land in the Rockies, yielding unbelievably delicious meat.
The Wine Cellar, one of the largest fine wine collections in the world with over 135,000 bottles, features 9,100 labels and vintages going back to 1795. Overseen by Wine Director Robby Younes, this unique collection is valued at over $30 million.
On the first Sunday of each month, sommelières Susanne Lerescu and Samantha Shaw lead wine classes and there is also a free daily tour at 3pm that allows guests to experience the cellar firsthand.
Crystal Springs’ Grand Cascades Lodge is located at 3 Wild Turkey Road in Hamburg, NJ. For reservations, classes and more information call 973-827-5996 ext. 3 or visit http://crystalgolfresort.com/DiningWine/CulinaryEvents.aspx
Veronique Deblois is a food and wine blogger based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.