Archived entries for Dessert Wine

A Conversation with Adrian Bridge: Climbing Mountains, the Art of PINK and Why Americans Should Drink Port Differently

Adrian Bridge Enjoying A Glass of Croft PINK After His Mountain Summit, Photo Credit to Taylor Fladgate

Adrian Bridge, the CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, the portfolio company of Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Croft Ports as well as the Yeatman Hotel, a luxury wine lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, came through Dallas last week to evangelize why a port-only company is taking the international wine community by storm. 

You can say that Adrian married into the port industry.  He met his now-wife Natasha, daughter of Taylor Fladgate Chairman Alistair Robertson, and became involved in the business in 1994 when he and Natasha moved to Portugal and he took over the company’s Port brands in the United Kingdom and United States.  In 2001, he purchased Croft Port and Delaforce Port from Diageo.

But while this is a multi-generation family business spanning more than 300 years, Bridge has found a way to be innovative in a very traditional industry.  In February of 2008, he decided to make Croft PINK, a rosé port, when he challenged his wine making team to try different colors to make an easy drinking port that could be used in cocktails, for aperitifs or even with dinner.  But, there was a problem – port legally had to be red or white. When he applied to get the port designation, he was told that he literally needed an act of Parliament to change the rules since port couldn’t be pink.  The astute marketer and businessman decided that he’d launch under the brand name of Croft with PINK as the designation.  He launched the port in July of 2009 with a different approach to the market – targeting mixologists to attract new consumers drinking port in different ways.  He believes that discovering Portugal requires a historical review of the food, wine and architecture, which Fladgate brings together through its luxury property, architecture, food and wine. 

Interestingly enough, port has continued to grow since the 90’s when the cigar boom increased American’s interest in drinking port.  While people are smoking less today, ports have experienced steady growth since then and Adrian believes, “the pendulum is back to port, especially with the highly regarded 2011 vintage which received kudos from wine critics everywhere.”

The Renaissance man is also an avid athlete and mountain climber who is known to celebrate a grueling mountain climb with a glass of port at the summit.

We started with a meat lover’s paradise at Texas de Brazil and Adrian opened the Croft PINK, a very easy drinking aperitif with a port spin on the raspberry and strawberry notes of traditional rose.  We moved to the 2005 Taylor Fladgate Classic Vintage Porto that had notes of fig, chocolate and dried fruit. 

The highlight of the evening was opening the 20 year Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port, which blew me away with its notes of dates, dried fig, honey, hazelnut and apricot.   


Angove Family Winemakers: 127 Years of Family, Legacy and Australian Heritage

I heard from my PR contacts at Trinchero Family Estates, who have been working in partnership with Angove Family Winemakers, that Tim Boydell, their senior vice president, was making a visit to Dallas and had a great story to tell me about their history and their wines.

Tim Boydell was brought on several years ago to help the winery manage change.  That’s tough at a winery that has been part of the family business for 127 years and is currently on its fifth generation, but with Australia’s renewed focus on quality wines, biodynamic processes and expanding its reputation for world-class wine, the family knew it needed to invest to grow.  Tim chuckles at the time he provided John Angove, the Chairman, with his strategic plan for the winery which involved writing a check “with many zeros.”

First, a bit of history about the Winery’s Founder William T. Angove, MD, who came from Cornwall, England to Adelaide in 1886.  Like most doctors of his time, wine was used for medicinal purposes and he developed a vineyard.  Like many, his hobby became his passion and he started making wine full time after he closed his practice a year later.

Today Angove is a major player in Australia.  It provides about 1 million cases of wines per year, which includes 14 different labels.  It is the eighth largest Australian winery and exports half of its production to more than 40 countries.  The Angove shield depicts the family interests of mining and winemaking.

 

We tried a number of wines that showcased why Australian wines have been scored so highly over the last year or two.  Here was the line-up:

  • 2010 Angove Warboys Vineyard Range – an elegant mix of licorice, berry and spice with lots of fruit and finesse
  • 2010 The Medhyk – this is the Angove’s approach to a flagship wine.  Lots of chocolate, spice, black fruit and terrior.  I loved this wine.
  • 2008 Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard Selection — all fruit up front.  Meat in a glass, screams for food, blackberry, cassis, mocha and oak.
  • 2012 Dr Angove “The Recipe” – red blend that was made specifically for the US market that was based on the wines he used to make in England.  Very juicy with mocha and cedar.
  • 2012 Nine Vines Moscato – oldest grapes in Australia which result in a wonderful dessert wine with hints of orange blossom, honeysuckle and apricot.

Unfortunately because the Four Seasons appeared to have no understanding of Friday Dallas traffic from Las Colinas to the West Village, we had to cut our visit short.  But, based on the Australian hospitality and the quality of the wines that I tried that day, I was glad to find out Texas is the number one US market for Angove Wines.  I look forward to watching what comes from Angove Family Winemakers.

 


Scotto Wines: Fifty Years of Family and New Eye Toward Legacy Wines

When I was contacted by the “biggest winery that I’ve never heard of” last month, it peaked my interest.  I missed Anthony Scotto III, the CEO of Scotto wines, when he was in Dallas last month, so when the winery offered to have Bill Chenault, the national sales manager for Scotto pour the wines for me, I accepted.

Totally unrelated, but interesting. Bill spent some time in Atlanta, where I grew up, and sent his two daughters to Auburn University, where I received my undergraduate degree.  It was an unexpected bonus.

As someone with an Italian heritage, I loved hearing about another successful Italian American dream story. Salvatore Dominic Scotto started a winery in Ischia, Italy, in 1883.  In 1903, the family emigrated from Italy and settled in Brooklyn, NY.

They opened Scotto Liquors, one of the oldest liquor stores in the state of New York, which has since been sold, but is still in business.  The Scotto’s made wine in their home from whatever fruit they could source in Brooklyn and similar to the Gallo family, sold it door to door out of crocks from a horse drawn wagon.  In 1961, they bought a facility in Pleasanton, California, that they named Villa Armando, where they began making their own wine. They created Villa Armando Rustico, one of the oldest US wine brands.  I tried it and appreciated that this was the type of mass production wine that allowed them to build a family business with overall capacity of more than 300,000 cases annually.

They sold this facility in the 1980s and expanded the Scotto portfolio into Lodi and Napa.  Five generations later, they have expanded the scope of their wines to include more than 40 brands sold to customers around the world.  I was honored to try an unlabeled limited-edition, higher-end Napa wine from the Van Der Hayden Vineyard in honor of the Scotto’s family’s 50th California harvest that I thought was fantastic.  The 50 Harvests Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Napa Valley is a small production wine that will change your image from a mass producer of wine to a winery that takes winemaking to another level.  It’s a blend of 94 percent cabernet sauvignon and 6 percent petite verdot.  The Scotto children rightfully knew that while the value labels are important, this unlabeled bottle would be the one to put them on the map in the wine world.

I tried a few other wines that were made to be fruit forward, drinkable and enjoyed every day.  The first was Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel made with Lodi fruit.  This had a nice spice, lots of red and black fruit and notes of cedar.

The next was the NAPA by N.A.P.A Michael’s Red, the first Napa release from the Scotto family.  The name represents the five siblings: Natalie, Anthony, Paul, Anne (NAPA) and Michael who recently joined the winery. This is a very drinkable every day wine with dark fruit, oak and notes of chocolate and mocha.  Look for it at Cost Plus World Market stores, who pretty much took most of the inventory produced.

We ended with a Moscato wine that was semi-dry, honey-touched and the perfect aperitif to a great meal and conversation at Max’s Wine Dive.


Sonoma in the City Storms Through Dallas: A Glimpse at a Special Region (Part One)

Right on the heels of my Napa trip, the Sonoma in the City gang came to town with a week chockful of events that put a spotlight on the region.  These guys rolled out the carpet with a series of lunches, happy hours, tastings and dinners that demonstrated the diversity of the region by showcasing the grape growers, wine makers and tourism executives that believe Sonoma is the “real” wine country in California.

Melissa and Kathryn

My experience started with a meeting with two powerhouse women from J Vineyards & Winery, Kathryn Lindstrom, chief operating officer, and Melissa Stackhouse, vice president of winemaking, at Abacus Restaurant.  Since I had just stayed at Jordan Winery the week prior, I knew that Judy Jordan founded J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg in 1986 with a concentration on J sparkling wines as well as J varietal wines including Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  The grapes are grown using sustainable farming techniques and J is considered a “green winery” by the San Francisco Bay Area Green Business Program as well as a “sustainable winery” through the California Winegrowers Alliance.

Kathryn talked about her transition from the finance industry to luxury wine and how she made the decision at 45 to make a big change into an industry that she loved.  Melissa talked about the collaboration that happens in her wine making team of three with a focus on the integrity of the grapes and bringing the fruit into the glass.  She views her team’s role to “allow the wines to find their own happy place” and interfering minimally.

We tried several wines in our tasting line up:

-          2011 Pinot Gris – this was a refreshing and tropical wine that will be available in May of 2012.  It will be joining my collection.

-          2011 Pinot Noir – lots of black cherry, elegance, herb and black pepper.  Delicious.

-          2010 Nicole’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – this wine is named for Judy Jordan’s daughter and had notes of plum, licorice, cherry and vanilla.

-          2011 Pinot Meunier – notes of cassis, cherry, mocha and floral.  I love off the beaten path wines and this one did not disappoint.  This is made with the remainder of the Pinot Meunier that is not used in the sparkling wines.

-           NV Cuvee 20 Brut – hints of toast, yeastiness, apricot, citrus and nuttiness.  This was a great sparkling wine.

As a female executive in another industry, I love to meet women that have risen to the top and defied the odds in a male dominated space.  My hat is off to the ladies at J Vineyards who are doing the right thing by the grapes, the vineyard and the environment.

I left the J Vineyards event and heading to Charlie Palmer Restaurant for a dinner sponsored by Dry Creek Valley, which featured Tim Bell, winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyard, and Mauritson Wines owner/winemaker Clay Mauritson, and his brother, Cameron, who grows the grapes.

  Bill Smart, director of marketing for Dry Creek Vineyards, and Clay from Mauritson

Dry Creek is known for its Zinfandel, Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines and is located right outside of Healdsburg.  What was evident is that this is a place of family, with some vineyards dating back more than 100 years.

The Mauritson family has the longest history of any current grape growers in Rockpile, a cornerstone appellation of Sonoma County.  Clay Mauritson’s great-great-great-grandfather S.P. Hall, planted grapes in the Rockpile region in 1884, shipping his wine back to Sweden where his family lived.  Much of this original estate was taken by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1960s and is now Lake Sonoma.

Clay, a sixth-generation member of the family, is making wines again from Rockpile grapes, which are grown by his brother.  Rockpile is a very unique appellation located at the Northwest edge of Dry Creek Valley where two appellations overlap and the Healdsburg-Rogers Creek Fault, a dominant earthquake fault, runs through the middle of the horseshoe shaped base.  Picture steep slopes and rocky terrain above Lake Sonoma that are elevated between 800-2000 feet.

I also had the chance to talk to Tim Bell, the winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyards, which is a 40 year old grape grower and winemaking business.  Founder David Stare started the business with the goal of creating great wines at a reasonable price.  That vision hasn’t changed.   Tim, also worked at Freemark Abbey Winery, Bosché and Kunde Family Estate, where he became an expert in using different grape varieties and working in various climates.  When he was called to interview at Dry Creek, he had never traveled that far north.  But when he talked to Kim and Don Wallace, president and partner respectively, he realized he wanted to realize their vision for what the winery could be and knew he’d be entering a new level of collaboration he had never experienced.  Today, he continues in his quest to showcase the grapes and terrior in Dry Creek Vineyards wine.

Barely Cooked Scottish Salmon, Grilled Octopus, Lobster Corn Dog & Striped Bass Crudo

Roasted Duck Breast with Chipolte Glaze, Creamed Nettles, Compressed Persimmon

We had an amazing array of great food pairings created by Chef Michael Sindoni who matched with wines from Dry Creek and Mauritson as well as some other Sonoma producers.

Some of my personal favorites were:

-          2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc – bursting with melon, tropical fruit and citrus with a minerality that made this a great food pairing wine.

-          2011 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc – full of grapefruit and peach with a balanced minerality that was more austere in nature.  Another great food wine.

-          2009 Dry Creek Vineyard “The Mariner” – a meritage blend that had lots of black cherry fruit, herbs, blackberry, vanilla and mocha.

-          2010 Rockpile Winery Cabernet Sauvignon – Rockpile grows more cabernet sauvignon than any other regions and is full of concentrated fruit with notes of tobacco, blackberry, cassis and cedar.

-          2008 Forchini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon –notes of chocolate, cherry, Asian spice and mocha.  This made the dry aged NY strip with bone marrow breadcrumbs sing!

-          2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel – this was one of my favorites with lots of black pepper, cherry, blackberry, herbs and floral notes.

-          2011 Mauritson Zinfandel – juicy raspberry, vanilla and notes of spice made this a very well balanced, almost feminine wine.

-          2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Soleil – apricot, honey, citrus and vanilla.  This was the quintessential dessert wine.  Delightful!

-          2010 Rockpile Winery Independence Red – a port like wine with big fruit, nutmeg and notes of tobacco.  Perfect match with the cheese plate served for dessert.

I asked about why Dry Creek Valley was doing this tour and it’s all about awareness.  Clay said, “when you are off the beaten path, you have to convince consumers that this is a destination point that is a little less Disneyland and a little more about the wine experience.  Even within Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley has 70 family owned and operated wineries.”

Tim added, “It’s all about a small production, hand crafted agricultural community with lots of pride, blood, sweat and tears to bring these great wines to the consumer.”


Super Bowl: Santorini Style

 

It was time for the Super Bowl game and we were invited to a friend’s house for an impromptu get together.  It was a sunny day with weather in the 60’s, I knew we’d have some rich snacks, and since I am never one to follow the beaten path, I grabbed some sample wines from Santorini.  These wines impressed me when I tried them at the Wine Bloggers Conference (#wbc12) in Portland and I was ready to give them the focus that they deserved.

It’s funny how things come full circle. I’m asked often about my favorite wine experience ever.  Mine happened to come while I was in Greece before I knew anything about wine.  My husband had just received his MBA and we hadn’t seen much of each other while he was in school.  We decided that we would take a vacation that we couldn’t afford and visited Turkey and then some of the Greek Islands.  One day we were on Santorini with our trusted Foder’s book in tow.  Most of the restaurants that had four stars had price tags that matched the number of stars given, except for one which had the single “$” sign next to it.  We soon found ourselves in a courtyard with a Greek family who served us fresh fish, Greek salad, hummus and the most wonderful crisp and dry wine that I’ve ever had.  It was amazing and still tops my list of wine/food experiences.

Santorini, while also an island, is a Greek wine region located in the southern Cyclades Islands of the Aegean Sea.  The wines became famous because of the Assyrtiko wines, the island’s flagship grape, commonly referred to as a “white grape in red’s clothing” because of the full-bodied and age-worthy wines produced.

We tried several wines including:

  • Domaine Sigalas, Assyrtiko White 2011 – a delightful white with minerality and notes of citrus.  This was definitely a crowd favorite and one that I will seek out in the future. As it opened, I liked it more and more.
  • Santorini Nykteri 2010 – Nykteri means “working the night away” in Greek as it was traditionally harvested at night due to the hot temperatures.  I tasted citrus, nuttiness, pear and notes of flowers.  This wine begged for food that would stand up to its finish.  Our salty snacks didn’t do it justice.
  • Vin Santo Boutari 06 – this is a sweet wine produced from sun-dried grapes. I tasted maple, dried raisins, caramel and honey.  I immediately craved Baklava.

These wines not only were drinkable today, but have the ability to age.  Based on this experience, I’m going to invest in a few bottles and see what happens in the next decade.  Or on second thought, maybe I’ll drink them today.

 


Home for the Holidays: Food, Wine, Family & Memories

Food, wine and fellowship have always been a mainstay of our holiday celebrations.  With the recent passing of my great aunt Stella, who died right before Christmas, it was a poignant reminder to appreciate those that we love.

Stella Urusky, on the bottom row on the lefthand side in the black.  Don’t be a hater about the hair or dress.  It was 1994.

Stella actually inspired the entire premise of Dallas Wine Chick.  Stella’s favorite wine was pink, fizzy, made up of chemicals and usually under $5.  I got on a self absorbed mission to “teach her” about “good wine.”  So, for a year I opened the best white wines that I had in my collection – white burgundies, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, pinot blancs, alsaces and albarinos with the conviction that I could change her mind.  A big life lesson for me is that I couldn’t.  She hated them all and just wanted what she wanted.  So, the concept that wine snobbery shouldn’t be forced on anyone and people should drink what they like was solidified in my mind.

She also taught me about compassion, the value of family, taking care of unwanted animals and speaking my mind.

So we gathered at my parent’s house as the snow fell and ate more food than we should, had more wine than we should and told the same family stories that I’ve grown up hearing.  It was especially poignant that my cousin, Patrick, a F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, was finally back home after his year-long tour on the USS Enterprise.

The USS Enterprise was on its final voyage after 50 years of service and it is the longest serving aircraft carrier in the US fleet.  It was the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Top Gun was filmed on this ship, it acted as a spotter ship for John Glenn’s historic orbit of Earth, played an important role in the Cuban missile crisis and in Somali pirate engagement.  As the oldest ship in the Navy, the motto is: “There is pain and there is Enterprise pain”…

We also got to hang out with my other cousin, Jeff, and his fiancé AJ, who we are eagerly ready to welcome to the family when they marry in California in the future.

With all of that as our backdrop, we tried several wines from Yarden in the Golan Heights; Elyse Winery in Napa and a Terrazas from Argentina.

We started with the wines from Yarden Wines of Israel.  You may remember that I was impressed last November when I had the opportunity to experience my first wines from the region.  I can speak for the rest of my family in saying that these wines exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983 and is based in Katzrin.  The winery is known for its use of technology and the advances it has made for wines produced in this region.  The region has extreme temperatures and elevation changes combined with volcanic soils.

Yarden Mount Herman White 2011

This was the favorite white of the group.  Big notes of citrus, peach, floral and minerality made this a great match with the food.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Lots of cherry, blackberry and stone fruit with notes of earthiness, tobacco and oak made this a very memorable wine and one that I will seek out in the future.

Yarden T2

This dessert wine which was made of two Portuguese grapes and fortified with brandy was a very nice dessert wine, but the $50 price tag made it a bit bittersweet.

We then switched over to Elyse.  I’ve long been a fan of Elyse Winery wines and these did not disappoint.

Elyse 2010 Petite Sirah

Lots of dark berry fruit, floral and spice.  I loved the finish with its notes of chocolate, mocha and oaky flavor.  This was a rich and yummy wine.

Elyse 2007 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Also inky black with lots of stone fruit and blackberry flavors with nice spice and cedar.   This was a very well balanced and elegant wine.

Elyse 2008 Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel

This is the vineyard where it all began and the wine that launched Elyse into 25 years of success.  Lots of juicy fruit, earthiness and spiciness make this Zinfandel memorable.

We also tried a Terrazas 2011 Reserva Torrontes, which tasted of green apple, flowers and orange blossom.  A nice, dependable, food-friendly wine that matched holiday food very well.

I hope your holiday season was filled with memories of family and friends that will last long beyond the chaos and will create smiles for years to come.


Home for the Holidays: Food, Wine, Family & Memories

Food, wine and fellowship have always been a mainstay of our holiday celebrations.  With the recent passing of my great aunt Stella, who died right before Christmas, it was a poignant reminder to appreciate those that we love.

Stella Urusky, on the bottom row on the lefthand side in the black.  Don’t be a hater about the hair or dress.  It was 1994.

Stella actually inspired the entire premise of Dallas Wine Chick.  Stella’s favorite wine was pink, fizzy, made up of chemicals and usually under $5.  I got on a self absorbed mission to “teach her” about “good wine.”  So, for a year I opened the best white wines that I had in my collection – white burgundies, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, pinot blancs, alsaces and albarinos with the conviction that I could change her mind.  A big life lesson for me is that I couldn’t.  She hated them all and just wanted what she wanted.  So, the concept that wine snobbery shouldn’t be forced on anyone and people should drink what they like was solidified in my mind.

She also taught me about compassion, the value of family, taking care of unwanted animals and speaking my mind.  

So we gathered at my parent’s house as the snow fell and ate more food than we should, had more wine than we should and told the same family stories that I’ve grown up hearing.  It was especially poignant that my cousin, Patrick, a F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, was finally back home after his year-long tour on the USS Enterprise.   

The USS Enterprise was on its final voyage after 50 years of service and it is the longest serving aircraft carrier in the US fleet.  It was the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Top Gun was filmed on this ship, it acted as a spotter ship for John Glenn’s historic orbit of Earth, played an important role in the Cuban missile crisis and in Somali pirate engagement.  As the oldest ship in the Navy, the motto is: “There is pain and there is Enterprise pain”…

We also got to hang out with my other cousin, Jeff, and his fiancé AJ, who we are eagerly ready to welcome to the family when they marry in California in the future. 

With all of that as our backdrop, we tried several wines from Yarden in the Golan Heights; Elyse Winery in Napa and a Terrazas from Argentina. 

We started with the wines from Yarden Wines of Israel.  You may remember that I was impressed last November when I had the opportunity to experience my first wines from the region.  I can speak for the rest of my family in saying that these wines exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983 and is based in Katzrin.  The winery is known for its use of technology and the advances it has made for wines produced in this region.  The region has extreme temperatures and elevation changes combined with volcanic soils.

Yarden Mount Herman White 2011

This was the favorite white of the group.  Big notes of citrus, peach, floral and minerality made this a great match with the food.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Lots of cherry, blackberry and stone fruit with notes of earthiness, tobacco and oak made this a very memorable wine and one that I will seek out in the future.

Yarden T2

This dessert wine which was made of two Portuguese grapes and fortified with brandy was a very nice dessert wine, but the $50 price tag made it a bit bittersweet.

We then switched over to Elyse.  I’ve long been a fan of Elyse Winery wines and these did not disappoint.  

Elyse 2010 Petite Sirah

Lots of dark berry fruit, floral and spice.  I loved the finish with its notes of chocolate, mocha and oaky flavor.  This was a rich and yummy wine.

Elyse 2007 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Also inky black with lots of stone fruit and blackberry flavors with nice spice and cedar.   This was a very well balanced and elegant wine.

Elyse 2008 Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel

This is the vineyard where it all began and the wine that launched Elyse into 25 years of success.  Lots of juicy fruit, earthiness and spiciness make this Zinfandel memorable.

We also tried a Terrazas 2011 Reserva Torrontes, which tasted of green apple, flowers and orange blossom.  A nice, dependable, food-friendly wine that matched holiday food very well.

I hope your holiday season was filled with memories of family and friends that will last long beyond the chaos and will create smiles for years to come.  


Max’s Wine Dive: Fried Chicken, Champagne and Why The Hell Not?

I never expected arriving around 5 p.m., the first official day at Max’s Wine Dive, that there would be a question of finding a place to sit.  The place was absolutely packed with a who’s who in the wine (including winemakers), food and spirits industry.  And there’s good reason.  You put a dream team of Paul Pinnell of Dali and Nana fame; Patrick Russell formerly of Craft; and Juan Pablo Trabado (JP) who never got to spread his talented wings at Decanter and people will attend.

The vibe is cool and laid back.  The people are helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  How could it not be with great wine, gourmet “comfort” food and a mantra of “Fried Chicken and Champagne?  Why the Hell Not.”  Nuff said.  I see myself quickly becoming a regular here.

 

The wine list is well thought through (150 selections) and there is an extensive by the glass program.  Also, if you commit to buying two glasses of wine, you can get anything on the list at a by the glass price.  A word of advice is to ask the price and see if the bottle is a better deal.  We started with a glass of sparkling, moved to a wonderful (and complimentary) glass of Sauternes paired with our bison sliders and a great carpaccio taco, which rocked with our red.  And try the Brussels sprouts – even if you hate Brussels sprouts – trust me.

 JP bearing Sauternes

The Texas-based restaurant has locations in Austin, San Antonio and Houston.  Also of note is the reverse happy hour with $2 off wines by the glass from 4-7 and then the last two hours before closing.


Chateau St Jean Wine Dinner and the Future Direction of Bailey’s Prime

 

I was excited to meet one of the stalwarts of women and wine, Margo Van Staaveren the winemaker from Chateau St. Jean, at a wine dinner at Bailey’s Prime.  Sadly, the stars did not align and Margo was unable to make the dinner due to family commitments. 

Originally a chemist, Margo has been responsible for 32 harvests at the winery and she has a philosophy of making sure the wines truly express the uniqueness of the grapes from year to year.  Chateau St. Jean, which is based in Sonoma, has been making wines since 1973. 

We started the reception with the 09 Belle Terre Chardonnay, which had notes of lemon, oak, vanilla and a buttery flavor.

We then moved to the 10 Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc paired with an Ahi Tune Crudo with English peas, red radish, shaved pearl onion and meyer lemon vinaigrette.  The grapefruit, minerality and acidity was a perfect companion for the tuna.

Our next course was the 09 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir with its red fruit and Asian spice paired with a squab breast “sous vide” with smoked bacon braised little gem, lardon, cauliflower puree and natural jus.

We paired the 08 Chateau St Jean Cing Cepage, which was the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the “Wine of the Year” in 1996, with Lamb Bacon Wrapped Prime Beef Tenderloin with spiced octopus, carmelized spring onions, potatoes “Pont Neuf” and red wine braise.  This meritage of five Bordeaux grapes was a match made in heaven for the tenderloin.

Our dessert was a native peach “crisp” with caramel ice cream and sea salt paired with the 08 Gewurztraminer.  It had notes of honeysuckle and apricot and was an awesome finish with the dessert.

Carbery and Kucwaj

I also had a chance to sit down and talk with Bailey’s new General Manager, Ken Kucwaj, and executive chef, Ryan Carbery.  You may recall I was worried about the future of the restaurant and its stellar wine program built under the guidance of Jennifer Jaco, who is now the lead sommelier at Ruth Chris Steakhouse.  Over a bottle of 05 Rudd Cabernet, they both told me their vision about the food and the wine program.  I believe they will continue to make Bailey’s Prime a destination for great food and wine.  


Old World Cabernet Meets New World Chef: A Dinner to Remember

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m very lucky through this blog to meet some of the best storytellers, winemakers and chefs in the business.   I also get an opportunity through this blog and from my husband’s foodie love affair to eat some of the best meals in the city.  Because of that, it takes me a great deal to take pause.  My dinner at the Gaylord did just that.

When I was personally invited by Joanne Bondy, executive chef of the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord to attend the Palmaz dinner, I was excited, but a little taken aback.  Most executive chefs of Joanne’s caliber aren’t issuing personal invitations to wine dinners. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joanne, she received Esquire’s rating of 20 best restaurants in 2001 and cooked at the James Beard House in New York City three times.  And, this was the preview dinner for her October James Beard dinner paired with some of the best Napa cabernets out there.

While I’ve been to the Gaylord before, it was always around a special occasion brunch because my parents live in Flower Mound.  To this Dallas gal, it was a bit of a haul especially after having a few glasses of wine.  Get a cab, get a car, get a sober driver – this is definitely worth the ride.

Saddiq Mir, vice president of food and beverage at the Gaylord, kicked off the dinner by introducing Joanne and Florencia Palmaz.  Joanne cracked us up with stories about celebrating the tenth anniversary in 2011 at the winery with stories about Amalia Palmaz, the matriarch of the family, on a four wheeler with her Prada shoes.  She also described a paella pan so large that it was stirred with a boat oar and when it became dark, the guests used mobile phones to provide light.  Just classic.

I was lucky enough to visit Palmaz a few years ago and was totally impressed with the wines and technology behind the winery.  There’s a huge tie to Texas.  Julio Palmaz, a doctor by profession, was in process of developing a heart stint at University of California Davis but couldn’t get research funds so he moved to the University of Texas in 1984 to continue his research.  While in California, Julio and Amalia had spent the weekends visiting wine country in Napa.  After moving to Texas, they attended a wine festival in Poteet, Texas, where Amalia decided they would be moving immediately back to Napa after trying the wine if the stint was a success.

In 1986 that happened and they returned to Napa to buy one of the last pre-prohibition wineries which formerly was a brothel and had made no wines since 1912.  The home’s original owner, Henry Hagen, one of Napa’s first winemakers, produced award-winning wines in the 1800s at Cedar Knoll Vineyard and Winery, but Prohibition killed his business. The winery fell into disrepair and the vineyards were forgotten for almost 80 years until the Palmaz family saw their potential.

Florencia talked about the 28 years that they spent in Texas, how it felt like home and how Texas embodied “big thinking” and imagination.   She talked about the underground project that she, her sister and her mother embarked upon several years ago to make white wines when her father was set on only making cabernet.   They made only 50 cases with the understanding that the family would drink it all themselves.  They didn’t mention their project to Julio for eight months and even painted the barrels red.  Finally, he figured out the game and told them, “you girls are cheating on me – you can each play with one white wine.”  Having tried the three wines, I have to tell you how glad that I am that they did.

We began the reception with the 2010 Palmaz Riesling “Louise” from Napa Valley.  It was tropical, off dry, fruity but not too sweet.  Fabulous, but very hard to get.

 

Our first course was creamed mussels with roasted fennel and paprika seared octopus paired with the 10 Palmaz Chardonnay “Amalia.”  It was a match made in heaven.

Our second course was chapa style vegetables and morcilla with a goat cheese vinaigrette paired with 07 Cedar Knoll Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon which had nice citrus, tropical fruits and minerality.  It was a very well balanced wine that worked well with the course.  While the wine could age for years, it was very smooth.  I tasted big berry, mocha and it was well structured.

 

The entree course was grilled Tenderloin with chimichurri, wild mushrooms and peas.  I tasted blackberry, spice and leather in the 07 Palmaz Cabernet .  It was fabulous.

Our dessert course was a dessert wine paired with a family recipe from Amalia.  Her Dulce de Batana and Port Salute Tart combined with the 10 Palmaz Muscat Canelli “Florencia.”  A perfect close to a perfect dinner – simple, fresh and light.

Our dinner table had a very lively conversation about when toasting, you must look each person in the eye individually.  I’m not sure if the ten years of bad luck will happen, but I’m not willing to take a chance … here’s looking at you.

Side note: The Old Hickory Steakhouse is up for best steakhouse.  Do me a favor and click here to vote.




twitter dallaswinechick
facebook Dallas Wine Chick
Email
RSS Feed
© 2010 www.DallasWineChick.com