Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” achieved at Hearth ’61

Building an award winning wine program is no small task and Jim Gallen is no stranger to building them. Gallen, Food and Beverage Manager at Mountain Shadows Resort, built the Wine Spectator magazine’s 2019 “Award of Excellence” wine list for Hearth ’61. Criteria used to judge restaurants for the award include wine pricing, wine director experience, cuisine type & menu pricing and overall wine selection.

Wine Spectator
F & B Manager Jim Gallen. Photo credit Skyler Scott.

Gallen has over 25 years of experience wine buying having been the wine buyer for Phoenix’s Tarbell’s Restaurant and others. It’s the restaurants first honor by Wine Spectator for its diverse list of over 180 wines from around the world.

It’s important for Gallen to build a wine program that compliments Executive Chef Charles Wiley’s cuisine and culinary events.

Hearth ’61 was one of over 3,800 restaurants around the world to be awarded the honor by Wine Spectator. Gallen will grow the wine program to earn the magazine’s “Best of Award of Excellence” and its highest honor “Grand Award”. The restaurant was one of several Arizona restaurants to earn honors from the magazine including Tarbell’s Tavern and Cafe Monarch.

Hearth ’61 at Mountain Shadows Resort is at 5445 E. Lincoln Dr. Paradise Valley 85253.

Oysters are 1/2 off at happy hour as Ocean Prime re-opens

Popular seafood restaurant Ocean Prime re-opened last week after plumbing repairs and a new look to its dining room. The north Phoenix restaurant located at High Street also added more seating to accommodate the areas growth and restaurants popularity. To thank their patient customers the restaurant is offering 1/2 off oysters during happy hour.

Every Monday until September 16th from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. guests can enjoy a half dozen of the days featured oysters with frozen granita for $13. Pair your oysters with a glass of Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs for $8.50 a glass or $42. 50 a bottle. Enjoy Schramsberg Rose for $10.50 a glass or $52.50 a bottle.

Other Ocean Prime specials include wild and fresh caught Alaskan Halibut($48) paired with Cakebread Chardonnay. The white, flaky fish is in season and is prepared with seasonal ingredients including celery root puree, spring peas, asparagus, fava beans and buttered lobster claw. The fish is finished with a lemon pesto vinaigrette. “The mix of spring vegetables complements the fish well, and the citrus-forward vinaigrette with the lobster elevates the entire dish,” says Ocean Prime Regional Chef Ian Rough.

Beverage Director Andrea Hoover chose the family owned Cakebread Chardonnay for its citrus and orange-blossom flavor profile. “Chardonnay is weighty on the tongue, yet well-balanced with acidity, complementing the dynamic nature of this dish,” says Hoover. The chardonnay is available by the bottle.

From July 31st – August 10th guests can purchase Ocean Prime gift cards online of $100 or more and receive 20% off when using promo code Prime19.

Ocean Prime is at 5455 E. High Street, Phoenix 85054.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa offers Winemaker Dinner Series

The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa has announced their lineup for their Winemaker Dinner Series for the rest of 2019. The dinners will feature California wineries paired with a delicious four-course menu prepared by chefs Juan Solorio & Joaquin Estolano Jr.

Dinners will be held in the resorts Alto Ristorante e Bar and will start with an appetizer and wine reception at 6:30 followed by dinner at 7. I recently had the opportunity to taste the several dishes prepared by the creative culinary team and guests are in for an epicurean experience. To see what I dined on visit my Instagram @SandyWass.

The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa’s Winemaker Dinner Series.

Nickel & Nickel -Thursday, May 23, 2019

Established in 1997, Nickel & Nickel are devoted exclusively to producing 100% varietal, single-vineyard wines that best express the distinctive personality of each vineyard.

Joseph Wagner Wines -Thursday, June 20, 2019

A family of fine wines, Joseph Wagner is made from some of the best regions in California.

Frog’s Leap- Thursday, July 18, 2019

Adhering to the premise that the greatest wines are those that truly reflect their soil, climate and circumstance. Frog’s Leap believes the winemaker’s role is to stand back and let the natural beauty of grapes show through.

BV (Beaulieu Vineyards)- Thursday, August 15. 2019

Founded in 1900, BV continues with the spirit of innovation to produce exceptional wines that stand among the world’s finest.

Duckhorn- Thursday, September 19, 2019

Over the past 40 years, Duckhorn has established itself as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines.

The per person price for June through September is $95++.

Orin Swift- Thursday, October 17, 2019

Combining excellent wines with creative labeling, Orin Swift has grown very fast to become one of the wines most enjoyed.

Plumpjack- Thursday, November 14, 2019

Their wines are a reflection of their unique terroir, the passion and precision of their winemaker, and their commitment to craft wines consistently express the distinct qualities of their estate vineyards in the Oakville appellation.

ZD- Thursday, December 19, 2019

Over three generations, their passion for wine has gained ZD the recognition as one of Napa Valley’s favorite offering unrivaled world-class wines.

The per person price for October through December is $115++.

Reserve your seat

Because seats are limited, reservations are required. To make a reservation call (480)444-1234 ext. 8650. Repeat guests will receive 10% off the new dinner. To see menus as they are planned visit their website. Wines will be available for purchase at a discounted price.

The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa is at 7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd. Scottsdale 85258.

A Taste of Mount Veeder coming to Scottsdale in March

We all remember our first love, first car and first winery we visited right. I remember the first two but the wine geek in me remembers visiting Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder in 1997. It was the first winery I had ever visited early in my wine career. Hess Collection will be one of 11 wineries pouring their wines at “A Taste of Mount Veeder” on Saturday March 2nd. The tasting will be at Troon Country Club from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

About Mount Veeder

The Mount Veeder appellation is part of the Mayacamas range on the western side of Napa Valley. It borders Sonoma County to the west and the Carneros appellation to the south. From vineyards a top the mountain on a clear day you can see San Francisco to the south as I did from Rubisow-Sargent’s vineyards on another visit to Napa Valley.

Grapes at Paratus Vineyards. All photos courtesy of Mount Veeder Appellation

In 1993 it was designated an American Viticultural Area(AVA) and covers 16,000 acres with only 1,000 acres under vine. Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 64% of grapes grown. Mount Veeder represents 1.3% of wine production in Napa Valley.

It was the first AVA to grow Petit Verdot, have all 5 Bordeaux varietals planted at one vineyard and produce a wine with all 5 Bordeaux varietals.

Wineries participating

This will be a unique opportunity to taste these wines in one place as some of the wineries are not open to the public. Participating wineries will be…..

Boich Family Cellar
Brandlin
The Hess Collection Winery
Lagier Meredith
Marketta Winery
O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery
Progeny
Random Ridge
Robert Craig Winery
Rudd Estate Winery
Sky Vineyards
Yates Family Vineyards

Find wines that you like and you’ll be able to order them for your collection. Tickets are $75 in advance and include gourmet hor d’oeuvres. Tickets will be $100 at the door. To purchase tickets visit their website or call 707-266-1296 before they sell out.

Troon Country Club is at 25000 N. Windy Walk Dr. Scottsdale 85255.

Watch out for Dead Zed Red, a Paso Robles red wine blend

Halfway between Los Angles and San Francisco sits Paso Robles with over 40,000 acres of vineyards and 200 wineries. One of those wineries is Tackitt Family Vineyards where Dead Zed Red is made. Dead Zed Red is a blend of 36% Grenache, 30% Zinfandel, 27% Syrah, 6% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier made by winemaker Leon Tackitt.

The red blend is the brainchild of wine industry veteran John Burke who released who started Vineyard Squadron Wines. Dead Zed Red is the first wine under the new label and was released in early 2018. In addition to John and Leon’s love for wine both served in the Navy. Leon learned about wine and learned to make wine while still in the Navy. Once he retired after serving for 27 years he embarked on his new love and second career.

Leon’s and his wife Cindy’s wines have garnered many accolades for their wines over the years.

The wine is aged in French and American oak.  I tasted it with a burger and they went well together with bright fruit, medium body and mild tannins. It is also best paired with hearty meats & pizza.

Big Chris of The Church of Horror designed Dead Zed Red’s label.  He is known for his work in the horror genre for video game design and art development in the music industry for bands KoRn and System of a Down.

Lunch with Russ Weis, President of Silverado Vineyards

I recently sat down for lunch at Hearth ’61 with the President of Silverado Vineyards, Russ Weis, when he was in Phoenix. We tasted 3 wines while Russ told us the Silverado story, about life in Napa Valley surviving recent wildfires and about the wines.

Russ was practically born into the wine business as the son of grape growers in Madera, California. Russ started his career in Napa Valley in 1987 at Christian Brothers Winery then went on to Robert Mondavi Winery in 1993. He joined Silverado Vineyards in 2004.

The Silverado Vineyards story

Silverado Vineyards was started in 1981 by Diane Disney and her husband, former football player and movie producer Ron Miller. The 6 historic vineyards owned by the winery date back to the 1800s and are located throughout Napa Valley. The winery is currently owned by Ron and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with plans to keep it in the family for several more generations.

The wines are made by winemaker Jon Emmerich and associate winemaker Elena Franceschi. All wines are “Grown, Produced and Bottled by” the winery, one of a few Napa Valley wineries that can say that. A small portion of grapes are sold to other wineries.

With over 300 acres of vineyards the wines express the differing terroirs, giving each wine its unique complexity and character. The winery and home vineyard are in the Stags Leap District along the Silverado Trail.

Tasting the wines

During our lunch we tasted the 2016 Carneros Chardonnay and proprietary Cabernet Sauvignons GEO and SOLO from the 2014 vintage.

The chardonnay comes from the Vineburg and Firetree vineyards in the cooler southern part of Napa Valley. The wine is aged in French oak barrels with some in new oak. The wine is clean and well-balanced with oak and acidity. Bright fruit that the Carneros region is known for makes this a great wine to drink by itself or paired with food. It made a nice complement to our shrimp cocktail. The chardonnay is the winery’s second largest produced wine, at just under 10,000 cases.

The GEO Cabernet Sauvignon uses grapes grown on the Mt. George vineyard in Coombsville. The Millers bought the vineyard in 1987 and was the first vineyard planted to grapes in the Coombsville AVA. A splash of Petit Verdot is blended before the wine was aged for almost 2 years in mostly French oak. The wine was soft and enjoyable with good tannins giving you the typical Cabernet mouthfeel taste of blackberries and cocoa and drinks well. Only 2,200 cases are made.

The SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon was the last of the 3 wines we tasted. Made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is named for the fact it’s made from a single clone. The Silverado- Disney Heritage clone was given “Heritage” status by UC Davis because the new clone was carefully observed and had adapted to the unique soil of the Stags Leap District. It’s one of only 3 Cabernets with this status and the only one from Stags Leap District.

The bold fruit comes from the Silverado Vineyard and offers currants, cassis and plum nuances. It’s aged in 100% French oak with 38% new oak. The wine pairs well with grilled red meats and roasts. 2,400 cases were produced.

Visiting the winery

Silverado Vineyards is open daily by appointment. The winery is at 6121 Silverado Trail, Napa CA. 94458. For reservations call 707-257-1770 or visit their website.