Seasons 52 at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, Arizona is set to open on October 25th, 2010. The Weekly Wine Journal was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the menu and wine list at a VIP event this past Saturday. Seasons 52 features an all star cast including Master Sommelier and CWE George Miliotes. Upon arriving guests were greeted with a fantastic glass of Champagne- Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne, Champagne NV! A little background on this wine: Chartogne-Taillet has had vines in Champagne since 1683. They are a fairly small producer, producing only 16,000 cases of wine each year and about 7,000 cases of this particular wine. This was a nice dry champagne with fine bubbles. So right away I knew I was dealing with something out of the ordinary in Seasons 52.
I quickly joined onto a tour of the restaurant and during this tour I noticed the Mesquite grill in the kitchen. Another sign of good things to come as I have really enjoyed the Mesquite grill at FnB in Scottsdale. The rest of the tour took us through the dining area and to one of three private dining areas. The first one has full video capabilities with a screen that drops down out of the ceiling.
The other two private dining rooms can be joined together to make a nice big room that looks onto the Biltmore courtyard. After the tour guests congregated in the bar area while listening to pianist vocalist Rebecca De La Torre. I chatted with Master Sommelier and director of beverage and hospitality for Seasons 52, George Miliotes for a few minutes before we all were invited back to the big private dining room.
We were treated to a fantastic 5 course meal as well as in depth back ground information on the preparation, ingredients and the wine pairings.
To start we had a simple Amuse-bouche of lump crab and Haas avocado paired with Aveleda Vinho Verde 2009 from Portugal. The wine was light and crisp and fermented in stainless steel.
Next up was Wild King salmon and lemongrass sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank. This was paired
with Mer Soleil 2008 Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast. I was ecstatic to see wild salmon on the menu. One thing I can’t stand ( it makes me crazy like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet ) is farmed salmon. Add salmon snob to my list of short comings or strengths, depending on how you look at it. The cedar plank was a really nice touch, it gives the food an extra level of flavor which is uncommon. George Miliotes informed us that The Mer Soleil Chardonnay was fermented in the very best oak and also aged in oak. This wine had an incredibly supple mouth-feel.
Next was a salad featuring Earthbound farm organic greens with oak-grilled mushrooms, toasted pistachios and truffle dressing. The salad came on a plate inside of a clear cylinder. Suddenly the servers lifted up the cylinders and the salad came out of the bottom and was spread around the plate, a very interesting touch. Everyone went “ooooo”. The salad was paired with Sinkskey Pinot Noir 2007 from Los Carneros. A very nice Pinot Noir which also happens to be organic.
Continuing right along, the next dish consisted of one big ravioli. Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil and a light tomato broth. This was amazing. Soft and creamy and the tomatoes added the perfect hint of sweetness. This was paired with Retromarcia Chianti Classico. This wine is a little “rough around the edges” as George put it, to be drunk by itself, but it is the perfect accompaniment to rich foods.
The main course followed. Mesquite grilled lamb rack and Manchester farms quail breast, mashed sweet potatoes and grilled Brussell sprouts in a bourbon chili glaze. Once again, fantastic! This dish was paired with two big red wines in very different styles. First we had Markham Petite Sirah 2004 from Napa Valley. This wine has matured in the bottle quite nicely from the last time I tried it back in 2008.
It’s rich and ripe and juicy. The second wine was De Toren Fusion V from Stellenbosch South Africa. George Miliotes is a big fan of South African wines and actually helped develop Indaba Chardonnay which Robert Parker ended up calling one of the best values in French style Chardonnay out there. De Toren Fusion V is one of the best wines out of South Africa. It is an amazing Bordeaux style blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. This is another small production producer, only 3,600 cases of the 750ml bottles were produced for 2007.
Last but not least were the “Mini Indulgences” see this quick 10 second video for a quick rundown because it’s much better than anything I could write!
The desserts were paired with Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2006. Say that 10 times really fast! According to George and most people in the know the 2006 vintage for Germany’s dessert wines is one of the best of the last 50 years. This wine was no exception, it was the perfect pairing for the indulgences.
After lunch I managed to get a one on one interview George Miliotes in the Chateau, the place where they keep the wines. See that video on the Weekly Wine Journal’s Youtube Channel HERE.
For more photos of the event, check out the Weekly Wine Journal’s Facebook page HERE
Interesting to see a new restaurant opening at Biltmore that’s not a Sam Fox creation. While FRC has been putting out quite a few different concepts, I’m glad to see a little differentiation coming to 24th & Camelback.
Two questions —
1) I didn’t see any reference to price points for any of the menu items (meals or wines). Can you give us some idea as to where the restaurant will place itself amongst its competitors price-wise, and whether you feel that it would be a good value for the price?
2) Re: the Mer Soleil Chardonnay paired with the wild salmon — how do you think the level of oak paired with the salmon? It’s been my experience that wild salmon can be a subtle and nuanced dish (and it sounds like that was the case given your review), how do you feel the oak balanced with the fish? I’d be especially curious to see what the “silver cap” Mer Soleil Chardonnay would do paired with the salmon — it’s unoaked, letting the fruit show through; and the fermentation in concrete vessels still gives it the round and complex mouth feel that would go well with the salmon.
Thanks for commenting! Price Points: The entrees are priced between $15 and $25 and the wines are between $6 and $18 a glass. The wine paring: The salmon was roasted on a cedar plank so it had a hint of wood to it which balanced nicely with the oak in the Mer Soleil. The Mer Soleil itself is well balanced and not over oaked. The interesting thing was George Miliotes had us try two completely different styles of wine with this dish. One was light and crisp with stainless steel treatment the other was Mer Soleil. He did that to show us the differences and also to let us decide which was the better pairing. I found the Mer Soliel to be the better pairing.