wine event

Original Taste to benefit Arizona charities April 2nd 2011

Original taste scottsdaleThis Saturday night the Scottsdale Waterfront will play host to one of valley’s signature charity events.

“The Original Taste,” will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2011 from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, and other children’s based charities supported by Executive Council Charities.

Attendees of “The Original Taste” will have the opportunity to discover flavors from around the globe that are available at some of Metropolitan Phoenix’s finest dining establishments. Over 40 of the Valley’s most recognizable restaurants will be showcasing their talents and over 70 varieties of wine and spirits from around the world will be available to sample.

Tickets are priced at $100 (General Admission) and $200 (VIP access) if purchased before March 1, or $150 (General Admission) and $250 (VIP access) between March 1 and the evening of the event.  Information regarding sponsorship opportunities is also available on “The Original Taste” website.

In addition, the after party, known as “Late Night” will be held immediately following “The Original Taste.”  Pricing for “Late Night” will be $25 (General Admission) or $100 (VIP access) and can also be purchased (independently of The Original Taste tickets) on The Original Taste website.

scottsdale wine tasting“We’re incredibly excited to hold this event on a Saturday night at the Scottsdale Waterfront as it allows us to draw from the thousands of individuals who head to Old Town Scottsdale each weekend,” said EC70’s Dane Fernandes, Chairman of The Original Taste.  “Those who would typically dine at a nearby restaurant can experience a vast array of food and beverage options.  Plus, ‘Late Night’ will present a unique, one-of-a-kind experience.  Ultimately, these events give us an opportunity to raise more money for the children of Arizona.”

For tickets and more information regarding “The Original Taste” and “Late Night,” visit the Original Taste WEBSITE

Updated LIST of participating restaurants

Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour | Scottsdale 2011

Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour Hits Scottsdale, February 7-11, 2011Paso Robles Tasting tour

Signature Event Series with Marquee Grand Tasting, Featuring 30 California Winemakers.

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) – Thanks to a growing number of sophisticated wine enthusiasts in the Valley, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance has targeted Scottsdale and the greater Phoenix metro area to kick-off its 2011 Grand Tasting Tour. Part and parcel of a fiercely expanding local culinary scene in the Valley, the group of Paso Robles, Calif, winemakers will showcase their wines through a series of winemaker dinners, a marquee Grand Tasting event, and special tasting opportunities at area retailers. This ‘Paso Robles Wine Week’ is set for February 7-11, when over 30 winemakers, winery owners, and tourism representatives converge on the Valley to express the flavor and personality of the Paso Robles wine region.

red wine colorThe most attended event will take place on Wednesday, February 9, with a marquee Grand Tasting at El Chorro Lodge from 6 – 8 p.m.  This is a rare opportunity to meet and mingle with all of the traveling winemakers under one roof – the likes of winemaking legends Robert Hall, Gary Eberle, and Vic Roberts of the acclaimed Victor Hugo Winery, as well as many more, are all scheduled to attend. El Chorro Lodge will showcase their culinary delights alongside unlimited tastes of over 100 wines. Tickets are $55 per person and include unlimited tastings and an array of gourmet appetizers that include pork sliders, a bruschetta bar, and imported meats. Wine enthusiasts are encouraged to visit for a list of participating wineries and to purchase tickets.

Prior to the Grand Tasting, two nights of wine dinners will showcase multiple Paso Robles brands along with meals prepared by local chefs. On Monday, February 7 and Tuesday, February 8, multi-course, wine-paired dinners will take place at restaurants 5th & Wine, Rancho Pinot, Petite Maison, and Cowboy Ciao. During each dinner, the celebrity winemakers and chefs will explain the inspiration behind the pairings. Rancho Pinot Chef/Owner Chrysa Robertson, for instance, is looking forward to complementing her simple, comfort food style of cooking with these elegant and often non-traditional wines. One other dinner, on Tuesday, February 8, will come with a twist—taking place at Big Daddy’s BBQ, Paso Robles wine will be paired with platters of smoky barbecue and served on picnic tables in the backyard-themed restaurant.

“There’s an event for every budget and level of wine enthusiasm,” says Wine Alliance Executive Director Stacie Jacob. “We want everyone to experience these wines and meet the personalities behind the label. Enthusiasts can join Paso Robles in a variety of places: an intimate restaurant setting, at your local retailers, or a walk around tasting showcasing all that Paso Robles has to offer.”

Paso Robles Wine Week continues on the evening of Thursday, February 10 when Chef James Porter of French bistro, Petite Maison, plugs the region’s wines into his popular “Staff Meal” (a late-night menu of fun, often lower-brow fare). Chef Porter is planning a “wine late-night” where he plans on “inviting a few of the winemakers into the kitchen to see if they can plate tartar as well as they grow grapes,” Porter quipped.

To purchase tickets for the Grand Tasting on Wednesday, February 9, visit or call
800-549-WINE. Wine dinner reservations can be made directly at each individual restaurant.

Morton’s and the Mondavi families, celebrating the legendary blend

This past Thursday, October 7th I was invited to a very special event 27 liter bottle of wineheld at Morton’s the steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation. But the event was much bigger than just the Scottsdale location.  The main event was actually held at the  Charles Krug Winery Carriage House in St. Helena, Napa Valley and was broadcast live in high definition to more than 50 Morton’s Steakhouses across the country.  3 generations of the Mondavi family were on hand including Michael, Marcia, Timothy, Marc, Peter Jr. and 96 year old Peter Sr.  The highlight of the evening was the wonderful speech that Peter Sr. gave.  He had a lot to say, but who wouldn’t given the enormous amount of experience.  He touched on many of the key points that us wine nerds have been talking about lately including the recent trend to higher alcohol.  He also talked about harvesting at night and cold fermentation back in 1937.  Peter Sr. still goes to work everyday and I was told that he drives to work every day in his ’86 El Dorado!  The big buzz pertaining to wine that evening was the unveiling of a 27 liter one-of-a-kind blend put together by the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Mondavi family.  Known as the legendary Primat, Siamo Insieme, “We are together”.  The wine is currently being auctioned by the Hart Davis Hart Wine Company through October 30th and is expected to fetch between $10,000 to $20,000 with  100% of the proceeds going to the Make a Wish Foundation.

There are a couple of  interesting features to a bottle of this size.  One is that the empty bottle itself is worth about $1,500.  Secondly,  due to the size this bottle will easily age for a minimum 25 years.  The enormous size means the wine is not as susceptible to temperature fluctuations or oxidation.  A lot of people are probably wondering how do you pour wine from a 125lb 3 foot tall bottle?  Well first you open it was a standard cork screw and then you can either use a custom pouring device designed by Peter Mondavi Jr. or you can use a siphon.

In addition to the legendary blend guests at each location were able to bid on a very special 3-pack of wine in a custom made wood carrying case, including Continuum, M by Michael Mondavi and Charles Krug Vintage Select Cabernet.

The evening started out with a



Morton's main dining room


reception in the main room featuring smoked salmon pizza, tenderloin crostinis and miniature crabcakes paired with Charles Krug 2009 sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley.  This wine is actually harvested at 3 different times to help bring out the different components.  Predominantly tropical fruit, pineapple pear and peach, this wine is quite well suited to being first to taste.  It retails for about $18 a bottle.

After the reception we were ushered into a private dinning room complete with a huge screen to view the festivities live from the winery.  The room had mahogany walls and reminded me of a cigar club.

The first course was an amazing salad consisting of Harvest greens, topped with Sea Bass and a roasted caper vinaigrette and paired with Isabel Mondavi’s 2008 Chardonnay from Carneros, Sonoma.  This Chardonnay comes in a Bordeaux style bottle which was the first indication of something different.  80% of this wine was barrel fermented in french oak and the remainder saw stainless steel fermentation, however this Chard is very light on the oak.  It retails for about $18 a bottle which I found to be quite amazing because of the tiny production, the 2007 vintage is only 400 cases!

Next up was the main course.


My kind of dinner!


For our main course, 3 glasses of wine were pre-poured and paired with a massive New York strip sirloin, baked sweet onions with Gruyère cheese, roasted tomato stuffed with leaf spinach and roasted Yukon gold potatoes.

The first wine was Continuum 2007 Napa valley.  This wine was stunning, it completely blew me away.  The ’07 Continuum is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18 % Petit Verdot.  Silky and smooth with Cherry and Currant and a hint of Anise.  This wine was rated 97 points by Wine Spectator and retails for $140.

The next wine was M, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Animo Vineyard, Napa Valley.This wine was very different from the first.  Quite young and intense, with an amazing explosion of chewy tannins and plummy fruit.  I enjoy young wines, but some people do not.  This wine could use a few more years of cellaring if you find big and bold too much for your palate.  For me it was just perfect.  Only 900 cases were made and the wine retails for about $175 a bottle.

The 3rd wine was Charles Krug 2006 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa.  This wine was the most approachable at this point in time.  The fruit was ripe and the tannins soft, predominately ripe cherry and plum.  A little over 1,800 cases of this wine were made, and it retails for about $70 a bottle.

For dessert we were served Cappuccino cream.  A nice big cup of thick mouse like cappuccino topped with an ample amount of whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings.  This was paired with Charles Krug Zinfandel Port, Lot XIII from Napa Valley. Only 700 cases of the 375ml bottles were made, so this was quite a nice little rarity.  This is a very nice port, rich smooth, very little in the way of alcoholic heat even thought the alcohol weighs in at around 18%.  Delicious, but take small sips, it is potent!

Throughout the evening we watched pre-recorded as well as live interviews with the members of the Mondavi family and were treated to some wonderful musical performances.  There was a segment on the making of the 27 liter bottle of wine where the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Mondavi family were sitting in the wine cellar sipping sniffing and taking notes and discussing the blend.

Meanwhile back in Scottsdale, the guests were well taken care of by the attentive staff at Morton’s.  Unfortunately, the evening seemed to end too soon, but it was already 8pm and it was a Thursday night.  Although I very nearly convinced some of the other guests to make an all-nighter out of it.  Maybe next time.