Cheers - September, 2015

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 40 of 51 American cabernet sauvignon and merlot still take up a fair amount of real estate on the average wine list. But there are plenty of domestic reds that deserve more attention. For instance, Benjamin Rogers, dining room manager for The Promontory restaurant in Chicago, views zinfandel, a truly native varietal, as "an oft-maligned grape I'm happy to advocate for." Though zinfandel can be seen as highly spirited and over-the-top in its intensity, Rogers has a few picks that show guests the range that well-made bottles can display. One is the 2012 Hi-Rollr Red from Mendocino's Yorkville Cellars, which he prices at $39 a bottle and describes as "playful and approachable." Another choice is the 2010 Alex Cooper project from Doug Rafanelli Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley ($75 a bottle), which Rogers says is more masculine with leather notes. PLEASING PINOT Thought pinot noir has become more popular, it's still often viewed as an alternative to the more conventional cab and merlot. Nicole Bernard, assistant restaurant manager Vinifera restaurant at the Westin Hotel in Reston, VA, can check off several reasons why it should be front and center. "Other than the diversity of the wine and its ability to pair extremely well with myriad dishes, the wine can please nearly any palate," Bernard says. American pinot styles can vary wildly, though, from the restrained, earthy, Burgundian variety, to those that are more intense, fruity, tannic and fuller bodied. The 2012 Sineann Resonance Vineyard pinot noir from Yamhill-Carlton in Oregon's Willamette Valley ($108 a bottle) veers toward the latter style, Bernard notes. The wine's dark, rich, complex and palate-coating notes pair well with seared venison, warm lentil sauté or slow-seared duck breast and paella. Andy Wedge, manager/sommelier at Husk in Nashville, touts a pinot noir from New York's Finger Lakes, the 2013 Forge Cellars "Les Allies" pinot noir. The 108-seat restaurant prices the wine at $70 a bottle. "A very light, amazingly unique pinot noir that is both fresh and funky at the same time," he notes. "Tart red raspberry, cherry and cranberry are balanced by forest fl oor earth and mushroom," a perfect match for pit- roasted chicken with zucchini and cream sauce. SYRAH SHOWS STRENGTH After cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir is by far the most popular red American varietal on the 2,700-bottle Pinot noir is by far the most popular red American vari- etal on the 2,700-bottle wine list at Commander's Palace in New Orleans, but syrah is gaining ground. (Right) Nicole Bernard, assistant restaurant manager Vinifera at the Westin Hotel in Reston, VA, believes the diverse and food-friendly pinot noir "can please nearly any palate."

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