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Wine news from Wine Spectator
January 22nd, 2019

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.

Searing meat or poultry adds appealing color and flavors, but it also creates something else: those oils and crispy bits at the bottom of the pan. Too often neglected, the juices and particles left behind after a sear are an excellent way to lend depth to a dish, thanks to the French technique of deglazing, or adding liquid to a hot pan with browned bits in it, releasing them and infusing the dish with their concentrated flavor.

This recipe builds rich flavors in less than an hour. You’ll sear the chicken with the skin on to release those key components, deglaze the pan with the help of some of the wine you're drinking, and then remove the skin to avoid sogginess once the chicken is largely covered in the liquid, which is later reduced into a savory pan sauce. Kale, a green that’s sturdy enough to stand up to prolonged heat, helps take this from a simple chicken preparation to a nutritious one-pot dinner. You can also serve this with plain white rice or noodles to soak up the sauce.

For the wine pairing, I looked for something with a medium body that would bring a little richness to the combo, but with enough freshness to play off the citrus in the dish. First I tried a Viognier from southern France, but my choice had a prominent floral character that I found distracting, as it didn't meld with the various components on the plate. Instead, I went for a Portuguese pick—Casa Santos Lima Lisboa White Colossal 2017—that showed bright fruit flavors but finished on a savory, creamy note, complementing both the acidic lemon and the umami of the chicken.

Since this hearty, healthy dish is simple enough to whip up on a weeknight, you can turn to it to keep you cozy—and fill your kitchen with intoxicating savory scents—all winter long.

Chicken Thighs with Pan Sauce, Lemon and Kale


Pair with a medium-bodied white such as Casa Santos Lima Lisboa White Colossal 2017 (88 points, $15).


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Approximate food costs: $20

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) chicken broth, or enough to cover all ingredients 3/4 of the way in a Dutch oven
  • 8 ounces kale, chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced and seeded

1. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven (or other heavy sauté pan or stockpot) over medium-low heat. Add garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes and thyme. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the garlic and shallots have softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Working in batches as needed to prevent overcrowding in the pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil, increase heat to medium-high and add chicken, skin-side down. Let chicken sear for 5 to 7 minutes until the skin is golden-brown. Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. (It will not be cooked through at this point.) For each batch, heat another tablespoon of olive oil before adding more chicken and repeating the remaining steps.

3. While the chicken is cooling, deglaze the pan by adding the wine to the Dutch oven and using a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape any stuck bits off the bottom. Add the chicken broth, eyeballing an amount that will cover the ingredients about three-quarters of the way once the chicken, kale and lemons are added. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Remove skin from cooled chicken and discard. Add the skinless chicken, kale and lemon slices to the pot. (If the chicken is completely submerged, use a ladle to remove broth as needed.) Cover and let simmer for 15 to 18 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a chicken thigh, away from the bone, registers 165 F.

4. Remove chicken and set aside. Discard lemon slices and let the liquid simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about one-third.

5. Serve the chicken with the kale, and spoon the pan sauce on top. Serves 4.

Posted: January 22, 2019, 4:00 pm

With chart-topping songs and a network of devoted fans across the United States, Carly Pearce, 28, is one of the leading ladies of country music right now. After nearly a decade of trying to "make it" in Nashville, the singer-songwriter notched a breakout hit in 2017 with her emotional ballad "Every Little Thing," leading to a record deal, touring gigs with Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, and an appearance in last year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

She followed her debut success with "Hide the Wine," a tune that introduced fans to her real-life love of wine. (The music video, featuring goblets of wine and bottles of Elouan—donated by the winery—drives the sentiment home.) "It's really funny," Pearce says. "I feel like something that fans are really latching onto is the fact that I drink wine!"

Between promoting her latest single, "Closer to You," gearing up to co-headline "The Way Back Tour" with vocalist Russell Dickerson (kicking off Jan. 24), and preparing for the release of her second album later this year, Pearce took some time to chat with assistant editor Lexi Williams about how she first got into wine, the bottles she keeps stocked on her tour bus, and that time she attempted blind-tasting with her band.

Wine Spectator: When did you first get into wine?
Carly Pearce: It's kind of funny. My mom was a huge wine drinker. When I came of age, I actually hated it and didn't understand why she loved it so much. I think it was a couple years into being of age, I found a strong liking [of] red wine, and it has been my drink of choice since I was probably 23 years old.

WS: Do you have any go-tos?
CP: I really like Cabernet; I tend to go for more California wines. I really like the more dry, full-bodied [wines], but I'll drink pretty much anything that's red.

If I'm just kind of drinking everyday, Conundrum is my go-to. I pretty much have that on my bus at all times—I think because I love Caymus so much, I found Conundrum, and it's a lot cheaper, which is great. For special occasions, I'm a Caymus girl, I'm a Silver Oak girl. Also, I really like Stag's Leap, and I really like Trilogy.

WS: Did your vinous interests inspire the song "Hide the Wine"?
CP: This is one of the very few on my album that I didn't write, shockingly. It was actually originally recorded by Little Big Town. I heard this song before I even had a record deal, and I freaked out over it, but I knew that Little Big Town was going to [record] it. Fast-forward to literally the day that their album came out: I had a record deal at this point and was looking for songs, and they didn't put it on their album … so I got it! I do believe that it was made for me.

WS: There's also a video of you and your band doing a blind tasting based on lyrics in the song. What was that like?
CP: My band, they're just hilarious, and it's fun to have winos on the bus. We thought it would be really funny because of the "Two-Buck Chuck, high-dollar good stuff" [line in the song] to just kind of figure out if we could really tell the difference between the two. But my photographer, who went and got all of the wine, ended up just buying all Two-Buck Chuck, so we thought we were drinking expensive wine at one point, but we weren't, which is just really funny.

WS: Do you have any other special wine memories?
CP: I fell in love this [past] year, with another country music artist [fiancé Michael Ray], and [on] our first date—I've actually never told this story!—he brought a bottle of Silver Oak to my house when he came over. That was kind of the bottle of wine that sparked our love.

WS: Did he know at the time that you were really into wine?
CP: Oh yes. Everybody who knows me knows that's the way to my heart!

WS: Why do you think your love of wine has become so well-known among your fans and others in the industry?
CP: [When] I was on tour with Blake Shelton at the beginning of 2018, he told me, "Find those things about you that are authentic and that people really resonate with." I think it's become a part of my brand that will stay. As I'm even writing songs for this next record, wine is in the lyrics.

WS: Do you think you'll get more involved in wine, beyond singing about it?
CP: I hope one day to partner with a wine company and come out with my own wine, maybe have my own vineyard like Kix Brooks. I genuinely want to learn more about wine, because it's something that I'm really passionate about and something that I love.

Posted: January 18, 2019, 7:00 pm

In the Northern Hemisphere right about now, winemakers are trimming, pruning and frost-proofing their vines, and hibernating their selves; south of the equator, veraison and the pesky birds and bugs that come with it are here, or will be soon.

But in one most unusual vineyard, the Carignan and Muscat grapes have reached peak ripeness, the pickers have pulled on their gloves and grabbed their shears, and the cellar hands have fired up their skiffs to transport the grape bins down the shore to the winery. It's mid-January, and harvest is just finishing up for Vin de Tahiti on the Rangiroa atoll in Tahiti, 3,100 miles from the nearest continent. This was a special vendange for the vineyard—the 50th harvest since it first began bearing fruit in 1999.

From the Mosel to Mendoza, virtually all winegrowing regions have winter dormancy, spring growth and fall harvest, but in the town of Avatoru, where the Cave de Tahiti is processing a successful harvest bounty, it's 83 F right now, and it will be 83 this time come July. Where there's endless summer, you can have two, sometimes even three, grape harvests per year (a phenomenon that can also occur in hotbeds of unusual viticulture like Brazil and India). "It’s so incredible to have a vineyard in such a place," longtime winemaker Sébastien Thépénier told Unfiltered via email.

Photos courtesy of Vin de Tahiti

Vin de TahitiVin de TahitiVin de TahitiVin de TahitiVin de TahitiVin de Tahiti

But for Vin de Tahiti (also called Domaine Dominique Auroy), it's not always clear skies and sunny days. Auroy, a French businessman, began experimenting with European cuttings in sites around French Polynesia in 1992; his team eventually planted own-rooted vines on Rangiroa and learned how to navigate the unique coral soil—the defining characteristic of the terroir, according to Thépénier. Today, the vineyard encompasses about 15 acres yielding 3,000 cases annually.

Every year, the start and length of harvest, which takes place every five to five-and-a-half months, is dependent on the unpredictable precipitation conditions that hit the island. Through vigorous pruning, Thépénier tricks the vines into brief dormancy and new growth after harvest, but the picking dates are always in flux, and there's no off-season. Still, the "biggest challenge" today is one familiar to vintners this side of paradise as well: conversion to organic, and now biodynamic, practices.

Looking toward round No. 51, Thépénier has introduced a fancy pneumatic press—and, he told Unfiltered, a new drink: the first cane-sugar rum made in Tahiti, which will be available only to in-person visitors. And upon learning that, Unfiltered checked our local weather ("freezing rain"), sighed, and searched "NYC to Tahiti flights tomorrow."


Australian Animal Antics: Tasmanian Winery Gets 'Seal' of Approval

Down Under, vintners know that surprise visits from wild animals—such as thirsty koalas and movie-spoofing Chris Hemsworths—are part of the outback's charm. But when one such visitor is a 550-pound sea dweller, it's understandable to be a little shocked, as workers at La Villa Wines in Spreyton, Tasmania, were when they were greeted by the sight of a seal lounging outside the winery on the morning of Jan. 2.

Courtesy of La Villa Wines
Flipper day

"When staff were arriving at 7:00 for work that morning, they encountered Mr. Seal on the driveway," said Gail Burns, who owns the winery with her husband, Marcus. The wayward critter is thought to have made its way from the ocean, swimming about 3 miles up the Mersey River and ambling another half-mile on land to its destination.

Courtesy of La Villa Wines
Cooldown

"It's pretty tough going to get where he was," Burns told Unfiltered. "We called Parks and Wildlife, and they came to assess the situation. They recommended to let him be, and that after a rest amongst the Pinot Grigio block he would find his way back to the river."

A nap in a vineyard followed by a nice swim? Sounds like Unfiltered's ideal Sunday afternoon.


Why Are Tesla Owners Pouring Red Wine All Over Their Car Seats?

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is credited for a lot of questionable ideas, but his most recent claim is something even Unfiltered could not have predicted. The Tesla CEO recently tweeted that the car seats in the Tesla Model 3—even those outfitted with the hot "Ultra White" interior upgrade—are extremely stain resistant, so much so that "you can spill red wine on the seats and just wipe it off." Now Tesla fanboys are putting that assertion to the test on their own brand-new cars, and recording it for all the Internet to see.

The first video came just one day after Musk's tweet. A Twitter user with the handle @TeslaAmit519 posted a video of himself drizzling a splash of Blackstone Merlot on his Tesla's pure-white passenger seat, hastily wiping away the wine with a paper towel, and revealing no stain in the aftermath; Tesla superfan Vincent Yu upped the ante by pouring not one, but two splashes of Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck Cabernet all over the seat of his luxury vehicle. But after a quick toweling, again, there was no sign of the spillage.

Twitter
Having fun on Twitter.

Of course, these videos are being met with the requisite, "Why would you have an open bottle of wine in your car in the first place?!" But as Yu tweet-splained to the haters, "It's a test of the stain-resistant level. It's a test [based] on Elon's statement," and Tesla stans made the videos to demonstrate its accuracy … and to demonstrate their unwavering trust in Elon Musk, of course.


Prosecco Protest Goes Viral, Prosecco Conquest Remains Unimpeded

Prosecco is everywhere, from bottomless boozy brunches to fine-dining pairing menus to Shake Shack milkshakes. But one Friulian eatery, which stands firmly in the latter camp of "love it or hate it," is mounting a lonely protest to speak truth to Prosecco power.

Osteria di Ramandolo, run by husband-and-wife owners Ilenia Vidoni and Pietro Greco, stopped serving Prosecco about a year ago, and now, the restaurant is agitating to get other businesses to dump the fizz as well. Over the holidays, the restaurant spread its message, along with a meme-friendly say-no-to-Prosecco logo, on social media, bringing publicity to its movement, dubbed "Locale Deprosecchizzato."

"As you know, about a year ago … we completely excluded Prosecco from our cellar to focus on promoting quality sparkling wines produced in our region," slams a translated post on the business' Facebook page, which continues, "those who do our job should not only sell what is fashionable, but also have the task of communicating their territory and its excellence."

Among the likes, comments and shares the Facebook post has racked up, reactions are misto. While some applauded the eatery for shedding light on other quality Italian bubblies, others were offended by the stance. So far, at least one other restaurant has hopped on board, but elsewhere the globale Prosecchitzzato proceeds apace.


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Posted: January 17, 2019, 10:00 pm

These Australian spots span the culinary spectrum, from classic Italian plates to creative preparations of kangaroo, but they share a common thread. Each holds a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award for a carefully curated wine list, and together they represent some of the country’s best collections. Discover 12 eateries Down Under with well-rounded wine lists that champion Australia’s renowned regions. All prices are listed here in U.S. dollars.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel
Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel gives guests a peek at their 30,000-bottle cellar through a glass enclosure.

WICKENS AT ROYAL MAIL HOTEL
A wine destination worth the detour
98 Parker St., Dunkeld, Victoria, Australia
(61) 3-5577-2241
www.royalmail.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday to Sunday

Grand Award
Wine list selections 3,000
Inventory 30,000
Wine strengths Wine lovers flock here for the comprehensive program that excels in Australia, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Spain, the Rhône, Italy and Germany. Guests can make their selection from the list or choose from several wine pairings. The starting prices for the five-course menu are a standard pairing for $90, the Australian pairing for $97 or the French pairing for $180.
Recent rebranding Formerly sharing a name with the hotel, the restaurant is now named after executive chef Robin Wickens and boasts a new space with views of the surrounding mountains of Grampians National Park.
Cuisine Wickens presents regional dishes through various tasting menus that change daily, ranging from five courses for $123 and eight courses for $140 to a chef’s-table experience for $162. The 2017 renovations also brought a stronger connection between the cuisine and its source, with at least 80 percent of the restaurant’s produce now coming from the hotel garden.
Distinct experiences The restaurant offers sommelier-guided tours of the cellar with comparative tastings and bottles from the collection available for purchase. The wine list provides special tasting opportunities as well: Premium labels available by the glass include Penfolds Shiraz South Australia Grange and Dominique Laurent.


Bacchus
Bacchus’ dining room is as chic as the outdoor pool area.

BACCHUS
Enjoy a global wine list poolside
9 Glenelg St., South Bank, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
(61) 7-3364-0870
www.bacchussouthbank.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 610
Inventory 3,000
Wine strengths Head sommelier Andrew Giblin views his list as a tour of the world’s great wine regions. The program covers Old and New World labels from international producers but focuses on Australian picks, showcasing names like Grosset, Torbreck and Kaesler. Italy and France (especially Burgundy and Champagne) also stand out.
Unexpected selections Rounding out the classic wine regions are lesser-known names like Japan’s Grace Winery and Uruguay’s Viñedo de los Vientos.
Cuisine Chef Massimo Speroni serves creative takes on seasonal Australian cuisine, like a starter of 24 hour–cooked tongue with char-grilled avocado and white balsalmic gel. There’s also a variety of pastas and entrées with regional ingredients, including kangaroo.
Indoor-outdoor experience Bacchus is set on the Brisbane River but features a waterfront view of its own in the glamorous poolside area. The space is in addition to an indoor dining room with a warm, modern look by Los Angeles designer Tracy Beckmann.


Black Bar & Grill
Black Bar & Grill's chef brings international influence to the steak-house menu.

BLACK BAR & GRILL
A stylish Sydney steak house
The Star, 80 Pyrmont St., Sydney, Australia
(61) 2-9777-9109
www.star.com.au/sydney/eat-and-drink/signature-dining/black-bar-and-grill
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,200
Inventory 5,000
Wine strengths Australia and Burgundy make up the bulk of the wine program, which also excels in Champagne and New Zealand. Nearly 50 wines are available by the glass, including 12 premium pours by Coravin.
Cuisine Chef Dany Karam was born in Lebanon, where he trained for five years before working in France and eventually settling in Australia. Karam brings this global perspective to Black Bar & Grill, spicing up the steak-house menu with starters like kingfish sashimi with horseradish cream and sides like fattoush salad with pomegranate molasses.
Guiding guests Head sommelier Addy Lam provides valuable descriptions and context throughout the list, like background on benchmark producers, grape variety origins and full-page wine region maps.
Australian champion Designated sections spotlight domestic producers such as Brokenwood and Cambrien, listing several vintages of each, accompanied by background information on the region and labels.


The Crafers Hotel
A love of French wine drives the wine list at the Crafers Hotel.

THE CRAFERS HOTEL
A regional restaurant in a historic hotel
8 Main St., Crafers, Australia
(61) 8-8339-2050
www.crafershotel.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,885
Inventory 14,000
Wine strengths Overseen by wine director Jonathan Brook, the program emphasizes Australian wines and boasts an extensive French collection. The most impressive sections include Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire and Champagne.
Propelled by passion Owners Ed Peter, Julie Peter and Brett Matthews have a particular affinity for French wines and supplement the restaurant’s list with picks from their personal collections. The wine team also selects a “Winery of the Month” to showcase South Australian producers they’re excited about.
Easy to enjoy The Crafers Hotel’s “Big Book of Wine” includes maps, tasting notes and contextual tidbits on the selections. In addition to the full wine list, there’s an abbreviated “Little Book of Wine,” with by-the-glass selections and approchable, value-driven bottles.
Cuisine Chef Stephane Brizard works with locally sourced ingredients on the regional menu, creating dishes that are distinct yet familiar. For example, the fresh market fish is served with olive dust and saffron pommes fondantes, and the chicken Parmigiana is made with ham and verjuice vinaigrette.


Golden Century Seafood Restaurant
The wine program at Golden Century Seafood Restaurant complements dishes like sliced live abalone.

GOLDEN CENTURY SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Local go-to for live seafood and fine wine
393-399 Sussex St., Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
(61) 2-9212-3901
www.goldencentury.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 590
Inventory 5,000
Wine strengths Golden Century Seafood Restaurant is open until 4 a.m., so there’s plenty of time to enjoy owner and wine director Eric Wong’s outstanding list. His selections are strongest in Australia, Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Cuisine Chef Ho Li’s extensive Asian menu focuses on Chinese cuisine. Li is also the chef at another Best of Award of Excellence winner owned by Wong, the Century.
As fresh as it gets One of the restaurant’s biggest draws is its selection of live seafood that goes far beyond basics like crab and lobster. Dine on daily catches like prawn, perch, scallop and more, and choose the preparation style from options like steamed, braised and pan-fried with gravy.
Accentuating an icon Peruse the lengthy collection of labels from Australia's Penfolds, including more than 40 vintages of Grange and 15 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia Bin 707.


Jonah’s Restaurant
Jonah’s Restaurant serves up seasonal cuisine by the ocean.

JONAH’S RESTAURANT
Outstanding wines at an intimate retreat
Jonah’s Boutique Hotel, 69 Bynya Road, Whale Beach, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
(61) 2-9974-5599
www.jonahs.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,710
Inventory 12,500
Wine strengths Open since 1929, Jonah’s Restaurant relies on longstanding relationships with beverage suppliers for its extensive wine list. Wine director Niels Sluiman’s program excels in Australia, France (especially Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne), Italy and Germany.
Cuisine Straightforward dishes keep the spotlight on local ingredients and chef Matteo Zamboni’s technique. The seasonal Australian menu offers items like seared pork belly, mushroom risotto and wild-caught fish with herbs, lemon and brown butter.
Associated spot Owner Peter Montgomery also owns Award of Excellence winner the Flooded Gums Restaurant in Bonville, Australia, several hundred miles up the coast. Sluiman is in charge of the wine program there too, which has 250 selections and an Australian focus.
Breathtaking beach views With floor-to-ceiling windows and a white-washed aesthetic, the restaurant has a beachy yet modern feel. The dining room overlooks the clear waters and rocky coast of Whale Beach. For guests seeking an even better view, there’s an outdoor terrace with a menu of light bites and shareable small plates.


Masani Italian Dining & Terrace
Daughter-father team Kara and Richard Maisano work together at Masani Italian Dining & Terrace.

MASANI ITALIAN DINING & TERRACE
Traditional Italian eats on the outskirts of Melbourne
313 Drummond St., Carlton, Victoria, Australia
(61) 3-9347-5610
www.masani.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 630
Inventory 7,100
Cuisine Chef-owner Richard Maisano trained in Switzerland and Italy before opening Masani in 1983. He’s known for his from-scratch Italian fare honoring both his roots and the region, particularly handmade pastas and wild game specialties.
Well-established setting The restaurant's Victorian-style building dates to the 1880s, and the dining room conveys a sense of classic European comfort, with exposed brick walls and a fireplace.
Wine strengths Maisano’s daughter, Kara, is the restaurant’s wine director. Her program covers a broad range of Italian regions and shows similar strength in Australian and French labels.
Accessible tasting The “Gusti da Masani” menu consists of five special courses for just $58 per person, or $105 with wine pairings. This value is reflected on the moderately priced wine list, which has 19 wines by the glass and 60 half-bottles.


Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth
Perth is one of three locations of Rockpool Bar & Grill.

ROCKPOOL BAR & GRILL PERTH
Beyond your basic steak house
Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Victoria Park, Perth, Australia
(61) 8-6252-1900
www.rockpoolbarandgrill.com.au/perth/home/
Open for lunch, Sunday to Friday and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 2,445
Inventory 12,000
Wine strengths Head sommelier Andrew Symes emphasizes Australia on the wide-ranging list, with a heavy focus on Western Australia’s Margaret River region. The program also shines in classic regions around the world such as Burgundy, Italy, the Rhône, Bordeaux and Champagne.
Domestic depth The wine list is peppered with strong verticals, particularly from Australia. Highlights include eight vintages of Grosset Riesling Clare Valley Polish Hill, 10 vintages of Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River, and eight vintages of Mount Mary Quintet Yarra Valley.
Cuisine Chef Dan Masters’ lengthy menu extends beyond traditional steak-house offerings with pastas, regional entrées and more. In the dining room, the open kitchen provides a peek at the dry-aged cuts from Australian farms cooking on the wood-fired grill.
Part of the family Rockpool Bar & Grill has another Best of Award of Excellence–winning location in Sydney. Both restaurants are owned by Rockpool Dining Group, which also includes Best of Award of Excellence winners the Cut Bar & Grill, Jade Temple and Rosetta, and Award of Excellence winners Saké Restaurant & Bar and Spice Temple.


The Source at MONA
The Source serves artfully plated food that rivals the pieces in the encompassing museum.

THE SOURCE AT MONA
Fine dining with an artsy edge
MONA, 655 Berriedale Road, Berriedale, Tasmania, Australia
(61) 3-6277-9904
www.mona.net.au/mona/restaurant
Open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday to Monday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,970
Inventory 20,000
Untraditional setting The Source is inside MONA, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art. Exhibits tend to be avant-garde, and that modern approach is reflected in the dining room. The glass-enclosed space features sleek table settings and wraparound views of the Derwent River.
On-site wine producer MONA is located at Moorilla winery, which was founded in 1947 and now has a partnership with the museum. The Source showcases the label on the opening page of the wine list, offering more than two dozen bottlings of sparkling, white and red wines.
Wine strengths A wide range of regions shine in wine director Pip Anderson’s program. Burgundy and Australia are the biggest standouts, followed by Germany, Champagne, Bordeaux and Spain.
Cuisine Chef Vince Trim combines regional ingredients, French technique and a hint of whimsy on the à-la-carte menu. Offerings change seasonally, but expect memorable dishes like wallaby with beetroot and hazelnuts and lamb collar with harissa and spelt.


Harvard Wang
Vue de Monde serves an extensive wine list in a modern setting.

VUE DE MONDE
A sky-high, time-tested concept
Rialto Tower, 525 Collins St., Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
(61) 3-9691-3888
www.vuedemonde.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,800
Inventory 12,000
Evolving concept Shannon Bennett opened Vue de Monde in 2000, when he was just 24 years old. The restaurant has relocated several times since then, most recently to the 55th floor of the Rialto building.
Contemporary space Diners can now peer out at panoramic views of Melbourne and beyond. The dramatic room is adorned with modern details like fur-lined chairs and illuminated art.
Cuisine Chef Justin James' cuisine has also evolved. Vue de Monde opened as a classic French restaurant and has shifted to a more locally-focused menu that aims to celebrate the bounty of nearby growers. The prix-fixe menus vary but typically offer about 15 courses, priced at either $197 for the seasonal tasting or $222 for the chef’s tasting.
Wine strengths The wine program reflects the menu’s local focus with an outstanding Australian collection. Head sommelier Carlos Simoes Santos also provides an extensive selection of French wines, with highlights in Burgundy, Champagne and Bordeaux.


Doot Doot Doot
Doot Doot Doot creates a memorable experience with its fun name and dramatic dining room.

DOOT DOOT DOOT
A tasting-menu spot with vineyard views
Jackalope Hotel, 166 Balnarring Road, Melbourne, Australia
(61) 3-5931-2500
www.jackalopehotels.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 250
Inventory 1,000
Local focus Doot Doot Doot overlooks Willow Creek Vineyard in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula wine region. The restaurant aims to highlight the bounty in its backyard through carefully sourced ingredients and a wine list emphasizing small producers as well as the on-site vineyard.
Wine strengths The restaurant has a playful name but a serious, Australian-focused wine program, run by head sommelier Susei Ko. The list mostly offers wines from vineyards that are the same size or smaller than Willow Creek Vineyard, which is 27 acres.
Cuisine The five-course tasting costs $80, with wine pairings for an additional $144. Chef Elliott Pinn helms the kitchen, serving a constantly-evolving menu of dishes like prawn with summer peas and cod with sweet potato, radish pods and spiced tomato.
Luxury among the vines The encompassing Jackalope Hotel is a destination itself, with contemporary art installations and sculptural pieces throughout the property. Most of the 45 rooms and suites overlook the surrounding vines.


Ezard
Guests can choose their own adventure at Ezard, with several kinds of menus available.

EZARD
Melbourne hot spot with a flexible format
187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Australia
(61) 3-9639-6811
www.ezard.com.au
Open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 330
Inventory 1,550
Cuisine Chef-owner Teage Ezard helped establish Flinders Lane as the dining hub it is today. At his eponymous restaurant, he treats Australia-grown ingredients with Asian techniques on the refined yet moderately priced menu.
Wine strengths Sommelier Brendan Bennett manages the wine program, which is strongest in Australia. The list also impresses in France, particularly Burgundy, where you’ll find prized bottlings from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leflaive and more.
Customizable meal In addition to the standard à-la-carte menu, Ezard offers five- and eight-course tasting menus with optional beverage pairings. Monday through Friday, during lunch, guests can take advantage of “Ezard 45,” a 45-minute meal of two courses and a glass of wine for AUS$45 (about $33).


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Posted: January 17, 2019, 3:30 pm

1919 Restaurant brings a classic fine-dining feel to a waterfront space on the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Set in the luxurious Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, the dining room offers stunning sights of the ocean, but guests can also take in the view of a floor-to-ceiling glass cellar. Inside is some of the restaurant’s 1,495-bottle inventory that supplies the 330-selection wine list, overseen by director of food and beverage Danisael Walker. The well-balanced, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence–winning program is strongest in California, France and Spain, but offers plenty of interesting picks from regions around the world such as Hungary, Portugal and Argentina. Chef Juan José Cuevas serves eclectic American plates, from small dishes like organic local beet salad and a trio of crudos to grilled meats with delectable add-ons like potato churros. A four-course prix-fixe option is available for $75 per person, with “classic” wine pairings for an additional $72 and “prestige” wine pairings for an additional $120.

Posted: January 17, 2019, 3:00 pm
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