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The Capital Grille Offers: A Generous Pour

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

With locations across the country, The Capital Grille is offering a unique wine tasting opportunity - The Generous Pour. From July 12th - September 4th, 2011 you can enjoy 9 different wines from around the world with your meal for $25. In the Boston area there are a couple of additional events this month that conspire to make this offer even more compelling. More on that in a moment...

To kick off the event, Capital Grille locations invited bloggers and members of the media for a preview. Master Sommelier George Miliotes hosted the event via live simulcast and then answered questions via Twitter (you can follow him @TheWineExpert). Click on the image below to get a feel for the event:


The evening started out with a taste of hors d'oeuvres accompanied by a white sparkling wine from the Loire Valley - the Marquis de la Tour Cremant de Loire Brut. I'm not much of a sparkling wine drinker so for me the wine set the tone for the event. The wines chosen provide an opportunity to taste delicious, high quality wines you'll enjoy from categories you don't normally explore alongside wines you're likely more familiar with. I thought this wine was outstanding - clean crisp apple, melon, and peach. It accompanied the food amazingly. Highly recommended.

I asked George about his selection philosophy. Here's what he had to say...

Wellesley Wine Press: You have a knack for finding wines that appeal to wine enthusiasts interested in discovering delicious new wines without stretching too far out of their comfort zone. In a nutshell, what’s your philosophy for choosing wines by the glass for The Capital Grille or for events like this one?

George Miliotes: "For me, it is all about wines that are well-made and taste good.   As solid winemaking practices have spread around the globe, there is a greater pool of diverse and tasty wines to choose from.  We love to find areas or wines that are overlooked or underappreciated.  Hence, the Tarima Hill Monastrell is part of The Generous Pour Wine Event this year.  Monastrell is the greatest underappreciated red in the world today from a growing area (Alicante) that is barely known in Spain, let alone here in the US.   We feel privileged to introduce the wine to the U.S. while showing our guests something new and delicious."

From there we moved on to a dining room table for a sit-down appetizer course. Their Pan-Fried Calimari and Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella were served with a classic California Chardonnay (Chateau St. Jean) alongside a 2010 La Cana Albarino from Rias Baixas Spain.

Here too we see a characteristic of the event worth mentioning - comparison opportunities. While the California Chardonnay was rich and full-bodied, the Albarino revealed a clean palate-cleansing nature I appreciated. The Prosciutto was salty, and the Albarino accompanied it brilliantly. Green apples, mango, kiwi, and lemon-lime with soft edges yet apparent acid. quite nice:

From there we moved on to the main course for a choice of Filet Mignon, Salmon, or their Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Shallot Buttter. The first time I heard of a coffee-encrusted steak I was concerned it would be overly sweet. However, I've had this steak a half dozen times over the years and I can safely say it's the best treatment I've ever tasted. They offer the Kona rub on other cuts but I've found it plays best on the sirloin. Unconditionally recommended:

We had a taste of the red wines recommended for pairing with entree courses for the event. The 2009 Byron Santa Barbara Pinot Noir was deep red with a full mouthfeel. A little spice. Very good. Lots of people at the table really liked the wine.

The big dogs - two Cabernet Sauvignons - were the 2006 Chalk Hill Estate Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2003 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Bosche Rutherford (pronounced "bow-shea"). I thought the Chalk Hill was tasty but bright and a little young...especially compared to the 2003 Freemark Abbey which was a beautiful wine. At 8 years I thought the Freemark was drinking at its peak with rich, round fruit, a little leather and nice supporting structure. For pure enjoyment this was probably my wine of the night.

WWP: You’ve run a similar event the past couple years in the form of the Master Wine Tasting Event. What have you learned from putting together those lists that went into the wines selected for The Generous Pour Wine Event?

George Miliotes: "The main thing we learned is to have a fun mix of familiar and new wines that all taste really, really good.  For example, we aim to keep a Cabernet drinker interested with Freemark Abbey Cabernet Bosche 2003, but also give that drinker a chance to break out and try a Vistorta Merlot 2006 (from the Friuli region of Italy).  This way, every guest has the chance to experience the best of both worlds.

The other exciting thing that we have learned is that guests will enjoy any wine that tastes good, especially if our team educates them about it.  Two years ago, we introduced Bonarda (a popular red varietal in Argentina) to our guests.  We were sure we would sell minimal amounts.  To our surprise, that was not the case, as guests were more than excited about tasting this tannic red with our dry aged steaks.  As a result, each year I try to find something completely new or different."

Right behind these big reds were a couple of wines a little more off the beaten path. Like the 2006 Conte Brandolini Vistorta Merlot Friuli-Venezia Giulia. I thought it was distinctly old world yet still approachable.

Perhaps the most highly anticipated wine of the evening, based on George's earlier description of Monastrell as being the most under-appreciated grape variety in the world, was the 2009 Tarima Hill Monastrell from Alicante, Spain. Refreshingly fruit-forward after the Cabernets. Kind of reminded me of the 2008 Betts & Scholl Grenache I tried at the Wine Spectator event a couple months ago. I definitely need to try more Monastrell and Grenache.
The entrees were accompanied by Sauteed Spinach and Lobster Mac 'n Cheese. Every time I've been at a table where the Lobster Mac 'n Cheese was served it's the side that people seek out for seconds. It's ridiculously good.

Rounding out the evening along with dessert was RL Buller "The Portly Gentleman" from Australia. I'm not much of a port guy but I liked the way this one avoided the medicinal flavors sometimes present in Port and offered an interesting does of blueberry flavors which I enjoyed. The table was divided on their opinion of this wine.

I attended the event at the Capital Grille's Newbury Street location in Boston but this offer is available at locations across the country.

WWP: The Capital Grille has locations all over the country. What differences do you see in red vs. white wine consumption across those locations seasonally?

George Miliotes: "We certainly see red wine consumption go up when cold weather settles in, and there is a smaller movement towards white during the summer.  Our guests tend to gravitate towards reds, due to our dry aged steaks.   As one would think, there is plenty of white enjoyed at our West Coast locations, due to the higher temperatures and light dishes such as our fresh seafood."

Bottom Line: This event provides an opportunity to try wines you otherwise might not be willing to take a risk on at an affordable price point with excellent food and service.

Further Reading:
Next Steps

I mentioned that in Boston there are a couple of other events that coincide with this offer that make this year's Generous Pour even more compelling. The first is Boston Restaurant Week which runs August 14-19 and 21-26, 2011. According to http://www.restaurantweekboston.com the Chestnut Hill and Burlington locations are participating this year. Stack a three course meal for $33.11 along with this wine offer for $25 and you have one of the best bargains in steakhouse history.

A second compelling event is that the Newbury Street location is relocating to a new location nearby (900 Boylston Street in the Hynes Convention Center not far from Towne Stove & Spirits) on August 24th, 2011. Having celebrated so many special occasions at the current location I'm sad to see it go, but the new decked-out location is going to be twice as big with a bar area that opens onto the street for warm summer evenings. Stay tuned for more information on the new location but in the mean time take this opportunity to visit the classic Newbury Street restaurant one last time. It will be missed.

Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite Capital Grille memories? If you've never been, what are some of your favorite steakhouses in the country?

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