So, you’re looking for a place to go out for dinner and you’re thinking prime steak and generous pours of decent wine? Metro Phoenix has many great choices when it comes to steak and wine, and each establishment has their own niche and strong points. In this installment of “Wine about Town,” I visited The Capital Grille’s North Scottsdale location, conveniently located just off the Loop 101 Freeway at Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Scottsdale Road.
Located in the upscale Promenade shopping center, there is ample parking, but The Capital Grille also offers a valet service. Once inside, the ambiance is what you would expect from a high-end steakhouse: soft lighting, comfy booths and chairs and very relaxing. The setting was nice, but as most wine connoisseurs will tell you, it’s all about the wine… and we were there to check out the wine list.
The first thing to know about The Capital Grille is that they have two wine lists. They will offer the regular wine list first, which has many of the most popular American restaurant staples. If you ask (and don’t forget to ask!) they will bring “the big list.” The big list includes an impressive collection of over 350 wines, largely put together by Managing Partner Brian Schwartztrauber. While talking with Schwartztrauber, he described the list as personal—a reflection of not only what he thinks wine connoisseurs would like, but also what he enjoys and wants to share with his guests. At the very end of the list, I noticed a Screaming Eagle for a mere $3,000—I was hoping he would share that one!
In addition to Schwartztrauber’s selections, there are also offerings by Master Sommelier George Miliotes.
The Twitter link on The Capital Grille’s homepage takes you directly to Miliotes’ Twitter account, which is a very nice touch, as most businesses have someone else handle their social media accounts. After perusing the entire wine list, I noticed Fisher Vineyards 2006 Coach Insignia. I tweeted to George at 6:27 p.m. asking him what he knew about this wine. I was not expecting for him to respond because he is based out of Florida where it was about 9:30 p.m., plus he has over 6,500 followers to keep track of. I was pleasantly surprised when he responded right away, providing some background on the wine and we continued the conversation for a few more minutes. This really was the highlight of my evening—chatting in real time with George Miliotes, one of only 180 Master Sommeliers in the world, about the wine I was about to enjoy.
And I did enjoy the wine, very much.
The 2006 Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia is a blend of 98 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and two percent Malbec, both sourced from their Napa Valley Estate vineyard. The wine was whole-berry fermented and underwent in-barrel malolactic fermentation. It was exceptionally smooth, the acidity and tannins were well-behaved and it paired well with the filet mignon. I believe it would pair well with any prime steak. Only 1,400 cases of this wine were produced, so it was interesting to see it on the regular wine list.
Also interesting is the back story about Fisher Vineyards. Auto enthusiasts might recognize “Body by Fisher.” In the early twentieth century, Fisher produced car bodies, the carriages for General Motors. The small, red logo of a carriage on the Coach Insignia bottles is the old Fisher Coach logo, for which the family acquired the rights from General Motors and now uses on their flagship wine, “Coach Insignia.”
Even if you are unable to have a real time Twitter conversation with Miliotes, Schwartztrauber is very approachable, friendly and knowledgeable about wine. I suggest chatting with him about your wine selection, because he was intimately involved in creating the wine list.
Last, but not least, was dessert! I had the flourless chocolate cake. You may ask yourself, how can you make cake without flour and what the heck does it taste like? And why flourless? Some people, like me, are allergic to flour and wheat. It’s always nice to see gluten-free options on the menu. The chocolate cake was nice and thick, dense and quite substantial for a relatively small piece of cake. A nice ending to an enjoyable evening.
Article by Tim Hilcove, Photos by Devine Images