Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Dinner at Ruth's Chris
Any wine dinner held at acclaimed Ruth's Chris Steak House is guaranteed to be a great time, and this event held at the Scottsdale location was no exception. Award-winning Washington winery Chateau Ste. Michelle was the star, and Eric Hatch was on hand to represent Washington's oldest winery, located outside of Seattle. As he described the wines, he also talked about Washington's grape-growing industry. "Washington is one of the fastest growing wine regions, not only in the United States, but in the world. We have about 45,000 acres planted with grapes, and in the next 10 years they are planning on doubling that to 90,000 acres", he told us as Michelle Brut Rosé was poured to pair with the amuse of salmon tartare topped with salmon roe.
"This sparkling rosé is made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grown in the Columbia valley where they have a really cool growing area. It is made through 100% méthode champenoise, which is the traditional champagne method, and this is probably one of the more incredible values we have in our portfolio. It has a nice strawberry pop to it, great acidity, is refreshing and lends itself really well to the salmon."
Our next course paired Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc with a fresh apple, haricot verts, and shrimp salad. "When most people think of Sauvignon Blanc, they think of the grapefruity New Zealand style. Personally, I prefer the Washington Sauvignon Blanc. It’s unique because 60% of it is stainless steel fermented, which gives it a nice racy acidity, and 40% of it is barrel aged in neutral oak barrels. It almost drinks like chardonnay but it has a lot more acidity to it, a little bit more Bordeaux-like in style, and incredibly pairable with food."
As our third course - wild mushroom ragout - was set before us, Eric asked if there were any in the room who were not fans of merlot. As a few raised their hands, he promised that Northstar Merlot would convert them. Did it work? The non-merlot drinker at our table was the first to finish his glass. Eric explained why - "I like to call it a Cab-drinker’s Merlot. Merlots tends to be the more predominant grape in Washington whereas Cabernet is the driving force in Napa and Sonoma. Merlot thrives because we have 2 hours more of sunlight in eastern Washington, a longer growing day. It can also get hot in Washington during the summertime and as soon as that sun goes down, it cools off fast. The cool temperatures stop the ripening process and then it starts over the next day. The significance of that is you get these big, jammy, power-packed grapes.”
We had a special treat to pair with Ruth's Chris' signature filet served in sizzling butter and topped with a delicious bacon-shallot-coffee jam - the 2010 Artist Series Meritage. "One of my absolute favorite wines that I rarely get to enjoy is our Artist Series, which is at the top of our tier. It's our first wine we make every year and it gets the utmost personal attention; the crème de la crème of what we make. It's a Bordeaux-style blend, primarily Cabernet. The bottles change every year with a different artist. Tonight is the 2010 vintage, with a label designed by a gentleman named Ben Darby. We only make about 2000 cases of it and the fact that we are getting to drink this tonight is pretty darn cool. Thank you to the folks at Ruth's Chris for thinking this is a great idea, which I highly endorse because this sells out quickly."
Ruth's Chris knows how to entertain a crowd. We had a brief interlude before dessert for guests to win some wine-related raffle prizes.
Chateau Ste. Michelle is well-known for their Riesling, so their Harvest Select Sweet Riesling was the natural partner for a decadent finale of almond cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Eric explains, "This Harvest Select has more residual sugar, which makes it a perfect dessert wine", and we all agree.
To keep up to date with Ruth's Chris Steak House Scottsdale's wine dinners, visit the Event Calendar.
I was hosted by Ruth's Chris Steak House and this dinner was complimentary.