Tuesday, August 15, 2006

IDAHO--More Than Just potatoes

In my neverending quest for the next up-and-coming wine region, I sauntered into Charlie Palmer Steak DC this evening to see what's cookin' with their all-American wine program.

Charlie Palmer Steak DC has an interesting mix of wines--all from the United States. Their goal is to have one wine from each of the 50 states on their menu---however, certain state and local regs prevent some wineries from exporting outside their state boundaries. So far, they have amassed wines from 40 different states...and the last 10 are apparently more difficult to acquire. Don't even get me started on the whole three-tier system and how wholesalers bottle-neck small artesian producers from selling their wares outside state lines. That is a story for another day...

I had been reading about wines from Idaho in various online and print wine media. So far, the press seems encouraging. And why not? The climate for some of the vineyards mirrors that of the great Columbia Valley in Washington State. Consumers don't seem to turn their noses up at Washington State wines, so Idaho wines might be just as good, right? Anyone else have a comment on this?

I parked myself at the bar and started chatting it up with one of the bartenders. My visit to CP Steak was not necessarily just for fun--I was doing some research for a wine bar article I am writing for Where Magazine's Dining Guide.

After I studied the mammoth wine list, Nadine Brown, CP Steak's Sommelier, came over to chat me up. She explained their program and the difficulty in sourcing some of the wines. I asked her to note a few favorites, which included great choices from California, Washington and Oregon, plus a little beauty from Idaho--the Sawtooth Winery Syrah from the Snake River Valley. "It's an incredible wine. We sell quite a bit," she exclaimed.

Sounds good to me. Send it over.

HOLY MOLY. This is some tasty stuff. Did I mention it's from IDAHO?

Sawtooth Winery Syrah 2002, Snake River Valley, Idaho--rich and brooding, with notes of ripe black fruits, chocolate, cedar and a touch of vanilla and earth. An explosion of black currant and chocolate on the palate. Medium body. Velvety texture. Lingering finish of black fruits. A stellar companion to CP Steak's Wagyu Sirloin, which also happens to be sourced from the Snake River Valley.

Try that combo for an unusual pairing of place with place.

Images from charliepalmer.com and sawtoothwinery.com


Amanda said...

Any other random states you'll go try at CP? I'm curious about places like Alaska and Arizona - though I guess they've already passed for the Wine Wednesdays deal.

Andrew said...

You know I always want to try random wines! At a previous visit I tried a Cab Franc from Sakonnet Vineyards of Rhode Island. Pretty decent.

I def want to try the wines from Alaska and Arizona. I hear wines from Arizona are quite decent as well...much like their neighbors from New Mexico, which are stunning. Its all about the high altitude vineyards and cool night temperatures which contribute to growing quality fruit in spots we often think of as deserts. Heck Mendoza, Argentina is practically a desert and we know they make quality wines.

Abby said...

Any suggestions of stores in the District that might carry unusual varieties like this?

Anonymous said...

Sounds great! Can you please provide an idea on the price of the wine at Charlie Palmer, please? thanks!