I have declared that 2016 will be a year of increased discovery for me. I like to think that I experiment with new places to eat and new options in my glass, but the truth is that it’s so easy to get caught up in eating at the same restaurants and buying the same wine for convenience and comfort that new discoveries don’t happen as much as they should. That’s about to change.
A recent wine dinner at the new Ruth’s Chris location near The Crescent and Ritz-Carlton in uptown paired with boutique wines from Dallas distributor Redoux Wines gave me an early jump on my resolution.
The Ruth’s Chris location was a bit difficult to find at first, located on the ground floor of the Miro, a new residential complex, at 1900 Cedar Springs, but now that we know where it is, we will be back. The steakhouse decor struck a perfect balance between upscale yet comfortable, a perfect match with the vibrant young professional residential community developing around it. The food was as perfectly prepared and presented by chef Willie Singleton and the service was attentive and helpful. I can see this location being equally appropriate for impressive client entertainment as it would be a fun after work hangout. The most surprising discovery? The $8 Swizzle, Sizzle an Swirl Happy Hour includes an amazing variety of imaginative appetizers, inventive cocktails and appropriate wines, each for $8 from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm Sunday through Friday. An avid supporter of boutique wines with a wine list that expresses that belief, Ruth’s Chris uptown is a a must-add to any Dallas dining bucket list.
It makes sense that Samuel Rickords of Redoux Wines has a soft spot for Ruth’s Chris. While he was working for the Ledson Winery in Sonoma Country, Samuel met and fell in love with his wife, Amanda, who is a Texas native. Their first date was at a Ruth’s Chris, beginning a relationship that led to their wedding and Samuel’s relocation to Dallas, where he and Amanda started Redoux. The Redoux book (wines they distribute to retailers and restaurants in Texas) includes smaller and boutique offerings hand-selected for quality and value to consumers, including Scarlett, Burt Street Cellars and Rust Ridge. You can find a list of retailers where you can find these wonderful options here: Redoux Enjoy at Home and restaurants where you might find them here: Redoux Enjoy Out.
The dinner started with a Chardonnay from Sojourn Cellars with Spicy Crispy Lobster. The Chardonnay was crisp and expressive with a floral, apple and ripe peach characteristics layered with bright acidity and hint of minerality, a perfect match match with the lightly spiced lobster.
The second course was a Saffron Veal Ravioli and the Burt Street Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. BSC wines are carefully created in small lots by winery founders Joshua Haberman, Jonathan Tyer and Timothy Skok. The Pinot Noir was a universal favorite of our group, with a beautiful clarity and ruby color and spicy cherry cola notes highlighted by a long and clear finish. The paired veal ravioli was also one of the food highlights of the evening, with a rich Osso Buco veal and topped with a white wine glaze.
Third on the list was a New Orleans BBQ Shrimp paired with a 2012 Rubrica Red from Portugal. The previous vintage of this red blend was the Wine Enthusiast #2 wine of the year for 2013 and this vintage came in at #9 on the 2014 list. A blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional, this consistent quality wine from consulting winemaker Luis Duarte carries with it the rich plum with red strawberry and spice in a soft feel.
The fourth course included a tenderloin skewer salad with the 2007 Rust Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon. Rust Ridge is located in Chiles Valley in the hills above the Napa floor and is both a winery and thoroughbred horse breeding farm. From this unique location, winemaker Susan Meyer and Jim Fresquez produce some of my favorite affordable, quality Napa wines. The Rust Ridge Cab is barrel aged 32 months, lending a wonderful smoky oak characteristic to the deep blackberry and black currant from the mountain fruit. The wine worked perfectly with the tenderloin in this salad.
The final course was chocolate cheesecake and dark chocolate bark served with a 2008 Robledo “El Rey” Lake Country Cabernet Sauvignon. I have never been a fan of pairing chocolate and red wine, I find the power of each fight with each other, so I tasted this wine first and then ended with the cheesecake after the wine. From a winery established by a migrant vineyard worker who worked his way up to ownership of 350 acres of vineyards in Sonoma, Napa and Lake Counties, the El Rey Lake County Cab is earthy with spice, ripe plum and raspberry fruit and a touch of cedar. Much like the Rust Ridge, this is a high quality offering at an affordable price.
At the conclusion of the pairings, Samuel brought out a bottle of 2013 Scarlett Cabernet to end the evening. From the McGah family and winemaker Mike Smith, Scarlett is beautiful wine with a label to match. Deep and dark, this cab is layered with blueberry, raspberry and a touch of iconic Rutherford dust. If this 2013 is drinking this well today, I can only imagine how fantastic it will be in a few years.