Tag Archives: wine

La Bocca, WEB

La Bocca Opens North Phoenix Location

La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar added another location last month to north Phoenix, where the restaurant offers a smaller, more intimate experience than its Mill Avenue location in Tempe.

Julian Wright of Fork & Dagger, a bar and restaurant development company, opened the north Phoenix location to tap into a market that is saturated with chain restaurants.

La Bocca offers a wine list with 100 choices stored in an on-site wine cellar. Mark Pope, who

Mediterranean Plate.

Mediterranean Plate.

worked the wine program at Boulders Resort in Carefree in the early 2000s, prepared the wine list at the new location. Pope and Wright trained the servers so that they could expertly suggest a wine from their eclectic list for whatever mood a customer is in. Pope is on the floor, too, making himself available to help out customers with their wine choices.

“What’s unique,” Wright said. “Is we’ve relied less on name brands and went with high quality wines.”

In order to make the wine really pop out there, La Bocca also uses Riedel Glassware for the wine, they make sure that the customer is given the right type of glass for the right type of wine.

“I learned the glass really makes the difference,” Wright said.

Sangria Blanco

Sangria Blanco

The expanded wine list and perfect glass isn’t the only thing different at the new La Bocca, the North Phoenix location looks different too, with a more rustic look and black and white photos emulating European fashion from the ’60s hanging on the walls.

The place is a throwback to the past, Wright says, along with the different interior the north location has an outdoor community patio with a fireplace.

“The place in general has a more sophisticated feel,” Wright said.

La Bocca in north Phoenix is going to be as linked with the local community as the Mill Avenue

location. Wright says that they’re outreaching to the local community and doing charity events with schools, too.

And the community is embracing La Bocca. Wright says it’s becoming the spot where neighbors bump into neighbors as cheers of greetings come from the customers as more fellow customers come on in through the door.

“A lot of them thank us for opening,” Wright said. “They like the new independent place in the area.”

167289661

Discover New Wines at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

In an effort to raise funds, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts will host a wine tasting event on June 23.

AJ’s Summer Wine Spectacular Tasting Event, which is in partnership with AJ’s Fine Foods, will feature 40 wines.  All of which are said to have been hand selected by AJ’’s “cellar masters.”

The wine will be complemented by gourmet food, and guests will receive recommendations on wine choice and food pairings.

The event will also feature live music and a silent auction offering wine and other items from AJ’s and its partners.

All proceeds will benefit the Scottsdale Center for Performing arts, a nonprofit organization.

167289661

Discover New Wines at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

In an effort to raise funds, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts will host a wine tasting event June 23.

AJ’s Summer Wine Spectacular Tasting Event, which is in partnership with AJ’s Fine Foods, will feature 40 wines, all of which are said to have been hand selected by AJ’s “cellar masters.”

The wine will be complemented by gourmet food, and guests will receive recommendations on wine choice and food pairings.

The event will also feature live music and a silent auction offering wine and other items from AJ’s and its partners.

All proceeds will benefit the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts, a nonprofit organization.

shops at esplanade

2 new restaurants opening at Esplanade

Cushman & Wakefield today announced the opening of two new restaurants at The Shops at Esplanade, located on the southeast corner of Camelback Road and 24th Street.  The new tenants are part of Esplanade owner, MetLife, and Cushman & Wakefield’s efforts to revitalize the property’s retail presence.

“We have worked diligently with MetLife to attract an exciting and successful blend of restaurants and retailers at the property that will suit this market,” said Jon Cowen, Senior Director at Cushman & Wakefield.  “The Camelback Corridor provides a fabulous market opportunity for the correct tenants and we’re pleased that ownership’s plan is coming to fruition.”

Pearl Live!, a Scottsdale–based company, will open a sushi restaurant with live entertainment.  Pearl Live! at the Esplanade will be the second sushi/entertainment concept for renowned restaurateur, Jimmy Carlin.  The Esplanade location will feature a large, outdoor patio, an indoor/outdoor bar, and live music.  Situated directly across from the Ritz Carlton, the space was previously occupied by Morton’s Steakhouse. Mr. Carlin plans to cater to the business lunch and happy hour crowds, but also provide an upscale venue at night.  Bob Tam, former corporate chef for PF Chang’s and current Director of Culinary Operations for Maven Hospitality Group (who recently opened The Strand Urban Italian in downtown Phoenix), will be responsible for the creation of Pearl Live!’s menu.  The approximate 7,977 square foot sushi restaurant is slated to open in May.

Solo Trattoria, a new concept from Chicago-based Gemstone Café Group, plans to open their doors at the Esplanade in mid February.  Brittany Harrison of Catalyst Commercial represented the tenant in this transaction, bringing the company’s first location to Arizona.  The Modern Italian restaurant leased approximately 2,555 square feet of space which was previously occupied by Picazzo’s Pizza.  Solo Trattoria, with its cozy and inviting ambiance, will feature fresh tasting Italian food, including Naples style thin crust pizza, authentic pastas, imported cheeses, and wine and beer.

Jon Cowen and Summer Jackson of Cushman & Wakefield serve as exclusive leasing agents for the Shops at Esplanade, while Larry Downey, Jerry Jacobs, and Michael Crystal lease the available office space for property owner MetLife.

Alcantara Vineyard and Winery

Northern Arizona Wineries: Alcantara Vineyard & Winery

Alcantara Vineyard & Winery is nestled in the hills outside of Cottonwood. The warm days and cooler nights allow for the creation of delicious wines and the perfect atmosphere to go on the vineyard tour.

Alcantara Vineyard & WineryBefore you even step inside the modern stucco house that serves as Alcantara’s tasting room and gift shop, you will hear the crooning of Frank Sinatra. The foyer of the house is bustling as is the sitting room and the kitchen. It feels more like a casual cocktail party where you can make yourself at home.

I pulled up a seat at the tasting bar and acquainted myself with the wine tasting list. With 16 wines to choose from, I read the descriptions carefully. It was difficult as the majority of the wine list catered to reds, and I love reds. Check out the wine list by visiting Alcantara’s website.

I tasted the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, and for a white wine I enjoyed it. It was a crisp, medium-bodied wine with hints of nectarine and pears.

Alcantara Vineyard & Winery

But I couldn’t wait to taste the reds! I tasted nearly the whole list, so I’ll just list my favorites.

The 2008 Syrah was clean with a taste of black berry and rose hips, a hint of violet and pepper. It was soft, yet weighty and definitely delicious.

The 2007 Meritage, a Bordeaux blend, was very dark, bold and spicy. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec grapes create a wine that exhibits dark cassis and currant flavors with hints of baking spices, lavender and soft tannins. This wine is blended beautifully.

But now I introduce you to the 2008 Petite Sirah, this wine was absolutely perfect to my palate. It was opaque, almost like ink. It was weighty and consumed the tongue in flavors of lavender, blackberry and spice combined with big tannins. All I wrote in the note box next to this wine on my tasting sheet was, “AMAZING!”

It had been quite a tour for my palette, but I still had the dessert wines to try. Normally dessert wines are not my favorite. They usually end up being too much like semi-sweetened white wine, but I fell in love with a dessert wine at Alcantara vineyards. The 2006 Late Harvest Semillon was sweet liquid gold as it flowed down my throat. It was sweet, but it was balanced with a crisp acidity and the flavors of orange blossom, honeycomb, honeysuckle and peach. It was a wonderful finish to a superb day of wine tasting.

Alcantara Vineyard & Winery

It is $10 for five tastings, including a souvenir wine glass, $15 for the VIP tasting that comes with a crystal goblet, and if you are lucky enough to make it to Alcantara Vineyard on Friday or Saturday you can opt to go on the vineyard tour for $18 which includes the tasting.

After the tasting, I spent some time on the outdoor patio enjoying the cool Cottonwood air and then walked around the vineyard looking at the bunches of grapes on the vine ripening for this year’s harvest. I happened to visit on a Sunday, so I missed out on the wine tour, but Alcantara Vineyard has a list of events coming up this fall and both at the vineyard and in Northern Arizona.


If You Go:

Alcantara Vineyard
7500 Alcantara Way, Verde Valley
(928) 649-8463
Daily: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

San Dominique Winery

Northern Arizona Wineries: San Dominique Winery

Napa, Napa, Napa! It’s all about Napa right? Not anymore. Napa Valley still has seniority in the wine game, but you won’t hear wine-ing laments from younger wineries in Northern Arizona. They stand very well on their own and have something a little bit different to bring to the wine enthusiast.

Recently, I took a trip to Northern Arizona to visit two of the 13 wineries on the Northern Arizona Wine Tour Map near Camp Verde and Cottonwood.

San Dominique Winery

My first stop was the San Dominique Winery also known as Garlic Paradise. Aside from my enjoyment of wine, I love garlic. I put it in or on just about everything I cook. I’ve even had the opportunity to taste garlic ice cream which was delicious, but sadly, is one of the only things not offered at Garlic Paradise.

San Dominique Winery is run out of a small shop by owner and cellar master, Bill Staltari. San Dominique Winery has the feel of an Italian general store with the products of Garlic Paradise lining the shelves and bottles of wine behind a big wooden counter.

The Wine
The wine tasting list offers 17 wines to taste, reds, whites and the specialty wines. There is also a separate list of “Specialty Private Reserves” that states “Serious Inquiries Only.” It’s only $10 for four tastings, and you get a souvenir glass. I am not sure if this includes wines off the private reserve list, but I doubt it.San Dominique Winery

I tried the 1998 Cabernet, 2005 Cabernet and Black Cherry reds, the Arizona Blush, the Muscato of Alexandria whites, and the three specialty wines, Hot Pepper wine, Amerita, and Almondino.

My favorite red was the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; it had a light spice, a hearty bouquet and a smooth finish — no wonder it is a Silver Medal winner. The Black Cherry wine was another favorite, it is a sweet summer wine made purely from black cherries — very fruity and rich.

But what really excited me was the list of specialty wines. The Amrita is an orange marsala dessert wine. It has flavors of honey and orange, and it’s not as sweet as expected. The Almondino was a rich and smooth almond-flavored, sherry-based wine. And lastly there was the hot pepper wine. This is not a dessert wine and even following the recommendation to “serve chilled” won’t cool it off! It’s a blend of Chenin Blanc and French Colombard grapes infused with hot pepper. If you buy a bottle, you get a complimentary recipe card that suggests how to use the wine to spice up your favorite dishes or that happy hour margarita.

San Dominique Winery

The Garlic
The amount of items that include garlic are incredible — BBQ rubs and sauces, pasta sauces, salad dressings, dipping oils, sandwich spreads and meat glazes. And even if you or someone you know doesn’t love garlic, there are a few items sans garlic worth a try. And if you can’t make it to San Dominique you can always order your favorites online at www.garlicparadise.com.

The Dinners
Staltari cooks up dinner’s right in his shop, and every three to five weeks on a Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. he hosts dinner for a group. The dinner is seven courses for a reasonable price.

“Don’t expect to rush away,” Staltari says. “It’s at least a three hour affair where you can relax and enjoy yourself.”

He has been doing these dinners for 18 years and enjoys hosting as much as the guests enjoy eating. If you are interested in the Sunday dinner, give your email address to San Dominique Winery, and you will be emailed a menu and date of the next dinner.

San Dominique Winery

Bill Staltari in his kitchen preparing to serve guests.

If You Go:

San Dominique Winery
I-17 & Cherry Road (Highway 169), Camp Verde
(602) 549-9787
Open Daily: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

Keep an eye out for these Arizona wineries opening soon.

Upcoming Arizona Wineries

Love wine? Like to try out new companies and products? You’re in luck, in addition to the wineries already open around Arizona the following wineries will be opening soon.

Northern Arizona

Clear Creek Vineyard & Winery
4053 E. Hwy 260, Camp Verde
(928) 567-2158


Sonoita/Elgin

Hannah’s Hill Vineyard & Winery
Elgin – visits by appointment only

San Pedro Valley Vineyard
Benson

Venado Cola Blanca
Patagonia
(520) 394-0239


Southeastern Arizona

Sierra Bonita Vineyard
Wilcox
(602) 202-5345

Broken Glass Vineyard and Winery Estates
WIlcox

Golden Rule Vineyards
Dragoon

Erath’s Cimarron Vineyard
Wilcox

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards
13771 Fountain Hills Blvd. Suite 360, Fountain Hills
(602) 320-1485

Gallifant Cellars
Wilcox

Odyssey Cellars
8401 Bell Ranch Rd., Wilcox

Regifting this holiday season

Regifting This Holiday Season

Ever get gift that’s too nice just to toss in the trash, but not something you would ever use? Most people have, that’s why regifting is so popular. This holiday season be prepared to receive plenty of regift-worthy gifts. AZNow.Biz created an infographic to let you know that you’re not alone when you regift that fruitcake or hideous sweater from grandma. What we found is quite interesting, including what region and what age group regift the most.

Re-gifting statistics


AJ’s Fine Foods Best of the Best 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Best of the Best Awards 2009: Entertainment

Entertainment Honoree: Wine Specialty Shops

AJ’s Fine Foods

AJ's Fine Foods - Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Photograph by Duane Darling

AJ’s Fine Foods provides an unparalleled shopping experience that delights the senses. As Arizona’s leading gourmet and specialty store, AJ’s offers the highest level of customer service and attention to detail. AJ’s Cellar Masters are on hand in every location to recommend new varietal experiences and to suggest the perfect wine to pair with a steak or fish dinner. Every year during the Summer Wine Spectacular, Cellar Masters personally taste, evaluate and rank more than 200 wines from around the world to bring only the best to AJ’s.

Owned and operated by Bashas’ Family of Stores, AJ’s operates 14 stores in Arizona. AJ’s has been voted Best Place to Work by its members three years in a row. For more information, visit www.ajsfinefoods.com.

22402 S. Basha Road, Chandler
480-895-9350
www.ajsfinefoods.com

Year Est: 1985 
Wine Tasting: At Desig. Locations
Principal(s): Bashas’ Family of Stores


Entertainment Finalist: Restaurants: Southwest/Eclectic

LON’s at the Hermosa

Built in the 1930s by cowboy artist Lon Megargee, LON’S at the Hermosa has a rich history and melds artful American cuisine and spectacular views to create a truly unique dining experience. LON’s diners can enjoy awardwinning, artful American cuisine on a romantic patio or by one of the glowing fireplaces. In addition to the warm ambience, LON’s is the proud recipient of the AAA Four-Diamond award. The menu at LON’s offers a memorable culinary experience, which captures spirit, creativity and warmth using bold flavors and compelling combinations that reflect a contemporary take on a multitude of foods originating in the Western Hemisphere.

5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley
602-955-7878
www.lons.com


Entertainment Finalist: Restaurants: International

T. Cook’s at Royal Palms

Under the direction of Executive Chef Lee Hillson, Royal Palms Resort and Spa features the awardwinning T. Cook’s restaurant — serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Located in the original 1929 mansion of the Royal Palms, it creates a residential dining experience that’s comfortable yet elegant. Enveloped by palm trees, citrus, flowers and fountains, T. Cook’s is a true oasis in the desert. Receiving the highest ratings from both national food critics and locals for its select seasonal dishes, the menus feature a wide variety of creative dishes from the Mediterranean and exotic surrounding regions.

5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
602-808-0766
www.royalpalmsresortandspa.com


Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona