Here’s your Haute 5 guide to some of the best wine lists around town, complete with recommendations regarding what to nibble whilst you imbibe, of course. Happy sipping!
FnB is unique in that its wine menu is comprised entirely of Arizona wines, thanks to owner Pavle Milic’s enthusiastic support of the best local vineyards. In fact, on June 2, he hosted a blind tasting that matched a number of Arizona wines against similar ones from Australia, Spain, Italy, California, France, and Washington, where the panel of seven judges gave Arizona wines the top scores in both the red and white categories: Lisa’s white blend from Callaghan Vineyards and the Nagual del Judith Cabernet Sauvignon from Caduceus Vineyards. Milic currently recommends pairing the 2006 Dos Cabezas Toscano red blend with his garganelli pasta dish, featuring an Italian sauce with a spoonful of Spanish sofrito, fresh morel mushrooms, and bread crumbs and parsley to garnish.
FnB is located at 7133 E. Stetson Drive in Scottsdale (480) 425-9463
Fred’s at Barneys New York
At Fred’s, General Manager David Jette has infused the wine list with plenty of his energetic personality and desire to serve the most perfect vino for anyone and everyone. “Wine is subjective, and it should be fun,” he says, which explains why his staff are so happy to help guests find the glass or bottle they’ll be happiest with, regardless of guests’ level of wine savvy. Representative of all different regions and price points, Fred’s wine menu was designed to be “friendly, approachable, and palatable,” according to Jette. Try the bright and juicy Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc (2009) or the crisp Saddleback Cellars Chardonnay (2007) with the Fashion Square Shrimp Salad, one of Fred’s most popular lunchtime options. The citrus notes of the wine will nicely complement the shrimp, mixed greens, hearts of palm, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and green goddess dressing. With meatier dishes, a popular red is the berry-and-spice Klinker Brick Zinfandel (2007), or try the soft and luscious Pavillion Crossing Cabernet Sauvignon (2007). On the first Tuesday of every month, Fred’s holds a special wine dinner with courses created to complement that evening’s wine selection. And don’t forget about Wacky Wine Wednesdays, where all bottles of wine are half price from 5 to 9 p.m.
Fred’s is located inside Barneys New York at Scottsdale Fashion Square (602) 337-6111
Rancho Pinot Grill
Owner and Chef Chrysa Robertson and General Manager Hoke Gusikoff serve seasonally inspired, farm-to-table dishes with an eclectic mix of fresh, quality ingredients, and their wine list is just as diverse. This spring and summer they’re serving a delectable shaved summer squash salad and suggest one of their New Zealand sauvignon blancs to accompany, such as the Marlborough Mount Nelson (2008) or Villa Maria (2009). The grilled quail, which Rancho served this past winter, was so popular it’s making a return to this season’s menu, however, with a flavorful apricot sauce this time. With the dish, the staff recommends the Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (2007), with its rich feel and notes of cherry and cranberry. Be prepared to peruse a seriously extensive wine list while you’re here, and if the above doesn’t have your appetite fully whetted yet, consider the grill’s specialties as well – the posole-style shortrib, New England scallops, and any of their housemade pastas.
Rancho Pinot is located at 6208 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale (480) 367-8030
With all the culinary awards and rave reviews Quiessence has earned in the past few years, is it any wonder the wine list would adhere to the same high standards as the food? John Mariani himself has said Quiessence has one of the best wine menus in the Southwest. And perhaps the most wonderful thing about this restaurant is the fact that the menu changes daily, bringing diners new and excellent surprises in contemporary American cuisine all the time. With a revolving dinner menu and a selection of more than 60 wines, deciding on the right pairing may prove difficult, but the capable staff can certainly help. An interesting inclusion on the wine list is a New Mexico white, the Gruet Rose Brut (NV), a delicate choice ideal for a meal on the patio, with its clean, floral flavors. On Wednesday, June 16, Executive Chef Gregory LaPrad and vintner Sam Pillsbury will hold the Festival of Tomatoes Dinner, serving attendees six courses, paired with wines by Pillsbury. Naturally, each dish will feature tomatoes in some fabulous, mouthwatering way, and a portion of proceeds will benefit The American Institute of Wine and Food’s scholarship program. Hurry to Quiessence, as the restaurant goes on summer hiatus from June 27 through August 2.
Quiessence is located at 6106 S. 32nd Street in Phoenix (602) 276-0601
The staff at Cowboy Ciao claim wine is their passion, and boy, are they telling the truth. Believe us when we tell you it could take hours – nay, days – to pore through the wine list here. Will it intimidate or intrigue you if we tell you their wine menu has a prologue. Well, of course it should intrigue you, particularly because they’ve filled the menu with fun background information and anecdotes regarding a large number of their selections. For example, alongside the listing for the Domaine Leroy Pinot Noir, Ruchottes-Chambertin, the menu reads: “If you pass up an opportunity t drink a Leroy Burgundy, you’ll Ruchotes-Chambertin the day.” Oh Cowboy Ciao. How you make us smile. Head here on casual evenings you want to make a night of it – and try plenty of wine.
Cowboy Ciao is located at 7133 E. Stetson Drive in Old Town (480) 946-3111