Summer is a great time to discover new wines to love. The Capital Grille has long understood this, for 2015 is the seventh year they’ve offered the summer wine event known as The Generous Pour. For $28 per person with the purchase of dinner comes a selection of eight different wines, typically revolving around a common theme. Master Sommelier George Miliotes explains: “Most [past themes] have focused on growing areas. During the first two years we showcased wines from different countries like Argentina, South Africa, and Spain. This gave our guests the opportunity to enjoy side-by-side tastings of wines from around the world in one setting. A few years ago, we focused on wines with 90 point ratings and last year we feature wines from all different types of terrain—hillsides, mountainsides, and the valley floor, to name a few.”
For 2015 the summer wine event will “celebrate women and wine” with eight California wines that are all produced by female winemakers. Miliotes elaborates: “We really value the unique role that women play in the wine industry and over the years have seen the tremendous impact they are making in the space, especially in California. We’ve worked with a few of these winemakers before, and love not only their approach to winemaking, but they remarkable wines they have created. This summer we worked with Jackson Family Estates to bring together seven passionate women who bring very distinct qualities to wine making.”
There’s plenty of room for women in winemaking, to be sure. Women represent half of all graduates from California enology programs, and ten percent of California’s vineyards have women in a lead winemaker role. One of those winemakers is the Monterey region’s Barrymore Wines, owned by actress Drew Barrymore. Check out the video above as Ms. Barrymore describes the Pinot Grigio from Barrymore Wines that is included as part of the summer event.
When asked “why women?”, Miliotes shares his enthusiasm for women in winemaking: “I am a firm believer that each winemaker’s personality shows through in their wines. All the women we worked with this year are strong willed and passionate and their wines follow these traits; they are complex with strong flavors yet are still approachable. For each, there is an element of enthusiasm, passion for growing, culture and deep knowledge that influence their approach. For example, we deemed Denise Shurtleff (Cambria Wines) “The Conductor” based on the fact that she and her team direct every aspect of the wine making process—from nurturing the grapes on the vine to bottling. In addition, women are known to have a keener sense of smell than men [which is] particularly useful in the wine business.”
Barrymore earned the title of “The Enthusiast” for her delight in wine’s ability to bring people together. Other monikers include “The Visionary” (Julia Jackson, Jackson Family Estates); “The Gardener” (Marcia Monahan, Matanzas Creek); “The Spaniard” (Laura Diaz Munoz, Mt. Brave and Galerie); “The Virtuoso” (Lisa Valtenbergs, Stonestreet); and “The Scholar” (Kristina Werner, Arrowood).
A recent experience at The Capital Grille in Dallas demonstrated that The Generous Pour event was certainly generous with the pours. The server would happily pour more of any particular wine that seemed to disappear quickly, and was quick with suggestions for courses that would well-complement each of the wines. The Barrymore Pinot Grigio was delightfully fruity, definitely the approachable wine that Miliotes described. However, among white flights, the true star was Stonestreet’s “Bear Point” Chardonnay, which Robert Parker awarded 95 points. While many Chardonnays are distinctively buttery or distinctively oaky, this Chardonnay is remarkably balanced. Each note seems to conspire in serendipitous harmony to melt together into an elegant, pleasant flavor that doesn’t betray any of the particulars on their own—a truly unforgettable wine.
Among the flights of red were a memorable Sonoma Merlot (Matanzas Creek) with a pleasantly lingering finish, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Mt. Brave) with an intense flavor that held its own, even against an deftly crafted New York Strip au poivre (a piquant affair with a rich cognac sauce which is tough to pair with any wine, but this one was a winner), and a balance fruit-and-spice 2007 Kinton Syrah, which debuting in public release exclusively at The Capital Grille for the event.
As if the wine weren’t enough for a luscious evening, expertly blackened scallops, divinely decadent lobster mac and cheese, brussels sprouts with bacon and a coconut cream pie with a memorably mealy crust rounded out a perfect summer wine dinner. Check out Instagram for more photos from the evening.
The Generous Pour is ongoing at all locations of The Capital Grille through August 30.
*Meals were furnished by The Capital Grille in preparation for this story.