28 Mar 2012
Wine lists at restaurants are important to me, almost as important as the food menu. Often times I find myself either frustrated at the lack of creativity, the lack of knowledge or the absurd pricing that makes beer or cocktails seem so much more appealing. I’ve heard rumors of a restaurant with stellar service, phenomenal food and a spectacular wine list. Recently, after a long wait and many friend suggestions, I finally got the opportunity to try Masselow’s Restaurant in the Northern Quest Resort & Casino.
As greater Spokane’s only AAA Four Diamond restaurant, my expectations were high. I was warmly greeted by the host and directed to the booth. The restaurant was nicely appointed in warm colors and wood. The fixtures were understated and fit the decor nicely. I wouldn’t say I was wowed with the design of the space but it was certainly well done. Although we were in a large restaurant (seating for 144), the booth was very private with tall sides.
The service throughout the meal was exceptional starting with the offering of two different sparkling wine options to the clearing of each course and the presentation of the wine (many local restaurants could learn from this here). The waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu and was very articulate in explaining the specials and the various courses.
Masselow’s menu consists of traditional cuisine with a northwest flare that includes bison rib-eye, king salmon, and locally grown chicken along with delicacies that include grass fed filet mignon, and north Atlantic lobster. The meal started with traditional Indian fry bread accompanied by a huckleberry marmalade. The assortment of bread was served with three different butter spreads that each left my mouth watering. The attention and care to each element of the meal was impressive.
My guest and I opted for the Masselow’s Winter Grill (a selection of Montana Rib Eye Bison, Draper Valley Free Range Chicken, and Wild King Salmon) and the Washimi Filet Mignon. The presentation of each was nicely appointed and each dish was cooked to perfection. The only exception was the chicken, which was a little dry. The spaghetti squash and potatoes were a great accompaniment to each. The Filet Mignon was on par with some of THE best cuts of meat I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. Luckily my guest couldn’t finish hers and I couldn’t let it go unfinished. See the full WINTER MENU HERE.
While the desert menu looked inviting, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to indulge any further.
Now, for most important part, and maybe even the reason you’re reading this review…THE WINE. The 10 page wine list is easily organized into glass, 1/2 bottle, bottle, and local selections. Continuing the theme of a northwest inspired menu, the wine list consists largely of Washington and Oregon wineries. A few California, Italy, French and Argentine wines round out various sections. Glass pour prices on the ranged from $6-$13. I would like to see the pricing of some of the reds be more in the $10 range. Paying $13 for a glass of wine that retails for $35 is a little high for me. A excellent balance of price points and high end selections are good to see. The Masselow’s section of the web site contains a link to the current (and ever changing) wine list.
I appreciated the bottle pricing. Most of the wine seemed to be priced very well with only a nominal mark up. While I can tolerate higher glass prices, nothing ticks me off more than seeing a $15 bottle of wine on a menu for $35. Below are a few comparisons:
- Domain Ste Michelle – LUXE; Retail $23, Masselow’s $38
- L’Ecole Luminesce; Retail $19, Masselow’s $39 (would like to see this more at $25)
- Leonetti 08 Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail $99, Masselow’s $165 (why not sell it for $119?)
The Masselow’s wine list showcased wine from 10 of the 19 Spokane producers. This is more than any list I’ve seen in town. We opted for one of my favorites, the 2006 Reserve Blend from Nodland Cellars. The retail on this wine is $35 and Masselow’s price was only $40 making it a great restaurant value. See my review of the 06 Private Blend. Overall the list is excellent and deserves the accolades it receives.
If I were reviewing this restaurant I would give it a 4+/5 stars; coming just short of a perfect review with the dry chicken and slightly high bottle prices on the wine. But, I’m not a food critic and all I can offer is that Masselow’s is one of the best, if not THE best, dining experiences in Spokane. The short 20 minute drive from downtown Spokane is well worth the experience.
Get the details on Northern Quest Resort and Casino and Masselow’s Restaurant.
21 Mar 2012
Spokane and wine again? You got it, I never tire of talking about the amazing wine scene in Spokane. With 25 wineries claiming a presence (19 producers), Spokane provides residents and visitors an abundance of grape exploration. Four downtown locations, including Nectar Tasting Room have recently teamed up to provide a walking wine pass.
Arbor Crest (at River Park Square), Cougar Crest, Whitestone Winery, and Nectar Tasting Room are all within 4 blocks of each other. Whether you’re staying at The Davenport Hotel, doing some shopping at River Park Square, or coming downtown for dinner, the tasting pass lets you taste wine at all four wineries for only $10 (regularly $20). The pass can be purchased at all four locations and has a one week expiration date.
Get out and explore.
*The Walking Wine Tour card is not valid on First Friday or Spokane Winery Association event weekends. Limit one pass per person.
Arbor Crest Winery – 808 West Main, 3rd Floor of River Park Square
Cougar Crest Winery – 8 North Post
Whitestone Winery – 8 North Post
Nectar Tasting Room – 120 North Stevens
Wine is art. Wine is sexy. Wine is passion.
Wine is the most intriguing drink created. Wine is part of religious ceremonies. Jesus turned water into wine and even drank wine with his disciples as part of everyday life. Wine is sipped not shot, savored not slammed. Wine is discussed, debated, sought after and collected.
…for many, wine is confusing.
As someone who drinks a lot of wine, I’d like to offer three suggestions to help with your understanding of this mysterious nectar.
1. Drink more – okay, I realize this may have a controversial insinuation. I’m not encouraging abuse, I’m encouraging “practicing.” The best way to learn anything is keep at it. Go wine tasting, host wine parties, order wine with dinner. The more you try, the better your palate will get and you will notice the “subtle hints of cranberry and tobacco” that you used to read in wine tasting notes.
2. Drink new – I am an advocate for trying something new. Life is too short to drink the same wine every day. Explore, experiment, enjoy; with over 700 wineries in Washington, you can try something new every day for over 2 years before moving on to California or even France and Italy. Get out of your rut of buying 14 Hands or Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and expand your tastes.
3. Drink personal – You may have heard this before but, “drink what you like.” If you like a wine, that is your personal preference. Just because someone grades a wine 94 points doesn’t mean you will like it and it doesn’t always justify a higher price. While I am an advocate of wine reviews and scores, I think they are only a guide. If you drink more and drink new, you’ll discover your likes and dislikes without the influence of “experts.”
Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
Nectar Tasting Room
March is Washington Wine Month. How are you going to celebrate? With over 700 wineries, Washington is the country’s second largest producer of wine behind California. Whether you’re enjoying the oldest (and largest) winery in the state, Chateau St. Michelle, or one of the 25 wineries that have a home in Spokane, there isn’t a shortage of options. I’d like to offer a challenge for this month (and actually every month). Let’s start a revolution.
The “Buy Wine Direct” movement is a challenge to buy wine from the source or to support locally owned wine shops. Initiatives like HR-1161 threatening direct shipment of wine and Washington’s I-1183 bringing in more big box wine shops, supporting the local merchant and winery is more important than ever. Yes, wineries use distributors to get their product to Costco or large grocers. They do this to get their product to the consumer, however using the middle man cuts deeply into their profits. Buying direct from the local winery adds to the local economy and has a direct financial impact. Local wine shops in Spokane are feeling the pinch of the upcoming changes with I-1183 “It’s like a gorilla is moving into the neighborhood,” said John Allen, co-owner of Spokane’s Vino!
Let’s use Washington Wine Month to start a movement. It doesn’t have to be JUST in Washington. Love bold Napa Cabs? Get online and order direct. Join a Sonoma wine club. Support the regional wine shop. The benefits will be more than economic. Chances are you’ll get wine that has been better cared for in climate controlled settings, better service, and that warm feeling knowing you did the right thing.
Whether you Google+, Tweet or Facebook, use the tag, #buywinedirect. Let’s start a revolution. Are you in? Retweet and share this post to spread the word.
Back to the best wine state in the union!
Washington is a perfect climate for growing wine grapes. Many of the states premium growing regions boast over 300 days of sunshine each year. Wine grapes love long, hot, dry days and cool nights. The Cascade Mountains “rain shadow” effect helps create the climate that viticulturists love. 80% of Washington’s wine grapes are grown in the Columbia Basin in and around the Tri-Cities.
Washington also boasts many unique geological growing regions. With 12 US approved viticulture regions (AVA), the state produces many different quality wine varieties. While California may be known for its Cabernet and Oregon its Pinot Noir, Washington produces quality Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and even quality Spanish varietals Tempranillo and Grenache (Garnacha). Wine lovers can explore the glacial and awe inspiring views of Lake Chelan, the Norman Rockwellesque town of Walla Walla (with over 100 wineries) or the original vineyard driven and rustic Yakima Valley.
While Spokane is not a wine growing region (although Davide Trezzi in Green Bluff is giving it a good go), we are home to 25 different wineries including two of the state’s oldest, Latah Creek and Arbor Crest and a few of the state’s newest V du V and Overbluff Cellars. With the addition of Nectar Tasting Room, Market Place Wine Bar and Cougar Crest Winery, downtown Spokane now has 13 tasting rooms housing 19 wineries. Spokane’s “cork” district is maturing like a finely aged Cabernet.
So, celebrate Washington Wine Month with Washington wine. Whether you’re out at a local restaurant or looking for wine for your next dinner party, buy a high quality Washington wine. While you’re at it buy local. “Buy Wine Direct” is a movement to support locally owned wine shops and local wineries by buying wine direct from them. As you do, more revenue dollars stay in the local community. 90% of Washington wineries produce small quantities and rely on direct purchases and shipments to sustain their business.
Check out these resources for Washington Wine Month.
29 Dec 2011
Bubbly, Champagne, Sparkling Wine – Celebration is a key component to life. Celebrating in life helps sustain momentum and creates positive motion. This New Year’s Eve many readers will be popping corks of all kinds. Check out the fun infographic from our friends at wine.com
Need a little bubbly to celebrate this weekend. Nectar Tasting Room has THREE great sparkling wines. Stop by for 15% off individual bottles and 20% off four or more.
Hard Row to Hoe – Good in Bed
This 2010 brut rose sparkler is made in the traditional methode champenoise way. Using 100% Lake Chelan grapes the 50/50 Pinot Noir / Sangiovese is a beautiful pink color, but not sweet. Enticing aromas of fresh cherry and raspberry with touch of rose petal fill the nose of this beautifully colored wine. On the palate, abundant cherry and strawberry flavors endure from the lush entry to the dry, very long and refreshing finish (retail $40)
2001 Northwest Cellars Brut & Brut Rose
These quality bubbles are made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley, OR. Bottled nearly 10 years ago, the wine is made in the traditional methode champenoise way. A delicious pale gold colour Brut with lively bubbles. Honeyed peaches, nectarine and apricot balance perfectly with tart green apple and lemon zest. The finish is clean and crisp lingering playfully on the palate. The brut rose is a delicate pink color that sparkles with bubbles. Raspberry and blackberry with a touch of quince, floral notes and spice settle into a finish of a lush berry compote. (Retail $31 and $33)
Brought To By Wine.com, Purveyors of Fine Wine and Champagne