When Kevin Buckler isn’t winning races like the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Porsche World Cup, the renowned race car driver and NASCAR sponsor is wooing oenophiles, wine snobs, and critics alike with his hand-crafted, award-winning wines. Here, Adobe Road Winery’s celebrated owner talks about island-hopping, underground wine cellars, and what he’s doing when he’s not, well, standing in the Winner’s Circle.
OCCUPATION: Adobe Road Winery owner; professional race car driver; and race team owner.
THREE WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE ME: “Like to win” – whether it’s on the racetrack or in the wine barrel.
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION: Hitting great ski destinations that boast a vibrant food and wine scene with family and friends.
WHEN I’M NOT WORKING, I’M: I’m always working, but I love what I do.
ONE THING I’VE BEEN DYING TO TRY: Getting a boat and island-hopping in the Caribbean with a group of wine friends.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT IN WINEMAKING: A full-page article in Wine Spectator that called us out as one of the hot, new producers from Northern California. It was completely unexpected.
MY FAVORITE WINE FOR UNDER $20: I like trying new wines, especially varietals with unique styles and blends.
WHAT I RECOMMEND DRINKING NOW: As far as aging, I recommend classic Pinots and Cabs from the early-2000′s and late-1990′s. Otherwise, I like to live dangerously and try all sorts of stuff no one has ever heard of. I always like to hear people asking questions or asking sommeliers for their advice. I think it’s important to follow your curiosity and to try new things.
I STAY HOME TO WATCH: I don’t watch a lot of TV but I enjoy reviewing footage of our races. I’m always looking for ways we can improve and build a competitive edge.
FAVORITE PLACE TO CHILL OUT: Our underground wine cellar or out on my dock with friends. I love the water.
WORDS OF WISDOM: Pursue your passion, do what you enjoy, and always do your very best. If you do that, you will be successful, satisfied, and proud.
IF I WASN˙T IN THE WINEMAKING FIELD, I˙D BE: Racing, traveling, and studying the world. There is so much to see and learn. I’d also love to spend a month in Italy.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: The best part of my job is…: The relationships we make. At the end of the day, the real “profit” we (Adobe Road Winery) reap are the relationships we build and the people we meet at fun, cool wine events like the Winemaker Dinners at Morton’s.
Join Kevin Buckler, Owner of Adobe Road Winery and Winemaker Michael Scorsone for a memorable evening of sumptuous food and wine pairings on Tuesday, January 17 at Morton’s The Steakhouse in San Francisco, CA. For more information, please visit http://www.mortons.com/sanfrancisco/specialevents/.
Happy Wine Wednesday! This week I am in West Palm Beach, Florida and it’s hard to imagine that some areas of country are expecting snow when there’s not much evidence of winter here. In fact, the bartender at the hotel bar actually asked me if January was springtime in Chicago. He claims that the average temperature ranges between “warm and warmer” and therefore has no idea what season it is anywhere. So what wine is a winter white when you don’t really have a winter?
My task today, as I prepare for three days of non-stop meetings in West Palm, is to reveal a Rockette line-up of winter whites for non-winter climes. But at the moment I have another topic to tackle: what do I want to eat. The answer will determine the wine I choose to pair with my meal. It’s 75 degrees outside in South Florida, however, my business meetings are in board rooms that are the temperature equivalent of what it currently feels like in Chicago. So what to order? As I peruse the Morton’s takeout menu, I opt for the colossal shrimp cocktail, sautéed Brussels sprouts, and a sliced beefsteak tomato salad. And no Morton’s meal can be complete without a warm loaf of our world-famous onion bread! Now that my meal has been decided, it’s time to consider the wine. Here’s a little known vino fact: In most states you can carryout a bottle of wine from a restaurant along with your meal. So to complement my eclectic entrees of sea and soil, I opt for a cold glass of Pouilly-Fuissé, a dry French white wine made from Chardonnay and possesses a strong oak influence
French whites, often referred to as “Frenchies”, are the well loved wines made from Chardonnay grapes but go by a different name. Fantastic winter whites. Full, fresh, elegant. I normally dislike this reference but I have to use it now: pretty. French Chardonnays are pretty and delicate…..”a rose by any other name…..” Thank you, Gertrude Stein!
So when perusing the restaurant wine list or shopping for a new vintner, here are a few whites to consider that will make your cold – or warm – winter sizzle:
Puligny-Montrachet. Nestled in the middle of the Côte de Beaune in France, it is also home to one of the most famous vineyards in the world, Montrachet.
Chablis. [also Petit Chablis, Premier Cru Chablis, Gran Cru Chablis] The grapevines of Chablis, France are almost all Chardonnay, which makes for a dazzling dry white wine embodying a pure aroma and full-bodied flavor.
Meursault. Hailing from France’s famous Burgandy region, Meursault produces award-winning white wines from Chardonnay grapes. Possessing a stark oak influence, many have described Meursault wines as “buttery” and “bold” in flavor.
Pouilly-Fuissé. Not to be confused with Pouilly-Fumé (Sauvignon Blanc-based wines), Pouilly-Fuissé is 100% Chardonnay with a pretty and refreshing finish.
We commence our “Wine Wednesday – Winter White” series through the month of January with essential tips and pairings on white wine grapes, as recommended by Morton’s Certified Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Sara Fasolino. Drink well and enjoy responsibly!
So far this winter has been mild for most of us but that is soon to change. As the temperatures dip down many of us may choose to stick to red wines to keep warm but keep in mind that there are many “Winter Whites” that can be a perfect companion to enjoy inside as it snows and blows outside!
In choosing a winter white, consider the weight of the wine. Typically for summer we are drinking wines that have the same mouth feel as say…water…or green tea…or skim milk. These wines rely more on acidity to be refreshing than they do on creaminess for warmth.
For winter we want to step that up a bit. The mouth feel should be more like 2% milk – you should be able to feel the weight of it on your tongue. This weight comes from certain processes in wine making like malolactic fermentation where the harsh, tart malic acid is transformed into the softer (weightier) lactic acid. There are other processes that increase this molecular weight like Battonage (stirring the lees which are dead yeast cells) that cover the acidity in a creamy cloak.
Chenin Blanc is another great winter white story. The versions from Old World…say France and New World….say California can be very different in flavor but both will be sure to warm you up. Champalou, Vouvray is made from the Chenin Blanc grape with layers of green apples, earthy minerality and a lingering caress of creaminess.
Chappellet from Napa Valley makes a Chenin Blanc worthy of an encore. If you had joined me on the Napa VIP flight last year, you tasted it in the winery – everyone in the group loved it. This wine is more tropical in flavor with less minerality – with bursts of bananas, guava and pineapple. Perfect as aperitfs and pairs wonderfully with fish and chicken dishes.
Torrontés from Argentina is also a perfect winter sipper. It can be reminiscent of Gewürztraminer – it’s floral and a little spicy and has a heady quality that makes it perfect for cold temperatures and warm hearty soup….think French onion or beer cheese soups. Susana Balbo Winery makes one called “Crios” that is simply amazing.
Viognier is another over looked winter white that deserves to be quaffed. Think honeysuckle, apricots, peaches all of which that are ripe and juicy with low acidity and great richness. I once heard this grape described as a “1980′s prom queen”…..perhaps they just meant it’s very floral and pretty.
French and American white versions of these can be very different. The Condrieu region of Rhone, France produces some of the finest – and rarest – versions in the world. Several California versions worth a good look are Araujo, Caymus and Qupe.
Viognier pairs very well with lighter meats, chicken, shrimp, lobster and even pork in rich, creamy sauces. Enjoy!
As a new year twinkles brightly like a Harry Winston jewel on the horizon, we take a lingering look back to remember the many wonderful steak-loving legends who have graced our restaurants throughout 2011 whether to celebrate a private event, relax after shooting a movie or just to enjoy a good meal with family and friends. From movie stars (George Clooney, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg) to rock stars (Carlos Santana, Shakira, Ricky Martin), PGA TOUR players (Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh, Chi Chi Rodriguez) to politicians (John Boehner, Rudy Giuliani, Barbara Boxer), and athletes (LeBron James, Rafael Nadal, Mario Andretti) to news anchors (Wolf Blitzer, Soledad O’Brien, John King), you never know who you’ll sit next to at Morton’s!
Throughout December, Morton’s welcomed the following celebrities…
Anaheim Ducks’ Head Coach Bruce Boudreau
Washington Redskins’ Kevin Barnes, Erik Cook, Jonathan Crompton, Rocky McIntosh, Chris Neild, Eric Olsen, Logan Paulsen, Aldrick Robinson, Nick Sundberg, Brandyn Thompson, Lorenzo Alexander, Bryon Westbrook, and Doug Worthington
Actress Ruta Lee
Atlanta – Buckhead
Actor Don Cheadle
Actor Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A Christmas Story)
Boyz II Men
NASCAR Driver Kyle Busch
Charlotte Bobcat’s Kemba Walker
Edmonton Oilers’ Hunter Tremblay
Carolina Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart
Chicago (State St.)
Jersey Shore’s JWoww
Actor Mr. T
Cincinnati Bengals’ Jermaine Gresham, Gene Atkins Jr.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson
MLB Legends Tommy Lasorda and Juan Marichal
Dallas Mavericks’ Brian Cardinal, Delonte West
Rock and Roll Musician Bob Seger
Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler
Miami Dolphins’ Marvin Mitchell, Ryan Cook
Chicago Cubs’ Marlon Byrd
Tennis Player Ryan Sweeting
Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Kathy Wakile
Former Governor George Ariyoshi
Hawaii Five-0’s Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park
Hawaiian Entertainer Danny Kaleikini
Celebrity Chef Roy Yamaguchi
PGA TOUR Golfer Colin Montgomery
Former Owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars Wayne Weaver
King of Prussia
Members of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Actor Mark Wahlberg
New Orleans Saints’ Jonathan Vilma, Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith, Cameron Jordan, Malcom Jenkins, Roman Harper, Tracey Porter, Jabari Greer, and Jo-Lonn Dunbar
CNN Host Soledad O’Brien
PGA TOUR Golfers Chris Kirk and John Jacobs
Washington Redskins’ Chris Cooley
Oscar-Winning Director Steven Spielberg and Actress Kate Capshaw
San Francisco 49ers Frank Gore
San Francisco 49ers Patrick Willis
PGA TOUR Golfer Doug Tewell
Actress Carina Lau
Actor Sean Lau
NHL Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay
Washington D.C. (Connecticut Ave.)
Sportswriters Tony Kornheiser, John Feinstein and Christine Brennan
Investigative Reporter Bob Woodward
Former University of Maryland Men’s Basketball Head Coach Gary Williams
Speaker of the House John Boehner
C-SPAN Host Steve Scully
Mayor of Washington D.C Vincent Gray
Washington Nationals’ Owner Mark Lerner
Musician Tori Amos
Q: If you could celebrate New Year’s Eve with any celebrity, who would you toast in a glamorous new year with?
Celebrity reporting coverage by Wayne Pua and Sally Shorr
It’s the time of year where we segue from one celebration to the next. So for those of you gearing up for this weekend’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I would use today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday’ to provide some tips on champagne and sparkling wine. Hopefully you’ll consider the New Year enough of a special occasion to try something a little more bubbly than what’s usually in your glass!
Here are some Q&As on this topic that we featured around this same time last year. If you read these simple tips, you’ll be ready to venture away from your typical glass of Cabernet.
What types of champagne are available?
- Non-Vintage Champagne
- Sparkling wine
- Extra dry
What’s the difference between Champagne and Sparkling Wine?
While many people call all sparkling wine “champagne,” a sparkling wine must come from the Champagne region of France and meet other specifications to earn that designation.
What’s the difference between Brut and Extra Dry?
Sparkling wine is made from three grape varietals: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Brut is the most popular variety and goes very well with food. Extra Dry means it’s sweeter and is usually blanc de blanc, meaning it’s made with Chardonnay grapes.
What is Rose?
The reason most sparkling wines are white is that the grapes and their skins do not make contact in the crushing process. Rose sparkling wines actually take a portion of the wine and mix it with the skins.
What’s the difference between Vintage and Non Vintage?
Most champagne and sparkling wines are non vintage. This simply means that it is made every year. Non vintage wines, Dom Perignon being the most popular, are not made every year. Instead, they are made during years in which the environment is especially ideal. This usually only happens about three or four years out of 10, which is why vintage wines are more expensive.
What are the best pairings with Champagne?
A general assumption, given that sparkling wines are so sweet, is that they pair best with foods like fruit, chocolate and cakes. However, because of the acidity they actually pair much better with salty, savory foods like seafood and most appetizers.
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this TV segment of Tylor Field, III, Vice President of Wine and Spirits for Morton’s. last yer, he gave FOX News viewers some great information on champagne and cocktails, so I thought I would “recycle” the footage.
If you choose to spend New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day at your preferred Morton’s location, our Sommelier or General Manager would be happy to help you navigate our champagne and sparkling wine selections. If you’re celebrating at home this New Year’s, I hope you have what you need to make an informed decision when you go to your local wine store.
Wherever you’ll be celebrating, please make it a safe and happy New Year!
What’s the most indulgent, decadent bottle of champagne or sparking wine that you’ve opened for a New Year’s Eve celebration? What food did you pair it with? Or was the bubbly so good that it didn’t even matter?
Throughout 2011, some of the biggest names in sports partnered with Morton’s to share their stories, serve our guests and most importantly, support worthwhile charities.
Some pretty special servers traded in their uniforms for aprons at Morton’s locations across the country to help raise funds for their preferred charities, and our “Celebrity Servers at Morton’s” series saw another banner year…bringing in an astounding $1, 585, 000! This year’s total, combined with the proceeds from 2010, equals almost $3 million!
From Baltimore to Las Vegas, guests were able to rub elbows with some of the best in the business and saw their favorite athletes offering passed hors d’oeuvres, cracked pepper on their salads and refills on their wine.
Some highlights included Larry Fitzgerald’s event at Morton’s in Scottsdale, raising $220,000 for the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund and the First Down Fund; Ryan Howard’s event at Morton’s in Philadelphia, raising $200,000 for Ryan Howard Family Foundation and the Jonathan Vilma event at Morton’s in New Orleans, when the whole Saints team came together to help raise $196,000 for the Jonathan Vilma Foundation. You can visit our website to see the whole line-up of “Celebrity Servers” from 2011 or browse our blog for recaps from these incredible events.
For the 3rd year running, Morton’s also partnered with ESPN to broadcast live ‘Lunch with a Legend’ and ‘Dinner with a Legend’ events from our private dining rooms. Our guests had front-row seats and exclusive access to some legendary sports figures, including Dodger great Steve Garvey and super agent Leigh Steinberg in our LA-area restaurants, Legendary Temple basketball coach John Chaney in Philadelphia, former NHL star Jeremy Roenick in Chicago, and Browns top running back Peyton Hillis in Cleveland. Guests also got to reminisce with Bobby Dandridge and Kevin Grevey of the 1978 NBA Champion Washington Bullets, who won the dramatic Game 7 with seconds to play against the Seattle Supersonics.
As you can see, 2011 was a very exciting year for Morton’s. Sports celebrities came off of the field and on our turf to raise money for charity and provide our guests once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. We raise a glass to the athletes for donating their time and their passion to help those less fortunate and for spending time with our guests. And we raise a glass to all our guests who supported these events, their causes and their local Morton’s.
Here’s to an equally, if not more, successful 2012 for everyone…both on, and off, the field!
In yesterday’s blog, I recommended Pinot Noir as a red wine for your holiday party, because it’s a well-liked wine by most everyone. So I wanted to feature a Pinot in today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday’…the Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir. It’s a nice choice for any get-together, and we also offer this on our ‘Wines by the Glass‘ list.
- Ponzi Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery
- Their Pinot Noir is recognized by top critics, and every vintage receives strong accolades
- They have a long-standing reputation for delivering the highest quality
- LIVE certified sustainable vineyards and Salmon Safe
“Perfumed nose of spiced cherry, red raspberry, clove, licorice and sandalwood. A bright mouth of red currant and plum lead to a soft, lingering finish.” – Winemaker Luisa Ponzi
Best of luck as you prepare for your holiday feast with friends and family. If you choose to pour Ponzi Pinot Noir, I think you and your guests will be highly satisfied. Happy holidays!
Have you completed your holiday wine shopping? What are some of the labels you’ll be pouring this Christmas? What are you most excited to offer your guests?
We commence our “Hosting for the Holidays” series with essential tips on beverage etiquette, as recommended by Morton’s Certified Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Sara Fasolino.
First, as a host, you have to figure out how much the average drinker will have throughout the evening. Plan on 1.5 glasses of wine per person, per hour (there are about 4-5 glasses of wine in a 750 ml bottle)…or 2 beers per person, per hour. So say you have 20 people coming over, and they’re average drinkers. Then you should have about 1 case of beer and 4 bottles of wine for each hour you want to be serving alcohol at your party.
If you go to your local retail store, they should (if it’s legal in your state) give you a case discount, even if you mix the case. The majority of people are going to drink standard wines and beers, so make sure you spend the bulk of your budget in those areas. You may love a good Belgian Trappist Ale, but chances are the majority of your guests would prefer a pilsner.
Which brings us to the mix. For the beer, I would get 1/3 of the inventory as something ‘specialized’ …something seasonal and local…and the remaining as something a little more crowd pleasing, such as Stella Artois.
When it comes to the wine, I would focus on the varietals that people seem to like the most. (Pinot Noir is super hot right now, and everyone likes it. Plus, if you’re having a sit-down dinner, it pairs well with a variety of different foods.) You should also do a 50-50 split between red and white wine. For the white, I would do either Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, both of which are total crowd pleasers. You could also do a smaller portion of a sweeter white, such as a Riesling. This is a good, general formula to make sure everyone has something they enjoy.
Now the hard part….making sure everyone has a full glass. For a ‘stand up and mingle’ kind of party, you should make everything accessible to the guests so they can serve themselves. Don’t forget to have bottle openers and corkscrews handy and within reach. You can do this with a stand-alone bar if you have one, or use a long folding table covered with a table cloth. Just make sure that whatever you are using is covered so it does not get stained. That said, keep the table perhaps on an area that is not carpeted…spills happen. The beer and wine that needs to be chilled can be put in a large, nice looking bucket…just make sure it doesn’t leak.
For a sit-down dinner, keep the beer close by in a nice looking, ice-filled container (they sell these most everywhere), again making sure you have something underneath to catch the spills or the sweat! For the wine, have one bottle of each of the varietals you’re serving within reach of the guests, so it’s easy to pass the bottles. So maybe you have a bottle of Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay at each end of the table and a trio of bottles in the middle, depending on the size of your party.
As for the glassware, don’t skimp! No one likes to drink out of plastic…it makes the beverage taste funny. For about $2 a glass, you can find stemless wine glasses that can be used for both wine and beer. They’re dishwasher safe, and you can even give your guests a Sharpie and have them write their names on them so they don’t get lost! If you were willing to part with them, you could even give the glasses away as party favors (just make sure they’re empty before your guests leave!).
I hope these simple tips are helpful as you prepare for your holiday party. Cheers to you and yours, and may you have a safe and happy holiday season!
What will you be pouring at your holiday party? The more traditional wine and beer…or do you get more adventurous and offer punches, cocktails or liqueurs?
Click here to view all the “Hosting for the Holiday” blogs, including recipes and decorating tips.
On Friday, December 9th, Morton’s at Wacker Place was buzzing with excitement. Yes, it was a sunny (albeit frigid) Friday, but such was not the cause of the cheer – U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Legend and former Chicago Blackhawk great Jeremy Roenick was in the building for Morton’s latest “Lunch with a Legend.” During the sold-out event in Morton’s private dining room, guests enjoyed a classic three-course lunch while Roenick sat in on ESPN 1000’s Waddle & Silvy’s live broadcast.
But prior to the broadcast and upon his arrival, Roenick was greeted by smiling, cheering fans as he made his way upstairs and down the hall. As he walked into the private dining room, guests erupted in applause. The fans listened intently once the broadcast began…until Roenick started talking about how much he loves and misses Chicago and the Blackhawks.
“The Blackhawks jersey is the best in all of sports,” said Roenick. “I should’ve been a Blackhawk my whole life.”
As Waddle & Silvy broke for commercials throughout the lunch, Roenick was quick to jump out of his seat and make his way around the room to talk to guests. By the end of the luncheon, he had visited and spoken with each table individually, in addition to inviting guests up to the broadcast desk for autographs and photos. One enthusiastic female fan even rolled up one of the legs of her pants, exposing a detailed ankle tattoo of Roenick’s face. Hockey fans are dedicated!
Throughout the broadcast, Roenick shared his incredible stories. He gave a detailed recap of his first day with the Blackhawks as a 150 pound, 18-year-old in the old Chicago Stadium who was nearly robbed as he left practice, and then he went on to talk about how the team has grown and changed since his time with them.
The Hall of Fame Legend, who also played for the Philadelphia Flyers, among other teams, was asked about his feelings towards the Blackhawk’s 2010 Stanley Cup win. While he was thrilled for the Hawks, he said it was painful to see the Flyers come so close.
“I was emotional for both cities,” said Roenick. “There’s no shame in crying or showing emotion. I’m passionate about all of my teams.”
Retired since August of 2009, Roenick now gives back to his community as much as he can, getting involved with the Special Kids Network and the Wounded Warrior Project on a regular basis and encouraging others (including athletes) to do the same.
From the excitement of the crowd to Roenick’s exuberant personality and captivating stories, this “Lunch with a Legend” was one that guests are sure to remember for years to come!
Reported by Lindsay Rafayko of Empower Public Relations
If you could sit in on a live “Lunch with a Legend” broadcast with the athlete of your choice, who would it be?
Or is it “Pair of Ducks?” No matter how you pronounce it, you’re going to enjoy this wine. For today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday,’ I’m talking about Paraduxx Red Wine (which can be found on Morton’s ‘Wine by the Glass’ list).
Duckhorn Wine Company
Napa Valley, CA
Paraduxx is a boldly elegant Napa Valley Red Wine. Fusing the robust flavors of California’s native Zinfandel with the grandeur of Cabernet Sauvignon, Paraduxx embraces the best of both varietals. This benchmark blend has developed its own personality as symbolized by the artist series label that changes with each vintage.
Aromas of raspberry, cherry, cedar, spice, caramelized brown sugar, and sweet oak accented by a hint of white pepper. Dark cherry and raspberry flavors mingle with rich layers of blueberry, cedar and molasses. Smooth entry followed by a full mid-palate with integrated nuances of fruit and oak leading to a long finish with balanced resolved tannins.
72% Zinfandel, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc
AGING & OAK
15 months in oak
60% French oak, 40% American oak
50% new, 50% second vintage
Click here to view our entire “Wines by the Glass” selection, available in most Morton’s locations. During the hectic holiday season, we invite you to take a break and enjoy a glass of Paraduxx or anything else on our list in the comfort of Morton’s bar. We also offer specially-priced Bar Bites that pair perfectly with our wine and spirit selections.