Fine Wine now affordable

If you’ve ever wondered what a Chateau Petrus tasted like but were too afraid to even ask the price, you will no doubt be delighted to hear that Seven at The Ritz-Carlton is offering their entire wine list at half price every Friday from now until the end of the summer. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull reports.

Dining out is a hugely popular pastime for residents here in the Cayman Islands. We are fortunate to have an excellent selection of top class restaurants making it a real pleasure to enjoy a wide range of cuisines. However, in these cash-strapped times we might think twice about splashing out on a really decent bottle of wine to go with our meal, no matter how much we may long for one.

Seven Prime Cuts and Sunsets at The Ritz-Carlton is the Resort’s premier steak house (though if you have been there you will note that they offer a whole lot more than just steak), serving up t-bones, fillets and rib-eyes to make your mouth water. Acknowledging that diners might need a bit of extra enticement to dine out these days, the restaurant is offering an impressive half price off every single wine on their 14-page wine list every Friday evening.

Sommelier at Seven, Hailey Wagner, says that the restaurant wants their guests to be able to try many wines from vast regions.

“We have excellent choices from all around the world – South and North America, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. This is an excellent opportunity to drink wines that may be unfamiliar to you or out of your day to day budget,” she confirms.

Top range wines include probably one of the most well-known of them all, Opus One, from California’s Napa Valley.

Hailey says, “Opus One presents aromas of violets, cedar, black tea leaves, black pepper and brioche. A soft, creamy entry gives way to a concentrated mid-palate that expands in the mouth and lingers on the finish. Elements of cassis, toffee and cocoa round out the rich flavours of the wine.”

The 2004 usually costs a hefty $380 and the 2004 $420 a bottle, so halving the price to $190 and $210 respectively suddenly makes this classic not out of the realms of possibility.
Hailey also directs attention to the 2003 Casa Lapostolle ‘BOROBO’ from Chile’s Colchagua Valley, which usually costs $210 a bottle, yours for just $105 on Friday nights.

“Borobo is a blend of Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy varietals and takes its name from the famous French regions (‘BO’ from Bordeaux, ‘RO’ from Rhone and ‘BO’ from Bourgogne) from where the classic grapes used within the blend originated,” she explains. .“The wine is deep red ruby with purple hints. The nose is elegant, rich and complex with a balance of red fruit, violets and notes of cassis and black fruits. The palate is soft and concentrated, with a beautiful freshness that gives a balance and a dimension of this unique composition of flavours followed by a long and elegant finish. The oak adds complexity with nutmeg, vanilla and sweet tannins.”

Still in the top range of wines on offer, Hailey says the Cabernet-based Super Tuscan 2004 Sassicaia from Bolgheri, Italy ($350 down to $175) is another excellent choice, a classic steak wine that would do justice to the palate with a rib-eye (try Seven’s 18oz prime bone-in rib-eye) or New York strip.

She furthers: “The wine is deep in colour with subtle notes of blackcurrant and vanilla on the nose. On the palate intense cassis flavours and prese mineral qualities dominate – ripe, fine grained tannins and firm adity framework the wine. The finish is poised, very long and elegant.”

A fillet steak, on the other hand, (such as Seven’s 8oz prime centre cut) might call for something slightly more delicate, such as a bottle of 2005 Domaine Drouhin, ‘Laurene’, Pinot Noir, from Oregon’s Dundee Hills, usually priced at $112 down to just $56.

“Named after Véronique Drouhin’s elder daughter, Laurène is Domaine Drouhin’s flagship wine, and is produced entirely from Pinot Noir grown on the family’s estate in the Dundee Hills. This Oregon Pinot Noir has an expressive nose of lilac and violet blossoms, and a wild array of red and black fruits, white pepper, clove and orange peel,” Hailey says.

But Seven is not simply a steak house, rather it has a range of no-fuss, simply prepared dishes that are expertly created and delious to eat.

Guntram Merl is The Ritz-Carlton’s Food and Beverage Director and says that Dover sole is probably the second most favourite dish on the Seven menu (top on the list is their filet mignon, followed by the Dover Sole, New York strip, then ribeye.)

“People know us as a steak house but we have so much more to offer!” he states. “The Dover sole, which is simply sautéed, is a real winner with our guests. It’s flown in three times a week from Boston, so it is super fresh. We are aware that not everyone wants to eat red meat so we are delighted to provide a wide selection for lighter dining.”

He adds: “The overriding theme of Seven is our top quality product. The flavour of the dish shines through the simple preparations because of the highest quality product that we use. For example, all our beef is Prime, a FDA label only given to the top two per cent of all beef that comes from the States.”

Hailey suggests a classic white Burgundy to complement the Dover sole, such as the 1998 Corton-Charlemagne, from Bonneau du Martray, normally at $165 but for Friday nights only $82.50 a bottle.

“The palate is smooth, consistent with flavours of terroir, apples and citrus zest, there are subtle minerals on the long finish,” she says.

Other favourites that work beautifully with fish include Chardonnay from California. Hailey states: “Some of my favourites include, Mer Soleil “Silver” (unoaked) from St. Lua Highlands, California ($75); and Chalk Hill from Chalk Hill, Sonoma County, California ($98). The old saying that you have to drink white wine with fish and chicken is passé. Light red wines with nice acidity also pair well with fish. Red Burgundies made from the Pinot Noir varietal are excellent with grilled tuna and salmon. The 2004 Louis Jadot, Vosne-Romanée, “Les Suchot” is a good example of a lighter style red that would nicely accommodate fish dishes.”

But if you really are cash strapped and all of the above are still way out of your price range, work your way through the wine list and you will find a wine that suit your budget on Friday nights.

Well-priced wines that are a favourite of Hailey’s include: 2007 Craggy Range, Sauvignon Blanc, from Martinbourough, New Zealand ($60 down to $30); 2006 Concha y Toro, ‘Amelia’, Chardonnay, from Casablanca Valley, Chile (from $75 to $36.50); 2002 Louis Latour, Meursault, from Burgundy, France ($85 to $42.50); 2007 Belle Glos, ‘Meiomi’, Pinot Noir, from Sonoma Coast, California ($65 to $32.50); 2006 Felipe Rutini, Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina ($65 to $32.50); 2005 Chapoutier, ‘Le Bernardine’, Châteauneuf du Pape, France ($75 to $36.50); and finally Biondi Santi, ‘Poggio Salvi’ Rosso di Montalno, from Tuscany, Italy ($60 to $30).

And if you choose a simple dish such as a straight forward roasted free-range half chicken ($22) or even a top sirloin in a Stilton cream sauce prepared Kobe style ($24), you are still going to walk away with change in your pocket out of $100 for two.

Then again, if you feel like pushing the boat out, why not splurge on a bottle of Champagne such as 2000 Dom Pèrignon, ($340 down to $170) which is, according to Hailey, rich, and opulent on the palate with flavours of green apple and trus zest combine with brioche, the finish is long and intensely crisp. Or perhaps a Bollinger ‘Special Cuvée’ Brut ($148 down to $74) with its complex aromas and flavours of flowers, grilled nuts, citrus with a muscular, full-bodied finish) and munch your way through a seafood platter to share ($40). Sounds like heaven to me.

Whatever you decide, Friday night is the night to choose it!



Seven Sommelier Hailey Wagner: The old saying that you have to drink white wine with fish and chicken is passé. Light red wines with nice adity also pair well with fish.