Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finding Great Idaho Wines at the Grape Escape Wine Bar – Cinder and Fraser


After asking around during the day for a restaurant recommendation – a place where we could get fresh Idaho trout and a good wine list – the name Red Feather came up so often that we called there to book a table. It is located in the charming downtown area of Boise near the river and all of the shops. When we arrived a farmer’s market was in progress selling fresh produce and other goodies.

Red Feather, like most of the restaurants along the street, had outdoor seating, and as the night was a balmy 80F, we hoped to sit outside. Unfortunately we were escorted upstairs to a dark table with leopard skin booths in what seemed like the bar area. It seemed a strange place to seat 4 adults with 4 kids under the age of 12, but perhaps they were trying to hide us.

Despite my disappointment over our table, our server was excellent and the food was outstanding. We started with the smoked Idaho trout appetizer, and then ordered other fresh fish on the menu. They have an incredible wine list focusing on West Coast wines with a good by the glass selection, and an amazing glassed-in wine cellar that is 2 stories tall. Perhaps because we had tasted Idaho wine all day, I started with a glass of the Gruet NV Sparkling Brut from New Mexico – one of my standard favorites; and then moved on to an intriguing gruner vetliner from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

After dinner, we wandered around a bit and then settled into a wonderful outdoor table at the Grape Escape Wine Bar just down the street from the restaurant. Our server, Jackie, whose business card listed her job title as Room Brightener, was absolutely delightful and very knowledgeable about Idaho wine. She was also very good to the kids and had no problem with us ordering them ice cream from across the street and letting them eat it at our table -- while we 4 adults had our ‘ice cream.” We each ordered a big glass of red wine. My sister decided on an Oregon pinot noir; while my cousin Matt went for a Napa blend. Stacie and I chose to stay with Idaho and we asked Jackie for her recommendation on a big red. Her suggestions were right on…. and we ended up with two of our very favorite Idaho red wines:

2007 Cinder Winery Syrah – dark purple-black wine with rich blackberry and spice nose/palate. Good concentration and complexity with hints of smoke and espresso. Very long finish. Wow – this was the best red wine I tasted in Idaho. It reminded me of a big chewy Walla Walla syrah in style. Afterwards, we found out from Jackie that this wine was made by a woman winemaker who worked in Washington State at St. Michelle Winery for many years. (http://www.cinderwines.com/)

2007 Fraser Cabernet Sauvignon – an elegant cabernet with cassis, clove and herbal notes. Medium-bodied, but with good concentration. Finishes with a tart berry note. The wine bottle itself is very attractive with a plaid motif to emphasis the Scottish connection. (http://www.fraservineyard.com/)

So we ended the night on a great high at the Grape Escape Wine Bar, and I would recommend it as a definite stop on any Idaho wine-tasting trip.

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