Crystal Bay Steakhouse delights with its Award Winning Wine List

“Something for Everyone”

Crystal Bay Steakhouse delights with its Award Winning Wine List

From its historic beginning in 1937 as Ta-Neva-Ho, to the massive renovation in 2003, the Crystal Bay casino and related enterprises have been a fixture on State Rd 28 in Crystal Bay, NV for more than 70 years. Steak and Lobster has been a keynote of the cuisine there for many years, but the magnificent wine list of the Crystal Bay Steakhouse is a well kept public secret. You must experience it, and you will be delighted!

Wine Consultant Patty Ruhl is the moving force behind this wonderful list, and she works hand in hand with Food & Beverage Director Harold Peskin, to create a “something for everyone” list that continues to win awards. It’s not all steak and lobster either; the cuisine is wide-ranging in taste and texture, and the wines are chosen to match the chefs’ talents too.

“Food tastes better with wine, and vice-versa,” notes Patty. “We have some very hard to find wines that sell for over $1000 a bottle, and we have many wines in the $15-25 dollar range too. We know that most of our clients will look for a California wine, and our selection is excellent.”

The extensive wine list notes dozens of wines that have been knighted by the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast or Robert Parker with 90+ point ratings. For some, that makes selection easier, but Patty is always interested in helping you choose a wine that fits your own palate, dinner selection and budget.

We began with a shrimp/bacon appetizer, and Patty paired that with a Ramey 2004 Russian River Chardonnay. Its crisp acidity was nicely noticeable, but it is toasty and butter-scotchy, with lots of ripe fruit flavors such as melon, pear and peach showing through. I liked its full body, and its rich and long finish. 14.5% alcohol.

The Four Graces-Reserve 2007 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, is another seafood friendly wine. It appeared along with an Alaskan Halibut that was macadamia-nut crusted. A good pairing! This Pinot Noir is a great New World Burgundy with soft tannins, a fruit-forward taste redolent of blackberries and damson plum. French oak contributes a velvety soft mouthfeel. 13.5% alcohol. I like the whimsical name of the wine -- Four Graces is named in honor of the four daughters of founders Steve and Paul Black, who started the winery in 2003 in the Red Hills of Dundee, where they wanted to make consistently outstanding Pinot Noirs representative of this unique terroir. Alexis, Vanessa, Christiana, and Jillian are honored with this wine. Brother Nicholas is recognized on the Reserve as "Keeper of The Four Graces."

Martinelli’s Terra Felice Syrah 2004 is a Russian River beauty. This is a very special wine, made by famed winemaker Helen Turley. One reviewer proclaimed that this wine was “exuberant”, an apt description. It has spice, black pepper, violets and other florals, blackberry, oak , raspberries– wonderfully complex and 14.8% alcohol. Served with a Colorado lamb with shitake mushroom and port wine demiglaze: perfect.

A nice feature of the wine list is a category called “ Pick-A-Grape” . Among the reds, that includes a good list of wines for those who love Sangiovese, Barbera, Grenache, Cab Franc etc. Among the whites, you’ll find Viognier, Rosado, Pinot Gris and Riseling, and many others. It’s a great way to try a new taste sensation and experience grapes with which you might not be familiar.

Wrapping it all up nicely was a Far Niente Dolce 2004 Napa Valley Late Harvest dessert wine. Honey honey honey, I loved it. 14.1% alcohol.

The Crystal Bay Steakhouse is located at 14 State Highway 28, just on at California/Nevada border. Reservations are suggested. 775 833 6333.

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© 2010 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of
The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in May 2010.

Watch for my forthcoming book: "Wineries of the Sierra and Its Foothills." Publication date early Summer 2011, Wine Appreciation Guild Publishing.

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