Tuscany Suites & Casino recently welcomed guests for a J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Wine Dinner inside fine-dining Italian restaurant Tuscany Gardens, just steps away from the Las Vegas Strip.
The elegant four-course dinner is paired with a variety of red and white wine vintages from the acclaimed family-owned and -operated winery with accompanying dishes from the restaurant’s Executive Chef Jose Martinez.
Located near the Tuscany Suites & Casino’s west entrance and across from Piazza Lounge, Tuscany Gardens features steak, seafood, veal, and homemade pastas complemented by the Chef Martinezes’ famous sauces. The menu includes a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list while a full bar with spirits and Champagne are also available.
Founded in 1971, J. Lohr covers more than 3,700 acres of estate vineyards including more than 1,300 acres in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands regions of Monterey County, with an emphasis on Chardonnay, Riesling, Valdiguié, and Pinot Noir; more than 2,300 acres in Paso Robles, now recognized for Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux and Rhone varietals; and 33 acres in Napa Valley.
Founder Jerry Lohr fell in love with wine while attending Stanford University and followed his instincts to help pioneer the Central Coast’s emergence as a winegrowing region.
While the company started from nothing, today it ranks among the top 30 wine producers in the United States, with annual U.S. sales exceeding 1 million cases. The winery offers four tiers of award-winning wines—J. Lohr Estates, J. Lohr Vineyard Series, J. Lohr Cuvée Series, and J. Lohr Gesture, with limited-release wines available only to tasting-room visitors, wine club members, and via the internet.
Seating for the J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Wine Dinner began just before sunset at Tuscany Gardens. Upon arrival, guests were seated in the restaurant’s elegant dining room, overlooking the property’s picturesque garden and pool area.
As Michael Skurow, Nevada Manager for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, provided guests with information on the evening’s wine selections, property Wine Director and Sommelier Kat Zdeb filled their glasses.
“There’s only a small percentage in the world of wineries that age their wines in barrels,” Skurow told guests, referring to J. Lohr’s roasty American, Hungarian, and French oak barrel signature. “At our winery, we have about 85,000 barrels. Imagine what it takes to manage those barrels.”
Skurow shared other tidbits about the winery and vineyards throughout the night. It turns out, for instance, that Tuscany Suites & Casino is J. Lohr’s largest Nevada client.
Courses for the wine dinner were as follows:
First Course – Insalata Di Gamberi & 2016 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay
Grown in the heart of the Arroyo Seco in Monterey County with winter and spring rainfall, the 2016 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay is a richly flavored, straw yellow Chardonnay. Cooler weather allowed the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. This wine was the Editor’s Choice for the July 2018 Wine Enthusiast Advance Wine Buying Guide, with a score of 92 points.
For the first course, the Chardonnay’s balanced stone and fruit flavors and long, sweet oak finish were perfectly paired with Insalata Di Gamberi, a light and tasty salad with frisée and spinach, grilled nectarine, shrimp, and feta, tossed in a palate-pleasing citrus dressing.
Second Course – Duck Ravioli & 2015 Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir
The darkest wine ever produced by J. Lohr and second only to the 2012 in terms of tannin structure, the Vineyard Series 2015 Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir has an elegantly refined structure and flavor with aromas of fruit and spice, melded with roasty oak. The 10th release of Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir, it was hand-harvested at night, destemmed and sorted on Pellenc sorting spindles, and transferred to open-top fermenters.
For the night’s second course, Martinez paired the elegant vintage from the foggy Arroyo Seco AVA with a tender and succulent duck ravioli and parsnip puree with parmigiano, micro herb, and a black plum sauce.
Third Course – Bison Tenderloin & 2014 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon
The most expensive wine of the night, J. Lohr’s Signature Cabernet Sauvignon was first produced as a challenge to J. Lohr’s winemakers to make the best possible wine in honor of Jerry Lohr’s 80th birthday. The second vintage of this limited-edition wine, it comes from company’s Beck Vineyard, located above the fog line in the Creston District of Paso Robles. Aged in French oak barrels for 17 months from coopers Demptos, Marcel Cadet, Nadalie, and Saint Marti, only 2,668 three-bottle cases were bottled in June 2016.
The nuanced Cabernet Sauvignon was paired with a hefty hunk of bison tenderloin that was served with portabelline mushroom, demi-glace, and a beautiful array of mixed carrots.
Desert – Chocolate Rum Cake & Vineyard Series 2014 Tower Road Petite Sirah
A hidden jewel in J. Lohr’s portfolio, according to Skurow, the Vineyard Series Tower Road Petite Sirah from Paso Robles is a bold and silky vintage that goes great with aromatic herbs and pan-seared meat dishes, but also with chocolate.
Ninety-five percent Petite Sirah, 3 percent Syrah, and 2 percent Grenache, the dense wine was paired with a huge piece of gooey chocolate Rum cake, served with a cherry compote and gelato.