Category Archives: Andrew Chalk

Max’s Wine Dive in Fort Worth Introduces New Menu For Fall

IMG_0003by Andrew Chalk

Max’s Wine Dive, the popular restaurant with the slogan “Fried Chicken and Champagne?…Why the Hell Not?!” just revamped their menu for Fall and Crave was at the media event to roll it out. From small plates to large, it looks like a winner.

Go to the section of the menu entitled “Chef Stefon’s Fall Menu” and start with PB&J Wings ($10), chicken wings in Max’s signature batter and slathered with thai peanut sauce and blackberry coulis (a variation on sweet and sour). But take plenty of napkins as this can be a messy dish as well.   Continue reading

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Selling Texas Wines Outside Texas’ Borders: What Can Texas Wineries Learn From Gruet Winery?

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by Andrew Chalk

Gruet Winery sells almost 130,000 cases of wine a year, the best of it made from New Mexico grapes and clearly labelled as such. Its retail and on-premise (restaurant and club) reach extends to 49 states in the U.S., plus Japan and the Caribbean. Gruet is sui generis in this respect. No other winery from New Mexico has a footprint outside of the state.

Texas wineries are at an inflexion point in the industry’s history. They are quality-competitive with like-for-like varietals from other states, but that fact is not known outside the state. As a result, out-of-state sales are much lower than they could be. Obviously, a good product is not sufficient to sell nationally. Something else is needed.

What lessons does Gruet’s success have for Texas wineries in expanding their sales footprint outside the state? What are the key factors that led to Gruet’s success? Was it distribution? If so, does on-premise or off-premise distribution matter more? Is it reviews? If so, which review sites matter? How important is editorial coverage in wine blogs? How important are blind tastings? What about word-of-mouth?  Continue reading

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Sparkling Wine: Anna Gets Her Bubbles On

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by Andrew Chalk

Make a wine in Spain that sparkles like Champagne, use the same winemaking technique, use (pretty much) the same grapes and you have a wine that tastes like Champagne but at half the price. In Spain, Cava is the best known type of wine made like this and we had a couple of bottles from one of the best-known producers come into the office recently. With the help of some sparkling wine fans, I got to taste them. Cava comes from specific areas in the region surrounding Barcelona so, next month, it may cease to be Spanish at Catalans go to vote on independence for Catalonia on November 9th. We will be drinking ‘Cava di Catalunya’.

The Anna de Codorniu Brut, NV (non-vintage), $15 SRP, is made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Parellada (one of the traditional Spanish varieties). It is light, creamy and lively. It does not have the common almond flavor associated with Cava and might be described as a less complex rendering of a light Champagne such as Perrier-Jouet.   Continue reading

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Zodiac Vodka Launches This Month

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by Andrew Chalk

It’s from Snake River Idaho and made from potatoes. Zodiac vodka goes on sale this month in select Texas markets, being sold through Goody Goody’s and Spec’s. According to our press release machine (which, incidentally, will also run on potatoes).  Continue reading

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Wine of The Week: Classic California Chardonnay for $18

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by Andrew Chalk

2013 Franciscan Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley is what I would serve someone who asked me “What are the hallmarks of California Chardonnay?” Most of them are here and upfront at that.

There is the vanilla in the nose, reflecting the ample use of French oak in the ageing process. Plus the bouquet of tropical fruit, in this case mango. The soft, creamy mouthfeel from a full malolactic fermentation (in which yeast converts the tart malic acid, typical of green apples, to softer lactic acid). The flavors of tropical fruit, confirming the nose, plus ripe yellow apples, ripe red grapefruit, a medium acidity level and a medium finish. It is not overly complex but $18 is a pretty aggressive price for a Chardonnay made from expensive Napa Valley fruit.  Continue reading

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Sammy’s Brings Solid Barbecue To Uptown Dallas

IMAG0134Pork Ribs at Sammy’s

by Andrew Chalk

Marshall Prichard stokes the firebox of one of the three smokers he fuels to barbecue the brisket and pork ribs he serves at his Sammy’s Texas Barbecue in Uptown. The brisket smokes for 10-12 hours at around 225⁰F on mesquite.

It is the day of the Texas OU game and he is expecting a crowd in to watch the game on the screens set up around the walls. I attend as part of a media event. As well as the main indoor area, Sammy’s has two patios. A covered one adjoins the restaurant and has a door to the large back parking lot. On the other side of the restaurant a patio offers a grass covered surface and is a favorite with dog owners (Prichard is a big dog lover himself). That patio also has an outdoor smoker which is brought into use at special events. Believe it or not, Sammy’s does over 100 wedding rehearsal dinners a year, reflecting the desire of local families to offer something decidedly Texan to their out-of-state guests.   Continue reading

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Ruth’s Chris To Feature Bubbles and Bordeaux At Special Wine Pair Dinner This Weekend

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by Andrew Chalk

Crave readers who enjoy French wine and steak will want to look into a wine dinner this Sunday evening at many Ruth Chris’ restaurants nationally (including Dallas and Fort Worth).

Per the press release….

–Ruth’s Chris Steak House will offer guests a chance to explore the flavors of France with “Bubbles to Bordeaux,” a five-course pairing dinner on Sunday, October 19 at 95 participating restaurants nationwide.  Continue reading

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