The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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I n 1965, Ruth Fertel was a single mother living in New Orleans. She couldn't afford to put her son through college. So, she mortgaged her home to buy Chris' Steaks, hoping the investment would bring in the money they both needed. Fertel drew on her technical background as a chem- istry lab technician to perfect an 1,800-degree broiler that churned out consistent steaks at the restaurant. She turned major setbacks, including a devastating fire, into opportunities. The restaurant grew into a collection of local steak houses, now with 145 locations, with another open- ing in Dallas this fall. On June 11, Ruth's Chris Steak House honored its 50th anniversary with five-course wine dinners held at 100 locations across the United States. The San Francisco event featured special guests from the wine and spirits industry. Pairings included an Old Fashioned made with Casa Noble Añejo Tequila paired with spicy New Orleans shrimp and grits. "The blue agave used in this cocktail took 12 years to get into the bottle," said Casa Noble Founder Jose "Pepe" Hermosillo. They're a very traditional distiller; also the first tequila maker to be certified green in Mexico, certified Organic in the United States. Janet Myers, Director of Winemaking at Franciscan Estate, presented Cuvée Sauvage for the fresh moz- zarella and Kumato tomato salad. Introduced in 1987, Cuvée Sauvage was Napa Valley's first Chardonnay fermented solely with native yeasts. "It's a very pure, simple process as done in Burgundy 200 years ago," Myers explained. "The wine spends its entire 14-month life in barrel." French onion soup came with the Tom Gore Vineyards 201 2Field Blend, Alexander Valley, the first vintage for this red, Bordeaux-varietal blend. Gore, a longtime vineyard manager, calls it "a farmer's wine." He said, "We want this wine to be about fruit and terroir, not barrels and winemaking influence." The final two wines of the night were Robert Mondavi Winery's Cabernet Sauvignon and Moscato d'Oro from Napa Valley, accompanied by Ruth's Favorites, a sizzling New York Strip and crème brûlée. In honor of Ruth's Chris Steak House's anniversary, the 2012 Cabernet was bottled with an elegant, throwback label, replicating that from Mondavi's first vintage of 1966. 40  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2015 MILESTONES Fifty Years of Sizzle RUTH'S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE CELEBRATES HALF A CENTURY by Fred Swan Special guest hosts Jose "Pepe" Hermosillo, Founder of Casa Noble Tequila; Janet Myers, Director of Winemaking and General Manager of Franciscan Estate; and Tom Gore, Grape Farmer and Vineyard Manager of Tom Gore Vineyards at the Ruth's Chris Steak House 50th Anniversary dinner in San Francisco. PHOTO: RICK CAMARGO

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