More Wine Travels
By: George Balling
This past week I had an opportunity to travel to Fargo. It was my first time in this smaller city located just across the state line from Minnesota in North Dakota. It was a quick trip in and out with just one overnight stay. I always look forward to visiting someplace new just to check out the wine scene in another part of the country. As I have written many times the chance to peruse a new wine list is great fun for me, while after being in the wine business for over 15 years I find familiar names on any list I almost always find some new things I enjoy trying too.
First of all, if you ever go to Fargo you should stay at the Jasper Hotel, located in the small but central downtown. The Jasper is part of a 9-hotel chain that focuses on smaller cities. The hotel itself is new with a very sleek mid-century modern look and feel. When you enter the bar area and the Rosewild restaurant are off to the right and check in is straight ahead. The hotel is perfectly appointed with generous sized rooms and a fully equipped fitness center, pretty much everything you need.
The bar and restaurant both stick with the mid-century feel and look of the property with a long blonde wood bar top, low slung chairs with ample spacing between tables that well accommodate conversation. I met a former colleague for dinner at Rosewild and have to tell you the restaurant was fabulous. The eclectic menu covered all the bases and the food was expertly prepared, beautifully presented and simply delicious.
Most of you though don’t read this column every week for my travel advice so let’s talk about the wine and the wine list. Like the restaurant menu, the list covered all the necessary bases with new world and “old-world” selections, and enough choices to cover all of the proper price points. It was not a huge list by any means, but as most wine consumers appreciate you don’t need a choice of hundreds of bottles you just need to see the one you are in the mood for at that moment. The wine director nailed that part.
While I was waiting for my friend to join me, I was thrilled to find the ‘by the glass” list with a healthy representation of whites and reds, and even a dry rosé from Provence. It is a wine we have carried in the shop but hadn’t tried it in a bit so I ordered a glass of the Aix rosé crafted from Grenache and Mourvèdre the way most all are from the South of France. The wine is bone dry and clean with lovely raspberry flavors across the palate and steely minerality.
When we changed venue to our table for dinner, I looked to try a wine I had never had so ordered up a glass of the Straight Shooter Oregon Chardonnay. While I haven’t seen the wine in our local market here in North Idaho, I wish we could. It was lovely Chardonnay, with more restraint than many from California. The cooler growing conditions of the Willamette Valley showed through with bright fruit flavors of pear and apple, gentle oak barrel ageing allowed all the vibrant fruit and crisp acid balance to come through. We will be on the look out for this wine to add to the shop selections.
When we got to red wine the choice was challenging there were many great bottles from all the major US and “old world” appellations but we settled on the Bonny Doon le Cigare V. from the Central Coast of California. This Grenache dominant red wine has been consistently one of our favorites and it didn’t disappoint this time either, the wine was lovely and restrained with lush cherry notes and a mild savory character.
After dinner I was thrilled to find the Royal Tokaji late harvest wine offered by the glass. The perfect way to end an evening catching up with a good friend.
If there is any criticism of the list at Rosewild it would be that the list was a bit heavy with wines from the Wagner family and Caymus. Had it limited the choices in all other categories I would be more concerned about it, but it did not. My experience in Fargo with the wine list at Rosewild and the Jasper Hotel was A+ and would encourage you to stay there if you happen to be in Fargo and based on this experience to seek out their other hotels around the country.
Stop by the shop as we will add some of the wines mentioned above to the shelves as they come available.