Archive for Pillar Box Red


Posted in Fleming's Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Philly BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2010 by ballymote

On Thursday evening, my brother Tom and his wife, Jill, hosted a “Sibling Dinner” at Fleming’s in Radnor. Tom, John and myself, along with my sisters Cathy and Mary Ann, were joined by our spouses, Jill, Kathy and Joanne, along with special guests, Matthew and Jenna Mitchell, who are two of Tom’s closest friends. It was a great evening of laughs and conversation as the Mitchell’s got to hear a few of our family secrets and he and his lovely wife entertained us with tales of growing up in the South. Matthew just completed a very successful year as coach of the University of Kentucky’s women’s basketball team which finished 28-8 and earned an appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women’s Tourney. Matthew was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. Matthew maintains his humility in light of his accomplishments and his wife Jenna makes sure that he stays that way!

Flemings has a nice wine list with over 100 wines by the glass. We chose the 2006 Patz and Hall, Russian River Valley, Dutton Ranch, Chardonnay, the 2006 Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2007 Adelsheim Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Williamette Valley. The Ghost Block was very good and a perfect match for the steaks served at Flemings. The Adelsheim Pinot was rich and flavorful and was a nice sipping wine. It might be noted that some of the wines by the glass are extremely high-priced in relation to what the wine sells for locally. Two examples would be the Pillar Box Red (an Australian shiraz blend) available at $9.75 a glass at Flemings and sold currently as a Chairman’s Selection in PA State Stores at $6.99 a bottle and the Bommarito Cabernet at a hefty $19.50 a glass and available in the stores as another Chairman’s Selection at $14.99 per bottle.

The staff at Fleming’s were especially accommodating as Kyle, the Manager, went out of his way to provide us with a round table for ten and Jill, our server, in addition to providing helpful menu advice, made frequent appearances to keep us abreast of scores on the Flyers, Phillies and also, draft picks, as the NFL draft was taking place in NY.

Most of us started our meal with a soup or salad. My Wedge was fresh with lots of crisp bacon, ripe tomatoes and creamy chunks of blue cheese. John and MaryAnn loved the French Onion soup which is prepared with three different cheeses.

Kathy ordered the Surf & Turf which featured a medium bone-in steak and an Australian lobster tail with lemon and butter. She really enjoyed as much as she could and took a nice portion home for another meal which she generously let me have last night. It was still good the next day, especially the lobster.

I think John’s entree looked the best of all of them as his Seared Scallops in a lobster creme sauce accompanied with  a puff pastry of sauteed fresh vegetables looked absolutely delicious. John was very pleased with his choice. My sister, Cathy ordered from one of the evening specials. I believe it was a filet of sole with hush puppies. I had the Filet Mignon and it was cooked perfectly and very flavorful. We had ordered several sides for the table, the Flemings potatoes, a house specialty made with creme, jalapeno and cheddar cheese, excellent, I might add, creamed spinach and sauteed spinach and our final “SIDE” , the inappropriately named “onion rings”. I was thinking “Gigantic Tower of Onion Rings” would have been more appropriate. These were not only enough for our table but may have fed Matthew’s entire U of K basketball team with leftovers to take home. They came with a tangy jalapeno aoili and were delicious.

Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal and since both the Flyers and Phillies had won we were all in a good mood and ready for dessert.

I think I saw a cheesecake or two on the table and I know I saw others besides myself with the Creme Brulee.

It had a nice crunchy layer and a perfectly prepared center topped with fresh blackberries and strawberries. It was a great way to end a very good meal.

It’s nice to have an opportunity to spend some time with family members in a nice setting like Flemings with good food, wine and friendships. My thanks to Tom and Jill for arranging this. Best wishes to Matthew and Jenna for continues success.


Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by ballymote

We can’t always afford to drink the absolute best wines. Well, maybe some of us can but, I’m not in that elite group. That’s why I am constantly searching for the best QPR wines. QPR stands for Quality Price Ratio and simply means that for the money spent you are getting a better wine than what you might expect at that price point. Defined in other terms it means you are drinking a $12.00 wine that tastes like a $30 wine. These are wines that don’t break our budget. They are wines we can open with pizza or just to sip on the deck on a warm summer evening. There are many such wines and each person has their own favorites. here are a few of my current favorites:IMG_2503

Keep in mind that “everyday wines” can be constantly changing and are certainly not limited in any way to the six bottles pictured above. These are simply good representatives of the group. From left to right these wines are

2002 Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz

2005 Domaine “La Garrigue” Cotes Du Rhone

2005 Sainte Leocadie, Les Clauses, Minervois

2005 Green Lion, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Cotes du Ventoux

and resting comfortably in the forefront is my perennial favorite in the QPR group the

2007 Pillar Box RED

The Pillar Box Red is from Australia and each year is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Some years are better than others but all of them are very good. A couple of years ago this was available for $7.99 but obviously the word got out and it’s now going for $12.99 in most stores (Circle Liquors has it for $10.99 (shhhhhhhhhh..don’t tell anyone).

The Thorn-Clark Terra Barossa Shiraz is also from Australia and is loaded with lots of berry fruit flavors and usually sells for about $15.00.

The Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses is a steal at $14.00 and is a delicious blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from the Cotes du Ventoux. It almost always scores 90 points from Parker and Wine Spectator.

The Sainte Leocadie, Les Clauses is from the Minervois region of France, it is light and fragrant and matches up well with a wide variety of food items from pasta to beef. It usually sells for about $13.00 but I bought a case for $9 per bottle from the Wine Library in North Jersey after watching Gary Vaynerchuk, the marketing mastermind from Wine Library TV. Great Value!!

The 2005 Domaine “La Garrigue” Cotes du Rhone is good stuff. Here is what Robert Parker had to say about it in his rating:

91 Points – Robert Parker (Wine Advocate)

“The 2005 Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine, a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah, is a fabulous example of how high quality Cotes du Rhones can be. Made under the auspices of the brilliant oenologist Philippe Cambie, this wine comes from the estate`s oldest head-pruned vines of 60 to 90 years old. Dense ruby/purple with terrific black cherry and black currant fruit, full-bodied essence of Provencal fruit, herbs, incense, and spice, this essentially tastes more like a Vacqueyras than a Cotes du Rhone and is beautifully ripe, full-bodied, opulent, and also vibrant, which is in keeping with this top-notch vintage.”

I would simply add that if you are lost in a wine store with NO IDEA what to buy. It’s hard to go wrong with any Cotes du Rhone as they usually are priced very reasonably between $10.00 and $15.00 with a large selection to choose from. Do I have to tell you they’d be located in the section that reads “FRANCE”??

2005 Green Lion, Napa, Cabernet is a Chris Ringland product. Chris is a talented winemaker from “down under” who makes a wide range of excellent wines under the “R Wines” brand. He is teamed with importer, Dan Phillips who carries the Grateful Palate lineup of wines. It’s a wonderful example of a Napa Cab that could sell for 2 to 3 times it’s $16.00 price tag.

OK, there are 6 wines that should keep you heart-healthy and your thirst quenched. Enjoy!!