Wednesday, May 26, 2010

P.F. Chang's and Vineyard 518 Wine

As my readers know, I enjoy the food at P.F. Chang's, despite the fact it is a chain and that some of the dishes may not be authentic Chinese cuisine. I like the taste of much of the food and think it is reasonably priced. It certainly is a popular restaurant, and there can sometimes be long waiting lines to get a table.

Recently, I had the opportunity, at a special media dinner, to try their new wines, the Vineyard 518 line. We got to sample the wines, paired with a number of dishes, which was a good way to do it. These are basically wines meant to be enjoyed with dinner, so how they interact with food is very important. Overall, it was a fun and delicious evening, especially as I sat with my friends Jackie, Lingbo and Lena.

You can read Jackie's thoughts about the wines in her article Boxed Wines and Me and Lingbo's thoughts in her article A Food Blogger Walks into P.F. Chang's.

P.F. Chang's created the Vineyard 518 label to introduce their new wines. According to Chinese numerology, 518 means "I will prosper." There are similar variations in numerology such as: 5189 ("I will prosper for a long time" and 516289 ("I will get on a long, smooth prosperous road"). Each year, they will work with a different winery to produces their wines, thus the grapes, blends and styles will vary each year.

For the initial release, they partnered with Wattle Creek Winery, a family-owned estate, and the grapes come from the Yorkville Highlands appellation in Mendocino, California. Two Vineyard 518 wines were produced this year, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Syrah blend.

Initially, I was impressed with the fact that these wines are packaged in 10-liter recyclable containers, essentially a large box wine. With ten liters, the box contains over 13 bottles of wine. The packaging weighs about half the weight of a traditional case of bottled wine, which thus reduces the carbon footprint during the shipping process. The box itself is also created from post-consumer cardboard and both the plastic bag insert and box are fully recyclable.

I have been an advocate for boxed wines for some time, and it is great to see such a large chain choosing to adopt that packaging. For them, the packaging poses an economic benefit as it costs less than if they had bottled their wine. Plus, the wine will last much longer in the box than if they had open bottles, so there will be much less waste. Fortunately for the consumer, those savings are being passed on to them.

Though price may vary by location, the Prudential location is serving these wines in three sizes: 1/2 glass (3.5oz for $4.50), full glass (7oz for $7.50) and a ½ carafe ($15.50). The full glass is a generous pour as most other restaurants only serve 5 or 6 oz pours, and it is also at a very reasonable price.

The Sauvignon Blanc has a bit of added Viognier, was fermented in stainless steel tanks, and has an alcohol content of 13.9%. I found this to be a simple, aromatic and easy drinking wine with prominent grapefruit and lemon flavors. It is crisp and makes for a good food wine. It went well with orange peel chicken and the chicken lettuce wraps.

The Syrah blend contains 86% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Zinfandel. It was aged in French and Eastern European oak, about 35%-40% new, and with a combination of medium and heavy toasting levels. This wine had a very fruity aroma, and those dark berry, plum, and black cherry flavors were very prominent on the palate as well. There were underlying spice notes, moderate tannins and overall, it was also an easy drinking wine, which paired well with the beef and duck dishes.

I think these are very consumer-friendly wines, easy drinking and food friendly. For the price, they are also a good value. They are not going to impress you with their complexity, but that is also not their intent.


Joshua S. Sweeney said...

I'm very glad to see their wines are well-suited to their purpose. I'm hoping more restaurants will follow suit for their house wines, as the savings in packaging could theoretically be applied to higher quality wine.

Richard Auffrey said...

I agree Joshua. This would be an excellent idea for many other restaurants to follow.