Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bottle Wars Commencing at Fleming's

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse
455 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Fleming's is quickly becoming one of my favorite spots to visit. Not only is their food very good, but they keep introducing new food items and having great promotions. This month alone they have a Memorable Feast for Two that is three courses for $99, and they are also having their Last Call Sale, where patrons can save 25% off bottles of wine. As much as I would have loved to have taken advantage of these offers, we were here for two other happenings going on at Fleming's, the introduction of their new Bar La Carte menu and Bottle Wars.

Bottle Wars is a fun, competitive way that Fleming's is introducing their latest version of the Fleming's 100. After a year long search, and numerous tastings, Fleming's introduces a new list of 100 wines offered by the glass. They leave about 25 to 30 wines on the list from the previous year, so that leaves 70 to 75 new wines for people to discover. Fleming's has come up with a great way to get people to sample some of these by having wine tastings every Friday night in September. Not your average wine tasting though. Fleming's is pitting wines against each other, based on style, location, and price. On the Friday we were here, it was a Battle of the Hemispheres. For $25 you get to sample wines from New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and Chile, then see how they compare against wines from California. Here are the pairings, and what we thought was best.

The first match up pitted two Sauvignon Blanc's against each other. The Kim Crawford  was from New Zealand and had a slight fruitiness to it. I would have liked a little more sweetness out of it. The Hanna, from the Russian River Valley of California was my clear winner here. It was a clean tasting wine, with subtle hints of citrus. Score one for California wines!

Next up was the Chardonnay round, which had Women of the Vine, from California's Central Coast, going up against Indaba, from South Africa. The Women of the Vine was pretty mild for my taste. It needed a little something more. The Indaba was the clear favorite in my book. It had more substance behind it, and had a wonderful depth to it. We are all tied up now, California and the Southern Hemisphere knotted up at one apiece.

Also included in the $25 for wine tasting is the inclusion of some appetizers from Fleming's. The night we were here they started us off with these Shrimp Skewers with chimichurri. These went very well with the white wines we had. These shrimp should not be called shrimp, because they were so large. Very tasty, well seasoned shrimp, and the chimichurri sauce went very well with these. A nice respite from the wine tasting, but now it was on to round three.

Round three featured red blends, The Prisoner from Napa Valley versus Yalumba from Australia. This was the most difficult match up for me. They both were pretty good. I gave the edge to The Prisoner because the flavor lingered longer, and with more complexity. The Yalumba was good, but I did not get the intense finish I was expecting. California wines up 2 to 1 now.

The people at Fleming's may have been wanting to move things along, or they might have noticed my Dad getting a little rambunctious, so they sent out the next appetizer rather quickly. This Mushroom Crostini may have lacked meat, but it was delicious anyways. The bread had a nice crunch to it, the mushroom added a little meatiness, and the Gorgonzola cheese added a lot of flavor.

Cabernet Sauvignon was next to be tried, with Educated Guess from Napa Valley going against South American favorite, Primus, from Chile. This Chilean wine was my Dad's favorite of the night. He was trying to convince everyone to vote for it as well. He was very passionate about the rich fruit flavor of this one. The Educated Guess was a little too creamy for my taste, but not a bad wine by any means. We are all tied up with one more match up to go.

The last of our three appetizers was this Apple and Blue Cheese Flatbread. I am not usually a big fan of mixing fruits and cheeses, but this one worked out pretty well. The bread portion of this was sturdy enough to hold the toppings, and the blue cheese really made this pop with flavor.

Merlot's were the last wines of the evening. The California contender was Dreaming Tree from the North Coast of California. This wine is backed by musician Dave Matthews. It had a real rich fruity taste to start, then a peppery flavor took over. The Esk Valley, from New Zealand had a rich bouquet of fruitiness, then finished with a nice hint of vanilla. This wine won this match up, and won the tasting for the Southern Hemisphere. To be truthful though, all of these wines were winners. They all had their own unique qualities to them, and maybe your wine palette is different from mine. You have two more opportunities to enjoy this wine tasting, tomorrow and the next Friday, September 28th, but you can enjoy the new Fleming's 100 glasses of wine for the next 11 months.

The other two bloggers that were attendance, Anne Marie from Brekkie Fan's Blog and Tiffany from Wine Taste Travel, and myself got to have the added bonus of checking out the new Bar La Carte Menu. This menu was recently introduced in the bar, and features seven appetizers/light meals that are available anytime. We got seated at a table and got to break into this bread. If you have not had the bread at Fleming's, it is one of the best ways to start a meal. It came out warm and was served alongside two great spreads. The Sundried Tomato and Basil is good, but the Feta Cheese Spread had a great flavor to it. I knew a lot of food was on the way, so I tried to limit myself to only a few pieces of bread.

Of course Fleming's is famous for their meat, so it was a natural that we start with their Prime Rib Melt. This hefty sandwich comes with Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and a whole grain mustard slaw. The meat was of course tender, the Swiss helped give a little extra flavor boost and the slaw added a little extra crunch. Good solid sandwich, and not a bad way to start off this Bar La Carte Menu..

This was the most interesting item that we tried the whole night, the Salt and Pepper Shrimp. This appetizer also came with crispy French green beans and a rich caper-mustard sauce. The shrimp were very good. I did not detect the salt here, but the pepper was evident. I am not a big green bean fan, but with this very flavorful sauce, it even made these taste good. The serving size for this was very generous as well.

This hearty dish is the Prime Steakhouse Meatballs. The meatballs were of course the big draw here, but the peppercorn sauce and shiitake mushrooms should not be overlooked. They both helped make this more of a meal than just an appetizer. I could imagine eating this comforting dish on a cold winter night.

Going around the table at the end of the meal, this House Made Burrata seemed to be a clear favorite. I did not get a chance to try this, because I was getting full and wanted to save room for the last two appetizers. The burrata was served with charred grape tomatoes, wild arugula, and toasted garlic crostinis.

We ended our night with two flatbreads. The Filet Mignon Faltbread was very tasty, with its Danish blue cheese, Monterey jack cheeses and red onion confit. Just typing these words makes my mouth water. The Cedar Roasted Mushroom and Artichoke Flatbread may have been missing meat, but it still was a nice light option here. The red peppers, jack cheese, and garlic married well here to create a very flavorful union.

It was quite a night at Fleming's. As you can see from this post, there is always something happening here. On this Friday night the restaurant was popping and the bar was filled to capacity. We even had a visit from Fleming's founder, Paul Fleming. Just like the rest of the staff, he made us feel real comfortable. A special thanks goes out to PR guru, Lee Healy for the invite to Fleming's. Also we would like to thank all of the staff at Fleming's. Everyone we have ever run across is always so pleasant and nice. Thank you all very much, we look forward to coming back soon!

For more information on Fleming's, and all the happening there, click here:


  1. Ahh, the wine. It was all about the wine and yes, my favorite of the night was Primus.
    Esk Valley had such a peppery finish is actually made me sneeze.
    The appetizers were fantastic living up to Flemings high standard for cuisine.
    Thanks, Mike for allowing your 'old man' the opportunity to share an evening in such good company.

  2. Dad, Thanks for going with me. It was a great night all around!