We went for dinner with a couple that had joined the Cooper’s Hawk Wine Club, and we by passed the wine tasting room that is your immediate sight when entering the restaurant. The tasting room reminded me of some of the spiffier wineries that we have been to, over the years, but with a big crowd. It reminded me of some of the wineries that we have done tastings at, when the tour busses empty out a crowd that wants to get hammered. A great business plan from a single restaurant that opened in 2005 and started making wines as an adjunct to their business. After rapid growth in non-winery settings, they have been purchased by a private equity group, and I saw an article which stated that at the time of the article that they were the 29th largest wine producer in the country, which is quite a feat since the “winery” is in Illinois. We were going to try to get the top featured wine as part of the dinner, but the waiter as well as the couple that had the club membership, could not explain the why we couldn’t get the wine with dinner. The waiter gave some convoluted answer, so I did not want to make an issue of it. While the restaurant did serve cocktails and beer, the only wines and there were about sixty offered, were all house wines and most of the people that I saw were having wines by the bottle and they had elaborate decanter/aerators that they would bring to the table.
We started off with some appetizers, and I went with their “Over the Border Egg Rolls” which were house-made with Southwest Chicken, Corn, Black Beans, Cilantro and Cheese accompanied with a bowl of Tomato Salsa, Cilantro Ranch and Cashew Dipping Sauces. It was actually quite tasty and ample for the table and too much for one person. We also started off with a Cooper’s Hawk Merlot America NV. The back label stated “the best wines come from the best fruit. The grapes used to make this were grown by the top vineyards in the country, where growing conditions have been ideal.” The wine had a pretty red color and offered notes of dark fruits. On the palate some black cherry and some spices with balance tannins, but not a long finish.
For our entrées the other couple both had the Trio of Medallions of Horseradish, Bleu Cheese and Parmesan-Crusted Filet Medallions with Mary’s Potatoes and Asparagus. My Bride had Blackened Ahi Tuna, seared rare with Wasabi Sauce, Cilantro Citrus Ric and Asian Slaw, while I had the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with oven-roasted vegetables, Mary’s Potatoes, Grainy Dijon Mustard Butter and Crispy Onion Strings. The service was very attentive and one of the orders of medallions were over cooked and a new order was brought over as quick as possible. For this course we had a bottle of Cooper’s Hawk Malbec NV, I forgot to take a photo of the back label, so I am not sure if the wine was from America or not. A pretty deep purple wine with notes of dark fruit and spices. On the palate there were tones of black fruit and cassis, a touch of lavender and good tannins. I am sorry, but the entire time tasting and drinking the two wines, I kept thinking that they were almost perfect specimens. I was thinking, are these from concentrates, why are there no vintages and were these finely crafted wines courtesy of food coloring, and flavor enhancements? I have tried Merlot and Malbec wines that have not tasted like the wines that they purported to be, and yet both of these wines were perfect as if done by committee. I can’t explain it, but I felt like this was the “Stepford Wives” of wines. Though I would go back again to try some different wines, I enjoyed the meal and the experience.