Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Patz & Hall Chardonnay at The Olde Pink House Savannah

Patz & Hall Chardonnay at the legendary historic Olde Pink House Restaurant in Savannah

Despite its large capacity seating in the countless dining rooms, The Olde Pink House in Savannah is one of the toughest reservations to get in town. We dined at the historic colonial mansion turned restaurant, an icon of Savannah's historic district with a history as old as Savannah itself. The Olde Pink House recently celebrated their 250th year anniversary as a building and nearly 100 years as a restaurant.

We were visiting Savannah for the week for a mini-family reunion with Sister Jan from So-Cal. During our short week, we also dined at Husk Restaurant, Chive and several local cuisine eateries as part of the Savannah Squares Food Tour.


Food & Wine Magazine named it #5 of the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America in 2023 with over twenty thousand reviews.

USA Today featured The Olde Pink house as the lone Georgia entry according to OpenTable's 2022 list of the "Top 100 Restaurants" in the United States. The "most beloved restaurants coast-to-coast" were based on 13 million reviews by diners who booked via OpenTable this year and 20,000 diners surveyed in the U.S. and Canada.

Featuring 47 cities across 21 states, the list is "curated for diners" and "by diners" looking for ideas now or in the new year, OpenTable said in a statement. Qualifying restaurants were scored by data points such as overall diner rating, the reviewing accountholder's "clout" on OpenTable, total number of reviews and overall regional rating.

The Olde Pink House Restaurant was the sole mention from the State of Georgia on the list. 

California dominated the list with 21 restaurants, giving the most populous state in the U.S. the most "top 100" restaurants.

Chicago was the city with the largest number of restaurants: all 17 restaurants that ranked from Illinois are in the Windy City. 

The Olde Pink House has a long fabled history in Savannah. It was the residence of  Savannah's James Habersham Jr., a pioneering merchant and wealthy planter, he built the original residence in 1771 on a land allotment granted by the Crown of England. 

In 1811, a decade after his passing, the Habersham property became home to the Planters’ Bank, the first bank in Georgia. Later, in 1864, the house became a military generals’ headquarters for Union troops following Maj. Gen.William Tecumseh Sherman’s Civil War Siege of Savannah

The timeline of the building can be found on the back of restaurant menu, but the menu selections offer much about the history of the City that occurred during the port city’s checkered past: overlooked immigrants, wayward travelers, enslaved peoples brought here against their will.

“The very story we tell through our food is one of survival,” Proprietor Jeffress says. “It’s a way of honoring all of those hardworking people who endured, so that we can be here [today].”

The Olde Pink House features numerous dining rooms throughout, each one appointed with historic decor.

The building is full of history with much care and attention to every last detail. Revived period pieces curated by owner Donna Moeckel fill the walls of The Olde Pink House - Ivy curls around the Palladian portico, crystal chandeliers shimmer in every room and an extensive oil-painting collection tells the story of Savannah through centurial seaside vignettes and portraits of the city’s esteemed citizens.

The menu is extensive with a broad selection of a dozen Appetizers, eight Soups and Salads, more than a dozen entrees, complemented by no less than twenty Sides offerings.

The winelist offers no less than forty wines by the glass WBTG - twenty whites, Sparkling and Rose, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Other Varietals, and twenty reds - Cabernets, Merlot, Pinot Noir and other varietals - all moderately priced. With such a broad selection, there's no need to order a bottle since everyone can order their preferred selection to suit their entry pairing unless one chooses a more premium selection only available by the bottle. We ordered a bottle since it was the best consensus offering as it paired well with all our entrees. 

The basement level has a large cavernous dining room in the bar room. There, is the old vault that today houses a wine cellar, that is more for show than a functional working cellar. The old cellar vault was once used as the bank vault.

Having done the Savannah Food Tour in the afternoon, coupled with an early dinner, we had a light dinner of soup, salads, sides and wine. The staff were understanding and accommodating with gracious, personable, attentive service.

We started with the Cheese Plate with Capital Bee Honeycomb and Fresh Fruit (below).
It was rather minimal and was served with some rather strange crunches that were more akin to Fritos than crackers, too 'big' and thus not well suited to accompanying the cheese or honey selection, in our collective view. The staff were not able to accommodate our request for crackers or bread of any type as an alternative.

Bill and I started with the Strawberry Arugula Salad with goat cheese, spiced pecans and poppyseed vinagrette.

My main course was the Savannah specialty, "Low Country She Crab" soup. I have to say, it was not as delectable as that served on the Food Tour at Rhett's near the waterfront. 

Linda had the Pulled Pork Sliders with Cheerwine BBQ sauce, vegetable slaw and Bread and Butter pickles. They were lean as she hoped, and as promised.

Jan had the Fried Green Tomatoes with Grits

For a wine selection we had from the winelist a bottle of the Patz and Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.

 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2018

Patz & Hall was founded in 1988 by Donald and Heather Patz, and James Hall and Anne Moses, the collaboration dating back to early 1980s when assistant winemaker James Hall and national sales manager Donald Patz struck up a close friendship while working at Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards. 

They shared a vision to produce rich, compelling wines from fruit sourced from elite, small vineyards. 

James and Anne Moses visited France and Burgundy in 1986, and were impressed by the talented and dedicated vignerons and winemakers who crafted rich and powerful Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. That alerted them to look to cooler growing sites with distinct terroir in Napa Valley for Chardonnay and Sonoma Coast for Pinot Noir, to create a collection of Chardonnays and Pinot Noir that reflected the great wine regions of California.

Patz & Hall have become one of California’s highly regarded wineries with a notable portfolio of exceptional limited-production single-vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines leveraging close personal relationships with many of California’s finest growers including Larry Hyde, Lee Hudson and the Martinelli and Pisoni families.

Over three decades Patz & Hall have established long-term relationships with the very best small, family-owned world class sites of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards in California. They produce a broad diverse portfolio of notable cuvées and sought-after single-vineyard wines from world-class vineyards in the acclaimed Sonoma Coast appellation.

This label is sourced from a "who's who" of the appellation's most renowned vineyards, including Sanchietti Vineyard, Gap's Crown Vineyard, Zio Tony Ranch, Dutton Ranch, and Durrell Vineyard. 

Winemaker Notes - 

The 2018 offering is a collection of fourteen single-vineyard quality sites that could all be bottled on their own including; Dutton Ranch, Sanchietti Vineyard, Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Zio Tony Ranch and Durell Vineyard. The wine has inviting aromas of spicy pear, lemon drop and lime zest. As a cool-climate Chardonnay, there’s a nice tartness on the palate giving the wine great poise, balance and energy. A pretty floral note adds a layer of complexity and melds with the peach nectar and apple flavors on the long finish.

This is 100% Chardonnay sourced from partner grower vineyards on the Sonoma Coast. It was aged in 28% new Burgundian French oak barrels.

This label release was awarded 92 Points by Jeb Dunnuck and 92 Points by Wine Enthusiast.

Golden straw colored, medium-bodied, with rich vibrant lemon, green apple, melon, crushed stone, and white flower-like aromas and flavors finishing with hints of brioche and toasted oak on a long and focused crisp acidic finish.

RM 91 points.  

Lilac & Kracher Transylvania Romania Icewine 2020 

I was intrigued by and also ordered from the winelist BTG (By-The-Glass) - this Lilac & Kracher Transylvania Icewine from Romania. We hold close to two dozen vintages and labels of Kracher dessert wines in our cellar but have never seen or heard about this label.

This 'Liliac & Kracher' Ice Wine is a joint venture between Rudolf Krizan, the winemaker at Liliac in Romania and Gerhard Kracher from the well-known legendary Austrian Kracher wine family.

Gerhard Kracher and the well-known francen Kracher wine family, who have been making sweet wines for generations. Kracher is considered the genius of the Trockenbeerenauslese category. 

In the late 1980s and up to his early death in 2007, Alois Kracher handcrafted some of the greatest noble sweet wines of the world. His annual collections of numbered TBAs (Trockenbeerenauslesen), produced in Illmitz at the lake Neusiedl, became legends and were often presented and compared alongside the finest sweet wines from Sauternes (namely Château d’Yquem), Tokaji (Szepsi) and Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (Egon Müller, Joh. Jos. Prüm). 

Alois’s son Gerhard Kracher continues the tradition maintaining the prolific high level of quality.

Interestingly, this Ice Wine is made from grapes that were grown in Transylvania, in Romania.

Kracher started the collaboration with the Liliac Winery in Transylvania, so as to enhance the climatic peculiarities of the Lechinta region which are optimal for the production of Eiswein. Zwischen den Seen (traditional with fermentation in steel or wooden barrels) and Nouvelle Vague (modern with the use of new barriques).  

According to Stephan Reinhardt of The Wine Advocate, the joint venture between Rudolf Krizan, the winemaker at Liliac in Romania, and Gerhard Kracher of Austrian fame came about because Kracher  asserts that climate change makes it "harder and harder to produce ice wine in the Burgenland." Teaming with Krizan in making a wine in Romania, "this region offers the perfect conditions to produce this kind of wine every single year."

Ice Wine (Eiswein) is made from grapes frozen on the vine. For best results the grapes need to be hard frozen at temperatures of -8°C or less, which makes waiting for a suitable cold snap very risky. 

The fruit is hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed while frozen, so that the ice (water) is removed, thus dramatically increasing the concentration of sugars and flavours in the grape. The pressed juice is then fermented and matured for 16 months in stainless steel tanks.

The final result is a Ice Wine that shows immense concentration of sweetness and complexity along with a good acid structure. 

Golden straw colored, medium full bodied, rich unctuous sweet notes of white stone fruit, lychee and hints of pineapple, and honey on the lingering finish.

RM 92 points.