Saturday, June 24, 2023

Purdue Union Autograph Hotel Wine Dinner

Purdue Union Autograph Hotel Wine Dinner

Indiana Getaway features history, architecture and fine dining at the Purdue Union Autograph Hotel

Usually I am cautious about expectations of a hotel restaurant being more than a glorified coffee shop serving three squares a day. So it was that I was a bit dubious booking the 8eleven Bistro Restaurant in the Purdue Union Club Autograph Hotel for our Friday night dinner during our weekend getaway trip to (West) Lafayette, Indiana. 

We met dearest life-long best friends Eric and Cathy from Indy who made arrangements for the day, in the town of their alma mater, Purdue University. 

The attraction was the Indiana Automotive Lafayette Tour, an inside look at automotive landmarks and rare Indiana-made vehicles, sponsored by Indiana Automotive, and the Indiana Landmarks Foundation. 

Indiana Automotive celebrates and commemorates Indiana’s role in the birth and flourishing of the automobile industry and its legacy of places worth preserving and spectacular automobiles that match the best ever built, anywhere.

IndAuto-logo wtext Indiana Automotive celebrates the early auto visionaries and their products, and promotes the preservation of the cars, the factories and showrooms, the homes of auto moguls, and the landscaped parkways and roadside architecture birthed by the auto age.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, more than 250 automobile manufacturers opened shop in Indiana—Duesenberg, Stutz, Cord, Auburn, and Studebaker among them—whose products rank as landmarks on wheels.

Indian Automotive is an affinity group of Indiana Landmarks umbrella.

We then attended a reception at the historic Frank Lloyd Wright Samara House, recently restored and reopened to the public for tours and special events.  

The John and Catherine Christian House, commonly known as Samara, is one of the most complete Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the US. 

Samara, named for the winged seeds found in pinecones and several of the trees on the site, was completed in 1956 near the end of Wright’s career. It is a classic Usonian style home with floor to ceiling windows, garden views, and complete Wright designed furniture and fixtures. 

 Readers of these pages know of my interests in Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School architecture. As a Docent/Interpreter and Researcher for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust in Chicago and Oak Park, IL, I give public tours at the FLW home & Studio in Oak Park and have done extensive research on Wright and Prairie style buildings and sites.   

My work as a volunteer certified docent/interpreter and research captain for the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust is enriched by my knowledge of work by Wright and his contemporaries

I publish a Wright site that includes a photo gallery of prairie style architecture and FLW sites I have visited as part of my travels and studies. and his contemporaries. 

Samara House Alexander Vertikoff Photo

Indeed, our hosts for the day, Eric and Cathy built and live in an authentic Prairie Style home in Indianapolis, which is also featured on my site.  


My photos from my library of over 25000, have been published on PBS, in text books, children's books, architecture and history books, and most recently, my photography was selected for the "Finn Juhl and Danish Chairs" Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition highlighted some of the Finn Juhl's design works featured in Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater house.

In planning our weekend getaway, I researched dining options in greater Lafayette and West Lafayette, looking at the numerous restaurants and exploring their menus and associated wine lists for the optimal food and wine pairing. In the end, we opted for the most convenient option, our hotel restaurant, which appeared to a have a suitable wine list and menu for the occasion. Thankfully, 8Eleven Bistro met, actually exceeded our expectations for a delightful fine dining experience. 

The clubby 8Eleven Bistro is named to commemorate Purdue alumni trailblazing tradition of two of NASA’s most daring aerospace programs, Gemini 8 and Apollo 11, missions commanded by Purdue alum, astronaut Neil Armstrong.

From the menu, we ordered for starters the Baked (Conneticut Blue Point) Oysters with brie, shallot chablis and parsley, Spicy Tuna Bruschetta clementine with avocado and pistachio, and the Golden Beets & Apple arugula salad with whipped goat cheese, sunflower seeds and citrus vinaigrette. All were delicious, delightfully prepared and presented. We had to ask for a serving of fresh bread with butter.


For our dinner entree we shared the Braised Beef with pommes puree, roasted pepper, pearl onion and shaved fennel. It too was delicious and ample for sharing. 

For a wine pairing we selected from the wine list the premium Napa Valley estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Montelena

The 8Eleven wine list is ample and artfully selected offering several favorite producers and labels with a range of offerings from the US, France, Italy, Australia and South American. There are varietals and blends to match and pair with all the food selections. Prices are targeted at the roughly 2.5x retail price, typical and customary for such venues. 

The winelist offer a nice selection of fourteen WBTG - Wines by the Glass, six red, five white, one rose and two sparkling. 

The separate Bottle Wine list features all the popular varietal and styles, five each sparkling wines and Sauvignon Blancs, eight Chardonnays and ten 'other' Whites. 

The red wine selection is comprehensive and well selected with six Pinot Noirs, sixteen Cabernet Sauvignons and Red Blends, and seventeen 'other' Reds. The Reds include labels from Napa, Oregon, Washington, Italy, Australia, France and feature Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec, Italian Sangiovese and Barolo, Australian Syrah/Shiraz, Rhone Blends and a popular premium American Zinfandel. For several popular producers they feature the estate, premium and ultra premium labels such as Caymus Napa and Caymus Special Select, and Trefethen Estate Cab, Reserve, and their flagship Halo label. 

Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

We ordered from the wine list the Chateau Montelena 2019 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. While it was posted at $132 on their website, the updated menu price was $150.
This is the standard premium label crafted from Montelena estate and select contract grower neighbor vineyards located in the northern end of Napa Valley, in and around Calistoga, sites selected for their alluvium soil profile which provides an earthy, complex and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon. This label is not to be confused with their "Estate" flagship label which costs more than two times the price.

This release is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot from Oak Knoll appellation in southern Napa Valley, added to soften the wine. It was aged 16 months in 28% new French and some Hungarian oak.

Winemaker notes - "Everyone fondly remembers the wines from 2005 or 2013 when quality was simply there for the taking, and that was the case with 2019. Amusingly, as a winemaker, our favorite vintages are typically those that follow a Hollywood-esque storyline with unforeseen challenges, plenty of character development, and of course a final victory. With that said, it is just as gratifying to hit that pitch out of the park if the opportunity is there. Moreover, while it’s true that every vintage builds character, growing seasons like 2019 beget gratefulness and reflection in reminding us why Napa Valley in general and the Montelena Estate vineyard in particular are so special. In short, this vintage exemplifies all of the characteristics that one could seek in delicious, age-worthy wine." - Winemaker Matt Crafton.

"NOSE - Pure and powerful, this wine opens with fresh blueberries, blackberry pie and cassis, endless dark fruit is complemented by a range of baking spices: vanilla at first, but also clove and cinnamon.'
"PALATE - the first sip instantly reveals the character of this Cabernet: dense and chewy with bright red fruit, incredible tension and pure, fine grain tannins. Not only is everything in its place; but the layers of flavor, the depth of the fruit and the sublime texture are constantly rearranging. Each glass will be a unique experience.'

"FINISH - In contrast to the dynamic palate, the finish is focused and stout. Abundant cocoa, espresso bean and black pepper dovetail into dark, black fruit while tart raspberry and strawberry jam linger. The wines at Chateau Montelena are often described as having classic “old-world” structure with ripe California fruit, and the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is emblematic of this style. These wines tend to have more acid and more moderate alcohol levels as compared to some of the “cult” Cabs. This combination of classic chemistry and California sunshine allows them to offer immediate pleasure and complexity on release, and the ability to develop beautifully."

This release was rated 91 points by Wine Advocate. 

Bright garnet colored, medium to full-bodied format, slightly disjointed with somewhat obtuse, vibrant, slightly astringent acidic plum, blackberry and black raspberry fruits, notes of cinnamon spice, expresso and vanilla, with fine grained tannins on the tangy lingering finish. Will likely improve as it integrates and settles a bit with some age. Still a nice tasty pairing with the robust hearty beefsteak.

RM 91 points.