Carefree Station, North, and Other Phoenix Area Restaurants Update Wine Lists for the New Year

It's always time for wine, but a new year means it's time for something new. Restaurants around the Valley often update their wine lists to reflect menu changes, a new culinary influence or simply a change to what is available seasonally. Changes might go unnoticed, so we wanted to suggest that you seek out something different for 2013.

The best wine lists make it easy (and affordable) for guests to order something that complements their meal. Several local establishments have added new wines from names you'll know, like Conundrum, to great local choices like wine from Alcantara. Here's a smattering of what's new.

See also: -5 New Books About Wine - Find Your Inner Wine Connoisseur at the Wigwam's Affordable Wine Dinner

District American Kitchen & Wine Bar Like local wine? So does the District at the Sheraton in downtown Phoenix. District Executive Chef Michael O'Dowd and Chef de Cuisine Jay Bogsinske "have a vision and a new-found passion for incorporating Arizona wines and more locally-sourced products into the restaurant's menus," says restaurant spokesperson Katie Brashear. The chefs created a special New Year's Eve dinner celebrating the state's centennial and as a result, three wines from Arizona's Alcantara Vineyards will be sticking around for 2013. Only sold by the bottle for now the wines are 2011 Rosé for $42; Mesa Blanc for $38 and 2010 AZ Confluence IV for $46.

Saporro Saporro has three new wines that compliment the menus of sushi and Asian meat dishes. Of the new 2011 Summerland Bien Nacido Chardonnay, Chef Stephen Stromberg says "It's a golden chardonnay that is very food friendly, flavor profile of a Burgundian White from the Santa Maria Valley, nice minerality that complements much of our sushi and sauces of our Pacific Rim dishes." Plus, it's a small production wine and the restaurant has exclusive arrangement with the winery. This wine is $12 per glass for $44 for the bottle.

Since Saporro serves quite a bit of sushi nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls, they've added the 2011 Conundrum White Meritage, which is pretty much an affordable standby. It's crisp, light, and slightly sweet blend for $12 per glass or $44 for the bottle.

To balance heavier dishes offered, like BBQ Lamb and grilled filer mignon, Saporro has added the 2006 St. Supery Dollarhide Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which Chef says is "an excellent vintage and perfectly balanced Cabernet from Napa." It's a bit pricey at $84 per bottle.

Carefree Station Robert Gabrick, owner of Carefree Station is very interested in new wines and often re-prints the restaurant's extensive wine list (300+ offerings) to allow inclusion of new releases and limited allocation wines. Malbecs are still popular right now, and Gabrick was happy to find the highly rated 2011 Bodini Malbec from Argentina. "It's very drinkable, and at $40 a bottle it's a good bargain for a fruit forward wine," Gabrick says.

He's also added two new highly rated Oregon wines from Evening Land: 2010 Evening Land, Seven Springs Vineyard La Source Chardonnay and the 2010 Evening Land, Seven Springs Vineyard, La Source Pinot Noir. "Chardonnay from Oregon, especially one of this quality is very rare," says Gabrick. Both wines are offered at just over $100 a bottle.

North North in Arcadia is still relatively new on the scene but the staff already has some new favorites. "We wanted to add a full-bodied red wine from Tuscany that would help our guest that were in search of an 'old world' wine that has body and a reasonable price point. Tageto is quickly becoming a staff favorite," says Christopher Curtiss of North, who recently worked with sommelier Regan Jasper to bring in some new wines.

"We put the 2011 Donna Olimpia 'Tageto' on the menu because we felt that there was a hole in the under $40 a bottle or $10 per glass category from Tuscany," he says. The wine is an IGT, abbreviation for "Indicazione Geografica Tipica," a classification of Italian wine often known as "Super Tuscan," which is also how it is labeled on their menu. "Super Tuscan style wines are becoming more popular because the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grape varietals are all very familiar with our guests... they just are not used to seeing them coming from Tuscany!"

The next addition at North is a 2011 "Ronchi di Pietro (Tocai), Friuli DOC, Veneto. "We went with this wine because we wanted a more authentic Northern Italian white wine choice other than Pinot Grigio. Tocai is in the Sauvignon family and drinks crisp and clean, similar to Sauvignon Blanc... total production of this wine was 2,500 cases so it fits our farm to table mind set here at North," says Chef Curtiss.

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