Excellent Wines, Food, and Music
Latest visit: April 14, 2013
First visit: January 24, 2011
St Clair Winery has been a local landmark since 1984, drawing visitors from across the nation. Located in the Mimbres Valley wine appellation, in Deming New Mexico, St Clair Winery’s traditions are preserved by Florent and Emmanuel Lescombes, carrying on their family’s six-generations history of winemaking. They produce over seventy different wines under many labels, including Blue Teal, DH Lescombes and St Clair. With 120 acres of producing vineyards located in the high desert in pyramid valley, outside of Lordsburg, New Mexico, they have found the ideal climate and fertile soil to grow the best quality grapes. St Clair’s state of the art winery, New Mexico’s largest, offers numerous award winning wines for your enjoyment. Just like New Mexico’s first vintners, our goal is to produce great wines and foods for your enjoyment in the company of friends and family.
During the summer of 2005 St Clair opened their Albuquerque Bistro near historic Old Town. The Winemaker and Master Chef collaborated to create a menu that features French Country dishes paired with our award winning New Mexico wines. The comfortable dining room and refreshing outdoor patios are sure to make your dining experience a true pleasure. Enjoy a glass of our refreshing St Clair Chardonnay while you listen to live jazz music Wednesday through Sunday nights.
A Quick Lunch
While driving around the outskirts of Old Town on the way to an appointment, the lunchtime hunger hit us. We shun the touristy dumps near the Plaza, and lucked upon the St. Clair Winery & Bistro. Our good fortune.
The lunch menu lists sandwiches, soups, salads, paninis, and some pasta dishes, all sounding luscious. Not having the time to loll about with some nice wine, we quickly ordered a Fruited Chicken Salad and a Cuban Panini, and asked for the Jackson Square Bread Pudding if they could get us out in a half-hour. The excellent staff got us out in plenty of time for our appointment without feeling rushed. Nice and very attentive people. When we came in, there were many tables from which to choose, and when we left, there were at least thirty eager patrons queued up. Nevertheless, we never felt rushed.
The chicken salad consisted of white meat chicken with dried fruit on a bed of spring greens topped with sliced almonds, and Jane declared it to be very good. I have a thing for Cubanos, and have been disappointed in several Albuquerque versions of this classic sandwich. The Cubano here is very close to being authentic (it had provolone instead of Swiss and Creole mustard instead of plain yellow), but it was loaded with quality ham and pork and had good pickle, all served lightly grilled on a demi ciabatta. Among the very best I have had in The Land of Enchantment.
I am a Bread Pudding freak (an affliction I share with my friend Gil Garduño). The Jackson Square Bread Pudding had a taste and texture that immediately rocketed it to third place on my New Mexico Bread Pudding list. Not too dry and not too wet, it is just right. Goldilocks surely would have loved it, as did I. Not too sweet, either. Wow. Jane thought it to be every bit as good as that at Barry’s Oasis.
St. Clair Winery & Bistro was a real find. We surely will return for a dinner with some excellent and reasonably priced New Mexico wine. And more of that Bread Pudding.
A Lie surely Return
We returned to SCW&B with some of our dearest friends, gastronomes all. What originally drew us here was the appearance of Soul Sanctuary, a jazzy blues band. Clay Benard, the keyboards player is a friend of Cheryl, who made a special trip from Atlanta to hear Clay’s performance. For a special musical treat, an old friend of Clay, Wendy Beach, sang along with them. She is spectacular, and the band performed fabulously. Watch for their return. But this is about food, not the band. Did the food and wine live up to our expectations?
Wine infused and rubbed with fresh garlic. Served with au jus and roasted garlic mashed potatos and fresh sautéed vegetables.
Bob is a red meat and red wine kind of guy. He tells me that this prime rib is easily among the best he has had in this town. He would have liked it to be sliced about ¼-in. thicker. Very tender and juicy, and cooked to perfection.
Jane and I just spent two weeks touring Alaska and the Yukon Territories, where there is no shortage of excellent fresh salmon. Ordering salmon here in the High Desert can be a treacherous experience — crummy salmon poorly prepared. The St Clair kitchen deserves kudos for the preparation of this wonderful dish. It is perfectly grilled to the correct degree of doneness, and melts in the mouth. Very fresh taste and expertly prepared, this is easily among the tastiest salmon in the desert. Served with a tasty rice and nicely sautéed veggies.
Spinach Salad with Chicken
Two of the ladies tried this simple salad and both declared it to be delicious. The spinach was tender and not soggy, and tastes like it had just come from the garden. Beautifully grilled slices of tender chicken breast topped the dish. This is a delicate and thoroughly satisfying dish. Looks beautiful on the late, too.
A well-trimmed expertly grilled chicken breast served atop a bed of penne and smothered with a light mushroom Marsala sauce. Many Italian restaurants make this too ed, and soused with Marsala. St Clair’s version is light and very tasty. The penne was just al dente. Great mushrooms. While not the traditional treatment, this dish was superb. Served with sautéed veggies, this was a very satisfying dish. I would return for another meal built around this dish.
Slow-Cooked Pot Roast
So you think you don’t like pt roast? This one will change your mind.
When I was growing up in Maryland, pot roast was traditionally served for our Sunday mid-day meal. The pot roast served here put’s my mother’s to shame. Slow cooked, fall-apart-fork-tender beef is superb. The gravy is rich and complex. Served with garlic mashed potatos (excellent) and lightly sautéed vegetables, this is a dish that I intend to return to often. It is perfect.
Zesty, with a hint of green chile, they are made to order, seared, and served with a lemon and a delicious tartar sauce, and covered with bits of red onion and red bell peppers. I really love Maryland Crabcakes laced with Old Bay Seasoning, but these at St. Clair are very good. They are nicely browned and have a a soft texture, they are among the best I have found here in the high desert. Surprise.
Save room for desserts. This collection looks marvelous.
Praline Bread Pudding
A taste you won’t forget. made with golden raisins, chopped pecans. butterscotch & egg custard. topped with a homemade bourbon sauce.
The bourbon sauce is made with brown sugar, and is among the very best I have encountered. Not too sweet. Just right. The texture was perfect — not dry, not wet, but silky smooth with a completely satisfying mouth feel. I still have this near the top of my Bread Pudding Hall of Fame. It is no longer called Jackson Square Bread Pudding, but who cares — it’s one of the great ones.
St Clair Winery & Bistro has now earned a place on my Honorable Mention List. Rightfully so.
The wines we tasted
Blue Teal Pinot Grigio is a dry, versatile wine with a touch of sweetness and rich flavors, making it ideal for many different taste preferences. This wine has a soft green hue, which perfectly alludes to the green aromas and flavors of the wine. The nose is full of green melon, pine grass and undertones of dried herbs. The flavor is rich with lemongrass, melon, subtle dried herbs and soft vanilla.
DH Lescombes Syrah We use two different methods of fermentation to produce this wine. Two thirds go through a standard fermentation, with a maceration period of 7-10 days, the final third goes through a cold maceration process. This process helps to add to the heavy berry, when one wine is blended with the other. The end result is a wine full of complexity, its’ color is a heavy garnet, with tinges of violet on the edges. The flavor and aromas carry tones of spice, wood, berries, and a mildly rich earthiness with subtle, well-integrated tannins.
DH Lescombes Cabernet Sauvignon A deep ruby, almost garnet color, with a rich and thick viscosity announce the round mouthfeel that this full-bodied red has. Integrated tannins are found in the finish, while the flavor is bright with dark cherries, cassis, and a subtle leather meatiness. While it is more of a fruit forward presentation, this wine is multi-dimensional and complex. It is well balanced and uses French oak successfully to add complexity and layers.
Our server told us that this Cab is the restaurant’s most popular wine. Very good, nice finish.
What Others are Saying…
Gil Garduño— New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.
“The bistro’s menu is a vehicle for the diversity of St. Clair wines which are used to accentuate the sauces and gravies on most menu items as well as salad dressings and even the bistro’s signature soup d jour. The menus describe the best wine pairings for the bistro’s delicious French country dishes. An old-world style dining room and spacious outdoor patio provide an enjoyable venue for generally very good dining. Live jazz music Wednesday through Sunday nights will enliven your dining experience.
“The bistro has the audacity to call one of its desserts Jackson Square bread pudding. Having sampled almost every bread pudding offered within blocks of Jackson Square, we savored the opportunity to debunk or validate whether this dessert warranted its name. This wonderful bread pudding passed muster! A New Orleans French toast thick slice of bread is topped with golden raisins, white and dark chocolate, egg custard and topped with homemade butter rum sauce. This bread pudding ranks as one of the five best in New Mexico on both mine and excelsior Larry McGoldrick‘s rankings.”
“Strong word of mouth has circulated about this establishment near Old Town for the past few years and, after a pair of summer visits, I find that praise well-deserved. The casual-dining restaurant successfully pairs New Mexican wines and continental fare in a relaxed, trend-free setting. The award-winning winery operates out of the Deming area, and St. Clair also manages another bistro in Las Cruces.
“During our first visit, my dining companion and I enjoyed the alfresco atmosphere on a warm Friday evening and appreciated the staff’s quick response to our request for patio seating on the building’s east side. We also appreciated that the hostess secured the wobbly table for us. It seemed, though, that we were caught at the height of the nightly rush as our lone server valiantly struggled to keep up with water, silverware and wine glasses.”