I was in Coeur d'Alene on business, a town that is quite difficult to spell. I knew there were a few wineries out that way and had spoken with Kimber Gates of Coeur d'Alene Cellars about arranging a visit before I left town. Unsure of what kind of wine options existed in town for dinner or drinks I hadn't planned on much - then I got word from the man known as Wild Bill.
A phone call came through and on the other end was a man whose voice was as gravelly as my own; the one and only Wild Bill. "Clive, the restaurant in the Coeur d'Alene resort is deadly serious about their wine, get up here. Get to Beverly's." As Bill hung up there was a crackle at the end of the line, giving me a moment to think about just how serious it might be. This was Coeur d'Alene after all, a resort mecca for the outdoors inclined. The Northwest's well-heeled needed a scenic place to play in the summer and this place fit the bill. But how serious might this wine list be? I hit the elevator like a man on a mission.
When I arrived at Beverly's, Wild Bill had already cased the joint and he was seated in the lounge with two colleagues. The blog's own Josh Gana and a cat named Jeff whose family has been making wine for decades. Bill knows a classy joint when he sees one and this was no exception. As I greeted the fellas, Bill nodded at the waiter, "Sir, we'll have two of those buffalo carpaccios and this guys gonna order us some wine."
I asked everyone at the table what they were in the mood for and Bill said "Show us what Washington can do." I turned straight to the Washington Syrah section of Beverly's 89 page wine list and settled on a Bunnel Family Boushey-McPherson Syrah from 2006. Having had the Bunnel family wines before and seeing Dick Boushey's name on the label was all I needed to know.
The sommelier Eric came out to take our order and since we had missed the 4:30 tour time of the cellars, we asked if it might be possible to get a tour of Beverly's cellars. Admitting that he needed to go down there anyways to pick out our wine, we were invited to come along.
Along the way Eric shared that Beverly's has an inventory of around 10,000 bottles and if they sold it all at dinner we'd be talking about 2 million dollars worth of wine. We descended a tight spiral staircase and entered a dark room surrounded by bins of wine. Burgundy, Oregon, Washington Syrah, Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape were all around us. There may have even been some wines from California. Eric rummaged around and pulled out our Bunnel Syrah and popped the cork. If you've not had this wine it's a beautiful example of Washington Syrah; you can spend a night just on the nose thanks to the toasty Hungarian oak program. The wine itself is very savory, with dark fruit and earthen elements.
Eric gave us the rundown of their operation and talked about the wines he loves to carry and introduce customers to. When Josh and I asked if he had a hard time getting resort guests to give Washington and Oregon wines a try his response was, "Not at all." The folks staying in Coeur d'Alene are well aware of the wine the Northwest is capable of, and they're enjoying some serious bottles at Beverlys. When I asked about the best wine in the Beverly’s collection, Eric pulled out a 1978 Chateau Rayas CdP, priced at $1930.00, telling us this was the best wine in the cellar, though not their most expensive.
We headed up stairs to the second cellar, this one loaded down with Bourdeaux, and Washington and California Cabernets, including Leonetti, Pursued by Bear, Doubleback and plenty from Dunham Cellars and Andrew Will.
When we retired back to the lounge for our appetizer, Bill asked Eric about a pairing for the buffalo carpaccio. Eric said I was on the right track with the Syrah, but during our tour we had taken care of that Bunnell pretty quickly. Eric recommended the Delille Cellars Doyenne Aix, from 2005. This is a wine I really enjoy and it was a hit with the fellas as well. The carpaccio was accompanied by crostini and horseradish and it disappeared pretty quickly.
Should you find yourself in Coeur d'Alene and on the lookout for some serious wine, check out Beverly's. The wine list is impressive, and what really stood out for me, besides Eric's knowledge and willingness to indulge us, was the mark up. The wine mark ups at Beverly’s are often well less than 100%, which is highly uncommon in restaurants. The Bunnell Syrah retails for $42 and was priced at $65; similarly, the Aix which comes in at $35-45, and was priced at $65 as well. So give Beverly’s a try: the selection of Northwest wine options is impressive, the food is delicious, and the staff knows the wine from here in the Northwest and beyond.