By Rick Riozza

The last time we wrote about Bellatrix Restaurant’s wine events, the season was winding down. Now it’s winding back up so I thought I’d alert all you foodies and vino lovers.

Almost everyone in the valley has seen the large stand-alone Mediterranean-style building on the north side of Interstate 10 off of Cook Avenue in Palm Desert. Sometimes mistaken for a hotel, it is The Classic Club owned by the Berger Foundation and houses the celebrated golf club where play is on its renowned Arnold Palmer designed course. And what every wine lover in town should know is that the Bellatrix Restaurant and Wine Bar showcases some of the tastiest and fun winemaker/wine-pairing dinners and wine tasting events.

The entire restaurant runs with a wine theme: “A gracious atmosphere with sun-warm walls, generous dark wood armchairs and white linen tables, Bellatrix’ Mediterranean decor flows from wine themed oil paintings to the wood-and-glass walled wine cellar; a blue velvet curtain separates the dining room from a wood paneled bar. A covered terrace and outdoor seating wraps around the restaurant, accessed from several arched glass doorways.”


With famed celebrity Executive Chef, Gerard Brunett at the helm, he has established Bellatrix Restaurant as a destination for excellent yet simplistic food, which highlight the ingredients while maintaining complex subtleties. Chef Gerard’s eclectic and Mediterranean influences combined with his creative excellence and culinary vision can be seen throughout the various menus, in-house events and wine dinners.

Coming up this October 17th at 6:30 in the evening, Chef Brunett will be matching & pairing appetizers and a four course menu with the fine premium wines from Washington’s Seven Hills Winery.

Established in 1988, Seven Hills Winery is one of Walla Walla Valley’s oldest and most respected wineries. Guided by founder, winemaker and fourth generation farmer, Casey McClellan, Seven Hills Winery crafts an acclaimed portfolio of vineyard-designate and appellation-inspired wines. Focusing on benchmark Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux-varietal reds from the Red Mountain and Walla Walla Valley AVAs, the wines of Seven Hills have played an important role in establishing the region’s reputation for world-class winemaking, and are recognized as some of the finest wines in the Northwest.

The meal Chef Burnett has planned is as follows: Passed Hors D’ Oeuvres will pair the winery’s 2012 Pinot Gris along with Avocado Pancake with ruby grapefruit relish and a Thai-style Chicken Ceviche with Opal Basil. The winemaker’s notes state: “light straw-gold in color with aromas of ripe citrus, spearmint, pear and fresh hazelnut. There’s an enticing streak of vanilla from the oak. The wine is dry, but has a bright, sweet citrus palate made more interesting by a hint of spearmint by mouth. The finish is clean, brisk and fruitful.” This “gris” part of the “pinot” white grape group is becoming more popular with vino lovers.

First Course: 2012 Columbia Valley Riesling matched with Cardamom Dusted Scallops with Granny Smith Slaw and honey gastrique. The wine carries lime and spices on the lively nose—juicy, intense and nicely perfumed, with subtle, clean citrus and floral flavors in an off-dry style.  Rather Mosel-like.  Finishes firm and fairly dry, with good persistence.

Second Course: 2012 Columbia Valley Merlot along with Pepper Crusted Lamb Chop with organic mixed green salad with raspberries, toasted filberts & goat cheese with vintage merlot dressing. This Merlot is sourced from several sub-appelltions of Columbia Valley, with balanced acidity and tannins and good overall structure. Red cherry and currant introduce themselves on the nose with a touch of vanilla and reverberate on the palate with baking spices, chocolate, and raspberry to lead into a bright finish

Third Course: 2012 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Braised Bison Short Ribs with stone ground sweet corn grits, fig demi glaze & haricot vert bundles. The tasting notes for this Cab state: The wine is fruit and earth dominant, with a remarkable array of wild red and black fruits grounded with leather, herb, and spice components. Aromas of black currant, coffee bean, green peppercorn, smokey charred meat, oyster shell, and dried herbs.

And for dessert, take a deep breath and look to the 2012 Red Mountain, Ciel Du Cheval to be matched with Cherry Chocolate Decadence with fresh berry puree. “The wine exhibits a brilliant ruby color and an enticing nose of raspberry, cherry, plum, and cassis, with ethereal scents of rose petals, mulberry, alpine wildflowers and white oriental incense. The medium bodied flavors are deliciously rich and supple, intermixed with licorice, cocoa powder, French roast, and Red Mountain calcareous minerals. The seduction continues on the back with gently squeezed berries, kirsch and framboise liqueurs and light toasty oak (40% new French) and graphite, all gliding effortlessly into an endless, lightly spiced finish.” I’d say that dessert will indeed be a mouthful!

Call 760.601.3690 and make your reservation today as seating is limited. And keep the number around to call on other wine events this fall. Bellatrix at the Classic Club, 75-200 Classic Club Boulevard, Palm Desert, CA 92211

Cheers & Bon Appétit!

Rick is your somm-about-town entertaining and conducting at wine events & tastings. Contact