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Hello all. This year our annual Asphalt Industry Association Conference was held at the Desert Ridge Marriott in Phoenix, Az. The Marriott is only 1 year old and is fabulous, with 2 golf courses, at least 4 main restaurants, a 4 acre pool area, and numerous bits and pieces of Frank LLoyd Wright styled architecture.

My wife and I arrived a day early to visit with several groups of friends. Saturday night, we dined alone together at Elements Restaurant in the Sanctuary up on Camelback Mountain. Romance a galore. We sat at in a curved booth overlooking Paradisa Valley through the completely windowed north side. My wife had Pork Tenderloins and I had the albacore tuna. Both were very good to excellent. The wine list can be viewed on their website (www.sanctuaryaz.com). It's growing, and contains primarily younger california vintages. I chose though the 2000 Louis Latour Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru.(That was it, no individual vineyard ).The wine was so- so, nothing special. Sorry for the short notes, but we were both intoxicated by the ambiance, and I by my wifes (very) little black dress. There was a short reserve list, I only remember a Kistler Chardonnay on it.

Next up was the Cowboy Caio in Scottsdale. We went with another couple and were on the company tab. This is actually in Old Town and is an eclectic little place where the old frontier meets sophisticated Scottsdale. I had the Filet, and forget what the others had ( sorry ). But, all were very good to excellent. Their special salad is to die for. The wine list had only 1600 entries!!! But I chose an old favorite since it was the company tag, the 2000 Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandra Merlot. As usual, it could use 2 more years, but will easily rival the 1997. A great little wine. We walked to the Kazmierz wine bar right next door to enjoy the monday night jazz show ( real jazz ). A neat bohemian style place. These two spots and the SEE SAW restaurant in between are all owned by Mr. Kazmierz and share the same wine cellar. They are all on Stetson drive. These spots are a must stop if you get to the area. Cowboy Caio is fun ( the dessert menu states ("what is is about a good desert that makes you think of the Bible or Penthouse Forum Letters...") but has seriously good food. They have a web site with at leat part of the wine list, can't remember the site, google can find it. Fun wine list too.

We also dined at the Tuscany reataurant right at the hotel. Again on the company tab, I chose the Nozzole 1999 Chianti Classico Riserva. WS gave this an 87 upon release. I'd go one or two more points now. The list is very heavy in Italian vintages from various areas. My wife and I both had the Halibut. Food rated good to maybe very good. This somewhat less than stellar review was seconded by the propriator of the Village Wine Cellar store on Scottsdale and Doubletree road.

Anyway, for myself, it's a virtual dead heat between Elements and Sanctuary depending on the type of experience you are looking for. If I lived in the area, these would become (very) regular stops. Tuscany was a distant third.
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