Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tell me no lies ?

Ask any winery in need of a winemaker, and Aaron Pott would surely be at the top of everybody's list. And why not?...Not only does he have his degree in Enology, which he earned from U.C. Davis, but he has helped to make wine at Newton, Troplong Mondot, and La Tour Figeac. Currently, he is the consulting winemaker at a select few illustrious Napa Valley wineries, including Blackbird, Fisher Vineyards, Krupp Brothers Estate/Stagecoach Vineyard, Quintessa, Quixote and Seven Stones.


This bottling comes from White Cottage Ranch on Howell Mountain. From the sought after Aiken soils that produce wines of beautiful density and intensity, this wine displays tobacco, black cherry, cranberry and black current, leading to an explosion of flavor on the palate. The beautiful density is balanced by a long, supple textured finish.

( Only 250 Cases Produced)
Fuil-bodied, well-balanced, and with typical mountain-grown tannin structure, this beauty will age well through 2015 and beyond!
Available at Mercy for $180 / bottle.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, December 20, 2010

What an interesting year it has been

This will be my last blog for this year and what an interesting year it has been.

We are very fortunate to live in Dallas. We didn’t hit the lows that most of the rest of the country did and we seem to be coming out of recession more quickly and with more ease than the rest of the country. Mercy has weathered the storm pretty well. I feel like we have stayed ahead of the curve and managed to dodge some of the bullets.

A key highlight for this year has to be the passing of the off premises sales of wine. Changing a 40 year old rule in the city so that Mercy will be able to sell wine and beer for you to take home. We are very excited about the prospects for this for next year. It will allow us to add much more to what we offer. We are busy putting together many “Mercy” branded items to sell along with the sale of wine. Vincent and the entire team has worked hard to source wines that are unique and not that easy to find in stores and now you’ll be able to buy them from us directly and enjoy some of Mercy at home with friends.

This year we also introduced music on Thursday nights with a bit lighter style than a Saturday evening. Everyone has responded very positively to this new addition. We also introduced the slight of hand and magic of Jarrod Brandon. He is an amazing entertainer and our guest love when he is there. In 2011 we will expand the Thursday night concept and begin some light live music on Sunday evening. An earlier evening but live music from 7 - 9 pm to end your weekend! Look forward more info on this right after the first of the year.

As we go into our eighth year we have so much to be grateful for. Mostly we are grateful for your loyalty and continued support of Mercy. We have worked hard to earn your respect and loyalty and will continue to do that throughout this next year. We will continue to keep those things you have come to know us for and continue to evolve and add new things to help us get better.

From all of us at Mercy we wish you, your families and friends the happiest of holiday seasons and healthy and prosperous New Year!!! And remember……………..we wished for a white Christmas and when the white is gone we immediately open the red”!!!!

Happy Holidays everyone……………Mercy!
Glen Agritelley

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Best Surprise...is No Surprise

The best surprises, sometimes, are no surprises. So as we plan to draw another year to a close, we wish to extend the best of holiday wishes to all of our guests and to remind you that Mercy is now taking reservations for dining on New Year's Eve.

2011 will mark our 8th year in operation. We have planned a variety of New Year's celebrations these past years and through experience, we have found out what you like the best and what works the best.

So without the typical ...shout from the roof tops fan fare, we announce our New Year's Eve dining as "business as usual". Our normal menu, our regular wine list and most notable, our regular pricing.

We will accept reservations for dining room service and our lounge will be open on a first available seating basis. Complimentary New Year's party favors at midnight along with a glass of bubbly to toast in the New Year. By the way, if you have not been to Mercy for dinner in the last month, you will like what we have done to the menu. Easier to read (in the romantic lighting), great accompaniments to our tried and true recipes and attentive service.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, December 6, 2010

My oh my !

Mercy has offered a selection of Krupp Brothers Estate wines since we been open. So, I wanted to talk a little about Krupp Brothers.

You probably know the names: Veraison,Black Bart,The Bounty,The Doctor....etc..... these are just some of the selections from the Krupp Brothers Estate portfolio. This past Thursday, I had a chance to taste the first vintage of the K.B. Chardonnay.

My oh my ! .... Let's put it this way . The wine been age for almost 2 years in new French Oak barrels. Imagine Meursault meeting Puligny-Montrachet with a hint of California sunshine.

They only made 237 cases so it is a very limited production. The wine is now traveling on its way to Mercy. So if you a lover of Chardonnay, you will have to experience it when it arrives at Mercy.

Krupp Brothers Estate Chardonnay 2008 will be available at Mercy for $120 bottle.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Creating great holiday memories

At this time of the year, I always get a renewed sense of energy, which is probably why the season gets penned as "the hectic holiday season". When you are in the restaurant (and wine) business, you definitely shift into a new gear. The event and party calendar takes on a life of its own and you have to manage it, crafting available seating with the demands and needs of your guests.

I know I have said this in the past, but I really love the holiday season. I enjoy the heighten camaraderie that you get to share when you host a large event. When we host a large or even a smaller gathering at Mercy, there is such a sense of purpose in the air. We get to showcase what Mercy has to offer to a multitude of new guests all at once and that is really, so much fun !

Over the years, we have hosted quite a few events and they all hold special memories for us. While we have many events scheduled for this December, we still have availability so please do not delay as choice dates and event times, will go quickly. Call us or drop us an e-mail, we would really enjoy sharing Mercy with your friends and business acquaintances.

We look forward to creating some new great holiday memories with you.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blue no more

Thank goodness the voting is done!!! Thanks to your support Proposition 1 passed in Addison and the town will now allow wine and beer to be sold for off premises consumption. This means that you will be able to come into Mercy and take home a bottle of your favorite wine. You will be free to purchase as much of it as you like. Surrounding towns have all passed this or have had this available to them, putting to bed some of the old blue laws put into place over 50 years ago. Dallas passed the bill as well by a large margin. You will now be able to go into your corner grocery store as well, to purchase beer and wine. The biggest advantage of this new ruling is that it will hopefully attract a large grocery store into Village on the Parkway. This will be a big convenience for residents and certainly be boost to the city tax revenue.

There is one final obstruction for us at Mercy as it seems there is a zoning restriction for the Village on the Parkway preventing implementation of the new ordinance. In January the city council is taking up a zoning change and hopefully will fix this. Once passed, we have to apply for a special use permit and the city will have final say as to who can and who can’t sell wine and beer for off premises consumption. We are expecting that by February or March, we will be able to offer you our wines to purchase and take home. We have already begun making plans for more Mercy logo promotional items to help launch this new part of the business. Stay tuned, we have some good things planned.

Meanwhile we have been working hard to revamp our website. It is our hope to go into next year with a lot more functionality and interactivity with the Mercy website. We have some exciting things planned that you’ll want to stay tuned for.

If you haven’t tried some of our new menu items we hope to see you soon. At the request of a guest we have added a surf and turf to the menu along with beautiful sea scallops. New salads and new chocolate have been added to the desert menu as well.

From all of us at Mercy, we wish you the happiest of Thanksgiving. We appreciate and are thankful for your continued support throughout these seven and a half years. We will continue to work hard to make Mercy the “Best Part of Your Day”!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Glen Agritelley

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From the Private Stash

Often used in Bordeaux-style red blends, the Petit Verdot varietal is known as the “small green”. You have to pick the grapes in late or usually mid October. You will sometimes loose some of the crop if you get too much rain from the fall seasons. In the warmer climates of the New World, however, the varietal ripens more reliably.

Petit Verdot is commonly used as a seasoning in blends to add stronger acidity, tannins and shades of dark purple. As a varietal wine, Petit Verdot displays flavors of blackberries along with aromas of banana and notes of violets and leather when mature.

Bringing Petit Verdot to Mercy, we found one from Argentina from my good friend Don Baltazar. It is has already become a new favorite of the staff. But don't look for it to make the wine list. The staff likes to talk it up on their own and sell it from their "private stash" as they call it.

Ask for it. $13 glass $40 bottle .

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Eventful November

November is poised to be a most eventful month for us at Mercy.

On 2nd of the month, Town of Addison voters head to polls to decide, among other things, an amendment to the town charter related to the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption. A vote in favor of this amendment will allow Mercy to sell bottles of wine to our guests for off premise consumption.

On the 8th of the month, Mercy will roll out our fall/winter food menu. Notable additions are a "surf and turf" combination featuring our hand carved Filet Mignon and a choice of grilled shrimp or seared scallops. Yum !

On the 13th of the month, we bid a fond farewell to a longtime Mercy employee, Juan Velez. Juan has been with Mercy for over 6 years and is moving out of the area. We wish him the best in all of his future endeavors. Juan's good nature is infectious, so if you are able, stop in to bid him Bon Voyage.

On the 18th of the month, we welcome the acclaimed Dallas tribute band, Hard Nights Day. For the last several months, Mercy guests have enjoyed the acoustic version of their performance however at this event, the full band will be performing and we are really looking forward to this.

On the 25th of the month, my second favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Mercy will be closed for business.

Thank You are two of the most important words in the English language. So as we give thanks to celebrate this national holiday, we all at Mercy wish to thank our guests for their patronage and for being part of our family.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, October 25, 2010

A World Festival

Addison hosted a “World Festival” this weekend at Village on the Parkway. Unfortunately the tornado warning and torrential rains dampened Saturday but Sunday was beautiful and the people came in droves. An estimated 10,000 people showed up to sample food, drink and merchandise from around the world. Entertainment was everywhere and it was a great family day.

From the commerce perspective it was great exposure for the shops in Village on the Parkway. Mercy was open at noon and we had a brisk crowd, many of them first time visitors of Mercy. It was great to see new people excited about finding Mercy. This weekend substantiates how critical this center is for the future of Addison. This center needs more stores that will draw more people into it. A key piece of this puzzle will be decided next Tuesday on election day. Citizens of Addison will get to vote on allowing beer and wine to be sold for off premises consumption. If this new ordinance passes, it will allow a big, higher end grocery store, such as Whole Foods or Central Market to move in. The increase in traffic will be a boom to the center and to the tax base of Addison.

Addison has so much to offer. Large chain specialty grocery stores will not move to Addison without the ability to sell beer and wine. All surrounding cities have moved in this direction. Dallas has this before the voters as well and it is expected to pass. Addison needs to take a leadership role here to stay with the times. This decision will have an impact on its development for the next 10 years.

Please go and vote next Tuesday and vote YES for Proposition 1.

Glen Agritelley

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It can’t come soon enough

November voting can’t come soon enough. With all of the political personal bashing candidates are doing it is hard to keep the issues in mind. There is one very important decision being put in front of the voters of Addison and Dallas this November. On the ballot, the decision to roll back the liquor blue laws, that were put in place after the turn of the century when prohibition was the rave of the day. The most confusing part is that there is no consistency within the state for who can sell liquor, beer and wine and who can’t. Several years ago Addison took a leadership role in allowing beer, wine and spirits to be sold in limited areas as well as being served in local restaurants. Addison has been a leader in attracting some fine restaurants to the area because of this leadership role.

Addison now faces another important decision. In a few weeks the voters will have a chance to modify the existing regulations and vote to allow beer and wine to be sold at retail elsewhere in the city beside from Inwood Road. It is our position at Mercy that we vote to allow this to happen. Our state liquor license allows us to sell wine by the bottle at retail however the local ordinance forbids this. It is a mere convenience to our guests who come in and try something and would like to take a bottle or two home. Right now we must send that guest somewhere else to find the wine or he might not be able to get it due to Mercy having an exclusive on that specific wine in our area.

Towns surrounding us all allow this convenience. Beer and wine are currently sold in grocery stores and convenience stores in our surrounding cities and towns and Dallas is about to vote for this in November as well. Should this pass in Dallas, as it appears there is huge support for this change, Addison will be the only town not allowing this convenience. The opponents state that crime will increase and more police will be needed because of the increase in liquor sales throughout the town. Experience proves this to just not be the case. One doesn’t have to look very far to see that crime has not increased in towns such as Plano or Grapevine simply because you can buy beer and wine in a grocery store.

There is a longer term economic development issue here as well. Addison is in dire need of a high end grocery stores such as Whole Foods or Central Market. None of these stores are willing to come into the town unless they can sell beer and wine. Nearly 10% of their sales are attributed to beer and wine in stores where they are allowed to sell it. This is a significant part of their business that they are not willing to give up. There is also the lingering threat that existing stores such as Tom Thumb and Sam’s Club may consider moving out if this doesn’t pass. For both chains, sales of beer and wine are significant where it can be sold.

Nowhere else in the country am I aware of the liquor laws as they currently are in Texas. Our state leads the country in putting people back to work as well as other key areas. Why should we have to live with liquor laws that have long out seen their day of effectiveness? This is an important issue of economic development and convenience for the residents of Addison and Dallas. We encourage you to overlook the personal bashing in this election that the media keeps streaming to us and look at important issues like this one that can affect our livelihoods and lives right here in Addison.

Glen Agritelley, owner

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Screw It !

A customer remark about Mercy really caught my attention .... "a true wine bar that has screw top bottle caps is pretty degrading."

I am so sorry some people can be offended by it. It is an evolution that is occurring. Some of the reasoning behind using screw off bottle caps :

1: A decline in cork production could devastate cork forests, which house trees hundreds of years old and contain rare ecosystems that would disappear should cork production cease.

2. Wineries in Australia and New Zealand gravitate towards metal caps because importing cork is expensive.

3. The screw top has been praised because it does not carry the risk of cork taint. Cork taint occurs when a cork is contaminated by mold and spoils the wine it seals.

4. Modern packaging technology has introduced screw tops that can be calibrated to effectively seal wine. Cork is not essential to bottling wine, it's actually a remnant of the traditional winemaking process.

I am sad to see more bottles with the screw top enclosure .I always love opening a bottle of wine at the table the traditional way because it has a bit of charm and some showmanship.

I thank all wineries that actually use both enclosures: one for restaurant use and another one for retail purposes.


Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wine and Football

I always look forward to the start of a new professional football season. The last few years, myself and a group of current and former employees formed our own fantasy football league. Since many of us also work on Sunday, we are able to root for our favorite teams and players on the featured televised broadcast games.

Football was clearly on my mind as I prepared to write the blog entry for this week and a bit of research turned out some interesting information about coaches, former football players and wines.

Morten Andersen, veteran NFL kicker was (unofficially) rewarded by his Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil with a prized bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for making a field goal in a crucial game. Speaking of retired coach, Dick Vermeil, he has been making his own wine for years, and has his own tasting room in Napa Valley in which he has filled with sports memorabilia, photos from his NFL career and documentation of the history of winemaking in his family over the past century.

One of the most serious winery owners among NFL alumni is former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe teamed up with Leonetti Cellars’ Chris Figgins to make Doubleback Cabernet in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley, where Bledsoe grew up. Former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl champ and Hall of Famer Joe Montana created Montagia with Beringer Cabernet guru Ed Sbragia. Another former quarterback, Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins is behind Marino Estates in California.

Hall of Fame former player and coach, Mike Ditka has partnered with Mendocino Wine Company to create his own lineup of wines in Northern California. Charles Woodson, cornerback of the Green Bay Packers, upon retirement from professional football will have his own "signature" on a Cabernet from Napa Valley's Stags Leap District.

Our Red Room is the perfect venue for watching your favorite broadcast sporting event. A great place to enjoy a smoke-free environment with your friends and root for your favorite teams as you share the Mercy food and wine experience. Be sure to call ahead to make a reservation for this prized venue as it is often sought for highly anticipated events.

Go Cowboys !

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bringing it home

I just returned home to Dallas from a 3 week vacation in the south of France visiting my family. It was great to visit my family and to enjoy my mom’s fine home cooking and the good wines that accompanied our lunches and dinners. I definitely can not replicate my mom’s cooking but I did find a wine that reminds me of back home :

2007 Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Pierres Blanches

It has a bright red hue, expressive nose of very ripe fruit. On the palate, it is rich and full-bodied with silky tannins and good length and balance. It is still dark and tight, but with a great core of racy fig, graphite and blackberry jam notes pushed by a long, mineral- and charcoal-tinged finish.

Ripe raspberry, black cherry, dusty, loamy soil, pine forest needle, and seaweed wrapper characteristics are found in this dense, medium to full-bodied effort. Good acidity, ripe tannin, and a long finish.

Visit Mercy, taste this wine by glass for $15 or the bottle $45 and I will tell you more about my vacation in France.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, September 13, 2010

Something to Consider

I have now spent more than half of my life as a Texas resident and I have resisted all personal temptations to point out how residents in other areas of the country would do things. It is part of a personal affirmation that you make when you want to truly be a part of the local community. While I might not speak out about certain issues; there is an item currently before the voters in Dallas and Addison that is worthy of mention.

Two weeks ago, Glen Agritelley wrote in this blog about the wine and beer zoning law change that will be on the November ballot. The current statue only permits wine and beer retail sales in the Town of Addison in the small corridor on Inwood Rd up to Belt Line. The proposed change will allow wine and beer purchases at grocery and convenience stores (and Mercy as well).

Currently, Mercy is only permitted to sell wine and beer for on-premise consumption. The proposed change will allow us to also sell wine and beer "to-go". Mercy has been very fortunate to have secured some wine selections which are not available at other local establishments. The proposed change will allow us to sell wine to a new market of customers.

I grew up in an area of the country where it was common place for your local grocery, drug, or convenience store to have a selection of wines and beers for sale. You did not have to drive 30-45 minutes across town to enter a "wet area" to purchase your adult beverage. You were permitted to buy your steak and potatoes right along with the wine; a great convenience.

Some establishments would have you believe that expanding the number of outlets for beer and wine sales would lead to some level of moral decay. I currently live in Richardson. Richardson enacted the beer and wine law change some two years ago as did its adjacent neighbor, the City of Garland. The moral fiber of these communities has not diminished in the past two years. What has changed ? A visit to the store to get a six pack and a bag of chips is now a quick trip that can be done during the half time while watching football on Sunday.

Something to consider in November.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thank you Mercy

It is a time for change. I will be moving to a different city to pursue my dreams in the service industry. It’s because of working for one of the top bars in the country that I was able to be discovered.

Being employed at Mercy has been without a doubt the best working experience I have ever been a part of. I have learned more in two years at Mercy than I have the previous 15 years in this business. I owe most of what I have learned to our General Manager Vincent Havard. Not is Vincent my mentor but a great friend as well.Thank you Vincent for everything you have done for me in helping me become successful.

I also owe a great deal to our management team Glen and Mike. These men have educated me in business and taught me that it is important to take risk in this business in order to become successful. Glen once told me “If you have tried many things that have worked then you have not taken enough risk”. Trial and error is the best learning tool.Glen, Vincent and Mike are the best people I have ever worked for.Thank you for trusting me and believing in me. I wish you the best of luck in the continued success of Mercy.

I would like to thank the all the servers, bus boys, bar backs and kitchen staff past and present. It has been on honor and a pleasure working with you. We have had good times and not so good times, we have worked hard together and we have played hard together. Thank you all for making my experience a pleasant one.

Last but not least I would like to thank every guest that I have served. From all my regulars to the people who had not so good things to say about me. It is my relationship with you that has helped me become successful. My love for Mercy will always exist. I thank you all for being a part of my life, my all your dreams come true.

Best Wishes
Craig Brazeal

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wine and Beer.... the retail story

One of the most difficult and confusing things to understand about our wonderful state of Texas are our liquor laws, wet and dry areas, semi-dry areas, Unicards. At best it is very difficult to understand. Having not been brought up in Texas it makes it even more difficult. After owning a wine bar/restaurant for 7+ years it is no less clear today than it was then.

Let me try and explain: My state beverage license allows me, at Mercy, to serve beer and wine. The State license allows you to come in, buy a bottle of wine and drink it on premise or to take it home unopened, however, my city license does not. Currently the Town of Addison only allows a select number of liquor stores (Inwood Ave) to sell liquor, beer and wine for off premise consumption.

The city council, in their wisdom, undertook a 6 month project to look at this ordinance to see if it was time to amend it or change it. It set up a subcommittee to make a recommendation to the council. I had the pleasure to speak to the subcommittee as well as directly to the city council on several occasions on behalf of changing the ordinance to allow beer and wine to be sold elsewhere beside those retailers on Inwood. This past week the city council wisely voted to allow the question to go before the voters in November. This same issue is on the ballot for Dallas.

My argument to the city council was that we at Mercy bring in wines that are difficult to find at retail. Trying to differentiate ourselves and bring a unique experience to our guests. We bring these wines to our guests and develop the demand then we are compelled to send our guest to a retailer if they wish to purchase a bottle to take home. Most often the retailer is located outside of the Town of Addision.

Mercy looses revenue for wine selections that we have generated the demand for and the community looses tax revenue. It is my belief that this is a convenience that every citizen should have if they so choose.

There has been a great deal of fear mongering surrounding this issue. The opposition continues to talk about the increase in crime in the area should this happen. One doesn’t have to look very far outside our own back yard to see that this is just not the case. Many surrounding towns allow for this and people are not shooting each other in the streets because they can buy a bottle of wine in their local grocery store. Those towns that have allowed this are also seeing improved economic development and growth in their communities.

When this comes up for a public vote in November, we urge you to please consider voting for the change in this local ordinance, opening up the sale of beer and wine to retail establishments throughout the city. We encourage everyone to drink responsibly.

Glen Agritelley

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vegas and their new City Center

Freshly back from my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas. This year was special, 6 nights in “fun city”! I combined some work and some play this time. I spent 2 full days at the largest men’s clothing show in the world for Sebastian’s Closet and 4 days with my boys for pure fun.

I was determined to explore the new City Center complex this year. After many years of it being built and many ownership changes, this complex will help redefine Vegas and set a new standard for the future. It is truly an amazing site. Ultra modern, airy, high ceilings; one has the complete feeling of openness and space. Shopping is all high end as you would expect from such a gorgeous place. You might expect room rates to be through the roof, remember this is 2010, after the crash and Vegas is still reeling from the economic downturn. Room rates are very affordable. I’d highly recommend staying there as soon as you can, because I can only imagine that rates have to go up as the economy improves. Someone has to pay for this complex. My understanding is that City Center has its own zip code in Las Vegas. There is literally no reason to leave the complex once you are there!

After Wine Spectator’s rave review of the new Spanish restaurant, Julian Serrano’s, it was a must stop for me. Julian came from the famed Picasso’s, which a few short years ago was only 1 of 2 five star restaurants in Las Vegas. Julian’s pedigree is very impressive and he does not disappoint in his new venture. Serrano’s specializes in tapas and paella. We tried 5 or 6 different tapas and everyone was better than the last. Most impressive was Julian’s wine list. Three pages of Spanish wines and it held the largest selection of Spanish wines from the Del Duero region of Spain that I have ever seen in the US.

Six days in Vegas is a long time and one gets the sense that while there seem to be huge numbers of people everywhere, Vegas is still feeling the pinch of the economy. Key indicators for me were that I had no problem getting into any restaurant I wanted to in 6 nights without a reservation. Any show was available any night I wanted. The hotels are offering incredible deals. Every cab driver I spoke with gave me the universal answer, yes, things are picking up but very slowly. Take advantage of all Las Vegas has to offer. It is a great value right now in all price ranges!

Glen Agritelley

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Change is a necessary part of life

Building a successful restaurant and wine bar require many different facets. The decor, the wine selections, the physical location are all important factors. At Mercy, I have always maintained that it is our staff that have really contributed the most and been the real building blocks of our success.

Recruiting, hiring, training, team building, nurturing and supervision are important components of the staffing process. As managers, we are responsible to support our staff, work as a team with the other managers to ultimately deliver a great guest experience to all that visit Mercy.

The last two years have brought to us a variety of new experiences with changes taking place in the economy, the environment and the political and technological landscapes. Change is a necessary part of life. Mercy has evolved and changed throughout our existence; food menu and wine offerings, decor and staffing evolutions.

Craig Brazeal, our bar manager, has been a valued working partner to his fellow managers these past two years, a supportive mentor to our staff and a welcome presence behind the bar to many of our guests. Change is necessary and so when new opportunities open, new experiences unfold, we have to adapt and embrace. Craig has accepted a new opportunity which will chart new experiences for him in a different city. He will be serving out his remaining three weeks at Mercy and while we are sorry to see him leave, we welcome the opportunity it will provide to him in his professional life.

Please stop in to visit Craig and all of as at Mercy over the coming few weeks. Take a moment to say hi and wish Craig the best, as we do, in his future endeavors.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Bordeaux sleeper

Wines from Saint-Émilion or from the right bank, Lalande-de-Pomerol, are often selected for those that would like to experience a Bordeaux wine. These two appellations use a majority Cabernet Franc or Merlot for a lighter varietal for the beginners palet.

These two appellations can also be expensive in some cases. However, you can find some great Bordeaux selections that are affordable and also ready to drink.

One new addition at Mercy is Chateau Le Conseiller 2008 Bordeaux Superior. This wine is young but very smooth with a 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc blend. It is made by Jean-Philippe Janoueix, Le Conseiller and is consistently a top effort from this humble appellation. This is a big-time sleeper of this vintage with its dense purple color, aromas of roasted coffee, blackberry liqueur, charcoal and smoke. It is dense, chewy, and rich, with sweet tannins and ripe fruit.

You can enjoy Chateau Le Conseiller 2008 at Mercy for $ 20 by the glass or $ 60 by the bottle.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, July 26, 2010

We're doing something right

For the last seven years, Mercy has strived to be the best at what we do and it’s finally paying off. Our team is consistently working very hard, to take the extra step, to be the best and because of that, Mercy Wine Bar is having its greatest year ever !

We have been very blessed this year by being showered with awards and recognition by our peers and industry professionals and they keep pouring in. Our most recent recognition ~ Voted Best Wine bar in Dallas by “D Magazine”. The first sentence says it all “Mercy is a true wine experience” which has been our goal since day one. We don’t want to provide just food or wine; we want to be known for providing an experience for everyone. Nothing makes us feel better then to see a guest exiting Mercy with smile of satisfaction on their face.

We have also recently received, for the seventh year in a row, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, which every year has been an honor to receive this from an industry publication that is read around the entire world.

We want to thank every one of our staff members, from our management team, servers and bartenders, bus staff and our kitchen staff for working very hard in making Mercy Wine Bar a well oiled machine. More importantly we want to thank our guests. Without you, none of these awards would be possible. We will continue to work vigorously to provide the best experience for everyone who comes to our establishment.

Thank you and see you at Mercy!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thank you to all that voted

Over the last 7 years we have been very fortunate to have received some great recognition throughout the US. Our industry has voted us one of the top 4 wine bars in the country for a couple of years and several lifestyle websites have recognized Mercy as a unique wine bar concept.

While we love being recognized by our peers and critics, the most satisfying recognition comes from you, our guests. This week Mercy received Best Place to Sip Wine and Best Lounge from Addison Corridor Magazine. Over a period of several months, this prestigious magazine solicited feedback from the public for their “Favorites” in multiple categories. You honored us with two awards this year. Of all of the awards we have received over the years, these are the ones that mean the most to us, those coming from our guests.

Guest feedback is a critical part of our business. Some of you may not be aware, when your server asks if you wouldn’t mind filling out a comment card, what happens to those. As a management team, we all review the feedback and discuss everything on every single one of them. We then take appropriate action to strengthen and reinforce those things we do well and improve in those areas that need bolstering.

As a management team we are constantly challenging our staff to improve their wine knowledge and service skills. Training is a regular part of our business model and we believe that the bar of excellence needs to be continually raised to provide the best guest experience possible.

We very much appreciate your vote of confidence and will continue to work hard to earn your praise. It is our goal to make your time at Mercy the very best part of your day.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Planning for an Event

Entertaining in your home and planning for a large gathering can be a real daunting task for the novice event planner. Now, while I don't consider myself an expert by any means,I will share some thoughts on the events that I put together for groups at Mercy.

Are you working with a theme ? We have hosted several customer events with a theme in mind: Argentine or Chilean wines, Reds of Napa, or the beer tasting event that we did several years ago, come to mind.

How much wine to buy ? Two factors to help you choose. How long do you anticipate the event lasting, two or three hours ? How many guests will be drinking wine or beer ? Here is a formula to help you decide how many bottles to purchase. Take the number of guests drinking wine multiplied by the length in hours of your event and divide it by 6. The number 6 represents an approximate number of glasses you will get per bottle of wine. So if you expect 24 guests for a 3 hour event .... 24 x 3 (hours) / 6 = 12 bottles of wine. Beer planning is a little more difficult since beer drinkers can be so varied in their pace. Assume that your guests will drink at a comfortable pace of 1 beer every 30 minutes so that means 2 beers per beer drinker per hour. If you have 12 beer drinkers for this 3 hour event 12 x 2 x 3 / 24 = 3 cases of beer (24 per case).

What to serve for food ? I always recommend an assortment of cheeses and seasonal fruit for a couple of reasons, primarily among them is that they will stay fresh and inviting throughout your event and will be available to keep your guests munching on something. A variety of hot and cold appetizers or small sandwiches cut into bite sized portions are best. Select items that can be served hot for immediately passing amongst your guests and other selections which can served at room temperature that you can set out and allow you to get out of the kitchen to be a host to your guests.

Of course, the best option of all is to contact me at Mercy and let us take care of all the assorted details for you. We love what we do and we would enjoy introducing Mercy to your guests as well.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Relax and Enjoy !

Restaurant and bar employees spend a fair amount of time at their jobs during the evening hours. Inviting friends and family to our homes for dinner (at least for me) is a rare occurrence since those typical dinner hours, I am at work.

Whenever Mercy is host to a Wine Dinner, it is very much like inviting our family and friends to dinner. Our extended family for this dinner include Mitch Bakich and Mark Donati of the Donati Family Vineyard.

Some of the anxieties when you set out to entertain guests in your home are the meal planning, shopping, cooking, serving and then wine selections to be served with dinner. Then you have to worry about how to keep the conversation lively while you are navigating from one guest to the next as you serve your wine selections.

Relax ! Let us take the worry out of your event planning and enjoy what we have to offer for the Donati Family Wine Dinner: a Four Course meal with wine pairing, priced at $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Seating at our table is limited and reservations are requested. Our guests of honor are Mitch Bakich and Mark Donati.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Water to Wine

Growing up as a kid, I often noticed that my grandmother would add water to her glass of red wine before drinking it. She came from the south of France in the Rhone region where I grew up. My stepfather would offer my grandmother some vacqueyras or gigondas and he would get irritated with her as he observed her adding water to those fine wines. Times change and while I do not mimic what grandmother did, I can understand her reasoning.

There is an evolution in red wine; Marzemo vine that produces Marsecco. Asia is where the Marzemo vine first grew and its route to Trentino is lost in the passage of time. But by the 16th century, connoisseurs in Venetia and Lombardy were already enjoying its luscious yield. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart even paid tribute to this fabled wine, referring to the ‘Exellente Marzemino’ in his opera ‘Don Giovanni’.

Marsecco is “Reminiscent of cherries and even Black Forest gateau on the nose. It gives dense dark berry fruits on the palate and is full-bodied and well-balanced. This sparkling red wine when poured over ice and served in a tumbler is quite refreshing.

This is another experience we would love to share with you. Chris Brown and Randall Recknagel introduced us to this delicious, ruby red elixir and we would love to introduce you to it as well.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, June 14, 2010

She’s Got a Ticket to Wine!!!!!

We have had a great turn out and response to our Thursday night entertainment from the music to the magician. We originally were going to have entertainment on a couple of Thursdays a month throughout the summer but since it’s been so successful; we are going to have some sort of entertainment ever Thursday now!

This week we have something very special in store for our guests. We were given a great opportunity through one of our servers to develop a relationship with the very popular Dallas based Beatles cover band A Hard Nights Day! A Hard Nights Day has been spreading the gospel of John, Paul, George and Ringo around the world for 15 years. Drawing from a catalogue of over 200 classics, you will never see the same show twice! The band has been personally endorsed by The Beatles first manager Alan Williams. We are very proud to announce that we will have two of the members of A Hard Nights Day performing a special acoustic set of Beatles songs this Thursday from 8pm – 11pm. We encourage all of our guests to come in, kick back, grab a bottle of wine and take a trip down memory lane! Come in early to grab a seat as we are expecting a large turn out for this special event.

We are so excited about this opportunity that we will have this acoustic duo once a month for as long as we can book them. Please check our website at mercywinebar.com for details regarding our Thursday night entertainment! See you at Mercy!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Monday, June 7, 2010

“what is your favorite wine?”

I am asked all of the time, “what is your favorite wine?” And I quip, “The one I am drinking right now”! I really do enjoy the experience of trying different wines from around the world. I really believe that tasting wine is a skill, and like most skills it must be practiced in order to make the skill better. To fine tune your palate it is important to try wines from around the world as well as different vintages of your “favorites”. Over the years I have found myself gravitating back to the Italians. Can you blame me? I have grown to really love the Malbecs of Argentina as well as the Tempranillos of Spain. Certainly there is great variety in each of these categories and over time I have gained a respect for the variety in each. The Tempranillos of Rioja tend to be a bit more fruit forward while the same grape from the Del Duero region of Spain reflects more of an earthy, older world character. I recognize these are broader generalities but for someone wanting to learn about wines from the world it serves as a good guideline. The same certainly holds true for wines from any given region. Another layer of complexity is the variability from one year to the next. What may have been an outstanding wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina last year may not turn out as great as this year. The message here is to keep your mind and palate open. Just when you think you have found your “most favorite” wine, it may not be next year. Keep tasting and trying and remember that “your favorite wine” needs to be relative.

I also find myself being very seasonal about my “favorite wines”. There is no question that summer is here. We officially broke 100 this past weekend and during these early dog days of summer I find it less enjoyable to be drinking a big cab or a super Tuscan. Eating a bit lighter really dictates a wine a bit on the lighter side. You certainly wouldn’t want a big, juicy red with a light salad when it is 100 outside. My personal tastes move more toward a Pinot Noir and yes there I have some areas that I am quite fond of. In the US, the Willamette Valley Pinots are outstanding. The latitude of the valley is nearly identical to that of Burgundy which means similar climates. Many of these Oregon wines drink very much like some of the great Burgundys of France at a fraction of the cost. I am very partial to these and they are great wines for this climate! They pair so nicely with a simple cheese plate or simply sitting by the pool or on your patio enjoying the early evening with a glass. I also have a special place in my heart for the Pinots of Chile. Chile’s wine industry has been hit extremely hard with the recent hurricane that devastated that country. So much great wine was lost there and Chile has a very strong track record of producing some really great Pinots that hold up to any from around the world. There are some great values for these wines from Chile and Willamette. Many of these drink like much more expensive wines. I would highly encourage you to come in and try some of these and experiment on your own. If you find yourself continuing to go back to the same wine time and time again, and believe me I still do, ask one of our servers, Craig or Vincent to recommend something you haven’t had before. You don’t have venture very far from your flavor profile to find some great new experiences in wine! Keep an open mind and palate!


Monday, May 31, 2010

To Preserve and Protect

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30th of each year. The first large observance of Declaration (Memorial) Day was held after the Civil War ended on May 5, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The ceremony included numerous speeches with children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home making their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who had died in all American wars.

My father served with the U.S. Army in World War II and while he did not speak much about it; he did mention, while we were watching a war movie on television, that he did serve under General Omar Bradley. Many years later, I held a vintage bottle of wine that was bottled in France in 1942. Stamped on its label was a Nazi swastika as it was produced during the German occupation of France that occurred between May 1940 and December 1944.

Mercy will be closed today in celebration of Memorial Day. Take time to personally thank a veteran today. They have given a part of themselves to preserve and protect all that we hold dear. Their sacrifices have shaped the world, removed tyranny and allowed us the freedoms that we enjoy on Memorial Day and every day.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, May 24, 2010

The French Kiss

Mercy Wine Bar has been open for over 7 years now. When we first opened, the concept of a "bar" only serving wine and beer, was a new one. Still, seven years later, we still have the occasional guest coming to the bar to order a "Jack and Coke" or other type of cocktail. OOPS !

Our selections of wine ,beer, champagne ....now has a fourth option, Vermouth. Vermouth is a fortified wine, and according to at least one source, it is about as far from regular wine as you can get while still calling it wine.

Vermouth generally starts out as a low-alcohol white wine, which is fortified with the addition of a distilled spirit, coming either from grapes or a vegetable, such as sugar beets. The next step is what separates it from traditional wine and other fortified wines – a variety of flavorings are added, which may include quinine, coriander seeds, cloves, juniper berries, ginger, dried orange and/or lemon peel, chamomile, raspberries, rose petals, or cinnamon.

Summer is going to be hot, and what could be better or more refreshing than a cocktail made out of dry vermouth, known as French Vermouth or sweet known as Italian Vermouth. Your selection poured over ice, into a long tumbler and garnished with a fresh slice of sweet orange that brings flavors of cola, cloves ,cinnamon and the finish of root beer.

You can enjoy V.Y.A. Vermouth at Mercy for $8 a glass. Come and try it. It is worth the experience !

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The spring and summer time are upon us. I can tell by all the festivals that are going on all around us. There are many wonderful events that incorporate music, arts and crafts, carnivals and food and beverage. The Wildflower Festival, Scarborough Fair and the upcoming Taste of Addison just to name a few. All provide a wonderful experience with great food and spirits. Attend one of these many events and train your palate to experience some of the different but excellent food that these vendors have to offer.

The Taste of Addison is this weekend, although Mercy is not participating in this event, I would like encourage you to attend. There will be food from many of Addison’s great restaurants, try them all. There is an especially neat showcase event I would like our wine o’s to attend. For the fourth year in a row, the Robert Mondavi Discover Wine tour will be bringing the Napa Valley wine country experience to Taste of Addison. The nationwide tour honors Mr. Mondavi's interest in wine education and in integrating wine, food and the arts as a part of gracious living. Visitors will learn about cooking and wine through a highly interactive approach including food demonstrations, wine seminars and tastings. Guests of the Robert Mondavi Discover Wine tour will enjoy a sensory and educational experience that will enhance an appreciation of wine. Robert Mondavi’s wine education staff will engage patrons with live cooking demonstrations and wine seminars to help visitors sharpen their wine knowledge and entertaining skills.

TV’s Ted Allen will be hosting a seminar on food and wine pairing. We had Mr. Allen at Mercy last year and he did an exceptional job of giving guests basic and easy knowledge on how to pair wine with food. I challenge you to come by Mercy when you are done and try out what you have learned.

Let me remind everyone that if you are unable to make this event, that Mercy offers wine classes every other Tuesday from seven o’clock to nine o’clock which feature a four course, small portions, meal and wine with every course. The classes are only $45.00 a person and you will get a great education from our wine guy Vincent!

See you at Mercy!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Sunday, May 9, 2010

By popular demand

Beginning this month, Mercy will be introducing live entertainment on a couple of Thursday nights a month. We have received a great amount of feedback from our customers to do more live entertainment and Thursday evenings is the perfect night.

We will begin on May 13 with Jared Brandon. Jared is an amazing illusionist and sleight of hand expert. Jared performed at Mercy one other time and was a huge success. He will do at least 3 shows beginning at 8 pm. I have had the privilege of seeing Jared perform on several occasions and he is amazing. He is as good as any of the illusionists in Las Vegas, and I have seen them all! Jared will begin with 1 Thursday a month to start with.

Beginning in June we will be bringing in live music on another Thursday evening. More acoustic and lighter entertainment and we have a few great surprises we are working on right now that I think will be a huge hit and you won’t want to miss.

Check out calendar on www.mercywinebar.com to stay up to date on the entertainment at Mercy.

I’d also like to thank everyone that took the time to vote for Mercy Wine Bar in the poll that Luxist.com was running. This is a website set up by AOL for luxury services and items and they named Mercy one of the top 5 wine bars in the US. Voting ended on April 30 and we anxiously await the results this week. Simply being mentioned with restaurants and bars from New York City, San Francisco, Las Vegas and LA is a huge honor. We were the only establishment from Texas that made the top 5.

We continue to be honored by the national recognition Mercy is getting and thank you, our guests, for your support and vote of confidence in us to deliver a great wine experience!!

Glen Agritelley

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cherish your mother

It has been 20 years now since my mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. Every year as Mother's day approaches, it still pains me as I wish I could have had more time with her. I am very thankful that I arrived in time to speak with her in the hospital, moments before she passed away.

For those of you that still have your mother with you, don't hold back ! Tell her thank you for all the times that she comforted you, for all the times that she supported you. Remember all of the things that she has done and all the times she has unselfishly put you first ahead of her feelings, wants and needs.

Remember all the times she stayed up with you when you awoke from a bad dream or if you were running a fever and how cool the wash cloth felt when she placed it across your forehead.

A guest came in to Mercy today to purchase a Gift Certificate for our Food and Wine Education class. He plans to present it to his mother and attend it with her, a unique and memorable experience that both can share.

Other memories still come flooding back to me. The tears in her eyes when I moved out of the family home, and more tears as I moved thousands of miles away.

Life is very fragile so cherish your mother while you can. Mercy will be open for business this Mother's Day and we would love to help you create more special memories for both of you.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wine and His Personality

Not to long ago Rodney Hand (Publisher of the Addison and the North Dallas Corridor magazine) asked me if would be interested in tasting a selection of wines from someone that he knew (Ramon Guerrero of Meadowlark Vineyard).

Ramon and his wife actually live in Plano TX and it was their dream to buy 17 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley (45 minutes away from Santa Barbara). Meadowlark Vineyard does not have currently have an affiliation with a local distributor but they have a total production of 2000 cases. I invited Ramon to Mercy as I thought it will be great to taste his "boutique-style" wine. Ramon brought in four wines for me to taste that day: 2006 Syrah, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Syrah and his 2007 Cabernet.

I specifically want to discuss the two Syrah selections but I should also mention that Meadowlark Vineyards is registered as an organic grower with the California Department of Agriculture and the Guerrero Family motto is: "We are what we eat and drink ".

2006 Syrah: It was very good but very old world in style, more dominant with the dried fruits of " figs, dates and prunes", medium to high acidity and an extreme level of minerality with an herbal finish. It was very Rhone in the style.

2007 Syrah
This wine was so bright and full of joy, had good density with a dominance of fresh fruit "black cherry, blackberry, plum", the structure was very silky, velvety, with low acidity and soft tanins. I understand that one vintage can be slightly different from another, that is what Mother nature has to offer. So, I had to ask the question "is this the same winemaker for both wines, the 2006 and the 2007 "?

He said "No" and then I understood why they tasted so differently. The 2006 was much more traditional style from an older gentleman (old school) and the 2007, much more brightness,density and younger expressions. Ramon told me that has just hired a new winemaker, fresh out of school and that he is very happy with what he is done with the wine. The wine takes on the personality of the winemaker.

Like I was saying earlier, Meadowlark Vineyard does not currently have a distributor in Texas but we will be working to bring it to Mercy and share my experience with you.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spoiled by service

Viva Las Vegas ! My girlfriend and I just recently went to Las Vegas for a much needed vacation and of course, we had a blast. The bright lights, the ringing of the slot machines, the cheers of people hitting it big, the long faces of the ones who just lost it all, the extravagant shopping, the lavish night clubs and the fine restaurants everywhere, the awesome weather, all combined for a memorable trip. I have been to Vegas several times over the years but this is the first time I really observed everything around me. I wanted to bring back an experience that I could share at Mercy and one thing really impressed me !

The one thing that really stood out for me was the quality of service I received. No matter where I went, it seemed that it was the same, whether I was at a patio bar or a five star restaurant. We went to a couple of fine hotel restaurants for dinner and it’s sad to say, that I was overall disappointed with the service that we received, especially considering we were dropping $200-$400 for the two of us. My girlfriend thought I was overreacting with my disappointment. Granted, I am picky because I expect the same service that I provide, but it really made me realize how exceptional our service is at Mercy!

I did however take one of our guest's recommendations and visited a restaurant and wine bar on the outskirts of town called Ferraro’s. I had made reservations for dinner. I was already not happy with my dining service experiences in Vegas so I walked in as merely a novice putting my 16 years industry experience aside and approached it as if I was a guest at Mercy. We simply sat down and I told our server to save his opening speech and placed everything from the water to the desserts in his hands. As a result of us letting the waiter have control of our evening, it was by far the best experience I have every had at any restaurant. Everything was to the tee of what I expect our staff to provide at Mercy. The things that impressed me the most: the bus boy, the waiter, the sommelier, and even the executive chef, came by our table and without being bothersome, to make sure everything was great. After the evening was over I introduced myself and raved about my experience. We even had a picture taken with our waiter and sommelier.

I learned a lot from both the great and the not so great service we received in Las Vegas and that experience provided me with a few ideas to fine tune our already awesome service that we provide at Mercy!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Monday, April 12, 2010

A favorite memory

It became a fond memory for a cold winter day, mom's grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of hot tomato soup. My brother was always a picky eater but that was one lunch that we both could agree upon. A quick hot lunch before we went back outside to play in the snow.

The Grilled Cheese Sandwich has come into its own now with the celebration now of National Grilled Cheese Month in April. Mercy's contribution to this national event, Grilled Cheese Apple Sandwich with Fontina and Jarlsberg cheeses and Granny Smith apples has been a customer favorite for several years now.

A few minutes of scouring the Internet turned up this following tidbit about National Grilled Cheese month. As the story goes, a 123-page report to Congress on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program including a reference to April’s National Grilled Cheese Month.

As I got older and our family grew (with an additional brother and a sister), my mom returned to the work force. As the eldest, I took up the task of preparing this tasty and quick luncheon item to myself and siblings. But, I never quite mastered mom's touch for preparation of this satisfying lunch.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My annual pilgrimage to Miami

I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to Miami for the Sony Ericsson tennis tournament. Another outstanding year, one of the highlights of the year for me. I have been doing this trip for 10 years now and this year was no disappointment. Despite a day of rain, I saw two full days of tennis and had a chance to see some of the greats, Nadal, Murray, Nalbandian, Bryan Brothers, Baghdadis, Henin and many more. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. This is just below the level of the US Open, held in NY every August. I just love this tournament! For me, it is the beginning of summer. Sitting in the sun in Miami at 80+ degrees with the ocean breeze blowing, watching the best tennis players in the world, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Our first evening there, it is a tradition to have dinner at the Blue Door in the Delano Hotel on South beach (www.Delano-hotel.com). It was a beautiful evening dining on the patio, overlooking the wading pool. The food is amazing and the service impeccable and the scenery, just as good! Everything about this experience is amazing and over the top!

This year our group of five stayed in Coconut Grove, which was a first. We loved this little town. Park your car and walk everywhere! We found ourselves gravitating back there every night for dinner. We discovered a great restaurant right on an outlying corner named Green Street Café, www.greenstreetcafe.net. What a great concept! The lounge is outdoors. Right on the sidewalk are couches and high back comfortable chairs with tables. Patrons are relaxing with their feet propped up and enjoying a drink or an appetizer.

Along two streets the sidewalks are donned with small tables for outdoor dining. I ended up eating there for the next three nights! A simple menu of Italian cuisine that was outstanding. Homemade pasta and a willingness on the part of the waitstaff to customize your dinner was the order of the day. Several lighter fish dishes, which a couple of my group ordered, were really great as well. I would have liked to have seen a few more Italian wines and more by the glass would have taken a great evening way over the top. During the course of our meal, we were enjoying the eye candy of Maseratis and Ferraris cruising the streets. Ah, the purr of that Maserati with a nice glass of Chianti!! What a great combo. For some reason, they just go together!

This was another great trip of remarkable tennis, revisiting a world class restaurant and hotel and discovering a great new little village. What a great way to escape the real world for a few days. I can’t wait for next year!!

Glen Agritelley

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The deal of the month !

Let's take a drive 2 hours north of San Francisco in Mendocino County and make a stop in Anderson Valley.

Visiting Anderson Valley wineries is like no other experience compared to the famous Napa and Sonoma areas.... You will not find the crowds of tourists and the busy tasting rooms like in the other popular regions. The atmosphere is much more laid back in Anderson Valley.

The climate is influenced by the Pacific Ocean and it is one of the coolest in the state. The wind and fog keeps the acid level of the grapes high, which is particularly beneficial for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. Anderson Valley gets a little more rain than other regions as well.

The Duckhorn Wine Company family includes numerous other wineries; among them is Goldeneye (golden duck with yellow eyes) that makes exclusively, prime Pinot Noir. This well-balanced, medium-weight wine offers bright acidity and a long, satisfying finish. The aroma is rich and full of dark cherries, nutmeg, caramelized apple, cinnamon, and clove. On the palate, it is full of plum, spice, cherry, strawberry, and vanilla oak layers.

This definitely is a serious Pinot that I especially enjoy with Mercy's exquisite tuna steak served with a peppercorn sauce on a bed of steamed vegetables.

Enjoy it at Mercy, while it is on at a special price of $ 25.00 a glass or $75.00 a bottle during the month of April and based upon availability (it normally retails for $120.00).

Vincent Havard
General Manager

Monday, March 22, 2010

Time to Wine is Here!

With so much contradictory information being passed around regarding how our economy is doing I felt it was time to do a bit of research as to how the wine industry is fairing through all of this.

It has been a long time coming. Wine has become a part of the fabric of American culture. In 2005, for the first time, wine passed beer as the alcoholic beverage of choice by adults in the US. Gallup Consumption Habits poll found that 39% of American drinkers consume wine most often, and 36% consume beer most often. The fastest growing segment of the population moving toward wine is between 21-30 year olds. I find this very interesting and we see this holding true in our own business. When Mercy first opened up 7 years ago the average age of our guests ran from 35-55 and today I would say it is between 25 and 50. Younger people are showing an interest in learning about wines from all over the world.

Another factor that will continue to impact the American wine industry in a major way is the little publicized Supreme Court ruling allowing wineries to ship directly to the consumer across state lines. Prior to this, wineries were only allowed to ship direct within their own state. As more of the US population become introduced to wine and these people discover “gems” that they like the trend for buying directly from the winery will increase. It is believed that this will become one of the biggest growth areas in the wine industry, selling direct. It will certainly never overtake the 3 tier distribution system. While that part of the market is consolidating the direct sales portion is opening up and seeing nice growth.

With the economy being what it is and the days of big corporate expense accounts being over people are looking for great wine values. This has moved people to look at emerging areas such as Walla Walla Washington which is producing tremendous wines for great value. Also looking offshore at areas like Spain, Argentina, Chile, South American which produce fabulous wines at a great price. All of this pushing the new wine consumer to explore and discover what they like.

We pride ourselves at Mercy at being able to find great wines that represent good value to our guests. Vincent and his team are tasting a dozen wines a day and very few make it to our list. We are glad you are part of this great journey of WINE! Most of the world has know of this journey for ages and nice that the journey of wine has become part of the mainstream of American culture.

Come to Mercy and let’s do some exploring!!

Glen Agritelley

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Education... crucial for our employees

As managers, we are constantly complemented by many of our guests for how knowledgeable our employees are about the wine we serve. Mercy was recently voted one of the top wine bars in the country. Aside from our atmosphere and wine list, we like to think that it is our service and knowledgeable staff that have contributed to this very high honor. Wine varies so much from year to year due to changes in climate, precipitation, and soil pH. It is very important to stay on top of all of these changes.

Vincent has done an exceptional job training and teaching the staff about the world of wine. When a server is hired at Mercy Wine Bar, they take part in an intense, four week training period, in which they taste almost every wine that we carry and it’s pairing with a food item. Most high end restaurants require a written test before a server is permitted to work on the floor; Mercy takes a different approach. We are so very confident with our four week training program; we will put a new hire out on the floor without a written test, allowing them to apply all that they have learned. So far, this approach has been extremely effective!

This month, we are taking our wine education a bit further. Mercy’s wine list contains descriptions that Vincent has put together. Instead of having Vincent come up with all of these, the management team has decided to challenge our staff to do the leg work for these descriptions. Every server has been assigned a selection of wines from all over the world to research and write their own descriptions for these wines. Our staff has many tools to help them reach this goal: internet search engines, information from our distributors, the always helpful, Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine and most importantly, access to smell and taste these wines. A further requirement: these descriptions should be personal and mandating that they use their own words and feelings to describe these wines. We believe this will give an additional opportunity to our staff to learn something new about wine and add a little flare to their already stellar knowledge.

We are very excited to see the results of this learning challenge! The new wine list will be printed and available for your viewing pleasure starting in April 2010. See you at Mercy!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Monday, March 8, 2010

Can you believe it is already March ?

It seems like it was only just last week that we were celebrating a new year and now we have already entered the third month of that new year.

Vincent and Craig have already started to plan their summer vacations, while I believe I will do some traveling.... right into my own backyard. I hope that the shivering cold that we have experienced is behind us now and we can move towards some great spring weather and outdoor events. Judging by the large number of happy guests on Mercy's patio as of late; some of you had similar thoughts in mind.

Mercy was been host to several large events already in this new year. There is always a great sense of enjoyment for all of us when we are host to a large event. These events all have their own special nuances and we enjoy rising to meet the challenges that come from serving numerous guests concurrently.

It is especially gratifying for the management team, as we really get to see a "teamwork" attitude from the staff as each department gears up and contributes to the success of an event. I take an additional measure of pleasure when each party comes to a conclusion as it began as a blank event sheet on my desk.

Three new proposals were sent out today for upcoming parties and I am anxious to do more ! If you are planning an event: a wedding reception, a rehearsal dinner,a book club meeting, network marketing group get together,a sales presentation, contact me !

I welcome the opportunity to show you what we can do.

Mercy !

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Managing inventory challenges

After we were no longer able to obtain a specific Pinot Noir from Oregon; it became a challenge to find a comparable offering to take it's place among our inventory.

Enter Forefront 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir by Pine Ridge.
Most of the fruit for this wine comes from the Dundee Hills area of Willamette Valley. Oak barrel aging was accomplished over a 10 month period using a combination of one and two-year-old French oak.

Wild strawberry, hints of clay, mushroom and rhubarb are the most prominent aromas in the nose of this young Pinot Noir. The middle of this wine is loaded with lean, dry fruit flavors, with the red fruit flavors of cherry, raspberry and cranberry dominating and leading the charge. A host of mineral notes, as well as sour cherry, graphite, earth and cola emerge on the impressively lengthy finish.

This wine is perfect to pair with our Blacken Salmon with Strawberry Glaze or our Blackened Ahi Tuna appetizer. The good fruit will help balance the spicy flavors.

You can enjoy Forefront Pint Noir at Mercy for $13 a glass or $40 by the bottle.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Sunday, February 21, 2010

And the winner was...

As most of you have heard, Mercy Wine Bar was a finalist in Wine Bar of the Year, picked by the trade magazine, Bar and Nightclub. We were in GREAT company and only 4 were selected as finalists from over 200 across the country. Mercy was picked along with Ultra Lounge and Wine Bar from San Diego, Zebra’s Bistro and Wine Bar in Massachusetts and Flute from New York City. At the end of the day, Flute was selected as the #1 wine bar in the US. This is a very elegant wine bar that specializes in Champagne only. It is a quaint, elegant, below street level wine bar that is renowned in New York City. They have two locations in NYC and one in Paris. Check out their web site at www.flutebar.com. Mercy congratulates Flute on their success and recognition.

It is such an honor to have been placed in the same league with these beautiful wine bars and restaurants and for an industry publication to have considered us as one of the best in the country. There was not another restaurant, bar or nightclub from Texas that made the cut, which meant making it as a finalist that much more special for us. I can honestly say that 7 years ago it never even crossed our minds that we’d be considered one of the best in the country. We were thinking, “how can we make Mercy the go-to place in our town”? We were thinking about local neighborhood and creating a concept where people could come in and feel like they were in their living room with friends learning about wines and eating wonderful cuisine.

This past February 14, Mercy celebrated our 7th anniversary. It seems like yesterday we opened our doors for the first time and launched, what we considered to be a unique, experience for our area. We have you, our guests, to thank for being here 7 years later by continuing to believe that we bring something unique to the market and we will continue to raise the bar to exceed your expectations. All of us at Mercy remain committed to bringing you a great experience with wine and food. I am very much looking forward to our next 7 years!!!



Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine’s Day and Wine

Even Cupid knows that a good wine is the perfect sharing beverage for Valentine’s Day! Red, the color of love and the color of the wine that most people will choose to drink this Valentines! There is still time to surprise your sweetheart with a bottle of wine to share with at Mercy for Valentines Day. Even if you don’t know your lover’s favorite wine, select one you think you will both enjoy; you really can’t go wrong. Think of it as a time to share and experiment together. Even if you don’t get a chance to come to Mercy this weekend here are some recommendations that I believe will add to the romance of your experience together.

I often describe some wine as being a sexy wine, what this means to me is the first the smell of the wine. When I smell a “sexy wine” I look for scents that remind me of rich chocolate, bright fruit and spices like cloves and cinnamon. All of these fragrants can be associated with this particular day. I then taste the wine and look for all flavors that I found in the bouquet! We all have certain taste for flavors that can be an aphrodisiac for our palate. Most importantly the finish of the wine should be what we say in the wine business as silky and smooth. Look for wines that have these characteristics and you will sweep your lover of his or her feet.

Red Zinfandel should be the perfect Valentine’s Day wine. It is big, deep red with bright fruit, hearty and soft-edge and meant for sheer pleasure. In theory, zinfandel is custom-tailored not only for a day devoted to romance, but also the time of year where it is a chilly and dark month that begs for warmth and heat. Zinfandel by nature embraces traits that kill other wines. It revels in big, hearty gobs of fruit flavor with earthy undertones. Don’t want that much fruit? Get a zinfandel that is blended with cabernet sauvignon. Cabernet will compliment the zinfandel and add a bit richer of a finish.

When we think of Valentine’s, what is one of the first things that come to mind? For me it is hearts and chocolate. Ahhhh, chocolate a sure way to please your lover on this sexy day! In matters of pleasure, chocolate and wine are ideal partners: the marriage of the soft tannins or elegant acidity of wines with meltingly smooth cocoa flavors. For those who have not yet acquired the taste should just breathe in the fragrance of a Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache or Cabernet Franc. It is not rare for the bouquet of these wines, to hint of cocoa and chocolate. Here are some rules when pairing wine with chocolate:

High quality wine - high quality chocolate.
The higher the cocoa content in the chocolate, the drier the wine may be. Bitter sweet or semi-sweet chocolates are best combined with red wine. The higher the tannin content of a red wine the stronger the chocolate should be. Wine first on the tongue, then the chocolate.

Follow these basic ideas and I can assure you that your evening will be a successful way for you and your loved one to have a perfect romantic evening. See you at Mercy!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Memories are made of shared experiences

Memories are made of shared experiences. The sights and surroundings, the tastes and aromas, and your significant person to share those special memories. Beginning on Monday, Feb 8th, we will introduce an additional new menu experience, Mercy - you and MEnu ~ a shared food and wine experience. We feel the best memories are those which are shared and to that extent,we will help you accomplish this.

A dining experience for two people:
A shared appetizer ~ our Smoked Bruschetta (4 pieces).
A small House Salad accompanied by a glass of Fiano Di Avellino

An entree for each from among these Plates:
Tortellini Pasta with Chicken, New York Strip Steak or Blackened Salmon accompanied by a glass of Les Fontanelles Pinot Noir.

Something sweet for the senses, a Dessert from among the following:
Chocolate Marquise, Red Velvet Cake or Raspberry Lemon Drop.

This shared dining experience is yours for an all inclusive price of $99 per couple. We invite you to experience all the shared memories that await you at Mercy, a wine bar and restaurant.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The challenges I enjoy

One of the things that I enjoy most about my position at Mercy are the challenges that are put to me from our guests. While we do offer over 100 wines by the glass, invariably there comes a request for a selection from “off the list.” You always need to have a special vintage or varietal to tempt the frequent Mercy customer, something that you can offer that will bring a new experience. When I heard, "so Vincent, what do you have new this week?", I was ready for the challenge and I opened a bottle of Domaine Chanteleuserie Bourgueil Rouge 2006.

Cabernet Franc is lighter bodied and has much less tannin content than other red wines. They are generally ready to drink soon after bottling. Having a reputation for being a refreshing, youthful wine should not obscure the fact that these are full bodied wines. Cabernet Franc wines are capable of aging magnificently over many years. In their youth, they have the aromas of red raspberries and cherries, but develop more complex notes as they age.

Fine old Cabernet Franc wines can, in the words of one Loire Valley winemaker, be reminiscent of the aromas of a forest after a rainstorm. Young Cabernet Franc is an ideal red wine for summer. It is sufficiently fruity to be refreshing, when served slightly chilled, yet it has enough structure to stand up to the flavors of a barbecue. Older, bigger wines are delicious with roasted meats and are probably the ideal accompaniment to the traditional roast leg of lamb with flageolet beans.

The vineyards of Bourgueil, on the north bank of the Loire river lie between Saumur and Tours, are planted mostly with Cabernet Franc, with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Vines have been cultivated here since the Roman times. The founding of the Abbey of Bourgueil, in 990, marked the beginning of the development of viticulture and winemaking. The vineyards are planted on two kinds of soil: lighter, warmer soils with high percentages of sand and gravel, yield supple, fruity wines which can be drunk young. Vineyards on the south-facing hillsides, where the soil contains more clay and limestone, yield richer, earthier wines that take longer to reach their full potential. Most of the wines are red, although there is some rosé as well. The vineyards benefit from being open to Loire, which carries the Atlantic's regulating influence inland. The slopes are south facing, with forests that protect vines from the harsh north winds, creating a moderate climate for producing some of the best Cabernet Franc wines.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner

Sunday, January 10, 2010

As we start a new decade

Welcome to 2010!! I am still having a hard time writing that! How many checks have you still dated 2009? I was just getting use to writing 2009 and here we are in a new decade!

If the start of 2010 is any indication of the remainder of the year, we have a lot to look forward to ! From an industry magazine entitled, “Bar and Nightclub”, I received an email dated late, last week that Mercy Wine Bar has been nominated, along with 3 other wine bars from across the country, for Wine Bar of the Year for the US. They will announce the winner during their tradeshow in Las Vegas in March. Several years ago they selected us as one of the top 100 bars in the US and I was absolutely thrilled to receive that level of recognition. Top 100 of ANYTHING in the US is a great thing. Now to have been nominated for TOP wine bar is truly amazing. Of course we would love to win this award; however, simply to have been recognized as one of the best in your field is a bigger honor than we could have ever imagined. We were the only wine bar from the state of Texas nominated. The other 3 were from other major cities in the US. It was our vision, 7 years ago, to be a local wine bar where people from the local community would have a place to go to learn about wine. A place for guests to experience food and wine pairings in an environment that was warm, cozy and comfortable. We never imagined getting national recognition. Each of our guests has contributed to this nomination and we thank each of you for your continued support of Mercy.

An area of focus for Mercy this year will be increasing the visibility of our menu. After 7 years, we still hear guests say that they were not aware we had a full dining menu. The term “wine bar” conjures up a concept of “tapas” or cheese plates alone. Since the day we opened 7 years ago, Mercy has had a full menu. Of course, our focus is on the 150 wines by the glass, and that will remain our main focus; however, we do want people to know about our menu and enjoy Mercy for the dining experience and our ambience.

While, I think, everyone will agree that ’09 had its challenges! We feel very fortunate to have navigated through those murky waters pretty well and 2010 looks much more promising. We very much appreciate your continued support of Mercy and we know it is because of you that we will be celebrating our 7th year this February. We look forward to serving you the next seven years, to provide you with the same enthusiasm, the same passion for what we do, as we did, the day we opened Mercy.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you and my hope that 2010 brings you much health, prosperity and happiness!