By The Glass
Bay Area wine trip yields finds
I JUST returned from a fabulous, though quick, jaunt to California, spending a couple of days in Paso Robles' wine country and a couple of days in San Francisco.
My visit centered on the Hospice du Rhone Wine Festival in Paso Robles, Calif., a gathering of some of the world's top makers of what are commonly referred to as Rhone grape varieties (syrah, grenache, mourvedre, viognier, marsanne and roussanne). But I made some wine finds throughout the Bay Area. Here are a few:
2005 Cantina Tanburno Falanghina ($20): An absolute "must" stop was the highly innovative wine-friendly A16 Restaurant in San Francisco. This eatery specializes in contemporary Italian fare and fantastic, well-selected wines. The dish of the night was Calamari & Sea Asparagus, quickly cooked in the pizza oven, served with this very wine. Grown on the volcanic-soil slopes of Mount Vesuvius, this dry, riveting, light and refreshing Italian white would also work with all kinds of seafood preparations.
2005 Four Vines Chardonnay "Naked" ($15): At the Four Vines tasting room in Paso Robles, I was especially taken with the 2005 release of this dry, well-rounded, delicious, un-oaked chardonnay. Grown on four Santa Barbara hillsides/hilltops, it reflects amazing quality. Such values are always welcome in our house.
2005 Rusack Chardonnay "Santa Barbara" ($20): Rusack is a winery to watch, a winemaking Cinderella story. The wines keep getting better and better. I don't know if this chardonnay will win many high scores, as finesse-oriented wines rarely seem to. The 2005 is a very pretty, lovely, pure, round, and delicious, well worth checking out.
2005 Casa Alle Vacche Chianti Colli Senesi ($14): It is really hard to find good chianti, so please pay attention to this one. The 2005 is terrific -- enticing, fragrant, elegant, seamless, unpretentious, yet quite classy. It is a thrill for me to run across such a fabulous, interesting value.
2005 Kenneth-Crawford Grenache "Larner Vineyard" ($32): A favorite from the Hospice de Rhone Wine Festival. It smells delicious, with loads of red fruit and spice. I love its roundness and the way it beckons to be gulped. It is much more elegant, classy, well-textured and interesting than zinfandel normally is, and much more delicious than most syrahs.
2004 Duo Syrah "Colson Canyon" ($26): Quince Restaurant in San Francisco offers incredible homemade pastas -- better than I dreamt they could be. On your next trip to the city, make it a point to try Quince, and a bottle of this wine. It reminds me of a syrah crafted by a pinot noir winemaker. Sultry, spicy, mystic ... yet so elegant, suave, seamless, classy and light.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants and a consultant with Southern Wine & Spirits. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org