Value For Winegeeks: Restaurant Edition

Who needs a prix-fixe horror show when there’s Friday the 13th?

We decided to bag the traditional Valentine’s Day shitshow celebration this past weekend in favor of the far more interesting (and sinister?) night before, Friday the 13th. There was also a break in northern California’s recent rainy weather, so it seemed like a good idea to walk the length of Valencia Street to one of San Francisco’s better neighborhood eateries, Blue Plate.

Blue Plate was popping, and for a brief second it seemed inconceivable that restaurants in the Bay Area and beyond are suffering so much now, but then again it was the Friday night of Presidents’ Day weekend, with Valentine’s Day thrown in for good measure.  Casual, simple in concept and with a menu that’s easy to execute, not to mention a long track record and loyal clientele, Blue Plate — and others like it — are likely to survive the economic downtown.

That seems more evident with a quick glance at the wine list: Et violà!, it’s Marc Ollivier’s Côt “La Pépiè”.

cotOllivier is sort of the master of Muscadet and this feisty, juicy wine sort of behaves like a red Muscadet might, with cheerful fruit and refreshing acidity. I easily finished the first glass before the first course, and was ready for more. And I know that malbec — aka côt in the Loire Valley — is, like, totally popular these days but this version is hardly the jampot that seems common to Argentina and, increasingly, California. While no secret among winegeeks, La Pépiè — like much of the Louis/Dressner portfolio — seems to hit a magic price point ($14-$16 retail; $28-$30 restaurant list) that makes it sort of the vinous equivalent of a restaurant like Blue Plate: Delicious, affordable and, most importantly, friendly and honest. Qualities to look for no matter what’s going on with the economy.

Happily, too, the label is irresistibly cute.


Value for Winegeeks: A Gobless Surprise

I was at Bi-Rite Market buying meat last week when on a whim I took a detour through the wine section. Okay, the line at the counter was rather long so I grabbed a number and decided to kill time oogling bottles. The one below immediately caught my eye — the sort of faux medieval script perhaps? I’ve not had a lot of still Bugey (love the bubbly version), or none actually, and the price was $13.99, which is well-within my spontaneous purchase range. The importer (for California at least) is noted Armagnac authority Charles Neal, whose eclectic portfolio of French wines is filled with many pleasant surprises.


Maison Angelot 2007 Bugey

100% mondeuse that undergoes carbonic maceration for 10 days. Dark in color, floral, with a sort of wild prettiness to the aromas of crushed berries. It’s a cool juxtaposition of dark fruit (black cherries, plums) and fresh pepper on the palate, with a lifted finish. 12% alcohol. $13.99

Charles Neal has this to say about the region and estate on his site:

The region is a natural geographical crossroads, and the grape varieties planted here reflect this, juxtaposing the grapes of Jura, Savoie and Burgundy. Bugey uses a large variety of grapes to make a wide variety of wines, including sparkling wines and still wines. The white grapes Aligoté, Chardonnay, Rousette, Altesse, Molette and Jacquère are planted around the town. For reds, Mondeuse, Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes come from some of the property’s oldest vines.

Maison Angelot is run by the brothers Eric and Philippe Angelot. Their 57 acres of vineyards are divided into about 20 different parcels, some hillside and others along the valley floor. Harvest is both manual and with machine (depending on the parcel), and their modern winery houses temperature-controlled stainless-steel and fiberglass tanks.

Delicious stuff, I was sorry to see it go. Until I buy more that is. Anyway, the wine also brought to mind Peter Liem’s concept of goblessness. A gobless wine for him is one to which you could attach any of the following descriptors: refinement, finesse, elegance, subtlety, delicacy, complexity and grace. It would not contain words like: blockbuster, high-extract, glycerin, power, tannin and excess concentration, etc., etc.

I would hardly call the Angelot Bugey a light wine (and there are plenty of other light reds made in that part of France), but it certainly had a light touch. Gobless, you might say.