Under deconstruction: Area 31

Wine list: 101. Graphic: Sam Riepe

When I first heard the phrase “Have an epic day,” I was a little bit confused. My first thought was that I was being asked to have a day of heroic proportions. Then I realized that “epic” was the name of a hotel, and within it was a restaurant called Area 31. And although the sea is the “area” of expertise in the kitchen, the grape is mine, and Area 31’s list holds some good buys, as well as some bottles you should probably just let float on by.

Would you like a glass of rose while you mull over the menu? The Borsao is $6 a glass, and will stimulate your thoughts and desires while costing you almost nothing. If you want a whole bottle to start off the night, and why not, I would also recommend the great Crios rose from Susana Balbo. This ’07 from Mendoza, Argentina, is just $29, about twice retail, and it’s made from the Malbec grape. This gives it a strong, flavorful body that won’t let you forget it’s more than just a “pink” wine.

For a great un-oaked Chardonnay, try the Antinori Castello della Sala Bramito from Tuscany, which at $36 is barely twice retail. Its smoothness and hints of fruit will match well with light dishes of raw seafood, from tuna to oysters. Another wine that goes well with fish is Pouilly-Fuisse (Poo-yee Fwee-SAY), which is Chardonnay from Burgundy. The Michel Dutour ’06 is a good example, and at $46, not a bargain strictly; although at $15-20 or so retail, it’s still a decent buy in Miami’s overpriced wine environment.

If you must go red, go for the Pinot Noir from Taz Vineyards. It’s an ’06 from Santa Barbara that has all the dimensions but none of the pretensions of that wine-growing region. At $53 it’s not exactly a steal, but it adheres as closely to the California wine ethic as the food at Area 31 does to the Cali food ethic: fresh, local, and seasonal. Not a heroic wine, perhaps. But definitely epic.

Published: 3/09

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