Under deconstruction: W Wine Bistro

Wine list: 101. Graphic: Sam Riepe

As the holidays approach, there will be much advice doled out on where to buy your Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. wines to pair with the special meals you’ve planned. My plans are less, shall we say, family-oriented, and to that end I usually end up spending most of the holidays, shall we say, out of the home. W Wine Bistro is a retail wine shop, but more importantly, merry French owner Florent Blanchet charges just $15 over retail to open any bottle on-premises. Of course this favors the more expensive wines, which across town (and even across the street) are often marked up two to three times retail.

So let’s start, as every proper holiday meal should, with Champagne. The Veuve Fourny Rosé Premier Cru Brut (NV), $72, is the perfect apéritif (starter booze), with its strawberry bubbles leading to a long and satisfying finish. Start with a bottle and a plate of smoked salmon and you’ll be in holiday humor in a Paris minute. This will lead into the white wine section of the meal, where the Pinot Blanc from Marcel Deiss ($38), has that Alsatian crispness, which is surprising after the floral peachiness of its aroma. This wine producer is 100 percent biodynamic, and the intense mineral tastes reflect some winemaker-inspired complexity. Order more salmon.

Now, you might think it odd to order a Tuscan red at what is essentially a French joint, but the Le Volte 2006 at $44 is a great mid-priced wine. Coming from the “young vines” of Ornellaia, whose 2006 vintage retails for more than $150/bottle, this “little brother” is one of the best values you’ll find, with a spicy, dry fruit aroma and a full-bodied mouth feel that matches well with the prosciutto-wrapped grilled asparagus, with white truffle oil. It’s an easy-drinking combo of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot, a mini-Super Tuscan.

Another great red, also not from France, is the 2004 Dumol Pinot Noir from California’s Russian River Valley. This wine can compete with the great reds from Burgundy, according to Monsieur Blanchet, whose proud French heritage does not prevent him from presenting some of the better wines from the “new world.” It’s a very concentrated wine, contrasting earth and spice, fruit and acidity. Try it with the duck “Parmentier,” which is duck confit meat with homemade roasted garlic mashed potatoes, or with the bistro plate, which includes marinated vegetables, goat cheese and my personal favorite, BBQ shredded pork. For what are the holidays about, if not red wine and barbecue? Cheers!

W Wine Bistro, 3622 NE 2nd Ave, Design District; 305-576-7775.

Published: 11/08

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