There are fine wines. And then there are the ones to bust out on a near-daily basis: end of the day. Your widescreen TV is glowing. Maybe your friends are headed over. Or you decided to cozy up with that furry pet of yours... all relevant cases for a glass or two of decent and not overpriced wine. Today SFoodie talks with Trac Le, who has been the wine buyer for Bi-Rite Market for three years.
When it comes to finding value wine, Le offers this advice: "The best value is to get into obscure regions and lesser known grapes, like Gamay. Pinot, Syrah and Cabernet are popular and demand big prices." His picks are suitable for fall and winter sipping and definitely appropriate for pairing with Thanksgiving. Visit the store for its Holiday Wine Blitz, which kicks off next week and gets you 20% of 12 or more bottles (yes, you can mix-and-match) and free delivery in SF. Even better, there's a preview of the Wine Blitz wines tonight at 18 Reasons (6-8 p.m.; $15 for 18 Reasons members; $20 for the general public).
Cava Reserva Avinyó
Why buy a bottle: "This cava is different. For most cava, they tend to be really poorly made in big tanks. This guy from the Esteve Nadal family bought the farm back in the 1950s and wanted to turn cava around to champagne quality. He ages it 18 to 22 months. That's really weird, but the longer aging gives it more yeast, more flavor, and smaller bubbles. It's wonderful, and at $16 a bottle, it's killer. I like it paired with Manchego or salted cod. Maybe something fried or baked and salty."
François Chidaine 2011 Sauvignon
Why buy a bottle: "François is one of the fastest rising stars in France. This wine is biodynamic, and for the $12.99, this is ridiculous. This Sauvignon Blanc can stand up to any $25 Sancerre producer."
Coteaux de Lyonnais Tra Boules from Gullaume Clusel
Why buy a bottle: "It tastes like Gamay made by a person who makes Syrah. We love the bright raspberry and cherry notes this has... but there's also purple fruit and pepper. It's one of the coolest wines we discovered and is imported by Charles Neal in the Richmond District... he's 10 blocks from where I live. This is one of the top producers of Cote-Rotie and Condrieu."
Mietz Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir Russian River
Why buy a bottle: "Value Pinot is impossible to find. Nancy Mietz and her husband Keith have been around the Russian River area since 1980 and they make really small productions of Zinfandel, Merlot and Pinot. Generally, Pinot is known for darker fruit quality. Yet there's lightness to this and it tastes like Pinot from darker fruit. Alcohol level is 14.5%, and it's got great balance. We get this directly from the family and their son Andrew is getting involved. His dad Keith still makes the wine."
Full disclosure: this writer has worked occasionally for Bi-Rite's catering department and helped plan the recent Party on Block 18 event.