Dunne on Wine

Dunne on Wine: Sommeliers on what Sacramentans are drinking

Cabernet sauvignon remains popular with Sacramento-area diners, even in summer.
Cabernet sauvignon remains popular with Sacramento-area diners, even in summer. Big Stock photos

When Sacramentans dine out, what are they drinking wine-wise these days? And what do wine professionals think they should be drinking?

Let’s check in.

▪ Thomas Allan, sommelier, Taste Restaurant and Wine Bar, Plymouth:

What guests are drinking: “Bubbles are on fire. We have a bubble flight here – three 2-ounce pours of some great stuff ($11.50). People then generally will order a full glass of one of them. Also, the Domaine Laroche 2013 Chablis is popular; it has bright acidity, minerality and no oak ($11.50 the glass, $45 the bottle). Red wines have fallen off, it’s been so hot, though we’re seeing more orders for grenache and sangiovese.”

What should they be drinking? “The Domaine Wachau 2013 Gruner Veltliner from Austria has really bright acidity, and I’m big on that ($8 the glass). More people should try that. And we have six rosés on the list. The Dominique Roger 2012 Loire Valley Sancere Rosé of Pinot Noir is awesome. It’s really wispy” ($28 the bottle).

Best buy on your wine list: The Fattoi 2011 Tuscany Rosso di Montalcino ($45); you’d never think in a million years that it’s sangiovese, it’s so rich and powerful.”

▪ Jienna Basaldu, food and beverage director/sommelier, the private Sutter Club in Sacramento:

What members are drinking: “California cabernet sauvignon is the fastest-moving segment, then chardonnay, especially Napa Valley cabernet and Russian River Valley chardonnay. We do several wine-oriented dinners here, and at those we are seeing a spike of interest in imported wine, especially Italian and French.”

What should they be drinking? “I would like to see them drink more French whites, especially this time of year. They’re more austere, higher-acid wines, but Sacramento as a whole doesn’t drink like that. The California palate is more familiar with a bigger, broader style of wine.”

Best buy: The Walter Hansel 2012 Russian River Valley Estate Chardonnay. She wouldn’t reveal what members pay, but the winery’s suggested retail price is $25.

▪ Keith Fergel, general manager/sommelier, Taylor’s Kitchen, Sacramento:

What guests are drinking: “The whole list moves pretty quickly, with pinot noir and chardonnay selling more quickly than others. In the summer, people are open to doing obscure whites that are crisp and refreshing, like an Austrian grüner veltliner that is doing really, really well. Dry rosés also have picked up the past two years, from summer into fall.”

What should they be drinking? “The best bottle I can offer right now is the Maison de L’Orée 2010 “Charmes” Meursault ($105). It’s very classic Meursault. It’s almost like a Bit-O-Honey candy bar, with some beautiful stone and orchard fruit, white nectarine, a little lemon zest, a note of Honeycrisp apple, a little marzipan. And it has a sense of place.”

Best buy: “It’s high end, but the Marchand Tawse 2012 Premier Cru ‘Tuvilans’ Beaune ($95) is a red Burgundy that is lacy but opulent.”

▪ Kate Griffin, general manager/wine buyer, Lemon Grass Restaurant, Sacramento:

What guests are drinking: “With our food (Vietnamese and Thai), more fruity wines like sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio sell well all year round, but we probably sell more chardonnay. Diners familiar with our cuisine will order German rieslings or gewürztraminer. As for reds, pinot noir definitely is No. 1, then cabernet sauvignon, then zinfandel.”

What should they be drinking? “Unusual varietals and blends. People should be more adventurous. Here, they can ask for a taste of one of our wines by the glass before ordering. They should taste our vermentino or sangiovese or the tempranillo rosé from Matchbook Winery. We have a dry riesling, the W. Klosterberg 2002 Kabinett from Mosel ($38), that is just spectacular.”

Best buy: “The St. Supery 2010 Napa Valley Virtu ($45) is just extraordinary. It’s a sauvignon blanc and semillon blend with really bright fruit, richness, balance and a beautiful finish.”

▪ Paul Ringstrom, owner/wine buyer, Tapa the World, Sacramento:

What guests are drinking: “We offer only Spanish wines by the glass. People are pretty hip to tempranillo. We have three by the glass and they get ordered very regularly. Albariño and verdejo are popular, and I like to nudge people into godello. It has a nice texture, it isn’t as angular as other acid-driven whites, and it has a minerality you don’t often see outside of France.”

What should they be drinking? “Rosés, this is the season for rosés. And for a lighter-style red, the Harrington 2012 Mendocino County Lover’s Lane Vineyard Carignane is lovely ($8.50 by glass, $37 by bottle). It’s balanced, not overly fruit-driven, not over-oaked, and it’s very varietally true. It has one foot in the Old World and one in the New World.”

Best buy: “The Bodegas Beronia 2006 Rioja Gran Reserva ($43). It would appeal to the California wine drinker because it’s a little more fruit-forward than old-school rioja. It’s full-bodied without being heavy.”

▪ Tyler Stacy, wine director/sommelier, 58 Degrees & Holding Co., Sacramento:

What guests are drinking: “Pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon are highly favored. There is a bit of a trend to lower-alcohol, higher-acid, more mineral-driven wines vs. the full-bodied, very fruity, high-alcohol wines. People have a very open, very accepting sort of mindset (when they deal) with the sommelier. They want to hear what you have to say and they are very willing to heed your advice.”

What should they be drinking? “I want people to drink whatever tastes best to them, but the new California wines from younger producers who are going more for balance, lower alcohol and more terroir probably make this the most exciting time ever in California. The Ant Hill Farms pinot noir is one of the best in California for sure. Steve Matthiason’s chardonnay and cabernet (sauvignon) are exceptional. Gavin Chanin is making extremely good pinot noir and chardonnay. Overall, I’d like to see people drink more white wine – dry riesling, grüner veltliner, Champagne. White wine can be just as complex, structured and food friendly as red wine.”

Best buy: “The Lioco 2013 Mendocino County Carignane ($27 in the wine shop, $42 in the restaurant) is one of the most enjoyable, charming, effortlessly quaffable wines I’ve had in a long time. It’s outrageously good.”

Wine critic and competition judge Mike Dunne’s selections are based solely on open and blind tastings, judging at competitions, and visits to wine regions. He can be reached at dmicheldunne@gmail.com.

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