I'm in Palo Alto for leadership training. Since tonight is my only free evening I decided to find a wine-friendly place to eat and a wine bar for an after dinner drink. I succeeded at both.
It was my fortune to find I Tapas & Wine Bar in downtown Palo Alto. An eclectic place, I Tapas offers... tapas, small plates with an international flavor. An interesting little place, I sat across from a large black and white print of Paris, listening to Spanish music over the com system with a large Thai version of Buddha in the center of the restaurant. For dinner I selected two meat-intensive plates: BBQ pulled pork with lettuce wrap and their version of "Steak and Fries" sauteed in garlic and onion. Now what to drink. The restaurant offered a nice selection of wines by the glass and half-bottle as well as by the bottle (aggregated by titles like "Whites - Fruity, Whites - Flowery, Whites - Smooth and Oaky, and "Pink Pride". I settled on a glass of the 2005 Cicchitti from Argentina, a Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. On its own it wasn't a bad selection, a deep purple-ish color, thick legs, decent fruit, hints of spice but with a short finish. The question was how it would hold up to some pretty intense foods. The pulled pork came first and of the two I thought the BBQ would overpower it. Surprisingly a synergy happened, the wine took on a more spicy/hot realm similarly to that of a high alcohol Syrah. I enjoyed it a little more with the pork than on its own. Not as much luck iwth the steak and fries. The plate was more like a Korean beef, thin strips of beef and potato which, while very good, it seemed to overpower the wine.
After dinner and short stroll I wound up at The Wine Room, a cozy little place in downtown Palo Alto. Offering a nice list of wines by the glass (2 sparkling, 28 red and white as well as a flight of Sangioveses), I finally selected a glass of the 2006 Saison de Beauchène, Côtes-Du-Rhône. The wine appeared clear, light ruby in color, floral nose with hints of spice and strawberries, spice, cherries and Old-World earthiness in the mouth with a nice balance of acid and tannins with a good medium finish. An excellent wine that is easy on the wallet. Since I am here all week I will definitely be back.