Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Bite At Bite

One of my favorite places in Hillcrest is Bite. Recently they have made a few changes to both their menu (moving from a strict "small plate" venue to offering some "larger plates" of their seasonal offerings) as well as their wine offering (such as 1/2 price bottle Mondays). They've started offering a limited selection of wines at happy hour for $4.50 per glass and it was this that drew me out. Tio Ely joined me and we had some lovely appetizers (at incredibly reasonable prices): chicken liver mousse and their always tasty grilled flat bread with white bean and roasted garlic "hummus". For wines I had a glass of the following three (sadly I don't have vintages for them):

  • Cono Sur Viognier: A nice opener, this Chilean wine delivers quite well what I would expect from a Vigonier. The nose is floral with hints of apricots, citrus, and I would swear a little "grassiness" (though my nose could be a little off due to the change in weather). Delivers good fruit and lively acidity on the tongue, nice, slightly short finish.

  • Calina Cabernet Sauvignon: The other night I had a good experience with the Calina Merlot so I thought "Wow, what a great chance to try another Calina". Sadly for this taster at this time it turned into "Wow, what the heck happened?" The nose wasn't bad at all... cassis, blackberry, hints of chocolate and a touch of oak, pretty typical for a Cab. The delivery to the mouth was another story. Something about this wine just set me off. The tannins seemed really rough, the acidity too low making it flabby, and nothing seemed integrated with what fruit was there. My tasting notes have the word "ash" scribbled in them and this was how I best described what I tasted. The experience was so bad that I asked the server to take it away because it was so disagreeable to me. I'm not giving up on Calina, they have a good track record but this was a shocker for me.

  • Doña Paula Cabernet Sauvignon: OK, leaving Chile I jumped the Andes and went for an Argentine producer. Better. A little lighter in color than the Calina. Cherries, black fruit, hints of bell pepper, lighter, softer tannins and pretty good acidity combine to deliver a drinkable medium finish. Not a favorite but orders of magnitude better than what I experienced with the Calina.

  • Wines Reviewed In 2009: 108

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