Chow Town

Take a look at what’s in the glasses of wine this holiday season

Barry Tunnel of Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen
Barry Tunnel of Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen

Every now and again, I enjoy rounding up some of my wine-loving friends to see what’s new and different in their glasses.

Unfortunately, I almost never get the chance to see these folks and share a glass of wine with the in person. Fortunately, email and social media makes it relatively easy to keep tabs on this disparate group of wine lovers and find out what they’re drinking these days.

So, without further ado, and just in time for Christmas and New Year’s, here’s what some of my vinous-oriented buds are quaffing.

Let’s start with three local restaurant-types, including two sommeliers and a general manager of perhaps the city’s most wine-centric restaurant. I’ll start there with the always thoughtful, detailed and often esoteric musings of Barry Tunnel of Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen.

“I think it’s interesting to see wines like the Texier ‘Chat Fou’ from traditional Old World producers that have unusual or unique grapes on their rootstocks,” he said. “I love the ingenuity of Texier’s ‘natural chaptalization’ and the sense that he’s made something that I think is pretty special from vines that are naturally challenged to produce to their potential.

“Most producers would be more inclined to toss those grapes into some anonymous blend. I don’t know anything else like it.”

To provide some background, Eric Texier is a wine producer in France’s Rhone Valley. The “Chat Fou” Tunnel mentioned is a Cotes-du-Rhone produced from Grenache grown in the Northern Rhone, which is unusual enough. Toss in the fact that Texier uses the sugar from overripe white grapes (Marsanne and Rousanne) to give the Grenache additional alcohol and depth (the “natural chaptalization” Tunnel references), and you’ve got quite the unique bottling.

Oh, and it’s also really tasty and affordable, so yeah, it’s a pretty interesting wine any way you look at it.

From Rick Compton, the soon-to-be-departing general manager of Jax Fish House, a man who’s both a sommelier and cicerone (certified beer expert), came these thoughts:

“One of my favorites ever is a sparkling Pinot Noir rose from Romania. The producer is Movia, and what makes it so cool is it’s a vintage 2005, and the wine is still sitting on the lees. When you serve it, it needs to be disgorged tableside in a bucket of water, upside down. Almost 11 years of sitting on the lees has made the wine incredibly complex, and yet when disgorged properly, it is crystal clear.”

Right up the ally from Jax, you will find Michael Scherzberg of the Hotel Sorella and its terrific eating and drinking options, Rosso and Bar Rosso. Not surprising, Scherzberg went Italian for his pick, though the wine he targeted was a bit of a shock.

“Bracetto d’Acqui, particularly Braida’s,” was Scherzberg’s succinct response to my question of what he was particularly enjoying these days.

Bracetto d’Acquit’s hail from the Piermont region in the northwest of Italy. They are produced from the Bracetto grape, believed to be native to Piedmont. They can be still or sparkling, though I’ve only tasted the sparkling versions, and they almost always possess some sweetness.

The Braida Bracetto d’Acqui is perhaps finest example of the wine. They are produced by Giacomo Bologna, makers of the greatest wines from another native grape of the region, Barbera.

I found this descriptor of the Braida Bracetto d’Acqui:

“Intense pink color, fine mousse. Lush aroma, fragrant and aromatic, intense red fruit and strawberries. A sweet, soft and delicate taste with refreshing aromatic finish. Accompanies chocolate-coated strawberries, wild berries, and goes well with dried fruit, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios and figs.”

Okay, I can see why Scherzberg made this his pick.

A sparkler, a Pinot and a Cotes du Rhone — I think we’ve got a good start to our holiday tables and parties, which is where I’ll leave you for now. Until next time, when I’ll return with more wine picks and more surprises, this time, from some out-of-town guests. Cheers.

Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons.

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