Sommeliers spend all day with wine, and are a great resource for new finds. They're the "friend on the inside" that can help you suss out the best values on their wine lists. With that in mind, we've come up with a short suite of questions that we're posing to some of our favorite area sommeliers to help get the inside track to the best deals on some of SF's better wine lists.
First up: Gabriele Originario of La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
What is the best price anomaly (cost vs. quality) wine on your list?
Almirez Tinto de Toro, $60.
What's your favorite "on a budget" CA white wine? From anywhere else?
California: Cambiata Albarino, $44
Anywhere: Elsa Bianchi Torrontes Argentina, $32 bottle/ $8.50 glass
Same question for a red wine from CA? From anywhere else?
California: Bonanno Cabernet, $49 bottle/ $13 glass
Anywhere: Los Vascos Cabernet, Chile $45
What's your favorite wine and food pairing?
A crisp wine like an Albarino and ceviche.
What's the splurge wine on your list for a special occasion?
Cheval des Andes Malbec, $170
We're totally with Gabriele on that last recommendation. Cheval des Andes is Cheval Blanc's (a first-growth-level Bordeaux that currently sells for over $1,500 a bottle in futures) joint venture in Argentina. The wine is exceptional and, for a wine of this caliber, exceptionally well priced at around $80 ($60 at K & L). It's been one of our favorite high-end "value" picks for a long time.
The Los Vacos choice is another one we heartily endorse. This is Lafite Rothschild's joint venture in Chile, and again a place where you get a lot of wine bang for your premium-budget buck at under $20 at retail.
The Cambiata Albarino and Bonanno Cab are new to us, so we'll try them in a Wine of the Week tasting.