Steve Kleinfeld C.S., general manager of Urban Tavern, has built a list focused sustainable wines to serve his mix of local and hotel guests. We hit him with our five questions for sommeliers -- and we can't resist dishing a bit below about his answers.
What is the best price anomaly (cost vs. quality) wine on your list?
Shannon Ridge High Valley Ranch Barbera from Lake County, Calif.; $49.
What's your favorite "on a budget" California white wine? From anywhere else?
California: Hibou Gewürztraminer from Sebastopol; $46.
Anywhere: Lamarca Prosecco from Trevisio, Italy; $40 per bottle or $10 by the glass.
Same question for a red wine from California? From anywhere else?
California: Parducci "True Grit" Petite Syrah from Mendocino; $48.
Anywhere: COR Cellars Malbec from Columbia Valley, Wash.; $52.
What's your favorite wine and food pairing?
From our menu I really enjoy our whiskey-roasted pork shoulder with our private label Dry Creek Valley Zin. It's $48 or $12 by the glass.
What's the splurge wine on your list for a special occasion?
For whites, the Hanzell Chardonnay ($105), and for reds, BV George de Latour ($185).
On the value side, Shannon RIdge is a nice pick, and the subject of a recent Wine of the Week column. Parducci makes a nice product, with attractive packaging and a serious commitment to environmental stewardship while maintaining a selection of wines at reasonable (below $20) retail prices. If you're in the area (Mendocino), take advantage of their picnic tables; your food, their wine, and the side effects of sustainability (attractive landscape) make for a pleasant spring lunch.
On the splurge side, Hanzell is a great choice, although we have some caveats. This is a seriously Burgundian-style Chardonnay, so it needs a lot of bottle age. If it's not a decade old, we'd wait; if it is, prepare to be impressed by what California can do with white wines that age. Alternatively, you could decant it and wait a while. We have both Hanzell (white and red) and BV George de Latour in our cellar. Both are reasonably priced, wine-list wise, at about two times retail. While that might sound like a lot, it's on the fairer end of the spectrum for restaurant wine list pricing.
Hibou Gewürztraminer is new to us. We'll try and try it in a Wine of the Week tasting.