Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Wine Lover: A Wine Bar in San Diego

     One of my favorite wine bars in San Diego is The Wine Lover in Hillcrest.  I have been frequenting this place for years and have always been very happy with the wines I have tried and the overall atmosphere compared to places like Wine Steals or Wine Encounter.  Both of those places should be called bars that serve wine rather than wine bars.  The Wine Lover is very intimate, small, and offers a lot for both this discerning palate and the complete wine novice.  They have changed their wine menu and wine consultants many times over the years, but the ambiance always stays the same.  An intimate and quiet corner tucked away from sometimes noisy Hillcrest. 
     The last time I was in San Diego I made plans to have a glass of wine with an old friend, so we planned to meet at the Wine Lover for a glass of wine.  However, I was stood up for reasons of family emergency, but I barely noticed.  The latest, and so far best wine concierge at the Wine Lover, Serge Chablè, kept me on my feet while we had an interesting conversation about wine and wine styles.  He is making a huge effort to include natural and authentic wines on the wine list, but not always having the best results from clients.  Not everyone wants to smell rust in their wine.  Some people are just plain happy with oaky vanilla and cherries.  It is interesting to note that even if we have a particular style we adore  in wine, not everyone has the same taste.  Not everyone enjoys gamey barnyard wines like I do, but I am happy he is making an effort.  To boot, he had New Order playing through Pandora and so lots of other darker 80s music came through the soundtrack.  My kind of bar!
     I tried 3 different wines and came home with one bottle.  I tasted a very interesting citrusy and crisp organic Chardonnay, a California Trebbiano that smelled and tasted of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and the star of the evening for me, a Saint-Joseph, bottled by Equis AOC 2007 from the northern Rhône.  It was full of depth and character, and I fell in love with it.  What Syrah should taste like.  It was green and full of mustard seed, had a nice tannins.   Of course, the notes will come later.  The emphasis was that Mr. Chablè listened to me as a client about my love for natural and authentic wines, how I love to smell minerals and the earth the wine comes from and he said, “Hey why don’t you try this wine.” And it suited me. 

     Why this place is always half empty I can’t figure out.  It is a friendly and relaxed place that offers board games for those just interested in an after work glass of wine and time to relax as well as a weekly meet the Sommelier wine lessons for those who want to get more serious about wine.  Try the wine flights for an added bonus and then decide what is your own personal wine style.  There are tables, couches and an outdoor patio with heating in the winter.  You’ll not find a friendlier wine bar in all of San Diego. 
The Wine Lover
3968 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103