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Sipping Spot


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Photograph by Lane Hartwell

Red wines hog the limelight in the world of oenophilia. Though there are many exciting reds at Rick Mitchell’s recently opened Franklin Square Wine Bar in downtown Oakland, we were delighted to find that Mitchell, also the owner of Luka’s Taproom and Lounge across the street, is an equal-opportunity wine guy: He was happy to pour a succession of bold, complex, and unusual white wines.

It’s not just about the juice here, either. Sophisticated, wine-friendly fare such as duck rillettes and truffled cauliflower risotto emerges from the kitchen. Try all the reds you like—heck, try all 13 Pinot Noirs on Mitchell’s list—but don’t overlook the cool, crisp appeal of a great glass of white. Here are four we particularly liked.

2005 Trou de Bonde Santa Maria County Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Blanc

This complex wine evokes Chardonnay, with hints of butter, vanilla, just the right touch of oak, and rounded, melon-like fruit flavors. “It’s great with roast quail,” says Mitchell.

2004 Consilience Santa Barbara County Roussanne

Toasty notes of honey, butterscotch, and ripe pear distinguish this bold, unusual varietal. The winemaker calls it “thought-provoking.”

2005 Grof Degenfeld Hungarian Tokaji Furmint

This exciting Hungarian varietal tantalizes the nose with aromas of cucumber, jalapeño, and coriander, all within a wonderfully lemony acidic structure.

2006 Briceland Vineyards Mendocino County Arneis

A rare northern Italian varietal that deserves to be better known. It’s a gentle wash of delicate herbal and green fruit flavors, with a refreshing acidic structure that invites rich food.

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