April 25, 2007

Tortoise Creek 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc Chardonnay-Viognier, about $9

One of the things that made Mel's Bar and Grill stand out was that it felt like a true neighborhood restaurant. If you sat at the bar, you'd be talking to a stranger within minutes; if you went frequently, you began to recognize other people who did too.

There were always fancy dishes on the menu — but there were always some classics you could take comfort in as well. Ditto with the wine: You could have a $90 burgundy, or a $24 bottle of Tortoise Creek designed by the owner for easy quaffing.

The chardonnay-viognier blend is my fave: It plays viognier's floral notes off of chardonnay's broad, rich texture, the two balancing each other so that the wine never feels heavy or overpowering. It was as terrific to drink at Mel's as it is to drink in the comfort of my own kitchen.

You can find more Tortoise Creek wines at Mel and Janie Master's new place, Montecito.

Imported by Winesellers Ltd., Skokie, Ill.

This first appeared in the Denver Post.

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