09 December, 2008

Wine Bar Wednesday: Review of Marc 49, Oakland, CA

Wednesdays have officially been dubbed "Wine Bar Wednesday" here in Brixchicks land, and I can think of no better place to spend a rainy Wednesday evening than at a wine bar. Marc 49, in the hip Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, CA., is the inaugural wine bar for our series of reviews of the thriving wine bar scene in the East Bay.

This jem pulled me in with its romantically candle-lit ambiance and chandeliers, vintage photographs, wine labels and tasting notes posted on the walls. There is the main room, the bar, a heated patio and a larger room in the back that can be rented for private parties.

Yes, this is a lovely setting for enjoying some wine but what makes a good wine bar exactly? Here are my criteria:
-affordability -this is a no-brainer, really.
-wine list - (duh) good variety of varietals and price point.
-wait staff-I don't care how sexy they are they must be able to tell me about what I am drinking.
-food- good nibbles are necessary.

So how does Marc 49 fare?

Two things stood out to me. 1) All the wines on the list can be tried in a flight of either 3 tastes for $11 or 4 tastes for $14. (see my tasting notes below.) I love to create my own flights.

2) You can get a pannini and salad for $10. And the kitchen stays open late on the weekends.

Courtney was tending bar that night and she assembles the wine list. They sell by 3 oz, 6 oz pours, and by the bottle. The list includes around 34 red and white varietals, including French and South American wines. Prices are reasonable for 6 oz. pours (up to $12) and the most expensive bottle on the list is $39. Courtney reported that Marc 49 has been open for 5 months and she has made 3 to 4 changes to the wine list so far. She had some interesting choices (see tasting notes.)

Tasting notes
I like spicy, voluptuous reds and being the greedy oenophile I am I got the 4 taste flight. From light to dark here is the list:

Ramspeck Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2006 - This was not your typical light-bodied tangy red fruit Pinot. It was a bit smokier with a stewed red fruit nose with toasty cocoa notes. Medium bodied, earthy palate, medium acidity, medium cherry linger.

Chateau Virecourt Pillebourse 2005 Bordeaux Superieur- 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
This one tickled my palate with it's juicy red-fruit nose and honeyed tobacco finish. Smooth tannins, very little oak, good acidity. Very lively!

Rock & Vine Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
This one was the most interesting to me. It was a Bordeaux style Cab with a lean mouthfeel. The nose was all fig with floral notes and subtle oak. Stewed cassis on the mid-palate with a strangely Pernod- scented finish. Unexpected for a Napa Valley Cab.

Filus Malbec Argentina, Mendoza (? vintage)
This blue-fruit Malbec had the heavenly anise/cigar box aromas that I love but this was a very smoky nose as if the tobacco had already been smoked. It had a slightly bitter finish that Liza would love. This paired very well with my brie, pear and candied walnut pannini.

Why go to Marc 49?
-for a late night nosh
-for a romantic yet affordable wine-tasting date
-to try some different wines not found in other local wine bars (she even had a Cahors and Torrontes on the list for the wine geeks!)

I would definitely return on another rainy evening...Thanks Courtney and crew!

photo courtesy of www.Marc49.com
visit them at 4915 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA.
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