The wind cut through my sweater as I approached the city’s newest wine bar – Black Sheep, along what I’ve come to call the South Side’s Restaurant Row (South 2nd Street in Walker’s Point).
Inside a former printing factory, natural lighting snakes across the long, narrow space. Four works of art – all sheep – by Jonathan Warobick are each in a different medium, hanging proudly on one wall. On the opposite wall is the bar, stretching nearly to the back, with a metal top mirroring the neighborhood’s industrial roots. The brick walls are painted white, and there’s a mod, plush purple décor scheme going on. Sixteen wines are dispensed – in three different-sized pours – via a shiny self-serve dispensing system. Each bottle is from a small-production winery. During my visit, I spotted 2011 Purple Hands Pinot Noir (Oregon), 2012 Barista Pinotage (South Africa) and Shinas Estate The Innocent Viognier. Sparkling wines are sold through the bar, including during the Sunday brunch when paired with music by Jessica “DJ Fortune” Fenner. Happy-hour house-wine pours are $3, from 4-7 p.m. every day but Sunday.
“Walker’s Point is an amazing neighborhood for food but what we felt was missing was a lounge,” says co-owner Brigitte Breitenbach. (The other owner is construction firm KPH. Until this project, KPH owner Keith Harenda worked solely in hospital and medical-center development. He’s thrilled about the change.) Breitenbach wants it to feel like more than a wine bar, however, which is why she folded a menu of “haute” dogs into the mix. A nod to local purveyors is on the menu, too, including chocolates from Indulgence Chocolatiers, located across the street, and cheese curds from Clock Shadow Creamery, four blocks away.
WINE DEAL OF THE WEEK
Have you tasted California’s cool side? This has nothing to do with fashion or food. I’m talking about cool-climate growing regions in the Golden State. On Friday from 4-7 p.m. Waterford Wine Company is hosting a free tasting, uncorking bottles like Kunin Wines Pape Star Grenache-based blend, Matchbook Dunnigan Hills “Old Head” Chardonnay, Lee Family Farms Rio Tinto and Drew Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch Vineyard. From the Central Coast to the Sonoma Coast, expect to be wow-ed.
WINE EVENT OF THE WEEK
Not into Halloween costumes? If you fancy a wine event on that date instead, don’t fear because I’ve got one for you. On Oct. 31, Mason Street Grill is hosting its annual release party for the cult wine 2012 “The Prisoner” from Orin Swift Wines (California). Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Charbono and Grenache grapes are in this wine. Free samples will be poured from magnums starting at 7 p.m. and bottles will be for sale at retail prices.
WINE OF THE WEEK
Syrahs are a good pairing with root vegetables. You don’t want to mask their earthy flavors with a fruit-bomb red wine like an Australian Shiraz or California Zinfandel, nor do you want to add oaky layers from a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrahs are the perfect compromise. The 2011 Austin Hope Syrah (Paso Robles, California, $42) I drank with roasted vegetables (lemon-y potatoes and Brussels sprouts) on a recent weeknight, enjoying how the layers of spice and dark-red fruit slid into a clean finish. (hopefamilywines.com)