Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Try a flight at Franklin Square Wine Bar

By Jessica Yadegaran
Monday, March 31st, 2008 at 11:32 am in Uncategorized.

chateau musar

Jenny and I finally hit Franklin Square, the wine bar across the street from Luka’s Taproom and Lounge in downtown Oakland. The space is airy, small and simple, with a similar vibe to Zza’s Enoteca across town on Grand Avenue.

It was about 7 p.m. on a Thursday, and we grabbed the only two seats available at the bar. Despite Franklin Square’s impressive Wine By The Glass program (15 whites available by half glass, whole glass and carafe; the same for 18 reds; and one rose), we went with the intriguing flights written up on the chalkboard. We couldn’t resist.

As long as no one has cooties (rare in this super-virus season), Jenny and I always try to share a red and white flight because it exposes both people to a whopping six wines. To start, we went with the Unusual White Flight ($10) and fell hard for the beguiling aromatic nose of the 2005 Goldmuskateller from Thurnhof in the Alto Adige of Italy.

The 2006 Irsai Oliver from Szoke Matyas & Zoltan in Matrai, Hungary introduced us to a new white wine from a region we’re both intrigued by. Our knowledge of Hungarian wines is limited to Tokaji, but not anymore. This gorgeous white has insane acidity and went really well with our goat cheese and quince paste. The 2006 Aligote from Patrick Size in the Cote Chalonnaise never really blossomed, perhaps too cold or just too closed for us.

For reds, we went with the flight of Chateau Musar ($17), the Lebanese producer from the Bekaa Valley that makes one of my favorite and balanced medium-bodied value wines, the 2004 Cuvee Rouge. Last place I saw it was Wine Mine for about $12. We found the white flight to be both a good value and a great learning experience. But the Musar was a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the 2004 was showing well. It always does.

But the 2001 Hochar Pere et Fils was brown around the rim, and tasted offensive. Our wine steward agreed it was most likely oxidized or corked and opened a new bottle for us immediately. On second try, the offensive taste was gone, of course, but the color and clarity of the wine was still off to me, especially for a bottle that retails for almost $100. The 1995 Chateau Musar, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault, was closer to a Bordeaux, but a bit lackluster. The finish was flat for me but I enjoyed the focused nose and strong acidity. I expected more from these bottlings.

All in all a great experience, though. The duck was gorgeous with the 2004 Cuvee Rouge.

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  • Megan

    I too loved the 2005 Goldmuskateller from Thurnhof — had it at one of Farmstead’s Saturday tastings not too long ago. A refreshing, different white wine that was all too easy to drink!

  • http://ibabuzz/corkheads Jessica

    Exactly. Excited you’re going to EBVA Passport. Can’t wait to try Irish Monkey!