Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tasting Notes: Macedonian Wines & Restaurant Review: Saba

If you'll pardon a little whining... I got sideswiped this evening while driving home on Clairmont just north of Buford Hwy (where the QT is). I was going south in the left lane, and suddenly, WHAM! I was knocked partly into the center turn lane. The other driver and I turned off into the parking lot of a chiropractor, who, surprisingly, did not immediately run out and offer assistance (they were closed). So now my back and neck are sore, and luckily I've got some good stuff left from my surgery. I'll be seeing my own chiropractor tomorrow. If anyone happened to see a gold Honda Civic get bumped by a large green truck in the location described above at around 7-7:15 this evening, I'd love it if you'd contact me: cecilia(AT) The other driver swore he was "going straight in his lane." I don't think so, not if he knocked me out of mine.

Okay, on to the fun stuff...

I follow Hudson Rouse of Two Friends Import Company on Twitter (@2FriendsImports), and he was kind enough to come introduce himself to us when I was in the blogger's tent at the Decatur Book Festival. I've been curious about the Macedonian wines he distributes (if I recall correctly, his business partner and best friend is Macedonian). He poured three last night at a tasting at Saba in Oakhurst. All three came from the Popova Kula winery, and all are the 2005 vintage. One thing that we noticed was that the nose was always harsher than the wine itself and mellowed out with swirling.

1) Vranec, a native grape varietal that should make Pinot Noir fans happy
Bright fruit/sharp cherry nose; smooth cran-cherry with a light butter finish
Rating: Very Good

2) Merlot:
Clove, cedar, and dark fruit nose; dark cherry and tobacco, dry with a mildly spicy finish. I thought it was really interesting and complex. Macedonia was outside of the area of the phylloxera epidemic, so these are non-cloned Merlot grapes.
Rating: Very Good

3) Cabernet Sauvignon:
Blackberry nose; dark fruit, and not really oaky; less complex than the Merlot, but would probably go really well with food
Rating: Good

To be fair, Hubby and I disagreed on the last two. He liked the Cab better.

We stayed for dinner after the tasting. No, I don't turn my nose up at reviewing places that could be considered chains because every restaurant has its strengths and weaknesses.

Saba in Oakhurst, unlike the now dead and departed one in downtown Decatur, has full table service. The mixed green salads are, as advertised, mixed greens tossed with an orange vinaigrette that balances out the bitterness of some of the greens. Hubby had the spaghetti and meatballs. I had a bite and was surprised by the amount of fennel flavor in the meatballs. I had the special Chicken Parmesan, and although the chicken itself was a little overcooked, the cheese used tasted like it had a good measure of Parmesan and not just some sprinkled over Mozzarella. The generous chicken breast was served with spaghetti and marinara sauce, and the pasta was cooked to "just right" al dente. We each had a glass of Da Vinci Chianti, which is a good Chianti with enough acidity to stand up to food, but not enough to put in batteries like some table wines. We finished with the chocolate chip Cannoli, two small crispy shells with Italian cream and chocolate ships, and Red Velvet Cake. Both desserts were finished and were good representations of their respective dessert genres (yeah, sorry, I've been doing a lot of writing lately).

Score card:
Atmosphere: Cozy; pretty much the same layout as the space's previous incarnations (Oakhurst Grill, Calavino's), but darker
Food: Good to Very Good
Wine list: Good -- has something for every taste
Wait staff: Very Good
Desserts: Very Good
Vegetarian friendly? Yes
Kid friendly? Probably
Would I go back? Yes

So, thanks, Hudson, for doing the tasting and for introducing me to wine from a region I was not familiar with! I'll definitely seek out Macedonian wines in the future.


Hudson said...

Thx for coming our Cecilia and for the good review. I'd like to mention that all the wines you tasted wil retail for 9.99

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