The city of San Luis Obispo’s designation as one of the happiest places in the country is easy to grasp. Today’s temperate winter weather brought clear blue skies, brisk fresh air, and the perfect conditions to saunter the joyful streets of downtown SLO. My pleasant stroll down Chorro Street led me to an idyllic find—alegria wine and ware—a comfortable new bar where the wine is crisp, the service is friendly, and the views can’t be beat.
Located directly across from the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, alegria (which in Spanish translates to joy or happiness) offers an eclectic mix of California and hard to find Spanish and Portugese wines. In addition, alegria offers a small plate menu of seasonal appetizers made from locally sourced food vendors, and also carries local hand crafted items, such as hand painted ceramic serving ware and gorgeously crafted wooden cutting boards.
Each week guests can choose from an ever changing “Wines of the Week” selection and sample these wines by opting for a tasting flight of three 2-oz pours. These selected wines are also available to purchase individually as 3-oz or 6-oz pours, or by the bottle. All of the wines carried in the store can be purchased by the bottle with no corkage fee.
My palate dictated international varietals today, so I opted for the “9 Hours, Monterrei to Montsant” flight. For only $9.50 I tasted my way through Spain. First up?
Benaza Godello 2010
Monterrei (located in the Galicia region of north-west Spain)
This easy drinking Godello (pronounced go-Day-oh) contained a splash of Treixadura—a varietal generally used to bring out the citrus notes of the Godello—and exuded a light crisp nose, a creamy mouth feel, and light citrus undertones. Dry and snappy, this white wine reminded me that winter will soon give way to even warmer days.
Then on to the red.
Benaza Mencia 2009
The Mencia (pronounced Men-thee-a), blended with 10% each Bastardo and Tempranillo, splayed deep shades of cherry in my glass. The resulting blend gave way to rich currants and bright strawberries on the tongue, left a warm but not too heavy mouth feel, and is sold at alegria for only $15.50 a bottle.
Last but not least.
Montsant (located in the Tarragona province of north-east Spain)
The intense nose caught my attention—think dark, rich cherry syrup. On the palate, this blend of 40% Carignan, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha emanated an herbaceous quality while tart cherries stood their ground.
While exploring these three pleasing wines, I chatted with co-owner, John Hance, and discovered that he and his wife moved here from El Dorado County (where I grew up!). Hence the large selection of Sierra Foothills labels you will find for sale in their shop. John is interested in the “story” behind the wine and when you visit alegria, he can tell you more. His down-home hospitality will put you at ease, make you feel welcome, and with the unique selection of wines alegria carries, you’re sure to find something to please your palate. Salud!
Displayed in precisely stacked crates around the room, bottles for sale are within easy reach and fit with John’s philosophy that wine should be approachable: It’s not for experts, it’s for everybody.
|Have a seat near the window at alegria and your happy meter will go off the charts with this stunning view.|
|Here's to the joyous discoveries in life!|
All Text and Photos Copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.