When people are as nice as the staff at Fig at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel it’s hard to write anything negative. Fortunately, when my editor asked me to review their new wines I liked them and had nothing negative to say. Well, almost.
And by way of full disclosure I should mention than the food director’s wife is married to the nephew of my best friend, which in Jewish tradition makes us family.
The first thing that caught my eye on the wine list was the Picpoul de Pinet by the Felines Jourdan family. That happens to be my favorite Picpoul, and I love that wine with oysters and shellfish. So I already knew that the wines were selected by someone that knew what he (or she) was doing.
The two new wines of interest are the Fig pinot noir and Fig chardonnay, made especially for the restaurant by winemaker Joshua Klapper. Like most small production wines they aren’t cheap. But they are pretty good.
The chardonnay, like most Californian chardonnay, doesn’t have much minerality, but it is nicely balanced with fruit, mild acidity, and a fullness from a touch of oak. It’s perfect for something like chicken in a cream sauce, or anything spicy.
The pinot noir is also typical of the California pinot noir clone, and has that special fruit flavor that only pinor noir has, with good acidity to activate the palate. It lacks the explosion of fruit flavor that the great French Burgundy has, that made pinot noir famous, but it is certainly acceptable to compliment everything from salmon to lamb, vegetables and pasta. It’s just right for those that don’t like a heavy wine.
At $16 a glass for the chardonnay and $17 for the pinot noir, these are mainstream wines that are a cut above what is served in most restaurants.
Merv Hecht, the food and wine critic for the Santa Monica Daily Press, is a wine buyer and consultant to a number of national and international food and wine companies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.