Take A Road Trip For Wines
By: Ron Bechtol
Sure, the name’s a little tricky (it refers to the highway running through the heart of Napa Valley, California’s most prestigious wine country), but everything else is easy to grasp: good food, some spectacular wines and an appealing indoor and outdoor environment.
In the beginning, 20Nine‘s wine list centered primarily on California and that famous highway, but over the years it has become much more ecumenical. One of the best ways to experience it is to take a Road Trip consisting of three 2-ounce pours of wine of a specific region, grape or style; your wines will come accompanied by a road map of sorts explaining each sample.
Another good way to hit the road is at “rush hour,” which runs Monday to Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and features 25 percent off all wines, appetizers and pizzas. Confident voyagers may merge directly into the wine list without any added incentive; it includes 60 wines by the glass and over 300 by the bottle — from $28 to a $240 bottle of Plumpjack.
Among chef Tyler Voigt’s appetizers, which include some appealing meatballs with mozzarella, we are especially fond of the cast iron jumbo scallops. Often tough and overcooked elsewhere, this trio comes expertly seared and seasoned over a bed of pumpkin purée, spaghetti squash and smoked pork belly. The removal of just one accessory ingredient would yield a more focused dish, but it’s already one of the best apps around. The sourdough pizzas are another surprise at a place pushing pizza more as a friend to wine which it surely is. This being winter, and us being red wine fans, we’d go for the mushroom with truffle oil and oregano, but wouldn’t turn down a vegetable rendition with butternut squash, eggplant and arugula pesto.
Smoked cheese topping with a smoky tomato sauce suggests a lusty wine such as malbec or zinfandel. Somehow we rarely make it to the large plates at 20Nine, preferring instead to sample apps and pizzas with different wines by the glass. But for those with grander appetites and aspirations, there are options such as red wine-braised short ribs with huckleberries and, a perennial favorite, duck breast with a cranberry duck jus. You’ll have to ask owner Troy Fullmer to recommend a wine to go with the kitchen’s spicy shrimp pot pie, however. We’re tempted to fall back on the Champagne-with-everything rule or maybe to look toward a riesling with just a touch of sweetness. Then again, just order what you like; rules are meant to be broken.