Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Review: 107 Fourth Avenue Wine Bar

Being a working mom, I like having a classy night out once in a while. So do my other working mom friends. When one of them suggested after-dinner drinks and nibbles, I jumped at the chance. And we were equally enthused about our location of choice: 107 Fourth Avenue Wine Bar.

This itsy-bitsy, but classy, joint is housed in a converted Victorian townhouse, tucked in behind the boutiques and galleries of Bank Street on (you guessed it) Fourth Avenue, in the middle of the ├╝ber-trendy Glebe. Blink and you’ll miss it – the first time I went, Ma and I were wandering around back staircases in houses down the street before we realized we’d passed it.

A smattering of matte steel tables and matching chairs are clustered beneath brick walls graced with stunning local artwork. The bar, with its stately rows of wines and high-end spirits, curves in a sleek line towards the front window. Tiny, blue-hued pot lights snake down from the ceiling and provide an intimate glow. A smooth, sultry mix of jazz classics hum in the background.

The menu is user-friendly and highlighted by an enticing list of tapas and other light fare. There was bison on the chalkboard that day; had I more of an appetite, I would have dug right in. Instead, my companion and I settled on a few of the small, but delightful, dishes: grilled chipotle shrimp sprinkled with corn; a rich, sticky fig and walnut spread on just-from-the-oven baguette (could easily make a perfect alternative to dessert with a good port) and a Mediterranean plate showcasing hummus with pita, roasted garlic cloves and red peppers, marinated olives, and fat cherry tomatoes bursting with warm sweetness.

The garlicky, gritty flavours of the Med plate went well with the High Vines 2005 Pinot Noir (Domaine Magellan; Langedoc, France). Classic pinot. Light bodied, subtle acid and tannins, lots of flavours and scents of anise, raspberry, mushroom and earth. None of the “green” that I’ve had with a lot of the New World pinots (maybe I should start drinking more French wine?)

The fig spread was delicious matched up with the Terre di Balbia 2004 Balbium (Italy). This was a new one for me. I’d never heard of the grape variety before: Gaglioppo Magliocco Canino, native of Calabria (the “toe” of the boot). Their description of “sexy, but refined” was impossible to pass up, and fit the bill for this full-bodied, sensuous number. Tons of chocolate, roses, cloves, raisins and red fruit. Peppery mouth feel, but moderate acid and tannins. The finish was long and velvet-smooth. Pity it’s only available at restaurants … guess I’ll have to come back. (That, and the monthly rotation of 107's wine list, are excellent reasons to make “girls’ night out” a regular thing.)

As the night wore on and the tables filled, the noise level got to be a bit much, but by that point we were finishing off a slice of carrot cake (which was good, but I still think hubby’s was better) and sipping on espressos (freshly ground beans, if you please, and piping hot. Haven’t had one that good since I was actually *in* Italy.) I went home humming some Miles Davis and savouring the last, fading flavours of a fine night out.

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