Located in the South End section of Boston, Mistral has been a fine dining destination for over 20 years with French Mediterranean-inspired food and a deep wine list. David Borsman has overseen that list for nearly 12 years, focusing it on California classics. “We don’t delve into the esoterica that you see in a lot of modern lists these days,”he says. It’s a stance that pleases both his old-school Boston clientele and younger guests, he finds. “People are willing to take a deeper look at wines like Chateau Montelena, Grgich Hills, Ridge—the guys that have been doing it for decades. People are starting to think that, if they’re still at it, there must be something to them. These are the originals for a reason.”
What drives producers like Stag’s Leap to the top ten?
It’s name recognition and price point, and their ability to please a broader palate. If there’s one “wine guy” at the table and then six others who could care less, an identifiable, quality California producer is going to win anytime.
What other California houses are you finding people get excited about?
Ridge, for one. Not being Napa makes them unique, and just the fact that they’ve been at it for so long and they’ve done things so traditionally. Also, we have Monte Bellos from the nineties, and current releases of some of their smaller projects, like a single-vineyard carignan and some of their funky field blends that aren’t on general offer. And Mayacamas: We have an eighty-eight cab which is just wild wine right now. It has a ton of life in it.
Your best-selling new addition to the list recently was Bethel Heights Oregon Pinot Noir.
That’s another cool opportunity to introduce someone to an Old World-style wine coming out of the west. Especially with Bethel Heights or any number of those great producers. You have more moderate alcohol, higher acidity, and restraint in oak but you still have ripeness: That’s a way to please people who are starting to shy away from the big, bombastic, overripe, over-oaked red blends that have been trending for a while no. From the food-pairing perspective, they can be beautiful with a different range of dishes and truly pair rather than be kind of incidental.
is the former W&S Tasting Director turned freelance writer for the Vintner Project.