By Frank Sabatini Jr. / Photos by Sara Norris
The "Seatbelt" sign is off at The Flight Path. So sit back or move about, and savor a vintner's journey that touches down in 10 different countries. No passports or body scans required.
"We want people to visit different regions around the world through wine and food without having to leave San Diego," says Tammy Hoops, owner of the new wine bar and café on Kettner Street (near downtown's Santa Fe train station).
The Flight Path spotlights an international wine collection hailing largely from Europe, South America and New Zealand. Stateside offerings accounting for about 25 percent of the inventory originate from Napa Valley, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara.
Previously a wine broker who sipped her way through Europe and South America, Hoops now purchases wine from niche vendors keen on small-production releases, some of whom are natives of the countries whose exports they represent. Her distributor for French wines is from Burgundy, France; the Italian vendor is from Rome.
"It's nice to be working with people who can pronounce the grape varietals and vineyards," she says.
While Paris in the Spring may be a long-shot this year, a virtual trip across the pond is available in the form of a glass of Terroir de Courgis, and obscure French Chablis by Patrick Piuze ($20 per glass; $59 for a bottle). Hoops swears by the stuff... in French, no doubt.
"Because of the bright citrus notes, especially lemon, it's one of those wines that wake you up," she says. "And almost nobody offers Chablis."
1202 Kettner Blvd., Ste. 104
Wine/food pairings from abroad
The Flight Path's cosmopolitan menu of appetizers and small plates globe-trots as freely as its wine list.
The wine: Podere 72 from Italy's Marche region, comprising a blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes. It's dark in color and offers a long, licorice finish.
The dish: Deconstructed bruschetta. The wine's smooth tannins balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
The wine: Ch.H. Berres Riesling from Mosel, Germany. Its bone-dry character is unlike other rieslings, offering intense flavors of green apple and tropical fruit.
The dish: Bacon-brie sliders. The wine's bright acidity cuts the fattiness of the meat and curds.
The wine: Sherwood Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Expect undertones of gooseberries and zesty lime.
The dish: Kale slaw with honey and apple cider vinaigrette. The grassy notes of the wine complement the earthy pith of the raw kale.
The wine: Viento Old Vine Tempranillo from Spain's La Mancha region, lauded for its spicy finish.
The dish: Peppadew cheese dip. Those zesty peppers lurking in the cheese meet their match in the vibrant-tasting black grapes used for making the wine.