I thought it would be interesting to take a week-long look at the wine offerings at each of six local restaurants in Coppell and compare them on quality, cost, markup and overall value. The first post in the series is an overview of all six restaurants. This is the fourth of the detailed reviews of the restaurants.
According to the restaurant’s website, the name Sfizio is from an Italian word meaning “something whimsical that you do for yourself as a treat” The restaurant serves a variety of Italian fare and seafood along with inventive pizzas and flatbreads in a simple but pleasant environment. Although the food is Italian, the wine list is certainly American and is populated with nice options, especially by the bottle.
Best Splurge: Banshee Cabernet. At an average rating of 90 points, it’s not the highest rated wine on the list (that belongs to the $85 Far Niente Chardonnay at 91 points), but at $63 a bottle ($36 average retail) it provides a one of the best values. Banshee is the creation of a team of young unpstarts who started out blending Sonoma Pinot Noir in 2009. The 2012 Banshee Cabernet, their third vintage, is an affordable wine made with Cabernet grapes from three different Napa appellations and a small amount of Merlot and other blending reds. The result is a soft cab that that should be reminiscent of plum with a touch of cocoa. A close second in this category is The Abstract Grenache blend from Orin Swift Cellars at $55 a bottle ($33 average retail). I find the Abstract to be a beautiful blend with more bright red fruit than a Cabernet (think of raspberries and cherries), but Swift blends can be a bit unconventional and a Grenache blend might not be for everyone.
Best Budget Bottles: Kung Fu Girl Riesling and I Locations. The best overall value on the menu is the Kung Fu Girl Riesling. At $22 a bottle ($13 average retail), Kung Fu Girl is the best of the five Washington-based Charles Smith wines that Sfizio carries. A Wine Spectator Top 100 wine of the year for the past two years, this is Riesling with subtle sweetness (not to be confused with the super-sweet Rieslings often found at this price) and is clean and crisp with apple and peach notes. The Locations I is at the upper end of the “budget” scale, but certainly worth including. After Dave Phinney sold his Orin Swift Prisoner label, he was in London and had an epiphany based on the European license plates he was seeing. He decided to start of line of wine blends that encompassed the best of what individual countries had to offer. Called Locations, the I is his take on the best grapes that are produced in Italy. With the $40 bottle ($17 average retail), a blend of Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, and Barbera, Phinney has created a beautify scarlet-colored wine layered in raspberry, plum and spice. Perfect to go with an Italian meal. Just missing the cut, but also worth a try, is the Sexual Chocolate Zinfnadel-Syrah blend ($39 a bottle, $25 average retail). This is the only wine made by Dallas-area childhood friends who now live in the Bay area and, despite some red faces when ordering, is worth a try if your are looking to try something new. Heck, the winemaker’s 214 area code cell phone number is even on the label if you want to give him a call to tell him what you think of the wine.
Best Red by the Glass: Chateau Smith Cabernet. The $12-a-glass Chateau Smith Cabernet is the second best wine on the menu from the Charles Smith winery. A solid Washington Cabernet, expect blueberry and anise notes with white pepper on the finish. This is wine that is lighter in tannins (the bitterness that comes from grape skins and pips), so it is easily drinkable with a wide variety of Italian foods.
Best White by the Glass: Kung Fu Girl Riesling. The Kung Fu Girl Riesling is sold by the glass for $7 and is a real value at that price. The biggest weakness I find with the Sfizio menu is the other whites by the glass. The Eve Unoaked Chardonnay form Charles Smith is good and won’t disappoint many people, but not at the quality level of some of the other Smith wines on the menu, and at $9 seems overpriced for the quality, so I have a hard time recommending it. Likewise, the Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio is a decent dry white that isn’t disappointing at $6 a glass, but not quite at the level to warrant a full-scale recommendation.
Wines I Would Avoid: The Sfizio wine list is pretty solid throughout, but there are two wines on it that I would avoid. The first is the Michael Sullberg Chardonnay, which I find to be flat and uninspiring. The second is the Five Rivers Pinot Noir which I find to be thin and overly fruity.
Final Note: Those closer to the wine distribution industry might look at the Sfizio list and qualify it as Pioneer’s Greatest Hits. Heavy on Charles Smith, Orin Swift and other labels carried by Pioneer Distribution, the list has variety of varietals but not of producers, but it works for Szifio and provides an interesting contrast to the other wine lists in the city. The Sfizio list is one of the highest quality in the city as well. In addition adding a few quality whites by the glass, Sfizio would also be well served to add a higher quality Pinot Noir by the bottle and glass.
If you have any comments or questions on any of the posts in this Coppell restaurant series, please feel free to leave a comment to these posts or hit me up on Twitter at @erikj. Also, if you have other area restaurants that you would like to see evaluated for wine offerings, please let me know! The links to all posts in this series appear below.
Six Coppell Wine Lists in Seven Days: