Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 28th
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dining_birichinoMalvasia Bianca 2009

“You can’t be too rich, too beautiful or too birichino”–or so says John Locke, wine director at Soif wine bar in downtown Santa Cruz. Locke is also the winemaker of this lovely crisp white wine, and, along with business partner Alex Krause, have bottled something frisky and very drinkable. I thought it the ideal libation to try with some of Soif’s imaginative cuisine.

Meeting up with some friends on a Monday evening at Soif is a delicious way to start the week. Mondays can be a bit flat, but not at Soif. With soft “Gypsy jazz” from Hot Club Pacific playing in the background and plates of scrumptious oysters begging to be devoured, we toasted good times (and Good Times!) with a bottle of Birichino.

And does the Birichino go with Moroccan food? The answer is yes. My husband and I had been invited to friends to dinner, so I bought another bottle ($15) to take over for them to try. The dry wine perfectly complemented the rich and spicy flavors of the Moroccan food, and I loved the soft floral bouquet when I swirled the wine around the glass.

Labels are a huge selling point and the Birichino, which, Locke tells me, means naughty or impetuous in Italian, is very eye-catching —a floral fantasy of white, green and gold. “A very good wine with a great label is a winning combo,” says Locke. The back label goes on to say, “Of classical Greek origin, Malvasia threaded her way through the forests of Calabria before slipping ashore in California under cover of darkness. Her fragrance of jasmine, lime blossom and elderflower suggests something quite sweet and sybaritic, though as the first sip passes the lips, she is revealed as bone dry, crystalline and clear.” How profound and poetic, but sometimes good wine leads us in that direction.

So all that’s left to say is if you want to try some Birichino Malvasia Bianca, then head on over to Soif where John Locke will be waiting to sell you some.

Birichino Amici, King City, Calif. Soif Wine Bar & Restaurant, 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-2020.

Wine Events

The Capitola Book Café is hosting a special wine and cheese event on Monday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. The good news is that serious cheese monger Sasha Davies will be promoting her fabulous new book “The Guide to West Coast Cheese,” and some interesting local cheeses will be available to taste, along with some unusual wines.

Capitola BookCafe, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola, 462-6297 (events line), 462-4415 (store line).

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by alex krause, October 15, 2011
Thanks so much for the nice review, Ms Cowden and thanks for the positive comments, Lisa and Barbara. I am not sure what the issue is with our website because I know I've been getting emails sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it through the link on our site, but I'm rather lowtech when it comes to such things. Barbara-- so pleased you enjoyed our pink at Green's. I'm sorry I didn't see your comment here until now-- and a quick look in my inbox doesn't turn up your name either. Perhaps Ms Cowden can forward this message to you as I am unable to send directly to you. Cheers! -Alex
written by Barbara Witte, August 07, 2011
Can you help us contact Birichino winery by e-mail.
We are not having any success with its web site.
We enjoyed a bottle of Berichino's Van Gris Rose last evening at Greens in San Francisco.
Unfortunately, the waiter removed the empty bottle before we knew what was happening.
By the time we asked for it to be retrieved, it had been added to the recycling bin.
Thank you.
written by Lisa Catterall, February 02, 2011
I'm a longtime white-wine enthusiast and highly frugal (teacher!), and I must say, this is truly the best value and the best wine to come out of Santa Cruz. A real treat.

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