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Terroir, Natural Wine Bar in SOMA

pane Jun 28, 2011 09:04 AM

Last week some friends and I stopped into Terroir, a wine bar and shop, which carries "natural" (organic and dry farmed, using indigenous yeasts) wines, mostly from France, Italy and Spain.

The space is pretty and airy--a wood-accented high-ceilinged main room with a bar and long benches, and then a cozy perch in the back with comfortable seating. Other than glasses and carafes, they also serve cheese plates (and I think charcuterie, too, but I didn't look at that menu). In this neighborhood I also like City Beer Store, but not the space there, which will be cramped until their expansion is complete.

Previously I'd only visited Terroir a couple times around mid-day on weekends when visitors were shopping for bottles to bring home. On a Thursday evening there was a low, steady buzz of couples and small groups drinking and eating snacks imported from the trucks that park outside. Spencer on the Go is a regular, Chairman Bao had been the day before, and Pizza Hacker (pizza cooked on a Weber kettle grill) set up shop that night. We ate two pizzas while we drank (long story short: I liked the cheese, loved the flavor of the crust, didn't like the too-soft texture of the frame).

A friend with us has made a study of French wines and wine culture; he chatted with one of the genial owners to select the wines we'd try. We started with a 2006 Charles Hours "Cuvee Marie" Jurancon Sec, which he explained was an idiosyncratic choice--much more dry that the typical Jurancon. The taste was lightly oxidized until the wine opened up. Around us I saw people starting the night with interesting whites--in particular I admired a milky, unfiltered prosecco that looked much like homemade elderflower champagne I'd last seen in the Midi-Pyrenees.

From what I gathered, the shop was owned by three partners, one of whom has left to start his own import business. (They carry his wines at Terroir.) Two owners were in the shop that night; another time I stopped in, the counter was manned by a young guy speaking slangy argot French to a high school friend. The feel is certainly old world/Euro, though there was at least one California wine on the menu. Stacks of books and wine maps in English and French were piled at the end of the bar, waiting to be perused.

In sum, the evening was near perfect: carefully curated with point of view but no attitude. Should the trucks fail, I would imagine a hamburger from Citizen's Band stepping in as a worthy pinch-hitter.

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City Beer Store
1168 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Terroir Natural Wine Merchant & Bar
1116 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Chairman Bao
San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

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