Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Visit To Lee's Wine Bar

There’s a new wine bar in town…well, sort of. Lee’s Wine Bar is now open in the Lake Ella Plaza in the exact same location where DeVine Wines used to be. So what’s the difference between Lee’s and Devine Wines? In short, ownership. Whereas Lee Satterfield was part owner of DeVine Wines, he is now sole proprietor of Lee’s Wine Bar. The interior of Lee’s has been redesigned with a more modern and simplified character. (See photo of the newly designed bar, above right.)

Lee’s Wine Bar is open but technically its status is only a “soft” open—they still plan on finishing some decorating and tying up other loose ends. The grand opening is expected to take place sometime in the next few weeks. There is no food sold at this time but there are plans to do so after the grand opening. They also plan on launching their new website in the next few weeks. So although Lee’s hasn’t had its grand opening, it is stocked with a full list of wines that include a good variety of sparklers, whites, reds and ports. The wines that make up the list represent today’s most popular wine regions, e.g., Mendoza (Argentina), Jumilla (Spain), Columbia and Willamette Valleys (Washington state), Sonoma & Napa Valleys, as well as wines from countries such as Austrailia, South Africa, France and Italy. The stemware at Lee’s is some of the best in town. Another nice feature of Lee’s Wine Bar is that patrons can receive a taste of wines that they think they might like before purchasing a glass (or bottle). The staff are knowledgeable—I spotted a copy of the Wine Bible on the bar which is always a welcome sight for someone like me who wants to know about the wines (and grapes that make up the wines) that I’m drinking.

On to the wines.... I tried two whites (Hugo Huber Grüner Veltliner and Pacific Rim Dry Riesling) and four reds (Gougenheim Malbec, Carchelo blend, Barnard Griffin Merlot and The Four Graces Pinot Noir). All of the whites that I tasted are well-known value wines and were drinking well. I enjoyed the reds that I tasted more than the whites because they had had some complexity to them.
The reds that I tasted were all average to above average--the Four Graces was the best. But I also liked the Gougenheim, because it didn’t have the typical Malbec flavor profile, i.e., ripe fruit, caramel (read: oak), etc.; and the Carchelo, which showed black fruit with black tea element on a dry finish.

Compared to other wine bars in Tallahassee, Lee's has one of the better wine list
that shows that Lee pays attention to the current wines scene. And Tallahassee should be thankful for this. I think, however, that the wines by the glass are a little pricey. I know that this claim moves the discussion into the domain of business which is complicated and which I don't wish to enter here--this is just an observation from a consumer. One potential solution to this, however, is to sell half-glasses like some wine bars in bigger cities, e.g., San Francisco, etc. (Note: I am not aware of any wine bars or restaurants in Tallahassee sell half-glasses, but its time that some started.) Another observation that I realize is more idiosyncratic is that the list of wines in Lee’s is displayed on a large chalkboard that hangs on the wall showing the wine and producer. Presenting the wine list in this way gives the feel of an unpretentious wine bar, which is nice. And although I’ve seen wine bars outside of Tallahassee display its available wines in this manner, I like to know the region and grape varietal(s) of the wine when deciding what to drink. (Note: the staff did answer all of my questions about region and grape varietals that I had.) In Lee's defense, I understand the difficulties of maintaining a hardcopy of a wine list that can (and typically does) change daily. Regardless I will be returning again after the grand opening to try some new wines with food… that’ll be another post.

Leave a comment about anything found above or the following: have you gone to Lee’s? What did you think?


  1. Nice blog, surely i'll follow ur blog for updates...

  2. BB, Thanks for the follow. Looking forward to your comments. Cheers!