During a recent trip to Hawaii, for our first dinner in Maui with friends, our destination had to be Mala Ocean Tavern, Mark Ellman's lively spot in Lahaina. It's close enough to the sea that the waves lap at the rocks under the lanai, and his eclectic menu has something for everyone, all of it good.
We knew we were going to try a wide variety of things. Normally that would mean a fresh white. But as the weather had turned a bit cool after dark, I scanned the wine list for a likely Pinot Noir on Mala’s short but cannily chosen wine list. Recalling James Laube's assessment that 2007 was a fine vintage in California across the board, I picked Flowers Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007. At $68, it seemed priced right.
It could not have suited the occasion better. The wine felt light in weight and silky in texture, the flavors perky with raspberry, rose petal and a hint of milk chocolate, and the finish staying around long enough to draw us for another sip. 91 points, non-blind. The Turkish spices in the lamb pita, the Indonesian flavors in the Bali-style fish and the hoisin-glazed baby back ribs did not faze the Pinot at all. A versatile wine indeed.
• Plus, read Harvey Steiman's blog about the maturing cuisine of Hawaii.