If you’re looking for a fine restaurant experience during the festive season — one in which wine features prominently — then you need look no further than Legacy Bar and Grill, tucked into a shopping center on Du Rhu Drive, at the northwest corner of Dauphin Street and I-65. Whether it’s by the glass or the bottle (but especially by the bottle), there’s something here to match every meal and please every palate. And the prices are generally reasonable; you won’t have to ask Santa to bring you a second mortgage.
I have only two small gripes with Legacy’s wine list, so I’ll get them out of the way early. First, although there are twin columns of red and white wine offerings, typed in pretty tight font, there is not a single rosé to be seen. Rosés are such food-friendly wines that I always think it’s a shame when restaurants, in particular, aren’t serving them. Second, the wines’ vintages aren’t listed — and knowing some wines’ harvest years can make an enormous difference in predicting their quality and flavor. But omitting vintages does avoid the hassle of constantly having to update the list as one vintage sells out and is replaced by another, and maybe we save some trees.
So, with my little gripes out of the way (and trust me, I can usually find more), let’s talk about what to drink. Legacy’s list of sparkling wines is by far its shortest, but there’s an amazing amount of diversity crammed into a small space. Importantly, for me, there are two rosé sparklers — one from the California branch of Domaine Chandon and one a true Champagne from Veuve Clicquot (Reims, France). Either would make for delightful pre-dinner quaffing, but also would work well with Legacy’s salad selection, crab-stuffed mushrooms or cheese platter.
For fans of sweeter sparklers there’s the well-priced Belstar Prosecco from Italy’s Veneto region, while fans of a drier — yet still fruity — style should enjoy either of the list’s two Blanc de Blancs (sparkling wines made entirely from Chardonnay grapes). In this latter category you again have a choice between California and France, with Napa’s Schramsberg Vineyards (founded in Calistoga in 1862) representing California and with Maison Delamotte (located in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, south of Epernay in Champagne’s “Côte des Blancs” region) showcasing France. For a crisp, pure, flavor-packed Champagne you really cannot beat a blanc de blancs, and it’s perfect with fresh seafood.
Beyond bubbles, Legacy also offers more than 40 still white wines and more than 50 reds — conveniently arrayed on the wine list from light-bodied through medium, to full. If you’re thinking about ordering the crab spring rolls but not sure what to drink, try a glass of Dr. L Riesling, from the Dr. Loosen (pronounced with a long “o,” like “vote”) Winery in Germany’s Mosel valley. It has mild aromas of pineapple, honey, apricot and allspice, then packs a fistful of ripe cling peaches and lemon-curd acidity on the palate. Its residual sugar weighs in at 40 grams per liter, so this is a medium Riesling; if it didn’t have great acidity, it might be sweet. Folks who like bone-dry wines might not like Dr. L, but I love bone-dry wines and adore Dr. L; pairing Riesling with Asian-inspired foods is a classic.
Other whites on Legacy’s list range from sweet Italian Moscato to sharp Pinot Grigio, and even a Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. From California there’s Conumdrum’s white blend, a consistently enjoyable wine year after year and one substantial enough to pair with blackened fish or even grilled pork. There are oaky and less-oaky California Chardonnays as well as French Chablis (the only wine a self-respecting Frenchman would ever drink with oysters). I particularly enjoyed the Domaine Pichot Vouvray made from Chenin Blanc grapes in France’s Loire region — featuring breezy, mineral-infused aromas of fresh apricots and incredibly smooth flavors. The only bite accompanying this wine will be the one you take with your fork.
The red column runs the gamut of flavor profiles and mouth feel, too, with red cherry infused Pinot Noirs at one end of the spectrum (representing France, California and Oregon) and deep, dark fruit Zinfandels at the other. In between, there’s a long list of Cabernet Sauvignons that, like the Chardonnays, vary in their oakiness. There are at least three French reds made under the auspices of the Perrin family — the premier winemaking family in the Rhone valley — including a Chateauneuf-du-Pape that’ll pair with lamb or fish.
The reds range widely in terms of their acidity, so talk to your server about style and remember: the fattier the food, the more acidity in the wine. Belle Glos “Los Alturas” Pinot Noir from California’s Central Coast (Monterrey), for example, is a rich, chewy, medium-bodied wine, but one that’s very fruit forward and low in acidity and tannin. I’d pair it with lighter fish dishes, but probably not with duck or beef. Perrin’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape, however, while still medium-bodied, has brighter aromas, higher acidity and a tannic edge — giving it some leverage over oily-fleshed fish, creamy sauces and fatty meats.
(Speaking of servers, here’s a shout out to Greg — who is patience personified).
Both the red and white columns source wines from well beyond California and Old World stalwarts like France, though, including Albarino from Spain, Malbec from Argentina, Shiraz from Australia and Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. There’s even an Italian Chianti to round out the list. Unusually, there are no Bordeaux offerings — which might normally have elicited a third gripe from me, but with a wine list as diverse as Legacy’s I honestly didn’t mind (or even initially notice) Bordeaux’s absence. Whether you’re celebrating with the in-laws or celebrating that the in-laws have left, Legacy’s wine list will leave happy holiday memories. Legacy Bar and Grill, 9 Du Rhu Drive, Mobile, 251-341-3370.
P.S. Turn the wine list over and you’ll find a short, sweet selection of craft beers on the back!