When you do it all – ingredient shopping, menu development, wine buying and tasting – you get it right. And that is exactly the case for Amy Simpson, founder and owner of Jack Rabbit Moon, located at 893 Tahoe Boulevard in Incline Village, right across from Starbucks.

Amy has decades of experience in the food and wine business. As a graduate of a culinary academy and a wine connoisseur as well, she brings her background and love of fine food and good wine to every dish and glass.

In the wine choices offered at Jack Rabbit Moon, she emphasizes “bringing the V back to Value in wines.”

The wine bar is welcoming, with a long counter with high stools that affords a nice view of the stylish restaurant. There are high tables too, and traditional table seating for larger parties.

A nice start to the wine tasting and food pairing experience is the Avinyo Cava Brut, built on the champagne style, yeasty on the nose, and good value. While the bubbles were being poured, we also tasted the Nicolas Feuillatte Brut, a crisp sparkler with great apple tones and yet the yeasty nose that is typical of a nice champagne.

With your appetite piqued, you’ll welcome the arrival of one of Jack Rabbit’s most popular starters, burrata cheese and balsamic clove spiked beets served with grilled bread. This was paired with two compelling wines, both quite different. The white wine, a 2007 Marchetti Verdicchio from Italy, was very fruit-forward with tones of citrus, grapefruit, apple, an astringency on the side palette, and a long finish that’s quite dry. Verdicchio comes from the Marche region of Italy, and there is a classic bitter almond and mineral note to these wines while still being quite floral. 12% alcohol.

The red wine, a 2008 Poggio Vignoso Chianti from Italy, really provided a nice zip to the beets in the starter. This Chianti had good tannin up front, was very fresh and well structured, with bright cherry aromas and flavors. It is a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia, with a touch of oak from the Slavonian barrels where it aged for a year. 13% alcohol.

Next out of the kitchen is the starter of Dungeness crab cake with a roasted tomato vinaigrette and celery-root slaw. There are so many nice flavors in this dish, that it pairs well with many wines. Amy paired this with tastes of the 2006 Robert Talbott Sleep Hollow Chardonnay, Monterey. This is a lovely big California chardonnay inspired by Burgundian wines in style, with creamy and silky richness, notes of pear, peach and toasty almond. It is bright and vibrant, a hint of sweetness with an acidity that you expect from Burgundy-style chardonnays.15.2% alcohol.

The Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2006 Au Bon Climat is also wonderful with the crab. It is more citrusy, with a tropical-fruit forward taste, maybe some papaya or mango tones. Some reviewers of this wine refer to it as “alternative”, and by that they refer to the sustainable growing practices in the Au Bon Climat vineyards. The grapes come from vines that are low yielding, hand-pruned and leaf thinned by hand, and hand picked. It does make a difference, and this wine is sophisticated, balanced, bright. 13.5% alcohol.

Our wine tasting proceeded through the wonderful wine-by-the glass list, and included a 2007 Pinot Noir by The Four Graces, Willamette Valley. Raspberry, medium finish, licorics, cherry … a wonderful pinot. 13.5% alcohol. There are some nice Super Tuscans on the list, a Grenache Shiraz from Australia, wines from Slovenia. Too many to taste and describe in one sitting. Better go yourself!

Visit Jack Rabbit Moon at 893 Tahoe Blvd, Incline Village, CA. Call (775) 833-3900 for their hours.

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© 2009 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of
The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in January 2010.

Watch for my forthcoming book, scheduled for publication in 2011, "Mountain Wineries of the Sierras and Its Foothills."

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