AVEC WINE AND FOOD: New Truckee Wine Bar Offers Interesting and Important but Affordable Wines

Avec Wine and Food, the charming and well-stocked wine bar and wineshop in Truckee, is a refreshing change of pace. I want to give hats-off to the new kids in town – Chris Cooke and Rose Levinson, owners – for establishing an eclectic wine bar that carries wines you are not likely to find in other shops. “We want to expose our customers to relatively inexpensive but interesting and important wines,” notes Chris. Chris and Rose have wine-traveled in Europe, and Chris is a self-professed “wine geek.” But apart from his worldwide searches for interesting wines, he is happy to be back home in the North Lake.

The wine by the glass menu is extensive; all wines are priced reasonably and all are nice explorations in taste and region. Order a tasting flight for $10 of four 1.5 ounce pours, and then move on to a full glass of your favorite.

Summer is around the corner, and white wines just seem right for summer entertaining. Try the 2009 Primosic Pinot Griogio, Friuli. This Italian wine has a pale straw color, and a lovely aroma of lemon, apricot, honey. It has a crisp finish, true to the terroir, which is the terrain near the Italian and Slovenian border where wine grapes have been cultivated for centuries. 13% alcohol, $6/glass or $13.50/bottle.

The 2009 Emina Verdejo from Spain has a golden color, nutty texture, tropical fruit on the back, and is very dry with tones of pineapple. “It’s got a nice color that the eyes like to drink,” commented Chris. Snooth.com notes that the Rueda region of Spain, from which this wine comes, produces blended white wines that tend to be crisp and light, relying on the Verdejo grape to contribute a soft richness to the texture and lightly honied citrus and apple flavors to the finished wine. Serve cold. 13% alcohol, $6/glass, $11.50/bottle.

The Palmina 2009 Tocai Friulano is made from grapes sourced in the Honea Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley near Lomboc, CA. I don’t want to add to the confusion about names, so here is a clarification from the winery’s website: “Known in Italy for centuries as Tocai Friulano, the name was changed to Friulano in 2008 by decree of the EU courts. Here in the United States, it must be called Tocai Friulano (since “Friulano” is not an approved grape name by our governing authorities). Politics and government regulations aside, “Tocai” is the same enchanting wine no matter what the name!” This wine is the product of a husband and wife team who grow Italian varietals in the Santa Barbara area. It’s a perfect summer wine: floral, fruity, aromatic, tones of apple, pear and quince, silky texture and yet medium bodied. 12.5% alcohol, $21.50/bottle.

Chris next presented a red wine from “the hot new Italian winemaker Arianna Occhipinti”: the Tami Frappato 2009, from Sicily. It is fresh, fruity, and easy to drink… a perfect everyday red wine. Chris refers to this wine as Sicilian Pinot Noir, and he suggests pairing it with salmon. 13% alcohol, $7/glass, $21/bottle.

Another red to try: the 2009 Mas de Gourgonnier, a French Rose. This a very unique blend of traditional Rhone wines (Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault) and then “it gets crazy with the addition of Cabernet,” says Chris. He swears you can taste the lavender in this wine from Provence. 12.5% alcohol, $22/bottle.

The food at Avec is all wine-friendly, with appetizers, Panini, small plates, and Chef’s Favorite Chicken Pot Pie with Truffle Salt.

Avec is located at 11209 Brockway Road, Suite 101C, Truckee, CA. They are closed Tuesdays, open Monday & Wednesday 11-6 and open til 9 for dinner Thursday through Sunday. Phone 530 582 1903. http://www.avecwineandfood.com/

p.s.  Avec offers some interesting Sierra Foothill wines too, like this Grenache Blanc from Skinner Vineyards, Fair Play, El Dorado County, California.  I've been writing for and about Skinner and their wines are great!

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© 2011 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 "Wine Adventures" in June 2011.

Book in Process: "Mountain High Wine: The Sierra and Its Foothills".


  1. Love taking advantage of happy hour on the patio! Makes for a very productive meeting spot.

  2. Great prices and amazing place! This is the perfect spot for me and my friends!

  3. I haven't had a bottle from Avec that My wife and I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. Chris and Rose's palet and knack for picking winners is unbeatable!