Sapphire Grill

This casual restaurant is special, with a limited menu largely derived from what's available in the market, and had everything I like about a restaurant - nice ambience, a comfortable setting, an unpretentious yet attentive staff and an excellent wine list. My meal included delicious crab cakes and an excellent bouillabaisse that was generous and filled with aromas of saffron and seafood. The wines, which were provided by all the guests, were a diverse group, but included a number of real winners.

We started with the barrel-aged Henri Giraud Fut de Chêne non-vintage champagne, which is full-bodied, somewhat reminiscent of Krug, but without any of the oxidative undertones. I really like this guy's products, and this is not even his best cuvée. The 2011 Alban Vineyards Roussanne Estate had rose-petal and honeyed notes, was medium to full-bodied and quite good, but no stars, like the following three wines.

The 1997 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard was fully mature, showing almost like a Morey-St.-Denis-like grand cru, with Porcini mushrooms, meat, berry fruit and forest floor notes. The 2009 Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Rèserve had lots of horsey, sweaty notes that no doubt suggested some brett, but was dominated by the wine's deep kirsch, cassis, licorice and garrigue components. This is a full-bodied, stunningly opulent Châteauneuf du Pape, but you have to enjoy living a little on the wild side with the brett component.

The wine of the night for me and truly one of the great, great wines from Gigondas was the 2007 Domaine St. Damien Gigondas les Souteyrades. This old vine Grenache is meticulously well-made, a massive, full-throttle Southern Rhône that is the essence of Gigondas and the Grenache grape, with no makeup, no oak, just stunning fruit depth and richness. I was blown away by this wine, even though I had scored it very highly in my report on the 2007s in The Wine Advocate.

We followed with a delicious 2008 Sette Ponti Oreno that's a sort of new style of Tuscan red, and after that came the rather classic 2008 Bodegas Emilio Moro Malleolus de Sancho Martin, a Spanish red. Both of these were excellent.

All in all, this is a restaurant I highly recommend if you're in the enchanted Southern town of Savannah, Georgia, a wonderful place. I could live there in a heartbeat given the culture and small-town atmosphere, yet satisfying cultural diversity that seems to exist throughout this small Southern city. Did I mention their famed southern hospitality? Kudos to proprietor Christopher Nason (who also doubles as the chef), and David Tumblin, the maître d', for making our visit so stunning.

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