Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
131 Anacapa St., Suite B
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Tel. +1 805 284-0380
Bérèche et Fils
Campania Remensis Rosé (disg. 10/12)
Marinated Santa Barbara mussels
Lentil salad; red onion, carrot, parsley,
thyme, red wine vinegar
Brie; Strauss butter and baguette
Part wine shop, part Parisian-inspired wine bar, Les Marchands
is a very welcome addition to the Santa Barbara scene.
The brainchild of sommeliers Brian McClintic and Eric Railsback,
Les Marchands is tucked away in one of the many small groups of storefronts in
the heart of Santa Barbara. McClintic’s journey through wine and the Master
Sommelier program is documented in the film Somm, which is well worth
watching. A Santa Barbara native, Railsback’s resume includes working harvest
at a number of prestigious estates, including Emmerich Knoll, Dujac and Roulot,
along with three years running the wine program at Michael Mina’s RN 74.
Railsback makes Loire-inspired wines with Justin Willet at Lieu-Dit and also
partners with MS Dustin Wilson, Willet and McClintic at Vallin, where the focus
is on Rhône varieties.
Les Marchands is both a wine shop and winebar. Visitors will
find a wide range of bottles for sale, including an extensive selection of gems
from Santa Barbara’s emerging young producers and less well-known appellations.
Austria, Burgundy, Piedmont, Champagne and the Rhône all feature heavily among the
European wines. The selection is pretty amazing for such a small shop. If I
lived in the area I would be a regular, no doubt about it.
The copper top bar and other appointments are all distinctly
Parisian inspired, while the high ceilings with their exposed steel railings
are a reminder this space was once a fish processing plant. Zalto glasses are
among the many refined touches that take things to another level. All bottles are
available in the winebar at just a 20% markup over retail, which is pretty
enticing, to say the least. A young couple seated just behind me orders
Christophe Roumier’s 2010 Chambolle-Musigny in half bottle. Sounds like a pretty
great way to spend a leisurely Friday afternoon. A few seats down, one of
California’s most reclusive winemakers is enjoying lunch after having picked
out a couple of obscure gems from the retail shop.
butter and baguette
The food at Les Marchands is simple, casual and consists mostly
of cold plates. Fresh, vibrant flavors abound in the Santa Barbara mussels and lentil salad,
which are both delicious. McClintic insists I try the brie plate. How can I say
no? A true heart attack special, the brie is rich, decadent and fabulous.
Bérèche is one of my favorite producers anywhere in the world.
Sadly, the wines are virtually impossible to find, so whenever I see them on a
winelist the choice is obvious. The NV (2009) Rosé Campania Remensis has put on wonderful weight
and texture since it was disgorged in late 2012, yet it also retains marvelous
freshness, energy and tension. All the elements are in the right place. What a
gorgeous wine this is. I wish I could drink more than a glass, but an afternoon
of tastings awaits. Still, one glass is enough to transport me back to
Champagne and this world-class, family-run domaine just outside of Reims.
Bérèche’s NV (2009) Rosé Campania Remensis, one of life’s essentials
With that, it’s time to get moving. Visits to Ojai and Sine Qua
-- Antonio Galloni