by Donia Moore
It was a perfect day for a visit to cozy Barnoa Wine Bar, the newest gem in Talega. Owners Alex Ponot and Anne-Sophie Derre are warm and chatty hosts and I immediately felt like an old family friend when I walked in. And it isn’t just me. They treat everyone that comes through their doors for a glass of wine and a plate of their delectable cheeses or Charcuterie like long-lost family. After a few minutes visiting with them, you’ll feel that you have known them for years. This contemporary little bistro is the “Cheers” of Talega, and if they don’t know your name when you come in, they will before you leave.
Alex personally favors the Pinot Noir from the Burgundy Region of France. Anne-Sophie prefers the sweeter wines of southwest France. Both are knowledgeable and eager to share information about the different wines they serve. Barnoa selections are 45% French, 45% American and 10% International from countries like Australia and New Zealand. In addition to the 55 wines they regularly stock, they also carry an array of domestic, French and Quebec beers.
Move over Cheddar, Some New Cheese is in Town
Barnoa (a Basque word for wine bar) does not have a kitchen, but it does boast a wide variety of cheeses and meats. The cheese selection includes: Ossau Iraty, (made from sheep’s milk) which pairs well with a number of dessert wines; Pont Leveque; a nutty, delicate flavored French Emmental; rich Saint Andre Tripple Cream Cheese; tangy Chevre and more. The meat selection includes such specialties as moist Smoked Duck Breast, zesty Pamplona Chorizo La Espanola imported from Spain, Italian Reminelli Salami and others. There’s even a tempting Truffle Mousse. Every week, a new cheese or meat is featured. Alex and Anne-Sophie are more than happy to suggest wines to pair with whatever you decide to try.
Happy Hours with a Twist
Happy Hours, or Heures Joyeuse, at Barnoa Wine Bar are a delight. French wines are highlighted Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 4-6pm. Buy a glass of French wine and get the second glass for $1. Or if you prefer, buy a whole bottle and get a cheese plate for free. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, it’s American Happy Hour, from 4-6pm for the same deal. Buy a glass of American wine and get the second glass for $1 or buy the whole bottle and get a cheese plate free.
Sunday is “Crazy Happy Hour” and runs from 11am to 6pm. Selected bottles of wine are 50% off all day.
An Exclusive Club
Barnoa is starting its own Wine Club. Members pay $50 per month to choose a bottle of red wine, and a bottle of white wine to drink at the Wine Bar or take home, and then 10% off every purchase at the bar or deli after that. Alex and Anne-Sophie are planning special VIP holiday member-only events. These will be announced on Facebook and by email, so make sure to sign up if you are interested.
Surf to Surf
Both Anne-Sophie and Alex originally came from French Basque Country, straddling the border of Spain and Southwest France, in the Pyrenees mountains. Their hometowns of Bayonne and Biarritz are popular tourist destinations with oceans, beaches and yes - surfing! So they feel right at home in our beach community.
Alex is an avid surfer, and made many trips to San Clemente from Bayonne, France and Quebec, Canada, before he decided last year that San Clemente’s Talega area was right for his wine bar. He feels that it is the perfect complement to the Sun Dried Tomato and Inka Momma restaurants. A nice glass of wine on the sunny patio before dinner or a sweet dessert wine in the snug bar afterwards makes for a perfect beginning and ending.
Anne-Sophie had never been to San Clemente before she decided to move here from Biarritz, France to help Alex with the wine bar. After a year here, she feels right at home because the area that she and Alex come from is “the San Clemente of France”, complete with the surfing and relaxed, outdoor living we so enjoy. The cities of Biarritz and San Clemente also share the mixed demographics of upscale retirees and young families, surfers and outdoors enthusiasts.
Barnoa is located in the Talega Plaza across from Sundried Tomato. Hours are 10 - 1am Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 - 2am Fridays and Saturdays. Stop by for the gourmet meat or cheese plates any time of day. Listen to eclectic live music Thursdays and Saturdays. If you love good friends, good wine and good times, you’ll find them at Barnoa Wine Bar.