Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Rosso Wine Shop

I stopped in to see Jeff Zimmitti at Rosso Wine Shop in Glendale, California recently to check out the expansion of his store.  Zimmitti said, “The process began in mid-2010 and went through the summer.  We got the final tweaks done in October.”

The next-door space was previously occupied by a maternity shop.  When they decided their business had grown to the point that they needed more room - a fitting metaphor - they moved up the street and created room for the Rosso expansion.

Zimmitti said the extra space allows for more inventory.  “We now have a selection of German and Austrian wines.  I sort of limited myself to Italy, France, Spain and California up to now.  We also were able to add a little additional bar space and we have room for stacking cases now.  Oh, and a place for dinner.”

He nods into the new space, in the direction of a huge, rustic dinner table.  “That’s for wine dinners,” he said, “so we can have winemakers and importers bring in their wines to pair with food in a relaxed and comfortable setting.”  Those situations were a little crowded before, when extra tables and chairs had to be squeezed in between the wine racks and the tasting bar.  “You can also rent the room,” he adds, “for a private event or a birthday party, something like that.”

The new space is adorned with a number of interesting maps on the walls, depicting different countries and their wine regions, something I’ve long thought would be a natural choice for a place selling wine from around the world.  “I’m a map guy,” Zimmitti confessed, “and I’m a graphic designer, and I have access to a large format printer.  It all fell into place.”

There isn’t a kitchen, so the Rosso wine events involving food have to be catered from off site.  Zimmitti noted that “one importer did find a way to make a paella in the back for his Spanish wines.”

City permits were the hardest part of the expansion process.  “All the forms and applications we had to wade through when we opened, we had to basically do it all over again.  The end result was worth it, though.”

As we talked, I enjoyed the weekend tasting along with a few other early arrivers.

Zaumau Priorat Blanco 2008
This Spanish Grenache Blanc is made from the fruit of old vines, and has the grizzled qualities expected.  The pale yellow wine undergoes steel fermentation.  The nose is loaded with minerals and the fresh taste puts wet rocks, bell pepper herbal notes and citrus on display.  The finish is lengthy.

Nebout Saint-Pourcain Rouge 2009
From rocky vineyards in France’s Loire Valley, this red is 80% Gamay and 20% Pinot Noir.  Medium brick red with a grapey nose - a fabulously grapey nose.  There is a strong floral scent as well, and flavors of bright cherry.  Very smooth tannins make this mellow wine very friendly.  Based on the brightness and clarity of the fruit, I would guess there is no oak used in making this wine.

Collosorbo Sant' Antimo 2007
This Tuscan red blend is a dark purple in the glass with a nose of blackberry with spices and an oaky presence.  Dark fruit and smoke on the palate are abetted by a  big mineral effect.  Good grip.  White pepper lasts into long finish.  A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot seems an odd mix for Tuscany.  The wine is aged in small 225 liter barriques.  It may interest you to know that the estate, Tenuta di Collosorbo, is headed by three women - owner Giovanna Ciacci, winemaker Laura Sutera Sardo and enologist/marketing manager Lucia Sutera Sardo.

Rosso Wine Shop’s weekly tastings - Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. - cost $10 for the flight.  The conversation is free.  Zimmitti loves to start pouring early and doesn't mind running overtime.  Wine by glass and bottled beer are also available at the bar.

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