Thursday, September 8, 2011

THE TASTING BAR AT WINE EXPO


At Wine Expo Tasting Bar

Longtime Santa Monica wine store Wine Expo opened a tasting bar over the summer, and it is to my detriment that it took me so long to make it by and try out their fare.

While Wine Expo specializes in Italian wine, general manager and wine director Roberto Rogness explains on their website, "what we are REALLY interested in is diversity of style ... and wines that both enhance our diverse cuisine and challenge your senses (instead of just being big fruit bombs slathered in oak that make a strong first impression but then deaden your palate).  Plus, we are not only aware of the Global Marketplace but are famous for turning it upside down and squeezing it twice to find you the best deals.  So, this logically LEADS us to offering the largest selection of Vini Italiani in the country (plus outstanding finds from South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Oz and NZ, Argentina, Eastern Europe and sometimes even California)."

I'm always happy to find a happy hour, and the Wine Expo tasting bar offers one from 5:00 to 7:00 six nights a week - which includes Saturday and Sunday.

Before we could even take a seat, complimentary tastes of F. Dulac Blanc de Blancs Brut was delivered to the table.  The French sparkler is toasty, nutty and bubbly - a great start in anyone's book.

The Matilde Zasso Falanghina 2010 from Campania has volcanic ash evident on the mineral laden nose and palate, but there's some nice fruitiness there, too.  $3 by the glass at happy hour.

Allesandro Botter's Tor del Colle Montelpulciano Riserva 2007 from Puglia was $4 by the glass at happy hour.  Rose petal and freshly polished leather join a meat element on the nose, while the palate is dark and complex.

These wines did fine with the salami plate spruced up with cornichons, smoked olives and salted nuts.  The heavily smoked olives prompted an "OMG" in my notes.  They are perfect for a palate like mine, for which enough is never enough.


Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter.