We arrived early - imagine that! - for a play in West Hollywood, and decided that we had just enough time to stop into Hugo’s for drinks and appetizers beforehand.
The venerable eatery on Santa Monica Boulevard has a short wine list with a lot of variety packed into it. Wines from Bordeaux, Limoux, La Mancha, Valencia, Veneto and Mendoza offer a world tour, while California is represented by Lodi, Sonoma and Monterey Counties as well as my wine country neighbor, Santa Barbara County. They also place a bottle of wine on each table. It makes me feel welcome, but it also serves as a good marketing tool. It makes me immediately think about ordering a glass of wine - not that I need a reminder.
I saw a Chardonnay from a winery called Cordon. The wine was listed as coming from Kick-On Vineyard, which intrigued me.
I have never been to Kick-On Vineyard - never even heard of it - but I gather it is in a good location in Santa Barbara County, west of Los Alamos and south of Santa Maria. They appear to grow Riesling and Pinot Noir in addition to the Chardonnay. At least one SBC winemaker thinks the vineyard is under-promoted, especially for the quality of their Chardonnay grapes.
The Cordon label is the personal effort of winemaker Etienne Terlinden, who also serves in that capacity for Summerland Winery, east of Santa Barbara. He uses grapes from several SBC vineyards - French Camp, White Oak and Faith - in addition to Kick-On Vineyard.
The Cordon Kick-On Vineyard Chardonnay sells for $8.50 per glass at Hugo’s and retails from the winery for $19.50. 130 cases were produced. A lot of Southern California restaurants with great wine lists are picking up on Cordon, according to the list of locations where they can be found.
The nose was a bit tight due to the cold serving temperature, but it unveiled nicely as it warmed in the glass. Apples and cantaloupes appear, swathed in a light spiciness from the neutral oak. The palate offers apricot flavors, along with a splash of lemon and figs.
The wine paired quite well with the food, good renditions of Asian spring roll and corn tamales. The spring rolls are unusually large and a bit difficult to eat because of their girth and the way they fall apart when cut. The flavors are fresh and vibrant, however. The two-tamale plate is adorned with guacamole and sour cream and is swimming in salsa verde. It’s a lot of food for an appetizer.
It seems that any L.A. dining experience now offers The Drama At The Next Table as a free floorshow. Ours was the young woman going on endlessly to her girlfriend about how “I was like all and he was like all and I deh eh know what to say and oh I didn't know you were like a rockstar bartender.” I supplied the period in that quote through poetic license. She didn’t appear to use any punctuation in her speech. Her friend seemed to hang on every word though.