Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Great Central Coast Wine List: Westside Tavern

One of those "the movie starts in an hour" decisions led me to my first visit to Westside Tavern in the mall on Pico Boulevard.  Just downstairs from the AMC multiplex, this is a place I'll be hitting again for pre- or post-movie dining or drinks.  It's not just about the convenience.  Judging from the cheese, meat and bread plate, the food is worth a trip.  But you know what gets me excited.

The wine list is literally loaded with selections from California's Central Coast.  Why is this not standard procedure at Los Angeles restaurants?  Lori Theis is the director of special events at Westside Tavern, and she does the wine list like it ought to be done here in Southern California.  There are so many good Central Coast choices, I'll need a number of visits to explore them all.  Our waitress told me that the list includes many seasonal choices - as it should - so I may never finish sampling the regional wines on offer.  But I'll try.

I was taken aback by the sheer number of wines I'd like to enjoy, and I hadn't even looked at the menu.  I only knew that Denise had decided on the cheese and meat board, so I asked the waitress if she thought a red or white wine would be a better fit.  She said the reds were her choice for that pairing, so I ordered the Bonny Doon Clos de Gilroy Grenache.  The 2010 vintage is $11 by the glass.  Denise had the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ancient Peaks, one of our favorite Paso Robles wines.  It was also $11 btg.  Both were served at cellar temperature, which you don't always get in L.A.'s eateries.

The Clos de Gilroy is 75% Grenache, 13% Cinsault and 12% Syrah, so there is a lot going on in the glass.  The wine’s grapes do not originate in Gilroy - home of the Garlic Festival - but from a smattering of Central Coast vineyards.  When Denise heard me ask for the wine by name, she wondered if it smelled like garlic.  It does not, although that would be an interesting tasting note.

Clos de Gilroy does smell a bit like meat, with cherries and an earthy sensation in the bouquet as well.  The palate shows very nice acidity with racy dark fruit flavors - I get prunes - and a medium-length black cherry cola finish.  Peppery notes keep popping up.  The wine is beautiful with the cheese and meat plate - an excellent match with the toasted raisin nut bread that comes with it.

The Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon, by the way, shows those famous Margarita Vineyard minerals in full force, with strong, dark fruit and a nice tannic structure.


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