Showing posts with label wine bar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine bar. Show all posts

Monday, May 5, 2014

Birthday Wine: Sagrantino - You Shouldn't Have, Glad You Did

Birthday dinners have come and gone for me for quite some time now.  Some are more memorable than others, for different reasons.  One thing that always sets a birthday dinner - or any dinner, for that matter - apart is the presence of good company.  At my most recent birthday dinner, my lovely wife was my dining companion, so it’s guaranteed to be one I’ll remember forever.

The locale for this dinner was special, too.  3Twenty Wine Lounge - named for its address on South La Brea in Los Angeles - is a place I discovered in 2011, when it was still nearly brand new.  I wandered in one Saturday afternoon to find proprietor Edgar Poureshagh all alone and more than ready to let the wine flow from his by-the-pour wine dispenser.  He loves to talk about wine, and we did so until he had to busy himself for the evening clientele.  He’s not so alone anymore, by the way.  3Twenty has become a very popular stop for diners, wine lovers and Yelpers in the La Brea/mid-Wilshire area.

Edgar is a great friend, and he gave me a very nice bottle of wine for my birthday.  A 2003 vintage of Tabarrini Montefalco Colle Grimaldesco Sagrantino, for which I can’t thank him enough.  It’s always nice to get wine as a gift, especially when it is this good.  The Tabarrini website explains that, “Colle Grimaldesco is the brand that the Tabarrini Family reserve for their highest quality wines.”  This one certainly lives up to the billing.

The ‘03 Tabarrini Montefalco Colle Grimaldesco Sagrantino is made from 100% Sagrantino grapes, harvested from ten- to 15-year-old vineyards in the Umbrian community of Montefalco.  The wine is soaked on the grape skins for 30 days and aged in oak for 30 months.  Another six months - in the bottle - and this baby is good to go.  13.5% abv.

This Italian's nose is quite expressive, showing off smoky blackberries layered with tobacco, leather and tar.  The oak spices which adorn the fragrance are generous, but not even close to overdone.  The palate is dark and brooding, with amazing acidity and sweet tannins.  It is extremely full in the mouth and long on the finish, a pleasure to drink.  Cheers, Edgar.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Table For Three At 3Twenty South Wine Lounge

The radio business has some nice euphemisms for being out of work. That’s probably because being out of work is a more-or-less natural state in radio. “Between gigs,” “on the beach,” “away from the mic” - nice, presentable ways of saying you’re jobless. I have been considered fortunate through my radio career to have stayed employed fairly consistently and for durations much longer than typical radio jobs usually last. My last gig was 22 years. My next one is - hopefully - just around the corner. After so long in a career which sometimes saw me working when others were playing, I now get to play while others are working. I stopped into 3Twenty South Wine Lounge in the mid-afternoon a while back after running some errands on La Brea. I wasn’t looking to prop myself up at the bar, I just wanted to pop in and say “hi” to my friend Edgar Poureshagh, the owner and sommelier. As luck would have it, another friend was there, too. Jamie Edlin, of Hollywood and Wine, was seated at a table in the otherwise empty restaurant. Her company represents and services “a select portfolio of boutique, artisan wineries,” and she was obviously ready to pour a few samples for Edgar to taste. They were both very kind to insist I join them. Jamie was pouring Pinot Noir from two Monterey County wineries, Chesebro Wines and Cima Collina. Chesebro Wines - in Carmel Valley - is a small, family-owned outfit which produces around 2,000 cases per year. They own vineyards in Monterey County. The Chesebro Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir 2009 utilizes a blend of grapes from two vineyards, Cedar Lane and Mission Ranch, in the Arroyo Seco AVA. The sandy, low vigor soil and cool, foggy mornings make for good Pinot-growing conditions. Big acidity is immediately noticed, and welcomed. The wine is very dark in color and taste - with black cherry, clove and dark spices coming forth. Cima Collina produces artisan wines which are unfined and unfiltered. The vineyards of the two wines tasted are on opposite sides of the Salinas Valley. The 2007 Pinot Noir, Lucia Highlands Vineyard, is rather oaky with cherries and plums in the forefront. The alcohol is restrained at 13.8% abv. Cima Collina's Pinot Noir, Chula Vina Vineyard 2007 hails from the northeastern side of the Salinas Valley in the foothills. The granitic soil is well drained and somewhat protected from the windy conditions in the area. Dried plum leads the way in this fascinating, very easy drinker. A big, full-bodied feel in the mouth and the fruit-forward attitude makes for a good example of California Pinot. The alcohol edges up to 14% abv.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Row Eleven Vinas 3 Pinot Noir

Another movie, another wine at The Wine Bar.  The bar next to the AMC theater in the Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles makes it desirable to show up a bit early for the film.

In the image, that blur of light in the upper left corner is the display which shows how long until the next movies start.  That's a good idea, because the wine list at The Wine Bar is not what you'd expect at a mall.

This time, waiting for "Senna," the documentary about the Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, I had the Row Eleven Pinot Noir, Vinas 3.  I had sampled this wine at a tasting event a couple of years ago, and was impressed then.  I'm still impressed.

Row Eleven makes three Pinots, one from the Russian River Valley, one from Santa Maria and the Vinas 3, which is a blend from vineyards in Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties.

The '08 Vinas 3 blends not only different vineyards, but different Pinot Noir clones - Pommard, Dijon and Martini, for the wine geeks among us.  I had the '09 this time, and I am making the assumption that it is blended in the same configuration.

It's $11 by the glass and turns in a 13.9% abv number, which is fairly old world for California Pinot.  The nose shows cranberry and smoke, with a very lovely expression of earth.  Smooth, full and rich in the mouth, flavors of red fruit are abetted by mocha and a nice minerality.  The tannins are nice and round, so there are no jagged edges on the palate.  It may not be indicative of any one terroir, but it's a great way to pass twenty minutes or so until the movie starts.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011


interior of Hearthstone Lounge, Grand Californian Hotel

Several staycation trips to the Magic Kingdom during the summer allowed me to rack up a bit of nice wine time on the Disney property.  There was a time - not too long ago - when that statement would not have been easy to make.  Disneyland was famous - some say notorious - for not serving alcohol in the theme park.  That's back when I referred to the monorail as "Daddy's favorite ride" because it took daddy to a hotel where he could get a refreshing adult beverage.

Oh, there was the private club - somewhere in a "secret" location in the park - which I’m told served drinks, but I never had an invitation to go there.  Things have changed.  Thirsty adults can now find liquid refreshment to their liking at several locations not actually inside Disneyland, but very convenient to the park.

First, there is California Adventure - the companion theme park to Disneyland - which has a vineyard and an enocentric restaurant within its borders.  You can check out my escapades there in another blog post, if you like.

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is easily accessed from Disneyland and the shopping expanse of Downtown Disney.  The lobby of the Grand Californian is a great place to escape for a bit of cooling off if the weather is hot.  In the summertime they keep the air conditioning cold enough in there to require some of their employees to wear winter weather gear to keep warm.

Just off the lobby is the Hearthstone Lounge, a comfortable bar with some cozy couch-and-chair seating available.  We made a couple of stops there on recent trips.

Kenwood Jack London ZinfandelTheir wine list isn't incredibly exciting, but it is California-focused, fitting for a hotel that pays homage to the architecture and decor of the Arts and Crafts movement typified at Yosemite National Park’s Ahwahnee Lodge.

I stayed with the NoCal vibe and ordered a 2009 KenwoodJack London Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley.  Produced with grapes sourced from the Jack London Ranch in Glen Ellen, California, the wine is 94% Zinfandel, 4% Syrah and 2% Petite Sirah.  It carries a 14.5% alcohol number and is fermented in stainless steel, with 19 months aging in 60% French and 40% American oak barrels.  It cost $11 by the glass.

The wine is colored a medium-deep ruby red.  Aromas of bright cherry, smoke, toasty vanilla and cigar box are quite aromatic, while the palate has smokey notes draped over red fruit with a cinnamon spice peeking through.  Gentle tannins and lip-smacking acidity make for a fun-to-drink wine.  Even in the warm weather, it reminds me of Christmas.

Baileyana Grand Firepeak Cuvee ChardonnayOn another visit I tried the Baileyana Grand Firepeak Cuvee Chardonnay.  This Edna Valley beauty is a favorite of mine.  Winemaker Christian Roguenant works with grapes from the Firepeak Vineyard, at the foot of extinct volcano Mt. Islay.  The soil has lava remnants meeting clay and ancient seabed.  Aged in French oak for nine months, the wine is 13.7% abv and sells for $14.50 by the glass.

On the nose, tropical fruit and oak spice leap out while the palate shows golden apples and Christmas spices.  Am I really looking forward to the holidays this much?  Great wood notes on the palate and a fabulous acidity are really a treat.  Pair it with smoked ham.

Valdiguie at Napa RoseNapa Rose is the fancy eatin' room at the Grand Californian.  Call ahead for a reservation - days ahead.  If you fly by the seat of your pants like we do, it's good to know you can order right off the menu in the lounge area, and there's nearly always seating available there for walk-ins.

The Valdiguié grape is similar to the Gamay grape of Beaujolais - so similar, in fact, that it was thought to be one and the same until genetic analysis proved otherwise.  J Lohr's 2010 Wildflower is made using Monterey County Valdiguié grapes from their Greenfield Vineyard.  The wine is vinified completely in stainless steel and 19% of the juice is whole-cluster fermented.  It's $8.50 by the glass, and is a great value.

Medium dark in color, the nose shows a much darker fruit aroma than I expect.  Boysenberry and, surprisingly, a note of tar come forward.  A dark tartness shows on the palate as well.  It has a nice level of acidity, and paired well with the Spanish cheeses - Garritxa and P'tit Basque - but not so well with the yellow and blue cheeses on the platter.

Also at Napa Rose, the 2007 Lasseter Family Meritage from Alexander Valley was an $18 glass.  Very dark and inky in color, the nose shows a lot of alcohol and takes quite a bit of breathing to settle down.  Cassis and blackberry lead the way for the dark fruit aromas with some vanilla notes for spice.  This wine has some very firm tannins; it's really brawny.  The palate shows more dark fruit and has a meaty edge with tar.  It pairs really well with the filet mignon.

Zen of Zin at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki BarA new addition to my Disneyland wine map is Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, in the Disneyland Hotel's Frontier Tower.  It's only been open since June 2011.  If the name sounds like another feature inside Disneyland, I suppose that's by design.

This place is more like a ride than a drinking establishment.  They serve several signature drinks - Krakatoa Punch, HippopotoMai Tai and Schweitzer Falls - which is served "over the rocks" - and with each one ordered, the bartenders give a yell.  "Krakatoa!" is shouted, and a visual effect of an erupting volcano lights up two walls.  "Oh no, a shipwreck!" is followed by a cool blast of air and a darkening of the lights.  The light rain that started falling a couple of times during my visit may have been the result of someone going over Schweitzer Falls.  The bar tricks are fun and the patrons certainly seemed to be enjoying the show. 

Zen of Zin is a Ravenswood Zinfandel, a brand I've found enjoyment with in the past.  This old vine Zin cost nine tree barks in the land of tiki.  Bright cherry on the nose with cedar and spice aromas play into a feisty bright fruit palate with a hint of clove.

I know I should have gone with a boat drink in a tiki bar, but I had a wine.  That's just me.  My wife had a pina colada.  Well, it is a tiki bar.  Enchanted, at that.  This place stands a good chance of becoming “Daddy’s favorite ride.”

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Mourvedre at The Wine Bar

Back in the college days we used to sit waiting for a movie to begin and yearn for a movie theater where we could get a beer while watching the show.  Now, that concept is commonplace, and innovators have turned their attention to more pressing matters, like getting drinks served at food trucks.

The Los Angeles shopping mecca, Westside Pavilion has a very nice bar just outside its AMC multiplex.  Lots of dark wood and plenty of plush chairs and sofas take up a fair sized space that gets a lot of light.  It's not actually in the theater, but customers of The Wine Bar are allowed to take their drinks with them into one of the first two screens, which are designated as "21 + movies."  If you want to see "Smurfs," you'll have to wait until after the picture to get your drink on.

While the movies showing at the cinema are as predictable as Hollywood can make them, the wine list at The Wine Bar is rather inventive.  There were choices I don't see on a lot of lists, and some I didn't expect to see at all at a wine bar in a mall.

I chose the Cline 2007 Ancient Vines Mourvèdre.  The grapes are sourced from Contra Costa County and the wine is aged in toasted American oak.  It has an alcohol content of 14.5%.  A whiff of that alcohol appears on the nose, but it's not hard to dig out the cherry, lavender and chocolate notes.  The flavors center on a broad expanse of wild cherry with a streak of black tea running through it. 

I was quite pleased. It was a pleasure to find such an enjoyable wine at the mall - and at the movies.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011


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.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


Edgar Poureshagh

I'm always on the lookout for another nice spot to pop into and taste some wine.  Barely open a month at this writing is 3Twenty Wine Lounge, located appropriately enough at 320 South La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles.

I stopped in recently and had the pleasure of chatting with proprietor Edgar Poureshagh, a certified sommelier and card-carrying wine geek.  Poureshagh has spun his experience and connections as a distributor into a Miracle Mile wine bar, with a kitchen that produces a small plate menu.

He says the idea is to "have some small portions that can be paired with tastes of wine.  People can gain experience in pairing wine with food this way, and it's a great way to broaden your palate."

Wine is available by the bottle, glass or taste, dispensed in 1.7-ounce servings from several automatic machines.  The price for each taste varies depending on the price of the wine.  Most are in the three to five-dollar range, with the top end being $15 for a sample of the '87 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

In this family operation - Poureshagh is joined by his wife and parents in the venture - the wines center on family-run wineries.  "I'm trying to stay away from corporate wines and serve smaller-production wines with a lot more character.  I love wines with a story," he says.  He also knows plenty of those wine stories and loves to share them when he has the chance.  One of his favorite family-run wineries is R.H. Coutier.  They've been making wine for 500 years in France's Champagne region.

He points out that most of the wines at 3Twenty are sold below typical restaurant prices, and he works an array of sources to secure the wines he wants to carry.  "We buy our wine direct from about 10 wineries and use over two dozen brokers and distributors to find the right wines."  Eight beers are also on the list, in case you're not in the mood for wine.  That's a situation that's hard to imagine once you are inside 3Twenty.

Poureshagh is proud of his new place, and of his staff.  During conversation with him, it's easy to feel his passion for wine and his pleasure at having this wine bar open for business.  He says they are doing the same thing other wine bars are doing, just differently.  "We're not reinventing the wheel, just making a really shiny wheel."

Here are the wines I sampled from the automatic wine dispenser system at 3Twenty:

Seghesio Zinfandel 2009 - spice and chocolate

Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2009 - dark and dusty

Masi Costasera Amarone 2006 - cassis, blackberry and raisins, laced with minerality

Mayacamas Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - astounding minerality, perfect tannins

Lioco Sonoma Chardonnay 2009 - big and creamy

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Les Tuffeaux 2008 - Loire Chenin Blanc, lovely, nutty accents

Karthauserhof Riesling Spatlese 2007 - great slate

Bert Simon Riesling Auslese 2002 Serrig Herrenberg - petrol and just enough sweetness

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Monday, August 8, 2011


Bettinelli Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

When I stopped in to the Left Coast Wine Bar and Gallery in Glendale - across the street from the Americana at Brand shopping mall - I only intended to take a look around.  Sure enough, a bar and some artwork downstairs and a jazz loft upstairs with piano and amp and some room for lounging.  Nice enough place.  Then I glanced over their by-the-glass menu and spied a '98 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  I sat down.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and happy hour was underway with this 13 year-old Cab going for a mere four dollars per glass.  How could I not?

The '98 Bettinelli Cab was aged 16 months in American oak and recorded a 13.8% abv number.  The Oakville wine is sudsy and beginning to show a little brown on the edges.  It's tannic and somewhat thin upon pouring,

The wine did open up a bit and the bite became less bothersome.  It was relatively smooth after 20 minutes or so.

A chestnut honey aroma on the nose was identified by my wife, and I was able to spot the raspberries on palate all by myself.  Unfortunately, it's not very complex and has a rather tart finish.

Larry Bettinelli co-founded the vineyard in 1990 with Mike Browning.  Browning now appears to serve as the distributor of Bettinelli's wine under the Barclay & Browning name.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011


I Heart Paso Robles

Paso Robles, California is remembered by many as the place actor James Dean had hoped to drive through on his way to Salinas.  Dean's life ended 25 miles short of Highway 101 when his speeding sports car collided with Donald Turnupseed's Ford.

Today, that event - monumental at the time - is a footnote in the history of a city which is the center of the fifth largest wine region in California.  The Paso Robles AVA comprises two thirds of the Central Coast AVA which contains it.  Well over 200 wineries call Paso Robles home, and the number seems to grow every time you check.  That fateful intersection of Highways 41 and 46 is memorialized for the legendary car crash which took place there, but in Paso, it's all about the wine.

The Grapes
Paso Robles is most noted for Zinfandel grapes and the wines produced from them, but despite all the festivals held in its honor, Zin actually accounts for only nine percent of the grapes grown there.  Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot cover over half of the pie chart for Paso Robles grape varieties in the AVA's 29,000 acres of vineyards.  Over $650 million worth of wine is produced annually in the Paso Robles AVA.

The Layout
Paso - just call it that if you want to sound local - is situated about a half hour north of San Luis Obispo on U.S. Highway 101.  The area around Paso Robles is roughly divided into East and West sides, with the freeway as the dividing line.  It would be hard to get around in the city and its environs without noticing the wine industry.  No matter where you are in Paso, you're near a winery.

La Bellasera Hotel & SuitesWhere To Stay

If you plan to visit, you are one of 1.2 million tourists who do so each year for Paso wine.  There are plenty of hotels, bed & breakfasts and vacation rentals to choose from.  I received complimentary lodging at La Bellasera Hotel and Suites for the purpose of this series of articles, and it came highly recommended by everyone I spoke with before the trip.  I found it much to my liking, too, and with room rates starting under the $200 mark, I'll check with them first on my next visit.

La Bellasera's Director of Sales Baxter Boyington told me there are over 1250 hotel rooms in Paso Robles.  He sang the praises not only of his hotel, but of life in Paso, too.  He said returning to his stomping grounds was a distinct pleasure.

As Boyington showed me around the property it was apparent that it's not a huge hotel, but the rooms are clean and outfitted in comfortable elegance, with attention to detail.  There are even suites with kitchenettes if your stay is an extended one.  A big television in my room never got turned on - no time for TV - but the free WiFi is a must nowadays.  A spa and a fitness room offer amenities for those who wish to take a break from wine for a while.

The restaurant at La Bellasera, Enoteca, is appropriately wine-themed and was also on every must-try list I acquired from locals.  Steamed clams and mussels are a treat that's hard to pass, and the menu has a number of seafood options, veal, lamb, pork and Angus beef.  If you only have time for dessert, try the country style cheesecake or gingerbread creme brulée.

The bar at Enoteca is a favorite hangout for wine people of all stripes.  I made new wine friends there, and I'd bet that you will, too - the people in Paso Robles are very friendly.  Of course, the wine list at Enoteca is Paso-centric.

Where's The Wine?
As I mentioned, wine is everywhere in Paso Robles.  Wineries and tasting rooms abound on the eastside and the west, all the way to the coast.  Paso's downtown square just west of the 101 freeway features a number of tasting - and dining - opportunities within easy walking distance.

Meritage Lounge Tasting BarOne tasting room is interesting in that it serves as a tasting room for six of the smaller local wineries.  TheMeritage Wine Tasting Lounge has a large room lined with tasting bars.  The night I visited, only four of the winery spaces were staffed, but on weekends you'll find all six wineries represented.

Meritage hosts Roxo Port CellarsLine Shack Wine,Brochelle VineyardsCerro PrietoMichaud Vineyardand JK Wine Company, home of the Arada and Katinlabels.  When you check in at the front desk you are handed a card which you use at the tasting bars.  You can taste a flight or single wines at each of the stations, then settle up at the desk on your way out.

Brochelle Vineyards had a flight of three wines which could be paired with cheeses.  I tasted their Grenache/Syrah/Zinfandel Rosé made from estate fruit.  The Jolly Rancher nose and candylike finish has citrus notes and clove in the middle.  The Estate Zinfandel sports black cherry and licorice, while their Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is dark and rich, sourced from Mt. Veeder.

Michaud Vineyard poured three wines made from Chalone grapes in Monterey County.  The Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah all bing a lot to the table.

The Arada Las Ramblas Blanca is a blend of Central Coast Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Albarino.  It has a full mouthfeel and crisp acidity that's really refreshing.

I saved Roxo's Port-style wine for last.  This producer has been a favorite of mine when I have encountered them at tasting events.  Their 2007 Negrette shows flavors of black figs and raisins.  Pairing it with chocolate brought the spice notes to the forefront.

Speaking of chocolate, right down the street from The Meritage there’s a great candy store,Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, where I had the most enormous peanut butter cup known to mankind.

I hope you'll keep checking in to the Now And Zin Wine Blog for more articles about the wines and the people I encountered in Paso Robles.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I had an all-too-infrequent wine session with my friend and colleague Nicolas Soufflet recently at Vinoteque on Melrose in Los Angeles.  Nicolas is a young man determined to make his mark in the wine industry.  Hailing from France, he has an extensive knowledge of that country's wines and, in fact, has worked forChapoutier.  He also has experience in Italian wines - I have witnessed his expertise in hosting tasting sessions featuring the wines of Italy.  His recommendations to me are always taken to heart.

This evening, the conversation ran wildly from one topic another.  Nicolas extolled the virtues of French wine and disparaged the cult wines of Napa Valley, in particular.  Some good wines, and good wine places we have shared were also up for discussion.  The state of our personal and professional situations caused some lively banter - all good on the personal front and somewhat guarded on the professional.  My illustration of the sad shape of my own professional outlook when I was at his age didn't seem to brighten his spirits much.  I remember the same sort of conversation with my elders at that time had the same effect on me.  We let the wine dominate our evening, however, and that proved to be a good thing.

Nicolas - no surprise - enjoyed a Vouvray and a Burgundy.  I spent a couple of hours ruminating on a Rhone blend from Lirac and a Douro vinho tinto.

The 2003 Roger Sabon Chapelle de Maillac blends Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignane, with the Grenache taking the lead.  Nicolas mentioned that Lirac was adjacent to Châteauneuf du Pape, and I understand the vineyards are on hillsides full of stones and chalk.  The wine is $8 by the glass at Vinoteque.

Its nose features very dark fruit and notes of tobacco and tomato, or tomato sauce, actually.  The palate shows smokey blackberry and black plum.  Starting out a little hot, it really smooths out after half an hour.

The Douro entry, Lavradores de Feitoria Vinho Tinto, is also $8 per glass.  A blend of native Portuguese grapes Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca, this red shows very deep color due to prolonged maceration and shows particularly dark aromas and flavors considering the steel fermentation.

I pick up smokey black cherry aromas with an overlay of tar and a taste of plummy cassis.  A very firm structure paired well with the treats on the table.

We had some Garrotxa cheese made from goat's milk in the Catalonia region of Spain.  A peppery salami and some mini crab cakes were also nice.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Araldica La Luciana Gavi

It's high time for another Friday Wine Treat.  In Culver City, there are plenty of good places to have a glass of wine with lunch on a nice, sunny day.  One of my favorites is Ugo .  It's actually two restaurants on one corner. 
An Italian place with full meals is backed up on the other side of a wall by a cafe which specializes in smaller, tapas-style portions.  Both sides have a nice list of Italian wines from which to choose.  If you are on one side, but want to order something from the other side, they are more than happy to oblige.
To go with my insalada spinaci, I ordered a wine from Gavi, in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy.  Araldica 's La Luciana is made from the Cortese grape.  It sits golden in the glass and offeres a nose of melon and minerals.  It's a light-bodied wine, but feels nice and full in the mouth.  The taste of wet rocks and citrus is nearly zesty, but the overall feeling is one of silkiness.  The finish is medium-long and leaves a hint of lemon custard in its wake.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Hostile Grape is the wine cellar and bar downstairs from the casino in the M Resort in Las Vegas. I should say "just south of Las Vegas," though. M is the southernmost resort hotel in Vegas - for the moment, anyway.  Things do change quickly in LV.

The wine cellar is a large room, and dark. 15 minutes after opening on a Friday afternoon, it was empty, too.  They tell me the crowd grows, but I was a little surprised at how few people had made their way there by 6:00 p.m.  A barrel stave ceiling makes a great thematic touch.  Six very large couches and tables line the center of the room, while the bar down the left side seats twelve. Jazzy, funky music plays on the sound system, but the quality of the selections varies widely.

There is an automated wine sample dispenser with samples ranging from $2 to $9 per ounce.  You can also order glasses or bottles from the list.

The menu features mostly California wines, with some French and Italian selections.  Marinelli seems to be the house wine, which I was told is produced by Napa Valley winery Cosentino.  By-the-glass offerings include three sparkling wines, six reds and six whites.

It's a beautiful room, and until the thrill-seeking hordes in Las Vegas find out about it, it's a great place for a quiet tête à tête.

I had the Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc, Te Muna Road Vineyard from Marlborough, New Zealand. I'll write more about that later.