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

Monday, October 10, 2011


Maier Family Meritage

Richard Maier always shows up at the big tent sale at Wally’s in Los Angeles to personally sell his wine.  He’s there by the stack of cases - pouring, talking, autographing bottles, talking, pouring some more - all in an effort to let another city full of wine buyers know not only how good his wine is, but what a great deal it is.

The Maier Family Meritage produced at St Helena Road Winery is a Bordeaux blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot, “grown high in the Sonoma County mountains,” according to the back label.  This single vineyard beauty was produced in a quantity of only 43 barrels, and is aged for 20 months in that French oak.  Its retail price was $34 earlier this year, and I bought it at Wally’s tent sale for the screaming deal of $23.

After unscrewing the cap and pouring a glassful, the juicy aromas immediately come forward.

Currant, blackberry, a beautiful herbal underlay all jump right into the nostrils and start shifting the olfactory gears.  The aromas are mesmerizing.  The very dark fruit blends seamlessly with that herbal element.

Big tannins and graphite are set off by a strong minerality.  There’s a greenness on the palate,too, which matches that on the nose.

The wine is probably a bit young yet.  The tannins are quite forceful, and don’t really settle down as a couple of hours pass.  Perhaps due to the tightly sealed screw cap, the second night showed much the same aggressiveness.  On the third night I enjoyed this Meritage, I got sneaky and unscrewed the cap the night before.  Now, a note of tar appears on the nose and the tannins are more manageable, but still quite firm.  The green, herbal quality on the palate now takes a back seat to the driving force of the big, juicy, dark fruit.  On the finish, notes of chocolate remain.

Do yourself a favor and decant this wine for quite a while before drinking it.  You’ll be glad you did.

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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.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


3CV Viognier

I sneaked away from my neighborhood recently for a glass of wine at the Colorado Wine Company in Eagle Rock, California, between Glendale and Pasadena.  After a little browsing of the racks in the front of the store, the small back room beckoned.  With a soundtrack of world music, the dark little space offered a rather tasty, if short, by-the-glass menu.

My choice for this Saturday afternoon quaff was the 3CV Viognier from Cimarone.  Doug Margerum takes the grapes from the Vogelzang Vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County.

The wine is produced by stainless steel fermentation with 25% of the juice moved to neutral French oak for barrel aging and malolactic fermentation.

Very light in color, the wine offers a huge floral nose with a nutty, almond aroma and a drapery of honey that's irresistible.

The taste is very clean, with crisp pears and great acidity.  The nutty finish hangs around forever, or at least until the next glass arrives.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre

Hippolyte Reverdy is a respected domaine in the eastern Loire Valley, in France's Sancerre region.  This white wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc and the label shows an alcohol level of "11-14%."  That's quite a range, and I suspect it comes in at the high end.  The wine cost $9 by the glass at Greenblatt's Deli.

The color is a rather pale yellow, and the nose shows fragrant apricot, tropical and pear notes.  Upon tasting, it's the razor blade acidity which captures my attention - even more than the clean, mineral laden palate.

The grassiness is minimal, while the flinty minerals hog the spotlight, upstaging even the fruit.  Apples and citrus notes are most noticeable with a zesty bit of lemon peel lasting on the long finish.

The acidity of the Reverdy cannot be undersold.  It creates a refreshing and mouthwatering sensation which would be just as welcome on the back porch as in an oyster bar.

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Chateau Font-Mars Picpoul de Pinet

People who stay inside their comfort zones with wine and only drink certain varieties are missing so much.  I rarely drink the same brand repeatedly and order offbeat or unusual varieties whenever I have the chance.  When I saw a Picpoul by Ch√Ęteau Font-Mars on the list at my local deli/wine store, how could I resist?

The appellation of this wine is Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet, from the Languedoc region in the south of France.  Picpoul de Pinet is a designation used in the Languedoc for wines made solely with Picpoul Blanc.  Font-Mars means "the soil of dinosaurs," and the property took this name due to the fossilized dinosaur eggs which are found there in the limestone and clay soil.

The wine sells for around $10 a bottle online and it cost $8 by the glass at Greenblatt's Deli on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The Font-Mars Picpoul is a pretty golden color and smells of minerals and wet straw.  The palate shows plenty of wet rocks, green apples and some floral notes and features great, refreshing acidity.  A spring day and a mountain stream come to mind.  The finish is lovely and long lasting.

The wine would no doubt be fantastic paired with scallops or any sort of seafood, but I had it with a grilled smoked applewood ham sandwich with potato salad, and I was quite satisfied with that pairing.  If only there had been a mountain stream nearby.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Fata Morgana Greco 2009

This Italian wine proved to be a little hard to find in Los Angeles once it dropped off the restaurant wine list on which it was discovered.  My friend Marge found and fell in love with the '08 vintage of Fata Morgana Greco at an eastside eatery recently.  After putting in some diligent work tracking down the wine, she ended up finding the 2009 bottling.  She bought a case and is quite happy with her purchase.

From the Fattoria San Francesco Winery, the wine is made from 100% Greco di Bianco grapes sourced from a vineyard featuring 20-plus year-old vines in Calabria, in the toe of Italy's boot.  The loose, sandy soil over volcanic chalk and limestone in which they are grown makes its mark in the form of a nice minerality in the wine.  Fermented in stainless steel vats, the Greco undergoes malolactic fermentation - which tends to leave a creamy mouthfeel - and ages on lees for 8 months before bottling.  That means the wine is not removed from the dead yeast that drops to the bottom of the vat.  It gives a bit of a yeasty feel to the palate.

The nose is floral and tropical, and the wine feels full-bodied - not a surprise.  This white has a great acidity level making it very food-friendly.  It paired well with Sheryl's jambalaya and even with sauceless pulled pork.  I gave it big pairing points for its performance with sweet items, sweet-corn cornbread and pralines.  Fata Morgana has a 12.5% alcohol level and sells for around $15.

If you'd like to find it for yourself, here's how Marge did it.  "I bought mine through Susan Brink at Venokado, 7714 Fountain in West Hollywood.  She bought a case for the store when she bought mine."  You might want to hurry.