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Sat 2/24
Fabulous Furmint Freak Brothers!

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic furmint tokaji
This Saturday please join us and Hungarian wine expertOrshi Kiss from importer Blue Danube for a spectacular tasting of furmint, fabled as the wine of kings, the king of wines. I really dig what furmint can do, and we regularly stock two or three different furmint-based wines, depending on what’s available to us. As you’ll discover on Saturday, furmint is indeed a noble white grape variety with an extensive and storied history of making some of the world’s most deeply profound and long-lived white wines. Furmint’s reputation was originally secured with the remarkable sweet wines of Tokaji, racy wines with mouthwatering acidity made from partially dried grapes—yet all the wines we’re tasting on Saturday are dry, mineral, and completely devoid of sugar. Tokaji is a grape growing region in Hungary’s northeast dominated by volcanic soils, soils which confer upon the wines a savory, sometimes smoky quality that is distinctive and exhilarating. Our first three furmints are from Tokaji, starting with two radically different wines from the brilliant Samuel Tinon. Orshi will pour two very different wines from Tinon: a single vineyard wine from vines that are over 90 years old and grown on ancient volcanic basalt with crumbly, limestone topsoil, and an exceptional and rare auction wine made from younger vines grown on volcanic soil with iron-rich topsoil. The contrast between these two wines is marked, and I think it really underscores how terroir sensitive, nuanced, and nimble a grape furmint can be. Orshi will also pour a very different style of furmint made by another furmint genius, the now retired Fekete Béla. This wine is from Somló in the country’s northwest. It still expresses the grape’s mineral qualities but with a more luscious framing, aged in huge ass old Hungarian oak barrels. To accompany our furmints, we’re serving Peads & Barnetts’s lovely mangalitsa sausage, made from the heirloom Hungarian mangalitsa pig.

Tinon Furmint “Határi” 2015
Tinon Furmint “Szent Tamas” 2014 (Grand Tokaji Auction)
Bodrog Borműhely “Lapis” Furmint 2015
Fekete Béla Furmint 2012

Thursday 2/23
Taste pinot noir, mostly from Burgundy
Tonight: Taste pinot noir, mostly from Burgundy 6-8 PM no reservations needed Are you feeling surly today? I’ll fix your right up! Stop by for a taste of pinot noir tonight and feel a little less so, if even just for a few minutes of blessed, transportive relief. Where will these wines take you? Where do you want to go? We have a fascinating wine made from an archaic biotype of pinot noir, a savory and mineral pinot from the south of Germany, and another from the northernmost outpost of Burgundy. Oh, and we’re opening one bottle, and one bottle only of premier cru Burgundy, which will be available by-the-glass if you’d like to try something special. Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Bourgogne Pinot Fin 2014 Salwey “Henkenberg” Großes Gewächs Pinot Noir Baden Germany 2013 Thierry Richoux Irancy 2013 Special by-the-glass: Simon Bize Savigny-les-Beaune “Aux Vergelesss” 1er cru 2013 ($20/glass)

Are you feeling surly today? I’ll fix your right up! Stop by for a taste of pinot noir tonight and feel a little less so, if even just for a few minutes of blessed, transportive relief. Where will these wines take you? Where do you want to go? We have a fascinating wine made from an archaic biotype of pinot noir, a savory and mineral pinot from the south of Germany, and another from the northernmost outpost of Burgundy. Oh, and we’re opening one bottle, and one bottle only of premier cru Burgundy, which will be available by-the-glass if you’d like to try something special.

Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Bourgogne Pinot Fin 2014
Salwey “Henkenberg” Großes Gewächs Pinot Noir Baden Germany 2013
Thierry Richoux Irancy 2013
Special by-the-glass: Simon Bize Savigny-les-Beaune “Aux Vergelesss” 1er cru 2013 ($20/glass)

Saturday 2/18
Taste new Brendan Tracey reds + ultra mineral acid-head weirdo whites

Today we are pouring new vintages of Brendan Tracey’s Wah-Wah (grolleau & cot) and pineau d’aunis. We’ve turned quite a few folks on to Brendan’s wines over the past couple of years and are happy to once again have a small supply (new vintage!) of his red wines in the shop. In addition, we’re pouring a tasting of dry, ultra-minerally whites made from unique, regional grape varieties, some of which are quite rare indeed, e.g., Casal Figueira’s fascinating recovery of vital, a nearly extinct grape found only in the limestone hills north of Lisbon.

Red tasting $12

Brendan Tracey “Wah-Wah” Vin de France 2015
Brendan Tracey Pineau d’Aunis Vin de France 2015
Jean-Philippe Padie “Ciel Liquide” Vin de France 2015

White tasting $12

Schaefer-Frölich “Vulkangestein” Riesling Trocken Nahe 2015
Luis Rodriquez Vina de Martin “Os Pasas” Ribeiro 2014
Casal Figueira “Antonio” Lisboa 2015

2/16
Tonight is explosive! Volcano tasting: the wines of Ignios Orígenes

Every now and then, being a loner is a good thing. Case in point: the wines from Spain’s Canary Islands. The Canaries are separated by hundreds of miles of ocean from the Iberian Peninsula and is just over 60 miles off the coast of Africa. Here, due to the geographical and social isolation of a distant outpost of Spain, you will find a viticultural haven for antique grape varieties that have fallen out of favor on the mainland, but find their home on a volcanic terroir created eleven million years ago, by a volcanic eruption from the ocean floor. Tonight, we’re tasting three wines from the canaries, all made from grapes that are traditional there but are now scarce or non-existent elsewhere in the world.

Ignios Orígenes is a new effort from Borja Perez, a Tenerife fireman who purchased some small plots of old vine baboso and marmajuelo (more on these later) in 2011. This is a modest winery producing about 500 cases a year, and Perez’s day job as a fireman feels apposite, as his wines have a tangy, savory smoky quality that marks their origins from volcanic soil. Perhaps you will indulge me in a form of naïve empiricism and accept that volcanic soils can make wines taste smoky, and of course, the soils themselves neither smell or taste charred—yet the wines do indeed have a unique and attractive smokiness that is hard to deny. Perez farms organically, ages his wines in old barrels, and adds nothing, other than minimal sulfites at bottling. These are delightfully fragrant wines, mineral, sapid, and made from unique grapes that may be new to you but will soon become your new best friends. Marmajuelo is, as far as I know, only cultivated today on the Canaries, and Jancis Robinson, usually quite a reliable source for grape variety information, has only this to say about it: “One of the better varieties on the Canary Islands.” Alrighty.  Listán negro is the most typical red grape planted in the Canaries, and is as transparent a vector for volcanic terroir as one could wish for. And finally, baboso negro, a grape that’s still planted a bit in the north of the Iberian Peninsula (under various names), but only expresses itself in its smoky, oddball wonderfulness only fully here on the Canaries.

Ignios Orígenes Marmajuelo Tenerife 2013
Ignios Orígenes Baboso Negro Tenerife 2013
Ignios Orígenes Listán Negro Tenerife 2013

Saturday, 2/11 tasting
Loire Valley Lover!
3-7 PM no reservations needed

Join us this afternoon for a very fine tasting of Loire Valley wines. Why? For the simple reason that France’s Loire Valley is the epicenter for some of the most stimulating winemaking taking place in France today. You will not be bored, trust me, trust me. And as we do on Saturdays, we’re pouring two tastings: one of white Loire wines, all dry, mineral chenin blanc from two ascended masters of this grape variety, and the other a tasting of red Loire wines made of cabernet franc from its spiritual homeland, but also a traditional pinot noir + gamay blend that express a very particular sensibility on the sandy soils near the town of Blois. The chenin tasting is of wines grown on the diametrically opposed Loire terroirs of the supposedly superior white limestone soils to the east and centered around the town of Tour, and the supposedly inferior black soils to the west, centered around the town of Anger. And yet as you will surely see demonstrated today, the picture is increasingly made more complex, as brilliant growers like Anjou grower Patrick Badouin are showing profound expressions of chenin grown on ostensibly inferior soils. The red tasting consists of two cabernet franc wines from the grape’s homeland, one is whole cluster fermented, the other raised simply in neutral tank; and, another wine made from the pinot/gamay blend that is now traditional to the Cheverny region, made by a grower who came up in the evolving ecosystem of natural wine producers in the Loire, which includes such luminaries as Thierry Puzelat and René Mosse.

Loire Valley Chenin Blanc tasting $12

François Chidaine “Les Argiles” Vin de France 2015
François Chidaine “Les Bournais” Montlouis 2015
Patrick Badouin “Les Gats” Anjou 2012

Loire Valley Red tasting $12

Clos de Cordeliers “Tradition” Saumur-Champigny 2015
Du Mortier “Les Pins” Bourgueil 2015
Christian Venier “Les Haut de Madon” Cheverny 2015

Friday 2/10: Meet Ryme Cellars
6-8 PM no reservations needed $12

Tonight, taste the wines of Ryme Cellars with winemakers Ryan & Megan Glaab. When I first tasted the Ryme wines a few years ago, Ol’ Pappy Lou knew that these whippersnappers were on to something good: two young winemakers who happen to be married to one another, playing against each other’s sensibilities in public with dueling banjos of vermentino, one an orange, skin-contact wine, the other a wine made from grapes crushed and pressed off the skins. These are wines of yes, and no. Yes, to Italian grape varieties, representing both the past and a possible future world of viticulture in California; yes, to mouth-watering acidity; yes, to experimentation. No to industrial yeasts that are fed a diet of molasses tailings (wild fermentation only); no to temperature control, additives, and filtration. The Glaab’s continue to make their vermentinos but have also, ever-so-slowly, inexorably, and inescapably expanded their repertoire, to now include a fizzy, dry carignane, yet another skin-contact wine (ribolla gialla-based—that’s right, ribolla, the Friulian grape born to make orange wines), and a cabernet franc—we’re pouring these, and more, at tonight’s tasting.

Ryme Cellars “Crackling” sparkling carignane Mendocino 2013
Ryme Cellars “Alegria Vineyard” cabernet franc Russian River Valley $256
Ryme Cellars “Luna Matta Vineyard” aglianico Paso Robles 2012
Ryme Cellars “Vare Vineyard” ribolla gialla Napa Valley 2012 (orange wine)
Ryme Cellars “His” Las Brisas Vineyard Carneros vermentino 2014 (orange wine)

Legend Clos Rougeard Thursday 6-8 PM no reservations needed

This Thursday we are tasting three wines from the preeminent practitioner of cabernet franc: the legendary Clos Rougeard. The cellars at Rougeard are a mysterious and marvelous place. They are centuries old, dimly lit and cobwebby, with great swathes of trippy, varicolored mold growing on the walls. There are small, totemic statuettes secreted here and there, and then there is Nady Foucault himself and his impressive mustache, focused, genial and plain-spoken, presiding over a tiny tasting bar area. Over the years visitors have pressed coins into the semi-soft, damp limestone ceiling, where they stick, and if you look upwards you can make out vine roots growing through from the vineyard above. Foucault is something of a barrel nut and he happily points out the diverse cooperage techniques employed across his various barrels. Although the wines taste fresh and crunchy from the barrel, in the bottle these are clearly wines meant to age for many years, made in a traditional, Bordelaise idiom. We are tasting them young this Thursday and so you must use your imagination to travel ten years hence to see how the wines evolve. Their normale, Le Clos” (not on the bottle), sees older barrels; the Poyeaux slightly younger barrels, and finally the Bourg is aged in new wood. The Foucault family has farmed here for eight generations but last year, there was a rumor that Foucault had sold the property to a French telecom billionaire. I do not believe the deal is final and cannot speculate if these incredible unicorn wines will continue to be made in the future.

Clos Rougeard “Le Clos” 2012 ($90)
Clos Rougeard “Les Poyeux” 2012 ($125)
Clos Rougeard “Le Bourg” 2012 ($200)

 

Tastings 2/2 – 2/4

Thursday, 2/2
The wines of Domaine Plageoles
6-8 PM no reservations needed

Gaillac is a modest provincial town in France’s southwest, not far from Toulouse. It’s a storied grape growing area where viticulture dates to the Phoenicians and that was, for centuries, systematically oppressed and isolated by the Bordelaise, who once controlled the Garonne river and hence access to a sea port. You can still see the effects of underdevelopment across the region, but there’s a silver lining in the isolation: the Gaillacoise continue to farm a plethora of splendid and rustic old grape varieties that are today only found there. Robert Plageoles is a conservator and savior of the old ways, and literally wrote the book regarding the viticultural politics of the area. We’re tasting a selection of the wines of his domain this Thursday, made from grapes such as mauzac, mauzac noir (entirely unrelated to mauzac) and braucol.

Domaine Plageoles Mauzac Nature Gaillac 2015
Domaine Plageoles Mauzac Noir Gaillac 2015
Domaine Plageoles “Bro’cool” Vin de France 2015

Friday, 2/3
Loire Valley reds + Friday fancy!
6-8 PM no reservations needed

France’s Loire valley offers a seemingly endless range of wine styles. It’s also a hotbed of natural wine, and like Gaillac, a reservoir of curious old grape varieties. This Friday we’re tasting a good sampling of Loire red wines, ranging from a savory, light-as-a-feather grolleau, to a cranberry-sour cherry pineau d’aunis. Friday fancy bonus: we’re opening one bottle ($89) of Breton’s 1992 Bourgueil “Les Perrières,” ($16/glass), a serious, structured cabernet franc from older vines, but here with an appropriate amount of bottle age (22 years).

Chahut de Prodiges “Coup de Canon” Vin de France 2013
Du Mortier “Les Pins” Bourgueil 2015
Reynouard “K’ sa Tête” Vin de France 2015
Friday fancy: Breton Bourgueil 1992 ($16/glass)

Saturday, 2/4
Two different tastings: oddball whites + blau, blau, blau
3-7 PM no reservations needed

Two tastings this Saturday. Your choice: A tasting of oddball white wines, including a wine named after the Scottish national dish, haggis (it tastes nothing like haggis, I promise you), OR, a tasting of red wines made from the Austro-Hungarian grape blaufränkisch.

Oddball white tasting ($12)
Villet Savagnin Arbois 2012
Patrick Sullivan “Haggis” Wine of Australia
Jolie Laide Trousseau Gris Fanucchi Vineyard 2015

Blaufränkisch tasting ($12)
Solminer “Del Anda” Blaufränkisch Santa Ynez Valley 2014
Wetzer Kékfrankos Hungary 2015
Moric Blaufränkisch Burgenland 2014

 

This week’s tastings

1/26: Thursday night Piemonte tasting – mostly nebbiolo ($12)
6-8 PM no reservations needed

It’s chilly out and you need nebbiolo, trust me, trust me.

La Prevostura Lessona 2012 ($38)
Conti Origini Vino Rosso 2014 ($24)
San Fereolo “Il Provinciale” Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 ($33)

1/27: Friday night syrah tasting ($12) + Fancy Friday by-the-glass
6-8 PM no reservations needed

Lattard Syrah Vin de France 2014 ($18) no added sulfites
Chatagnier Saint-Joseph “La Sybarite” 2014 ($38)
Model Farm Syrah Sonoma Coast 2014 ($50)
Friday fancy by-the-glass ($16): Quinta da Muradella “Gorvia” Doña Blanca 2012 ($78 btl) astonishing DRY white made from an underloved grape from Spain’s northwest

1/28: Saturday afternoon tasting
3-7 PM no reservations needed

Two tastings: one white, the other red.

White tasting ($12)
Vignobles Arbeau “On l’Appelle Négrette” Fronton 2015 ($16)
Maison en Belles Lies Maranges 2014 ($35)
Jutta Ambrositsch “Sieveringer Ringelspiel” Gemischter Satz 2015 ($51) traditional and phenomenal DRY white wine of Vienna

Red tasting ($12)
Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Blanc 2015 ($16)
Grange Tiphaine “Clef de Sol” 2014 ($30)
Clos du Rouge Gorge “Jeunes Vignes” Côtes Catalanes 2015 ($30)

Tastings 1/19 – 1/21

Thursday 1/19: beneath the valley of the ultra-mineral
$12 6-8 PM no reservations required 10 percent of day’s sales to Planned Parenthood

This Thursday we’re tasting three dry and ultra-minerally red wines: one from the Atlantic-influenced northwest of Spain; another from the center of France; and one from the slopes of an active volcano in the south of Italy. Plus, a special, fancy pinot by the glass grown on a high-altitude vineyard first planted by visionary Martin Ray in the ‘40s.

DaTerra Viticultores Valdeorras 2015 / 80-20 mencia (red)/godello(white) from Galician genius Laura Lorenzo
Château de Brézé “Clos Mazurique” Saumur Rouge 2015 / graphite-y but not hardcore petrichor cabernet franc from historic domaine
Ciro Biondi Cisterna Fuori Etna Rosso 2013 / sanguine & ferric from the southern slope of an active volcano
Fancy by-the-glass ($70/btl $14 glass): Arnot-Roberts Pinot Noir Peter Martin Ray Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 2015 / superb, nervy, lithe (12% abv) pinot from vineyards planted in the 40s by pioneer Martin Ray

Friday 1/20: special tasting
Complex, delightful, and weird-ass medieval/early modern rancio wines with importer Jake Parrott
10 percent of sales to benefit Planned Parenthood
$12 6-8 PM no reservations required

This Friday please join us for a tasting of archaic, dry rancio wines from the southwest of France. These wines reflect a style of wine that predates modern France, back when this territory was Catalonia, today shared between Spain and France. The basic idea behind rancio wines, made mostly from grenache but also sometimes maccabeo, is to intentionally subject the wines to both natural heat and oxygen, sometimes for years—both of which run counter to the sacred tenets of most modern winemaking. The wines are warmed by the sun in either old barrels or in large glass demijohns, during which they slowly, slowly caramelize and oxidize, picking up flavors and aromas of nuts, dried fruit, honey, and incense—confusing, perhaps at times, because your brain thinks, “huh, dried apricot?” yet your tongue says, “this is bone dry.” Tasting these marvelously complex wines opens a window onto a spectrum of pre-modern flavors, and we have their importer Jake Parrott on hand to help navigate us through these fascinating waters.

Saturday 1/21
Two tastings: one white, the other red
3-7 PM no reservations

Two tastings, one of dry, aromatic white wines, the other red wines from California and Oregon.

White tasting ($12)
Brkić Zilavka 2015 Bosnia / ever had a Bosnian wine? I didn’t think so.
Salvo Foti “Aurora” Etna Bianco carricante 2015 / smoked obsidian
Pollerhof “Frau Meyer” Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel 2015 / granite-grown old vines grüner

Red tasting ($12)
Tendu red California 2015 / Matthiessen’s democratically priced red blend
Solminer Blaufränkish Santa Ynez 2014
Patricia Green “Ribbon Ridge” Estate Pinot Noir 2013