Friday, September 22 / 6-8 PM / $12

Los Angeles natural wine orange wine organic biodynamic
There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening today in Beaujolais. It’s the Now Place, where everyone wants to be. There are young growers there who’ve taken their family farms into new dimensions. There are also the kids of the gang of 4, the small group of Chauvet-following vigneron who began the natural wine revolution some thirty years ago. And then there are the established folks who continue to do what they do, farming beautifully and making fresh and soulful wines, that you can return to, again and again. I like Beaujolais a lot, and try to keep a good stock of it on hand in the shop.  There are always new and exciting wines that you need to put in your mouth, and tonight, we’re tasting three of the new Beaujolais wines that we stocked just this week. These are all 2016 wines; a challenging vintage for many and yet for some, as you will see, a very good one. We’re tasting a diaphanous basic Beaujolais, a Fleurie from young genius Yann Bertrand, and then a non-appellation wine (technically Régnié, but classified Vin de France) fermented in concrete egg and made with zero sulfites.

Yann Bertrand “Phenix” Fleurie 2016
Michel Guignier Beaujolais 2016
Julien Sunier “Wild Soul” Vin de France 2016

Saturday, September 16
3-7 PM no reservations needed

los angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
Today, from 3 to 7 pm (no reservations, just come on in), we’re tasting white wines from Northern Italy, and red wines from France’s Loire Valley. The white tasting includes a new wine from the savior of the fascinating timorasso grape: Walter Massa. Massa understood the potential of this historic but declining grape variety native to southern Piemonte, and he decided to do something about it by making the first modern varietal bottling of timorasso. His friends thought he was nuts, for no one really cared much about the grape, and most of it had been subsumed in white blends. After they tasted the wine he made from it they quickly changed their tune. I had a funny conversation with Walter about timorasso during which I asked him how he knew that timorasso would make a good wine, and he responded, half-seriously, “because I am Massa!” He went on to explain that there are now over twenty producers working with the grape again, and Walter himself is hardly finished with exploring the potential of it. We’re planning a big, all-timorasso tasting next week, but here’s a preview of Walter’s new timorasso project made from young vines. For our red wine tasting, we have four red wines from my viticultural homeland, France’s Loire Valley. If you haven’t yet tasted Château de Minière’s “Bulles” rouge, a dry, lightly fizzy wine made from cab franc, I just don’t know what to say, other than get in here and do so. We’re also tasting old vines grolleau, too, a rather serious red wine made from a grape that categorically makes rather unserious wines.

Northern Italian white tasting ($15)
Massa “Terra” Timorasso Colli Tortonesi/Italy 2015
Isarco Kerner Südtirol/Italy 2016
Ca’Lojera Lugana Superiore Lugana/Italy 2002
Castello di Lispida “Amphora” Veneto/Italy 2014

Loire Valley Red tasting ($15)
Château de Minière “Bulles” Rouge de Minière Vin de France/NV
Du Mortier “La P’Tit Vadrouille” Vin de France/2014
Bruno Brochard “Les Coteau Kante” Grolleau old vines Loire/France 2014
Les Clos Lyzières Saumur Champigny/France 2014

Friday, September 15
$12 / 6-8 PM / no reservations needed

Chianti classico rooster natural wine organic biodynamic los angeles
Friday, September 15th tasting
Look for the black rooster: old school Chianti Classico
$12 / 6-8 PM / no reservations needed

I fear that Chianti if it has any profile at all for most American wine drinkers, is forever tainted by its connection to fava beans in Silence of the Lambs. Just as merlot took a dive in the wake of the movie Sideways, the place of any given wine in the American imaginary is fragile. I think for most folks, Chianti represents a warm and fuzzy. The name evokes nothing more than red-checked tablecloths, spaghetti and meatballs, and a fiasco bottle of Chianti, perhaps used as a wax-encrusted candlestick—but even these associations already feel like a battered memento of the recent past. Chianti may be in part an artifact, but it is also a living wine. Of course, like many other wines, not all Chianti is interesting, but I am here to tell you there are very groovy wines that are (a) not-so-dear and (b) beautifully farmed, made without added garbage and (c) work naturally with tomato-y dishes but also a nice hunk of red meat, too. Always look for the black rooster, the insignia of the Chianti Classico consorzio—this means that the wine comes from the original, geographically compact area from which the wine originated. In addition, look for growers who use the traditional, enormous botti grande barrels, really the key ingredient I think for making good, sangiovese-based wine. We’re tasting three Chianti Classico wines tonight, starting with a juicy, light-bodied one raised in concrete and bottled in the traditional fiasco bottle of yore; the other two are raised in botti grande.

Montebernardi Chianti Classico en fiasco! 2014
Monteraponi Chianti Classico 2015
Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico 2012

Wednesday, September 13
6-8 PM
$12 no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic orange
Tonight, please join us and Todd Mathis of their importer, DNS, to taste the extraordinary wines of Haridimos Hatzidakis. It’s impossible to oversell these wines, as I believe they represent everything that’s exciting, historical, hysterical-serious, in Greek wine today. Alas, Hatzidakis died unexpectedly (is it even possible to die unexpectedly?) just a few months ago, and from what understand, these may be the last wines of this domaine. The sadness and joy felt by his friend, and the man who turned me on to them, Dionysi Grevenitis, is palpable and real, even if mediated and attenuated by Facebook. Although I will never meet Hatzidakis the man, I have met Hatzidakis wines many times, and have fallen for them, deeply. All grapes are farmed organically, and the wines ferment using indigenous yeasts. The resulting wines are vivid and three-dimensional. “Now that’s assyrtiko!” were the words out of my mouth, a wine that I’d previously and stupidly relegated to the rubric of useful, fresh, acid-driven, and citrusy white wines, and left at that. Tonight, we’re tasting three different assyrtikos, one from young vines, one from old vines, and yet another, and exquisite wine made from partially dried grapes. We’re also tasting wine made from the aidani grape (no oak), and also a marvelously old-fashioned tasting mavrotragano, a sip of which transports you back in time, when your imaginary Greek grandmother offered a wine out of an old tumbler that tasted like tannic fruit compote, and you couldn’t get enough of that wine or your grandmother.

Hatzidakis Aidani Cyclades 2016
Hatzidakis Santorini Assyrtiko Santorini 2016
Hatzidakis Assyrtiko de Mylos old vines Santorini 2016
Hatzidakis Nykteri Santorini 2015
Hatzidakis Mavrotragano Cyclades 2015

Saturday, September 9
3-7 PM

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
Today, I know you’ve been bad, so for you, a raunchy, brett-y, volatile acidity inflected blaufränkish to start our tasting. Then, quaff a beautifully made freisa, the rustic, country bumpkin toothless old coot of the nebbiolo family. To follow, an alpine-herbal, savory mondeuse from France’s Savoie, and finally, a surprisingly light and juicy red from the northwest of Portugal.

Gut Oggau “Atanasius” Rot Burgenland/Austria 2015
Azienda Agricola 499 Langhe Freisa/Italy 2014
Antoine Petitprez “Premier Vol” Mondeuse Savoie/France 2013
Tiago Teles “Gilda” Bairrada/Portugal 2015

Thursday, September 7 tasting
Bodegas Moraza!
6-8 PM / $12 / no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic terroir rioja
Tonight, please join us for a special in-store tasting with two real live winegrowers whom we’ve imported all the way from Spain: Patricio Brongo and Janire Moraza. The Moraza family has long roots in Spain’s Rioja region and has been farming there for six generations (six generations ago, my people were farming, too, in-between exclaiming, “oh dear, torch-bearing Cossacks are at the door, again!”). Aging wine in new oak is terribly common today in Rioja, but the problem with this practice is that the resulting wines often end up tasting more of the barrel than the land from which they are borne. This may make a more familiar wine that pleases some imaginary international palate but also makes for a more boring and generic style of Rioja. The Morazas use little or no new barrels and believe that the voice of terroir in Rioja Alta speaks most eloquently when it is not choked by artifacts of élevage . They are committed to organic farming practices, native yeast fermentation, and vinification without additives. These are exciting, fresh style Riojas, and we have three wines to try tonight, each made mono-varietally from one of the three main Riojana grape varieties: a gluggy, tempranillo-based wine, fermented and aged in concrete; a perfumed wine made from graciano, a grape that was once considered the crown jewel of Rioja but today is mostly relegated to the role of blending partner; and a slightly more structured garnacha-based wine.

Bodega Moraza Tempranillo Rioja 2014 ($20)
Bodega Moraza “4 Caminos” Graciano Rioja 2015 ($25)
Bodega Moraza Garnacha Rioja 2014 ($25)

Saturday, September 2
3-7 PM

Los Angeles natural wine orange organic biodynamic
I have one word for you during these desperate dog days of summer: Gold Bond Medicated Powder. That’s four words, but nothing does a better job at combatting chafing than Gold Bond, believe me. I have some other words, too, but my heat-addled brain has deflated like a failed soufflé, and I cannot enumerate them: Loire Valley chenin blanc, and light-bodied French wines to serve as cold as you please. We’re pouring two tastings today. One tasting showcases different faces of the chenin blanc polyhedron, from lean and flinty to luscious yet dry-as-a-bone. The other tasting is of four red wines, all of which meet the Lou test of chillability: (a) low in tannin; (b) low in extract; (c) no or minimal use of new oak barrels; (d) low-ish in alcohol. You supply your own funnel.

Loire Valley chenin blanc tasting $15

Domaine Gigou “Cuvée Saint Jacques” Jasnières 2013
Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc 2015
Bertin-Delatte “l’Echalier” Vin de France 2013
Stephane Cossais “Le Volagré” Montlouis-sur-Loire 2008

Light-bodied, cold French red wine tasting $15

Pithon-Paillé Bourgeuil 2014
Plageoles “Bro’cool!” Gaillac 2016
Domaine Gigou “Cuvée Gigou’t” Gamay 2012
Philippe Tessier Cheverny 2016

Saturday, August 26
3-7 PM / $12 / no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic pet-nat
Today, we have two different tastings, one of crisp natural sparkling wines (aka “pétillant-naturel”), the other of light, savory red wines. The pét-nat tasting consists of three dry, wild-yeast fermented sparkling wines made using the archaic pétillant-naturel technique, in which the winemaker simply bottles a wine before it completes fermentation (there’s more to it than that, and it is a bit of black magic, but this is the gist of it). They do this to capture the last bit of bubbles created by the yeasts as they finish off the residual grape sugars, a process that creates a lightly fizzy wine often clouded with the remnants of yeast. The red tasting consists of three light bodied reds, perfect for sitting on your arse as the enervating sun sets and you begin to contemplate assuaging the demands of your cake hole.

Pet-nat tasting $12

Scar of the Sea Pet-nat 2016
Conestabile della Staffa “Il Brosio” Umbria Rosato 2016
Le Rocher des Violettes “Pétillant Originel” 2014
Light & savory red tasting $12

Heger Pinot Noir Baden/Germany 2014
Tiago Teles “Gilda” Bairrada/Portugal 2015
Benoit Roseau “Syrah de Rosette” Collines Rhodaniennes/France 2014

Friday, 8/25
$12 / 6-8 PM / no reservations

In the spring of 1907, the southern French town of Montpelier saw a succession of natural wine riots. These were riots instigated by agitated vigneron, furious about a flood of artificial “wines” made from distilled alcohol and who-knows-what-else, and cold-climate French wines, ordinarily thin and reedy but artificially plumped up, made so by unethical winemakers who added sugar on the down-low. In a market that was awash with dirt-cheap fake wines, the vigneron of the Languedoc stood by and watched while the value of their labor fell to near zero. The riots began small and then grew quite large and violent, with the June 9th riot reaching, perhaps, nearly a million people strong. The unregulated flow of fake wines was a disaster for a local economy utterly dependent upon grape growing and winemaking. By mid-June, the rioting had spread to Narbonne, where rioters freaked out and burned down a government building. The situation became so dangerous that Clemenceau sent in the army to quell the riot. This was a very bad idea, with soldiers shooting randomly into a mob of rioters, killing one man; the next day, more panicky shooting, and five more protesters dead.

Tonight, in honor of our natural wine brethren of days gone by, we present four natural wines from the south of France.

Henri Milan Brut Rosé 2015 $26
Henri Milan “Le Vallon” 2010 $24
Domaine Ribiera “Tintorela” Vin de France 2014 $20
Maxime Magnon “Campagnes” Corbières 2015 $47

Saturday, August 19
3-7 PM $12 no reservations

Los Angeles natural wine orange biodynamic organic Austria
Saturday, August 19 tasting
Meet winemaker David Laski of Solminer
3-7 PM / $12 no reservations required / 10% off any wine tasted

Solminer “Coquelicot” dry sparkling riesling Santa Barbara 2016
Solminer “Skin Ferment” grüner veltliner Los Olivos 2016
Solminer “Rubellite” syrah Santa Ynez Valley 2014
Solminer “DeLanda” Blaufränkisch Santa Barbara County 2015

We’re excited to have David and Anna de Laski of Solminer, back in the shop today to pour their poised Central Coast wines. Where most of the Central Coast takes its cues from the Northern Rhône or Burgundy, the de Laski’s vinous heart lies in Austria and they have taken the road less traveled. Anna is Austrian, and David has spent quite a bit of time there, but Mitteleuropa is more of a touchstone for them than a filial obligation. They work with the traditional aromatic varieties of Austria, grüner veltliner and riesling, but they transpose them in ways that make sense on California’s Central Coast. So, there’s grüner, but not a crunchy, mineral-packed grüner from the Wachau, but rather a dry, luscious skin contact orange wine, made by fermenting with the skins of the grapes. There’s riesling too, but made neither into dry or fruity still wine, but made into a dry, rustic natural sparkling wine, wild yeast fermented and with zero added sugar.

These are honest and beautifully balanced wines, made from organically farmed grapes and fermented with wild yeasts and aged either in neutral vat or in older barrel. Even their syrah—light and fresh rather than dark and extracted—is infected by a sensibility that’s half-way between Central Europe and the Central Coast. It’s picked early and co-fermented with a touch of riesling (much in the way northern Rhône syrah is often co-fermented with a touch of viognier), and we’ll serve it cold. We’ll taste these, plus the de Laski’s blaufränkish, a traditional Austrian variety that they thought might work well on the Central Coast, a gamble that turned out to be a good one.