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Thursday 6/22 tasting
Loire Valley Lover
6-8 PM $12 no reservations needed

 

Tonight, taste wines from my vinous homeland, France’s Loire Valley. We stock a fair number of wines from the Loire, and I must be careful to not stock an overabundance of them, as they are everything to me (do I really need to stock thirty different dry chenin blanc wines from the Loire?). Why? Because there’s no other geography in which you find an entire cosmos of wines, ranging from bone dry salty Muscadet to rustic, raunchy red wines in warmer vintages, and lean, earthy, mineral reds in a lean one, and, most importantly, a small, but staunch group of vigneron dedicated to producing well-crafted, not terribly expensive, traditionally made wines. We’re pouring a tremendous dry chenin from the brilliant Patrick Baudouín, and then two reds: a light, graphite-inflected gamay from the Cote Roannaise, and a funky, full-bore côt (aka malbec) from the ripe 2015 vintage. Special by the glass: rare, ungrafted chenin blanc from biodynamic winegrower, François Chidaine.

Patrick Baudouín “Le Gâts” Anjou 2012
Domaine des Pothiers “Clos du Puy” Côte Roannaise 2015
Rocher des Violettes Côt Vielles Vignes 2015
By-the-glass: François Chidaine “Le Bournais” Franc de Pied 2015 ($103/btl $10 2 oz. pour)

Saturday, June 17 tasting
3-7 PM no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
Today we’re offering two tastings, one of bone-dry trocken rieslings, possibly the most refreshing wines on earth, and another of red wines from the volcanic terroir of the Canary Islands.

Putting a good, cold, and dry riesling in your mouth on a hot summer day is like colliding with an iceberg. The first hit shakes you up, sometimes, especially in cool vintages, smacking you upside the head with an austere, demanding minerality that can verge on the precipice of whoa. Trocken, or dry rieslings, are acid head wines, often with total acidity exceeding 10 g/l (that’s a lot!) in classic, cool vintages. Why do you care about acidity? Think about why lemonade is so refreshing on a hot summer day – if you’ve been schlepping around in the heat, dry mouthed and ornery, it’s the acidity of the lemon juice that makes your mouth water and makes lemonade a refreshment. Unlike lemonade, trocken riesling has no added sugar, but it does contain loads of acidity: an adults-only acid trip that makes it more refreshing than any lemonade could be.  Today, we’re pouring three superb trocken rieslings from the great 2015 vintage.

We’re also pouring a tasting of earthy red wines from three different Canary Islands, and made from three different grape varieties. The Canaries were created by a volcanic eruption eleven million years ago. The volcanic soil provides a unique and challenging terroir for grape growing. Terroir + plus curious old grape varieties such as listán negro + great, unobtrusive winemaking. 

Dry riesling tasting $15

Schäfer-Fröhlich “Vulkangestein” Riesling trocken Nahe 2015
Emrich-Schönleber “Mineral” Riesling trocken Nahe 2015
Spreitzer “Rosengarten” Grosse Gewächs Riesling Rhinegau 2015

Canary Island red tasting $15

Ignios Orígenes Baboso Negro Tenerife 2013
Matías i Torres Negramoll La Palma 2013
Bermejos Listán Negro “Carbónica” Lanzarote

Friday, June 16 tasting
The natural + orange wines of Santa Caterina
6-8 PM $12 no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
Tonight, we’re pouring three natural wines from the Colli di Luni, an area which is, depending on how you see it, located at either the western edge of northern Tuscany or the eastern edge of Liguria. It’s a viticultural twilight zone where you can see both Tuscan and Ligurian sensibilities are at work; the Tuscan grape sangiovese drives the red wines, while the Ligurian vermentino grape drives the white wines. Grower Andrea Kihlgren inherited some vineyards and olive trees from his mother in the late 80s but without training or experience, was reluctant to take on the responsibilities of running an active farm. And yet he found himself drawn back to the farm where he spent summers as a kid, and soon began the task of replanting abused vines with the unique, autochthonous varieties of his region (e.g., albarola) some of which have become quite marginal, and began to work the land organically. The winemaking is minimalistic: native yeast fermentation in stainless steel vats, with some of the white wines getting several days of skin contact, such as the single vineyard “Poggi Alti” vermentino we’re tasting tonight. The reds are dominated by sangiovese and ciliegiolo, the latter being a minor blending grape that is, in small quantities, found in Chianti, but here used with abandon. These are rustic, soulful wines that are fun to drink, and pair well with the grilled food I know, with temperatures in the 90s, you’ll be eating this weekend.

Santa Caterina “Poggi Alti” Colli di Luni Vermentino 2012
Santa Caterina Liguria di Levante Rosso 2011
Santa Caterina “Fontenera” Liguria di Levante Rosso 2011

Thursday 6/15
Forjas del Salnés tasting
Between 6-8 PM $15
no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
We just received a fresh crop of wines from two of the most riveting wine minds of Spain’s northwest, Raúl Pérez and Rodrigo Méndez. It’s a challenge to keep up with Mr. Pérez, an indefatigable presence with an encyclopedic knowledge of the fractured terroir of his region. In any given vintage, Pérez makes twenty or thirty different wines, many from micro-parcels of land planted with ancient vines and located on hillsides so steep that only someone as nuts as he is would bother to cultivate. The Forjas del Salnés wines tonight are a project with his friend Rodrigo Méndez, who is from a grape growing family with long roots in Rías Baixas—we’re tasting red wines from vines that were planted by Méndez’s grandfather and father. These are wines, both white and red, that are profoundly affected by the cooling effect of the Atlantic Ocean, and why in modern times Rías Baixas is known as white wine country, with conventional wisdom dictating that it’s just too cool there to properly ripen red grapes, although this was equally planted to red and white grape varieties. Méndez’s family was the first to replant the historic red grapes of Rías Baixas, loureiro, caiño, and espadiero, and we’ll taste three single-varietal wines made from these grapes, as well as a blend of the three made from younger vines.

Forjas del Salnes Leirana “Finca Genoveva” Albariño Rías Baixas 2015 /200-year-old vines
Forjas del Salnes “Goliardo a Telleria” 2013 Albariño Rías Baixas 2013
Forjas del Salnes Goliardo Loureiro Rías Baixas 2011
Forjas del Salnes Goliardo Caiño Rías Baixas 2011
Forjas del Salnes Goliardo Espadiero Rías Baixas 2011
Forjas del Salnes Goliardo “Bastion de la Luna” Rías Baixas 2011

Saturday, June 10 tastings
3-7 PM no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic Sicily
When you take the quick ferry trip with your car across the strait from Reggio Calabria to Sicily, which I do not necessarily recommend, and you arrive in Messina, prepare to be stunned. The winding way from the ferry through town, knotted with chaotic traffic and unmarked by the rational road markers that prevail on the mainland, abruptly force you to accept that you’re not in Europe any longer, but, not really in Africa, either. Separation by a short bit of sea from the mainland is enough to create a social isolation belied by the geographical propinquity, encapsulated perfectly by the sound of the Sicilian dialect—from a distance it resembles like Italian, but as you focus the cadences and are entirely different. And the wines exhibit the same funhouse mirror effect, too. Yes, you see cognates with the mainland e.g., the red grape nerello mascalese is also grown in Calabria, but under a different name, but somehow, when grown on the volcanic terroir of Mt Etna, nerello tastes so wonderfully off-center as to be sui generis. Conventional wisdom casts Sicily, not unfairly, as a source of chunky, good-value, red checked table cloth wines that meet a price criterion but don’t deliver much beyond that, and yet some of the most exciting wines coming from Italy today originate on this island. Today, we’re pouring Sicilian white wines that show the diversity of wine styles from an island that must be on your tasting map. We’re also pouring a tasting of anti-fruit bomb California red wines, that, like our Sicilian tasting, flout convention and demonstrate that we can make balanced, nervy wines in our state, even though we’ve been sold a bill of goods that tells us otherwise. We’re also offering, by-the-glass, of a beautifully balanced Napa cabernet, made by living legend Kathy Corison.

Sicilian white wine tasting $15
Marabino “Muscatedda” Moscato di Noto 2015 (dry muscat)
Guccione “C” Catarratto Sicilia 2014”
Ciro Biondi “Outis” Etna 2015 (mostly carricante, plus other native grapes)

Anti-fruit bomb California red wine tasting $15

Wind Gap “Soif” North Coast 2015 Old vine red (seven grape blend; good dollop of old vine valdiguié)
Harrington “Amarela” Lodi 2015 (Portuguese red grapes, e.g., trincadeira)
Irene El Dorado Red Wine 2016 (mourvèdre, syrah)

By-the-glass ($98/btl, $10 2 oz. pour): Corison Cabernet Napa Valley 2013

Thursday, June 8
6-8 PM no reservations needed

bobal chianti classico natural wine organic biodynamic los angeles
Tonight, we are lucky to have not one but two remarkable winemakers in the shop to pour and tell us all about their wines. One winemaker is from Chianti while the other is from Valencia, but both are united in their belief in terroir-sensitive, chemical-free farming, the native grapes (sangiovese, bobal) of their respective regions, and in the wisdom of aging wine in large, old barrels, a practice that micro-doses wine with air without imparting distracting oaky flavors to it. While many modern winemakers have forsaken these traditional vessels for smaller barrels or stainless-steel vat, some stubbornly cling to the old premodern ways, and as you will discover tonight, sometimes the old ways are very good ways indeed.

From Italy, we have the delightfully cerebral Michele Braganti of Monteraponi, producer of faithfully traditional Chianti Classico wines. These are poised wines, balanced on a knife’s edge of ripeness and vivacious acidity and framed by modest levels of alcohol (13-13.5%). Part of the Monteraponi magic is surely the sensitive, organic farming on higher elevation (1200-1500 feet) vineyards, planted on hillsides of the super soft stone known in Tuscany as “galestro.” Another part of the magic are the traditional huge-ass Slavonian oak barrels known as botti grandi that Michele employs. We’re pouring two wines from Monteraponi: a Chianti Classico 2014 from younger vines, fermented in concrete vat and aged in botti for about a year, and Michele’s flagship “Baron’ Ugo” Riserva 2014, from older vines planted on his highest elevation vineyards and aged in botti for three years.

From Spain, we have the Master of Bobal, Juan Antonio Ponce. Something of a prodigy in his native region of Manchuela, Juan Antonio was already a trained enologist by the age of seventeen and started his own project to resuscitate the fortunes of the local bobal grape in 2003 when he was only 23. Bobal is a rustic grape the locals historically over cropped and made into indifferent bulk wine, but Juan Antonio knew that this native grape of Valencia could do more if given love. Tonight, Juan Antonio is pouring three bobal-based wines, to include a light, fresh 2016 rosé, and two different single-vineyard reds, both fermented in 4,000 liter (that’s big!) casks and aged in large, older oak barrel.

Bodegas Ponce ”Las Cañadas” Bobal Rosé Manchuela 2016
Bodegas Ponce “Clos Lojen” Bobal Manchuela 2016
Bodegas Ponce “La Casilla” Bobal Manchuela 2013
Monteraponi Chianti Classico 2014
Monteraponi Chianti Classico “Baron’ Ugo” Riserva 2011

Saturday, June 3rd
Orange wines + rustic French red wines
3-7 PM no reservations required

Orange wine Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
Vigneron mostly employ cinsault as a blending grape to add acidity to warm climate red wines that might otherwise taste flabby, and it often figures in Provençal rosés where it serves the same function. Although there are good examples of varietally bottled cinsault (I think some of the best come from the 130-year-old vines growing in the Bechthold vineyard in Lodi), as a solo act it remains something of a rarity, and yet cinsault is a grape, like gamay and frappato, capable of making the type of wine that a lot of us want to drink today, especially as the weather warms up: light, fresh, and gluggy. A couple of years ago I discussed the cinsault situation with a grower who makes well regarded Châteauneuf de Pape, and he agreed with my enthusiasm over the grape, although he finds himself hamstrung by appellation regulations that forbid using more than a small portion in the Côte du Rhone wine his family makes. The appellation specifications, he explained, were written many decades ago, long before global warming was understood, though today with temperatures on the rise, he believes that cinsault could play a more prominent role. Today, you’ll have a good opportunity to see what I’m talking about, as we’re tasting a charming cinsault from the warm lands of the Languedoc—a red wine from a hot climate that manages to remain lean and fleet of foot.

Orange wine tasting $12

Meinklang Pinot Gris 2015 Austria
COS “Pithos” Sicilia 2015 / grecanico
Donkey & Goat “Stonecrusher” Roussanne El Dorado 2015

French country wine tasting $12

Domaine des Pothiers Côte Roannaise 2015 / gamay
Mas Conscience “Cieux” 2016  Coteaux du Languedoc / cinsault
Le Clot de l’Origine “Le P’tit Barriot” Côtes du Roussillon 2015 / syrah

Thursday, June 1
6-8 PM $12 no reservations required

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
Tonight, please join us as we explore the profound influence of the Atlantic Ocean upon Spanish red wines grown near the coast. Sometimes, it seems to me that if you open a bottle of Txakolina and place your ear near it, you can hear waves washing up the shore (ok, perhaps it’s just the bubbles), and I wouldn’t be the first to observe that Txakolina, a wine from Spanish Basque country, tastes as salty as the sea. We’re tasting a Txakolina tonight without bubbles, produced from a tiny parcel of vines that are over 150 years old, a pre-phylloxera treasure with a view of the Atlantic. This is a savory and leafy wine from a time capsule vineyard, wild yeast fermented and then aged without oak barrel. From a few kilometers to the southwest we’re tasting a red from Rías Baixas, made primarily from the rare sousón grape, with just a splash of the more common red grape of the region, mencia. Again, no oak, just unadorned wine, with a shockingly low ABV of only 10.5 percent. And finally, a negramoll-based red from Victoria Torres, who has become one of our favorite growers in the Canary Islands. Negramoll is an old variety originally from the Iberian Peninsula (where it is, I believe, extinct) that has found a home hundreds of miles south on the Canary Islands and Madeira. Some folks assert that it’s a cross between pinot noir and grenache, but I find that a dubious hypothesis. The soils here are volcanic, and perhaps you will taste a bit of smoke from these old negramoll vines, some of which are well over 100 years old.

Doniene Gorrondona Txakolina Tinto 2015
Matias í Torres Negramoll Canary Islands 2015
Fento Tinto Rías Baixas 2014

Saturday, May 27
3-7 pm

juhfark organic biodynamic natural wine los angeles
Today, two tastings, one white, the other red. The white flight includes a ribolla-centric blend from the masterful hands of Steven Matthiasson, a skin-contact grenache blanc from the Rhône valley, and a complex, oddball Hungarian white made from the fabled and rare juhfark grape. The red flight includes ooh, heaven is a place on earth 2014 cru Beaujolais, a grouchy old man red wine made from the grape perricone, and a cool climate syrah from coastal Mendocino.

White tasting $15

Matthiasson Napa Valley White Wine 2014
Clos de Trias Ventoux 2013
Fekete Bela Somlói Juhfark 2012

Red tasting $15

Clos du Fief Juliénas 2014
Drew “The Ornbaun” Syrah Mendocino Ridge 2015
Valdibella “Acamante” Perricone Sicilia 2014

Friday 5/26: Bernhard Ott
Dry white wines from a man who lives and breathes grüner veltliner
5/26 6-8 PM
Five wines for $15 no reservations required 10% off any wine tasted

Gruner veltliner, Wagram, organic, biodynamic, natural wine, Los Angeles
Tonight, please join us and importer Kelly Stockton of Valley View Wines to taste the stunningly farmed wines of Bernhard Ott. Bernhard is a big man with a Falstaffian aspect, or even better, a real-life Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones. You might be tempted to decode Bernhard’s presentation of self as akin to that of a high school linebacker, years past his glory days of the gymnasium ass slap and now gainfully and thankfully employed in the family business, and yet you would be wrong to judge this book by its cover: the man is a bear, but the wines are precise, sometimes delicate, and always laced with minerality. I think of his wines as akin to Ralph Kramden, dancing gracefully. Half of the magic is farming, and when Bernhard took over his fourth generation family domain in Austria’s Wagram (just to the northwest of Vienna), he immediately began converting to the neo-pagan organic farming practices advocated by his fellow countryman, Rudolf Steiner (many of his plots are Respekt certified). The other half of the magic is his winemaking practices: mostly in neutral stainless steel vat (however, we will taste the one wine Bernhard makes in terracotta amphora), with extended aging on the fine lees for extra texture. Everything is fermented using wild yeasts, and with zero additions during vinification. Bernhard is lives and breathes grüner veltliner and I think he’s making some of the very best wines made from this grape. We’re tasting five wines tonight, four grüners, but also a dry riesling. We’ll start with his entry level wine made from a selection of young vines, and concluding with an experimental wine, fermented and aged in the traditional qvevri amphora of the Republic of Georgia.

Ott “Feuersbrunn” Riesling 2015 ($28)

Ott “Am Berg” Grüner Veltliner 2015 ($20)

Ott “Fass 4 “Grüner Veltliner 2013 ($28)

Ott Grüner Veltliner “Der Ott” 2012 ($38)