Friday 10/13 and Special Raw Fair preview tasting Saturday 10/14

We have two great tastings this weekend. On Friday, taste Italian red wines that color outside of the lines, and on Saturday we’re hosting a Raw Fair preview tasting with Isabelle Legeron, plus oysters from L&E Oyster Bar.

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic Friday, October 13, 2017
Marginal Italian red wines
$12 / 6-8 PM / no reservations

Why do grape varieties fall out of fashion? Part of the reason is fate. When the invasive phylloxera louse destroyed most of the vines in Europe by the late 19th century, there came a tremendous decline in grape biodiversity. Some grape varieties were lost forever; others became regional specialties, with ever-dwindling numbers of farmers willing or interested in working with their grandparent’s grapes. And yet others fall out of fashion because they do not hew to the standards of modernity—they just don’t behave in ways that easily fit into the Cartesian coordinates of marketplace categorization. I am a champion of the underdog grape because I know that sometimes, the old ways are sometimes good ways. Tonight, taste four marginal Italian red wines made from grape varieties that have become marginal, for no fault of their own. We have mayolet from the Val d’Aosta, the French-speaking part of Italy at the Swiss border. There are only about 1,000 acres of it still under cultivation, not only because it’s not easy to grow, but also because mayolet wants to make fresh, low-tannin, juicy wines that until recently, no one wanted, but now just what so many of us want to drink. We have another wine with yet more old, ultra-regional varieties from this part of Italy (petite rouge, cornalin, vien de nus). And then two mono-varietal reds made from delightful regional curiosities: cjanorie, from Friulian grape conservator Emilio Bulfon, and a rare example of old-school brachetto, a Piemontese grape that today is mostly made into frivolous, sweet, fizzy wines, but here in its traditional manifestation, dry, chalky textured, lavender-y.

Villet Mayolet Val d’Aosta 2015 (rare variety indigenous to the Val d’Aosta)
Emilio Bulfon “Cjanorôs” Friuli 2015 (cjanorie, exceptionally rare Friulian variety)
Sottimano “Maté” 2016 Piemonte (dry, still brachetto)
La Crotta di Tanteun e Marietta “Farouche” 2015 Val d’Aosta (petit rouge, cornalin, vien de nus, gamay)

Saturday, October 13
3-7 PM no reservations
Wine + half-dozen oysters: $25 Wine only: $12

Isabelle Legeron, the author of “Natural Wine” and the brains behind http://losangeles.rawwine.com/Raw Fair, the forthcoming, epic, two-day natural wine fair at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles, is in the shop to talk to us about natural wines and sign her book. Raw Fair is taking place in Los Angeles on November 12-13th, and we’re damn excited about it. 120 natural winemakers with hundreds of wines to try. Do not miss this! Tonight, we’re previewing a few of the wines from growers who will be at the Raw Fair in November, and I thought: raw wines need raw oysters, and so we also have our friends from L&E Oyster Bar shucking raw oysters for us, and we’re tasting a half-dozen oyster-loving wines with which to enjoy the world’s finest edible bivalve.

Saturday, October 7

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic
Gamay x 6! Taste 6 diverse expressions of gamay
$15 / 3-7 pm / no reservations / 10 percent off any wine tasted

I dig gamay-based wines very much, Beaujolais in particular, but I’m not Taliban about that and admit to digging the very different expression of gamay from France’s Loire Valley, but also the Ardèche. I am surprised, although I should not be, that there are a few who do not really dig gamay. To them, I say, fine, be that way, but know I’ll judge you a little differently from now on. It’s almost as if there’s a psychic dividing line between the gamay lover, a person who is prepared to let their hair down and open themselves up to how and where the evening may enfold, and those that can’t go there, and need to color inside the lines. If you are the latter, it’s OK, Booboo, we’re here for you, too. Today, we’re tasting six different gamay-based wines, and you can make up your own mind if gamay is for you. We have indeed some lovely, Loire gamay, one of which is a light, dry rosé, but also an exceptional and rare Brouilly, a cru Beaujolais from 117-year-old vines.

Sérol “Cabochard” Côte Roannaise 2016
Christian Venier “Le Clos des Carters” Vin de France 2015
La Grange aux Belles “La Niña” Vin de France 2015
Les Sablonnettes “Les Copines Aussi” Vin de France 2016
Michel Guignier Morgon 2016
Lapalu “Cuvée des Fous” Brouilly 2015

Los Angeles natural wine orange biodynamic organic Austria
Tonight, please join us for a hard-hitting, one-two punch: we have pioneer natural wine impresario Fi Fi in the shop to pour us a selection of La Grange aux Belles wines from his import portfolio. Fi Fi (aka Philippe Essomé), the brains behind the Lower East Side’s 10 Bells natural wine bar and his own natural wine shop in Brooklyn, has quietly begun importing some truly fabulous natural wines. Fi Fi has been one of the most consistent and persistent advocates for natural wine, years before it was on the lips of every thirsty gentrifier. Come and sit at the master’s feet and learn and taste some.

There are a great many wines now in Fi Fi’s portfolio, and it’s impossible, really, to do a decent job of surveying the territory within the format of a short tasting, so I thought it would be best to do a tasting of the wines of a single domain and that’s just what we’re doing tonight with our focus on the wines of Marc Houtin’s La Grange aux Belles. Houtin, a native of Anjou area, bailed from his straight day job working in the petroleum industry 2001 and went on to do coursework in enology. Along the way he fell hard first for the wines of the phenomenal Anjou grower, Patrick Baudouin (whom we also stock), and later, even harder, for the equally phenomenal wines of Léon Barral (we also stock, coincidentally, Barral—if you haven’t tried Didier Barral’s weird-ass white wine, which demands hours of decanting, you need to). Houtin doesn’t make wines that mimic his touchstones in any way, and has instead forged ahead with his own style, which is light and crunchy. We’re pouring six La Grange aux Belles wines tonight, including a gamay pét-nat, a pineau d’aunis because, a skin-contact sauvignon, & etc.

La Grange aux Belles “Coup de Boule” 2016 (gamay pét-nat)
La Grange aux Belles “Brise d’Aunis” 2016 (pineau d’aunis)
La Grange aux Belles “Fragile” 2015 (chenin blanc aged 12 months aging in used demi-muids)
La Grange aux Belles “La Niña” 2015 (old vines gamay)
La Grange aux Belles “Princé” 2015 (cab franc in concrete)
La Grange aux Belles “I Got the Blouge” 2015 (sauvignon blanc, 2 weeks on the skin)

 

Saturday, September 30th tastings
3-7 pm / no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine orange wine biodynamic organic Muscadet
Today we’re offering two tastings: one of dry white wines from France’s Pays Nantais, the other or lighter-bodied reds, perfect for a warm, Indian summer afternoon. The Pays Nantais is the territory surrounding the town of Nantes, on the cool, northwest Atlantic coast of France. It’s where the long, meandering Loire river empties out into the ocean, and of the many things to love there, foremost in my mind, are (a) oysters on the half-shell, and (b) the consummate wine with which to enjoy them, Muscadet. Some claim that Chablis is the wine for oysters, but don’t listen to them, as they have no idea what they’re talking about. Now, if you’re fretting that Muscadet is sweet, please know that you’re confusing muscat, a grape, with Muscadet, a wine region in which the wines are always, always dry as a bone. The actual name of the grape used in Muscadet wine is melon de bourgogne, a grape that you might think is grown in Burgundy, but it is not (although it was once grown there, many years ago). We’re pouring Muscadet from two of our favorite growers in the region: Marc Ollivier, and Fred Niger. Mr. Niger, by the way, will be in the shop mid-November for a grand tasting of his wines, replete with oysters, house-baked rye bread (by mine own hands), and demi-sel butter. For our red tasting, three lighter-bodied wines. Have you had a Bosnian wine lately or ever? Well, here’s your chance to taste a very good one, made from the blatina grape. We’re also pouring a rather atypical Ribera del Duero wine, all garnacha, that’s light and juicy because it is whole-cluster fermented.

Red tasting $12

Populis “Wabi-Sabi” California 2016
Brkić Bosnia 2015
Alfredo Maestro “El Rey Del Glam” Ribera del Duero/Spain 2014

Muscadet tasting $12

Domaine de l’Ecu “Classic” 2015 France
La Pépière “La Pépie” 2016 France
Domaine de l’Ecu “Orthogneiss” 2015 France

Saturday, September 23
3-7 PM no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic orange
This afternoon, taste weirdo, far-out California white wines, one of which is chimerical (is it a white wine, an orange wine, or a very pale red? Only its hairdresser knows for sure); another fermented, in part, in concrete egg; and yet a third fermented on its skins. We’re also offering a tasting of lighter-bodied southern Italian red wines, including a bright and spicy red made from our old friend, the frappato grape; a new, light-bodied red from another old friend, the winemaker Bruno DiConciliis; and the third, a red, also containing frappato, but here blended with its customary partner nero d’avola, and aged in terracotta amphora.

 California white tasting $12

Wind Gap Trousseau Gris Russian River 2016
Dirty and Rowdy “Familiar Blanc” California 2016
AmByth Grenache Blanc Paso Robles 2015

Southern Italian red tasting $12

Tenuta la Favola “Fravolato” Terre Siciliane 2015
DiConciliis “Bacio il Cielo” Rosso IGT Paestum 2015
COS “Pithos Rosso” Sicilia 2014

 

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
$12

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