Saturday 7/8
3-7 pm no reservations required

Los Angeles natural wine biodynamic organic weird
Saturday tasting
3-7 PM no reservations required

On a day like today with temperatures in central Los Angeles peaking at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, selecting wines for our tasting is not that difficult – gimme anything that’s super refreshing, and make it snappy. For our white tasting, three Spanish wines: one from the northeast of Spain and aged in terracotta amphora, and two from the northwest of Spain and made from astonishingly old albariño vines (some of which are over 200 years old). For the red tasting, three reds, all perfect to serve cold: two from the northeast of Italy, one of which is dry, lightly fizzy, and made from schiava, a grape that is meant for summertime guzzling, and a third wine from Corsica, Demeter-certified biodynamic, lighter than a feather, and made from the local sciaccarellu (“shock-a-rell”) grape.

Spanish white tasting $15

Pepe Raventos “De la Vinya del Noguer Alt” Xarel-Lo 2015 Penedes 2015
Do Ferreiro “Cepas Vellas” Albariño Rías Baixas 2015
Forjas del Salnes “Leirana Genoveva” Albariño Rías Baixas 2015

Chilled red tasting $15

Abbatucci Rouge Frais Imperiale Corsica 2015
Pranzegg “Vino Rosso Leggero” Südtirol 2015
Franz Gojer St Magdalener “Classico” Südtirol 2015

Friday, July 7 tasting
French natural wine
6-8 PM no reservations needed
$15

Claire Naudin “Le Clou 34” aligoté Vin de France 2015
Joubert “Cuv
ée Jules Chauvet” Beaujolais-Villages 2015
Rochard “P’tit Clou” cabernet franc Vin de France 2015
Emile Hérédia “Les Dimanches à New York” cinsault Vin de France 2015

Tonight, we’re pouring four fresh French natural wines from importer MC2. All the wines we’re tasting tonight are produced with zero added sulfites. Why no sulfites? Well, the answer is not, as you might assume, a function of sulfites being the greatest threat to human wellbeing of our time. That’s a false flag created, in part, by stone-cold racist, masterful hypocrite, and all-around shit-bird Strom Thurmond, who sponsored a bill back in the 80s that compels wineries today to add frightening language about sulfites on wine bottle labels to deliberately to freak people out about drinking. You see, Thurmond was not really concerned about sulfites. He was a committed temperance advocate and thought that some folks might be so afraid of something mysterious added to their wine that seemed evil (Hades is sulfurous) that they might just give up drinking, period. Sulfites, especially the low levels added by the folks we work with, are benign. If you think that you’re allergic to wine because of the low level of sulfites a bottle of it might contain, you’re not wrong, but just responding either to the placebo effect, which is indeed a powerful thing, or, you may be sensitive to other, natural compounds in many wines such as biogenic amines that do cause some people problems, but these exist even in wines made with zero sulfur. Natural winemakers try to reduce or eliminate added sulfur because they think that the wines they make this way taste better. Extra deliciousness and not any medical concern was the impetus behind the father of modern natural wine, Beaujolais grower Jules Chauvet, and his quest to ferment wine without sulfites. One of the wines we’re tasting tonight is a Beaujolais that’s named in honor of Chauvet.

Saturday, July 1
3-7 PM

Saturday tasting
4th of July wines
3-7 PM no reservations needed

This afternoon, taste wines that are perfect for your 4th of July tasting. Your choice of two different tastings: one of refreshing sparkling wines, ranging from a rustic cabernet franc-based pét-nat to our go-to grower champagne from Pascale Agrapart, the other of smoky red wines, including an earthy and dry Lambrusco and a vibrant, ready-to-drink syrah from France’s northern Rhône.

Sparkling wine tasting $15

Ferrando “La Torazza” Metodo Classico Brut NV
Château de Minière “Bulles de Minière” rouge Vin de France 2016
Agrapart 7 Crus Brut Champagne NV

Red wine tasting $15

Quarticello “Neromaestri” Lambrusco 2013
Forjas del Salnés “Bastión de la Luna” Rías Baixas 2015
Reynaud “Beaumont” Crozes Hermitage 2013

Friday, June 30
$12 between 6-8 PM no reservations

Tonight, we’re tasting a bevy of California wines, all organically or biodynamically farmed, all fermented with wild yeasts, and made without spoofilation. Spoofilation is a term that I first heard from the mouth of importer Joe Dressner. Joe meant a lot to me and shaped the contours of what I do today. I loved Joe. He didn’t make himself an easy person to know, and initially, I found him off-putting and scabrous at times – I know not a few colleagues who never could see past his kvetchy front room and discover for themselves that it was just a front room, not the back room where all the good stuff happened. To Joe, natural wine offered an opportunity to drink and enjoy wines that weren’t artificial confections, not Fordist replicas of some imaginary Platonic ideal type. Joe opened my eyes to wines without spoof, by which he meant wines that did not rely upon chemicals and techniques that make them into Potemkin villages. I don’t think Joe believed that a natural wine is a priori a good wine, but I do believe that he understood that low-key winemaking and sensitive farming creates the possibility for good wines that said something about where they came from. Tonight, we’re tasting four un-spoofilated wines, all from California.

AmByth Grenache Blanc “Amphora” Paso Robles 2015
Solminer “Delanda Vineyard” Blaufränkisch Santa Ynez 2014
Samsara “Zotovich Vineyard” Syrah Santa Rita Hills 2013
Model Farm “Sonoma Coast” Syrah 2014

Thursday June 29
6-8 PM $15 no reservations needed

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic nebbiolo Barolo
Ferrando “Etichetta Bianca” Carema 2013
Ferrando “Etichetta Nera” Carema 2013
Cappelano “Otin Fiorin” Barolo 2012
By-the-glass: Francesco Rinaldi “Brunate” Barolo 2008 ($78/btl, $7 2 oz. pour)Tonight, we’re pouring nebbiolo, the grape that is the beating spiritual heart of Piemontese wine. All the wines we’re pouring tonight have a few years of bottle age and are just now ready to drink, and all of them are also good candidates for cellaring. Classically framed nebbiolo as we’re pouring tonight can be tannin monsters, and the traditional way to appease the monster is to let the wine age for a few years before release. There was a moment not too long ago when some Piemontese modernizers attempted to accelerate this and attenuate the native tannin of nebbiolo by lavishing their wines with new, toasty oak, but we seemed to have now moved beyond that unfortunate episode in international wine fashion, and in any event, the growers we’re pouring tonight never succumbed to that strategy of appeasing those with an inability to delay gratification. We have two wines from Luigi Ferrando, a Piemontese grower who does unusually well with both white wines (made from the local erbaluce grape variety) and red. You may be excused for not recognizing the Carema denomination, as it is a tiny Alto Piemonte zone comprised of 40 something acres, and yet as you will see tonight, it punches well above its geographical weight. The first is Ferrando’s white label, pergola-grown on slatey soil, fermented in stainless and then aged for three years in older barrels, some large, others small. These are very limited wines with only a few thousand bottles available for export in any given year. The second wine is Ferrando’s black label, a wine in even shorter supply (about 1200 bottles exported) and made only in exceptional years from Luigi Ferrando’s selection from privileged parcels – this wine sees a tiny bit of new oak, but I think you’ll agree that it eats it all up. Finally, because Barolo, we have Barolo, too, including (by-the-glass) one with nine years of bottle age from an entirely unflashy grower.

Today’s tasting
3-7 PM orange wines French natural wines unicorn wines weird wines

Today we’re offering two unique tastings: a tasting of Italian orange wines, and a tasting of red wines from the Brooklyn-based importer of French natural wine, Fi Fi. The orange wines register between 4 and 7 on the Funk-o-Meter, with wines from Sardinia, Liguria, and the volcanic soils of northern Campania. The red tasting is of French natural wines from Fi Fi, one of our favorite importers of French natural wine, some of which are quite scarce. The Fi Fi tasting ranges between 2 to 9 on the Funk-o-Meter. We’re starting with a lean, savory fer servadou wine from the southwest of France, and then on to a lovely and fresh Loire gamay, and finally, a scarce unicorn wine that is categorically challenged.

Italian orange wine tasting $15
Santa Caterina Vermentino 2012
Dettori Bianco Sardinia 2015
Cantina Giardino “T’ ara rà” Campania Greco 2015

French red natural wines from Fi Fi $15”
Nicolas Carmarans “Maximus” Averyon 2015
La Grange aux Belles “La Niña” Vin de France 2015
L’Anglore “Venskab” Vin de France 2015

Friday 6/23
Taste biodynamic + orange wines
With Wine Wizard Greg Borden
6-8 PM no reservations needed $12

Tonight: taste biodynamic, orange, and low-sulfite wines
with Wizard Greg Borden
Friday 6/23 between 6-8 PM no reservations required
$12 plus 10 percent of any of the wines tasted

Tonight, we have wine wizard Greg Borden of Chambers & Chambers in the shop to pour us a selection of the wines he distributes, some of which are farmed according to the principles of biodynamics, including a Demeter-certified wine from the Russian River Valley, as well as two skin-contact, orange wines, one from the Rhône, the other from the central coast of California. Biodynamic farms operate according to principles outlined in a series of lectures delivered in the 20s by Austrian educational theorist and spiritual teacher, Rudolf Steiner. Although Steiner never touched a garden shovel in his entire life, he forged a new way of looking at farming that was at once very old, synthesizing centuries of pagan farming rituals, customs and beliefs, and compellingly modern. Rather than spray synthetic pesticides and herbicides to control nature, a biodynamic farmer attempts to gently prod Mother Nature to do the right thing, relying instead on various numbered preparations that farmers apply according to the celestial calendars. The most infamous preparation is preparation 500, which is essentially cow shit from a lactating cow, fermented inside of a buried cow horn for a few months. To process the preparation, farmers unearth the cow horn, remove the fermented poop, dilute it with water, and then stir vigorously, creating a vortex, first clockwise and then counterclockwise to create a spray that enriches the soil bacteria and fungi so important for healthy plants. Now to some, this is an absurdly archaic practice, entirely unsupported by science, and yet it is a practice to which not a few of the growers we work with cleave. Me? I do not invite others to inspect and laugh at the automatisms and the half-submerged beliefs that I cherish. If a wine is delicious, I really could care less that the vigneron who makes blasts traditional Corsican polyphonic tunes to their vines or chooses to harvest their grapes under the moonlight in the nude, save for their work boots and tinfoil cap. I’m agnostic about biodynamics as I am all too aware how easy it is for the armchair vigneron to opine and laugh about practices with which he or she has no direct contact or the beliefs and practices that may seem absurd, and yet other folks take quite seriously.

Clos de Trias Blanc Côtes du Ventoux 2014
Uliz Saint Romain 2014
Giornata Falanghina Paso Robles 2016
Porter Bass Chardonnay Russian River 2014
Clos de Trias Rouge Côtes du Ventoux 2011
Uliz mondeuse Savoie 2013

 

 

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