Events

Tasting Schedule

Sunday Tasting 5/26/2024
Exploring Georgia

last week, in a small house about an hour outside of tbilisi, someone told me that saperavi — a thick-skinned, red-fleshed georgian grape known for producing wine so red that it actually looks black — is “pure happiness.” the white variety rkatsiteli, on the other hand, she described with playful derision as “something about art.”

these oracular assessments have been rolling around in my head for the better part of the last 200 hours and, truthfully, i’m no closer to understanding them. for my money, the only thing saperavi has in common with happiness is that it’s hard to swallow if you’re not used to it; conversely, “something about art” describes just about every wine i’ve ever liked. aphoristic ambiguity aside, i am quite certain this is not what nino, the winemaker source of this wisdom, intended.

as frustrating as it is, though, there is something instructive about being lost. without recourse to familiar reference points, one is forced to open the mind and make new connections. my recent trip to georgia was full of such moments, as frustrating as they were exhilarating. adrift last wednesday in a sea of low acid and high tannin, surrounded by unfamiliar aromas and flavors, i learned more rapidly than i have in some time.

the most exciting revelation of my visit was the sheer diversity of wine being made in georgia today (something becoming more and more apparent stateside thanks to importers like roni ginach). most of the US market would have us believe that the caucuses have little more to offer than chewy orange wines for drinking with hearty stews, a style that reigns in eastern georgia’s kakheti region but which hardly accounts for the country as a whole. the white wines of the western region imereti — floral, bright, and often made with no skin contact at all — were particularly striking, and they’ve inspired this week’s sunday lineup.

alongside two imeretian wines from makaridze, a lovely producer i met in tbilisi, we’ll be pouring a robust but subtle kakhetian coferment of rkatsiteli (juice) and saperavi (skins); a hazy and lithe skin-contact rkatsiteli; and a red-fruited rosato from racha, georgia’s smallest wine region.

cheers,
vanessa

Sunday Tasting 5/12/2024
Mother's Day Rose

hello everyone and greetings from tbilisi, where i’ve just arrived for a week of winery visits and salons! i’ll tell you all about it over some georgian wine upon my return but in the meantime, sierra and christoph will be holding down the fort this sunday with a flight of our favorite rosés!

i realize pink for mother’s day is maybe a bit on the nose, but ‘tis the season and we’ve got some great ones in the shop, so what can you do? a little cliché never hurt anyone and besides, we’re keeping things fresh by steering clear of provence — lovers of limpidity and florals will instead be treated to two domestic versions of that style, while fans of fruitier expressions are sure to enjoy la villana’s (mostly) direct-pressed aleatico, a juicy carignan by emme wines, and a delightfully plump semi-carbonic blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre from philippe jambon’s “une tranche” series.

all of that’s to say: it may be pink but it’s not (just!) your mother’s rosé this sunday, so come through with the whole family. :)

cheers & see you next week —

vanessa 

Winemaker Visit: 5/5/24, 2-5pm, $20
Christian Tschida

we are thrilled to announce that austrian winemaker christian tschida will be pouring with us at this week’s tasting on sunday, may 5! a meticulous farmer, winemaker, and “transformer” (his word), tschida has become a pillar of the austrian natural wine scene since taking over his family’s burgenland winery in 2003. his most widely known wines are released under the himmel auf erden line, which translates, appropriately enough, to “heaven on earth.”

based in the small town of illmitz, tschida tends fourteen hectares of vines with the help of his father, fritz, and a small team of trusted hands. working fastidiously in both the vineyards and the winery, tschida is a relentless pursuer of purity. everything from the compost mix (his own blend) to the presses themselves (gentle and bespoke, exerting the “power of a handshake”) is deliberately crafted with an eye to his preferred style: fresh, macerated whites and feather-light, “huggable” (again, his word) reds.

most impressively of all, perhaps, tschida retains a curious and open mind despite his obvious allergy to compromise. ten percent of each vintage is set aside for experimental projects and the specificity of his vision never shades into dogma. on the contrary, given that the vineyard is “free of poison,” he believes firmly that winemaking decisions are all a “matter of taste” (including sulfur additions, although he has personally eschewed them since 2013).

this unique balance of rigor and receptivity is reflected in the ambrosial yields themselves, which tend often to embody seemingly contradictory sets of qualities: they’re serious but fun, elegant but approachable, and memorable but unimposing. this sunday’s flight will feature three new himmel auf erden releases alongside two slightly harder to find reds of syrah and cabernet franc. hope to see you there.

— vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 4/28/24, 2-5pm, $15
Amy Atwood Selections

this sunday, we’re spotlighting friend of the shop and importer/distributor amy atwood! one of my favorite ways to discover new wines — and my first recommendation for shoppers looking to buy more effectively — is by getting to know a particular importer’s style and personality. this week, i invite you to explore amy’s book: a treasure trove of unfussy, approachably priced bottles anchored by a wide array of domestic offerings and, more recently, directly imported mexican wines.

a native of dallas, texas with a lifelong passion for travel, amy moved to australia in the 1990s and was drawn to wine after cutting her teeth as a beverage director in melbourne’s lively nightlife scene. coming up down under put her slightly ahead of the curve relative to the US and, upon her return to the states in 2002, she put her market learnings to work at various national distributors before falling for natural wine circa 2007, thanks in part to writer alice feiring. amy atwood selections launched in 2009 (the same year as domaine!) with a focus on pragmatic but responsible producers working mostly in california.

a dynamic combination of direct imports and selections from partners like savio soares selections and selectionaturel, amy’s portfolio is guided by her own palate first and foremost, but also incorporates her breadth of knowledge about the wine scene here and abroad. in addition to producers from france, italy, spain, mexico, and the US, she distributes her own wine brand, oeno, and future gin, which she makes in collaboration with natasha case and freya estreller of coolhaus ice cream.

the gin you’ll have to try at home, but we’ll have the following bottles open this sunday to introduce you to the AAS roster:

• 2020 formiche ‘integrale’: a salty micro-cuvée of orange ansonica from tuscany
• 2022 costador ‘metamorphika’: a waxy, amphora-macerated macabeu from high up in the catalonian mountains
• 2023 las jaras ‘superbloom’: a vibrant day-to-night co-ferment by joel burt and eric wareheim
• 2023 wonderwerk ‘marinara!’: a juicy weeknight red blend for all your pizza and pasta pairing needs
• 2022 vinos pijoan ‘aniversari’: a mineral-driven zinfandel made by a former dancer in mexico’s valle de guadalupe

Sunday Tasting: 4/21/24, 2-5pm, $15
(Southeastern) Australia

this sunday’s flight was originally conceived as an introduction to australia generally, but a bit of research reminded me that australia is, you know, enormous, so i decided to dial it back a bit. instead of an overly ambitious survey, then, think of it as a crash course through the lens of southeastern australia specifically, where nearly half of the country’s vines are located.

the reason for this concentration is pretty simple: australia is hot and arid, meaning that the vast majority of its very large area is unsuitable for growing vines. the peaks of the mount lofty ranges are the southeast’s saving grace — the region built its reputation on shiraz from the barossa and eden valleys, where the elevation is high enough to beat (some of) the heat. most of this week’s lineup is from just south of those valleys, in the adelaide hills, where the climate is even cooler, allowing for some of the freshest wines australia is capable of, especially when working without irrigation (as most natural winemakers do).

this doesn’t mean, of course, that the going is easy. to the extent that australian wine has a unifying flavor, that flavor is best described as “perseverance,” and the adelaide hills are no exception. the good news, though, is that the country’s challenging climate and the relatively short viticultural history sort of complement each other: anyone bothering to make wine here is seriously dedicated to making it work, whatever that might look like, and that yields an exciting combination of pragmatism and experimentation.

when all of this combines with a staunch commitment to responsible farming and additive-free production — as it does in the cellars of this week’s featured producers — the effects can be dazzling and deeply refreshing in every sense of the word. an openness to purchasing fruit, playing with style, planting new grapes, and blending liberally allows for wines (and ciders!) like nothing else under the sun, in our hemisphere or theirs.

the lineup:

- 2022 jauma arneis
- 2022 momento mori fistful of flowers
- 2022 lucy m wildman blanc
- 2019 momento mori etcetera etcetera
- 2022 borachio summer-nat!
- 2020 manon APQ cider

see you sunday —
vanessa

Sunday Tasting & Winemaker Visit: 4/14/24, 2-5pm, $15
Ashkahn Wines

as most of you know, spring has very much sprung here in LA and summer is already on the horizon. with the sun shining again, it seemed like the perfect time to invite winemaker and friend of the shop ashkahn shahparnia over to pour you his latest releases. colorfully labelled, playfully named, and shot through with the bright, carefree energy of the california coast, ashkahn’s wines are true harbingers of spring — we tasted through the new vintage last month and have been especially stoked to share them these last few (very warm) days.

a multidisciplinary artist based in santa maria, ashkahn began his winemaking journey as a harvest intern at presqu’ile winery in 2019 and produced his first solo bottling — a still chardonnay made with fruit from stolpman vineyards — the following year. his second vintage comprised a trio of zippy, laid-back central coast chards; since then, the lineup has expanded, diversified, and matured without losing any of its verve. by now, it includes a rainbow of still and sparkling offerings produced with fruit from some of southern california’s most storied vineyards.

this year, we’re particularly fond of the pet-nats: a delightfully acid-driven sparkling chardonnay named for ashkahn’s daughter, ivy, and a bubbly rosé made with pinot noir from bassi vineyard in SLO county, a gorgeous site 1.2 miles from the pacific ocean that also provides fruit for outward wines and scar of the sea, among others. both sparklers are refreshing additions to any springtime spread, especially as the weather starts to heat up.

on the still side, we’ll be pouring the latest iteration of the chardonnay that started it all, along with the final version of saffron (a bright orange clairette), and the debut bottling of PCH, an experimental crunchy red made by macerating pinot noir in direct press chardonnay.

i’ll be helping out as usual, but the real treat this week will be chatting with ashkahn himself about the project.

looking forward!
vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 4/7/24, 2-5pm, $15
Auvergne (Jean Maupertuis & Catherine Dumora)

the auvergne is an exceptional place. few winemaking regions have generated so much lore, even fewer have done so without becoming wildly popular, and basically none have done both of those things without also incurring the attendant reputation for being “overrated.” despite being home to a high concentration of cult producers, auvergne has neither blown up à la jura nor lost any of its cachet among the heads — all the best drinkers i know have a soft spot for it, and none of them ever qualify it.

located in the massif central, in france’s geographical center, auvergne is something of an island, suspended in the no man’s land just east of the beaujolais and south of anywhere that counts as the loire valley proper. once upon a time it had a booming wine industry, but the delayed arrival of phylloxera coupled with industrialization and depopulation (not to mention two world wars) more or less destroyed it. these days, a vanishingly small amount of land is under vine there and the french consider it little more than a great camping destination.

to the extent that auvergne is on the map at all, it was jean maupertuis, the vigneron behind three of this week’s wines, who put it there. a former computer scientist, he studied winemaking in the early 1990s and subsequently set up shop in saint-george-sur-allier. the wines he made early in his career — with stéphane majeune and eric garnier, under the short-lived domaine de peyra label — are by now the stuff of legend, impossible to find and encountered mostly via their legacy, which has attracted such luminaries as patrick bouju and aurélien lefort to the region.

it is tempting to explain auvergne’s uniqueness logically, with appeals to its soil and grapes. and it is surely true that the place’s wines are marked by its special dirt: a basalt-rich tapestry arranged atop rolling volcanic hills. likewise, it is true that the marquee grape here is gamay d’auvergne, a rare variety given to producing reds of uncanny depth with the tenor of a wry smile (brooding but playful, like they know something you don't).

at the same time, though, neither soil nor grape accounts fully for the strange pull auvergne has among its devotees, or for the character of its wines. with land terribly difficult to come by there, most vigneron(ne)s make very few bottles, and many supplement their own yields with fruit from elsewhere. nevertheless, the wines’ sense of place is undiminished — they are no less recognizable, and they all seem to wear their makers’ personalities on their sleeves.

i marveled at this paradox recently while drinking a bottle of sauvignon blanc from catherine dumora. the fruit for that cuvée, which will be featured in sunday’s lineup, came from minervois, in the south, but it tasted quintessentially auvergne to me: fresh, bright, mineral, and radiant. these are qualities i associate so closely with dumora’s wines that i nearly forgot the fruit wasn’t hers. if that’s the case, i wonder, does it really taste like auvergne, or does it just taste like dumora? and what, really, is the difference, if the same can be said for maupertuis, beauger, and the rest of them? and, finally, where does all of this leave terroir?

the truth is i don’t know and i don’t particularly care — the wines from auvergne speak for themselves like those from almost nowhere else, and that’s enough for me. i look forward to sharing a few of them with you this week.

thanks for reading,
vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 3/31/24, 2-5pm, $15
Loire Madness Part V: Touraine (cont.) & Sancerre

this sunday we wrap up the loire valley — at last! — with a few left-fielders from touraine, and a sancerre or two because i have to to make sure we’ve covered all our bases.

first, the outliers: if last weekend’s touraine flight was meant to orient us all to the classics, this week’s is meant to shake things up a little and (further) showcase the centre loire’s incredible range. that means, for starters, a change in cépage: the days of chenin and cab franc are behind us. this week, we’re on to sauvignon blanc, menu pineau, gamay, pinot noir, and pineau d’aunis.

but the difference here isn’t just grapes. like anjou-saumur, the cher valley is dense with innovative natural winemakers, many of whom studied viti- and viniculture formally in the early 2000s before apprenticing under radical elders and/or forging their own unconventional paths. noëlla morantin, the producer of one of this week’s reds — a côt (malbec) made with fruit from 30 year old vines — is such a figure, as is christophe foucher of la lunotte in couffy, whose decidedly atypical menu pineau we’ll also be sampling. rounding out the touraine wing of the flight will be a red blend from paul and corinne gillet, natives of alsace who took over the fabled les maisons brûlées in 2013 after a wine course in amboise and an internship chez bruno schueller.

and finally, lest we forget the loire’s most famous appellation of all, we’re pouring sancerre! planted mostly over limestone-rich kimmeridgian soils, the vines in this region southeast of orléans produce some of the world’s most prestigious and well-loved expressions of sauvignon blanc. redolent of grass, gooseberry, and flint, this acid-driven favorite will be represented by an entry-level bottling from domaine paul prieur, traditional in every respect apart from its lack of filtration or added sulfur.

as a special treat, we’re also adding a blind bonus pour this week: related to the others but seen far less often these days for reasons we’ll discuss in person.

see you there!
vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 3/24/24, 2-5pm, $20
Loire Madness Part IV: Touraine

this sunday marks our fourth (or fifth, but who’s counting?) installment of loire madness and the first part of a scenic route through touraine. though this historic french province no longer exists officially (it was subdivided into several departments in 1790), the area in and around the city of tours remains an important designation for wine purposes, containing several of the loire’s most prestigious terroirs. this weekend’s flight will offer a survey of tourangeau classics, including wines from chinon, vouvray, and montlouis, plus examples of cheverny and cour-cheverny.

in case that litany of appellations and geographical caveats didn’t tip you off, touraine is a little unwieldy. the density of grapes, styles, and soil types here is overwhelming even for the loire — it’s enough to make your eyes glaze over even if you’ve heard of romorantin, which most casual drinkers have not. to account for this, we’re spreading it out across two sunday tastings, which will give us room to play the hits while still leaving space for some smaller, more experimentally oriented producers.

in this week’s flight, that means cabernet (franc, not sauvignon!) and chenin are well-represented, but we’re covering a lot of ground stylistically: a classic, straight-laced chinon from bernard baudry will be complemented by a wilder, unsulfited expression from claire and florent bejon; a dry chenin blanc from francois chidaine will feature alongside a demi-sec version with a five years of age. and so as not to elide touraine’s rich diversity of grape varieties, we’re also opening a pinot noir/gamay blend from hervé villemade, plus a bonus white of aforementioned weirdo romorantin, a sibling of chardonnay that some would call “marginal” and i would call “underappreciated.” next sunday, we’ll round out the loire with a few more underdogs (côt, gamay, menu pineau) and a couple upper loire picks (sancerre!) before moving on to a whole new world in april.

cheers,
vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 3/17/24, 2-5pm, $25
L'Ange Vin (Jean-Pierre Robinot)

next up on our little loire tour is the sarthe! in conventional wine circles, this department in the pays de la loire is most famous for the jasnières and côteaux du loir appellations, but around here it’s perhaps best known as home to the eccentric renegade and restaurateur turned vigneron jean-pierre robinot. if i weren’t so tired of the word “iconic,” i’d almost certainly apply it here; as things stand, suffice it to say that robinot’s impact on natural wine over the last 40-something years is basically impossible to overstate.

this reputation has its roots in the 1980s, when robinot co-founded the french wine journal le rouge et le blanc with several friends and fellow wine enthusiasts. a vocal proponent of low-intervention agriculture from the jump, robinot went full tilt into zero-zero advocacy around 1985, after tasting an unsulfited gamay from marcel lapierre. in the following decade, he continued to spread the good word across paris, where he opened a bistrot called l’ange vin (a pun on the demonym for anjou, and the same name he would later take for his own domaine), which constituted, along with a small handful of like-minded establishments, the first wave of natural wine bars in france. since the early 2000s, robinot has produced wine in his hometown of chahaignes while popping up now and then to ruffle feathers by defending living wine, “faults” and all, and denouncing any and all sulfur addition.

unsurprisingly, robinot’s wines have built up a large following over the last twenty-odd years, which means, as always, that demand far outstrips supply. his vivid and far-reaching personality combines with the wines’ relative scarcity to unusual effect, making him appear both omnipresent and conspicuously absent: though i hear his name fairly often and know exactly what he’s like (colorful) and how he dresses (the same), i have relatively little firsthand experience with his output — which is why i couldn’t be happier to be opening several of his new releases with you all this sunday.

as has been the case with our other allocation tastings, we won’t have too many of the open bottles to sell, but we will have a few other cuvées up for grabs (including plenty of bubbles!). those who sign on for the flight will see splashes of the following:

• 2022 fêtembulles
• 2021 lumière de silex
• 2021 bistrologie
• 2021 charme
• 2021 lumière de sens
• 2021 nocturne

see you there!
vanessa

Winemaker Dinner: 3/20/24
An Evening with Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme

loire madness continues next wednesday with a visit from pierre-olivier bonhomme, the touraine-based producer behind domaineLA’s favorite unfussy, delicious, and — you guessed it — chillable red! for the occasion, we’re teaming up with farm wine imports to host a dinner at ji rong in rosemead. those in attendance will have the opportunity to chat with pierre-o himself, as well as his importers (and a few of us from the domaine team :).

by now a seasoned winemaker, pierre-olivier got his start as a teenager working harvests with thierry and jean-marie puzelat at clos du tue-boeuf. in his early twenties, he signed on as a partner in thierry’s négociant project, which he officially took over after puzelat returned full-time to his family's estate in the 2010s. since then, pierre-olivier has continued to vinify in the puzelat-bonhomme style, making mostly direct-press whites and semi-carbonic reds in old barrels (and adding nothing but small doses of sulfur when absolutely necessary). the labels have remained mostly unchanged as well, with bonhomme still producing all the cuvées that earned the domaine’s reputation, like “la tesnière,” “in côt we trust,” and, of course, “le telquel.”

next wednesday’s event will feature these and several other gems from pierre-olivier’s catalogue, to be served alongside a feast of peking duck and an array of other delicacies at one of our favorite SGV institutions. tickets are available here for $75, which includes food and wine for the evening. dinner will begin promptly at 7:30pm.

Winemaker Visit: 3/13/24
Patrick Bouju & Anders Frederik Steen

we interrupt this month’s loire-focused programming to announce a very exciting visit from winemakers patrick bouju and anders frederik steen, with two events planned for next wednesday, march 13! first, the two will join us for a tasting at the shop from 5 to 7pm and later that evening, we'll host an intimate afterparty with anders featuring a selection of wines he's curated for the occasion.

a former engineer, patrick bouju of domaine la bohème began his winemaking journey as a hobbyist in the 1990s and has been a full-time vigneron in auvergne since 2008. in the village of saint-georges-sur-allier, he and his partner, justine loiseau, produce wines from five hectares of vines planted to a broad spectrum of varieties, as well as a range of négociant bottlings made with fruit from (and sometimes in collaboration with) winegrowing friends far and near. in all cases, bouju’s wines are playful and pure expressions of his winemaking philosophy, informed by a figurative allergy to standardization and a literal one to sulfites.

we’re also thrilled to be welcoming anders frederik steen — former sommelier and current ardèche-based cult winemaker — to the shop after a wonderful tasting of his current releases in january. this time, he'll be here in person to share a few library releases of his famously high-concept elixirs. the night will then continue at an off-site soirée featuring light bites by chef travis hayden, where anders will pour a handful of wines that have inspired him as a drinker and winemaker.

all are welcome to the shop tasting at 5pm which is open to the public, no reservations necessary. advance tickets are required for the afterparty, which will run from 7:30 to 9pm. tickets are available here and the address in larchmont village will be furnished upon ticket purchase.

looking forward!
vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 3/10/24, 1-4PM
Loire Madness Part II: Anjou-Saumur+

this sunday, we progress upstream from the pays nantais into the middle loire, which is usually divided into the two large-ish subregions of anjou-saumur and touraine. the former can then be divided again, as its hyphenated name suggests, into the two distinct areas of anjou and saumur, and those two (as well as touraine) actually contain a number of major and minor sub-appellations that sit on top of, next to, and around each other.

if all of this sounds confusing, that’s because it is. while we spent last week in what is arguably easiest part of the loire valley to get a handle on, we are now entering the larger and more complicated heart of the region — a heterogeneous mosaic even by conventional wine standards that is rendered both more exciting and more complex by the legion of boundary-pushing natural winemakers who have settled there since the 1980s and 90s.

the grapes, at least, are fairly straightforward: broadly speaking, anjou-saumur is known for its benchmark chenin and cabernet franc. the former is sometimes called pineau de la loire here and it’s vinified in every style (sweet, dry, still, and sparkling), while the latter mostly appears as a dry, savory red, with the more famous examples (chinon, bourgueil) coming from slightly farther east, in touraine. there are also rosés (conventional examples are often sweet) and some lesser known light reds of grolleau and pineau d’aunis, along with small plantings of more familiar red grapes like cabernet sauvignon, malbec (aka côt), and gamay.

unlike the far ends of the loire, which can be quite hostile to natural winemaking, the midsection has grown into a veritable hotbed of low-intervention vinification and farming thanks to early pioneers like olivier cousin, thierry and jean-marie puzelat, and investment banker turned biodynamic evangelist nicolas joly. there is an especially lively scene in and around anjou-saumur, which is home to la dive bouteille and its sundry satellite fairs.

while we certainly won’t be pouring an exhaustive lineup of middle loire offerings this weekend, we’ll cover a good amount of ground in anjou-saumur and then some (full touraine tastings to come in the next weeks!). an overview of tomorrow's flight:

• a limpid, dry chenin blanc from the mosse family, whose single-parcel bottlings from their estate in st-lambert-du-lattay had a hand in putting anjou on the map as a quality wine region
• a macerated chenin from olivier cousin’s son, baptiste, who grew up in his father’s vines and tends most of them now with his partner, gael. this expression is decidedly more rustic than the mosses’ — the kind of wine you think you hate until you realize the bottle’s empty
• a light red of grolleau from sébastien dervieux aka “babass,” one half of the gone but far from domaine des griottes (the other was sunshine-eating qvevri enthusiast patrick desplats)
• a light, cheerful bourgueil (cab franc) for everyday drinking courtesy of touraine natives and longtime champions of organic farming catherine and pierre breton
• and finally, a more mature and structured example of cabernet franc, made by sébastien bobinet and émeline calvez with fruit from their oldest vines in saumur

i won’t be at the shop this sunday, but my lovely colleagues sierra and JT will be there to answer any lingering questions about the wines. i look forward to hearing all about ‘em at next week’s allocation tasting, which will feature several wines from jasnières legend jean-pierre robinot.

cheers,
vanessa

p.s. please note that this week's tasting will take place early — from 1 to 4pm — so as not to conflict with the oscars !

 

Sunday Tasting: 3/3/24
Loire Madness Part I: Pays Nantais

this weekend marks the beginning of what i’ve somewhat regrettably decided to call LOIRE MADNESS: a month-long tasting and event series focused on the wines of the loire valley. is it a tournament? no. does it involve basketball? also no. will it become an annual tradition? doubtful. but i joked about calling it “loire madness” enough times to turn it into an intrusive thought, so here we are. i hope y’all like chenin. :)

title aside, an extended exploration of this kind has been on my mind for some time now because the place we generally talk about as the monolithic “loire valley” actually comprises several distinct winemaking regions, each of which merits in-depth consideration. home to at least twenty different grape varieties and a dizzying array of soil types (here's an overview for the dirt nerds), the loire’s many subregions actually have relatively little in common other than the fact that the same river (also called the loire) runs through them. along that river’s banks, from its source in the massif central to its western union with the atlantic, virtually every conceivable type of wine is made in over eighty different appellations, some of which produce world-famous expressions of grapes like sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, and cabernet franc. which is all to say, a month is probably the least we could do.

to kick the madness off, we’re pouring a flight of wines from the pays nantais, a maritime region in western france also known as the lower loire or sometimes the loire-atlantique. fanning out around the city of nantes, the area is mostly white wine country, known above all for muscadet, a zippy, saline wine based on the grape melon de bourgogne. outlawed in its native burgundy, melon has dominated the pays nantais since the early eighteenth century, at which point its hardiness and productivity were hailed as ideal for large-scale eau de vie production. these days, the grape’s reputation is both more wine-focused and more ambivalent: fans of muscadet praise its fresh acidity and chiseled minerality, while detractors disparage it as a “neutral” (read: flavorless) patio pounder. (other haters recoil at its orthographic similarity to "muscat" or "moscato," but that's pure misunderstanding.)

my take, as ever, is that it’s complicated, and lots of things can be true at once. on the one hand, melon is generally shyer than chardonnay or chenin blanc, which can make it seem boring by comparison; on the other, it can be wonderfully textural when handled properly and it ages much more gracefully than its approachable price point would suggest.

but you needn’t take my word for it. the whole point of LOIRE MADNESS (sorry) is that there will be plenty of time and opportunity to go deep on things that usually get short shrift. in this case, that means tasting two traditional cru muscadets alongside a more modern, unfiltered example, as well as a sparkler of non-melon grapes and a light red of cab franc.

see you on sunday and watch this space for further details on upcoming events, which will include:

• flights from anjou and saumur, touraine, and the upper loire
• winemaker visits from pierre-olivier bonhomme, patrick bouju, and anders frederik steen
• an allocation tasting of new releases from famed touraine vigneron jean-pierre robinot

cheers,
vanessa

Sunday Tasting + Producer Visit: 2/25/2024
Joe Swick of Swick Wines

on the heels of a lovely visit from shaunt oungoulian of les lunes, we are fortunate enough to have a second winemaker joining us this week: joe swick of swick wines in oregon, who will be on site pouring several of his latest releases for all those working up a thirst at this sunday’s cicLAvia.

a fifth-generation oregonian, swick first became interested in wine while working at his local organic specialty food store. his winemaking career began with a cellar assistant job in 2003, which he followed up with ten years (and fifteen harvests!) spent all around the world in places like france, portugal, australia, and new zealand. his time in france and a chance encounter with natural wine maven alice feiring — who introduced him to some wines from tony coturri and arnot-roberts — brought the possibilities of low-intervention winemaking into focus. upon returning to oregon in 2013, swick resolved to make wines as “naked and raw” as he possibly could, “while still having them be fun and delicious.”

swick’s first instinct was to work with pinot noir, the grape most closely associated with his home state. but after an initial vintage of two pinot bottlings, he decided it was preferable to work at a more affordable price point, producing the kinds of wines that he himself was interested in drinking and introducing drinkers to a more expansive view of the pacific northwest. these days, he sources grapes from organic, biodynamic, and sustainably farmed vineyards in oregon and washington, working with over twenty different varieties, including some non-native grapes like touriga nacional and melon de bourgogne.

the results of swick’s winemaking practice — which often involves experimental blending and co-fermentation — have earned a reputation for balancing novelty with approachability, in terms of both price and style. labeled simply and often bottled in clear glass that showcases joe’s playful cuvée names and the rainbow of varieties he works with, these are soif-y, joyful wines perfect for everyday drinking (or for rehydrating after a long bike ride, as the case may be :).

please note: due to cicLAvia, melrose ave. will be closed this sunday from 9am to 3pm! if arriving by car, please plan to approach via santa monica blvd.

Thursday Tasting + Producer Visit: 2/22/2024
Shaunt Oungoulian of Les Lunes / Populis Wine
popping in early this week to let you all know that winemaker shaunt oungoulian will be joining us at the shop tomorrow (thursday) evening to pour a few wines from his labels, les lunes and populis.
a chemist by training, oungoulian’s winemaking journey began in the anderson valley, with an internship at a small winery that inspired him to enroll in uc davis’s enology program. some classmates there turned him on to natural wine and he set off for europe in 2012 to learn the ropes of organic viticulture and low-intervention vinification from french winegrowers like philippe valette and julie balagny. upon his return, les lunes / populis was launched in collaboration with fellow davis alumni diego roig, sam baron, and martha stoumen. much has changed in the decade since the project’s inception — baron and stoumen have each gone their own way, for example, and the wines are no longer vinified in shaunt’s parents’ basement — but oungoulian and roig’s commitment to farming has remained firmly intact. as of this year, the two lease roughly 20 hectares of vines in sonoma and napa counties, and almost half of their output is made from fruit they and their small team farm themselves, a rarity in california’s négociant-dominated winemaking landscape.
in honor of shaunt’s visit, we’ll be pouring some of our favorite new releases from both lines:
- populis white (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, albariño, orange muscat, colombard)
- les lunes searby vineyard macerated chardonnay
- les lunes astral blend (pinot noir, chardonnay, zin, grenache, syrah)
- les lunes cosmic blend (cabernet, zinfandel, pinot gris, merlot)
see you there!
Sunday Tasting: 2/18/2024
Catalonia (Alicia Serres & Jordi Llorens)
this week’s lineup comes to us from catalonia, an autonomous region in northeastern spain renowned for its vibrant culinary scene and dynamic natural wine community. the latter has its roots in the 2000s, when the movement’s patron saint, laureano serres of mendall, swore off sulfur for good and founded spain’s first natural wine association with his close friend joan ramón escoda. shortly thereafter, the pair also launched h20 vegetal, a now-iconic zero-zero wine fair, as well as “brutal!!!” an amorphous and (in)famous cult label/concept. under serres and escoda’s spiritual and practical guidance, a revolutionary wave of winemaking has radiated outward from their respective bases in the province of tarragona ever since. as a global, unregulated network, natural wine doesn’t really have a “center” in any meaningful sense of the word, but if it did, one would be forgiven for thinking it was el pinell de brai.
much like his riotous, high-octane wines, laureano’s generosity and charisma are the stuff of legend, a bright red thread running through the plethora of anecdotes about him in constant circulation. a prodigious collector of friends, acolytes, and mentees, his name is often invoked as a kind of shorthand, a helpful way of contextualizing wines from catalonia and beyond that are made in the same free-form, infectiously playful style as mendall’s. so i was at once unsurprised and totally delighted to learn that his daughter alicia had caught the winemaking bug from her father and that the first batch of her wines would arrive at the shop just in time to anchor our catalonia flight.
in his overview of alicia’s inaugural vintage, importer josh eubank notes that the younger serres is currently studying at catalonia’s top enology school — a development less indicative of a departure from the family tradition of experimentation than of her own intellectual curiosity. (quoting a friend, josh writes: “laureano prefers not to know about the science; alicia prefers to know about it only to ignore it.”) i’ll be tasting the wines for the first time with you all on sunday, but early reports confirm that alicia has inherited something of her father’s intuition and spirit. on offer will be three cuvées made from the fruit of several micro-parcels in terra alta: a macerated blend of white grenache, muscat, and macabeo in the style of the late alain castex; a lively red field blend; and a deep carignan.

rounding out the lineup on a slightly different, more serene wavelength will be be two whites (one still, one sparkling) from jordi llorens, a friend of the serres family and eighth-generation winemaker working sixteen hectares of vines in blancafort, in northeast tarragona. made mostly from parellada and macabeo, jordi’s white wines are gentle and refreshing, redolent of spring water and white flowers like jasmine and honeysuckle. my fondest memories of them involve warm sunshine, cool bodies of water, and the intoxicating daze that comes from alternating between the two on a perfect summer day.

— vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 2/11/2024
Alice Bouvot (Domaine de l'Octavin)

as i look ahead to this sunday’s tasting — a lineup of new releases from alice bouvot of domaine de l’octavin — the word “truth” is bouncing around in my head, along with a few closely related concepts, like “trust,” “conviction,” and “intuition.” these ideas come up again and again in the natural wine world, particularly from producers who, like bouvot, work outside of the appellation system and forgo all additives, assuming in the process a variety of social and financial risks. in light of the recent controversy around this year’s iteration of la dive bouteille, one of the world’s largest natural wine salons, i am particularly keen to share these wines this week, and also to talk a bit about what zero-zero winemaking means to this particular producer.

the low- vs. no-additive debate is an old one in natural wine, and it comes up so frequently that “debate” is probably the wrong word for it. it’s more like a fixture of the discursive scene, taking up more or less space at any given moment based on where you are, who you’re talking to, and how sensitive they are to mouse. curious minds can check out aaron ayscough’s article (linked above) for a more thorough summary, but which side of the issue a vigneron(ne) falls on basically boils down to a question of personal philosophy: does one work without additives, accepting that the resulting wines might be less predictable? or is it preferable to, say, add a bit of sulfur at bottling to guarantee (or at least increase the chances of) a certain level of stability?

despite being trained as a classical musician, an agricultural engineer, and an oenologist — all fields where technique is of the essence — bouvot falls firmly in the no-additive camp, preferring to lead with her emotions in the cellar rather than leaning on intervention. this has been her approach since founding octavin in 2005 with her then-partner charles dagand, and she’s unapologetically committed to it, even as she acknowledges the challenges of working without the “safety net” of added sulfites. for bouvot, as for many zero-zero winemakers, the decision is deeply personal and motivated by nothing more or less than the pursuit of truth and coherence — producing this way may leave her wines more vulnerable to things like volatile acidity and mouse, but it’s also what makes them undeniably hers. accepting the risks, then, is simply the cost of living in alignment with her ideals. others are free to do things differently — as bouvot herself puts it, “it’s not about right or wrong, it’s about taste.”

anyway, let’s get to the facts before i get too polemical: since charles’s departure in 2015, bouvot has run octavin on her own, making several cuvées from five hectares of vines in arbois, and many more as part of a négociant project launched in 2014 (for which she also harvests the fruit herself). after much deliberation, we’ve decided to open six bottles this sunday — a mix of estate and négociant bottlings, so as to give those who can make it as broad a sampling of her work as possible. we will also be starting the party early (at 12:30!), since i hear there’s a game on.

cheers + see you there,
vanessa
Sunday Tasting: 2/4/2024
Samuel Boulay & Didier Cazac with CAMO&CO

this sunday, we are joined at the shop by importers and friends chris camo and andy schwartz for a lineup that promises to be an early contender for tasting of the year. i know that’s bold for the first week of february, but since so many of my favorite wine discoveries of last year were camo&co selections, i’m feeling very lucky. as an introduction to the camo portfolio — which focuses mostly on the roussillon but has recently picked up several exciting producers in ardèche, auvergne, and beyond — we’ll be pouring three cuvées from the inimitable samuel boulay alongside two more from his friend and mentee, didier cazac.

though i’ve seen several pictures of his vines, his house, and what i can only assume is his dog, samuel boulay’s aversion to being photographed means i have no mental image of the man himself. this would be mostly unremarkable if not for the additional facts that a) there is no other winemaker i’ve spent so much time thinking about in the last year and b) the wines he produces are just as elusive. in attempting to capture some sense of them for this newsletter, i have generated and abandoned at least a dozen different metaphors, none of which seemed quite right. like all things related to boulay, this difficulty feels cosmically significant.

it’s not that the wines taste alien, or that the sensations they elicit are totally foreign. i can tell you, for example, that my first bottles of rappapeo 2018, an oxidative blend of roussanne and viognier, smelled of freshly ground peanut butter and made my teeth feel fuzzy, as if cloaked in the pulp of overripe pineapple. but there is something missing in that description, which betrays the experience by compressing it and making it seem linear. in real life, the wines are sublime and oracular, possessed of a certain kind of energy that is hard to convey in words, like beautiful music in an unfamiliar key.

unsurprisingly, this energy has brought several other fabulous winemakers into boulay’s orbit, of which didier cazac is one. less camera shy than his mentor but every bit as talented, cazac cut his teeth farming in bordeaux before landing at gilles azzoni’s legendary estate in ardèche and eventually founding his own domaine in the region. from the fruit of two hectares outside of vallon-pont-d’arc, cazac creates a line of cuvées as sensitive as they are surprising, with freshness that belies the warm climate of their origins and purity that leaves no doubt he’s learning from the best.

there is much more to say about ardèche, these wines, and the characters behind them, but i’ll have to save the rest of it for sunday. chris and andy, who visited boulay and cazac last fall, will be on hand to fill in the many gaps i’ve left, and i’m more or less certain sam will be there in spirit.

looking forward,
vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 1/28/2024
Alsace (Christian Binner & Les Vins Pirouettes)

several years ago, a bartender in berlin tried to dissuade me from ordering a glass of alsatian wine by describing it as sehr spezifisch, meaning “very specific.” like most warnings directed at people in their early 20s, this one had the opposite of its intended effect — rather than being put off, i was drawn in even further, determined to try it and also to enjoy it. afterwards, alsace became something of a fascination for me, though the extent of its peculiarity came into sharper focus only much later. with youthful pride (mostly) in the rearview mirror and the wisdom conferred by another decade of drinking, i’m now ready to concede that the bartender had a point: alsace is weird.

sandwiched between the vosges mountains and the rhine river, the region has changed hands four times since 1871, the object of a century-long tug of war between its neighbors france and germany. this history of contested ownership has left the place with a distinct air of liminality. neither wholly french nor entirely german, alsace is instead an odd, third thing — a reality most manifest in its proper nouns, which are replete with idiosyncratic takes on the letter “g” and an overabundance of consonants daunting even to german speakers (if any of you know how to pronounce “ginglinger,” dm me).

and then there’s the wine! like everything else, it’s caught somewhere in the middle, torn between the french obsession with terroir and the teutonic, quasi-egalitarian investment in grape variety. this has engendered something of an identity crisis for those winemakers tracking contemporary market trends, which suggest that old-school alsatian wines — i.e., highly technical aromatic and single-variety whites, mostly humorless and often sweet — do not, in the words of local legend jean-michel deiss, “meet the tastes of the era.” in response, younger vigneron(ne)s and those looking to remain relevant outside of the german tourist economy have had to get creative, which since the 2010s has meant leaning into terroir by blending grapes and reducing sugar, as well as experimenting with lees-aging and maceration.

which brings us, finally, to this week’s tasting, which features three wines from ammerschwihr native christian binner, plus two more from "les vins pirouettes," a collective project and sub-label he launched in 2015. since taking over his family’s domaine in 1998, christian has been at the forefront of what we might call alsace’s “new-ish guard,” doubling down on the estate’s longstanding commitment to minimal intervention by incorporating biodynamics, building a bioclimatic cellar, and eliminating all sulfur additions (as of 2013). les vins pirouettes was created as a way to support like-minded local winemakers without the resources to brand and market — mostly zero-zero as well, these are “artists’ wines” guided by the same philosophy as binner’s, but bearing their makers’ own individual style and stamp.

thanks for reading + see you sunday —

vanessa

Wednesday Tasting: 1/24/2024

we'll be opening a few low-abv ciders and co-ferments on wednesday evening for those of you still on the damp january bandwagon. :)

karl sjöström, co-founder of the malmö-based experimental cider project FRUKTSTEREO, will be on hand pouring a fresh lineup of bottlings designed to embrace the cool climate of his native sweden by foregrounding locally grown fruit, vegetables, and shrubs.5-7pm, $15 for five pours!

cheers, vanessa

Sunday Tasting: 1/21/2024
La Gazzetta

this week, we’ll be pouring some new arrivals from vino gazzetta, the lazio-based project of australian-born winemaker and cantina giardino alum trish nelson. meditating on trish’s wines, which are striking in part because they are so consistent and distinctive, has me thinking a lot about the question of style. in so-called “low-intervention” winemaking, what role does (or should) the winemaker’s own point of view play? is it secondary, amounting to little more than stewardship of high quality soil and fruit? or is it distinct but inseparable, like the framing of a photograph?

without discounting the importance of terroir, i tend to think it’s the latter, mostly because every wine is necessarily the result of a million tiny decisions. when to pick, how to press, whether and how long to macerate, what vessels to use, how long to age — these are just a few of the questions winemakers answer before arriving at their final products. there are ways of foregrounding one’s own unique voice — some vignerons, for example, harvest much earlier or later than their neighbors in order to achieve their preferred style — and ways of doing the opposite (i.e., intentionally making wines that are “typical” in style for the relevant grape or region), but both routes involve conscious and decisive choices on the part of the producer.

which way of doing things one prefers is, like everything, highly subjective. for my part, the wines that hold my attention and really make me think or feel — in other words, the ones that are really worth drinking — are those that strike a balance between the two poles of nature and nurture: they are unmistakably of their place while still capturing their makers’ signature style and perspective. they could neither be from any other place, nor made by any other person.

the best way to understand this special kind of alchemy is by tasting through a talented producer’s lineup, which is why i’m so glad to be sharing five different cuvées from gazzetta this weekend. nelson and her partner, piero, farm roughly eight hectares of vines in lazio and umbria, most of them adjacent to lake bolsena. using a combination of well- and lesser-known local grapes, they produce a range of orange and red wines that are rustic without being simple, and deeply rooted without being predictable. come by the shop on sunday to get a sense of what i mean.

cheers, vanessa
 
Sunday, January 14th: Anders Frederik Steen

happy 2024 and welcome back to sunday tastings! as we begin another year of learning and drinking together, i find myself reflecting on the gestures at play in this weekly ritual — talking, tasting, sharing — and their place in contemporary (natural) wine culture generally. this is partly an obvious stock-taking reaction to the onset of a new year, but it’s equally inspired by another major event: the eagerly anticipated arrival of new wines from anders frederik steen and his partner, anne bruun blauert.

for the uninitiated, steen is a danish-born ex-chef and -sommelier who transitioned to winemaking in 2013, beginning with fruit purchased from mythic jura legend jean-marc brignot. now based in valvignères and working closely with ardechoise icon gérald oustric, steen and blauert have become leading figures of the scene in their own right — a development owed, i think it’s fair to say, as much to their sparse, instantly recognizable labels and enigmatic cuvée names as to the wines’ compelling experimental style. part poet and part philosopher, steen approaches winemaking less as science than as artistic or spiritual practice. the results, unencumbered by systematicity or expectation, are different every year, consistent only in their unpredictability and, more recently, limited availability.

like all wines that achieve cult status, steen’s are hard to come by for reasons that are mostly fair: even as demand increases, small-scale vignerons like steen and blauert aren’t able or keen to scale up production to match it. the upshot is that prices go up and allocations dwindle; in a market-driven world increasingly thirsty for natural wine, there’s not much we can do about this. still, it does seem a shame that fewer and fewer people should have access to these wines and others like them — partly because they might be worth drinking, but mostly because of the cynical path of speculation and gatekeeping this kind of manufactured scarcity leads us down.

to be clear, i’m not an idealist. markets are markets, there won’t be fewer drinkers any time soon, and no self-respecting winemaker is going to ratchet up production for the hypebeasts (nor should they!). but when i think of those wines that have most moved me — the ones that led and keep me here, chasing a particular feeling and ineffable kind of high — i have to admit that many of them were highly allocated, most of them weren’t mine, and i didn’t drink any of them alone. so at the risk of sounding naïve, i’m committed to natural wine as a community that sustains itself, against all odds, on the basis of improbable generosity, impractical openness, and impassioned discourse. and to the extent that i’m in a position to promote and continue that tradition, i’m going to. 

so, rather than putting it on the shelves, we’ve decided to open much of our anders frederik steen allocation this sunday. it’s a small gesture, but it feels important and correct that we should try, to the best of our ability, to let as many people taste these wines as possible. there will be six cuvées to taste through and a (very) few additional bottles available for in-store purchase only. i look forward to sharing them with those of you who are able to join us. 

due to limited supply (in most cases, we only received two bottles!), space is limited and tickets are required for this tasting. you can reserve them here.

cheers,

vanessa

Sunday, December 10th: Champagne & Latkes
Grower Champagne & Latkes

This Sunday we host my absolute favorite tasting of the year, and always our grand finale: Grower Champagne. Hooray!

I should note, I traveled to Champagne this year, and while it was my second time in the region, it was my first real deep dive. Often, these wine trips can be a let down -- one's fantasy might be punctured in an instant, whether it's seeing a vineyard and realizing a vigneron's farming practices don't match their claims, or spending time with a winemaker you've long revered only to realize midway through the tasting he's borderline Q-anon. But this trip did not disappoint. I got to taste an array of vins clair, attend a festival purely of Coteaux in Chamery, and sit at Cedric Bouchard's dining room table for several hours tasting through old vintages pulled straight from his cellar. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.

My week there solidified everything I already felt about the region and its wines: that they are steeped in tradition, that they in fact offer an extreme value, and that a younger generation is making changes of significance that make the region relevant in the context of natural wine. In fact, I wrote a not-totally-incoherent email a couple of years back discussing much of this, and I don't know that I could write anything better so I'll reprint that here...

Champagne is a bit of complicated topic when it comes to natural wine, because it’s a category that has largely been eschewed by the zero-zero crowd. You just won’t find many bottles on the shelves or instagram feeds of some of the most iconic natural wine venues, and there are a few reasons for this.

For one, Champagne is inherently expensive, and therefore deemed elitist. Perhaps more prominently, Champagne is a wine of process, with such technique being incompatible with the concept of minimal intervention: the winemaker’s hand is always, and necessarily, evident in Champagne. And I suppose a third disqualifying feature of Champagne is the use of added yeast as part of the secondary fermentation.

In my mind, it’s pretty easy to answer each of these items. First, it’s hard to support the notion of price being determinative of elitism. With the category of natural wine colliding with fashion, it’s more and more common to see $50-75 bottles of natural wine made in obscure places, from obscure grapes. My argument here is not necessarily to say that Champagne isn’t elitist. It’s to say Natural Wine is (increasingly) equally guilty. 

With regard to process, there’s no shortage of that in the vin nature world. Jules Chauvet, considered one of the father’s of the French natural wine movement, pioneered carbonic maceration, an anaerobic fermentation utilizing CO2, that is on oft and even over-utilized technique. Some argue that it’s a homogenizer of aromatics in the same way that artificial yeast can be. Yet, it’s an accepted and almost expected practice within the natural wine world. Meaning, process and natural winemaking are not mutually exclusive.

Finally, we come to the question of yeast. The addition of yeast is necessary to spur the secondary (in-bottle) fermentation required in Champagne production. Should this inherently disqualify Champagne from being considered natural? I don’t believe so. For one, there are plenty of Champagne producers who employ yeast native to their winery, using a sort of pied de cuve system: wine from the current harvest, newly fermenting, is essentially a starter that helps propagate enough yeast to be used as the liqueur de tirage. This liqueur de tirage is what spurs a ‘natural’ secondary fermentation. If you’ve had Lambrusco from Donati, Col Fondo from Costadila, or Ancestrale Methode wines from Pascal Potaire (Les Capriades) - the same type of technique is employed.

All of this is a very long way of saying, there’s plenty of Champagne on our shelves at Domaine LA, and from a philosophical and ideological standpoint it is very much in concert with the rest of the shop: it’s made by small producers who see their wines from the vines through to the bottle. It’s made without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. It’s made with indigenous yeasts (with limited exceptions). It’s terroir-driven and often site-specific. And, a point I should have made earlier, it costs what it costs not because of excessive marketing budgets, or because somebody decided it was fashionable, but because it takes an immense amount of time, and perhaps an even greater degree of care, to produce.

While within the natural wine world, Champagne is not really all that fashionable, I feel strongly that it has no equal. I truly believe it’s what you should be drinking on New Year’s Eve, and really much more frequently than that. If you’re willing to spend $100 on a bottle made by an architect in Pantelleria, you can certainly invest half that amount in a bottle of proper Champagne, made by a third or fourth generation farmer keeping alive the traditions of her family and region.

As for this Sunday's event...we'll be joined by three of our excellent sales representatives. Jacob Sharp of Terrestrial, Adam Ohler of Grand Cru Selections, and Cinnamon Sonkarley of Farm Wine who will each present two wines. Vanessa and Sierra will add in a wine or two, for a 7+ bottle line-up that includes the following:

NV Herve Rafflin La Nature’L 1er Cru Extra Brut NV

NV Herve Rafflin Pinot Meunier 1er Cru Extra Brut NV

2017 Frederic Savart Extra Brut "Ephemere"

2018 Michel Gonet "3 Terroirs"

2020 Benoit Marguet "Shaman" Grand Cru

NV Francis Boulard & Fils "Les Murgiers" Brut Nature

& more!

As if that weren't enough, Jesse Furman of Hot Water Bagels is going to be on hand frying up fresh latkes, to celebrate the season with us and provide tasters with a base layer to soak up all those bubbles. For the uninitiated, fried food makes a perfect foil for Champagne, the fattiness of the former counterbalancing the acidity of the latter.

So, please join us from 2 to 5PM this Sunday. It's a veritable bargain at $30 including all the wine & the food & of course the cheer...

Sunday, 12/10 - 2-5PM - $30

Sunday, December 3rd: Mendocino County 

Every bottle of wine is a gamble. There are ways of minimizing risk, of course, and some experts rarely bet wrong. But as long as natural wine prides itself on resisting commercial imperatives to uniformity and predictability, there will always be a margin of error, and in some ways that’s kind of the point. I like being right as much as the next person, but these wines are alive, and missing the mark from time to time keeps things interesting. In the worst case, you’re a little disappointed; in the best, the opposite happens. You’re still wrong, but in the best possible way: you’re surprised. That's what it was like tasting Dan Marioni’s wines for the first time, especially “Fields,” a rich blend of red fruit from Mendocino County. Having gotten used to writing off anything domestic that could be described as “jammy,” or “powerful,” or "containing Petit Sirah," every part of me was prepared to hate it. But in the end, I couldn’t. Here was a wine that smelled like root beer and wild mushroom, tasted like clove-infused raspberry jam, and was every bit as expressive and compelling as some of my favorite bottles from France, Italy, or Spain. In this way, “Fields” is as sobering as it is intoxicating — a humbling reminder that there is always more to learn, discover, and look forward to.

Join us this Sunday to taste “Fields” and four other gems from California’s North Coast. Skeptics welcome. <3

The lineup:

- Unturned Stone Mendocino Ridge Chardonnay 2021

- Populis "Macerated White" 2022

- Broc Cellars "Amore Bianco" 2022

- Slow Dance "Frizzante" 2022

- Marioni "Fields" 2019

Sunday 12/3 ~ 2pm/5pm ~ $15


 
Sunday, November 19th: Thanksgiving Wine Picks
The holidays are officially upon us and I get the impression that some of you are slightly stressed. And having personally already lost several hours to turkey logistics alone, I don’t blame you. In deciding what to pour for this tasting, I had to return to the drawing board several times, mostly because I still don’t really know what I’m making for Thanksgiving, when I’m making it, or who exactly I’m serving it to. In the absence of a menu or a guest list, I felt adrift. How can you make careful drink plans without these most basic of details? After much fretting, I decided that you simply can’t — and now I am free. So my message to you all this week is the following: do not worry about the wine at Thanksgiving. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to come up with a perfect pairing; it isn't worth it. Just drink things that'll stand up to an indulgent feast without weighing you down. Naturally, we've got plenty of Beaujolais that fits the bill, but the shop is bursting with other options as well. Swing by on Sunday to sip these contenders while you shop:
- Thierry Hesnault Pétillant Naturel 2022 (Plantet, Chenin)
- Marioni Sauvignon Blanc 2022

- Terpin Quinto Quarto Bianco Sivi 2022 (Pinot Grigio)

- Michel Guignier ‘La Bonne Pioche’ 2021 (Gamay)

- Absentee Flaws 2020
Sunday, 11/19 - 2PM to 5PM - $15