Hell Yeh!!! It’s the wine stoopid!


Palate Food & Wine is the one restaurant in Los Angeles where I do not bring my own bottle of wine. Every once in awhile something is so obvious it is stupid. Taking wine to most restaurants is, truthfully, a defensive move. There are very few restaurants that offer interesting wines at reasonable prices. Most restauranteurs consider their wine list an opportunity to extort 300% markups for whatever low-end bottles the local mega-distributor can sell them.
One has a far better choice at Palate where I usually spend more on the wine than the food. But what value and what fun. I prefer to have Steve Goldun, Palate’s wine-meister, bring wines by the glass, matched to what has been ordered. This is like giving the bailout to Warren Buffet instead of Henry Paulson. I know Steve’s picks will be exceptional, unusual, delightful and inspirational. Did I leave something out?
Jura region.jpg2005 Domaine Labet Cotes du Jura Flors de Savinin: Where the heck is Jura (see map)? The Savingin grape is related to Traminer and has more cousins than a Nashville songwriter. Read all about it at wikipedia. This wine has some purposeful oxidation that yields hard cheese flavors, doughy, yeast notes (say that 5 times in a row yeastnotes…yeastnotes…) and memories of “mache” (merci to Palate Manager Francois aka le pointeau argent). Flavors bring lemon, citrus, mashed tart apples (not apple sauce). White wines from Spain are often oxidized to bring out this dry and cheesy flavor. It can be off-putting but it worked here. The perfect wine to start with at Palate where I expect to taste wines far from the middle-of -the-road.
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2004 Vitatge Vielh de Lapeyre Jurancon Sec
: If it is a wine from Gascony it usually means Charles Neal is the importer. His choices are bleeding edge, in the forefront, beyond the vanguard. Here is a great example. Bright citrus fruit. Orange-ish. Think Riesling crossed with Chenin Blanc. Is it really? Steve pours it with the Matsuki ‘shrooms and Dungeness crab risotto. Perfecto.
chermettebeauj07.jpg2007 Pierre Chermette Beaujolais $15: This is it. Guaranteed U20 pick for Year 2. Spicy on the nose like glüwein, cinnamon. Big fruity, juicy but not overripe. Just delicious. This is the entry level. How great will the village wines be? Weygandt brings them in. I took some home with me. That is commitment. 12%
giroudbourgogne05.jpg2005 Camille Giroud Bourgogne $32: Premium Burgundy producer from exceptionally fine sourced vineyards. This wine described as de-classified Mersault. It is beautiful, simple and straightforward Pinot Noir. Soft, fruity. Pinot plus. More more more. 12.5%
ca_togni_label.jpg1997 Ca’ Togni: I broke my rule and brought this bottle but only because I knew Steve Goldun would like to taste it. After all, a dessert from a top Napa cab-maker is unusual. Philip Togni is one of the premier Napa Cabernet winemakers. This statement is somewhat supercilious since everyone who makes Cabernet in Napa considers him or herself a premium winemaker 587.jpgby virtue of location [ed. and price!]. However, Philip Togni has one of the better stories that makes the hyperbole real. Trained in Bordeaux at a mature age he purchased land on Spring Mountain 2,000 feet above Napa in 1983 and began fulfilling his plan to make great Bordeaux style wine from the best growing region for Cabernet in the world. His wines are toothy, even stiff when young. They require age. When we visited a few years ago he offered this little split of his dessert wine. Sassafras, root beer and strawberries. Rich flavor, lovely balance. Cooked strawberries style.2.jpg Wish I had another. Paired with the chocolate pudding, like Bonnie and Clyde, they were meant for each other. Perfect finish to a great dining and wine-ing experience.
First word on the week’s historic election: be happy that somewhere Redd Foxx is smiling because something truly incredible happened when the blue states won. Hell yeh!!!
[ed. Redd Foxx, for our younger readers, was a trail blazing comic best known for his mid 70s TV show Sanford & Son. Before he hit the bigtime he labored long and hard breaking new ground for taboo humor that opened the gates for later comics from Richard Pryor to Chris Rock. Foxx broke many color barriers in entertainment. He was a loyal friend to many other entertainers of color who rode his coattails into the mainstream business. He was socially progressive (a colleague of Malcom X when he was Little)…and he was hilariously funny. Click on the above link and learn about him]

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