Palate in Glendale “they nailed it!!”

Call me a snob. I think the best dining on the West Coast is in San Francisco (notable exception Bashan in Montrose, Lou in Hollywood). In LA fine dining is first and foremost measured by how costly is the dinner (lower cost = worse fare). I also believe that fine dining in LA invariably comes in two flavors: Italian or the mega-steak house. Given a choice I will take Italian any day over the Mortons and Mastros gang (especially local fare like Giovanni in Woodland Hills). Today’s steakhouses are modern day cafeterias. They all serve the same stuff essentially the same way. Given a choice I will take LA’s international choices (Chinese in Monterey Park, Mexican – Tamayo – in East LA, Korean in mid-Wilshire, D’ Cache – Argentine – in Burbank) every time over asparagus, spuds with lobster and a New York I can burn myself on my home grill. [ed. Dined at Cube in West Hollywood and found it very Frisco-like in an LA way so things are looking up around here…now if could just convince restaurateurs to serve something other than Cabernet and Chardonnay…some are, some are…but not enough!]
And Baghdad by the Bay? You can begin with wine lists at so many of the City’s restaurants. They blow our predictable burg away. tBoW has covered this angle before. If you want to push in my big snobby nose on this subject just click here and read this column and show me something, anything comparable to a Beaujolais Cru celebratory list from LA.
I just want to make it clear why I am so excited that a top notch, inventive, comfortable dining establishment with an enchanting wine program is within driving distance of my hood. The place is called Palate and it is in Glendale [ed. back entrance to the wine store pictured] down the street from the “architectural steakhouse”, the new Americana mall.
The chef at Palate is Octavio Becerra who worked side-by-side with Joachim Splichal. That’s the foodie story. But what about the wine? We have Sommelier Steve Goldun who was singled out on this blog when he was tBoW’s unofficial wine guru. Steve knows wine. And, best of all, I learned long ago when he was prowling the aisles at Woodland Hills Wine Co. that my palate matches well with his.
It has long been the that, as a consumer, you will enjoy wine that much more if you can find a decent store with great selection and fair prices. But you may consider yourself very lucky if you can find someone on the floor who knows your palate and would never put anything in your hands that would not slide over your tongue, slip down your gullet and bring a smile to your lips. Enter Steve Goldun.
Steve knows value…loves Burgundy…and sells wine out of the retail space in the large and roomy tasting bar, shop and party area. I don’t know whether to yell or wet myself. [ed. tip – let Steve choose your wines].
We took a bunch of photos of the place. The wine reviews are compiled from two dinners a week or so apart.
reverdysancerreterredemaimbray05.jpg2007 Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre Ros√© <$20: Pinot noir fruit, extra dry, 12%. Dry dry dry. Tons of acid and just enough fruit to keep me from whistling involuntarily. I like it. My dining pal don’t. Here is a fun link about the winery and owners.
laspinetta moscato07.jpg2007 La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti Biancospina $16: “He bottles this every 60 days”. And it tastes that fresh. I love Moscato in the summer! Of course he carries it. It is like buttah, ice cream. So fresh and fruity and spritzy. Mind you, we are not asking. Steve just KNOWS what should be had next. 5.5%
dirler1.jpg2004 Dirler Sylvaner Vielle Vignes $20: Stony, bitter, bright. Classic Alsatian, a region that makes wines in a style I do not especially favor. However, we cannot deny this wine is very well made and absolutely terroir driven. One more sign of the ban on Stepford Wines on Steve Goldun’s list.
Petillant_Brut_DH.jpg2002 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Brut Petillant $24: Here is the sommelier’s skill. Joe Dressner says one should avoid sparkling wine from Vouvray altogether [ed. click here to learn where is Vouvray]. Well Mr. Dressner may be right about alot but he is wrong about Vouvray sparklers when it comes to this wine. This is delicious. Yeasty like a fine champagne. Golden orange color. Lemon fruit, minerals, long toasty finish. What a great bottle of wine. Chenin Blanc – world’s most underrated varietal? [ed. couple months ago you would have shouted Torrontes] Spectacular. I ordered it right away to kick off the second evening dinner. Robert Chadderton selection.
Haut_Lieu_Sec_2007.jpg2006 Domaine Huet Haut-Lieu Sec Vouvray $20: The non sparkling version. Super clean nose, actually a very faint whiff of bleach. Now that is aerifaction. Serve cold and it can cleanse a palate between courses. Went great with the salmon rillete (in mason jar). The Wine Doctor has an excellent post on the wines from Huet including these two. 13%
Alina (near-perfect waiter) suggested a sampler of cheese, crostini, salumi and the duck pate. We also had an assortment of green and brown olives. Loved it all. But my dining pal and I practically fell out of chairs and went hand-to-hand over the little cup of balsamic sauce. The consistency and appearance of apple butter but the flavor of fine balsamic. Tasted good on everything. Even plain off the knife!!
LambruscoDiSorbara-terreals.jpg2006 Fiorini Lambrusco Grasparosso di Castelvetro $12: Suggested by our near perfect Alina who otherwise was on the money with every other tout. Lambrusco is red, not even close to pink, and frothy as in frizzante. Must be an acquired taste because neither of us liked it. Now she did recommend it with the duck pate stored in teeny mason jars. And it did work with that but…nah.
We did have a couple of reds for dinner #2 that must be mentioned.
trenel morgon.jpg2006 Trenel Cote du Py Morgon $20: Served with the pickled cherries which was purr-fick. Some tannins, rich flavors. IGTY liked it a lot. I brought up the point that since IGTY loves William Selyem it figures he would like the 2005/06 Beaujolais wines. He gets his red wines from the local purveyor who specializes in Santa Barbara and Paso products which are actually too overblown for my taste (Tablas Creek the exception). Of course, this is just part of my plan to get him to bust out more of his W/S wines stored in my cellar. The Trenel wines from both vintages are truly wonderful. Reviewed in other tBoW posts [ed. June 30 07, October 1 07, January 5 08, and April 12 08] and still worth searching out. 13%
redortier.gif2003 Redortier Gigondas $30: This knocked everyone off their seats. Half Grenache, half Syrah; a very good blend as a rule. Pays off here. Smoky and fruity, dark dark cherries and chocolate. Transcendent. We took a few home with us. Another Chadderton selection. 13%
The lesson is if you want something very close to the flavors of Burgundy with all the finesse and one quarter the cost look to the south and seek out the Beaujolais Cru wines.
gravonia 98.jpg1998 Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia Blanco $34: A risky wine and a find at ten years. Nose and flavors are chalky, reserved, dry, not much acid left. I have never been a fan of Spanish white wines. Unless they are from the Basque country which of course Steve has in the store. I purchased a white and pink Basque wine but did not finish my pour of Gravonia. My dining pal (DP) liked it. 12%
javiller02.jpg2002 Javillier-Guyot Savigny les Beaune Blanc $34: I know this was the wine of the evening because it still lit me up after the first four tastes. Stewed or sauteed apples. Pippin apples when you break them open and stick your nose in there says DP. This French chardonnay can never be mistaken for a new world wine. It is never even close. This is toasty in flavor, golden in color. Not tasting the butterscotch…yet. Could get there. But I would drink it now. Great depth of fruit. Mmm-mmm.
Served with the canneloni in fresh tomato sauce that was closer to finely chopped salsa than sauce. Tomatoes worked with the White Burg. Also gnocchi with green peas and morels. A very earthy dish that complemented the toastiness.
Banyuls_blanc.jpgTry wait. One more wine.
2006 Domaine du Mas Blanc Banyuls Blanc $30: Normally I would say absolutely no to a fortified wine after the parade that came across our table. But that would be like saying no to golf lessons from Phil “the thrill” Mickelson. Or poker lessons from Daniel Negranu.negreanu_i.jpg Or Jennifer Tilly.
This pale salmon Provencal wine was so distinctive. Briny nose even in the first taste. Then honey and fruit, oatmeal with brown sugar. tilly-jennifer-02.jpgOn the second evening it was all mocha and coffee, caramel and apples. Made from three different grapes. 25 % “Muscat d’Alexandrie”, 70% “Grenache blanc”, 5% “Malvoisie (Tourbat)”. Here is the link to the label. Charming. Not everyone liked it as much. 16.5%.
We took a 40 minute walk.
Here is the very positive LA Times review from June 5 2008.

1 Comment

  1. Hi
    I was drawn here by your link to my site, thanks. I like the image you have of the 2005 Nicolas & Pascal Reverdy Sancerre Terre de Maimbray, it looks very familiar. But you seem to have this domaine confused with one of the many other Reverdys in Sancerre as you have linked to Domaine Jean Reverdy – completely different and certainly nothing to do with the Sancerre Rosé you have written up.

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