Bellavino: Westlake’s PREMIER wine bar

bvinosign.jpgRichard Belloff is a pioneer in Westlake. He opened his cozy wine bar/restaurant Bellavino in Westlake CA in 2003. He has gone through several chefs and enough personal re-tooling to test anyone’s survivability. Yet here he is with his very warm dining establishment, a terrific chef, a wine director, an outrageously attractive Monday night $30 three course special…and a superb wine list.
petitepetit.jpg2005 Michael David Petite Petit $20: Richard recommended this wine to go with my crab cake and pork chop. He also noted the importance of staying under $20 without sacrificing quality. This wine does it. Great balance. Medium weight. Some cranberry, light pepper. Could pass for a Southern France Carignane blend. And it is such an unusual blend. Michael David Winery hails from Lodi. bvino1.jpgHe makes the 7 Deadly Zins which is a very popular label. Not a zin fan but who knows now? We love Lodi having learned about the historical importance of Lodi in California wine history. You could call it the motherlode. More like the motherland.I usually frown on the zin-cab or cab-syrah stylists. As my good pal who took me to Mastros might say Igottatellya this blend works really well. Now I have to bring Igottatellya to Bellavino on Monday night.
14.5% on the alcohol which is the new goal for Adam Tolmachl! If you did not read the incredible LA Times article on high alcohol levels in Central Coast wines with the courageous admission from Tolmach – one of California’s master wine makers – that he is boycotting his own high-alcohol wines – then you must click on the preceding link. Of course, tBoW has been pounding the table (like Krushchev at UN in 1960) for this cause for a long time. This is why we post alcohol levels. Let me step down from my soapbox.
[ed. for all the puppies who read this blog, the link goes to a 1960 newsreel showing Russian Prime Minister Krushchev and komrades pounding the table with their fists to demonstrate Soviet strength and pugnacity. tBoW’s Bacchus was 11 y.o. then and this stuff played big but you had to go to the movies to see newsreels, or you could just read the newspaper. Now I feel like Andy Rooney.]
Holy jumpin’ elephants now here’s a goodun. The Michael David winery was supposedly sued because this label looks too much like Barnum & Bailey artwork. All I can say is the wine is not listed on the winery website nor could I find it on the web. I had to take this pic of the Micahel David label above myself so you could make up your own mind.
Jesse Casanova is the wine director. Jesse brings his experience working with Terlato Wines International which handles many high-end Italian wine plus domestic standouts such as Rochioli. bvinobar1.jpgSo Jesse know wine. Better yet, Jesse is on a mission to help Westlake wine fiends learn about wines other than the same old same old (nuff said right there). So he has initiated a series of wine dinners called Vine and Dine. These feature different varietals paired with well-matched foods. How about a Riesling tasting? First one I have seen in the Conejo Valley. Check these guys. If you are there on a Monday say hello to me!
2004Grenache.JPGHere are some other nice wines recently tasted.
Pipestone 2003 Grenache ~$18: Jammy-lite, ripe fruit. One day later the fruit backs off and blends in much more nicely. Ripe plum notes. Rich tasting. Can only dream of what this wine might offer with a bit less ripeness and alcohol. Following the development of this winemaker is worthwhile.14.9%.
brouilly05.jpg2005 Domaine de Combiaty Brouilly $18: Imported by Beaune Imports, an importer to watch. We are pretty much in love with the 2005 and the 2006 vintages in Beaujolais. Something is happening in the region. This wine is made by Dominique Piron. We think we can always tell the old world wines because they do not have the big bright fruit (generally, there must be exceptions). This is not the exception but it does have a lot of good fruit. A day later (as above) it is better, more blended (melded?) and nicely balanced. Moreso than the Pipestone. Would I buy it again? If other wines from the same vintages were not available. Would I buy it if I had never tried it before? Well I already did. Best of all? 12.5%
2004-Mascarello-barbera.jpg2004 Barbera d’Alba Vigna San Lorenzo Bartolo Mascarello $22: Steve Goldun tout (he left WHWC!! What will we do? We throw our corks in with Dave Russell). Think Gamay fruit with spicy pepper. Absolutely delightful. Very nicely balanced. Open one day and stored in half bottle. I will get more of this. 14%. Once upon a time Barbera was not very glamorous. Maybe it still is not. Then it got glamorous kind of riding the coattails of the Barrique Barolistas. Those would be the Piemonte winemakers who broke ranks with the old timers and started aging the wine in small oak barrels instead of monster Slovenian oak – or traditional cement – barrels. My point is Barbera quickly shifted from being sort of obscure and for locals only to a “re-discovered” varietal that “deserved its due”. Thank god that movement faded. Here is a locals only wine that tastes like the wines we would like to taste more of. Who is Bartolo Mascarello? Mascarello is a high profile name in the region and a defender of the “old ways”. Click on the preceding link to read a bio on the elder statesman of Barolo.

2 Comments

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    Jason says:

    FYI: Bartolo Mascarello passed away in 2005. His daughter Maria-Teresa now leads the company, just as staunchly set in the “old way” as her father (thankfully).
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/15/international/europe/15mascarello.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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    bacchus says:

    Dear RJT – Thanks for the link to the NYT story on Signore Mascarello’s passing. I like many Piemonte wines other than Baroli including Arneis, Dolcetto, and Barbera; wines I might not have tasted without having visited the region (when such a trip was affordable in 2000). We met several notable winemakers including Domenico Clerico and Giuseppe Rinaldi (he had to be pals with Mascarello). I thought Rinaldi’s wines were undrinkable they were so tannic and tight. Would love to try one today. Here is a link to some other comments on Baroli (and a couple of photos) you might enjoy. Thanks for your comment. Tis the Season…

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