Posts belonging to Category Chianti

Buying Wine: Our Favorite LA Shops

stacks 'n racks

stacks ‘n racks in Tarzana

“Dimi. Why you do dees to me?” The sweet grandmother asked her son the priest with pain in her voice as Bill Friedkin looked in from behind the camera. The memorable scene from the Exorcist was almost as chilling as buying wine at one of your local haunts only to have it disappoint at the table. What makes a good wine store? What are the qualities in play? Can there be more than one good store? Can we think of another question and keep this party going? Holidays are coming. Heck. They’re here.

Places we like to shop for wine in our town and why we like them.

Tarzana Wine & Spirits looks like just another family owned liquor store that understands the word WINE on the sign could help boost sales. Inside the floor is stacked two to three cases high with what a wine fiend likes to see. Behind the floor stacks are the rows and rows of racks. Twenty years ago you had to go to a real wine store like Wally’s or Paul Smith’s WHWCo to find this level of wine shopping experience. Today the appearance is much more commonplace. As one tBoW reader pointed out, the difference is the staff. He likes a sales associate who knows what she is selling. With nice hair. The buyer makes the clever purchases. Can find good stuff here.

unsure what to buy?

unsure what to buy?

Liquid Wine is a local stop we must always hit when driving down Topanga from the 118 to the West end of the Valley. Never changes. Pete mans the register while watching baseball or hockey. His selection is quirky like New Mexico and just as intriguing. And Pete fulfills the knowledgeable sales clerk standard. He knows his poop. If you know yours then you will find something unusual. If you do not then ask him to recommend something around $15.

Once upon a time the Liquor Store on Ventura one block east of Topanga was a place a guy could stop in and pick up a couple of mixed cases of Old World wines the owner bought on close out.

perusal plan

Domaine perusal plan

He specialized in Italian and French closeouts shunned by the snob stores with price points in the high 20 to mid 30s. The hit rate was close to 70%. But the owner sold out and now it’s just another liquor store with a wine on the sign in big letters.

Domaine LA is always a good destination wine shop. Drive to West Hollywood with a couple hundies. Let the well-informed sales gal lead you around the shop layed out for a casual stroll. She points out the organic biodynamic sustainable wines of the moment: orange, Spanish, Clear Lake, cloudy, “let it sit a while” she advises. Our mind reels. We sit. Yes we would love a taste… from a glass. Leave with a mixed case for the coming holidays. Satisfied. This is not the rack populated traipse through the bottle forest. Domaine LA’s floor is spacious. Selections are selective. We are absolutely certain there is not a bad bottle in the store. We see quite a few of the same merchandise we get from our dealer and he sells to super models. It must be good.

Wines we recently tasted while dining at Panzanella in Sherman Oaks.

Scavino-03WEB2003 Scavino Barolo $35: Full and soft. “Better tomorrow” advises Dotoré. Tasting like a bull ready for the ring, with pedigree, tonight. Nebbiolo is sexy wine. Always elegant, regal. Seems at odds with the humble agro Piemonte region. This wine is the “pedestrian” bottle. Young. Came out of the cellar. 13.5%

la-mannella-07WEB2007 La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino $30: Sangio based Tuscan. Purchased at Tarzana W&S. Oaky, big, needs air even after being decanted. Needs to open. The “giftor” says the wine is outta whack while others find it full flavored and jummie. It is full and tannic. Worth buying once the price drops which it will. Sit on it at least a year. 13%

Bucci-verd12WEB2012 Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi $20 ($48 on the list): Delicious white wine. The 250% markup on the wine list is normal. The wine shows light acid, not much spine with very friendly pleasing flavors, ripe fruit closer to orange than lime. Did not come in bottle shaped like a fish. 13%

Panzanella is a nice place to dine in the Valley. Part of the Drago dining empire that has overtaken LA. The family-style Valley needs a white table cloth family-style dining spot where middle aged adults can go with friends, sit boy-girl-boy-girl, and eat a well-prepared Italian meal. We were in the wine room which is the quieter area. Massimo makes sure everything goes smoothly. A “holidays” return is already in the works.

Notes On a Scorecard: New vs Old World = USC vs UCLA?

uscuclaWEBMarch Madness is everywhere. tBoW is on holiday and waiting to tee off once it stops storming. The Bruins and Trojans are looking for coaches. Turmoil is everywhere. We have tasted several very interesting wines but before we report on those there are a few other matters worth referencing. (more…)

Wines Made for Food. Not Investment. Not Trophies. FOOD.

martin_OVPX_2011WEBAfter 45 minutes reading about the New Wave of Napa Cult Cabs I had to have a wine that not one post economic meltdown real estate food importer online gaming new Napa mogul would ever reach for; a wine that if it was presented to the owners of the new wave Napa cult Cabber Patch Kids would produce the same look Karl Rove had when he was told by Megan Kelly Romney really did lose. You know the look – “uh you’re kidding.” Now YOU are looking at my fantasy wine right above this paragraph: a white wine from Argentina made from an obscure if very respectable grape that is M-A-D-E-F-O-R-F-O-O-D. If you like the concept please continue reading. (more…)

Turkey Day Warmup: Tasters Start Your Engines Now…Diets Later

Even though it was 86 in LA today the Summer of 2012 is definitely over. I’m wearing long sleeves here fercyrinoutloud! Turkey Day is right around the corner. We have been preparing by getting our taste buds in shape for the food and wine extravaganza. Thanksgiving is the great consumption holiday because we get to bring together the volunteer army of foods and wines. It’s like we’re going to fight the bloody British at Nantucket [ed. Cornwall idiot. Lancaster?]. We have been sampling an array of big flavored wines like those bottles that will dress up the table on Thursday Nov 22. This is not a day for delicate elegant wines. The day calls for the Crimson Tide O-line in a bottle. Big beefsters. Push your palate around like a puppy. If the wines you go with can show some style so much the better. You are almost always obliged to bring a few foils – you know, P-L-O-N-K decoys for the relatives who always leave half glasses laying about. We always save up the best decoys throughout the year. Forget your guilt. It is a fact of life. Like paying taxes. Remember to give thanks. (more…)

Labor Day Stay-cation Fueled by Low Wine Prices

With our lives governed by precious petrol we had little choice but to turn to wine as an alternative fuel source over Labor Day. The Large provided the first tasting session on a perfectly sunny SoCal day. After checking out the SW swell at Salt Creek we retired for a serious and amusing tasting dubbed Le Ruse Rouge de Mooj. The crew assembled for the avalanche of U20 wines laced with commentary heavy in fake Frénch acceñts. Let’s get to it. Many of the wines are still available.

Chris primed the tasters with a nice selection of Rosés that showcased the range of varietals and regions making up this prototypical summer beverage. (more…)