Unquestionably, my favorite part about my job is meeting all kinds of people, usually people who are irrationally and irrevocably passionate about food, wine and spirits. There is a natural communion between people who like to feed each other- people who revel in the various and beautiful expressions of flavor sensations. The day I walked into Feed in Venice Beach I knew there would be no shortage of such sensitive souls- this place is a sanctuary for foodies. I felt like coming home. Continue reading
Thank goodness for Italian wine geeks like Brittany Carlisi. She found an awesome older bottle of Fattoria San Lorenzo’s eponymous “Il San Lorenzo” from 1997 in her company’s inventory, and decided it was time to dust that bottle off and start selling it. The world needs more aged Verdicchio, right?
This is my favorite kind of wine: weird, old, and totally unique.
Pizzeria Il Fico is tucked along Robertson just outside of Beverly Hills. It’s a sleek, modern place with a beautiful patio. The food is classic, with a targeted, authentic Italian wine list. This is where we found the Erste + Neue “Prunar” Weissburgunder 2010. Yes, it’s Italian. And yes, it was delicious. Continue reading
The “Oblong Tasting” at Sotto Restaurant in Los Angeles was one of the best wine nights I have attended. Formatted around the infamous, wise-cracking personality that is “Lou”, and guided by Sotto’s resident Wine Geeks, Jeremy and Rory, it was a night of discussion and tasting centered around a handful of Italy’s “natural” wines.
I love the bar at Bäco Mercat in downtown Los Angeles. The ambiance is fun, the food is amazing, the bartenders are friendly, and their spirit selection is pretty much unparalleled. I love their home-made Bäco Pop, a series of surprisingly-flavored sodas, so I was very happy to taste it alongside one of my favorite Italian amari in a lovely little cocktail I like to call the Monte-Bäco. Continue reading
Jura is a phantom for me. Quiet, mysterious, and elusive. This is one of France’s smallest and lesser-known wine regions, situated east of Burgundy near the Swiss border. Jura’s craggy, gently rolling terroir holds the secrets of diverse and rambling microclimates- from limestone to marly soils, and from dry summers to cold winters.
From the few wines I have tasted so far, I believe Jura must be a woman. Beautiful and multi-faceted, equally angelic, graceful, and yet completely frustrating. I am totally captivated.
I tasted this gorgeous Jura wine from Michel Gahier on a dark, steamy night in San Francisco. We were ensconced in one of the city’s most intriguing new restaurants, Commonwealth, when I had my first sip of this wine, made from Jura’s typical red grape, Trousseau. First, the wine is bright, full of a lean acidity- long, elegant limbs confidently striding over ancient cobblestones, silk skirts floating over strong calves and ankles. Then, there is a hint of black fruit- the aftertaste of a sun-ripened blackberry, and then nothing but dark, damp forest floor, mushrooms and tree bark.
This wine is a stunning enigma. I had never tasted anything like it. It is a first kiss, a long, hot look across a crowded room, a familiar embrace.
And now I want more.
GD Vajra’s Langhe Bianco is a special rarity. Made from 100% Riesling, this wine showcases the spectacular soil of the Langhe in an unusual and non-traditional grape varietal. It is steely; vertical with acidity and lean minerality. The wine has a sort of petrol-mossy green aromatic that screams “Riesling” for me, but it is truly Italian. Earthy, elegant and seriously delicious.
Let me put this another way: What is the one reason Aldo Vajra, a passionate Master of Nebbiolo, would dedicate any space in his limited vineyards to a non-indigenous varietal like Riesling? You only have to taste this wine to know the answer.
The last time I was able to taste this wine was at Portland’s Nostrana- a gorgeous restaurant with a ton of old-world charm, all wrapped up in the hip-ness that is Portland. The food is pretty stellar too- like this veal-filled pasta dish, swimming in some kind of decadent beschamel. The perfect unctuous and cheese-laden dish to compliment Vajra’s laser-focused Langhe Bianco.
Just another reason to love Riesling. As if you needed one more.
I found this bottle of Bressan’s 1998 Pignolo on Max Stefanelli’s wine list at Terroni in Los Angeles. The wine list is a tribute to Italy and its adjacent neighbors- it’s such a wonderful and comprehensive selection of wines I almost didn’t see this little hidden gem.
Pignolo is a rare indigenous grape, exclusive to Friuli. It has a particularly savage, brambly aroma- it’s vinous and unhinged in a way that would make most fanatics of real Italian wines swoon. This wine is a beast, a regal, king, a warrior.
Even after 14 years the Pignolo was initially tight and closed. It took about an hour in the glass to beging to unfurl itself- revealing secret layers of blackberry and cedar that morphed gently into fresh sweet hay and red, irony earth- almost like the scent of wet terracotta. This wine is seriously complex.
On the palate a beautiful burst of acidity followed by layers of long-lasting black fruits, ripe plum and a tingling bite of tannin. Untamed, and yet still perfectly balanced. This is a wine with wisdom- an old soul. If you ever have the chance, do yourself a favor and experience it for yourself.
When this kind of melancholy threatens, there is no better cure than a sunny glass of rose. Thank heavens for Sitka & Spruce, where you can find at least a handful of these cloud-clearing pink wines by the glass at any moment.