The other day I visited the ladies of Culver City’s newly-minted Bar and Garden. Recently Lauren Johnson and Marissa Mandel rehabilitated an antique liquor store, and have turned it into a beautiful, airy, sunlight-filled space. Their selection of natural wines and small-batch spirits is pretty much unparalleled, and the whole operation is overseen by a quiet and affectionate pooch named Banjo. Now that’s what I call a great neighborhood shop!
Banjo, lovable mascot of @BarAndGarden. Clearly the camera loves him.
Found this baby at Monopole Winein Pasadena yesterday while running around with my fellow-wine geek Peter Kao. 1979 is his birth year, so clearly we had to taste it. I haven’t had a ton of experience with old California wines, but recently Italian Wine Superstar and International Top Sommelier Diego Meraviglia was telling me one of his favorite guilty pleasures are Duckhorn wines form the 1990s… I am officially curious now about the potential of California terroir to age gracefully.
Peter Kao- completely unhinged over Jordan 1979 Cabernet. @ChairmanKao
The 1979 Jordan was simply brilliant. Radiant. Stunning. Initially a little tight and redolent with green peppers and chocolate (nice call, Peter), it flowered open to reveal an earthy-dusty-ripeness that was backed on the palate by an elegant acidity and completely polished tannins. Like holding a piece of beach glass on your tongue- this was smooth. The wine continued to open without falling apart over the next few hours- even after bouncing around in my car, the final sip at home last night was still exciting.
Jordan 1979. Enough to convert even the most stalwart of Italian wine geeks!
Sometimes the best wine discoveries happen when you least expect them. That was certainly my experience the other day when I visited the fine wine merchants at a shop in Chino, CA ominously called Napacabs.com. What could an Italian Wine Geek expect from a place with a name like that? Thankfully, as I was about to find out, these people are about a lot more than Napa. Continue reading →
I love this place. Vintage Enoteca is one of those amazing little spots, tucked away in an unsuspecting place next to a Head Shop that smells perpetually of patchouli. They are serving interesting and honest food, as well as incredibly geeky, fun wines.
The place is very slick, but comfortable: modern Italian-cafe style, with Nina Simone playing on the sound system while a couple of actor-types review scripts over coffee in a corner.
You’d need a local to tell you about it- and they probably prefer it that way.
There are so many reasons to love this delicious pink wine from the Pasini family at the San Giovanni estate. It’s truly gorgeous, fresh and alive with a needle-sharp acidity. The wine just swells with fresh strawberry fruit, and a backbone of singing minerality that leaves your mouth feeling like you’ve just sucked on a couple of river rocks.
Yes, this is a good thing. Especially when food is involved. And at Bar Ferd’nand, where I discovered this treasure of a wine, food should ALWAYS be involved… Continue reading →
Nestled into the landscape of the Financial District you’ll find Credo, one of the wordiest little restaurants I’ve ever seen. The walls are stark white, a blank canvas for the thousands of sayings and quotations peppering every available surface. It’s an inspiring place to grab a drink or enjoy a meal with friends, and it’s so fabulously San Francisco.
Seasonal, fresh ingredients taste best. The folks at Carnevinolive by this adage- which is why Mixologist Superstar Jeremy Taylor (JT, to his friends and followers) recently crafted a super seasonal cocktail for me: his Farmer’s Market Seville Sour.
Due to its unusually high pectin content, this wintery fruit is most commonly used in orange marmalade recipes, but if JT’s tasty creation is any indication, the Seville Orange has higher aspirations… in a cocktail glass.
While travelling I am constantly dismayed at the food and beverage options in smaller, local airports- especially on the west coast. Happily it seems the plight of (as my colleague put it) ”fake pizza smell” joints may be on the decline. Example: I had my first Vino Voloexperience the other night, inside the Oakland Airport.
Vino Volo’s wine bar/ small plates concept might just make those delayed Southwest flights a little more bearable…
In any city, I love finding a great local wine retailer. These are the small shops owned by people from your community, who make the more uncommon and fabulous wines available- and who have the time to talk to you about them. Find these people. Befriend them. Learn from them! And if you live anywhere near Millbrae CA, then Alex Bernardo is your man, and Vineyard Gate is your next stop!
It was one of those perfect San Francisco days- crystal clear blue skies, bright liquid sunshine and just a tiny prickle of Fall chill in the air. We stopped into Spuntino di Ottimista, and amazing little cheese and panini shop on Union Street- I took one look at the wine selection on lining the walls of the shop and felt right at home.