Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • Dining at Vino Wine & Tapas Room

    Vino logoRecently, my wife and I moved to Tarzana and have been scouring the neighborhood looking for delicious restaurants that don’t break the bank.  We visited several that were quite the fail and then we found our current favorite.  I present to you: Vino Wine & Tapas Room.  Located on Ventura in Encino, this small, comfortable eatery whips up delicious fare. 

    We have been to Vino several times now and they have many different dishes and wines.  Although their wine list has a nice array from different regions around the world, we usually pay corkage.  We took my grandparents recently and had a wonderful time at a semi-private table near the back.  I brought one of my favorite rosé Champagnes, Billiot, and it paired wonderfully with many of the tapas.  Billiot is a grower champagne with grapes from Ambonnay.  All Grand Cru juice, the value is outstanding.  Pairing with the Billiot, we had Manchego, a thick slice of the cheese on a croqueta smothered with a sweet tomato vinaigrette.  We also had Albondigas, a sirloin meatball on top of savory mashed taters.  I love how rosé Champagne (or any rosé for that matter) pairs with so many different foods and can even cross over and pair with meats. The Billiot rosé is beautiful and offers a nose of dough, cinnamon, orange zest, and berries like raspberry and cherry.  Full creamy bubbles and delicious lip-smacking acidity constitute the palate.

    Vino Wine Tapas interiorMy favorite “big” small bite is the New Zealand Lamb Chop.  I love pairing lamb with Syrah, and one of my favorite Syrahs is JL Chave Crozes-Hermitage from the Northern Rhone valley.  It pairs magically with lamb.  Soft tannins with tart raspberry flavors, all meshed together with fresh cracked black pepper, this is a classic French Syrah.  Syrah is fast becoming one of my favorite varietals.  It’s very versatile with food and I simply relish the peppery flavors.  The chops are prepared with, what do ya know, pepper and herbs encrusted with a wine reduction sauce on top. 

    The ambience is terrific and on most weekends, they have live saxophone crooning at the front of the restaurant.  The chairs are very comfortable and the service is super friendly.  I like to describe the lighting as happy and dark.  All wine is served in Riedel stemware (specifically, Vinum Extreme).  For a less personal experience, there is always at least a small crowd at the bar where energetic conversations abound.  I highly recommend checking Vino out, but make sure you come by and pick up a couple bottles from me, custom matched for your food. 


    Dry Germany


    Yesterday’s Dry Wine Tour hosted annually by Rudi Wiest Selections pulled a quite a crowd. And thank goodness, because the 35 dry German wines reds and whites we tasted ranged from superb to absolute knock outs, rife with the power, intensity, and the sleek minerality that only cool climate wines can amalgamate.

    German Wine MapDry Wine Tour (for whom LA was their 7th stop in 10 days) featured the wines of 7 different houses, and represented the gamut of regional styles, from elegant Rheingau, to exotic Pfalz, Mediterranean Baden, and fresh, fruity Franken. Palpable passion exhibited in the words and gestures of these German wine makers shone through any language barriers. It was a pleasure to listen to Markus Mleinek, winemaker at Dr. Heger/Weinhaus, who is a zaftig sort of guy, giggle about how important food-friendliness is to him in the Pinot Gris & Pinot Blancs he crafts. “As you can see by looking at me, I like to eat, I like to cook [pause] with a lot of butter and cream [laughs, audience laughs] and I want my wines to work well with the foods I cook.” We tasted through his Baden lineup and the whites were like no wines I’ve ever had from Germany, weighty, with some caramel and roasted notes, and lots of hazelnut.

    Carl Erhard of Kunstler buzzed like the electric minerality and piercing acidity of his Rieslings. I got a chance to speak with this tall, gentle character briefly after the event to congratulate not only his wines but also his passion. I told him that one really can taste the love and joy that goes into his wines. “With wine it’s all about the passion you put into it,” he said with a smile, “that’s how you make good wine.” I was particularly taken with this man’s inspiration; though he spoke a bit more at length than some of the others, he wrapped by saying “My wife says, ‘when you talk about wine, you talk too much!’” The whole room had a good hearty laugh.

    DRYWINEAnd it’s not all about Riesling. I was pleasantly surprised at how much good dry Pinot Blanc there is for quaffing and also at the richness and density of the Pinot Noir. For varietal expression, Rebholz in the Pfalz that stole the show. Each wine was unique and had its best characteristics teased out expertly. Wines were well-made, balanced, bright, and harmonious. Their 2009 Pinot Noir exhibited characteristics of smoke, red licorice, cinnamon candy, and tea leaves which coalesced in an integration whose result was both pleasurable and intellectual.

    The large majority of the German dry wines were make organically and biodynamically. And frankly the more I pay attention to wines made without pesticides and in a sustainable environment, the more I notice how much better they taste, not only from mass produced wines, but also from smaller production wines that spray or fertilize with harsh chemicals. Below is a selection of my favorites –  some of which will soon be available here at WHWC. Stay tuned.

    Rebholz Pfalz

    2010 Pinot Blanc Estate: Bright, bold, dry, crisp, one of the better Pinot Blancs I’ve had. Guzzlable.

    2010 Riesling GG Ganz Horn –  Pepper, mineral, spicy, medium-bodied, big finish.

    2010 Riesling GG Im Sonnenschein –  Briny, saline, lime flower, & white rose.

    2010 Riesling GG Kastanienbusch –  red slate soil, hay, tea, dusty summer earth, dry herbs

    2009 Pinot Noir Spatlese Dry Tradition –  Smooth, velvety, sweet fruit, dense, cinnamon, clove

    Wagner Stempel Reinhessen

    2010 Riesling GG Hollberg –  Gardenia, concentrated, ripe, stone fruit, mouthcoating

    Heger Baden

    2011 Heger Pinot Gris Estate – Heavy Loess soil, medium body, round, lower acidity, drinkable, Food friendly, Rhone-ish

    Becker Pfalz

    2010 Pinot Blanc Estate –  Mouthfilling, delicious, ‘sweet’ fruit, lanolin, peach

    2008 Pinot Noir GG St. Paul –  Beachy, brambly, bright, orange rind, Campari, food-friendly

    Kunstler Rheingau

    2011 Riesling GG Kostheim Weiss –  Closed upon opening, after 15 mins steely minerality, beeswax, lemon curd, white flowers

    2009 Pinot Noir Estate –  Slate, smoke, currant, like a good Bourgogne rouge, woodsy, candied fruits, bright



    The 411 on Slovenia

    Slovenia valleyIf you covet the zingy, electric minerality of Sancerre, and the lime-pungent funk of Smaragd Gruner, but want to keep the price per bottle below $20, do yourself a solid and check out Slovenian whites. They’re salty, offbeat little numbers that satisfy a craving for quaffing like little else.

    I ordered my first glass of Slovenian white out of sheer curiosity at Hearth, Riesling Chairman Paul Greico’s New York City flagship, in 2008. It was an unpronounceable white, which I’d clearly never heard of. Intrigued, I tasted, thought, then tasted again. Exotic pink grapefruit and classy, restrained saline minerals on the finish lingered in my mind. I finished my glass and promptly another before we even sat down to table.

    Fast forward a couple years: Blue Danube, a small import outfit out of Palo Alto specializing in central European selections is making headway; Slovenian autochthonic varietals are appearing on the lists of the cognoscenti: Anfora and Terroir in New York, Bar Covell , Lou, and Gjelina in LA. Skin macerated whites (see my earlier post on Orange Wine), a practice widely elaborated in Friuli, Primorja (BrdaVipava,) and the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, are gaining appeal in somm and consumer circles alike. Slowly but surely, this tiny country nestled into an Alpine enclave between Italy (Friuli) Hungary, Austria, and Croatia, which has quietly produced wine for 2 millennia, is establishing itself on the radar of savvy wine drinkers.

    Slovenia_wine_mapPart of the allure is that Slovenian producers are widely iterating organic and biodynamic viticulture, and that small production wine opens the door for use of natural practices. Batic Winery (in the odd-shaped bottle) was founded in 1592; their belief in making wine with minimal interference long precedes the current ‘natural wine’ fashion trend. Fermenting with indigenous yeasts and without temperature control echo the customs of their predecessors, and also make for incredibly unique bottlings. Kabaj Winery, the culmination of a Brda viticultural family and a French oenologist, applies all organic treatments in the vineyards and ferments without added yeast. In the inland appellation of Podravje, Kogl is crafting fresh, bright whites of madcap combinations (their flagship Magna Dominica is Yellow Muscat, Auxerrois, and Riesling, vinified dry) that buzz with firm acidity and minerality.

    These wines offer an enlightening alternative to the same old standby whites in your fridge. They also pair well with difficult-to-match cuisines like Thai, Malaysian, and Indian.

    Here are a few of my current favorites:

    Kogl2010 Kogl Mea Culpa Pinot Gris –  Spritzy and fresh, medium-bodied with lime and white pepper. Guzzlable.

    2009 Kogl Magna Dominica Albus –  Yellow Muscat, Riesling, Auxerrois. Aromatic white flowers on the nose with pear and mirabelle on the palate. Long finish.



    2009 Kabaj Rebula Goriska Brda –  100% Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) Clove, cinnamon and lemon peel on the nose lead to deep macerated orange on the palate. Lots of grip – funky spicy. 



    2008 Batic Pinela Vipavska Dolina –  100% Pinela. Autolytic apricot on the nose leads to glyceriny Golden Delicious Apple on the palate. Pleasantly oxidative, with a full mineral finish. 


    Give them a whirl as the weather heats up. And let us know what you think. Thanks!




    Navigating Café Wine Lists in Paris

    BojeIt’s 7:30 PM on an overcast Thursday in the Paris’ 11th arrondissement. You’ve been walking the grey streets of the Right Bank all day, ducking in and out of galleries and boutiques in the Marais, snacking on Nutella banana crepes and tall fizzy bottles of Badoit, taking in the architecture and monuments of a city which is a museum unto itself. Dinner plans aren’t until 10 (which jibes with the 10:30 PM sunset in summer,) and just when you make up your mind to take your book to the dazzlingly green Buttes-Chaumont park and throw down in the grass for the long, slow build toward evening, the sky opens. Torrents of fat, cold drops slam down as you fumble for your umbrella and desperately look around for rescue. Luckily, shelter is never far from sight in Paris. Relieved, you alight on the covered terrace of a capacious brasserie at Metro Oberkampf (see pic).

    Rain and labile weather are charming to those travelers accustomed to Paris and these downpours always provide a bit of excitement and a chance at an unforseen break, to watch people, write an email, or notes in a journal, and have an apéro. Now –  you must task yourself with the wine list, which at Parisian cafés is neither long nor complex, but bears a bit of explanation all the same.

    Wine-map-franceThe whole point of brasserie or café wine is to drink something inexpensive and local. For reds you’re generally looking at a list of about five selections. Up to three of those could easily be cru Beaujolais: chilled Brouilly or Cotes de Brouilly, St. Amour, and normally a Morgon, always the most recent vintage. Take the Brouilly if you like a lighter Gamay quaffer, and the St. Amour or Morgon if your palate commands darker fruit and heavier mineral character. The other star ‘rouge’ of the café list is red from the Loire; carafes of Chinon or Bourgueil (both made of Cabernet Franc) abound as they are inexpensive, refreshing, and pair with most all typical brasserie fare, from Salade de Chevre to Steak Frites. If your palate prefers a briary black cherry, eucalyptus, and light leathery/animal flavors, take the red Loire, and make sure to ask for it “au frais.”

    As for whites, you’re always looking at a Muscadet, which is a bracingly DRY white wine from around Nantes on the Atlantic Coast in the Loire. Not to be confused with Muscat, which can be vinified either sweet or dry, Muscadet is vinified from the Melon de Borgogne grape and profides ideal accompaniment to oysters, other ‘fruits de mer,’ as well as potato chips, which are always a good apéro snack. You’ll also see Tariquet, a winery in the South West of France (Cotes de Gascogne) that makes 11 different wines, both white and rosé, of blends of various local grapes (Ugni Blanc aka Trebbiano, Colombard, Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, Sauvignon, Grenache, etc.) Tariquet whites are always refreshing, round, and fruity, and sell for about 2€80 the glass (can’t beat that). Finally you’ll see Vinho Verde, Portugal’s answer to the call for a light-bodied summer quaffer. Bottled with just a little carbonation, Vinho Verde taps out at about 10% alcohol and is easy to guzzle without catching too much of a buzz.

    BiereIf beer is your thing, there is always the tryptic: Kronenbourg ’1664′, a French lager, Stella, a Belgian lager, and Leffe. If your choice is between Leffe Blonde and Leffe Brune, decide simply if you prefer Hogaarden or Newcastle, and the choice will make itself. You may get lucky and find German selections like Franziskaner or Ayinger, but it’s a bit more rare. There are also lighter beer drinks like Panachés and Monacos which are made combining beer with lemonade (Panaché) or lager with lemonade and grenadine (Monaco). These can be are a refreshing and slightly sweet alternative to beer or wine.

    Want to drink like a Parisian without the cost of airfare? Try these:

    2010 Tariquet Classic Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne

    2010 Domaine du Haut Bourg Muscadet Cotes de Grandlieu

    NV Broadbent Vinho Verde

    2010 G. Descombes Morgon

    2010 JM Raffault Chinon Les Galuches

    And feel free to get in touch if you want to talk more about French wines of everyday –


    Geekin’ Out on New Greek Wine

    SantoriniThe only real encounter I had with Greek wine before a couple years ago was in a dark little cafe in New York called Snack Taverna in 2003 – inexpensive pitchers of classic, cheap Retsina were the only thing we knew to order with our octopus salad and olives with salted almonds. The Retsina was fine, pleasantly pine-scented, and completely forgettable.

    Then, about two years ago we started carrying a white called Moschofilero at my old shop in New York. I didn’t think twice about it. And then one day it was open. I pulled up a glass. The mineral, fruity freshness with a saline silver lining made me laugh out loud. Dang! I poured a little more, and swallowed. My curiosity popped.

    All I knew of Greek wine before this synesthetic epiphany was the aforementioned Retsina, which had become the national beverage of Greece in the 1960′s. This gave Greek wine a reputation as frivolous, insipid, unserious. Luckily, Greek wine has been around for 6,500 years: clearly it can weather a storm. Appellation laws were established in the early 1970′s and now, armed with indigenous varietals, an ideal climate, interesting terroirs, forward-thinking winemakers, modern technology, moving-and-shaking exporters, and a hip little PR engine New Wines of Greece, Greece is back on the wine scene and poised to make Aegean-sized waves.

    GreekwinemapAll the elements for success are in place, the most important of which are the wines themselves. Pink-skinned Moschofilero from Mantinia unleashes an awesome freshness on one’s senses, while steely Assyrtiko is full of salty minerals and bracing acidity (especially in volcanic Santorini) and begs for hot temps, sunny days, and light Mezes (Mediterranean tapas). Red Agiorgitiko from the Peloponnese is dark ruby red in color, complex of aroma and definitively ageworthy, while Naoussa Xinomavro will satisfy the Nebbiolo lover with its bright color, high acidity, and rich, strong tannins. This is the wine for your roasted lamb or meatballs.

    Like I said, Greek wine barely passed my ‘who cares?’ test for the larger part of the last decade, but they’re onto something, and their siren song is certainly worth a listen if you’re into mixing it up a bit.  Here are some of my current faves for contemplation:

    2010 Zafirakis Malagousia –  this wine is sprightly but mineral with good herbaceousness on the nose and an oily palate that’s balanced out with firm acidity.

    2010 Tetramythos Roditis Patras –  Bright and guzzlable, this inexpensive white is pretty, with lots of apple and bergamot.

    2008 Kir-Yianni Xinomavro Ramnista –  this rich, ageworthy red is finely built with good tannin and fresh acidity. Sun dried tomato and black olive on the palate make it super food-friendly.

    We’ll be tasting all these and more with Greek Wine expert Markus Stolz of Elloinos, Friday January 27th  from 5–7 PM if you’re interested in Greeking out with us here at WHWC in Los Angeles. Opa!


    An Moveable Feast

    NightEven if you’ve spent your Saturday picnicing with friends in sprawling Buttes-Chaumont park, munching periodically on Jambon de Paris and sliced Rosette de Lyon, pretty little chèvres rolled in shallots and pink pepporcorns or wrapped delicately in a grape leaf, baguette tradition, and cherry clafoutis, pâté dappled with vinegar cornichons, sticky, custardy mango, seasonal strawberries from Belgium, and blanched salad of Alsatian white and green asparagus as you sip gastronomic Bordeaux rosé and Corsican white cooled in the stream rushing by while gulping up rare heaps of pouring summer sun, you’re still going to be hungry for dinner come 10 PM.

    To eat and drink in Paris: it’s almost an embarassment of riches. The light is starting to streak the sky with black pink and orange, twilight insects buzz busily hovering over slowly dampening grass, cigarettes crackle, the wine runs out –  it’s time for red anyway. Decisions are always difficult when a warm giddy summer buzz renders you languid, lazy, and content. What to do? Meals in France are long and luxuriously casual: you owe it to yourself to think it through.

    Au vin des pyrenes-restaurant paris bastille-rue beautreillis 75004At Vin des Pyrenees on Rue Beautrellis in the Marais, across the street from the apartment building Jim Morrison lived and died in, you’ll find an rich southwestern specialties dished up by pretty, smiling, polyglot waitresses, their long wavy hair tied up in shabby chic head scarves. Convivial, cosmopolitan, and candlelit, this is a place where you can speak any language you like and no one will blink and eye. The cassoulet is righteous, and the Ravioles du Royan, tiny ravioli swimming in a cream broth that’s inconceivably light, stay on your mind for years to come. The perfect excuse to drink dark, tannic Madiran


    But then there’s that Saltimbocca alla Romana at Gli Angeli, a small Roman trattoria on Rue St. Gilles behind the Place des Vosges. The veal is pounded thin, and sauteed wrapped in proscuitto (Jambon San Daniele) and sage. It’s dished up next to a mound of house-made linguini and doused in white wine brown sauce. Their Fettucini in truffle cream with proscuitto is sinfully delicious and their Linguini alla Vongole can compete at the top. Happily, they serve Allegrini wines by the glass or by the bottle.

    ReblochonadeThe evening’s descent into night brings with it a chill in the air –  is it enough to justify the raclette at La Grolle de Montmartre? Tucked away at the foot of Sacré-Coeur within the maze of cobbled side streets, this red-walled Savoyard gem features a prix fixe of champions: 25€ gets you a raclette of your choice (reblochon is the best and most traditional) that comes with your own personal old-school raclette oven. This allows you to designate the level of melt to your liking. With it comes a plate of perfect charcuterie and boiled potatoes to pour it on, a giant bowl of green salad with dijon vinaigrette, and a carafe of brightly acidic white wine like Rousette de Savoie or Apremont to wash it down. Worth every calorie.

    Cote-de-boeufSuddenly a bloody hunk of beef pops into your ken – the Côte de Boeuf at Les Galopins in the Bastille. So hard to resist. At 42€ for 2 people you get pounds of gorgeous meat, plus hand cut frites, plus bearnaise sauce and mustard. With Croze-Hermitage it scratches the carvnivore itch like little else.

    Or you can hit the streets in your ‘hood and wander into the first little place that catches your eye. Luckily for travelers, it’s hard to have a bad meal in Paris. Click the links for more food visuals…

    2011 Rosé Roundup

    LavenderWhat’s the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about dry rosé? For most, it’s the Cotes de Provence, illustrious south-of-France motherland of pale pink juice for summer. I too venerate the gorgeous landscape, fields of sunflowers and artichokes, gravelly hillsides, seaside towns, bouillabaisse, and guzzlable wines. But while we do have Provence to thank for leading the charge on dry rosé, it is by no means the alpha and the omega. Rosé is produced all over the world now, from Seattle to Sagaponack to Stellenbosch, and stylistically they are as varied as the lands Rosé.1from which they inspire.

    There are two common ways to produce rosé: skin contact, and saignée.With the first method, black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period of time, typically one to three days.The must is then pressed, and the skins are discarded rather than left in contact throughout fermentation (as with red wine making). The skins contain tannin and other compounds,  thereby giving the juice structure. The longer that the skins are left in contact with the juice, the deeper the color and richer the texture of the rosé.

    Rosé can also be produced as a by-product of red wine fermentation using a technique known as Saignée, or bleeding. When a winemaker wishes to impart more tannin and color to his red wine, some of the pink juice from the must is be removed at an early stage. The red wine remaining in the vats is intensified as a result of the bleeding; the volume of the must is reduced, and thus more concentrated. The pink juice that’s removed is the Saignée that’s fermented separately to produce rosé.

    Some of my favorite south of France selections this year are the MIP which is gossamer pink in color. Made of Cinsault with Syrah and Grenache, it’s medium bodied with plenty red fruit, orange zest and clean acidity. Another light-colored quaffer is the Grimaud Golfe de St. Tropez, which is Grenache with Cinsault & Carignan. Bright and herbal, this wine smacks of freshness, and has a pretty label.

    As for Pink Sancerre, the Reverdy Terre de Maimbray (100% Pinot Noir) is delicate, with raspberry and cherry on the nose leading to a mouthful of chalky minerals on the palate. Over in the Pfalz in Germany, Von Buhl is also doing nice rosé of Pinot Noir. Pale salmon in color, is lightly effervescent on the palate with plenty of vim and vigor. If spritz tickles your fancy, try the watermelon-colored Ameztoi Basque Txakolina rosé made of indigenous Basque grapes Hondarribi Beltza & Hondarribi Zuri. It’s attractive color conceals an equally appealing bitterness on the finish that makes it super food friendly. The Chidaine Touraine is the oddball of the group –  orangy in color, it’s made of Pinot and Loire indigenous grape Grolleau and has good grip.

    RosewineproductionBut sometimes you want something with a little more muscle. If you need something to match the ribs, burgers, or tuna steaks on the grill but don’t want to bring a red and think a white is too flimsy, Mulderbosch rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa is a sure thing. It’s dark red hue is sexy like a rosato cerasuolo, and it’s rich with pomegranite and eucalyptus on the palate and lavender on the nose.  Another rosé of heft is Le Roc Fronton Saignée, which is made of peppery Negrette. It’s good with BBQ and pizza. The wines are inexpensive, which is always a good thing for afternoon parties, since chances are you’re going to need more that one or two bottles.

    The Cotes to Provence will always be the spiritual home of rosé, as well as a powerhouse in production (80% of their output is the pink stuff), and you can generally count on it for a satisfying glass if you’re out at a restaurant or cafe and you need something to sate your thirst. But if you’re feeling adventurous, or if you love the diversity of rose as I do, try something different. I guarantee it will delight.



    Italian Wine Series: An Evening with Oliver McCrum

    Italian Wine Series:
    An Evening with Oliver McCrum
    Friday, October 26th / 5PM-7PM

    Please join us as we welcome Oliver McCrum to the winebar on Friday Oct 26th. McCrum’s entirely Italian import portfolio features artisanal, small production, cleanly-made wine from all corners of Italy from volcanic Sicily and Campania to the Slovenian border of Friuli and Vallée d’Aoste. McCrum started in the wine biz in his native England in 1977; he’s had his current outfit since 1994 and is based out of Oakland. The program will feature nearly 20 wines both red and white. Nibbles will be served alongside.
    The Program:


    • 2010 Ettore Germano Bianco Langhe Nascetta
    • 2010 Kuen Hof Sudtirol Eisaktaler Riesling Kaiton
    • 2009 Thurnhof Goldmuskateller Alto Adige
    • 2009 Skerk Ograde Venezia Giulia Bianca
    • 2009 Skerk Malvazija Kras 2008 Bonavita Faro
    • 2009 Skerk Teran Carso Kras Terrano
    • 2010 Ettore Germano Nebbiolo Langhe Serralunga
    • 2009 Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani Maioli
    • NV Cascina Gilli Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco


    • 2009 Picariello Fiano di Avellino
    • 2010 La Sibilla Falanghina Campi Flegrei
    • 2008 Grifalco Aglianico del Vulture
    • 2007 Villa Dora Lacryma Christi
    • 2008 Bonavita Faro


    • NV Barbolini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
    • 2011 Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelica
    View Map

    *Sorry, no shared entry

    WHWC Presents Meet the Winemaker: Dennis Bell of Lewis Cellars

    Meet the Winemaker:
    Dennis Bell,
    Lewis Cellars
    Friday September 14th
    5-7 PM


    Join us as we welcome Lewis Cellars to WHWC. Now celebrating 20 years crafting premium, highly acclaimed Napa Valley Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, Lewis Cellars is the dream realized of former professional racecar driver Randy Lewis and his wife Debbie. This is your opportunity to taste through the new releases from this Napa Valley heavyweight along with a selection of their vintage wines as well. Joining us from the winery will be Dennis Bell to lead us through the tasting.
    The Program
    New Releases
    • 2011 Vin Gris Rosé of Syrah Napa Valley
    • 2011 Race Car White Sonoma County
    • 2011 Chardonnay Napa Valley
    • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Mason’s
    • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa
    • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Hillstone Vineyard
    Vintage Selection
    • 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Reserve
    • 2010 Chardonnay Napa Valley Reserve
    • 2010 Chardonay Russian River Valley Barcaglia Lane
    • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
    • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve

    see map

    *Sorry, no shared entry

    Announcing August for Austria

    WHWC Presents:
    August for Austria (Get your GrüVe on) & 2010 Booker Wines of Paso Robles

    When: Saturday August 25th from 2-6 PM
    Where: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364
    Map & Directions

    Flight one – August for Austria taste all 5 $15

      • 2010 Der Pollerhof Grüner Veltliner Niederöstreich
      • 2009 Bäuerl Grüner Veltliner Wachau Federspiel Stein am Rain
      • 2008 Ott Riesling von Rotem Schotter
      • 2010 Spaetrot-Gebeshuber Rotgipfler Thermenregion Laim
      • 2010 Spaetrot-Gebeshuber Zierfandler Thermenregion Modler

    Flight one – August for Austria taste all 5 $15

      • 2010 Der Pollerhof Grüner Veltliner Niederöstreich
      • 2009 Bäuerl Grüner Veltliner Wachau Federspiel Stein am Rain
      • 2008 Ott Riesling von Rotem Schotter
      • 2010 Spaetrot-Gebeshuber Rotgipfler Thermenregion Laim
      • 2010 Spaetrot-Gebeshuber Zierfandler Thermenregion Modler

    Cool Reds for Summer with Special Guest Dylan Bean

    Cool Reds for Summer
    Saturday August 18th
    2-6 PM*
    With Special Guest
    Dylan Bean
    Amy Atwood Selections

    As summer heats up and temperatures soar into the triple digits (here in the Valley especially) everyone is looking to cool down in any way possible. What better way than with air conditioned refreshment? On Saturday 8/18 WHWC welcomes Dylan Bean of Amy Atwood Selections to the winebar to pour a culling of our favorite reds to cool you down. Try spritzy Jura rosé (of red grape Poulsard), chilled artisanal Lambrusco, a killer Barbera, El Dorado Syrah and more. These are ‘wines for the table’ – guaranteed to please your palate and your wallet as we head into the dog days of summer. See you there!
    The Program
    • NV Bornard Tant Mieux Pétillant Naturel Rosé
    • 2010 Quatricello Lambrusco Emilia-Romagna Rivellino
    • 2008 Valli Unite Tortonesi Dolcetto Diogene
    • 2010 Cascina Zerbetta Barbera del Monferrato
    • 2010 La Clarine Farm Syrah El Dorado County Sumu Kaw
    • Bonus – ‘Mystery Pour’
    Flight 2 – Duckhorn
    • 2011 Decoy Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County
    • 2009 Goldeneye Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
    • 2009 Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley
    • 2009 Paraduxx Z Blend Napa Valley Red
    • 2009 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
    *Our second flight will feature domestic Petite Sirahs

    An Afternoon with Champagne Lanson

    An Afternoon with
    Champagne Lanson
    Saturday August 11th, 2012*
    2-6 PM
    With Special Guest
    Enguerrand Baijot
    Brand Director, Lanson International

    To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the house of Lanson, Jean-Paul Gandon, winemaker since 1986, created an extraordinary new cuvee called Extra Age. Join us in welcoming Lanson Brand Director, Enguerrand Baijot as he leads us through tasting of the newest releases from this legendary Champagne house. These are complex, fine wines with a long finish that draw the very best from the top rated vineyards in the region. Come see, hear and taste what the buzz is all about. Not to be missed.
    The Program - taste all 5 for $34
    • NV Lanson Brut Champagne Black Label
    • NV Lanson Brut Rosé Champagne
    • NV Lanson Extra Age Brut Rosé Champagne
    • NV Lanson Extra Age Brut Champagne
    • 2002 Lanson Brut Champagne Gold Label
    *Our second flight will feature domestic Petite Sirahs

    WHWC Presents Riesling Mania!

    Riesling Mania
    Special Guests:
    Amy Christine, Kermit Lynch,
    Amanda Linn, Winewize

    WHWC Winebar
    Saturday, July 21st, 2012
    2-6 PM

    Once again Riesling madness descends upon the US of A from June 20th – Sept 21st. Now in its fifth year, and celebrated in 38 states nationally, the Summer of Riesling is the brainchild of newly minted James Beard Award winner Paul Grieco, whose restaurants in New York City Hearth & the three Terroirs, feature an extensive collection of Rieslings from all over the world. A largely unsung hero, Riesling makes wines of every designation for bone dry to sweet, and possesses the versatility to pair with every course at table from apéro to dessert. WHWC is proud to have been the only retailer in LA to participate in 2011 and we’re gunning to make 2012 even better. So strap on your Riesling boots Acidhounds! See you on July 21st.
    The Program
    Flight 1 – Rieslings from Germany – Taste all 5 – $15
    2010 Leitz Riesling Rudesheimer Drachenstain Dragonstone
    2010 Adam Riesling Kabinett Dhron Hofberg
    2010 Muelenhof Riesling Spatlese Erdener Treppchen Alte Reben
    2010 Merkelbach Riesling Spatlese Kinheimer Rosenberg
    2010 Muller-Catoir Scheurebe Kabinett Haardt Trocken
    Flight 2 – Rieslings from Alsace – Taste all 5 – $15
    2010 Maison Kuentz-Bas, Riesling, "Tradition"
    2010 Domaine Ostertag, Riesling
    2009 Domaine Ostertag, Riesling, "Fronholz"
    2009 Domaine Ostertag, Riesling, "Heissenberg"
    2008 Meyer Fonné, Riesling, "Schoenenberg", Grand Cru
    DATE: Saturday, July 21st, 2012
    TIME: 2-6 PM
    PLACE: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364

    Calabasas-Malibu Wine & Food Festival

    My GF and I recently attended the 6th  annual Calabasas-Malibu Food and Wine Festival. Arriving a bit early, we decided to hit up Justin, one of our favorite Paso Robles winery’s. There we tasted the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc,Unnamed[1] light straw in color. On the palate was bright citrus flavor with peach and green apple balanced out with nice bright grapefruit. Next, the  2010 Cabernet in its sexy new packaging.  Deep ruby in color with a rich dense cherry, blackberry & a bit of spice. It drinks great right out of the bottle. And finally, the highly touted ’09 Isosceles. Darker in color and richer in flavor with a great alluring mix of spice box, lush currants, cherry and a nice hint of vanilla laced with mint. Let me tell you, these wines never disappoint.

    Next we stopped by Gladstone’s booth, said hi to Tony the GM, gulped some AMAZING yellow gazpacho with watermelon and then a refreshing seafood ceviche that rocked. (Next time you’re in the area stop in and say hi to Tony, he’s a great guy). Feeling the heat, we headed to the Patron booth to grab a fresh ice cold margarita 5[1]and a chilled shot. Taking some time to enjoy our drinks we wandered around taking in the fun-filled  atmosphere and came across a booth called Wild About Trial. There we meet Allison, the creator of this ground breaking app who was down to earth and super friendly. (if you want the most recent and up to date trial cases, this app is a must).  With so many booths to see, we decided to hit it hard and fast. Off to the beer booth we go! Stella Artois for me and Hoegaarden for the GF. Next, we made moves to Tony’s New York Pizza, Normandie Bakery, Mastro’s Steakhouse, and about 10 others. On the move, we grabbed some water, and some delicious Hard Cider from Crispin. They had about 5 available to taste but my favorite was the Honey Crisp Reserve. This pale fizzy cider was crisp, refreshing and smooth with nice hints of honey that wasn’t overpowering or too sweet, just what the Dr. ordered.

    Looking around I realized that we  hadn’t yet had any of the bubbly, so like bloodhounds we were off, zigging and zagging through the crowd we came across Moreno BHLV a CA sparkling wine whose label is studded with Swarovski Crystals. This fresh, out of the ice bucket Brut Silver was refreshing and a nice change of pace. Nearing the end of the day, it was time to grab a goody bag, fill it up and head out. Making several stops we filled my GF’s bag and said goodbye to a few friends and were off. This was our first time attending this event and will be back next year guaranteed.

    20% OFF SALE – Putting the RED in Red, White & Blue

    HAPPY 4TH OF JULY - Celebrate Independence! - Save 20% Off Domestic Reds - Now thru 9AM July 5th (PDT) - Use promo code: JULY4REDS. [BUY]Offer DetailsClick here to browse full listing of sale items. Sale items include domestic red wines, including Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, and more, and we’re offering wines from every price range. Prices after discount are up to 55% below suggested retail list price. Offer valid for all orders—online, in store, or by phone. For Internet orders, customer must enter promo code: JULY4REDS during checkout. For all other orders (in-store, phone, and email), customer must mention July 4th Red Sale to receive discount. Discount will be applied to eligible items only. Discount does not apply to shipping or insurance charges, or to special items such as gift cards. Order confirmations will be sent by email when payment has been processed and your order has been readied for shipment or pick-up (usually within 24 business hours after ordering). Please contact us in advance if you require pick-up or shipment of your order before you have received an email Order Confirmation. We’ll do our best to accommodate but cannot guarantee that the order will be ready. Sale prices applicable to available stock on hand. Offer valid only from 1:00pm on Friday, June 29, 2012, until 11:59pm on Wednesday, July 4, 2012.

    PLEASE NOTE: We will be closed on Wed., July 4, in observance of Independence Day.


    Meet the Winemaker with Brian Talley

    Meet the Winemaker w/Brian Talley

    Talley Winery
    Arroyo Grande & Edna Valley

    WHWC Winebar
    Friday, August 3rd, 2012
    5-7 PM

    Join us as we welcome Brian Talley to the winebar on Friday 8/3. Perennially heralded by critics and connoisseurs alike, Talley Vineyards (helmed by Patriarch Bryan Talley) just celebrated its 25 th anniversary producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of class and elegance in the Arroyo Grande. A small but distinctive AVA just east of Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande is home to some of the most ideal climates and soil structures for Burgundian varietals in California. As a pioneer in this region, Talley has mastered his craft with a passion for high standards; his wines are always well-loved.

    The program will feature the new Chardonnay releases as well as an exclusive look at the not-yet-released 2010 Pinot Noir lineup.

    The Program
    2010 Bishop’s Peak Chard Central Coast
    2010 Talley Estate Chardonnay Arroyo
    2010 Talley Chardonnay Arroyo Rosemary’s
    2010 Talley Chardonnay Edna Valley Oliver’s
    2010 Chardonnay Arroyo Rincon
    2010 Bishop’s Peak Pinot Central Coast
    2010 Talley Pinot Arroyo Estate – pre-release
    2010 Talley Pinot Stone Corral – pre-release
    2010 Talley Pinot Arroyo Rincon – pre-release
    2010 Talley Pinot Arroyo Rosemary’s – pre-release
    2009 Talley Pinot Arroyo Estate
    *Sorry, no split entry
    DATE: Friday, August 3rd, 2012
    TIME: 5-7 PM
    PLACE: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364

    see map

    Maker’s Mark Tour &Tasting

    Last month my GF and I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, and while there we decided to hit-up Maker’s Mark for a little Bourbon tasting. Located in Loretto just about an 1hr 20min outside of Louisville, Makers Mark has beenIMG_6629 producing some of the world’s finest Bourbons since 1954, when original owner T. William Samuel Sr., purchased the distillery known as “Burk’s Distillery”. Although the first bottle of Maker’s wasn’t released until 1958, the vision of amazing hand crafted Bourbon & hand dipped bottles was already apparent, and is now trademarked. Touring the grounds a few days prior to the Derby, we were amazed at the rich history this place held. On the property we walked through one of Kentucky’s few remaining covered bridges that are still in use today as well as one of the oldest liquor sales buildings in the United States. As we took our tour and sipped some of Maker’s signature pre-blended (dipped in green wax) Mint Julep, we were taken into the mash house and saw how the mash was fermented in open IMG_6571top tanks, prior to being piped into the still were it is distilled, refined and sent to barrel. Getting the opportunity to see this grueling process first hand was mind blowing. From the extremely large warehouses where thousands of Bourbon barrels age, to seeing the bottling line were each and every bottle is hand dipped, which is just amazingIMG_6641 considering the volume of production. Once the tour was done, it was time to get down to business and taste some Bourbon, after all that’s why we made the trip! First up was the Mint Julep to cool us down as the humidity and heat was taking its toll. The Julep has a great mouth feel, not too hot (from alcohol) but well balanced with the amazing mint taste which didn’t over power the rich Bourbon. Next was the original, brilliant amber/caramel in color (although none added as its illegal in Kentucky) spicy vanilla, buttery, with a subtle nuance of maple, and corn. Now the Maker’s 46 which is the original finished product that has 10 staves of seasoned & cooked New French Oak added into the center of the barrel. The barrel is then recapped and aged an additional 3 months. This is a bit darker and richer, carrying some of the same flavors but a bit dryer with more fine oak that gives off nice butterscotchy flavors and richer spices. These fine, hand crafted Bourbons are amazing. The standard to which they are held is to the highest, just check out the LEGAL requirements, to be considered Bourbon. With our tasting coming to an end, we were delighted to have the chance to dip our own bottles. As they say, all Bourbon is Whisky but not all Whisky is Bourbon. Saying our good buys, it was time to hit the road, grab some lunch and get back to Louisville in preparation for a riverboat dinner on the Ohio!  

    Father’s Day Sale – 20% Off Spirits – 3 Days Only!

    Join WHWC for the Wines of Ribera del Duero

    The Wines of Ribera del Duero
    WHWC Winebar
    Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
    2-6 PM

    With Special Guest Allison Levine of Drink Ribera

    Join WHWC for and afternoon exploring the wines of Ribera del Duero. Located within the Castilla y Leon region on the great northern plateau of the Iberian peninsula, Ribera del Duero is known for powerful, earthy, full-bodied reds that boast excellent quality-to-price ratio. Largely due to the pioneering successes of Bodegas Vega Sicilia (established 1864) and Bodega Pesquera in the 1970, the Ribera del Duero DO was founded in 1982. There are now over 170 producers in the region. Though wine production derives almost exclusively from red grapes, Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) being the work horse, there is a small quantity of white, made from indigenous grape Albillo. You’ll get to taste 10 wines, including one small production white, and we’ll have guest Allison Levine on hand to answer your questions about the region.

    The Program
    Flight 1 – taste all 5 for $15
    2010 Valduero Yunquera Albillo Blanco Castilla y Leon
    2009 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero Finca Resalso
    2010 Pago de los Capallanes Joven Roble Ribera del Duero
    2007 Cepa 21 Ribera del Duero
    2008 Aalto
    Flight 2 – taste all 5 for $23
    2007 Emilio Moro Tinto Fino Ribera del Duero
    2008 Pago de los Capallanes Ribera del Duero Crianza
    2009 Bodegas Pesquera Tinto Ribera del Duero
    2007 Valduero Ribera del Duero Crianza
    2006 Aalto PS
    Bonus Pour – 2008 Villacreces ‘Punto’
    DATE: Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
    TIME: 2-6 PM
    PLACE: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364

    Join WHWC for the Wines of Stéphane Tissot (Jura, France)

    The Wines of Stéphane Tissot
    Jura, France
    WHWC Winebar
    Saturday, June 16th, 2012
    2-6 PM*

    With Special Guest Amanda Linn
    Winewise/The Vienna Wine Company

    A wine region nestled in the mountains between Burgundy and Switzerland, the Jura possesses a colder climate, late harvest times, and enormous diversity of soil structure. Marl, clay and limestone- based soils provide the framework for unique wines to thrive, such as the indigenous Savagnin, Trousseau, and Poulsard. Tissot’s quest for “aromatic diversity” has led to the creation of more than 30 different bottling: he makes seven different Chardonnays alone. Tissot believes that the different grape varietals and different winemaking techniques are due to the fact that the Jura was Spanish for the greater part of the 17 th century (80 years) – this is how sherry-like Vin Jaune came to the Jura. Tissot went completely biodynamic in 2004, claiming it an easier way to keep yields low while increasing minerality and acidity. Winewise distributor Amanda Linn will be on hand to answer your questions.

    The Program - taste all 5 for $13
    NV Tissot Brut Cremant du Jura
    2010 Tissot Arbois Chardonnay Classique
    2008 Tissot Arbois Blanc Selection Jura
    2010 Tissot Poulsard Arbois VV Sans Souffre
    2008 Tissot Arbois Trousseau "Singulier"
    DATE: Saturday, June 16th, 2012
    TIME: 2-6 PM
    PLACE: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364
    PRICE: $13 – taste all 5
    *We will also be featuring a flight of wines from PASO ROBLES for your tasting pleasure

    Happy Hour with Tyler Winery & Samsara Winery

    Meet the Winemakers
    Happy Hour with
    Tyler Winery & Samsara Winery
    WHWC Winebar
    Friday, May 18th, 2012
    5-7 PM*
    Join us as we welcome Chad Melville of Samsara and Justin Willett of Tyler to the winebar on Friday May 18 th . These two young guns are working tirelessly to produce vividly balanced reds and whites that reflect all the site-specific typicity of Central Coast terroir.

    Considered one of the hottest up-and-coming talents Justin Willet founded Tyler winery in 2005 when he was just 23 years old. He is regarded as a specialist in crafting exemplary Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of delicacy from top vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Barbara AVAs

    As one of the driving forces behind Melville Vineyards, Chad has had a significant impact on the growth and quality of the Santa Rita Hills region. Not content to just run the family winery, Chad started his own project in 2002. He produces bold, lively, high-pitched reds of Grenache, Syrah, and Pinot Noir from vineyards in Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, and Mendocino.

    The Program
    2010 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills
    2009 Pinot Noir Rancho La Vina
    2009 Pinot Noir Melville
    2009 Syrah Verna’s
    2009 Grenache Larner
    2010 Chardonnay Zotovich
    2010 Chardonnay Dierberg
    2009 Pinot Noir Presidio
    2009 Pinot Noir Dierberg
    2010 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Q Block
    DATE: Friday, May 18th, 2012
    TIME: 5-7 PM
    PLACE: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364
    see map
    PRICE: $30/person prepaid*
    *Sorry, no shared entry

    Burgers, Beer & More

    If your an avid beer drinker like I am then you’ve probably heard of The Blue Dog Beer Tavern in Sherman Oaks, CA. But just in case you haven’t let me tell you, it is a must for all beer enthusiasts and foodies alike serving up some of the best burgers, wings, fries, mac & cheese, & salads around (not into burgers, try the veggie patty). Last week I rounded up my GF and a friend from out of town and headed there to grab a frosty beer and some grub. Now I’ve been here several times before and knew what I was getting into, so we grabbed a town car and headed out. When we arrived it was apparent to my GF and buddy why they call this place Blue Dog. The walls of this converted house-turned-tavern are covered with photos of people’s dogs. Now I use the term walls loosely as there are no real walls in this place just Studs were Image3[1]you can see through to every room. 

    To start, I ordered an Old Speckled Hen. Old Speckled Hen is an English pub Ale that has a rich malty and fruity aroma that translates to a mouth-watering palate. The full body of this beer lingers on and on and finishes with hints of caramel and a slight bitterness that is refreshing. For my GF, a Affligem Blonde which is very light straw in color and has tiny bubbles that dance on the palate, showing subtle hints of bitterness that don’t overpower the rich flowery hops. If I had ordered this, it would have been calling for my bacon mac & cheese. Now, my buddy ordered a Pale Ale I had not seen before, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale ,in the 16oz. can. This Pale Ale is America’s first hand-canned craft beer. It has ample hops that give way to a smooth balanced malt, not overwhelming but you certainly get the hoppy perfume from the moment it hits your glass all the way through its powerful finish. 560424_2082728843254_1696101480_1057684_517709919_n[1]

    While toasting and looking over the menu, my attention was immediately drawn to The Fire Starter, an amazing burger topped with deep-fried jalapenos, crispy onion strings and a slice of Pepper Jack Cheese, served with a mouthwatering side of BACON Mac & Cheese!! (That sealed the deal for me). As for my GF and buddy it was The Athens Salad and the Black ‘N Blue Burger. Now don’t fool yourself, this salad was no joke, baby spinach (a ton of it), black olives, crumbled Feta, cucumbers, red onion, & tomatoes topped with chicken. The Black ’N Blue was topped with blue cheese, applewood smoked bacon and BBQ sauce (I might also point out that they grind all of the meat in house). We all got down to business on the mouth watering burgers & salad.  As my mouth began to heat up it was time for another round. Taking a look over the Beer Menu I noticed a Canned IPA that I had not tried, Point the Way IPA from Golden Road Brewing Co. Now I’m always skeptical about a canned beer but this flag ship IPA of Golden Road, lower in alcohol than your average IPA still gave all the HOP flavors I have come to expect in a good old American Craft Brew. I call this the little IPA that could as it really surprised me. Sitting around, taking in the lively atmosphere and throwing back a few more we all decided that our thirst was sufficiently quenched and that our bellies were full.  What a wonderful place to hang with good friends! The long and short of it is, if you find yourself in Sherman Oaks hungry & thirsty this is the place to be, nice helpful staff, great food, & a awesome beer selection. I don’t always drink beer but when I do i drink a lot of it…stay thirsty my friends!!


    Taste the Ancient Pannonian Terroir of Slovenia, Hungary, & Croatia
    Saturday, April 21st, 2012
    2-6 PM
    22622 VENTURA BLVD.
    Bordered on its eastern side by Friuli, Slovenia has developed a knack for crafting uniquely savory whites to pair with all sort of difficult-to-match cuisines like Thai, Malaysian, and Indian.
    New Hungarian reds are bright, spicy, and easy to drink – not your grandfather’s Bullsblood!
    The Ancient wine culture of Croatia is the origin of the most famous American grape – Zinfandel. Here is your chance to taste the original.
    Special guest Stetson Robbins & Michael Newsome of Blue Danube Wine Co . on hand to answer questions
    Flight 1 – Taste all 5 for $12
    2010 Kögl Mea Culpa Pinot Gris
    2009 Kögl Magna Domenica Albus
    2010 Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Kremstal
    2009 Kabaj Rebula Brda
    2008 Batic Pinela Vipavska
    Flight 2 – Taste all 5 for $11
    2010 Dingac Plavac Peljesac
    2009 Geyerhof Blauer Portugieser
    2008 Terzolo Teran Istria
    2008 Eszterbauer Tüke Bikáver
    2009 Rosenhof Orion Eiswine Grüve
    DATE: Saturday, April 21st, 2012
    TIME: 2-6 PM
    PLACE: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364
    see map
    PRICE: See Flight Prices Above

    An Evening with Anthill Farms

    An Evening with Anthill Farms

    Friday, March 30th, 2012
    5-7 PM
    $30 per person*

    • Meet Web Marquez and Dave Low of Anthill
    • Taste limited production New Releases
    • Bonus Winery Selections (Knez Winery)

    Join us as we welcome Web Marquez and Dave Low of Anthill Farms to the WHWC. This relatively new producer burst on the scene with startlingly good Pinot Noirs. Their first vintage garnered them a red hot reputation that spread like wildfire and over the past few years they’ve racked up the press.
    Wine and Spirits ‘Top 100 Wineries of 2011′
    Food & Wine’s ‘Most Promising New Winery of 2009′
    “I have been a big fan of the Anthill Farms Pinot Noirs since the first release and find them consistently in the top tier of producers in the Russian River Valley.” - The Prince of Pinot, The PinotFile
    This project has direct ties with the legendary Williams-Selyem winery. Three young pinot enthusiasts, who had worked together as cellar hands at the distinguished winery on Westside Road launched their own winery with three Pinot Noir releases in 2004.
    They disdain the riper style of Pinot Noir, looking more for freshness of flavor and acidity. Their goal is to make balanced, terroir-driven wine with freshness and acidity.
    The annual production of 1,400 cases is quickly snapped up by a mailing list. We’ll be fortunate to have a limited amount of wine available for sale.
    The Program
    2010 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Peters Ranch
    2010 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Campbell Ranch
    2010 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Tina Marie Vineyard
    2009 Anthill Farms Syrah Campbell Ranch
    2009 Anthill Farms Syrah Sonoma Coast
    2008 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
    2009 C. Donatiello Pinot Noir RussianRiver Valley
    2009 Knez Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
    2009 Knez Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Demuth
    2009 Knez Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Cerise
    *Sorry, no shared entry
    DATE: Friday, March 30th, 2012
    TIME: 5-7 PM
    PLACE: Woodland Hills Wine Company
    22622 Ventura Blvd
    Woodland Hills, CA 91364
    see map
    PRICE: $30 per person*

    Should wine ratings be meaningless?

    NumbersA recent study was published by the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture called “Wine Expertise Predicts Taste Phenotype,” but credit goes to HealthDay for catching an interesting extrapolation of the data and posting it to Yahoo News here. They aren’t making the case that consumers don’t care about ratings, because, as we all know, they do… in some cases religiously. They do contend though that consumers shouldn’t care about ratings for one simple reason: their palates are not as highly trained and/or evolved as the wine critics’ are.

    The study used a probe compound that would be easily detected as very bitter by people with sensitive palates while those with average palates would only detect slight bitterness, if anything at all. Out of 330 people tested at wine tasting events, only 111 participants detected the compound. All participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire to declare if they were an expert or not. They concluded that experts were much more likely to detect the compound and as such, expert recommendations may be based on tastes that are too subtle for the average person to notice.

    They are careful to note that while the difference between an expert and the average consumer may have something to do with experience and education, previous research has shown that biological factors may explain the very sensitive taste of experts. In that case, if you are an average consumer, don’t hold out hope for becoming an expert taster. John Hayes, assistant professor of food science and director of the sensory evaluation center at Penn State says “If an expert’s ability to taste is different then the rest of us, should we be listening to their recommendations?”

    I agree… sort of. In a perfect world, we should not care what reviewers say. I do agree that everybody actually does have different palates… it is the WHY that it up for debate. I like to hold onto the contention that the biggest factors in “palate awareness” are experience, education and training, not physiology. This view allows me to believe that there is room for anyone and everyone in the land of wine appreciation. It might be exposed as inaccurate someday, but for now, there is no fun in thinking that someone’s enjoyment of wine could be limited by their biology. 

    I do not personally pay attention to ratings and reviews when it comes to choosing what to spend my own money on. However, I understand that I have a lot more experience and knowledge at my fingertips to help with my judgment then some folks do. For some, ratings and reviews can be a comfortable place to get started and I would rather someone have a comfortable starting place then feel lost in a metaphorical (and literal) ocean of vino. In short time, most people will learn to take what a review says about a wine with a grain of salt, if not ignore it altogether anyway. Just remember, at the end of the day, the only persons palate that matters is YOURS.07rating If you like a wine that scored low, stand proud. If you don’t like a wine that was reviewed well, don’t be afraid to speak your mind… you’re not “wrong.” There is no wrong or right when it comes to personal taste.

    So, where do you start when you are deciding what to buy? Easy. The one thing a wine reviewer can’t ever say to you specifically is… “Yes, you will like this wine.” Why? Because they don’t know a damn thing about your individual palate. Go talk to a wine professional at a reputable wine retailer. Be ready to articulate what you like and just as importantly, what you don’t like… and then trust when they say you’ll like something… repeat after me: “ignore the score.” A wine reviewer cannot and will not ever take the time to learn about your likes and dislikes and personally recommend wines just for you…. some who you can actually converse with… CAN. The more time you spend developing trust with a retailer and the more feedback you can give… the more rewarding your drinking experiences will be. With just a morsel of info from you, they will be able to recommend wines that your palate will be able to understand, appreciate and enjoy. Just imagine what they can do for you when they have a deeper understanding of your preferences?

    Do I think that things will change and move away from a marketplace controlled by the critics? Yes. Do I think that is a good thing? Yes. Do I think it will be anytime soon? Surprisingly, yes again. It is going to be a very exciting time to be in the wine industry but my thoughts on that and my other reasons for being anti-critic are best left for a different post. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? How much weight do you give to reviews and ratings? Why? Do you trust the “experts” over your own instincts, or the recommendations of people you know personally?


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By the glass … a wine blog by Woodland Hills Wine Co.