We’re going to miss Lou on Vine

From the department of “Where do I begin? To tell the story of how great a love can be?”…

Above: Tracie P with Lou Amdur at a Kermit Lynch tasting back in May 2009 in San Francisco. Tracie and I had just been engaged.

It’s hard to explain the intrinsic role that Lou Amdur has played in our lives.

Lou and his Lou on Vine have been the backdrop for some of the most special moments of the last three years. It was the first place I took Tracie P (then B) when she visited me in California for the first time. It’s where I met Comrade Howard for the first time. It’s where Anthony and I would go nearly every week when I was living in Los Angeles. The first time I went there it was for a book reading by Alice.

Across the nation, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, the wine world is reeling from the news that Lou is closing his amazing wine bar.

So many great wines tasted there. So many thrilling wine tales recounted. So many wine personages encountered.

But none greater than Lou, who could always — always! — surprise you with what he was pouring, a rare grape variety he was excited about, a biodynamic Pecorino that really turned him on…

I really liked this elegiac post by Cory (and recommend it). It reminded me of how Lou brought so many of us together — despite the vitriol that so often surfaces on the Natural wine scene.

He was our rabbi and Lou was his synagogue — a συναγωγή, a bringing together, etymologically speaking.

Where do I begin?
To tell the story of how great a love can be
The sweet love story that is older than the sea
The simple truth about the love he brings to me…

Tracie P’s new blog, heading @SottoLA, and Give Greece a Chance

In case you hadn’t already seen it, Tracie P has a new blog called Sugarpie where “mommy maximus” reflects on what it’s like to be a first-time mother and our experiences as new parents. I’m so glad that she’s blogging again and that she’s been applying her irresistible humor to the ups and downs of parenting… I love her and Georgia P so much and her humor, spirit, and beauty are an antidote to the often overwhelming challenges of being a first-time parent.

In other news…

On Friday and Saturday nights, I’ll be working the floor at Sotto in Los Angeles where we’ll be launching our new wine list for 2012. There are a lot of the old favorites on the new carta dei vini but there are also a bunch of new lots as well, like the Cornelissen Munjebel Bianco.

In today’s New York Times, Eric the Red wrote that Cornelissen’s wines are “unlike almost any others on earth, which people tend to love or hate…” Bring it on!

If you happen to be in LA this weekend, please come and see me and I’ll pour you something great!

And on a more solemn note…

With everything that’s been going on “on the ground” in Greece, it’s been really difficult to find inspiration to write about Greek wine for the Boutari Wines Project this year.

Evidently, my blogging colleague Markus Stolz — author of Elloinos, the world’s top Greek wine blog — has been suffering from the same aporia and he, like me, posted today about the Give Greece a Chance project: it’s a print media PR campaign spearheaded by Greek business leaders who are trying to raise awareness of the human suffering that’s happening there.

I highly recommend this page: it provides some background and some basic information on the grave situation there.

See also what Markus has to say.

Markus lives with his family in Greece and is watching this tragedy unfold firsthand.

“A lot of real human suffering,” he wrote to me today in a tweet. “I like initiatives like the one we both posted about, builds community and leads to change.”

Let’s hope so… And let’s not forget our sisters and brothers in Greece. Una faccia, una razza…

Babes in Hollywood

We just couldn’t resist…

Everyone says, this is the time you can travel with them: it’s been great to have little Georgia P on the road with me. She couldn’t come to the shows, of course, but she did come to our sound check in LA (although we kept her in one of the club’s other rooms to protect her little eardrums from the loud music).

She sure loves her bunny and we love her so much… :)

Salt & Pepper Shrimp @ ABC Seafood (Chinatown, Los Angeles)

Great lunch yesterday at ABC Seafood (Chinatown, Los Angeles) with our friend Jeff from Austin (who flew in from Texas to eat his way through LA and catch my band’s show on Saturday night).

No website, no fancy sign. Just an LA classic, reasonably priced and always delicious. Highly recommended.

Here’s the Google place page.

The best restaurant in LA @SottoLA (and yes, another baby photo)

I just couldn’t resist sharing this photo of our “little connoisseur”…


2011 has been such an amazing year for us. And among the many “firsts” in this Parzen vintage, I wrote my first wine list for Sotto in Los Angeles.

Learning that the restaurant had been named “best new restaurant of 2011” by Los Angeles Magazine on Friday was the icing on the sweetest cake.

It’s been such a rewarding experience to be part of the restaurant’s talented team and I can’t conceal my pride in the all-Southern-Italian wine list that we put together there.

Here’s a post on Sotto from June of this year… I can’t wait for Georgia to try Chefs Zach and Steve’s Neapolitan pizza (see my note at the end)…

Chefs Steve and Zach literally combed the Malibu foothills foraging for wild fennel flowers — finocchietto — to complete their pasta con le sarde, traditional Sicilian noodles with sardines, pine nuts, raisins, and — de rigeuerfinocchietto.

The occasion was a wine dinner at Sotto in Los Angeles in honor of my good friend Giampaolo Venica who wrote on the Twitter today What a great pasta with sarde last night @sottoLA, probably best ever had.”

Tracie P and I simply adore Giampaolo and Chiara, who are celebrating their first wedding anniversary on Sunday! Mazel tov! :) Photo by Alfonso, who also joined us.

Things behind the bar were getting steamy last night. Amazing cocktails…

I just had to ask the parents of these happy children for permission to snap their photo. Pizza is a wonderfully universal dish, isn’t it? Who doesn’t like pizza?

Now that Tracie P and I are expecting, I find myself thinking all the time about nutrition and Baby P. It was great to see these super polite kids enjoying the wholesome Neapolitan stuff!

96 Giacosa Rabajà, 90 Struzziero Taurasi, 82 Antinori Chianti Classico, holy crap

From the department of “that’s what friends are for”…

Lots of good folks came out last night to share well wishes and good thoughts on my last visit to Los Angeles and Sotto for the year.

Schachter pulled out all the stops, reaching deep into his cellar for his last bottle of 1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabajà (white label) — honestly one of the best bottle of wine I’ve ever had. True to the legacy of the Rabajà cru, this mighty wine — from what many believe to be the greatest vintage of that decade — delivered aromas of mint and tar and earthy, savory flavors before revealing delicate, sublime fruit…

Keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure.

Later in the evening, Anthony, Lars (who was in from Chicago), and Dan came in for a late-night dinner at the end of my shift.

Dan brought a number of incredible bottles, including the 1990 Taurasi Riserva by Struzziero (classic blended Aglianico with no vineyard designation). I’d only ever tasted Struzziero back to 1993 (which we have on the list at Sotto) and I was blown away by the elegance and the balance of this wine, still so fresh and with the vibrant acidity that traditional Aglianico can deliver. Another best-ever wine, with gorgeous ripe red fruit and an ethereal earthiness that prompted Lars and me to call this top wine in the flight.

And now there’s so much more I see, And so by the way I thank you.

Although no show-stopper like the Struzziero Taurasi, the 1982 Chianti Classico Riserva by Antinori was fantastic — a wine, we all agreed, from a time before America, California, and Parker, a wine from a time when Antinori still made wine. Classic Sangiovese, with impressive acidity for a wine this old and delicious plum and red stone fruit flavor. It was a fantastic pairing for the sous-vide Wagyū tongue that chef Steve sent over to our table. Loved this wine and the now forgotten era of Tuscan winemaking for which it spoke to me.

My goodness… From my baby shower to all the hugs that the staff gave me before we said good-bye, from the camaraderie, solidarity, and thrilling wines to the wishes that our friends shared with me on this last trip to Los Angeles… I know that I never would have emerged from the darkness of my life before to reach this magical, blessed moment… what a year it’s been… someday I’ll tell Baby P all about it…

Oh and then for the times when we’re apart, well then close your eyes and know, the words are coming from my heart.

Scenes from a (Southern) Italian restaurant… @SottoLA

Pour it, swirl it, smell it, taste it, touch it, kiss it! IT’S FINALLY HERE! The 2008 Cirò Classico by ‘A Vita, made from 100% Gaglioppo grapes, by my friend, the inimitable Francesco Maria De Franco (whom you may remember from the Italian Grape Name and Appellation Project).

You can taste it with me tonight and tomorrow night at Sotto in Los Angeles.

BTW, the abbreviation on the label “F 36 P 27” refers to folio (page) 36, parcel 27 — the vineyard’s listing in the Italian government’s official registry of growing sites.

The year isn’t over yet but I’m going on record: Francesco’s wine is “my top wine for 2011.”

We still don’t have his top-tier wine but I believe that both this and his Rosso Classico Superiore (which I retasted this month in Brescia at the VinNatur table at the European Wine Bloggers Conference) are destined to gain entrance to the pantheon of the greatest wines of Italy.

I love it that much! (And wanted to share this second photo so that you can see the bright color of the noble, tannic wine.)

Sotto was hopping last night and I was psyched to debut a bunch of new wines, including the ‘A Vita and three new wines from Alois (Campania)… more on those later…

There is so much good shit on the menu at Sotto but I just can’t resist Chef Zach’s pizza margherita.

If you happen to be in LA tonight or tomorrow night, come down and I’ll pour you some wine and spin you some wine tales!