Red, white, and sparkling carpet at Kermit Lynch Tasting

Some of the cool people I got to taste with in San Francisco…

The pre-Kermit-Lynch-tasting evening began with an aperitif of stinky wine at Terroir Natural Wine Merchant where we hung with my new friend Guilhaume Gerard. Between him chasing off a would-be shoplifter, a discussion of the cutthroat nature of our trade, and some Django on vinyl (how cool is that?), we had a fantastic time. I’m really digging Guilhaume’s blog, Wine Digger, and highly recommend it. (Book editors: there’s a story there that hasn’t been told yet.)

The pre-tasting dinner was held at an excellent restaurant I’d never been to, Jardinière, with a very chic, glamorous art-deco ambiance and great food. The man himself, Kermit, took time out to chat music and pose for a photo-op with me and the lovely Tracie B.

Also got to taste with Gerard’s partners the next day at the portfolio tasting, Luc Ertoran and Dagan Ministero (to the left and right, respectively) and their friend Ian Becker of Arlequin Wine Merchant in SF.

The previous week, I tasted beer not wine with Clark Z. Terry, who came to see our band Nous Non Plus play in SF. In my view, Clark represents the future of wine marketing: he’s cool, he’s hip, he’s way-friggin-intelligent, and he’s dialing Kermit into the age of viral marketing. Check out the Kermit blog, authored by Clark.

Tracie B and I got to catch up with one of our favorite people in the natural wine business, the inimitable Lou Amdur of Lou on Vine. I don’t really miss living in Los Angeles but I sure miss cozying up to the bar at Lou on Vine and checking out what he has in his glass. Terroir in SF may be giving him a run for my money but Lou remains for me the best natural wine bar and best wine bar period in the U.S.

Representing Austin in the house was Monsieur Josh Loving (center), Austin’s top natural wine palate, classical guitar player, and one of the coolest dudes I know in Texas. We kinda went ape-shit over 1987 Terrebrune Bandol Rouge that we tasted together. Geoffrey Metheny (right), who pours wine at Fino in Austin, had his eye on some of those California natural wine girls.

Our friends Dan and Melinda Redman, who own the company I work for, were so way-super-cool and generous to bring me and Tracie B along for the ride and what a ride it was. Thanks again, guys! Tracie B and I had a blast.

I didn’t taste any wine with this funny bunny but I did take this picture of him in the Sonoma downtown square where he was hanging with some Lego Stormtroopers. Thanks for reading this far!

The amazingly talented Mr. Lou on Vine

Above: he has my vote. No, that’s not Lou. That’s my comrade and co-conspirator in tasting Howard Rodman at Lou on Vine, my all-time favorite wine bar in the world — yes, in the whole wide world. Howard was just nominated for a Spirit Award for best screenplay (Savage Grace, 2007). Congratulations, Howard!

My travels are taking me away from Austin and back to California, where I’m going to work some holiday parties with my friends at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego (I’ll be pouring on the floor there on Friday and Saturday nights, btw). During the week, I’ll head to LA to take care of some business and surely stop in to taste at my all-time favorite wine bar, Lou on Vine (at the corner of Melrose and Vine in Hollywood).

Above: Lou Amdur, nez extraordinaire and proprietor of the eponymously named Lou on Vine.

Lou’s menu features farm-to-table materia prima and his extensive by-the-glass list never fails to surprise and thrill me, whether with a biodynamic Pecorino from Abruzzo, a stinky Gamay from Beaujolais (Rachel Ray’s favorite, Lou claims wryly), or a grape that I’d never tasted, like Zierfandler from the Thermenregion.

Before I headed out to Austin a few weeks ago, Lou graciously let Howard and me pull the cork on Howard’s 1998 Cascina Francia by Giacomo Conterno, which showed beautifully. I’ve recently tasted the 97 (at Jaynes courtesy John Greer) and the 99 (courtesy David Schacter): while the 99 was still way too tight and the 97 began to open up nicely only after extended aeration, the 98 was simply singing in my opinion.

*****

got a pocket full of nickles
a pocket full of dimes
going back to Watts
drink a little wine
come on
baby don’t you want to go
going back to LA
sweetest place I know

— Johnny Otis Show