Dressner pre-Oscar Italian party in Hollywood

When Lou (center) wrote “Examine and fondle real winemakers tonight at Lou!” yesterday on his blog, brother Anthony (left) and I were intrigued. Within minutes, we had devised a plan to crash the Dressner pre-Oscar Italian party in Hollywood.

It took a little coaxing but I finally managed to get Lou to step out from behind the bar for this photo op with Elisabetta Foradori (right), who only recently joined the Dressner Impeccable Academy of Natural Wines, Arts, and Sciences (she also appeared, you may remember, in the debut episode of the Italian Grape Name Pronunciation Project).

I was completely stoked to see Saša Radikon (right). Sasha is such a cool dude and his family’s wines entirely rock my world.

I also got a chance to talk to Alessandra Bera and Francesca Padovani, both of whom make fantastic wines (in Canelli, Piedmont and Sant’Angelo in Colle, Montalcino, Tuscany, respectively).

For many of them, it was a first trip to Los Angeles. I’m so thrilled to see these wines and winemakers here and it was WONDERFUL to hear Italian spoken last night at my favorite wine bar in the world, Lou on Vine.

You can taste all of their wines and many, many more at the Dressner magical mystery traveling road show event today in the City of Angeles.

08 Cos Nero di Lupo: o my UNBELIEVABLE Nero d’Avola! (no one night stand)

In Los Angeles this week for a series of business meetings for a new and thrilling restaurant project (more on that later) and a working dinner with one of NN+’s (my band’s) agents… and NO trip to LA is complete without a visit to the BEST WINE BAR on the planet (IMHO): Lou on Vine (with AW, of course).

As always, Lou poured an incredible flight of wines for our tavolata… but the wine that simply annihilated me with its goodness was the 2008 Nero d’Avola “Nero di Lupo” (a toponymic designation), vinified in amphora and cement… and, in this case, open from the day before !!!… think blood sausage and sour cherries and volcanic rock in a glass… unbelievable wine… So fresh, so focused, and so beautiful in the glass… Highly, highly recommended and even better, Lou said, the day after… This is definitely a wine that “you call the next day, no one night stand…”

Lou is predominantly Francophile but Italy — and southern Italy in particular — is his mistress… We also drank…

So young but showing so gorgeously right now…

Can you hear the Stevie Wonder in your head?

And though you don’t believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overnoyed, over loved, over me

(How’s that for a pun, Thor?)

Lou called it “a little farty” at first and didn’t pour it until it had aerated for about an hour. It’s so hard to find Overnoy in this country and I was thrilled to get to taste the 07 (which we drank at the end of flight… a perfect closer…). I love the mouthfeel of these wines (at once light and heavy), with that nutty oxidative note balanced by apricot and honey… utterly delicious…

Rebbe Lou presides over what is IMHO the best wine program in the country. Perhaps a little radical for some but always right for me: thrilling, delicious, and always something I haven’t tried yet… If only we could clone Lou and have him open a Lou on Vine in every major American city… we’d have a brighter and stronger next generation of young wine professionals…

Sérgio Mendes favorite wine last night (with Sérgio!)

From the “I shit you not” department…

It was while Brother Anthony (as he has been duly dubbed by Comrade Howard) and I were doing a little wine bar hopping last night in LA that we bumped into bossa nova, jazz, and funk giants Sérgio Mendes and Gracinha Leporace. We literally saw Sérgio from the street through the window of Osteria Mozza (where we had just left the bar) and he insisted that we come back in and taste his wines (brother Anthony recently recorded with Sérgio, who was having dinner with Gracinha and their agent).

What’s it like to drink Chapoutier 2004 Ermitage [sic] De L’Orée with Sérgio? Unbelievably crunchy and salty and utterly delicious. Sérgio and his entourage were super cool and friendly and fun to hang out with (and he was geeked to see brother Anthony and had high praise for him). I love the white wines of Chapoutier and rarely get to drink them. It was such a thrill to taste such an amazing bottling with Sérgio! Thanks again, Sérgio!

But the wine I can’t stop thinking about this foggy morning in LA (there’s a fog upon LA…) is the 2009 Langhe Bianco by Cavallotto, made from Pinot Nero. Not much of this wine is produced, said my fav LA sommelier and GM at Mozza David Rosoff.

I’ve had some great Langhe Bianco this year, notably from Vajra, Cogno, and Ettore Germano, but this wine simply floored me with its structure and nuance.

In keeping with our tradition of Holocaust humor (one of my all-time favorite posts here at Do Bianchi), I greeted David with a heil myself! I love David and one my new year’s resolutions for 2011 is to spend more time tasting with him. This guy deserves a medal for what he’s doing with Italian wine: his list is the top all-Italian carta dei vini, hands down, in the City of Angels.

Next we headed over to see more Jews at my favorite wine bar in the world, Lou on Vine. Lou is a true rebbe of natural wine and is another one of those folks I just wish Tracie P and I got to see more often.

The squid (above) at the Monday night supper was brilliant.

The rabbit was divine.

I just love everything about Lou on Vine.

How do you like my LA stories? It’s been a long time since I’ve posted in the “de urbe angelorum” category!

Natural wine matters

Above: The wines produced in the Sierra Foothills of California by Hank Beckmeyer and his wife Caroline are among those recommended by Eric in his blog post yesterday on Natural Wine. (I’m offering two bottlings by Hank in my wine club six-pack this month.)

With all the trimmings of a lustful post-modernist dialectic on the semiotic implications of “the other” intrinsically expressed through the exile of “self” in the production of wine, the debate over what is and what is not Natural Wine (with a capital N word) is gearing up like a Hollywood summer box office block buster.

Joking aside, the Solomon of wine blogging, Eric, has opened the flood gates with a torrent of strength equal to a Texas summer flash flood.

We’re all gearing up for Cory’s 32 Days of Natural wines, which begins in a few days (I’ll be posting, as will Jaynes Gastropub, as will Hank above, and a lot of other friends of mine).

In the meantime, I can’t recommend Lou’s posts strongly enough: while Eric is our Solomon, Lou is our Rebi Akiva.

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