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…

From one French extreme to another in Hollywood

Above: oxidized Brin de Chèvre (Menu Pineau) by Puzelat at Lou on Vine.

There is more interesting wine in Los Angeles than the skeptic in me expected to find here. This week found me at Lou on Vine, a fantastic natural wine bar located next to a Thai Massage parlor in a strip mall on the corner of Melrose and Vine. Lou is my new favorite Southland hangout and I’ll be devoting a post to it soon. Sommelier David poured me a glass of super stinky, excellent 2006 Menu Pineau — a rare Loire variety — by natural winemaker Puzelat. Its initial nose of nail polish remover (noted my friend and Nous Non Plus’ manager John Mastro) gave way to nutty and fruit flavors. I really dug this wine, as did John.

Above: halibut with bacon, sorrel and gribiche paired nicely with the Corton-Charlemagne generously opened by David Schachter.

Yesterday delivered the other extreme in the spectrum of French viticulture with a 2005 Corton-Charlemagne by Jadot, corked by my friend and collector David Schachter at AOC, one of Tinseltown’s wine-centric mainstays. This was one of the most gorgeous expressions of Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted and whatever minerality it may have lost in the warm vintage was made up for by a wide range of fruit flavors that revealed themselves over the course of the evening (I reserved a glass to drink at the end of the night). The restaurant seemed a little off (a “B+ evening” for the venue, said David) but the wine service was excellent and I definitely want to check it out again. He also opened a 1999 Cascina Francia by Conterno. It was very tight but opened up nicely.

Life in the City of Angels seems to be defined by extremes like these. So far, so good…