Best Wineshop, April 2005
The pleasures of wine should begin in the wine store. An inventory that is deep enough to invite browsing yet edited so that each bottle seems to beckon can heighten anticipation of that moment when the cork is pulled. L.A. has witnessed a boomlet of wineshops in the past half decade or so, with several noteworthy options among them. At Silverlake Wine, the broad choice is rooted in selections that clearly express the region they are from. At Chronicle Wine Cellar, hidden behind Pie ’n Burger in Pasadena, buyer Gus Martin offers smartly chosen bargains with a hint of shtick. Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese is user friendly: The Moscato d’Asti chills in the cooler, ready to be picked up on the way home from work. The stacked cases and long racks at the Woodland Hills Wine Company , however, hold a collection that is not so much exhaustive as it is definitive. We can explore Oregon wine maker Ken Wright’s take on five pinot noir vineyards, or for that matter, four burgundy vignerons’ interpretations of a single vineyard, such as Gevrey-Chambertin’s Clos Saint-Jacques. Whether it is the lighthearted promise evoked by a Fritz Haag Kabinett or the brittle grandeur that radiates from an aged Bordeaux, we can go from aisle to aisle in this Valley institution touching bottles and glancing at labels, gradually succumbing to the pleasures of still-unopened wines.