Domaine LA

Best Natural Wine Store, August 2013

No wine is “unnatural,” and culturing with a pure yeast strain is not some kind of subterfuge. Still, there’s enough watering, boosting, and reverse osmosis going on in cellars that wines can become disconnected from those characteristics that define their region as well as their grape. Domaine LA is as much a discourse on the subject as it is a bottle shop. Without being an absolutist (a ban on sulphur would mean no wines from Germany), owner Jill Bernheimer ensures that nearly every selection adheres to the store’s belief that manipulation tends to hide idiosyncrasies. The fruitiness of an Isabel cuvée from Berkeley’s Donkey & Goat is all rosé halftones; the high-alcohol flash of a Russian River Poco a Poco zinfandel is a snapshot of one grape in one season in one dusty place.