Let this summer be one of exploration. To help you go outside of your wine comfort zone, we spoke with some of L.A.’s most experienced Sommeliers and wine buyers. These rather esoteric picks reflect the exciting landscape of wines available, and these bottles in particular are meant for summer enjoyment. The first two are relatively easy to find in L.A., but the last three picks will require some legwork to attain. That said, they deliver a world of pleasure and will make your effort worthwhile.
2012 Bott Pince “Csontos” Tokaji ($35)
Pick by: Trevor of Buzz Wine Beer Shop in DTLA
Style: A slow, controlled fermentation in used oak with ambient yeast—a dry variant of the world famous sweet wines of the Tokaji region.
Tasting Notes: A nose of chalk and honey soaked peaches—on the palate the richness is supported by surprising freshness and acidity. The finish is of pure igneous rock dust and goes on and on. It’s everything, all at once.
Pair with: It’s a bit too rich for most seafood, but it would go fantastically with a heavily herbed rotisserie chicken (French or Peruvian), or roast potatoes and carrots.
Get it here: Buzz Wine Beer Shop
NV Bodegas Hidalgo ‘La Gitana’ Manzanilla Sherry ($16.99, 500ml)
Pick by: Monica Marin, DWS & Head of WSET Education at Winehouse in West L.A.
Grape: Palomino Fino
Style: Youthful and dry style of sherry. Vinified and matured under flor yeast in a biological crianza, avoiding oxidation. Aged in a three-year solera process using old American oak barrels.
Tasting Notes: Refreshing citrus and chamomile notes intermingled with Atlantic salinity and seaweed. Drink chilled during the summer.
Pair with: Tapas, fried fish, any seafood—goes great with sushi!
Get it here: Winehouse, K&L (Redwood City), Hi-Time Wine Cellars, Wine.com
Iuli Umberta 2007 Barabba, Barbera del Monferrato Superiore ($45)
Iuli 2012 Umberta, Barbera del Monferrato ($18)
Pick by: Jared Hooper, Wine Director at Faith & Flower in DTLA
Style: Piemontese wine that’s been fermented in steel and then aged in French oak.
Tasting Notes: Beautiful fruit and lively acidity and with a bit of age, which has softened its hard exterior. If you can’t find the 2007 “Superiore,” look for the 2012.
Pair with: Perfect with roasted mushroom pizza, confit fennel, roasted garlic, parmigiana reggiano.
Get it here: At Faith & Flower and: 2007 Vintage and 2012 Vintage at Prima Vini, 2012 vintage at Hi-Time Wine Cellars
Site 2012 Roussanne ($40)
Pick by: Jonathan Cristaldi
Style: Harvested late, and whole-cluster pressed for five hours, the juice settles overnight in a small cold tank before being transferred to French oak barrels (30 percent new) for fermentation and 9 months of aging, with weekly lees stirrings during the first couple months.
Tasting Notes: Incredible texture. Weighty and mouth-coating, but vibrant and alive, showing citrus notes and honeyed orange blossoms.
Pair with: Hearty chicken dishes with rich sauces, poached fish, creamy risotto bianco, Chinese take out.
Get it here: Site Wine Co—winemaker Jeremy Weintraub confirms there are a few cases left, but don’t delay.
Weingut Martin & Anna Arndorfer Rosé Kamptal, Austria 2013 ($25)
Pick by: Matthew Kaner of Bar Covell in Los Feliz
Grape: Zweigelt Rosé fermented on the skins of Grüner Veltliner.
Style: This is a normal rosé until Martin decides to become a genius and ferment the juice of Zweigelt on Grüner Veltliner skins! Freshness, berry fruit and dry as the day is long.
Tasting Notes: Aromatic fruitiness lifted with a kiss of acidity. Tons of berries, pine, rosemary and sage. Oily and savory quality on the finish.
Pair with: Schnitzel, cured meats and vegetable goulash.
Get it here: Pouring at Bar Covell starting Tuesday, June 24. If you want to buy it, you have to order it from a store in New York City, though word is a couple L.A. retail outlets have expressed interest in carrying the wine soon. Either way, in my experience, when Kaner swears by a wine, don’t ask questions, just act.