It’s time you started drinking like a sommelier, because you deserve better than whatever $12 bottle of wine made its way home from that pit-stop at Albertson’s. We asked five, hip L.A.’s somms to let us in on what they are drinking right now—so consider this an open invite to head to their respective restaurants and ask to join them in a glass of whatever complex, delicious juice they’re indulging in at the moment.
1. François Chidaine 2013 Montlouis Sur Loire ‘Clos du Breuil’ ($30)
Pick by: Taylor Parsons, General Manager & Beverage Director at République
The grape: 100% Chenin Blanc.
How it’s made: Old vines grown on flinty and chalky soils in the Loire Valley. François Chidaine is a gifted winemaker, known for producing squeaky-clean, super-precise expressions of this utterly fascinating grape. Even in tough vintages, like 2013.
Tastes like: Really, really dry. Stone fruits, pear, some citrus and a very cool herbaceous element—but all that takes a backseat to the wine’s predominantly mineral character. Like other great Chenin Blanc wines, this tows that perfect line between density and freshness. Perfect for this in-between season in our crazy climate, where we have one foot in fall but can’t seem to talk ourselves out of endless summer.
While drinking it, eat: Nothing or everything. Goes great with aged goat’s cheeses and is a slam-dunk with chicken or pork. But I happen to love it with salads…and not just because of its searing acidity. Persimmons are just coming into their peak right now, and we are using them a lot with little gem lettuces in the restaurant. It’s a lovely thing—that salad, and this wine together.
Whatever happens, don’t: Ignore Chenin.
Get it here: On our list! We pour it by the glass when the mood strikes, and sometimes have it by the bottle too. Depends on the day. Find it online.
2. 2013, Broc Cellars 2013 “Love Red Part Deux,” Love Ranch Vineyard, California ($39)
Pick by: Amnon Lourie, Manager & Wine Guy at Cliff’s Edge
The grapes: Carignan, Valdiguié and Petite Syrah.
How it’s made: Stainless steel open top fermented and finished in large old German wood. Tiny sulfur added right before bottling to stabilize, but otherwise the dry windy conditions at the vineyard are highly conducive to organic and sustainable practices.
Taste like: The beautiful part of a strawberry rhubarb pie where the juices have melted into the crust showing a hint of winter spice. The pie happens to have been set next to an evening flowering vine giving off a seductive perfume that so easily matches the buxom comely pie maker as she dusts flour off her apron after setting the pie in the window. The wine is tangy and mouthwatering yet seductive and supple. A little chill on it before it comes up in the glass will surprise the palate as it unfolds.
While drinking it, eat: Perfect with Chicken liver terrine, or any of the grub that love a little burst of fruity juice. Would do well next to a Latour or Robiola.
Whatever happens, don’t: Feed the Mogwai after 12 (or get it wet—jeeeez)!
Get it here: Available at Cliff’s Edge by the glass, bottle or from John Koehnen at Revel Wine (one of the dopest guys to help winemakers bring their wines to the world). Find it online.
3. Mauro Vergano NV “Americano” Vermouth Rosso ($42)
Pick by: Maxwell Leer, Wine Director at Bestia
The grape: 100% Grignolino.
How it’s made: This is an aromatized and fortified herb wine from Piemonte, Italy.
Tastes like: “Americano” is an off-dry style of red vermouth (a wormwood based fortified herb wine) designed for the American palate; universally reputed as a sweeter palate. The wine tastes like Maraschino cherries, spices but most importantly Grignolino—a tannic red grape from Piemonte.
While drinking it, eat: Chocolate and or fruit tarts with vanilla gelato. Or, drink it cold and swiftly as an intermezzo digestif between savory courses to cleanse the palate and help your body digest food. The latter is the principal function of “Americano” at Bestia.
Whatever happens, don’t: Let bartenders mix this perfect wine with spirits for a high-end Manhattan or some other nonsense. It would be a tragic debasement to a wine whose complexity is inimitable and should never be distorted by the whimsical ego of a bartender.
Get it here: At Bestia by the glass for $13 under the category of the menu that reads “bone luge, budino and brilliant.” It’s also available at Lou Wine Shop and Domaine LA. Find it online.
4. Matteo Correggia 2013 “Anthos” Vino Rosso, Roero ($54)
Pick by: Caroline Styne, Owner, Wine Director at Lucques; a.o.c.; Tavern; Larder at Burton Way; Larder at LAX
The grape: 100% Brachetto.
How it’s made: The grapes are macerated on the skins in stainless steel vats for two to four days and then are aged in stainless steel for eight months.
Tastes like: This wine has a super clean nose of delicate floral notes and soft red fruits. On the palate, bright red fruit notes of cranberry and raspberry mingle with roses and violets. It has a brightening acidity and elegant silky texture on the palate.
While drinking it eat: It goes really well with any kind of fish, poultry or pork. At a.o.c., I love it with the pork belly with plum compote and lard toast.
Whatever happens, don’t: Be a wine miser! Always share with those around you.
Get it here: We have it on the list at A.O.C. by the bottle and glass. Find it online.
5. Corte Lenguin 2009 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ($75)
Pick by: Emily Johnston, Wine Director at Toscana Restaurant in Brentwood
The grapes: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara.
How it’s made: A portion of grapes are dried until January or February and used to re-ferment the wine from September’s harvest.
Tastes like: Chocolate, cherries, Amarena cherries, black plums, dried plums, raisins, and green coffee beans—complex and big, but very Italian.
While drinking it eat: Fiorentina T-bone cooked in a wood-fired oven, grilled rib chop, or drink as an aperitif, on its own.
Whatever happens, don’t:Confuse this for a New World wine.
Get it here: Toscana’s bottle list or find it online.