Now that spring is in full swing and summer is closer than ever, wine lovers are looking for lighter and brighter varieties to sip in the sun. Michael Blackman, co-owner and wine director at The Hermosillo in Highland Park (which is known for its beer but actually has a rotating wine list with over 30 by the glass) recently sat down with us to share a taste of his favorites for the warmer-weather season. Here are his picks, which are all currently available at the York Boulevard bar.
Kivelstadt Cellars, Twice Removed Rosé
Tasting faintly of strawberries and citrus with nice minerality, this wine is “made in the Provencal style, meaning these grapes are whole-cluster pressed and not made into a rosé as an aftertought,” says Blackman, who says rosés are good any time of year. “Picture being in Provence, laying on the sand in the beach, and then you have this. Of course, it’s made in Sonoma and not in Provence, but that’s the approach.”
Smith and Story Wine Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc
“It almost clobbers you over the head with its crisp minerality and bright acidity,” Blackman says of this Sonoma Mountain-harvested white. “This is from a newer wine maker. If I had to compare it, it’s sort of done in that Marlborough Savignon Blanc way—New Zealand style. It’s big, and it’s got a lot of nice citrus. It’s a great spring and summer wine.”
Crivelli, Grignolino D’Asti
“We can get stuck in the Cabs and the Chardonnays and the Pinots and all that, but there’s just so many cool and interesting grapes out there. This is Grignolino, and it is an oddball. It’s very unique in its color—you can see that it’s light, but when you taste it, it doesn’t taste like a light wine,” says Blackman, who calls out this organic Northern Italian red’s “biting tannins and touch of bitter chocolate.” Its acidity is what makes it appropriate for warmer weather, he says. In spring, Blackman serves Grignolino D’Asti at “cellar temps,” but in the summer, he prefers it slightly chilled.
Domaine Des Moirots, Pinot Noir
Describing it as “mouthwatering, fresh, and easy to put back,” Blackman points out this “uncomplicated” wine’s fresh, just-ripened berry notes and hints of smoke. “It’s very light,” he says. “This is fun little wine, and the price is just right that you’re getting quality and saving a buck or two. You can really just drink it.”
EOS, Petite Sirah
“Just because it’s warm doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy big wine,” insists Blackman, who says backyard barbecues bring charred meats, which this red is a great match for. Plus, he points out that temperatures still tend to fall on spring nights, so you can easily switch to fuller-bodied wines when the sun goes down. “This is a Paso big boy,” he says, calling it “oaky and full of figs and overripe plums,” while concluding, “You really couldn’t jam any more fruit into this guy.”
Blackman is one of the nicest sommeliers you’ll meet in L.A. His demeanor is friendly, unpretentious, and just about perfect for Highland Park’s laid-back vibe. He specializes in finding delicious, inexpensive wines that range from about $7 to $14 and takes a lot of pleasure in helping customers discover something new and delicious. Wine lovers and novices would do well to search him when in the area.
The Hermosillo, 5125 York Boulevard, 323 739-6459. During happy hour (5pm to 7pm Sunday through Thursday) all wines are $2 off.