Malibu Seafood – Whenever I travel to a place in which one of my many winegeek friends live, I ask them for restaurant recommendations. Because if we’re going to get together to share a glass or ten, we’re going to need a venue, right? Usually, this request leads to a fairly detailed and diverse list of excellent places.
Not so Malibu, in which one of my longest-term fellow imbibers has lived for a good while now. His responses, each and every time, have been the consultative equivalent of a resigned sigh, followed by a suggestion that we meet somewhere else.
But today he’s on a tight schedule, with just enough time to squeeze in a quick lunch, and so Malibu it must be. A takeout seafood shack, with picnic tables and a pretty unbeatable oceanfront view on a fine, sunny day? How bad could it be?
It turns out: not bad at all. In fact, the squid – which comes in fried and sandwich form – is [choose your preferred expletive] delicious. A little cup of pre-squid ceviche is decent, but really: just get the squid. If you’re still hungry, get more squid.
Raveneau 2005 Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre (Chablis) – As a non-owner of much white Burgundy of any genre, the whole premature oxidation disaster hasn’t much affected my cellar. But if I’d owned a bunch that needed disposal and then had chosen to hold on to any, it would have been mostly Chablis from this and one or two other producers, and so I’d be eyeing their trajectories with a fear. Or, alternatively, I’d drink them early-ish, because at their best they can be pretty spectacular drinks even in adolescence, given the right coaxing. Like this bottle, which shows every one of the qualities for which Raveneau is known…minus, of course, those only shown by the onset of a fuller maturity. Intensity with restraint, power wielded with a whisper, a nearly-unique textural experience of brocaded silks and burnished shields, and a sense of duration that extends beyond the temporal. It becomes difficult to take a next sip when the one that’s lingering still has so much to say. (11/11)
Lou – The hotel at which I tend to stay while in Los Angeles, far too scene-y for my tastes and rather unfortunately situated in the midst of Hollywood at its most dissipated, is within walking distance of this incredibly welcoming wine bar-ish restaurant. This is a dangerous thing.
The greater danger, however, comes from proprietor Lou Amdur’s enthusiasms, which – vinously speaking – run towards the natural, the eclectic, the weird, the statement-making, the paradigmatic, the temporally notional, and the because-it-was-amusing-at-the-time-(ic). But enthusiasms they are, and the unfortunate result is that patrons with similar enthusiasms soon find themselves in a rapidly rising river of delicious “here, try this” splashes that, added together, turn out to be rather more wine than was on the initial agenda.
Thank goodness for taxis.
I’m here with fellow Barberagate conspirator Whitney Adams, one of the very few serious wine geeks who should ever be allowed on camera, and amidst some of the usual tale-telling and casual noshing there is, indeed, the periodicism provided by Lou toting another likely bottle for us to try. And another. And another…
Staldmann 2010 Gelber Muskateller Kapellenweg (Thermenregion) – Open four days, and showing itt: lightish floral elements with a barely-oxidizing structure starting to fall apart around it. I don’t think the wine was ever much more physically powerful than this, but I suspect the aromatics have suffered since opening. There’s minerality – stony, rocky – but it, too, is beginning to decline. A fresh bottle would have more to say. (11/11)
Saumon 2010 Vin de France Romorantin (Loire) – Open two days, and I don’t know whether to credit or blame that time for the wine’s current performance, which is jumbled and uninviting. Shrouded and closed in on itself, this is a wine that doesn’t invite introspection, but wishes to conduct same on its own terms. (11/11)
Texier 2010 Côtes-du-Rhône Roussanne (Rhône) – When I was first introduced to Texier’s wines, back in the late 90s, his CdR blanc was a regular hit-it-out-of-the-park surprise for Rhône aficionados, especially at its ridiculously low price. And then, due to vagaries of the market or whatever, it disappeared from my life. Well, it hasn’t gotten much more expensive, but it has gotten even better. Rolling spiced stone fruit, with much more life and verve than is typical for the genre, and a pretty twist of flowers as it finishes. Delicious. (11/11)
Schnaitmann 2010 “Evoé!” Rosé 018 11 (Württemberg) – 80% pinot (I assume noir, but the label doesn’t specify), 20% trolllinger. Growls and yips, but behind a locked door through which all I can perceive is a muted din. What’s left is a countervailing soft strawberryishness and a powdery texture that really doesn’t do a whole lot for me, though there’s a bit of a nip at the end to remind me that this little dog’s unhappy about something. (11/11)
de Conciliis 2009 Fiano “Antece” (Campania) – There’s a real presence to this wine that surpasses the usual ash-and-bones structure of Campanian fiano, something that hums and beats in a texturally persistent way. Also present are waxy memories of lemon and a bit of salt at the finish. As tannic as it is acidic (though not all that much of either), and much of its story seems as-yet untold. (11/11)
Janvier 2010 Coteaux du Loir “Cuvée du Rosier” (Loire) – Pineau d’aunis, which means it’s likely that I’ll hate it. Which I do. It tastes like an ash-dusted vinyl fetish suit. (Well, I mean, so I hear.) Look, I fully agree with anyone’s objection that this is my personal issue with the grape rather than some external truism, but an issue it is, and unfortunately this is the exact opposite of pleasurable for me. If pineau d’aunis was the last grape on earth, well…I’d be a very sober man. (11/11)
Cambon 2010 Beaujolais (Beaujolais) – Yum. I mean, I could say a lot more about this wine – its brittle cohesiveness, its chewy and somewhat surprisingly dark fruit, its vivid life – but really, “yum” gets across the essentials in a much more succinct manner. (11/11)
de Conciliis “Donnaluna” 2008 Cilento Aglianico (Campania) – Spicy, rocky, coal-dusted darkness with a fair bit of unintegrated acidity. I want to like this more than I do, but there’s an insubstantiality to the wine that becomes apparent with greater attention. (11/11)
Rare Wine Company “Historic Series” Madeira Malmsey “New York Special Reserve” (Madeira) – Sweet, heavy, liquefied nuts. I have to admit that I’m not an enormous fan of Madeira due to its ever-present volatile acidity, which I’m unusually sensitive to, but this is pretty nice. I’d really only want to drink a tiny bit of it, though. (11/11)
Rare Wine Company “Historic Series” Madeira “New Orleans Special Reserve” (Madeira) – Sweet, heavy, liquefied nuts. Spicy? If this note seems awfully similar to the previous one, it’s because my attention is flagging at the end of a long night of tasting and socialization, and my lack of true interest in Madeira is starting to reveal itself. This and the previous are pretty pathetic notes for wines on which someone spent a good deal of time and attention, not least the guy who opened and served them to me. Apologies to all involved. Really. These wines deserve better than what I’m giving them here. (11/11)
de Bartoli Marsala Vecchio Samperi “Ventennale” (Sicily) – On the other hand, this is one way to grab my attention, hard, and wrench it back to the wine in front of me. That no one in his region makes wine like de Bartoli is well known, that no one in his region makes wine as well as de Bartoli is pretty widely acknowledged, and yet he achieves something beyond mere iconoclasm and superiority. I’m not sure these are the right words, but there’s a palpably different sort of life to them, as if they’re existing simultaneously on this plane and another that can’t quite be perceived with straight sight. Some might point out that the previous is really just another way of describing complexity, and they’d be somewhat right, but I think it’s necessary to specify that the complexity is not of the usual, three-times-the-descriptors, type. It’s something else. Though the wine doesn’t suggest electric guitar to me at all, this particular quality puts me in mind of Jimi Hendrix as he was first perceived, channeling a muse that was so far afield from that of his peers that it was often clear he was working in a different language, that whatever he was hearing inside his head (which didn’t always translate to his hands) was something that others weren’t going to be capable of hearing for a long time, if ever.
I note, at this point, that I haven’t actually described the wine in any useful fashion. Well, it’s dry, complex in both the usual way and [see above], incredibly persistent, and monumentally compelling. I suppose my lack of enthusiasm for actual descriptors here is more or less a suggestion that you should go out and try this yourself rather than listening to me ramble on about it. One action is much more rewarding than the other. (11/11)
Antoine Arena 2010 Muscat de Cap Corse (Corsica) – Like drinking sweet, sweet sunlight from a glass of freshly-crushed ice in a field of blossoming white flowers. In Corsica. (11/11)
This tally does not, by the way, include all the wines tasted on this evening. At several points, quantity and conviviality intervened to prevent me from even noting a wine’s identity, much less its qualities. See? I said Lou was dangerous.
Disclaimer: I have absolutely no way of discerning a relationship between what I was offered and what I was charged for it, but in the absence of details and based on previous experience at Lou, I think it’s likely to assume that I was at least undercharged for, if not outright gifted, some percentage of this evening’s beverages.