I am fortunate to have had a few good drinking buddies over the years. One of them, Alex, was a fellow Resident Assistant at Clark Kerr Campus. Being German (or Bavarian, more properly) he was quite fond of drinking. Being in a fraternity (and Korean) I, too, was quite fond of drinking. Unfortunately, with the exception of Brian and Diane and a few others, there weren’t too many drinkers on our staff.
No matter. Drink alone and you’re an alcoholic. Drink with someone else, even to the point of utter disregard for personal safety, and you’re just being sociable.
Alex was home for the holidays and decided to take the Amtrak down to Burbank, where I picked him up. We headed promptly to the Los Angeles Farmers Market on Fairfax, where we lunched magnificently at Moishe’s–he had the falafel plate while I had chicken shawerma. Afterwards, we went to Monsieur Marcel for a post-meal glass of wine. As we fully intended on drinking much more during the course of the day we decided to start with whites.
Alex had a glass of the Ile La Forge 2005 viognier and I had a glass of the Domaine de la Fruitie 2004 muscadet, made from the melon de Bourgogne grape.
The viognier was fruity–it tasted a bit like lychee, with just a hint of sweetness. The muscadet, on the other hand, did not appear to have any fruit at all. Another reviewer noted melon, lemongrass, and green apple aromas. On the palate the muscadet had a very strong mineral character, which may be from the vines being planted on “granite, mica, and schist.”
The muscadet seemed closest to a riesling in both our estimations. It was leaner than the viognier.
Neither wine made much of an impression on either me or Alex, and left us yearning for a nice red.
We headed next to the Colorado Wine Company in Eagle Rock. I had read good reviews of the place and was anxious to check it out. Inside, there were little cafe tables and stools, funky lighting, and a display jam-packed with wines that lay on racks parallel to the wall. I recognized some of the wines, including a Curran Syrah I’ve had my eye on for a while (they make an EXCELLENT grenache blanc; there are apparently less than 100 acres of this grape planted in California).
The back of the store has a lounge area that combines Asian, IKEA, and 70s elements–pretty cool look. Alex and I both had a glass of some Chilean cabernet that at first seemed closed off and then seemed to die and give up the ghost. It seemed more like a pinot noir than a cab, and to be truthful it seemed a bit baked. Luckily, we were ready to drink anything, and the proprietor was very generous in her pours. On the way out Alex spied a Bavarian brew (Schönromer Pils) he had never before encountered and, intrigued, we picked up two bottles.
Then off to Mission Wines, by far my favorite wine establishment in the area. As it was Sunday there were not too many people sitting at the bar–there were two older women in the corner drinking white wine. Alex and I started with a bottle of the tried and true Cimicky Trumps Grenache/Shiraz. It did not disappoint. We then had the Schönromer Pils, which was a very pale, very crisp beer. It reminded me of Japanese beer in that it was 100% crisp and 100% refreshing.
We followed that beer with more beer from Craftsman Brewing Company, a local concern that puts out some very drinkable beers. I had the cabernale (an ale mixed with some proportion of cabernet sauvignon!) and Alex had the holiday ale. The holiday ale was hoppy as heck, while the cabernale tasted almost like a kriek (sour cherry) lambic.
(The others at the bar warned me about the cabernale–they said it was unusual. It was, indeed unusual, but not unpleasant: I have had far worse in my time as a “fratboy”, including flings with a concoction dubbed a “geer”–half gin, half beer.)
We then split (in two glasses, mind you) a tasting of the 2006 Cheverny from Domaine du Salvard. I haven’t met a sauvignon blanc that I’ve liked, but this one was incredible. It was fresh, clean, and had a very piercing, bright acidity. There were citrus undertones to it, too–gorgeous wine.
I was glad that we had a wonderful white. I am much more into red wines than I am into whites, but that just means I demand more from whites. As Alex pointed out, whites seems to have a narrower range of flavor profiles, mouthfeels, etc., than red.
The Cheverny retailed at Mission Wines for $14.99, though I’ve seen it online for a few dollars less. It’s from Kermit Lynch, so you know it’s gotta be good!
Alex and I finished the day with a nice dinner at Bistro de la Gare in South Pasadena. But too much of a good thing can be bad: let’s just say there’s a particular trash can in South Pasadena that will forever hold a soft spot in my heart!
STANDOUT WINE: 2006 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny. A great value from Kermit Lynch, refreshing and crisp. The best sauvignon blanc I have ever had.