So after a hiatus consisting of a few days of unremarkable wine (a bottle of [yellow tail] shiraz seduced me with its fanciful clothing, slender, sleek neck, and cheap price–much to my regret) and long, dreary days at LegalZoom.com, I managed to catch up with my college friend Will Gordon. He was in town, visiting from Berkeley, and we dropped by my perennial favorite–the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax.
Dinner was at the dependable Monsieur Marcel, which has a wonderful ambiance in the evening. A beautiful, dark brunette smiled to me from the wine bar (at least, I thought it was me!), so things were already taking a turn for the better as we were seated.
I had a glass of rosé from Chateau de L’Escarelle–in Provence–made from cinsault and grenache. It was wonderful–absolutely breathtakingly fresh, full of ripe strawberry, not in the least bit cloying. It was light but had substantial heft for a rosé. And at $6.49 a glass (one of the less expensive wines on the menu) it was nice to my wallet. This wine reminded me of another wonderful rosé, the Rosé of Syrah from Ampelos Cellars of the Santa Rita Hills in California:
Will had a glass of the 2004 tempranillo from Bodegas Ercavio. It was fruitier than other tempranillos I’ve had–less vanilla from oak. (Maybe this is because Bodegas Ercavio is not in Rioja, which has a reputation for oakiness.) It was a light, pleasing red, and well-priced at $6.99.
I had the Croque Marcel, basically a French panini consisting of grilled smoked turkey and goat cheese, with a side of frites. The top was covered with what the menu described as “mornay sauce” but what I will describe as heaven. Will had the coq au vin, a stew of chicken slow-cooked with mushroom, carrots, onion, and celery, served with a side of potatoes au gratin. The food, combined with a few Dunhill Lights and the aforementioned wine, made me forget LA for just a moment and feel like I was in Paris. (The table next to us was full of loud Frenchmen, adding to the atmosphere.)
After this dinner we wandered around the Farmer’s Market and the Grove, and I decided to check out the Cost Plus World Market. My previous post on champagne had elicited A LOT of positive reviews of Cost Plus on Yelp! and there was one a mere two-minute walk from Monsieur Marcel.
I have to say I was pretty impressed. Many different wines, many for a few dollars less than at your more frou-frou wine stores. In terms of Spainish wine, for instance, you can find a Conde de Valdemar Riserva for $14.99, and Marqués de Riscal for $12.99.
Will and I were looking around and a young woman says something indistinct to me. I turn around, and she says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you worked here!” (a comment I get quite often at different sorts of stores–the Gap, Banana Republic, Jiffy Lube).
A few more words exchanged showed that she was looking for a malbec. I LOVE MALBEC! This woman and I searched the wine section and found the Argentine wine shelf–they had a few malbecs.
Then my eyes settled on the malbec reserva from Bodega Norton, priced at around $12-14. Then, below that the “regular” malbec from Bodega Norton for the bargain price of $7.99!
I had come across Bodega Norton frequently in magazines and online reviews. This estate was established in 1895 by an English engineer, making it the first winery in the now-famous Mendoza region of Argentina. I related this to the woman, who picked up a bottle. She either was won over by this information or was just tired of my going on and on about wine!
Whatever the case may be, I decided to pick up a bottle for myself–tasting notes will follow soon!