Sunday, May 23, 2010
Well, we learned a few things during the first annual Natural Wine Week in Los Angeles. One is that Lou Amdur (owner of Lou on Vine wine bar) knows how to herd the cats. Kudos to Lou for being the driving force behind last week's celebration of natural wines throughout Los Angeles.
Those of us who work in the wine trade also found out that there is a growing passion and interest from L.A. wine consumers about non-conventional wines. There were many wine lovers who showed up consistently at several events across the city.
There was a wonderful sense of balance to the week, as both imported and domestic wines were showcased. Of course, there was an ongoing conversation about what is the exact definition of natural wine as well. Seems that the expectations are at least to avoid petro-chemical farming, to use native yeasts and have minimal intervention/additives in the cellar.
The panel on Sunday, May 16th was made up of Jonathan Gold (Pulitzer winning food writer) , Alice Feiring (wine writer for multiple publications/book author), Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon winemaker and writer), Abe Schoener (Scholium Project), Jared Brandt (Donkey & Goat) , and Hank Beckmeyer (La Clarine Farm), and gracefully moderated by Lou Amdur.
This made for interesting discussion since they all have diverse perspectives on winemaking. Indeed the panel discussion was rather geeky, and did center around very specific questions about use of irrigation, vineyard management, adding sulfites, etc
Abe Schoener emphasized that although he does add sulfites to some of his wines, in varying degrees, that a winemaker should have respect for the toxic quality of this chemical when handling it and especially when deciding how much to add to the wine.
Alice Feiring was asked why we should care about natural wine and answered that it came down to supporting these small producers. Alice, Abe and Jared also addressed the question of vineyard ownership and management in California. Land is expensive in California and not many people inherit a vineyard, so leasing vineyards and/or purchasing grapes from a closely managed vineyard source is the norm. This led to discussion of how much control you can have over a vineyard that you do not own.
In contrast, the rest of the week was more celebratory and hedonistic.
There were various tastings and dinners at LA restaurants and wineshops like Lou on Vine, DomaineLA, Pourtal Wine Bar, El Vino, Grace, Silverlake Wine and Palate Food & Wine.
Posted by Amy Atwood at 12:43 PM