Bonnie’s Jams

Posted on Posted in Food & Wares

Making jam has always been an important pastime in Bonnie’s life, but it became her artisan commercial business about 16 years ago in Cambridge, MA where she still makes her jams on Sundays at Formaggio Kitchen, a shop which was also her first retailer.

She uses seasonal, and when possible, local fruit to make her jams. To bring the full flavor and integrity of the fruit into the jar, Bonnie chooses to limit her use of sugar and not to add extra pectin, relying solely on the natural pectin present within the fruit. This is a tricky thing to do in making preserves on a commercial level; Bonnie has surely had to learn over the years how to best combine fruits with low and high pectin levels, as well as use the correct minimum sugar and lemon juice quantities in order to get the right set on the finished jam.

The looser texture and pure fruit flavors of her jams make them great candidates for use in many food preparations (glazes, dressings, pastry fillings) as well as ingredients for bar mixologists’ creations.

 

Bonnie makes 10 different jam varieties, and we consistently carry two of those:

Black & Blue – Made from 1/2 pound blackberries and blueberries per jar, this deep, dark loveliness craves to be near the snow white Leonora, a favorite rich, tangy Spanish goat cheese providing a beautiful milky contrast.

Peach Ginger – It’s no wonder this has been a fave of Oprah…Sweet ripe peaches are a natural match with the flavor and light spiciness of ginger. Bonnie combines this with olive oil, balsamic and port to make a glaze for duck. I am inclined to pair this with a firm sheep’s milk cheese like Ossau Iraty from the Basque…just makes sense.

 

By Susan Gaulke, Wally’s Cheesemonger

The Architectural Magnificence of Tannins

Posted on Posted in Wine

Tannins are one of the most intellectually engaging facets of wine, and also one of the most misunderstood. So what exactly is tannin? Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol that can be found in walnuts, almonds, dark chocolate, espresso, tea leaves, clove, quince, pomegranate, and of course, grapes. When considering the structural components of a wine, tannin—like acidity— is one of the most important. Tannins strongly influence the pairing ability, aging potential, and mouthfeel of a wine. But, tannins are often confused with the dryness level of a wine, because tannins dry out your mouth. When attempting to communicate what they like, many guests will tell you some variation of, “I like a wine that’s not too dry.” Generally when you hear this, you can assume they are not referring to a wine with some residual sugar—instead, they mean a wine with more restrained tannins. Some grape varieties that are naturally low in tannin include Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera, and Grenache. Varietals with naturally high amounts of tannin include Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, and Mourvedre. To make things even more obfuscated, the perception of tannin on the palate can vary quite a bit depending on the other structural elements of the wine, and what you or may not be eating at the time. Grape tannins are present in the skins, the seeds, and the stems of the vitis vinfera plant, and oak barrels also contribute tannin to a finished wine. Since white wines often have very little contact with their skins during the winemaking process, tannins are really only relevant when discussing red wines, orange wines, and longer skin-contact roses.

 

The Architecture of Happiness: Tannins and Structural Integrity

Structure can be a difficult thing to describe; the French will sometimes refer to a wine’s ‘skeleton,’ or ‘backbone,’ and when I think of structure, I think of the texture and architecture of a wine. The amount (and quality) of tannins are the most critical determining factor of this architecture, and from a sensory standpoint, they contribute a taste and a feeling that is distinct. Tannins dry out the tissues of your mouth and taste astringent, or bitter. When the tannins in the grapes have reached physiological maturity, the finished wine’s tannins may not jump out at you right away, but the wine will possess a commanding structure. Likewise, if the tannins did not reach physiological maturity before the time of harvest, the wine will ultimately taste unpleasantly astringent and harsh. In an ideal world, all wine grapes would receive enough sun and a long enough hang-time for the acidity to drop, the sugar levels to rise, and the tannins to reach full ripeness. However, this doesn’t always happen, as we all know from tasting wines that are thin, herbaceous and astringent (think cool-vintage Bordeaux when there was too much rain) or overly-ripe, fruity wines that feel cloying on the palate (mass-produced blends from Paso Robles get the point across). To be a more discerning taster, think not just about the level of tannin in the next wine that you taste, but also the ripeness and quality of the tannin. With a clearly delineated architecture, a wine seems more impressive on the palate and also possesses a formidable beauty. Need tangible proof? Try a bottle of Corison—it’s the Angelina Jolie of Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Built to Last: the Relationship Between Tannins and Aging Potential

It’s no coincidence that most collectors gravitate towards Bordeaux, Super Tuscans, Barolos, and Napa Cabernets. These are all wines that have higher tannins, and thus a better chance at aging more gracefully. Tannin, like acidity and sugar, is a natural preservative. As wine ages, the tannins become mellower and precipitate out in the form of sediment. This is one of the reasons why you’re likely to get more cellaring time out of a Barbaresco than you are a Burgundy. A shack with a thatched roof may provide shelter in the short term, but it’s solid stone castles that stand the test of time—the same is true with wine.

 

Marrying Well: How to Pair Tannic Wines with Food

Some wines are the libation equivalent of Clint Eastwood, and some are more akin to Don Draper. The chemical reason behind why some wines possess so much grip is because tannin molecules bind to the proteins in your saliva. So it’s not technically the tannins that dry your mouth, it’s the fact that your saliva can no longer adequately lubricate your palate, causing the tissues in your mouth to rub together and feel dry. Tannins are easily influenced by food, which is why eating a steak with a glass of Cabernet can help to ‘resolve’ the tannins. Tannins help to ‘cleanse’ the palate of fattiness, and also provide a ‘tenderizing’ effect for foods with lots of muscle fiber. Just be careful pairing tannic wines with salty or spicy foods—salt and heat are a magnifier that make wines taste even more tannic.

 

 

By Amanda Woodward, Wally’s Sommelier

Vert & Blanc Salad

Vert & Blanc Salad

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

The Vert & Blanc is one of our most famous appetizers at Wally’s Beverly Hills. This beautiful salad is composed of burrata cheese, smashed avocado, pencil asparagus, green chili, parsley, and served with wood oven toasted country bread. It has the perfect combination of refreshing flavors and textures that are ideal for Summer. The Vert & Blanc is a huge crowd pleaser and is the ultimate way to start a delicious dining experience at Wally’s.

This salad pairs very nicely with a bottle of 2014 The Hilt Chardonnay.

Serves 2-3 Guests

 

Best of the Best Robb Report Feature: Christian’s Top Wines of the Year

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I had the great honor of selecting the top international wines of the year for Robb Report’s annual “Best of the Best” issue. I have tasted many terrific wines this year making it hard to select only ten. However, as soon as I tasted each one of the wines listed below, they instantly caught my attention and I knew they were very special.

 

2000 Dom Perignon P2($400.00) Buy Now>

Dom Perignon’s 2000 P2 Brut is an incredible Champagne and represents the best of the craft. This is a true “Special Reserve” and a reflection of the great terroir of Champagne. Drink now or enjoy for the next twenty years. This is no doubt my top pick for wine of the year.

 

2013 Château Haut-Brion Blanc, Bordeaux 750ml ($1,300.00) Buy Now>

This wine is a harmonious blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc that lends its way to mouth-watering acidity and vivacious flavors of apricots, white peach, and roasted almonds. It is so layered and complex that if you close your eyes it almost seems like a red wine. Love it.

 

2014 Château d’ Esclans, Rosé Les Clans, Provence 750ml ($80.00) Buy Now>

If you are looking for something to sip on during the warm summer months, this wine should be at the top of your shopping list. It is purely blissful and keeps you coming back for more. Enjoy now or stash away for the next decade.

 

2015 Dönnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Spätlese, Nahe 750ml ($45.00) Buy Now>

2015 has proven to be a legendary German vintage, and this wine is one of Dönnhoff’s finest to date. Round and luscious on the palate, and balanced by sharp acidity, this is a powerhouse Riesling that will please anyone’s taste.

 

2014 Fourrier Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes, Burgundy 750ml ($1,000.00) Buy Now>

This beauty takes the prize as my favorite red wine of the year. I had a special moment with it as soon as it touched my lips. There is a sophistication on the palate that radiates flavors of violets and blackberries. This wine is hard to come by – the vineyard is a mere 0.6 of an acre – but luckily your difficult search has ended.

 

2012 Château La Fleur-Petrus, Bordeaux 750ml ($180.00) Buy Now>

Edouard Moueix’s 2012 La Fleur-Petrus is pure pleasure in a bottle. It is very approachable, yet super age-worthy for young Bordeaux. Although I am a big fan of all of Moueix’s family’s work, Château La Fleur Petrus holds a special place in my heart.

 

2013 Vietti Barolo Ravera, Piedmont 750ml ($180.00)Buy Now>

The 2013 Ravera is hands-down the Barolo of the vintage and continues to represent the depth and artfulness of this historic winery. Mid-bodied, firm, and balanced, its focused precision and striking aromatics represent the true expression of Novello. It is built for aging and is a necessary addition to all wine cellars. This is truly an epiphany in a bottle.

 

2013 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Tuscany 750ml ($185.00) Buy Now>

I have had the pleasure of enjoying almost fifty vintages of this legendary wine and have never tasted a better young bottling than the 2013.  When this wine hits maturity, it will easily rival the 1985 and 1988 – it may even surpass these vintages.

 

2013 Dominio de Pingus, Ribiera Del Duero 750ml ($1,050.00) Buy Now>

 The 2013 is a true victory over Mother Nature as it excelled in a bizarre, albeit fascinating, vintage. Delicious, fresh, and elegant, the 2013 has a charm to it that is irresistible. Pingus continues to be the benchmark for Spanish greatness and this wine is a must-have for your wine cellar.

 

By Christian Navarro, Wally’s President & Principal

 

 

Vinitaly – A Trek to Verona filled with Italy’s Best

Posted on Posted in Dining, Drink

Geoff’s Top Wines from Vinitaly!

2012 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti ($24.00) Buy Now>

2015 Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto ($38.00) Buy Now>

2011 Massolino Barolo Parafada ($80.00) Buy Now>

2014 Antinori Tignanello ($105.00) Buy Now>

2014 Sassicaia- FUTURES ($148.00) Buy Now>

 

Vinitaly is the most important week of the year in the Italian Wine World.  It is a rite of passage for wine professionals to make the trek to Verona where everyone who is anyone descends on the Veneto for a week of tastings, galas, and late-night parties.

The size of the fair is truly awe-inspiring.  As you walk around Veronafiere, where the event is held, it almost looks like a Hollywood studio with a patchwork maze of giant exhibition halls that could double as sound stages. Every region of Italy is represented, including little-known regions such as Lazio and Marche which have their own dedicated airplane-hangar size exhibition halls full of wineries pouring their wares.  It is not an exaggeration to say that every major – and minor – producer in Italy is here.  You could spend months at this event and still not see, taste, and smell everything.  It’s almost insane to try to take it all in during the span of only three days! Nevertheless, that’s precisely what I attempted to do this year.

My first day of Vinitaly was filled with tastings of a number of great producers including Castello dei Rampolla, Pelissero, Masi and Tenuta Sette Ponti.  Lunch was sublime, hosted by Tenuta San Guido where I got to sample their newest releases, Le Difese and Guidalberto from the highly-rated 2015 vintage and the brand new 2014 Sassicaia.  Dinner that night was one of the true highlights of the trip: a gorgeous gala dinner hosted at the Allegrini estate just outside of town.  The central courtyard of the estate was transformed into a magical garden with dozens of food and wine stations pouring incredible wines from Allegrini, Frescobaldi, Feudi di San Gregorio, Fontanafredda, and Planeta, among others.  The evening concluded with a performance of classic Opera favorites and an incredible fireworks display over the vineyards.

Back in town we headed to Antica Bottega del Vino which is almost as famous as Vinitaly itself.  This historic wine bar and taverna is known for its large by-the-glass selection and a truly encyclopedic wine list.  You could hear the din of the crowd outside Bottega from a few blocks away.  Walking up to it, I saw that there must have been a hundred people crammed into the alley outside drinking Champagne, smoking, singing and generally being rowdy – or merry, if you will.  Pushing through this sea of humanity, I found my way to the door, and with the help of some friends inside, made my way into the main room.  Flipping through the phonebook-sized wine list, it’s mind-boggling what they have stashed away in the cellar: verticals from every major Italian producer along with sizeable stocks from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and many other regions.  We settled on a Champagne from Marie Noelle Ledru, and a few bottles from Clos Rougeard and Felsina.  A few plates of Pata Negra completed our late night hangout which stretched into the wee hours of the morning.

On day two I was up early and back at the fair where I took appointments with Antinori, Duemani, Col d’Orcia, Mazzei, Planeta, Colombini, Terlano and Massolino.  I also had the opportunity to taste at the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino where I was able to sample over fifty different Brunelli, mostly new releases from the excellent 2012 vintage.  This sort of tasting is invaluable in getting a lay of the land and comparing everything in one setting to select the best of the vintage.

Dinner that night was hosted by Tenuta Sette Ponti at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Perbellini just outside the city.  This extraordinary event by marked by incredible food, a beautiful setting, and great wines including Saia, Crognolo and their flagship, Oreno.  On the way home we stopped at Bottega del Vino again where the crowd looked almost twice the size of the night before.

The third and final day included tastings with Le Pupille, Il Maronetto, Poggio Scalete, Tua Rita, Galardi, and a few new discoveries in Zyme, who are making incredible Valpolicella and Amarone, as well as Santa Maria La Nave, who are one of the most exciting up-and-coming producers in Etna.

Vinitaly is a truly incredible experience and they have several days that are open to consumers, so even if you are not in the trade, I would wholeheartedly recommend making the trip at least once.  It is a week like no other week, when an ancient city comes alive and bristles with energy, all in the pure celebration of the majesty of Italian food and wine.

By Geoff Pattison, Bordeaux Buyer at the top of the blog

 

Cocktail: “The Final Say”

Posted on Posted in Drink

Cocktail: “The Final Say”

Fend off the June Gloom with our twist on the classic ‘The Last Word’ cocktail  with Wally’s ‘The Final Say.’ With tequila instead of gin, this Prohibition-era drink gains a new bite but maintains its balance of sweet, sour, and delicious . In an ice-filled cocktail shaker combine all four ingredients and shake vigorously, then strain into a coup glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry and a lime twist!

Casa Dragones Blanco tequila, green Chartreuse, Luxardo cherry liqueur and fresh lime juice, shaken and served straight up in a coup.

 

The Final Say

I oz of Casa Dragones blanco tequila

I oz of Luxardo cherry liqueur

1 oz of yellow Chartreuse

1 oz of fresh lime juice

 

By Carl Roberts, Bar Manager

The Stars Aligned at the Grand Marque Champagne Tasting

Posted on Posted in Tasting & Events

Juliet’s top Champagnes of the night:

NV Drappier Brut Nature Rosé ($65.00) Buy Now>

MV Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle ($150.00) Buy Now>

2009 Louis Roederer Blanc de Blanc ($100.00) Buy Now>

2006 Pol Roger Brut ($110.00) Buy Now>

2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne ($150.00) Buy Now>

 

Thanks to our generous sponsors, partners, and patrons, Wally’s recently capped off the 25th anniversary of our Grand Marque event at JW Marriott’s beautiful Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica. The selection of Champagne houses, sparklers, and growers was more prestigious than ever, and all our merry guests took full advantage of our effervescent vinos. From the non-dosage Champagnes of Drappier and Ployez-Jacquemart, to the opulent styles of Charles Heidseick and Bollinger, to the prestigious names of Cristal and Salon, there was a wine for every and all palates. The bubbles were accompanied by delectable finger foods from renowned establishments including Mélisse, Drago, Hinoki & the Bird, and a dazzling seafood display by SALT. Another high note was our returning silent auction. This year saw almost fifty different lots that were sold at competitive prices, with all profits being donated to our beneficiaries Food on Foot and The Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation.

The lineup this year was the best in my eight years at Wally’s and it is almost a crime to have to choose only a few as my favorite. Still, I’ve curated a short list of standout wines below – though it is not exhaustive by any means! Be on the lookout for these select few and many others on our retail shelves, website, and restaurant.

By Juliet Kim, Champagne Buyer

The Must-Have Cheese for your Summer Picnic

Posted on Posted in Dining

Mahon, a port city on the island of Menorca, is the namesake for our cheese this week, Mahon Riserva. Menorca, the most remote of the three main Balearic Islands (Ibiza and Mallorca are the other two), has been a cattle farming island for centuries, which includes its long cheese-making history. There are over 600 dairy farms on the island, making it one of the largest Spanish milk producing regions. The island is home to one of the most respected dairy plants in all of Europe. Mahon has had a P.D.O. (protected designation of origin) since 1985, but has been made in the same traditional manner for much longer. The distribution of Mahon to the world began with local island inhabitants who became, starting over a century ago, the “traders” and affineurs of Mahon. They would barter agricultural equipment, seed, utensils and food for the young cheeses, then age them in local underground caves until ready for distribution to Mallorca and mainland Spain. Mahon Riserva is a raw milk cheese from the Friesian breed and the indigenous Menorquina breed, endangered, yet particularly suited for cheese production. The dairies are small and contribute to artisanal productions of hand-molded square cheeses wrapped in a cotton cloth, pressed, and hung by the four corners to begin curing. The Riserva is typically aged for 10-12 months, but can age longer. Finished cheeses are rubbed with paprika and olive oil, which softens the paste and mellows the sharpness. This cheese has buttery, nutty richness within a structure of salty, crystalline sharpness. It has a waxy, semi-granular chewy paste that carries the fruity, savory piquant bite nicely. The local method of eating Mahon is sliced and sprinkled with EVOO, black pepper and fresh tarragon….mmm…

 

By Susan Gaulke, Wally’s Cheesemonger

Common ‘Wine Terms’—and What They Really Mean

Posted on Posted in Wine

Sometimes talking about wine can seem like dancing about architecture: impossible. Many people don’t quite know what they want or are looking for in a wine, and worse still, they may not use the right language to convey their meaning.

Corked wine – Wines become corked when they get infected by a bacteria called TCA (Tri-Chloro Anisole). It imparts a musty, cardboard-like flavor. Some people describe it as ‘wet dog’ or ‘moldy basement.’ TCA can affect a wine to varying degrees—sometimes a corked wine will display ‘earthy’ aromas that are not entirely unpleasant to the drinker, but the lack of fruit aromas and flavors is a good indicator that the wine has Cork Taint. Even though a corked wine has a defective aroma and flavor, it will not harm the drinker. Any wine regardless of its quality or price can be corky. There are several faults that can ruin a wine, and TCA is only one of them.

Fruity wine – This can be perceived as dry-floral or sweet-floral. Dry wine refers to a wine that has no residual sugar. But again, a fragrant or ripe white can be perceived as being sweet (even though the wine is fermented
dry). Someone might refer to a soft and fruity wine like Pinot Noir as sweet, and the same person might consider a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon as dry. Some guests refer to ‘dry wine’ as being tannic (or a wine that dries their mouth).

Tannic wine – This is a common phrase used in most restaurants. Tannin is the harsh (and sometimes bitter) element in red wine, derived from grape skins, pips, stems and from aging in oak barrels. It acts as a preservative and is essential for a wine’s long-term aging. Tannins vary depending on the individual grape varietal. Pinot Noir, a thin-skinned grape, will always have lower tannings than Cabernet Sauvignon, a thick-skinned grape. Even if a wine has a lot of tannins, it can be round and soft (like most California Cabernet Sauvignon).

 

By Amanda Woodward, Sommelier at Wally’s Beverly Hills 

The All-Stars Were Shining…

Posted on Posted in Tasting & Events, Wine

By Gary Fishman, Wally’s Domestic Wine Buyer
 
The buzz keeps buzzing about the success of Wally’s latest staging of its incomparable Napa/Sonoma All-Stars Tasting.  The event, held from 2-5pm on April 23rd in two spacious ballrooms of The Olympic Collection, drew an appreciative audience of nearly 700 serious wine aficionados who swirled and sipped their way through an array of more than 200 sensational wines. Iconic names such as Opus One, Dominus Estate, Darioush, Paul Hobbs, Shafer and Pahlmeyer led the way, providing the leading edge to a vinous embarrassment of wine tasting riches. Live music and wonderful food provided by Cowgirl Creamery and Wally’s Chef David Féau (Short Rib Sliders!) and others complemented the wines being poured. And we even snuck in the Southern California debut of Napa Valley’s latest new brewery, Barrels & Sons, with its thirst-quenchingly crisp Pilsner. Amid all the great wines, this was one of the most popular tables at the entire event.

My five new favorites from the event are listed below. My hope is that you will try one or all of them, and let me know how I’m doing!

(Note:  Wally’s special events continue with the Sunday, June 4 staging of our incomparable Grande Marque Champagne fund-raiser. This year marks the Silver Anniversary, so it is shaping up to be an extra-special affair. Click Here to learn more and purchase tickets, and I hope you will sign up soon.)

 

2016 Aril Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch $32

2013 Buoncristiani O.P.C. Red $40

2013 Ehlers Cabernet Sauvignon Estate $55

2014 Senses Pinot Noir Hillcrest Vineyard $65

2013 Iron Horse Ocean Reserve Sparkling $40