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

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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”

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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

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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

Taste the Wine World at Wally’s Beverly Hills

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At our wine-by-the-glass program at Wally’s Beverly Hills we offer over 120 sensational selections. It offers our guests a fantastic opportunity to taste wines of the world and unfamiliar varietals without having to order an entire bottle. It is also a great way to try a few different glasses and combinations to pair with each course or dish from our marvelous menu – enjoy sampling a large variety without the commitment. We change four to seven wines out every Thursday, so there is always a thrilling new glass to try. Should you want a little guidance or a tip on the new gems, there is always a sommelier on-hand to assist in finding the perfect wine.

Krug Grande Cuvée Brut, Reims 164th Edition
$39
Notes of toasted bread, hazelnut, nougat, barley sugar and jellied fruits may take you by surprise. You may even taste hints of apples still on the tree, flowers in bloom, ripe and dried fruit, almonds, marzipan, gingerbread, sweet spices and even brioche and honey.

2016 Domaine Cala Coteaux Varois Prestige, Provence
$19
Initial aromas of grapefruit and citrus give way to those of cherry and strawberryBalanced mouth feel bolstered by aromatic red fruits and a silky texture, finishing with a palpable yet light draw.

2015 Barda Pinot Noir, Patagonia
$16
Smooth with dusty berry, plum, caramel and spice aromas and flavors, this Pinot Noir culminates in a composed and satisfying finish.

2011 Terra Gratia Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
$19
Notes of fresh, ripe black fruit, subtle black licorice, and vanilla oak. On the palate, the wine opens up with a soft attack, layered with vibrant, fruit driven acidity and red plum. The soft mid-palate gives way to a finessed, lengthy finish sustained by youthful tannins that ensure ageability.

The Purple & Blue Salad

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I have concocted this colorful salad because I believe every chef should have a signature salad.
However, calling it the Chef’s Salad seemed too simple, too generic, so the Purple and Blue Salad was born. I worked closely with our expert cheesemonger team to source the perfect blue cheese to complement this special salad of purples, blues, and pinks.

This recipe is composed of three different bowls: the leaves, the vegetables, and the toppings.

Serves: 4-6 guests

Bowl #1: The Leaves
1 Chopped escarole heart
1 Chopped trevisio
1 Shaved red cabbage with 1/4 of a head
Dress with balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and olive oil

Bowl #2: The Vegetables
2 Cups of roasted red beets
1 Cup of diced cucumbers
1 Cup of seedless grapes cut in half
1 Cup of blueberries
Dress with balsamic vinegar and Olive oil

Bowl #3: The Toppings
¼ Cup of toasted pistachios
2 Springs of tarragon (small leaves)
1 Piece of thinly-shaved candied beets
Black mission figs (upon season availability)

Additional toppings:
1 Cup of crumbled blue di bufala
Edible flowers: daikon radish flower pink or violet

Instructions:
Mix all three bowls. Transfer contents of bowl #1 to a medium-sized serving bowl (12” diameter will do). Add bowl #2, evenly layering it on top. Then, add bowl #3, and top with the cheese and flowers so all the wonderful colors are well defined. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil (we use Massiglia at Wally’s) and fleur del sel. Serve and enjoy!

This salad pairs very nicely with a bottle of Domaine De Cala Prestige Rosé.

By Chef David Féau

Our Favorite Spring Cocktail

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The Wally’s Beverly Hills Bar Manager, Carl Roberts, has been an emblem since the restaurant first opened in 2015. Carl honors classic cocktails, but he also adds his own signature twist to excite your palate and enhance your Wally’s experience. Carl’s featured cocktail this month is TD’s Spicy Margarita. This refreshing cocktail is made with Viva XXXII Reposado, a vibrant, artisan tequila that is aged for six months in American Oak barrels and is accented with flavors of vanilla, caramel, and toasted nuts.

The addition of El Silencio Espadian Mezcal is no mistake either. Handmade in small batches, it is designed specifically for mixed drinks. It is earthy and smoky, and has a slight metallic tinge that offers a nice but bold balance to XXXII.

With Carl’s singular team of Wally’s bartenders, your cocktail will never be the same. Come by Wally’s Beverly Hills for one drink that knows how to pack a punch.

 

TD’s Spicy Margarita

Muddle the jalapeño with the lime juice. Add tequila, mezcal, Cointreau and simple syrup. Add ice, shake, and serve on the rocks

Rim the glass with espelette pepper rim and garnish with lime wedge.

A Landmark Vintage Heralds A New Era In Bordeaux

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By Geoff Pattison, Wally’s Bordeaux Buyer

To shop our 2016 Bordeaux Futures click here!

There were a lot of new descriptors on people’s lips in Bordeaux this spring. Precise. Energetic. Transparent. Miraculous. Revolutionary.
But if there is one word that I think sums up the vintage it is: Unprecedented.

THE WINES
Overall the 2016s are intensely aromatic wines of great precision, crackling energy, and understated power marked by excellent ripeness perfectly balanced with fresh acidity and abundant, ripe, silky tannins.

Most exciting is the fact that there is a level of clarity and transparency of terroir in the 2016s that we have never seen before. Over the past several years we have seen a move by many of the chateau toward a more classically balanced style of Bordeaux with less oak influence, less extraction, and lower alcohol. This is the first truly great vintage where we are getting to see this new school of Bordeaux on display and the results are truly outstanding.

We asked many vignerons for comparisons and not one could come up with one single vintage with which 2016 can be compared. In terms of general quality 2016 there is broad agreement that 2016 is on par with top vintages such as 2005, 2009 and 2010. But the combination of classical styling, beautiful ripeness and exuberant energetic freshness are truly unique. This is a modern benchmark vintage heralding a new style of Bordeaux.

THE CRITICS
The press is out on 2016 Bordeaux and the top critics’ scores are staggering. James Molesworth of Wine Spectator, Antonio Galloni of Vinous and Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate have all given the vintage glowing reviews and between the three of them, there are FIFTEEN potentially perfect wines in 2016. Below are the top scoring wines from their reports. Note these are just the wines with a floor of 95 points or more and include nearly fifty producers. We have not seen such consistently high scores for a Bordeaux vintage since 2009 and 2010

“2016 is unequivocally a great vintage in Bordeaux… Over twenty years of tasting Bordeaux from barrel at en primeur,
this was my most pleasurable tasting experience alongside the 2009.”
-Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

THE MARKET
While the chateaux have still yet to release their pricing, U.S. consumers are in a very strong position this year. The Euro is currently at the lowest point against the Dollar of any futures campaign in history. At the same time, the Euro has grown roughly 15% stronger against the Pound Sterling post-Brexit. As the UK is the other major en Primeur market, this exerts considerable pressure on the chateaux to keep prices close in line with last year. In short, if pricing remains close to last year, there will be a plethora of great values out there for U.S. consumers on futures in this historic vintage.

To shop our 2016 Bordeaux Futures click here!