By Caroline Pardilla | October 17, 2012 | Food & Drink
Choices for the season from David Jones of The Peninsula Beverly Hills include Pinot Noirs from Pahlmeyer, Patz & Hall, and Flowers Vineyard & Winery, plus ChÃ¢teau dâ€™Esclansâ€™s Whispering Angel dry rosÃ©.
Spagoâ€™s Christopher Miller recommends Krug Grande CuvÃ©e and R. LÃ³pez de Herediaâ€™s Vina Tondonio White Reserva.
Brian Kalliel of MÃ©lisse likes the ruby sparkle of NV Bugey-Cerdon La Cueille Patrick Bottex, Savoie.
Brian Kalliel of MÃ©lisse.
Spagoâ€™s Christopher Miller.
David Jones of The Peninsula Beverly Hills.
The classic sommelierâ€™s winetasting cup.
Though seasonal menus are very much a part of our dining scene, Los Angeles’s sommeliers have a greater degree of freedom when it comes to choosing wines than those in other parts of the country. The constancy of the weather and the bountiful produce that exists here allow these sommeliers to explore a wide variety of wines to pair with food or to single out for naked day drinking.
David Jones, wine manager and sommelier of The Peninsula Beverly Hills, is focused on robust wines for autumn. “We don’t have much of a fall in Beverly Hills... but I do see a slight swing to more full-bodied wines as the seasonal menus get a bit heartier.” Jones sees lovers of chilled white wines transitioning to chilled dry rosés that get their richness from contact with their red grape skins. “The rosé that seems to have swept the market lately is Château d’Esclans’s Whispering Angel. This is a Grenache-based wine from a château that only makes rosé,”Â” he explains. Â““The wine is dry, with no residual sugar, and with watermelon and strawberry flavors lasting on the tongue. Because it has more body, it pairs well with a wide range of foods.Â””
California wines are also extremely popular with both locals and tourists who depend on Jones to provide the best from the state’s wine-growing regions. “People come to The Peninsula from all over the world, and everyone has heard of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon,” Jones says. “This is by far our most popular category, but domestic Pinot Noir is a close second. For fall-based menus, Pinot Noir shows so much flexibility that it really becomes a go-to wine; one of the few that works well with a traditional Thanksgiving menu. The Pinots from the cool Sonoma Coast region keep picking up steam heading into the fall. Look for names such as Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Keller Estate, Patz & Hall, Pahlmeyer, and Cobb Wines.”
Brian Kalliel, sommelier at the two-star Michelin restaurant Mélisse in Santa Monica, has been pairing wines with chef/owner Josiah Citrin’s award-winning food for 15 years. This fall he is going with light, crisp choices to juxtapose the odd cloudy day. “I’m always in love with NV Bugey-Cerdon La Cueille Patrick Bottex, a sparkling red wine from Savoie,” Kalliel explains. “It’s a really pretty wine especially against the richer fall flavors. It’s a blend of gamay and poulsard. It’s a little sweet and finishes a bit dry and light. It’s one sexy wine!”
Kalliel also recommends 2008 Bandol, Domaine du Gros Noré Provence, which pairs nicely with meat without being ponderous on the taste buds. Â“When it comes [to] the meat course, Americans want a heavy wine, and I want to give them something less heavy, and this kind of bridges the gap,Â” Kalliel shares. “Â“It’s got a lot of dark, black fruits in it, which is softer for the palate to understand. It also is a rich-smelling wine with an uppermedium body and a good crispness about it. Plus, it’s a good texture against the fats of meat and sauces.”
Christopher Miller, beverage director at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and recently anointed master sommelier, started his career in finance, but after attending a chance wine tasting chose a very different career path. This season he is choosing wines based on color. “If you pair things by color, more than anything else you’re right 80 or 90 percent of the time.”
Miller first chooses gold in the form of Champagne. Krug Grande Cuvée is a full-bodied, richer style of Champagne,” he explains. “It’s a little darker [with] a biscuity Cognac flavor. There’s a lot going on there. It’s got that denser palate compared to most. Getting the balance of flavors right year after year, it’s unprecedented in Champagne. For me there’s no comparison.”
Â“Betz Syrah La Côte Rousse 2009 is slightly atypical for Syrah in general, Â”Miller says of this rich, blackish-red wine. “You’re dealing with almost brambly kinds of fruits; more black cherry, blueberry, and blackberry. It has a little bit of a meat and spice element. When I see fall I start thinking of game… venison… duck. The red plus blue-black kinds of fruits have a slight bit of gaminess that’s ever present in the background.”
This autumn Angelenos’ only limit when it comes to wine choices is the knowledge of the world-class sommeliers who provide us with their expertise. “Turning people on to wines they haven’t had,” says Kalliel. “That’s what I’m trying to do in the fall. That’s always every season here.”
photography by rebecca sahn