When do drinking and driving go together? When it’s for a good cause: benefiting St. Vincent’s Meals on Wheels. To tell the truth, no one actually drove. But the cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles sure did fuel the imagination as the DJ spun tunes from the Eighties.
Perhaps someone savored a glass of Sangiovese from Italy as they drooled over that sleek, black Batmobile, the one that Michael Keaton drove in “Batman Returns.” Or maybe a Malbec from Argentina was more their style, while they dreamed about escaping in the circa 1962 P1800 Volvo that Roger Moore drove in “The Saint” television series. Another might have pictured himself with a California Cab(ernet) as he rode sans cab on the Indian Chief motorcycle once owned by James Dean. That sure would blow his hair back, even if the wine didn’t.
If someone’s soul hungered for one of those classic vehicles, their stomach didn’t have to, at least not for food. There was ample cheese, fruit, charcuterie and gelato to go around.
The crowd was young, hip Hollywood. The wines were outstanding, yet affordable. And the Friday evening was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of life in LA.
We almost missed what turned out to be the highlight of the evening: the wines from Paul Sherman’s company, Urban Wine Brokers, as his table was hidden behind a wall of hipsters. I’m so glad Alberto and I ventured through the crowd and into that little corner of the world, for we tasted what turned out to be two of the most memorable vintages.
First was a Pinot Noir from Vignoble Dampt in the Burgundy region of France. The owners (brothers Emmanuel, Eric and Herve Dampt) produce many of the region’s appellations: Crémant de Bourgogne, Bourgogne Tonnerre Blanc, Chablis, Irancy and the marvelous Pinot Noir that I sampled: Bourgogne Tonnerre Rouge (retail around $20).
Paul Sherman offered, “This is a perfect bistro wine full of minerals and red berries that pair wonderfully with poached salmon and goat cheese salads.” I would agree.
This brings me to my favorite wine of the evening: the Syrah ‘Les Châssis’ (retail around $40) crafted by Franck Faugier at Domaine des Haut Châssis. Monsieur Faugier offers three different bottlings of Syrah under the Crozes-Hermitage appellation in the northern Rhone region of France. ‘Les Châssis’ is his top wine made from his oldest vines, 60-70 years old. It’s the finest example of this varietal that I’ve tasted.
Paul cited that, “The soils here (at Crozes-Hermitage appellation) are granitic, which certainly comes through along with the black pepper and gamey black and blue fruit that is a hallmark of Syrah from this region. Red meat and game are what I think of when I am drinking this wine.”
I’m looking forward to buying these wines in the near future. Better yet, Alberto and I should pay a visit to the wineries. I’ll raise a glass to that.