Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The best wine in the world...

Is friendship. Duh. But the second best wine in the world is R. Lopez de Heredia "Vina Gravonia" Bianco Rioja 2004 and on Sunday, I had both.

My beautiful bestie. Not the girl in the background. That's my Ultimate Nemesis.

Pictured is Ms. Julia Cox, Friend Supreme as well the writer of this smart people equivalent to fan fiction. In this photo, she's not actually drinking the second best wine in the world, because when we were served the second best wine in the world, we were a little too busy exclaiming over it to bother with a picture.

If you've yet to attend a tasting at Silverlake Wine, remedy that immediately. Not only do they use my preferred spelling of "Silverlake" (the incorrect, one word spelling), it is simply the best wine tasting experience you can have. Somehow the folks there find the exact sweet spot between knowledgable and laid back, meaning anyone, from the most distinguished oenophile to the most dedicated beer drinker can have a hell of a time. For 12 bucks on Monday and Thursday evenings, you can have a delicious flight of generous pours. Mondays feature a spread of complimentary cheeses, Thursday's, bread and the finest butter I have ever known, and both nights you're welcome to bring food in. Killer food trucks linger outside, and one time my dear friend Aubrey brought in a pizza and that was ENCOURAGED.

But Sundays. Oh, man, Sundays at Silverlake Wine. I had no idea. I had some idea. I am on their mailing list. Sunday tastings are more formal (relatively speaking). They require a reservation. There are little speeches before each wine. They have start time of 3pm, which says, "this is serious wine tasting, not after work drinks." Sunday tastings are 20 dollars, feature five wines and come with an impossibly delicious spread of food. I finally went this past Sunday and, 3 hours later, dawdled home in the best mood ever and bought a ticket to The Lego Movie and went by myself and it was dope, obviously.

Just the atmosphere and company alone would have been enough. But, as I said, there was also this wine. This wine:

This wine.

I don't believe in love at first sight. Probably because people are constantly claiming to be in it with me like 24/7/365 plus more, like many times per day. But this was love at first sniff and I know it with all my heart.

This is the strangest wine I've ever tasted. The name of the grape escapes me, but it's definitely not one I've tried. It's an aged white, which is rare. Ten years old for a white is generally seen as too much. But whatever they're doing at this winery, they're killing it. Cool thing is, they don't exactly know. Most places that age in oak barrels use small, new ones so a wine will get lots of oak flavors (for whites this generally means the buttery, biscuit-y aromatics associated with California Chardonnay). These guys use old, big barrels, which means less direct contact with oak and less oak flavor. What's more, they don't wash them. Most places wash after every season. Nope. Here they love their wine so much they're afraid of changing anything, so they keep it as is, grime and all.

And it's easy to imagine a magic bacteria is the key to the success here. The first sniff was packed full of earthy, salty, rich aromatics. Brie cheese. Mushrooms. Julia said mushrooms on toast, and that's dead on because of the butter and near salinity in there as well. But there's also honeysuckle. Dried apricot. This wine is bone dry on the palate, not sweet at all, but there are layers we'd normally associate with a dessert wine--honey, dried fruits. It's old, but has the minerality and refreshing zing of a young Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon curd. Rosemary! Name an unexpected aromatic and it was probably in there. And it kept changing. They had decanted the wine for an hour (another rarity with whites). When I got a second pour after the tasting (4 dollars extra. FOUR DOLLARS FOR A GLASS OF THIS HEAVEN), it was a whole new bouquet.

We tried the wine with the delectable fish stew from Heirloom LA, but found it went better without food. There's so much happening here, you just want to take tiny sips and big whiffs forever and keep searching. If I had to pair this wine with something, I'd pair it with a little bit of pot. The things you would find!

I bought two bottles, and I plan to serve them with a nice little cheese plate and stellar conversation. If you happen to be in the neighborhood with 29.50 to spare, I highly recommend you do the same. I also cannot recommend friendship enough. Just, so good.

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