|Vendome - Toluca Lake|
|Woodland Hills Wine Co||You’d be hard-pressed to find in the US a more dynamic player in the Burgundy game. This powerhouse retailer, started in 1978 by Paul Smith, houses a massive selection of carefully procured gems from all over the world. Paul is getting ready for retirement, so the wine program has been run for some time by Kaj Stromer –a man with a confident palate who is not afraid of getting behind the next best thing before anyone else does. It’s a shop loaded with “blue chip” wines that seem to be really in-tune with the things that we love to buy and drink. They are in the middle of nowhere, but it’s worth the drive. They decided, however, to do most of their work online –it keeps their pricing really competitive on the national level. If you’re serious about serious wine, they are a must for your daily feed as the deals they put out are second to none.|
|Domaine L.A.||If it’s hot off the press, and somewhat hard to find, it’s possible that Jill has it on the shelf (or hidden in the back!). She has a nice short list of boutique but well-known blue chip wines from all over Europe and California. Her store is definitely led by a large selection of “avant garde” organic, biodynamic, “natural” wines and a very well selected Champagne roster. She also insists on tasting everything that she sells, so she can give you the lowdown on every wine in the store. It’s an impressive short-list of wines. The problem with Jill’s store is that most of the time when I go in to sell her some wine, I usually walk out with a bag of wine myself.
|John and Pete's||If Cheers had a wine store, this would be it. It has become a real pleasure to taste and meet with their crew over the years. At first, it started with David, the winebuyer, but as our business started to take flight with these guys, they all started to come out of the woodwork to taste with us. The owners, Lou (son of John) and Pete, are two of the nicest guys you could ever meet. They also know the difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly in the business. The shop is loaded with a powerful shortlist of great wines from our favorite regions, like Burgundy and Piedmont. There are also a few gems from Germany, Austria, and other places. Make no mistake by looking at the façade of this liquor store: in the back import section, there’s hardly a bottle that I wouldn’t be happy to take home.|
|Larchmont Wine & Cheese||This long-standing gem of a retailer is located in the quaint shopping area on Larchmont Boulevard. The wine selection is carefully procured by a longtime veteran of the wine trade, the honorable Simon Cochs. Almost every wine, except those expensive ones in the glass case, have been tasted and selected by Simon. I’ve never met someone who tastes so much wine in a single day, it’s amazing that he still has teeth left in his mouth! The selection is really great and classic. There aren’t as many “trendy” wines in the shop as there are tried and true classics from both the old and new world. Plus, he has an affinity for having some of the very rare gems of the spirit world as well. If you are in need of a sandwich too, this place crushes it in that category.|
|Everson + Royce|
|Rosso Wine Shoppe||Jeff Zimmitti opened this “off-the-beaten-path” wine shop out in the boonies of northern Glendale. Jeff is a confident taster who has amassed a great selection of small production wines from all over the world. He’s really out there (not mentally, just physically), but it’s worth a visit. Jeff calls his wine shop, “a neighborhood wine shop for the disenchanted Trader Joe wine-buyer, social nomad and local wine enthusiast.” There are many wine regions represented, but you will find a lot from Italy, France, Spain and California. You won’t find many big score wines in his shop, but what you will find, instead, is a collection of wines that have gone through a serious triage before making it on the shelf. If you go during the weekends, perhaps, you’ll be lucky enough to meet Julian, his British Bulldog.|
|Hi-Time Wine Cellars||The upstairs of this place is reminiscent of a massive BevMo type of store: they’ve got everything from cigars, beer, booze and big-name wines. The real treasure here is downstairs. These guys clearly take fine wine seriously. They have a 3,000 square feet perfectly temperature controlled underground cellar that houses one of the most enviable selections of wine in the state. One of my favorite parts of shopping there is looking for some random old wines that have been sitting around and perfectly stored in some corner in the cellar. Unlike a lot of other wine shops that carry older wines, this one you can really count on for perfectly aged wine that has been in the store since they bought it –not many others can boast this level of constant storage. They are rich in every category of wine, save “vin nature”, and have competitive prices concerning blue chip wines. If you are in the OC, this is one of the places to shop.|