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Natural Wine Week 1.0 in Los Angeles, May 10-16

May 11, 2010 | 11:45 am


This week, a group of local restaurateurs, sommeliers, retailers, importers and winemakers are gathering forces to launch Natural Wine Week 1.0 in the L.A. area. All over town there will be dinners, wine flights, tasting events and symposiums dedicated to bringing this rather esoteric, artisanal class of wines into the limelight. It’s an excellent chance to get your head around this trend-setting set of wines as they nose their way into the L.A. market.

Three years ago, you could utter the words “natural wine” to your average wine drinker and you’d be met with a blank stare. The term is still a slippery one to define, but usually involves small-production, artisan bottlings made by winemakers from France, Austria, Spain and the U.S. who have sought to reclaim a winemaking practice that’s as unadorned, uncorrected, unmanipulative and transparent as is humanly possible, allowing the wine’s expression of place to show through.

At times, these wines are, to put it mildly, "funky." They’re not simple, fruity or simply fruity. They’re earthy, edgy, even feral at times. They don’t taste the same from one vintage to the next. But they’re never boring. And this week, it’s easier than ever to find out for yourself.

Lou Amdur, he of the wine bar Lou on Vine, organized Natural Wine Week 1.0 with like-minded wine professionals from the sommelier and retail community here, such as Gregg Greenbaum of Bistro LQ, Eduardo Porto Carreiro of Grace, Steve Goldun of Palate, George Cossette of Silver Lake Wine and Jill Bernheimer of DomaineLA. “The opportunities for collaboration in the wine community are few and far between in L.A.,” says Amdur, citing the city’s geographical challenges in getting people to gather. For Amdur, though, natural wines served as a natural rallying point. “We all love these wines,” says Amdur. “We’ve all fallen for them deeply. They deserve a wider audience, and we mean to give it to them.”

All week, from Venice to Silver Lake, there will be opportunities to taste and try the natural alternative. Wine Bars such as Lou, El Vino, Pourtal and Silver Lake Wine will be pouring flights or special selections of natural wines, and restaurants such as Grace and Bistro LQ will be designing coursed meals around natural wine selections. The week concludes with more tastings and an in-depth discussion led by journalists Jonathan Gold and Alice Feiring, and features some of California’s most outspoken practitioners of natural practices, Abe Schoener of the Scholium Project and Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm.

For a full schedule of activities, please visit www.naturalwinelosangeles.com.

-- Patrick Comiskey

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images