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Lou raised the wine bar

March 13, 2012 |  8:00 am

LouWas Lou the first wine bar in Los Angeles? Not quite, but when it opened a half-dozen years ago, it may have been the first one with a point of view. Its slant toward natural wines was as bold and influential as the idiosyncratic vintners championed by Lou Amdur, its owner. If you have enjoyed orange wines, biodynamic wines, amphora-aged wines or wines from obscure corners of France's Savoie or the Touraine in the last few years, chances are pretty good that they made their debut in this dark, atmospheric room that shared its Hollywood mini mall with a Thai massage parlor and a neo-'50s hamburger dive, and where parking spaces were scarcer than old-vine Sonoma Chasselas. Lou is a place where delightfully armpitty whites from Donkey & Goat essentially take the place of a house Chardonnay, and you are more likely to find wines made from Côt than you are a California cab -– as well as a farmers market-driven menu overseen by chef DJ Olsen that has been the source of no small pleasure over the years. The pig candy, made from bacon that Olsen and Amdur smoke and cure themselves from sustainably raised bellies, has a formidable cult.

In an email to his customers yesterday morning, Amdur announced that he is selling the bar, possibly as soon as the end of the month, and will be celebrating with one or more bacchanalia. It seems to be a happy occasion –- he hasn't been responding to emails this afternoon, but the closing of Lou seems prompted by the coming of what he calls "Lou 2.0.''

"After six years in business," he writes, "I ... have come to the point where my infatuation is compelling me to move to the next level in my business.''

We'll raise our glasses to that.


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 --Jonathan Gold

Photo credit: Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times