I woke up Tuesday morning feeling the effects of having picked up my beloved Amy from the airport the night before. We picked her up and whisked her off to Tracy’s to celebrate her visit, many wings, fries, beefy sandwiches and far too many cocktails later we headed home and shared a bottle of 2008 Salavard Unique Sauvignon Blanc, ($11.99) because you know, we needed just one more glass….ugh. Even in my, “state” I was able to appreciate what a wicked little value this wine is, bright, tangy, more lemon than grapefruit flavors with just a touch of wet stone and a mouth puckering finish, everything I love about Sauvignon Blanc and sporting a price tag that makes it an everyday drinker.
Tuesday morning I made the one-eyed-stumble to the coffee pot and nestled into my little corner of the couch, eyeballing, (or one eyeballing) the remnants of an evening of over indulgence; empty wine bottle, wine glasses still holding that “final” sip….as if we both came to the conclusion that finishing that last glass was going to make some kind of difference…and a box of Wheat Thins nestled between two cans of, “Squeeze Cheese”, Amy favorite guilty pleasure, something we now stock for Amy’s visits. I sat there trying to reconnect the dots as it were and began to giggle as I relived the, “Squeeze Cheese Tasting”.
“Samster, (what she calls me when she is all buzzy) you want one?” Amy asked while covering a Wheat Thin completely with the oddly orange goo. “Um, no thanks” I replied, “Why not?” she asked looking at me like I must be high, “Because I don’t like it”…now you would think, by looking at her face, that I had just pooed the floor. The rest went something like this….
Her- “How do you know you don’t like it?” Me- “I’ve tasted it and don’t like it.” Her- “When was the last time you tasted it?” Me- (chuckling) “What you think somewhere in the evolution of my palate I have now become ready for cheesy goo?” Her- (loading up a Wheat Thin) “Just try it” Me- “No!” Her- “Samster, just try one then if you don’t like it I will believe you” Me- “I don’t like Wheat Thins either” Her- “How can you not like Wheat Thins?! Something is wrong with you. Give me your finger”
So there I sat at whatever-too-late in the evening/morning, with my tiny muse squeezing, not one but two flavors of “Squeeze Cheese” on my fingers. The outcome, well I sat there on Tuesday morning taking a bunch of tiny sips of coffee trying to stave off the that pre-gag saliva that was building in my mouth and throat just thinking about it….least she believes me now.
I waited for my coffee to kick in, got a blog post up, hopped in the shower and prepared myself for the Beaune Imports trade tasting. Amy and I had been asked to join the visiting winemakers and Michael Sullivan for dinner so we booked a room at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, (we used points, we aint that fancy) knowing full well how these evenings tend to pan out, we knew we had better NOT attempt the long drive back from LA. We packed an overnight bag and headed to, “The Hills”.
When I walked into the SLS I became instantly afraid that I was going to make a complete ass of myself, it was a blood red lobby, dark and full of mirrors…I could just see myself stumbling in after a long night of wine and whatever comes next and face planting into one of those Fun House mirrors, sigh. We tossed our bags in our super fancy room, called a cab and made our way over to the tasting.
Now Michael never does little tastings, he always pulls out all the stops and has consistently put on some of the best tastings I have ever been to but this one, well this one was even more special as he had with him a gaggle of French winemakers, there to pour and tell people about their wines. As someone that believes in the very personal connection between meeting the people behind the bottle this kind of event is the kind of shit I live for. Hugs and kisses to the folks I had met before and we jumped in with both feet. We moved from table to table tasting the wines, making quick notes and listening as these winemakers tried to make us better understand their vision.
And just who was at this event pouring their wines? Um….
Pascal Agrapart, (looked a little like Russell Crowe but more regal) of Agrapart & Fils Samuel Guibert, (seriously dreamy) of Mas de Dumas Gassac Stephane Dupuch, (adorable and so much fun) of Chateau Sainte-Marie Antoine Durrbach, (also very cute but very shy) of Domaine Trevallon Marie-Claire & Pierre Fort, (not so much with the English) of Domaine Mouscaillo Bruno Schmitt, (one of my personal favorites and smoking partner) of Rolland Schmitt Claude Drouhin, (statuesque, pure, just like her wines) of Chandon de Briallies Etienne de Montille, (friendly but formal and charming as hell) of Domaine de Montille
We made it through most of the wines, even though we were spitting there were just far too many wines to taste and we wanted to save our palates for whatever wicked cool wines Michael was bringing to dinner…well, that was the plan anyway. It was 3:00 and while shoving corks into the bottles Michael announces, “We have reservations at 8:00”….crud, what were we going to do for 5 hours?! My first suggestion was to go back to the room, maybe freshen up and just relax before dinner, I was vetoed. So just what do wine people do after a wine tasting and before dinner, yeah. Headed out to The Farmers Market on 3rd and Fairfax for tacos and beer, there’s a palate saver right? We hung out there for a couple hours and found that we still had 2 more hours to kill, next thing I know there is a caravan heading to Korea Town for drinks at a “cool dive bar”….surrender, I just had to surrender any hope that I had for a civilized evening.
Wine, beer, tacos and dive bar drinks and we are on our way to dinner in Venice. We all arrived at the same time and because I am unsure of who fouled up, (that’s a nice way to say fucked up) the event planner or the restaurant I am going to let the spot we ate dinner remain nameless. It was okay, the food was somewhat under seasoned and there was far too little of it for a group our size, (think there were about 15 of us at a table that sat 12…super fun, that) and things just didn’t quite come together, again unsure of where to point the finger I will just say, dinner was “fine”.
Now comes the point in the evening where the group splits, happens every time….one chunk of people want to go back to their room and sleep, (those are the smart or old people) and the other part wants to keep going, so guess where this, “not too smart and not too old” girl found herself? Kissing,” Goodnight” to those that were parting and walking down the street to a raging bar in Venice…dammit. Now this crew had been travelling together for over a week now, their relationships were formed, they were already buddies, it was Amy and I that were the outsiders…so funny things happen when you feed a bunch of French dudes Jack & Coke and Tequila shots…they like open up and junk. At one point, (do not ask me which) of the evening I found myself dancing in front of the live band, next to some crazy hippie chick that was dancing like she was having fits….if speaking in tongues had a dance, she was doing it…and some drunk ass Frenchmen and a “on his way there” importer, surreal is a gross understatement.
Amy and I end up back in our fancy SLS room, did I hit a mirror…no freaking clue, (I did however scan the many mirrors on the way out the following morning/hours and did not find a sweaty face print, so if I did that fancy schmancy place covered my tracks) but somehow the mini bar sounded like the greatest idea ever to me and my tiny muse. Felt less than great when the alarm went off three hours later, merde! Stumbled out of bed, called room service, Bloody Marys were so in order and crawled out to the rooftop pool to sip our drinks in the sun…in our jammies…. “The Hills” well they found their “Billies” that morning.
A quick wash of the face, reapply of makeup and hair tossed in a ponytail and my girl and I are on our way back to Long Beach to set up for……another tasting with our crazy new French friends.