Crafting wine and food from the best local ingredients requires hard work and commitment, something that Rhône wine producers and the staff at Storefront Deli share. So, what a treat it was to spend a Sunday afternoon at Silver Lake Wine, tasting 2010 Rhône wines and noshing on deli bites from the new kid on the block.
What is a Rhône wine? It depends on what part of the Rhône River valley in southern France it comes from. Divided by geography, the Northern and Southern Rhône have different climates and grape varietals which dominate the wines, and determine the style.
In the Northern Rhône, vines sprout from steep, rocky hillsides along the river Rhône, in their struggle, drawing the stony essence into their grapes. This is the land of Syrah, different in its cool climate character, more pronounced pepper and earth, supple black fruit with a red twist, and gentle tannins, certainly no resemblance to the hot-blooded Australian Shiraz that most are familiar with.
In the Southern Rhône, numerous grape varieties, predominently Grenache, Mourvedre, and Cinsaut, push their vines through the valley floor’s rocky soils, drinking in the hot sun, turning it into high sugar, making high alcohol wines. Brawny and beefy, with lots of ripe black fruit, and notes of herbal underbrush known as garrigue, these wines are blended, as in the case of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 13 grapes makes for a complex stew.
Balance and complexity describes the 2010 Rhône wines. Great weather ticked all the boxes in this vintage. Wine writers acclaim the 2009 and 2010 Rhône vintages as “superlative” and Decanter magazine proclaims the 2010 wines as the top three of the past 40 years.
Storefront Deli brought their “A” game to the tasting, their “everything from scratch” philosophy, incarnate in house-cured meats, fresh-baked breads, cream cheese and mustards made in house, just to mention a few. Recently opened in Los Feliz by the team behind Salt’s Cure, Zak Walters and Chris Phelps, their food has made quite a splash in the neighborhood.
It’s a “labor of love”, according to Zak, whose desire to “craft things that not many people are doing today, and make an honest product that is good”, drove this initial idea to fruition.
They normally pair their intense deli creations with California wine, in keeping with their California-centric goal, a broad-based locavore approach to food and wine. But Zak and Alex McGroarty, the deli’s chef, met the challenge head-on, matching their home-spun comfort food with the finesse of four Rhône wines, selected by Silver Lake Wine.
continued in Part 2