Old Classics in a Revived Art Setting

Just prior to the arrival of this season’s biggest storm, Terry and I visited FORT in downtown Los Angeles to sample some classics from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piedmont, the Loire Valley, Spain, and Italy.

Spectrum Auctions, based in Orange County, hosted the pop-up tasting to preview some of the treasures available in its Winter Auction, held Saturday, December 13th.  We had considered attending the Auction, held at Soho House in West Los Angeles, but the press of Christmas decorating (as mandated by my bride) precluded that option.  (You should definitely consider attending a Spectrum live auction.  They’re generally held in upscale locations, and Spectrum provides both food and pours of some exclusive wines.  You don’t even have to buy anything – although Spectrum would prefer it if you did.)

What compelled us to hazard the dangers of this decade’s worst weather was the high caliber of wine being poured.  Here’s just a few that were offered: Chapoutier Ermitage L’Ermite 2001 (Parker rated 98-100); Conterno Barolo Gran Bussia Riserva 2001; Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1996 (running about $250 at most stores); Flor de Pingus 2004 (the second label from arguably Spain’s best winery); and Ponsot Chapelle-Chambertin 1996 (a magnificent red Burgundy, well-aged).   

I was really looking forward to the Clos Erasmus 1993 (another Spanish beauty), but both bottles Spectrum opened were corked.  Wine Spectator defines this unfortunate occurrence (happens in about 5% of all bottles sealed with a cork) as a wine that is off-putting, musty, moldy-newspaper flavor and aroma and dry aftertaste caused by a tainted cork.  That meant about $750 worth of wine was ruined.

But we did get to enjoy all of the other wines mentioned above, and we also discovered a great white from France’s Loire Valley, Nicolas Joly Coulée de Serrant 1996.  It’s a Chenin Blanc that boasts a unique creaminess and custard that we’ve not tasted in other wines.  Bone dry and a long finish, it was outstanding.

The setting for the tasting was quite unique.  FORT’s location in a challenged area of LA was a bit off-putting.  But we braved the neighborhood to get to the great wine being served.  FORT occupies the first floor in a multi-storied building.  Run by Jacqueline Sharp, with the able assistance of world-traveler Kelley Puddy, FORT makes furniture.  All products are handmade of repurposed, reclaimed materials.  Featured in Forbes and the Los Angeles Times (among other publications), Jacqueline and Kelley make chairs and tables from discarded items, what was essentially other folks’ trash.  They took a magician’s disappearing chest and converted it into a storage cabinet.  The furniture is stylish and apparently quite popular and reasonably priced. Featured in the photo is Chris Weed, Director of Operations for Spectrum.  In the background are some of FORT’s products. 

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