As Maude continues to celebrate its fifth anniversary this year, what screams celebration more than Champagne?!?! The Maude team snuck off to Champagne, the region that shares its name with the sparkling wine it produces, for an intense three-day trip to explore the food and wine. Located in the northeastern part of France, approximately 100 miles outside of Paris, Champagne is one of the great wine regions of the world. After visiting Champagne houses, local pastry shops, boulangeries and butchers, the team returned to Los Angeles to translate their experience into a ten-course menu.
My friends and I booked our table for dinner and per usual, we brought the wines with us. As comprehensive and high quality as the wine list is at Maude, the regional dinners at Maude allow my friends, and sometimes me, to bring older vintages from our cellars.
We started with Vouette & Sorbee Saignee de Sorbee, a rosé Champagne and then proceeded to open a series of delicious bottles included the Lanson Noble Cuvee 1989, Andre Beaufort 1990 Brut, Philipponat Clos des Goisses 1999 and Moet & Chandon White Star (circa 1970s)
As good as the food is at a restaurant, what can make a meal even better is the wine selections to pair with the food. It is not about the size of the list or having the correct list of wines. It is about understanding the cuisine of the restaurant and the customer and then creating a list to appeal to both. My recent story in California Winery Advisor listed 15 of the best restaurant wine lists in Los Angeles and you can read it here.
Wondering who has the best restaurant wine lists in Los Angeles and why? It is not the size of the wine list. It is not because it has a list of every aspirational, expensive, highly scored wine. And it is definitely not a good list when the list consists of generic mass-produced brands that can be found on the shelves of the local grocery store.
A good wine list is one that is curated by the wine director of the restaurant to pair with the food on the menu. It is a list that offers a range of price points and combines familiarity as well as uniqueness.
With so many exceptional restaurants in Los Angeles, a good wine list is what can set one apart from another. Here are 15 restaurants offering some of the most interesting, exciting and appropriate wine selections for the customer.
In 2018, Maude Restaurant shifted the concept to highlight wine regions around the world. They covered Rioja, Burgundy, Central Coast, Piemonte in 2018 and started 2019 with Western Australia. When the Maude team picks their next location, the team (chefs and wine team) travel together for an immersive trip. They do this trip in secret as they do not let us, the customers, know what the next region is until one month prior to its launch. To date, most of the regions have been quite a distance from Los Angeles and the team has slipped away for up to a week to explore the region.
For the April - June menu, Maude ventured to Sonoma County. Sonoma, with its proximity to the Russian River and sixty miles of California coastline, was the inspiration for the spring menu.The team flew up on a Saturday night after service and spent a whirlwind weekend in Sonoma where they foraged, fished and learned about fermentation. They then created a menu retelling their experience to us.
Back in March, I attended an "Off the Menu" meal at Maude which was a sort of research and development of the Sonoma menu. Looking back and comparing the menus, I see the evolution of most of these dishes but for the Sonoma menu, the dishes were perfected and delicious.
Our meal began with the Biodynamic Preparation. Inspired by a visit to the winery Littorai, where winemaker Ted Lemon farms biodynamically, there were five small bites displayed on a wood and wire tray, similar to what is used in biodynamic farming. The amuses included an oyster with yarro root, tempura stinging nettle, ramps, soft kogi panna cotta and sourdough bread with oak bark butter.