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We started in Western Australia, then traveled to Sonoma, followed by Champagne. For the the fourth and final menu of Maude 2019, the team, consisting of Executive Chef Chris Flint, Wine Director Andrey Tolmachyov, and Pastry Chef Yesenia Cruz traveled to Tuscany, Italy. Making Siena their hub, they spent an immersive week filled with eating and drinking and now created a menu to share their discoveries. The cuisine of Tuscany is based on the Italian idea of cucina povera (“poor cooking”). It is a cuisine known for its simplicity. There are no complicated seasonings or elaborate creations, rather the focus is on fresh, high-quality ingredients. And this is exactly what Executive Chef Chris Flint executed. It was a menu that was clearly inspired by Tuscany and the presentations were simple. But the flavors were anything but simple, and paired with a selection of old Tuscan wines that my dining companions brought, our Maude journey to Tuscany was another wonderfully memorable meal. Our meal started with four small bites. 
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.