The Perfect Case from LA's Natural Wine King

Lou Wine Shop © Lou Amdur
By Megan Krigbaum Posted October 10, 2014

The streets of LA were flooded with the tears of natural wine geeks when Lou Amdur closed his beloved Lou Wine Bar in Los Angeles a few years back. But just a month ago, he opened Lou Wine Shop {} where he’s selling bottles that vibe with his admittedly “kinky” taste in wine. 


He’s hosting in-shop tastings three days a week for $10 or so and he’s bringing in incredible bottles and food artisans, like sea urchin fisherwoman Stephanie Mutz. Later this year, he’s planning to host a comparative pastrami tasting pitting his own recipe up against versions from a couple of chefs.


“I only go with the most commercial, industrial garbage at this point,” Amdur jokes. “I look for wines with a maximum number of additives.”


Kidding aside, his selection centers on wines that are farmed sensibly, made with native yeasts, and in many cases are organic or biodynamic. Here are his picks for an intriguing, delicious case of wine.


1. 2004 Villa Dora Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco You have to have a volcano wine. The current vintage is great, but if you can get the ’04, it’s mind-blowing. The acidity is knit-in and it develops this amazing, chewy honeycomb thing.


2. 2010 Patrick Baudouin Savennieres The thing about Chenin Blanc is it’s a scandalously underappreciated grape variety. It’s a bummer to see Riesling and Chardonnay get all the glory. You could buy a perfectly fine bottle of Bourgogne Blanc for 45 bucks or you could get this mind-blowing bone dry, minerally Savennieres for the same price – put that in your pipe and smoke it!


3. Frantz Saumon La Petit Gaulle du Matin I do enjoy Champagne, but I don’t drink a lot of it. I drink a lot of other sparkling wines, just because their prices fit my pocketbook. And there’s a reason a lot of us love the style of pétillant naturel wines – they’re all about capturing the fresh vibrancy of the fruit. You probably could – but I haven’t tried – age a pet nat. But how can you age them? They sit in your cellar and you’re like, “what am I going to drink tonight? I’m going to drink THAT!”


4. 2012 Stoka Vitovska Grganja Because I’m a douchebag, I gotta have a skin contact [orange] wine. We did a tasting in the store on Tuesday where one wine had 5 days skin contact, one had 8 days, one had a month of skin contact. A lot of people responded to this, the middle one. This is grown on exceptionally harsh soil, that’s a nightmare to farm on. So you have naturally low-yielding vines. It’s a superb wine. It, too, really needs decanting.


5. 2013 Francesco Rinaldi Grignolino d’Asti For a red, I want to pick something from the periphery of Piemonte. I know that 90% of my customers are looking for something to drink tonight or tomorrow, so I don’t want to give them something like Barolo that’s too young and won’t be ready. My thought is do what the Piemontese do and pick from one of the regional varieties that’s cultivated for near-term pleasure. This one’s from a traditional Barolo producer who makes a little bit of Grignolino and it’s delicious.


6. 2012 Julien Sunier Régnié For sure, we have to have a really good Beaujolais. It’s something I drink all the time. Even though it’s not as great a deal as it was at one time, it’s still possible to find well-priced wines grown by obsessive farmers. This is the wine that I’ve been freaking out about lately – it’s like a total fog-cutting, pure, mouthful of kirsch – fresh, fresh black cherries.


7. 2012 Nicolas Camarans Fer Servadou I have to recommend an unapologetic natural red wine – but it comes with the caveat that you’re taking this wine right home. It’s not the sort of wine that should sit in your car while you’re shopping. I’m really obsessed with the wines of southwest France. This grape is really rustic and pretty tannic. Camarans’s version is done with carbonic maceration to help tame the tannins, but it still has grip. It’s fresh, earthy and a little funky.

8. 2012 Franck Peillot Altesse This white grape had its heyday in the 19th century, but didn’t fare well with phylloxera. Growers like Franck Peillot and Gonin are doing great things with that grape. It can either be used to make youthful wine or characterful, delicious wine. For sure, Peillot’s version is fantastic—it’s fleshy, without being flabby.

9. 2011 Stadlmann Mandel-Höh Zierfandler Continuing with this underdog theme, a wine made from a secondary variety from Austria. Grüner Veltliner and Austria get all the glory, but there many white grapes that are considered old-fashioned, but when you farm carefully and vitify cleanly, you get wines that are potentially marvelous, like this. It’s from a vineyard on an old almond orchard at high altitude. Superb wine.

10. 2013 Eva Fricke Rheingau Trocken Riesling Clearly, you want a dry, minerally Riesling. A certain number of people still need convincing that Riesling can do wonderfully dry things.

11. La Collina Lambrusco I feel in LA, we should be drinking a lot of Lambrusco because it goes so well with the type of food we eat here. It’s goes fantastically with carnitas and great with bulgogi. But I never see Lambrusco in Korean restaurants! This wine is so fresh and light.


12. Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Sercial And then, there’s gotta be a sweet wine. Madeira can be enjoyed over several days or even several months. I think it would be delicious with peking duck or even a little bowl of salted nuts. You’re buying a bottle of wine that is all about aromatic complexity that happened over years. These are consummately slow wines. They’re about slowing down and just letting your skull fill with the vapors.

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