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Mar 19, 2007 03:48 AM

The best wine shop in L.A.: Larchmont or Silverlake or...?

I have frequently visited all of the major wine shops in L.A and have found very prominent problems with most of them.

A breakdown of such shops and their issues:

2020 Wine Merchants: An excellent selection of wine, including a very, very vast assortment of old, rare, and collectible wines such as varrying encompassments of high-end California Cab producers such as Opus One and Caymus, as well as the best broad selection of aged, quality French Bordeaux and Burgundy in the city. Their problem:? The owner of the store acts as 1/2 of the staff... he and his assistant run the store on a daily basis and lack the advisory skills needed to guide the commonly-inspired wine-drinking enthusiast. 2020 is usually right for the collector seeking a specific acquisition, but very, very wrong for the not-completely-educated wine-enthusiast.

Wine House: Very bad staff. With exception to one or two of their wine salesmen, their staff is categorically uneducated with their selection, unavailable for help & guidance, and half-the-time possessing qualities of disinterest in helping the customer. Great selection and great prices apparently do not come with their toll at the Wine House...

Wally's: A very vast selection, comparable to that of the Wine House whilst contained in 1/3 the space, but the store is ridden with prices that range from "a little too high" to "way too high" and a floor-staff that is not immediately aware of what the shop has to offer. Shopping at Wally.'s, unless you're there for premeditated purchases, is a very disconcerning experience.

K&L: The newest L.A. wine shop in a Hollywood-area that very-much lacked a decent wine shop. A very standard, whilst broad, selection make the experienced wine-buyer like & hate this wine shop all at once. ...K&L is like a condensed Wine House with slightly higher prices, albeit a flourishing selection of Italian reds but not that much new in the avenues of French & Californian wines. The problem lies in K&L's effort to be an extensive wine shop without having much anything to offer that's not available elsewhere. K&L's staff's knowledge of the wines they carry fails to cover ALL of the wines in the store. It's an ambitious and smart startup, but so far poorty executed.

Silverlake Wine: A very unique selection of wine, especially given that its market is people of trendy drinking philosophies - drinkers with a broad wine-consciousness. The selction, in my opinion, is ambitious but not entirely successful. They have a great staff --
Randy in particular -- expressing a good deal of firm confidence behind all the wines sold there. Unfortunately, not all the wines have proved worthy of the wine salespersons' very adamant selling points.

Larchmont Wine: a similar concept to Silverlake -- a very personalized selection from the mind of Simon, one of the shop's owners. The entire store, in fact, is a collaboration between Simon, the genius behind wine buying, selling, and pairing, and Sergio, the expert with cheese, meats, and their applicabiltiy to the fine wines that Simon chooses. Again, Larchmont wine is very similar in its intentions and spirit to Silverlake Wine, but it's far more successful in the execution of said goals.

To put it simply, Simon & Sergio @ Larchmont wines pick excellent wines to sell at very decent prices, and their wines could not be found at most other shops around the country. This all seems to be reliant upon the intensive research and dedication they each invest in their respective field, which, in this case means buying wines based upon taste rather hype.

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  1. No mention of Woodland Hills Wine Company?
    They're selection is really large, and has never had a problem with me doing special orders (though I tend to buy by the case).

    2 Replies
    1. re: SauceSupreme

      i've had some great recs at woodland hills wine company too. i first got turned on to them by some champagne-obsessed friends as whwc has a pretty good selection.

      1. re: SauceSupreme

        WHWC is tremendous. Paul and his staff are very knowledgable and the selection is vast. Prices are reasonable. Of course, it helps that we live in WH.

      2. Isn't there a wine shop in Eagle Rock off Colorado Blvd? Anyone been there?

        2 Replies
        1. re: graffitipassion

          Colorado Wine Company.

          I dropped in one afternoon just to browse, but it was a very brief visit and I didn't end up buying anything. They have tastings, which I keep meaning to getting around to someday.

          1. re: jacinthe

            Colorado Wine Company is wonderful. The couple who run it are as nice as can be, they will try to order anything you ask for, and they have a lovely bar in the back where you can get a glass of wine most anytime. Every time I go in I ask for suggestions and they are helpful, friendly and can suggest good wines in whatever price range you desire. I also enjoy Silverlake Wine as well. I'd put them both on par with each other as terrific neighborhood wine stores.

        2. Your list is pretty good montgomeryrossmore but I don't believe Simon is the owner of Larchmont. He does have a great knowledge and is very helpful.

          There are a number of interesting shops popping up in neighborhoods all around L.A., which is good for us wine enthusiasts. One such new shop is Rosso Wine Shop in north Glendale/Montrose (just off of the 2 Freeway).

          The reason I mention them is because of your post mentions taking chances on selections. This store specializes in imports and is building a great selection of very interesting hard to find varietals, largely from Italy and France. To give you an example, they have 7-8 choices of Barbera, some great southern Italian wine like Nerello Mascalese from Sicily, Galioppo from Calabria or Negroamaro from Puglia, etc. And on the French side there are some awesome Languedoc, Madiran, Lirac, southern Rhone, etc. Prices are good and owner hand-picks everything. Every time I've gone I've gotten a lot of customer service and walked away with some excellent value-driven wines.

          The more shops the better. The smaller mom and pop shops are for me the best. Let's hope that they don't go the way of the great music stores like Aron's and the like... sorry for the digression.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sebi

            Simon does not own Larchmont Wines, but here is the link to their abc license that shows who does own the place.

            1. re: carter

              I once asked Sergio how the shop started and if he owned it... he said 'yes'... he started the shop with his dad in the 90's... and Simon came on as an owner around 5 or 6 years ago. So Sergio, his dad, and Simon are all owners but there could be yet others with some sort of stake in the shop.

              1. re: montgomeryrossmore

                Well, the abc requires that owners of 75% of any licensed operation be on the liquor license. Maybe they bought the place a while back and did not do an abc transfer, or who knows what.
                Here is also a link via a telephone info service showing the ownership to be John Broccato, same as the abc link above.

          2. How can you leave Wine Expo off the list? Yes, more of an Italian specialist and small grower champagnes, but Robert Rogness is the best in the business. Located at Santa Monica and Stanford.....

            1. I am by no means a wine expert but I have found Silverlake wine to be quite reliable! While I really enjoy the entire staff there I would say that George's suggestions have been the most consistant to my taste!

              Wine Expo has also been good when I'm on the west side.