The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

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108  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2014 TINSELTOWN TASTINGS B link and you'll miss the entrance to Cliff's Edge, a California restau- rant off Sunset Boulevard, boasting one of the most romantic patios in Los Angeles. Recently, I spent an afternoon sipping on some cloudy Chardonnay, made by Pax Mahle, with Amnon Lourie, the restau- rant's new Manager and Beverage Director. Lourie possesses that rare, agreeable personality, that makes you think he's an old acquaintance, attuned with a heightened sensitivity to the promises in life. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2009, he worked at Otto in New York City, where he got into wine, burning through tip money on nights off at Cru and Balthazar. He caught on quickly, and would eventu- ally run the beverage programs at Del Posto, the Momofuku empire and Motorino in Brooklyn. The move to Los Angeles was to zero-in on a career in screenwriting (Lourie currently has a script in production), and he wasn't sure about getting back into restaurants, but Cliff's Edge presented the chance to help a decade-old restaurant crest a wall it "hasn't quite crested"—and to do so through the beverage program. "I think terroir is fundamental to understanding wine," says Lourie, "and I like to explore grapes as they are expressed in different places. We'll have Malbec from the Southern Hemisphere, France and California, or Tempranillo from different parts of Spain and California's Central Coast." Lourie has also introduced a Coravin program, and yielding to his appreciation for comic books, says it's the best thing that's happened "since He-Man. It's fun, and the whole point is for people to drink through these wines so we can continually rotate in amazing bottles that you wouldn't normally offer by the glass." As for cocktails and beer, Richard Swan and Brian Shark are building out that program, and the ultimate goal is a focused "return to craft," explains Lourie. "The previous wine list was full of safe and recognizable labels and good values, but there were no fun stories to tell. We're buying wine to cellar—and if one person comes back to buy that one bottle, year after year, that's what we're after. We want people to walk away thinking, 'I got every single penny and more.'" A Return to Craft As part of Lourie's overhaul, a long communal table, perched above the existing outdoor patio was installed for winemaker dinners. Last month, friends and family attended their inaugural event, which presented Alberto Medina Moro, of Emilio Moro from Spain's Ribera del Duero region. Chef Vartan Abgaryan (formerly of A Restaurant in Newport Beach and Public Kitchen and Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel) prepared an expertly pre- sented, multi-course meal to pair with a lineup of Moro's wines. Highlights included a duck fat–fried parsnip with medjool date purée and herbs, which danced together with the Emilio Moro 2010 Tinto Fino, a beauti- fully round and spicy wine of dark berry and violet notes. And the more mature 2009 Malleolus de Sanchomartín, paired with a succulent braised flat-iron steak alongside celery-root purée, was momentarily life-altering—dark rich fruit, mocha and tobacco notes in the wine, culminating in an ethereal mouthfeel. ALBERTO MEDINA MORO PHOTO: JONATHAN CRISTALDI Life in development: Amnon Lourie, Manager and Beverage Director, Cliff's Edge. AT CLIFF'S EDGE IN LOS ANGELES, AMNON LOURIE WELCOMES THOSE WILLING TO JUMP—WINE GLASS IN HAND by Jonathan Cristaldi

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