The SOMM Journal

April / May 2018

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Page 106 of 108

106 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2018 106 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2018 CURIOUS DRINKERS FLOCK TO LOU AMDUR'S WINE SHOP AS THE NATURAL WINE MOVEMENT GAINS MOMENTUM IN LOS ANGELES by Mariam Makatsaria THE FIRST SIP of natural wine that lured in Lou Amdur flowed from a bottle of Jean Foillard's Morgon Beaujolais. It took him by surprise, as Amdur had never really taken a liking to Beaujolais, but something about this one whetted his appetite. The encounter inspired him to read up on Jean Foillard; the French vigneron and winemaker is hailed as a pioneer of the natural wine move - ment, which aims to use minimal intervention in both the farming and production stages of winemaking while avoiding modernized viticulture practices. "I wondered, why is it so important to the quality of the wine for it to be farmed organically and to ferment using wild yeasts and not having any additives?" Amdur recalls. "And that question sort of opened the door." Nestled in the corner of a strip mall in Los Angeles' Los Feliz neighbor - hood, Lou Wine Shop opened its doors in 2014 and is now considered a neighborhood gem, especially given the rapidly-ascending popularity of natural wines in L.A. While the overall tenor of the shop gravitates toward Biodynamically-farmed, organically-grown, and additive-free wines, Amdur is quick to point out that he doesn't refer to it as "a natural wine store" and doesn't have any hard-and-fast rules for picking his products, either. Case in point: He's developed a fondness for The Republic of Georgia's centuries-old winemaking traditions, in which fermentation occurs in clay pots buried underground. "A lot of the flavors people are looking for right now, they're going to find in these very archaic Georgian wines," he says. And in an effort to avoid any wine taxonomy that could come off as elitist to customers, Amdur categorizes primarily by taste profile at the shop. For example, the "Bloody" section hosts vinos that pair well with various proteins, while another, "Spaghetti," attracts people seeking an accompaniment to pasta dishes, meatballs, or pizza. "I think it's really important to be charitable to your customers and to not force them to think about wine in a given way—to signal that it's okay to relax and be a little playful with wine," he explains. In line with ancient vinification techniques, fermentation in the Republic of Georgia often takes place in clay pots buried underground. Simplified Sophistication ADVICE FROM AN INDUSTRY VETERAN "Find a good wine shop that sells natural wines and frequent it. If you don't live in a neighborhood that has one, maybe you should consider moving. If you love wine, your local wine merchant is your best friend in that regard. I don't think people understand what wine buyers do, whether it's in a restaurant or a wine shop. Basically, what we're all doing is tasting. At any given day, you'll come in and you'll see an importer in the shop, and we're tasting ten wines. Any given week, I'm tasting between 100 to 500, and that's what we all do." —Lou Amdur

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