No, not that VinExpo, but the Wine Expo of Santa Monica California. Perhaps “Expo” is not a good name for what they do there as it implies a gigantic wine exposition, which it is not. The Wine Expo is a small shop, although every inch is filled with wines worth drinking.
The Wine Expo is presided over by manager Roberto Rogness, whom you may also know as the nemesis of the anti-terroir Mark Squires on Robert Parker’s Forum. They have created a store that is filled with wines that have two things in common, they are labels almost nobody knows and they are outstanding wines. To top it off, they are great values.
They have accomplished this by hard work, creative thinking and the wise decision to not try to be all things to all people. The selection at the Wine Expo concentrates on two things: Italian wine and Champagne. Not that that is limiting, as Italian wine on its own is an overwhelming project. However, the store is not filled with the usual suspects: Antinori, Gaja, Giacosa, Krug, Cliquot and on-and-on….
What they have assembled are small producers, many of whom they import directly (another significant savings), who are dedicated to producing wines of character with pure flavors from varietal and vineyard. Oddly enough, their catalog physically looks a lot like The Wine Advocate, but one look at the wines selected and the commentary tells you that this is another world - and a more interesting one at that. Their Champagne selection is simply stunning, full of small estate producers and wines that sell for under $50 that blow away big name Champagne selling for hundreds of dollars. You can buy cases of Champagne here for the price of a few bottles at other stores.
Tonight I am sipping on the 1999 Bonarda, Oltrepo Pavese, Millennium from Azienda Agricola Fratelli Agnes. A bargain at $28, here is a wine that almost screams of its Italian origin, full of earthy aromas and flavors over bright fruit, with a racy acidity throughout, this is a wine that demands great food and pleasure. This is a wine I would never have known without the great work being done at The Wine Expo.
Get some guts and get on this mailing list and invest a few bucks in vineyards and names unknown, in people who make wine with passion, not Excel. Roberto will introduce you to a whole world of wine you did not know existed.
2933 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404
310–828–4428 Fax 310–828–2969 Email: WineExpo@earthlink.net