Three Bottles, One Shop is a new series in which we take a peek into an L.A. wine shop and ask the owner to pick and describe three great bottles on offer. Have a shop you'd like to see featured? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosso Wine Shop sits on a quiet strip of retail stores near the corner of Verdugo Road and Verdugo Boulevard in Glendale, right up the street from the Montrose shopping and dining area on Honolulu Avenue, a small-town-feeling main street that hearkens back to a time when our main shopping destinations included independent toy and book stores rather than big boxes. For the past seven years, Jeff Zimmitti has been at Rosso, preaching the gospel of country wines -- the small producer, everyday wines of Italy and France that he fell in love with while traveling in Europe during his past life as a musician in the early 1990s.
Zimmitti, who works as a graphic designer when he's not at the shop, landed in Glendale after flirting with the idea of a culinary career. He spent some time in the kitchen at Bistro Verdu. "I loved the work but hated the physicality of it," Zimmitti says. When the space next door to the restaurant became available, he decided to follow a long-standing dream of having his own wine shop. (Bistro Verdu closed in 2007; the space next to Rosso is the well-respected restaurant Bashan.)
Rosso's website describes the shop as "a neighborhood wine shop for the disenchanted Trader Joe's wine-buyer, social nomad and local wine enthusiast." At first, Zimmitti wanted to focus only on French and Italian wines, but he recognized the need for a selection that would be familiar to customers who wanted that, so he also carries a large range of domestic wines. But you can see from his picks where his real passion lies.
2011 Domaine Daulny Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, $19.99
"This is probably one of our best-selling whites and one of my reasons for getting into the wine business: to ferret out exceptional wines that need a platform like a handpicked shop to expose it to an audience. Sancerre might be well-known to some, but to me it is very classic and most definitely relevant.
"One of our favorite Sancerres and one of the best priced in the market for the quality. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, seeing no malolactic fermentation, it retains a freshness and vibrancy beneath plenty of bright, ripe citrus fruit. Crisp and clean and loaded with minerals. A wine that is extremely versatile. One other reason I like it: It can please non-wine-obsessed drinkers and wine geeks alike, and that can come in handy."
2010 Thevenet Macon-Pierreclos, Burgundy, France, $18.99
"I know it's hip to bash Chardonnay (in some circles) these days, but I don't subscribe to that. I think enjoying white Burgundy is one of wine's real pleasures. There are many styles to choose from, and even more price points. One of the best values I have found is Jean-Claude Thevenet's Macon-Pierreclos. It's what I would call a "insider" pick, and with the right producer this slightly under-the-radar region can be downright affordable.
"Jean-ClaudeThevenet is a third generation "vigneron" whose winery is located in the heart of the Maconnais in the village of Pierreclos. This is pure Chardonnay fruit, akin to Chablis, as it sees no oak. Lively -- think lemon and green apple. The entire harvest is done manually. This is focused, delicious white Burgundy."
2010 Girolamo Russo Etna Rosso A Rina, Sicily, Italy $24.99
"The Etna D.O.C. territory is closely tied to the biggest active volcano in Europe, Mt. Etna. Wines from the slopes of this volcano help create a fantastically unique wine. The Girolamo Russo wines are a new favorite of mine. The 'A Rina' bottle represents his entry-level wine but it drinks much better than that. When I am tasting wines, as a buyer, I am always drawn to texture, and the Etna Rosso wines really have an elegant quality to them. And by elegant I mean silky and smooth, if you can imagine a velvet glove in liquid form.
"An impressive Etna Rosso, comprised of 100% Nerello Mascalese. Complex nose melds red plum, musky minerals, licorice and menthol. Sweet, dense, and silky, with lovely energy and light density. Pure and harmonious from the outset, with a firm architecture to the red cherry and herbal flavors. Finishes with excellent nuance and good length."
Rosso Wine Shop: 3459-1/2 N Verdugo Road, Glendale; 818- 330-9130.
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