Isn’t all wine ‘natural wine’? Not quite. The category is still somewhat under the radar, but if you care about the food and products that go into your body — listen up. Natural wine is farmed with minimal intervention, and processed through natural fermentation, without additives, to evoke deliciously nuanced and seriously unique flavor; wholesome and full of naturally occurring microbiology.
French-born wine pro, Isabelle Legeron is one of the leading ladies in the natural wine world. Her seminal book, Natural Wine is a must-have for any conscious foodie looking to expand the reach of their wellness efforts. She is also the founder of the RAW Wine fairs, a two-day celebration and exploration of natural wine and the artful makers behind the bottles that take place in LA, NYC and Montreal — grab tickets here to attend their Los Angeles fair happening this weekend in Downtown LA.
Curious about how to start developing our palette and preferences for natural wine, we asked Isabelle to share a few of her fave spots in LA. Stop by for a sip, a flight or a few bottles to bring to your next festive food gathering…
Finding a good place to eat and drink while traveling can be a bit of a challenge, especially when you care about provenance and cleanly-farmed ingredients. But what I’ve found is that restaurants and bars hot on natural wines also tend to be places that also care about what they cook. So they are usually a safe bet! I travel a lot and what I’ve found is that a wine list is a great gauge for quality, regardless of whether or not you even fancy a drink. If they care enough to make an effort with their wine selection, they probably care enough to give a damn about the food as well.
I’ve been to L.A. a few times now, and have been lucky enough to visit all sorts of amazing places that are great to stop in for a drink or bite to eat. I’ve pulled together a small selection below — all are definitely worth checking out for different reasons, but they are by no means alone. (Check out our website here for an even larger collection.) Bottom line: My best advice is to get out there and explore!
LA Natural Wine Hotspots
Bar Bandini | No superfluous containers and packaging in this chilled, atmospheric wine bar (all the tea-lights make it really quite romantic). There’s wine-on-tap (literally) and a healthy selection of home-grown Californian natural bottles. And even better, it’s not all about going against the grain — there’s a good looking line-up of craft beers to choose from as well.
Lou Wine Shop + Domaine LA | These two iconic LA natural wine haunts, run by Lou Amdur and Jill Bernheimer respectively, are an integral part of the natural wine fabric of this city. Both pioneers in their own right, you could literally whittle away hours browsing their exhaustive lists. Also, both places organize events and tastings in-store, so if you are new to natural wines these two places should definitely be on your radar.
Tabula Rasa | Zach Negin (the debonair owner of Tabula Rasa) offers a diverse, dynamic wine list that changes regularly — there is always something new and exciting to try. So next time you’re not sure how to spend your Tuesday evening, make haste for their relaxed back patio where a glass of grower champagne and delectable lobster roll awaits.
Night + Market Song | I’m a sucker for tasty Thai food and I wish we had an eatery this creative in East London. Short but wonderfully curated, their wine list is laden with lots of great bottles that are light and crunchy in style. The libations are well adapted to the aromatic spiciness of the dishes offered.
Kismet | I love Kismet’s delicate, flavorsome kitchen and its serene setting and collection of orange wines. This type of Mediterranean offering is a perfect match for skin-contact whites, especially when there is a bottle of Ligas rolling around. Great oranges are versatile in nature and match well with the flavors thanks to their grippy texture, notes of dried wild herbs and citrus peel.
Cosa Buona | At the end of a long day, you can’t beat a slice of great pizza and a glass of pét-nat sparkling wine. And this is exactly what this bustling joint is all about. But don’t let the ease fool you — they also offer a serious wine selection.