Arts & Entertainment

Wineline: Toast The New Year With French Bubblies

Year end columns tend to be filled with ‘the best of’ lists, or what’s suddenly in or out of fashion. For the most part it’s a fairly pointless exercise with art shows, once they close you can’t go back and see them.

However, I would like to mention the best art book I found in 2006. I recently stumbled across a copy of The Grove Book of Art Writing, edited by Martin Gaylord, and Karen Wright. At 620 pages it’s a bit of a doorstop even in paperback form. I got all of about 20 pages into it and realized I had to have my own copy. Send this one back to the library! A quick scan of has a very good used copy in route for less than a dollar plus shipping. Is this a deal or what?

It’s larded with snippets of mostly historical writing that give you glimpses into the lives of artists throughout history. A definite must have book for anybody with a serious interest in art. By the way, this is one of the few universal art books. No matter what your "-ism", it’s covered.


‘Consume’ Through January 6 at Flashpoint, 916 G St. NW, Washington, DC. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday Noon to 6 p.m. Note: I would call ahead if you’re going this week. Gallery hours all over town are kind of wacky this week. For more information call (202) 315-1305, or see

‘Consume’ was independently currated by Angela Jerardi, who’s day job is the visual arts coordinator at the Arts Council of Fairfax. ‘Consume’ is a five person show based around the theme of consumption in all forms. "Exploring different aspects of what it means to consume, or be consumed by experiences, objects, and ourselves." There is some sexually explicit material in this show, though how much I can’t say as I’ve yet to see it. I’m guessing from the press blurb that it’s mostly limited to one of the five artists.

January 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. they’re having a ‘Look + Listen’ closing party with several musicians followed up by DJ Name Names.


‘Courbet/Not Courbet’ At the Walter’s Museum in Baltimore, through It’s obvious that there are few bargains anymore when it comes to buying French champagne.

And with the best of the real champagnes — those from the Champagne district in France — ticketed at $100 or more, where do we find a really good bubbly for about half that price?

Lawrence Osborne, with the help of Tim Bowen of Chambers Street Wines, a New York wholesaler, thinks he has the answer.

Osborne reviews several "grower champagnes" in the current issue of Men’s Vogue magazine, which hits newsstands nationally today.

Bowen doesn’t hold anything back about his assessment of the labels of Champagne.

"You know, most champagne is crap," he says.

"Of the big houses, I’d give the nod to Krug, Bollinger and, maybe, Pol Roger. But the latter two are no match for (the smaller) houses. The difference in quality is amazing."

His eight choices: Tarlant Brut Zero ($41.99), Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve ($33.99), Larmandier-Bernier Blanc de Blancs ($44.99), Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru ($41.99), Bedel Entre Ciel et Terre Brut ($47.99), Gaston Chiquet Special Club Brut ($47.99), Vilmart & Cie Cuvee Creation ($68.99) and H. Billiot Fils Brut Rose Grand Cru ($42.99).

Prices, of course, vary, according to amount purchased by the retailer, individual mark-up policies and transportation costs.

Locally, the best outlet for these (and any) champagnes is Wine Expo, 2933 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310-828-4428 or 800-946-3397). Here, all the above labels are in stock except for Tarlant and Bedel.Wine Expo boasts of an inventory of more than 200 champagnes.

The Larmandier-Bernier at $43.99 is in stock at Woodland Hills Wine Co., 22622 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills (818-222-1111).

And the Pierre Peters ($40.99) and Gaston Chiquet ($48.99) bubblies can be found at Liquid Wine & Spirits, 10100 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Chatsworth (818-709-5019).

EXPENSIVE TASTES: If money is no object, the most expensive champagnes in the world are Krug Clos du Mesnil and Bollinger Blanc de Noir, both from single vineyards, very rare and costing from about $700 to $800 per bottle.

Good luck finding them.

NEW RELEASES: Two cabernets from Arns are available. They are the 2003 estate-grown cabernet sauvignon ($75) and the Napa Valley cab ($50). Information: (707) 963-3429 or … And two more cabs ($55 each) will hit the shelves in January from Raymond Vineyards, both 2003s and both designated as district reserves. One is the Rutherford, the other St. Helena. Information: (800) 525-2659 or  … Made from grapes off 40- and 71-year-old vines, 2004 Lake Sonoma Saini Farms zinfandel ($22) has just been released. Information: (707) 473-2999 or  … The 2005 vintage of Lockwood Vineyard chardonnay ($11) is out. Information: … Three bargain-priced ($9.99 each), 2005 well-made Central Coast reds from Cycles Gladiator have come forth within the past eight weeks: a merlot, a syrah and a cabernet sauvignon. All have small quantities of other red grapes in their cuvees. The winery’s 2005 pinot noir ($14) and 2005 chardonnay ($9.99) were released earlier this year. Information: (831) 678-2132 or

SIPS AND NIBBLES: Alsace wine authorities have projected a lower-volume, higher-quality 2006 vintage. Information: … Wine Enthusiast magazine has bestowed Wine of the Year honors on the DeLoach Vineyards 2004 30th anniversary Russian River Valley pinot noir ($45). Information: (707)526-9111 or  … An interesting wine-tasting and dinner Jan. 20 and 21 at San Antonio Winery, at 737 Lamar St., downtown Los Angeles, will include samplings of 2005 Turnbull sauvignon blanc, 2005 Grgich Hills fume blanc, 2003 San Simeon chardonnay, 2001 San Felice chianti classico riserva, 2002 Sterling merlot, 2005 Opolo zinfandel and 2005 Maddalena muscat canelli. Tab is $60. Information: (323) 223-1401 or


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