They said it couldn't be done, but Saturday, the Tenth of January 2009 AD, the high order of the Brown Bag Sommelier held its first group tasting. The rules were simple: the wine had to be 12.99 or under, and it had to be made within a hundred miles of central Los Angeles, an area known to local realtors as Hancock Park Adjacent. Originally we had considered within seventy five miles, but that proved too difficult, so we expanded the range to include a little over a hundred miles. Some BBS members bent the rules a little further. Still, most of the wines came from within one hundred miles. We had wines from Temecula, Camarillo, and even what according to google maps on my iPhone seemed to be Lancaster ( home of creosote bushes and people more interested in crystal meth than Kristal). Yes, Southern California wines were well represented.
I can say this about wines priced under 12.99 made within a hundred miles of Hancock Park Adjacent: you have your work cut out for you. Was I expecting too much from these wines? Was it wrong of me to think that for 8.99 I should be able to get a delicious wine made in my backyard - this being California - major wine producing region that it is.
I suppose the answer is yes. It was far too much to ask for great tasting, well priced wines, made within a hundred miles of Los Angeles.
But, we're optimists here at the Brown Bag Sommelier. And we're already dreaming( perhaps a pipe dream as in a crack pipe dream) of the day when we can pick up a bottle of locally sourced and produced syrah for 7.99. Sound far-fetched? Drinking is believing. And that holy grail is out there, either already produced and somehow over-looked, or perhaps a Platonic truth in the mind of some visionary wine maker just waiting to be distilled from the combination of our beautiful sunlight and cool ocean breezes.
At any rate, I'll be posting over the next several days about the wines we tasted at the first event. And coming soon, we'll be casting a wider net this time looking for great value wines from Argentina.