My friend Helen Johannesen is a Sommelier and the Director of Operations at some of my favorite LA restaurants, including Animal, Son of A Gun, Trois Mec and the newly opened Petit Trois. In addition to being whip smart and hilarious, she has impeccable taste in food, style, design and of course, wine. As our friendship has evolved over these past few years, Helen has been teaching me little bits about wine along the way and I’ve happily played the part of her avid little student.
And lucky for angelenos who are looking to brush up on their wine knowledge, Helen is set to open her very own wine shop where she will feature hard-to-find varietals alongside some of her favorite labels. To celebrate Helen’s new venture, I planned a dinner in my backyard introducing Helen and her uniquely palatable brand of expertise to some of my girlfriends. As expected, she rolled out an impressive tasting of champagne, rosé, whites and reds (don’t miss the complete wine list below, featuring labels that will be available for purchase at Helen’s shop when it opens to the public!) and told stories to accompany each glass she poured.
For the table, we kept it rustic and warm with HTH Rust embroidered linens and ceramic water carafes crafted by local potter extraordinaire Adam Silverman. Hollyflora designed flower arrangements that evoked that cozy end of summer/early fall feeling, highlighting white hydrangeas, pink dahlias and shallow baskets filled with busted open pomegranates.
For the family style menu, Chef Vinny Dotolo put together a selection of classic Italian dishes with a California twist: homemade focaccia; a green garlic Ceasar with market lettuces; Idyllwild cheese and bread crumbs; marinated tomato with burrata and basil and a platter of gluten free eggplant marinara (along with partner Jon Shook, Vinny is opening an Italian-inspired restaurant in LA’s Fairfax district in the coming months). Dessert was cheesecake topped with strawberries.
2005 Grand Cru Champagne, Godme Pere et Fils
2012 Saumur Blanc, Chatau de Breze
2010 Saumur Blanc, Clos de Guichaux, Guiberteau
2013 Bandol Rose, Chateau Pradeaux
2008 Marsannay, Les Longeroies, Bruno Clair
2011Savigny Les Beaun 1er Cru, Les Marconnets, Simone Bize
2009 Gevrey Chambertin, Clos St. Jacques, Domaine Fourrrier
2008 Cavariola, Bruno Verdi, Oltrepo Pavese
2008 San Valentino, Paolo Bea