Ellen in LalaLand Take One: Nighttime at Wally’s Wine

Ellen in Lalaland will be a periodic foray into places to play…with wine. Come along for the ride. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ “Everyone in life basically wants the same thing,” said Wally’s president Christian Navarro. I agreed. We DO want the same stuff! Companionship, a drink, and a Lamborghini. Right? I’d settle for the first two. But seeing as Navarro describes Wally’s, a wine bar/restaurant/retail spot in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, as “Cheers, but wrapped in a Lamborghini”, you can get the first two things there—but! With Lambo vibes. My initial impression of the Beverly Hills location of Wally’s—and it could just be the lighting—was that everyone looked perfect. There is an air of decadence. Wine is shelved from floor to ceiling. Gorgeous people and practical people and famous people all mix and mingle at the commanding communal tables. I was intimidated by said tables, but turns out they were designed for making friends and possibly even sharing your wine with your newfound chums. I don’t know if the lighting helps this, but apparently people have met their spouses at these tables. And if you don’t want to mingle, the people watching is splendid. There is also a cocktail named Nice Melons. You can relax at Wally’s. What are you going to relax with? Well, one of my first questions to Navarro was how often people order DRC by the glass. Their coravin’ed wine selection is bonkers—grand crus and cult wines abound. Navarro told me they go through about a bottle a week of DRC, and then offered me a glass. Oh hi. I conducted the rest of the interview under the influence of a judiciously sipped 2008 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux Grand Cru. Don’t worry I had a plate full of cheese to keep me grounded. The first time I went to Wally’s, a bit over a year ago, I’ll admit I was nervous. Because Beverly Hills scene. And I never dress right for these things. And true, you will overhear conversations such as: Very well-dressed man: “Should we do Barolo or Lynch-Bages ?” Fabulous lady: “I think both” BUT! You can also just have some tequila and call it a day. I myself, that first time, drank a Riesling at the table then moved to the bar and some older Vega Sicilia found its way into my mouth and into my soul. There were the fries (of course) with a mysteriously delicious ketchup-ish sauce. There was a colorful salad. There was Brillat-Savarin, which I think I’ve realized is in fact my favorite cheese. And they will give you a generous pot of honeycomb to use with it and crusty grainy bread to provide texture and another shade of neutral. When you have a cheese plate, it’s okay to be all beige-y brown and golden. SO okay. Another thing: I get awkward around cheese boards. I am afraid I’m using the wrong knife or cutting things into the wrong shape. I make a mess and next thing you know cheese shards are flying and chaos abounds and everyone hates the girl who cuts the cheese. So I appreciated that the hard cheeses arrived already cut into the approximate width/depth and half the length of McDonald’s fries. Forget converting to metric, I’m on fry measures. The Brillat-Savarin, however, was intact. As if they’d intuited that I would wish to shove that whole triangle of heaven into my gaping maw. And gape my maw did because a well-executed cheese plate is a thing of beauty on par with a Bach cello suite or the realization that you deserve more. More cheese or more respect, you make the call. Other fun things: you can do Dom Pérignon by the glass! And yet, there is also Prosecco . Navarro says he intentionally finds wines at many price points because, well, we all just want to be happy and find wine we want. And then there is Navarro’s love for Mondavi . That came to light when I asked which wine I’d be surprised that he championed. Mondavi is a winery steeped in vinous history and now doing some dang fine work. Consider the To Kalon vineyard bottling by the glass. And while maybe you don’t want to have to commit to a bottle, if you do love your glass you can buy a bottle to take home, along with some nice glasses if you desire. Wally’s also does retail. Party on. About a week after talking to Christian/crossing one off my wine bucket list (the DRC), and Christian leaving me to write with a glass of 06 Jadot Griottes Chambertin Grand Cru en magnum (his choice I said um yah sure I will take another glass of heaven why not), I made my way to the Santa Monica location for a tasting. The Santa Monica venue is as commanding and chic but also relaxing as the Beverly Hills locale. But it feels a bit more airy. I was tasting Ca’del Bosco and impressed by the range of the crowd that was there for the event. And hey, tasting with the winemaker is always a treat. Take home message of my Wally’s adventures: cheese and wine are all we really want. And Lambo vibes aren’t just for ballers and billionaires. They are for people that want a new friend, and a side of fries.

Dom Pérignon

P2 Brut Champagne Blend 2000

Finesse, intensity, complexity, barn hay, salted hazelnuts, toasted brioche and dried tropical fruits. The finish is long and pure. Fabulous champagne that will sing for decades. — 5 years ago

Ira liked this

Château Lynch-Bages

Grand Cru Classé Pauillac Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2012

Clean, bright fruit, cedar, hint of lanolin. Rich fruit entry, nice structure, good extract and mouthfeel. Big tannin and big layers. Nice. — 7 years ago

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC)

La Tâche Pinot Noir 1993

1993 has the grip of a much younger wine - after two hours in the decanter - this beast, cut like a professional athlete starting to show some charm. hard to drink because we did not want to stop smelling the glass - exotic, punctuated and defined.... 23 years young I recommend waiting till 2025... but I will gladly open your bottle with you anytime. Tasted side-by-side with J-F-Mugnier Musigny 1996; 15 out of 16 of us got the wines backwards. Gwen restaurant at the best bottle dinner hosted by WineLA
— 7 years ago

jesus, Anthony and 5 others liked this

Bodegas y Viñedos Vega Sicilia

Alion Ribera del Duero Tinto Fino 2014

This delivers the goods for a “second” wine (little brother to Vega Sicilia). Needs lots of air; give it plenty of decant time as it’s quite closed on pop n pour. Plums, red and black berries, minerals, roast beef jus, charcoal smoke, really well integrated oak. The tannins start out super plush, but build with time in the decanter. Savory and velvety at the same time. Needs a little more time in bottle to really shine. — 5 years ago

Daron, John and 24 others liked this
Jody Scharf

Jody Scharf Premium Badge

You are correct sir. Life is good!


Clos Ste. Hune Alsace Riesling 2006

This is the stuff I dream about. Petrol, apricot, and amazing acid to enjoy it beyond expectation — 7 years ago

Paul and Peter liked this

Sorelle Bronca

Extra Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore

Incredibly balanced Prosecco, don't be fooled by Extra Dry. Wild flowers, white peach, citrus and apple with pretty minerality and perlage. Does not stall. Great starter! — 10 years ago

Giuseppe Rinaldi

Brunate - Le Coste Barolo Nebbiolo 2005


2005 Giuseppe Rinaldi Bryant’s Le Costa Barolo. Ordered off the list at Of Br w Mom & Dad. Beautiful. Really balanced and not too sweet. No decanting, poured straight. — 5 years ago

leon liked this

Robert Mondavi Winery

Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1985

A huge nose of roasted meats, tobacco, ripened dark fruit and saddle leather.... the finish is smooth and balanced! Yep still full bodied and structured for it’s age. — 6 years ago

Jason, Shay and 30 others liked this

Eric Premium Badge


Don Julio

1942 Tequila Añejo

Clean, spicy, smooth. Aged in bourbon barrels — 9 years ago