Wine Situation Final Five (Now With Drunk Dialing!)

The Wine Situation hosts everyone from winemakers to writers to find out what a person’s situation is…with wine. It’s the solo season, as host Ellen Clifford is in quarantine, but listen in with a glass, and nobody is drinking alone! In lieu of guests, at the end of every action packed episode Ellen is phoning a friend with her Final Five questions. This week Ellen talks to sommelier Matthew Arnall, the wine director at Los Angeles’ Baltaire. Check out the full episode here : THE FINAL FIVE (Ever so slightly edited for length!): QUESTION ONE Ellen: Whatcha drinking these days? Matthew: I’m drinking every sample bottle that is dropped off to me to build this wine list up to where it should be. That’s honestly what it is. Which is actually quite nice, to taste without the pressure of people in front of you. I got to taste through all the Ridge Sonoma Zinfandels yesterday. QUESTION TWO Ellen: Question number two, do you have either a favorite pairing or unusual pairing you’ve enjoyed? Any kind of food, any kind of drink. Matthew: My favorite pairing is an oxidative-style Champagne like Bollinger with cheese pizza. Just simple New York-style cheese pizza. It’s to die for. QUESTION THREE Ellen: The next question is do you have any tips for someone wanting to get into studying wine? Matthew: I say dive in. Go headfirst. Get your hands on everything. For someone who is really just starting out though, get involved with something like the CSW or the Wine Scholar Guild or the WSET—something that has a structure and a teacher or online seminar. And taste wines side by side. QUESTION FOUR Ellen: Next question, when you are working on your book, do you have a favorite writing wine or writing snack? Matthew: Well, I don’t drink when I write or work on wine—which is funny because when I was doing my MBA I drank wine through the entire MBA. I couldn’t tell you half the papers I’ve written. My favorite lately has been pistachios. The saltiness…they are so addicting. QUESTION FIVE Ellen: Last of the final five is just what is bringing you joy these days? Matthew: Just starting to open back up, getting back to the beaches, bringing people into the restaurant, seeing people coming in saying “this is our first dinner, we just got vaccinated”, people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Just getting back to normalcy. Being back around people again. When it all got taken away, it showed how important that is. *** You can try the wines Matthew has on the list at Baltaire, and follow him on Instagram @matthew_arnall_somm Check out the previous Wine Situation podcast with Philippe André here .


Les Orizeaux Extra Brut Blanc de Noirs Champagne

Such a great Champagne, this Pinot Noir was rich, intense showing berry fruits, mineral & brioche with a slight oxidative note. Hard to find in the US but worth the search. — 3 years ago

Lyle, Severn and 9 others liked this

Isola della Fiamma

Sicilia Grillo 2019

Isola della Fiamma Grillo 2019 - Great value, I like this. Aroma, to be flowery: like a ripe peach torn in half. In mouth - some acidity, peach stone, touch of orange and interesting nutty note. Great with pistachios not sure if enough structure for most meals tho. — 3 years ago

Allison, Andrew and 1 other liked this


La Grande Année Brut Champagne Blend 2008

Such a beauty! Definitely got better with some air, however, who can resist an open bottle of champagne?

Biscuits, dairy, white peach, lemon zest, wet stone and then that slightly oxidative bolli character.

Intense, creamy and perfectly balanced in the mouth with a beautiful mousse.
— 3 years ago

Ulrik, Andrew and 2 others liked this


Premier Cru Brut Champagne Blend

Popped and poured. Deep straw color with a persistent mousse. On the nose, this Champagne has autolytic and oxidative notes of almond breakfast croissants and marzipan with lemon curd. That palate is quite rich with citrus and nuts. I must admit that all of my previous experiences with Duval Leroy has been with the standard blue label Brut NV which does not carry the Premier Cru designation so take the following comments with a grain of salt. Based off the color, flavor profile, and the fact that cork did not expand after being extracted, I am left to wonder if this wine has seen some years of age. Unfortunately, there is no disgorgement data to be found and the date code is all gibberish to me. Regardless, a perfectly nice bottle of Champagne if you like those more oxidative qualities. — 3 years ago

Alex, Tom and 9 others liked this
Tom Casagrande

Tom Casagrande Influencer Badge

I really dislike oxidative notes so I would have been less generous/objective than you had I popped this! Kudos for remaining objective.

Dirty & Rowdy

Chenin Blanc 2017

Bone dry, acid/fruit balanced, and plenty of weight and viscosity on the palate. The Chenin worked well with Baratta, ciabatta, crushed green olives and pistachios. Drizzled good olive oil mirrors the oily wine. — 3 years ago

Dawn, Peter and 5 others liked this

Ridge Vineyards

Three Valleys Sonoma County Zinfandel Blend 2018

John Howard

@Austin Hohnke said it well. It’s good. Still too oaky for us, but a good vintage. Total Coppertone. — 4 years ago

Pinotman, Shay and 17 others liked this

Ridge Vineyards

Geyserville Sonoma County Zinfandel Blend 2017

Always one of my favorite Ridge blends. You can always count on Geyserville to deliver a superior experience. — 3 years ago

Shay, Andrew and 1 other liked this

Ridge Vineyards

Pagani Ranch Sonoma Valley Zinfandel Blend 2017

Really well balanced zin. Pagani ranch is a Sonoma producer of berries to several wineries. Indigenous yeast. Well made. 14.8 ABV. Cheers my friends!!! — 3 years ago

Tom, Sharon and 28 others liked this
Jay Kline

Jay Kline Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Eric 😋 vintage?


Touriga Nacional Rosé 2019

David T

Burrata, roasted garlic, garden cherry tomatoes, olive oil, pesto and Tondo balsamic with chopped pistachios for texture.

The nose is showing; candied, lean, strawberries, cherries, blood oranges, tangerines, raspberries, shades of black cherries, sweet rhubarb, brilliant pink rose petals with some red mixed in, vanillin, watermelon Jolly Rancher, slight herbaceousness, beautiful, saline notes, delicate chalk and sandstone minerality.

The palate palate rushes in juicy, lush and then slides in chalky powder with a slightly waxiness character & near tannin presence. You definitely sense this is made from a hearty grape varietal, like Touriga Nacional. It has beautiful viscosity. rushing cool river acidity. Candied, lean, strawberries, cherries, blood oranges, tangerines, raspberries, shades of black cherries, sweet rhubarb, brilliant pink rose petals with some red mixed in, vanillin, watermelon Jolly Rancher, slight, fresh herbaceousness, saline notes, beautiful, delicate chalk, sandstone & gripping limestone/volcanic minerality. The finish is refreshing, nicely balanced and smartly polished.

I was curious about their Rosé and wanted to try it. However, it will benefit with another one to two years in bottle.
— 3 years ago

Severn, Shay and 32 others liked this
Sharon B

Sharon B Influencer Badge

@David T that looks delicious!