I have frequently visited all of the major wine shops in L.A and have found very prominent problems with most of them.
A breakdown of such shops and their issues:
2020 Wine Merchants: An excellent selection of wine, including a very, very vast assortment of old, rare, and collectible wines such as varrying encompassments of high-end California Cab producers such as Opus One and Caymus, as well as the best broad selection of aged, quality French Bordeaux and Burgundy in the city. Their problem:? The owner of the store acts as 1/2 of the staff... he and his assistant run the store on a daily basis and lack the advisory skills needed to guide the commonly-inspired wine-drinking enthusiast. 2020 is usually right for the collector seeking a specific acquisition, but very, very wrong for the not-completely-educated wine-enthusiast.
Wine House: Very bad staff. With exception to one or two of their wine salesmen, their staff is categorically uneducated with their selection, unavailable for help & guidance, and half-the-time possessing qualities of disinterest in helping the customer. Great selection and great prices apparently do not come with their toll at the Wine House...
Wally's: A very vast selection, comparable to that of the Wine House whilst contained in 1/3 the space, but the store is ridden with prices that range from "a little too high" to "way too high" and a floor-staff that is not immediately aware of what the shop has to offer. Shopping at Wally.'s, unless you're there for premeditated purchases, is a very disconcerning experience.
K&L: The newest L.A. wine shop in a Hollywood-area that very-much lacked a decent wine shop. A very standard, whilst broad, selection make the experienced wine-buyer like & hate this wine shop all at once. ...K&L is like a condensed Wine House with slightly higher prices, albeit a flourishing selection of Italian reds but not that much new in the avenues of French & Californian wines. The problem lies in K&L's effort to be an extensive wine shop without having much anything to offer that's not available elsewhere. K&L's staff's knowledge of the wines they carry fails to cover ALL of the wines in the store. It's an ambitious and smart startup, but so far poorty executed.
Silverlake Wine: A very unique selection of wine, especially given that its market is people of trendy drinking philosophies - drinkers with a broad wine-consciousness. The selction, in my opinion, is ambitious but not entirely successful. They have a great staff --
Randy in particular -- expressing a good deal of firm confidence behind all the wines sold there. Unfortunately, not all the wines have proved worthy of the wine salespersons' very adamant selling points.
Larchmont Wine: a similar concept to Silverlake -- a very personalized selection from the mind of Simon, one of the shop's owners. The entire store, in fact, is a collaboration between Simon, the genius behind wine buying, selling, and pairing, and Sergio, the expert with cheese, meats, and their applicabiltiy to the fine wines that Simon chooses. Again, Larchmont wine is very similar in its intentions and spirit to Silverlake Wine, but it's far more successful in the execution of said goals.
To put it simply, Simon & Sergio @ Larchmont wines pick excellent wines to sell at very decent prices, and their wines could not be found at most other shops around the country. This all seems to be reliant upon the intensive research and dedication they each invest in their respective field, which, in this case means buying wines based upon taste rather hype.
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