Good Morgon at Monopole Wine

Wine shop celebrates 'Beaujolais Nouveau'

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 | 8:32 am

Full disclosure: I’m not a wine expert, by any stretch of the imagination, and that is what makes a visit to Monopole, the Playhouse District’s Pasadena’s wine boutique, so fascinating.

We came to join the wine shop last Friday evening as they celebrated the historic French  ”Beaujolais Nouveau” event, which has honored the harvest of Beaujolais wines of the Gamay grape region since the Middle Ages. A shipment of the brand-new wines arrived in Los Angeles the the day before, and the shop held its own little tasting party for customers and friends. It was the wine shop’s fourth such event, which they’ve held each year since they’ve been open.

The cozy shop, just a few doors north of the Pasadena Playhouse on El Molino, is owned by two former lawyers—Peter Nelson and Hiro Tamaki. The Seattle-born Nelson became hooked on wine after enrolling in a  a 2001 UCLA extension class on wine taught by James Yobsky, of the the Wine House. He started his own business hosting wine tastings in 2005 at the Armory Center for the Arts and at private residences, all while continuing to practice law, before opening Monopole.

Hiro Tamaki, a criminal defense lawyer, received a Master of Arts in Education from the University of San Francisco. He also received a Masters of Public Administration from USC.  He eventually  began attending wine tastings at Martin Weiner’s Los Angeles School of Wine, which led to his earning a certificate as a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) as well as earning an Advanced Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Nelson is also an Advanced Sommelier.
The wines of the beaujolais variety have a wide range of flavors and styles. We tried four of them, and two of them we actually remembered to write down—the Morgon, and a Regnîé Valliéres from Jean -Marc Burgaud. Dilletantes that we are, we sniffed, we tasted, and we enjoyed. Such is our vast knowledge and  breeding. But Nelson was a patient teacher, explaining the importance and style of each wine we drank.
As we laughingly struggled to describe the various flavors of the wine, Nelson explained that as part of his desire to educate, he wants to help impart some set of standards to help classify wine tastes more easily, as our palates differ in our appreciation of the world’s different wines. It’s not unusual to describe the same wines differently, he agreed.
Good company, a smart sommelier and quality wines make for an almost perfect evening. If only they could help us with parking. But that’s a whole other bottle of wine.
Monopole is at 21 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA. (626) 577-WINE. www.monopolewine.com.
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