Caroline Styne and chef Suzanne Goin opened Lucques together in 1998. A.O.C. soon followed, and a while later, Tavern. Both partners are very hands-on, Goin in the kitchen and Styne in the front of the house. Styne also puts the wine lists together and they've grown ever more eclectic and compelling over the years. The two have just moved A.O.C. into the old Orso space in West Hollywood. “I’ve been in love with that building ever since I used to go there with my dad,” Styne says. I caught her there last week and asked her some questions about wine.
What's your favorite wine region to visit?
Oh, God. I have to say, sadly, I don’t get to visit that much. There’s always that fantasy that we all get to go out and visit vineyards and travel, but we don’t really have the time to do that. One of my all-time favorite trips, though, was Champagne. The vineyards were so beautiful. I went with Dom Pérignon so got to see the inner workings of that Champagne house. The dining was amazing. It’s wine country, but super-civilized.
What's the sleeper on your list?
I’ve turned into a huge fan of a winemaker named Angela Osborne. She’s actually from New Zealand and a Grenache lover who always works with Grenache. In deciding where to grow it, she decided California is the place. And she makes this Grenache from Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard. The beauty of her wine is that she makes it in Rayas style (referring to Château Rayas’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape) — great red fruit, high acid, delicate. It’s such a refreshing change from the Grenache you tend to find in California, which is always on the "dark fruit extracted" end of things. Her wine is called “A Tribute to Grace.” (Grace is her grandmother.)
If you could encourage every customer to buy just one bottle, what would it be?
At any price? My first thought was Raveneau Chablis because these wines are the epitome of elegance. I’m just a huge Chablis lover. I love the clean beauty of Chardonnay as expressed there. And Domaine Raveneau’s wines are particularly lean and beautiful and balanced. Heavenly.
What’s the last wine that really blew you away?
I had a Nuits St. George the other day that was so amazingly beautiful. It was the 2010 Pascal Marchand Nuits-Saint-Georges premier cru “Les Vaucrains.” It had very bright concentrated berry fruit that’s so characteristic of Nuits. This wine was astonishing. I had to stop. I couldn’t talk.
Who else has a great list?
Not that I get out that often. I have to say I love Mozza’s list because I’m totally lost. When I need to consult the somm, it’s usually a good sign for me. Those wines are perfect for the food. I turn to mush when I look at that list.