Mary Thompson left Saint Martha in LA’s Koreatown for Pot and Commissary, Roy Choi’s restaurants in the Line Hotel, and has brought wine, wine pairing and appreciation to the fore for this creative Korean menu. When guests arrive here they don’t reach for the beer or soju; it’s wine they’re after.
You have a constraint on your wine list.
Well, yes, most of our menu is dominated by vegetables, and all of them are local bounty, so while there are some international wines, our by-the-glass wines and most of our bottles are local. We’re talking mostly Santa Barbara County and Central Coast, and even some from San Diego County. Working with the menu meant pulling away from those deeper darker blue-fruited wines that I’ve relied on in other restaurants, and going lighter. If someone asks for a cab we usually turn them onto blaufränkisch, or Rhône blends, but lighter style, like the style of Seth Kunin at Kunin Wines.
You do a lot with alternative-variety whites as well.
We have a really great local albariño from Martian Ranch—“Uforic,” a Central Coast grüner veltliner from Habit, Folk Machine chenin blanc and the chard I run with, La Fenêtre’s A Côté, is more Burgundian, very lean and elegant. These are good, food-friendly wines.
On orange wines
We couldn’t get orange wines to sell at all until a year ago. Then I found and poured a domestic example from Point Concepcion. And I turn around and we’re out of it. The staff really got behind it—they like the fact that it’s a pinot grigio orange wine and not all oxidative and weird.
Any surprises in the last year?
Blends are moving way more than they have been. I’ve got Pape Star, Seth Kunin’s Rhône blend, and the Mountain Cuvée from Gundlach Bundschu. It’s funny: I used to have to list the predominant grape in the blend, and if people didn’t know what it was, they didn’t know if they were going to like it. We’d have to prequalify the wine. They don’t seem to care anymore. Maybe they know the producer, or maybe they’re putting their trust in us, or even in the industry. I think that people do know now that if they don’t like something they can send it back.