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There really is nothing more relaxing than sitting with a fine glass of wine in hand. It’s the perfect way to unwind and simply enjoy a myriad of wonderful tastes and aromas that pleasantly overwhelm our senses. And now, time spent at the new Coco Laurent Wine Bar, a lovely and intimate bar that looks out onto the street, is the ideal way to enjoy and learn about wine courtesy of Sommelier Henri Marquis.


The charming and dapper Henri, a master of all things vino, is extremely well versed in wine and is taking lucky patrons through an intimate, if not private, journey of eclectic and savory wines—often paired with wonderful small plates from Chef Wilks Medley's first rate French and Basque inspired kitchen.

To become one of the leading Sommeliers, Henri walked away from a career as a civil engineer in Germany and took his grandmother’s advice and traveled the world. His interest was so intense that once he finished his certification courses, he went straight to the vineyards to get to know the growers, learn their process, and get up close and personal with the grapes.

With Organic and Biodynamic certification, not to mention, full Sommelier certification in France, London, Chile, Argentina and Spain, his expertise has taken him all over the world. He’s consulted in France, Canada and Dubai, was a member of the Marriott Hotel Task Force, created the wine lists at L.A. Prime at the Bonaventure Hotel and has shared his knowledge with entertainment and political luminaries at Fig & Olive in Los Angeles.

“It’s going to be a happening place,” Henri promises of the new Coco Laurent Wine Bar. “There are going to be quite a few things going on there, as I plan to showcase a lot of different wines from around the world, including France, California, Chile, Argentina, and Spain; a little bit of everything from everywhere. And there will be some bottles that are built around my guests, some of which won’t even be on the menu, because these wines will be specially selected and served just for them. I believe in hospitality, and there’s a difference between hospitality and service. Providing hospitality along with good wine is something I enjoy very much.”

During our recent visit to the wine bar, Henri created a tantalizing tasting that impressed and satisfied. We started with an excellent glass of 2008 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée. It’s always great to start any endeavor with bubbly.

That was followed by a 2011 Ercavio white that paired wonderfully and refreshingly with La Vegy, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, orange and grapefruit segments, avocado, marinated white mushrooms, honey citrus vinaigrette

A savory small plate of asparagus topped with eggs over-easy was paired with a 2012 A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris. The flavor of the wine really brought out incredible flavors in the food, or maybe it was the other way around, but the two, handpicked by Henri, were a dynamic duo.

And it only got better from there as savory Sautéed shrimps in the most fantastic garlic sauce—a sauce so incredible we had to ask for a side of bread to soak up every wonderful drop—was paired with a 2012 Urban Riesling. The sweet with the tangy garlic was spot on!

We finally made the switch to red wine with the Tartare de Boeuf (Beef Steak Tartar)—extra lean angus ground beef, cocktail sauce, red onions, capers, cornichon brunoise, chopped parsley, quail egg yolk, served with house-made smoked rosemary waffle potato chips—paired with Saint Cosme "Little James' Basket Press" Vin de Table. While some people may not care for raw meat, this is a French restaurant so give them the benefit of the doubt as the dish was delicious and even more so with the fine wine.

At this point in the evening, Henri steered us in a sweeter direction as he brought out an Assiette de Fromages et Charrcuterie—a nice selection of chesses and cured meats, spiced sweet and sour with onion compote—served with a Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé. A cheese plate can often be hit and miss with me but this was very light and refreshing, and let’s be honest, but this point, the more wine the merrier.

Finally, Henri hit us with a spectacular flurry of dessert wines that delighted and devastated any possible dessert that could have presented before us. We sampled a lovely Movendo Moscato, as well as a 2010 La Fleur d’Or Sauternes; 2008 Quinta De La Rosa vintage port; and finally, a 2012 Beckmen Vineyards Grenache Rosé.

What a night! What a tasting!

Currently, the wine bar features a predominantly French list with California and Spanish influences, all of which perfectly compliment Coco Laurent’s French cuisine. Wines are offered at a 5.5 ounce tasting, 8 ounce tasting or by the bottle, but no matter which you choose, rest assured Henri will be on hand to offer an intimate experience in wine education. Sitting at the Wine Bar at Coco Laurent isn’t just about enjoying a great glass of wine, it’s also the opportunity to get exclusive and personal time with a highly esteemed Sommelier who can take you on a tasting journey that will open your mind and expand your palate.

“I enjoy wine very much and I enjoy talking about wine even more,” Henri says. “There is something about being face to face with a person, and sharing that passion helps them understand what they’re drinking on a deeper level. I really look forward to sharing that with our guests at Coco Laurent.”

The Coco Laurent Wine Bar, located at 707 S. Grand Avenue, is open Sunday through Thursday from 4pm to 10pm, and Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 11pm. To make a reservation with Sommelier Henri Marquis, please call 213-623-0008.








Photo: Henri Marquis at Coco Laurent
Photo Credit:  Charlie Lopez for Axis Photography

Photo:  Coco Laurent Wine Bar
Photo Credit:  Michael Ryan Photography



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