I Survived Solely on Sparkling Wine for a Weekend at the Chateau Marmont
My Chateau Marmont vibe is always, “Drink as much sparkling wine by the pool as possible," but I've got one secret that helps fuel me through delicious bottles of sparkling wine while dodging a seemingly steep bill.
Illustration by Yuliya Tsoy
Every year, we stay a weekend at the Chateau Marmont for my best friend Kim's birthday. Aside from bringing an excessive amount of wine and some uppers, I'm simply a freeloader with an entertaining spirit people thankfully enjoy keeping around.
My whole Chateau Marmont vibe is always, "Drink as much sparkling wine by the pool as possible. And if someone offers you a painkiller, thank them kindly, and eat it quickly. Then order a shrimp cocktail. And more sparkling wine. Repeat until 5 AM. Sleep for four hours. Then start it all over." The only way to do this without going completely broke is to bring the aforementioned excessive amount of sparkling wine. In order to achieve this, I went to one of my local spots, Silverlake Wine, and bought four bottles, all under $25. The plan was to order one sparkling wine at the pool, get a plastic glass, and for the rest of the weekend only drink my sparkling wines, which was never going to happen in reality.
I show up at the Chateau around noon but the kitchen clock says 8:45 PM. I put a bikini on and immediately open the Punta Crena Lumassina Frizzante Colline Savonesi. It starts out smooth and a little, but not too, sweet. It's like full, firm-lipped sweet kisses. The back end has some real bite; it is bone-dry and well-balanced with pear, orange blossom, a pack of apple Hi-Chews, and acidity. I have accidentally blown my load on the first wine of the day.
I head out to the pool but there are no lounge chairs left so I head straight to the bar. The bartender is running around delivering brioche French toast to a bunch of industry assholes whom I have no business calling such since I'm basically the same shit minus a respectable bank statement. As I'm sitting there menu-less, listening to a bunch of handsome New Yorkers make jokes I don't understand about The Post, my buzz is still strong but slightly waning. When he arrives, I order the Stellina di Notte Spumante Prosecco, which is the cheapest glass of sparkling they have at $15. Upon Googling, I discover that the bottle is approximately $14.
The Stellina is fine; nutty, whimsical, with lots of melon. I love the heavy effervescence, but it is kind of creamy and round, and there isn't enough acidity in it for me to order it again.
But alas, there is no hot tub at the Chateau and I am but a Hollywood serf.
I try to open a tab under Kelsey Grammer's room, but apparently he's not staying here this weekend. I reluctantly pull my check card out before I start scribbling in my notepad about the Stellina. The dudes at the bar take notice and begin to inquire. I explain that I write about wine, and that is what I am obviously doing (among writing other things like, "I know I'm not their type of 'pretty', but I still feel like I could get some coke from them under the right circumstances").
The bartender offers me a glass of the Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne. I react with, "You are fucking crazy if you think I'm spending $25 a glass on that shit." He pours it anyway, and it is the best $25 I haven't personally spent on Champagne. It is elegant and energized, and tastes like what I expect to be "Chateau-like" (which is up there in the most pretentious shit I've ever said). I don't normally like full-bodied wines in the afternoon, but its elevated acidity and lemon cake sentimentality have me wishing the Chateau had a hot tub I could sit in and spray multiple bottles of this into my mouth.
But alas, there is no hot tub at the Chateau and I am but a Hollywood serf.
As time drifts on, a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rosé is passed my way from fuck if I know. All I write is, "Why did anyone buy this?" Now that's not to say I don't enjoy Veuve Rosé. I actually enjoy it a lot, but I would never in a million years buy it at a restaurant with a 30 percent mark up. But considering I didn't pay for it, I shout a general "Thank you!" to the bar and enjoy its bright orange blossom and strawberry aromas, toasty fruit palate, and pinching finish. I could live without the big sweeping notes of WASP that come standard in all Veuve bottles, but what are you gonna do.
I try to open a tab under Kelsey Grammer's room, but apparently he's not staying here this weekend. I reluctantly pull my check card out before I start scribbling in my notepad about the Stellina.
I go back to the bungalow and open the J. Lassalle Champre Brut Rosé, which is pretty delicate for the drunk state I am in. "A nuanced little sprite made of dream bubbles and cherry-jammed toast topped with orange zest" has been scribbled into my notebook. All I know is that it is a fraction of the price of whatever idiot ordered Veuve at the pool, and that makes me feel good.
At 8:05 PM, the clock still says it's 8:45 PM. At some point, things get hazier and I've taken an Adderall and consumed the Catherine et Pierre Breton La Dilettante Vouvray Brut. I make a lot of indecipherable notes about how this wine tastes like the ocean, its minerality lathering upon my tongue like sea foam after its wave of faint blossoms and fruit had crashed against my cheeks. What? I want five more shrimp cocktails, or even just three oysters with this, but have settled for pizza instead.
This is part of the night where things get blurry. It's a party, and very much past 8:45 PM despite the clock still saying otherwise. I'm writing down mostly rap lyrics. I drink a couple Loire Valley Cab-Francs in the kitchen and rant at Facebook friends I see every couple years about how there isn't money for creative women's projects but somehow there's money for Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. An acquaintance propositions me for sex. Needing to escape this heathen, I go to the patio and find the New Yorkers from the pool enjoying a bottle of Bourdeaux. I have no idea what it actually was, but it was imported by Kermit Lynch and it was 3 AM. Of course it was fantastic.
I am the first to go to bed around 5 AM, and the first to rise around 9:30 AM. I am not hung over. I only make note because I don't want you to think that this is a Hair Of The Dog situation. I put on my bikini, stake a claim in a lounge chair and order a mimosa, figuring I can use some sustenance before opening my last bottle I brought here. I am a little embarrassed about being back at the pool and already drinking before noon until I witness a man ordering a full glass of tequila. He accidentally gets vodka but drinks the whole glass anyway.
Sometimes it's about where you are when you have it. Especially if you're at some crazy fancy hotel you could never afford to stay at, eating other people's drugs and drinking shit you didn't pay for.
I finish my mimosa and head inside. With my friends still in bed, I pop my last bottle—the Mercat Brut Cava—in the kitchen. Despite the general "no glass rule" at the pool, I take the bottle with me anyway. The bartender and I exchange a non-verbal agreement of winks and laughs. The Mercat tastes a lot like my weekend. It starts with a bang and ends with a relaxed, smooth finish. It's traditional with bursts of freshness. I love it because of its tropical notes and the simple fact that it made me believe that I have been on vacation, not just getting drunk at some pool six miles from my house.
I sunbathe for a while and share a bottle of rosé with the New Yorkers before reluctantly heading home. It's always hard leaving the Chateau because you go from quintessential Hollywood hedonism back to your day job changing someone else's humidifier water. I want to leave this weekend shitting on all of the Chateau's pool menu sparkling wines, but I can't.
Even though the wines I brought were more distinct and delicious in my personal opinion, I have still enjoyed what I have consumed at the bar. And that's because wine isn't always necessarily about the best flavor profile; sometimes it's about where you are when you have it. Especially if you're at some crazy fancy hotel you could never afford to stay at, eating other people's drugs and drinking shit you didn't pay for.