“I depend on the good taste of others,” said Mark Mothersbaugh, channeling the ghost of Blanche DuBois but referring to Devo band mate Gerald Casale, who used to coordinate the group’s culinary stops during their touring heyday. “Devo ate better than we should have on the road. While the Ramones were eating pizza, we’d travel to a destination 40 minutes outside of Milan and have dinner in the basement of a castle.”
Mothersbaugh was sipping rosé made from Pinot grapes, one of two wines that were being launched at the Richard Neutra-designed Kun House in the West Hollywood Hills by Casale under the rubric The 50 by 50. The other is a smokey Pinot Noir, the result of a primo 2012 harvest from Roger’s Creek on the Sonoma Coast. The name refers to a never-built architectural blueprint from Mies Van Der Rohe that dates back 60 years, which the design firm MDMA will use to build the 50 By 50 estate in Napa’s Wooden Valley, if not the equal blend of two different clones of grapes — a Pommard and a Dijon from France — used for the Pinot Noir.
In a way, the brand launch was as much a celebration of Neutra’s architectural aesthetic as it was Casale’s iteration of that most delicate of grapes, even if the space was so precious and confined that the connoisseurs assembled, including Wally’s Wines & Spirits co-owner Christian Navarro, quickly outgrew the square footage afforded them.
Casale, who calls himself a Pinot Noir junkie, likens this most fickle, temperamental grape to “when you risk a relationship with a crazy girl. She’s semi-crazy and intense. But god when it’s on it’s better than anything.”