Pinot versus Pinot

JB collageCROPWEB wine grapes willamette valley pinot noir oregon eola amity dundee hills cotes de beaune chardonnay chablis burgundy

Hit me!! Good god!

It’s the BEST of the New World versus the BEST of the Old World… considering VALUE ev kerse. It should be expressly clear by now that Pinot Noir is the second greatest grape among vinifera; the greatest being Nebbiolo, ev kerse [ed. stop that you idjit].

Recent pullage has tested the claim. We pulled corks on two very fine and exceptional Pinot Noir wines at great value from the Willamette Valley which is the top growing region for Pinot Noir in the New World [ed. FYI that includes New Zealand, Ontario and Pennsylvania]. We tasted one red Burgundy with comparable age from Auxey Duresses which is a lesser known and lesser regarded region among 100 point fiends. The Burg blew the Willamette wines off the chart. This is not to say the Oregon wines were not good. They were wonderful.

Let us delay no further. There is reporting to be completed. But there is more. We opened the Burg with a Chablis at the same time. They fit like Kerry and Hagel [ed. they like each other?]. Kismet in a glass.

wahle08WEB wine grapes willamette valley pinot noir oregon eola amity dundee hills cotes de beaune chardonnay chablis burgundy 2008 Wahle Vineyards and Cellars Holmes Hill Pinot Noir $30 (in 2010). Lovely, masculine, middle weight, refined not delicate. Dark red color. Great nose. Definitely New World. Bought this at the 2010 Portland Indie Wine Fest – once the finest wine festival on the West Coast. Dotoré picked this out from many candidates. In its middle age with plenty of youthful spirit [ed. like Dotoré]. Too friendly to be brooding although there is definitely some weight here. We stole much inspiration from this excellent site. Words you will never read on tBoW that you will read, apparently, on the Pinot File: “Upon returning to Oregon he discovered that his family transition plan had stalled and this was a life-changing event for him.” Something you will read on the tBoW site: Cellartracker rates this wine 88.5 points. Dopes! If this isn’t moronic… This is a 100 point wine for at least a dozen reasons. Oh. You want me to list them? 1. The wine is well made. 2. It has finesse. 3. It isn’t Cabernet. 4. Wahle is a physician who it looks like never practiced. The only MD who went to med school so he could make wine when he got out. 13.6%

couer 08WEB wine grapes willamette valley pinot noir oregon eola amity dundee hills cotes de beaune chardonnay chablis burgundy 2008 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $30: The premium bottle from the “premium” vintage. Another Indie Wine Fest purchase. Understand we tasted dozens of Willamette wines. This and the Wahle wines are not from what we would come to understand is ideal premium wine country in Willamette. That would be Ribbon Ridge. Whatever. This wine is six years in the bottle. The nose is not full of oak. Smells like teen Pinot. The flavors are smooooth and black cherry. mainly, the weight and balance complement. You want firm and full Willamette Pinot Noir made with careful restraint, this is it. 13.8%

auxey09WEB wine grapes willamette valley pinot noir oregon eola amity dundee hills cotes de beaune chardonnay chablis burgundy 2009 Auxey-Duresses Moulin Aux Clos Moines Monopole $36: Same price point for the Oregon wines. This is stunning Pinot Noir. For the rest of us schlubs who have never ever tasted DRC RC this has to be as good as. The balance is pinpoint delicado. Neither fruity nor forest floor. Fazzinating. Red cherries with a kick of kirsch. Showing the range of Pinot from Burgundy. And this is a less glam community. The Pinot fruit is so Old World I grew callouses holding the glass. The producer is just another guy. Got this from EnoFineWine. I found the wine at a SoCal shop but I ain’t telling. Really should get more. Really. 13%

Here is something we challenge anyone to accomplish with New World Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, same meal, same evening.

chablis picq 12WEB wine grapes willamette valley pinot noir oregon eola amity dundee hills cotes de beaune chardonnay chablis burgundy 2012 Gilbert Pica Chablis En Vaudecorse $28 (EoFineWine): Just enough spine to complement the green pineappley fruit. Served it too warm and it was great. Chilled it down and it was super. Let it lose the chill again and… you know. Just delicious. Even Mrs. tBoW who is a die hard unapologetic New World kind of gal loved these wines back to back and mixed in. Red then white then red then white. What a donnybrook. Like Germany and Argentina in a friendly. Try and put a New World Chard next to a California Pinot Noir at the same time. You’re wincing! 13%


Gettin Hot in Here… Gotta Pull Some Corks…

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“should hit 100 degrees in the Valley today”

SoCal is burning up. 100 degrees every day. Only the Angels seem to like it (second best record in baseball). We took off for San Diego. That was a very good decision. Boogie boarding in Solana Beach. Gay Pride parade in University Heights. As Stuart Scott would say “cooler than the underside of the pillow.”

While we were waiting on the Borax 20 Mule Team to haul us away here is what were tasting.

bowarrow medici10 wine grapes value value value u20 santa lucia highlands pinot noir oregon la culture gamay beaujolais 2012 Bow and Arrow Pinot Noir Medici Valley Chehalem Mountains $33 (Eno Fine Wine): Purchased this in the past year. New World organic Pinot Noir that does not taste like most New World Pinots. Citric, acid notes. Like tasting the skins on which the wine was fermented. Natural wine from Oregon. You mention the Chehalem Mountain district and we think ripe over oaked fruit bomb Pinot. No wonder we gravitated to Ribbon Ridge where the living is more severe and the wines like Patricia Green’s have more spine. Not this wine. Welcome surprise. Domestic Pinot is not an easy sell among the snob family. We cleaned out Goldun’s remains. Look at the low alcohol. 11.5%

paraiso 09 PNWEB wine grapes value value value u20 santa lucia highlands pinot noir oregon la culture gamay beaujolais 2009 Paraiso Pinot Noir $16: Picked this up at the winery in Santa Lucia Highlands about 12 months ago. Looked like a deal at the price. We did taste int eh winery but that is almost always tainted with expectations and sappy BS. Funk on the nose. Ripe without much oak. Light to medium weight. A bit ripe. Will wait another 6 months. U20. 14.2%

lathuiliere Morgon 10WEB wine grapes value value value u20 santa lucia highlands pinot noir oregon la culture gamay beaujolais 2010 Gravallon-Lathuiliere Morgon Cuvée Premium $18: “Real wine” as Senor Goldun puts it. Pure juicy Gama wine with acidic backbone to firm it all up. Big by little standards. Think US soccer player Michael Bradley with the quick feet and fine touch. World class if not at the top. Bright and muscular. Superb bottle that wold complement any Mediterranean summer meal. U20. 13%

Dining spot dining spot dining spot…we can all afford.

Culver City is the cultural capitol of LA’s Westside. When a decent dining spot – FIN – can open that serves fine cocktails, has a small efficient wine list and very good food, and has a speakeasy in the alley [ed. speakeasy?], and hardly any of the mega critics cover it… that means Culver City has arrived.

One dining room with 15 tables and a mezzanine for the overflow. The $35 prix fixe menu featured 3 plates that did the trick. Main course was a pan seared black cod with miso sauce. We were served a Pinot Grigio from Italy that had enough backbone to handle the salty cod.

Here is coverage from Urbandaddy. Checkitout. Washington and Grand View.

The North Coast of San Diego County is stunningly gorgeous, especially in the summer. Who needs Hawaii? This is from May 2014 at the beach we like to take out our boogie boards.

Krisses in Rioja: Lopez de Heredia y Gonzalo Gonzalo

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the LOVE barrel in Jerez

The Krisses took an early summer trip to Spain. tBoW has selected from their notes and fotos for your reading pleasure. As usual, Kris-B is el voz and Kris-A is la fotografera. We join them after visiting Jerez and the Sherry region, traveling as the seagulls fly to San Sebastian and Basque country, and having arrived in La Rioja.

Lopez de Heredia: Our last full day in Rioja took us to the town of Haro, where traditional Rioja wine royalty is based. Lopez de Heredia

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Lopez de Heredia cellars

is the granddaddy of them all, founded in the late 1800s. We had few qualms about paying for a tour because a bottle of wine from their top vineyard is included in the cost [ed. tBoW is fond of LdH Vina Gravonia, a white wine]. We saw all their old barrel fermenters, traditional filters made out of bundles of grape vine stems(!), large old blending barrels (which are truly massive), and the half mile or so of tunnels where they store their wines aging in old barrels and in bottle. Lots of penicillin mold to help regulate humidity and spider webs to catch moths that eat corks. Lopez de Heredia’s “young” wine is released after five or six years. The youngest WHITE wine is released after 10 years. The reds are kept even longer. I think the most recent release of the Gran Reserva is from ’94. The rosé is even kept for ten years!

Gonzalo Gonzalo: Today was the day we’d been looking forward to. The day we meet Gonzalo Gonzalo. The winemaker who signs all his emails with “hiiihaaw.” The guy who films himself harvesting his grapes alone (a whole vineyard he harvests by himself!) with a handlebar mustache, throwing a cowboy hat in the air, all while rocking out. He could not possibly live up to our expectations, could he? After meeting in the town square we stopped by his little old aunt’s house to “pick up money.” She gave him about 30 euros, so not very much, making the stop seem like a weird one to make. He showed us the basement of her apartment/house, telling us it was built over a Roman road. Old Roman columns had been incorporated into the room’s architecture, which used to be a taberna. A poem had been translated from Spanish to Latin and painted on the wall.

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Sherry bodega

It basically said to go to the country side and enjoy life there, instead of working in the city. Gonzalo is featured in Alice Feiring’s book Naked Wine. His bodega is a noted party stop for winemakers and the fortunate few.

We made a stop at his tiny warehouse at the end of the street to pick up some wines and a copy of the book he wrote on the wine industry before walking to the old bodega. We sat down at the long table and started to taste some wines. He was not exactly the carefree guy he portrayed in his emails and videos. In between discussing the wines, he told us how his father was ill and in a wheelchair because of all the chemicals he had used growing his grapes. Gonzalo is 100% organic with his own wines. It seemed like the wine business was kind of depressing for him, as he said he’s more into growing herbal medicines for people who are sick and then mailing them the plants for free. He made it seem like making wine was not easy at all from a commercial sense. He explained there is always a black sheep in the family. I think he was talking about himself. Gonzalo Gonzalo is one complicated dude.

His wines were quite good. We had an old wine he calls Orgullo, which is probably 100% Viura. It was ten-years-old, the first white wine he ever made.

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Krisses would never take this foto!

It was very good. We compared it to the current vintage of white yeti, which is the same wine as the Orgullo, just younger. The white yeti was a bit thin but will likely become like the relatively weighty Orgullo in a few years. He makes a fairly standard Rioja (“Gran Cerdo,” named after the bankers who gave him problems early on) , which is quite good. A very fruity, but tasty, rosé (“Pink Kong”), an amarone style, and some crazy late harvest dessert wines. He found some old tempranillo of his father’s that he thinks rocks even though it was made from “toxic vines”.  We tried another one of his dad’s old wines and an orange wine from Castilla Y Leon. He told us how he doesn’t drink that much anymore because his liver is in really bad condition. He loves jurançon dessert wine.

We then walked with him to the “new bodega”, built 30 years ago by his dad to house concrete wine vats. He quickly grabbed the wines we wanted to purchase from him. We asked him how much he wanted for the three wines and he deferred to us kind of sheepishly, saying he had no idea. We thought that 20 euros was a fair price given that he sells his wine wholesale for 1-2 euros and asked him for change for a fifty. He had exactly thirty euros on him (the money from his aunt), so it was meant to be.

tBoW here:What a lovely trip! Many thanks to Kris-B for sharing his travel notes. Many followup questions… to follow. tBoW recommends when traveling make it a wine tour. The only stops we like to add are castles which are often located in wine country. Let’s look at a Gonzalo Gonzalo video showing how he gets into the proper frame of mind for harvesting grapes. First job is to setup the turntable.

Fada Day, Birthday, Playboy Jazz, July 4th!! Must be SUMMER.

who yo fadaWEB wine grapes viognier vermouth sicily rousanne piemonte paso robles northern italy marsanne grenache blanc Summer just gets started and THEN… it just bombs forward with special days and celebrations. So many corks get pulled it takes concentration to keep up with the luxuriously warm evenings. No wonder Dotoré loses his mind. The water in SoCal is a delicious 70 degrees. Someone said it’s the precursor to an El Niño Winter. Yellow Tail running off Newport Beach and Great Whites are biting… poles and people. So we drink wine and hang with our homies. Here is what we been tasting.

vergano vermouth frontCROPW wine grapes viognier vermouth sicily rousanne piemonte paso robles northern italy marsanne grenache blanc Vergano Vermouth Bianco NV 500ML $43: LA Times wine tout SIrene V. wrote a blurb on Vermouths. As usual she’s a day late and a dollar short! The venerable critic covered domestic vermouths. For data more substantive try Goldun’s own prose: “Vermouth is the only fortified and aromatized wine with a precise historical origin. It was first concocted 1786 in Turin by Benedetto Carpano. Since then the Vermouth has become one of the most famous drinks in the world both as aperitif or as an ingredient in cocktails. Its name derives from the German word “Vermuth” which means Absinthe, one of its main components.” Absinthe? If you must have more info try here. A pot store opened behind tBoW’s favorite Mexican food palace. Back to SIrene V. We would bet dinner at Faith & Flower the real Vermouth wiener is this Piemonte effort. Who knew vermouth was an aperitif and not something to avoid in your ultra dry Martini. This Vergano drink brought to us by Eno Fine Wine is just perfect anytime anywhere. Some anise. Some Tonic. What balance. Over cubes. Dangerously delicious. 16%

Rami 09WEB wine grapes viognier vermouth sicily rousanne piemonte paso robles northern italy marsanne grenache blanc Azienda Agrocola COS Rami 12.5%: Orange wine from Sicily. This is really terrific wine. Southern Italy kicks booty one more time. This would work in Fall as well as Summer. Lovely orange color [ed. Goldun tells why, no? Si.] with delicate spicy flavor, acidic, ripe fruit but NOT citric. More like kiwi-lite. Even better next evening. We panned the COS red last week as too zin-like for tBoW’s palate. This shit is so good we want more. 12%

TC CT 2011WEB wine grapes viognier vermouth sicily rousanne piemonte paso robles northern italy marsanne grenache blanc 2011 Tablas Creek Cote de Tablas Blanc $24 (Fine Wine House): You MUST decant the reds if you MUST drink them. You should wait! Not one is at full potential even at 10 years. They need 15 or more. However, DO NOT FORGET THE WHITES from this top Paso estate. Creamy and lean at the same time. Light oak (we think). Almost one quarter each Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Rousanne and Marsanne. The contribution from each varietal is distinct and harmonious. The secret is out. Sit on the reds and drink the whites without hesitation or shame. A bravo for the 13.1% alcohol level.

As a great man once said “Keep the party hat on!” That would be Mungo Jerry’s lil’ bra’… the ole BeeDee.

Southern Italy in Southern Utah

mario balotelli headerCROPW wine grapes value value value u20 umbria southern italy sangiovese northern italy merlot Getting a decent martini in Utah is almost as tough as Mexico winning in the World Cup round of 16. Neither is gonna happen. While the World watched soccer, tBoW played five consecutive rounds of golf in St George Utah. Each course was more frightening than the previous. Each course was a thrill. The state of Utah is kind of unique too. Thrilling in its own poly-amoric way.

Forget about buying wine in Mormonia. We purchased a few bottles in Mesquite Nevada which is 40 minutes south of red canyon country. I guess you need to get outside a major metro center to find the really rare stuff. Sitting on the racks at Lees Discount Liquor were two special Tuscan wines, reviewed below. It is against Utah law to pull a cork in a Utah restaurant on a wine not purchased in Utah. Thankfully, the waiter asked us without winking to assure him that “these wines were purchased in Utah correct?”

Southern Utah has beautiful terrain. St George is very near Zion and two hours from Bryce Canyon. St George has its own red rock spectacle Snow Canyon. This is terrific place to visit if you like hiking or golfing. Or you just like to turn in by 10:00 PM. Here are the wines.

tenutadelterre12WEB wine grapes value value value u20 umbria southern italy sangiovese northern italy merlot 2012 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso $19: Dark and powerful like Mario Balotelli [ed. see above]. Plenty of life left in this brooder. Here is what Steve Goldun says on his Eno Fine Wine website: “Etna’s magic is all about embracing the local terroir and indigenous varieties planted here thousands of years ago by the islands Greek conquerors. Terre Nere’s founders and present owners, Marco De Grazia and his brother Iano, first came to Etna 30 years ago and are credited as being the first to discover the potential of these vineyards and producing the first commercial release of Terre Nere (Italian for black earth) in 2002. Farming is organic and yields are kept at around 35 hectolitres per hectare.” Etna has attracted notable winemakers like Frank Cornelissen whose wine has been reviewed on this site. There is plenty to read about on Etna wines.Falanghina 2010WEB1 wine grapes value value value u20 umbria southern italy sangiovese northern italy merlot Here is another report from Food and Wine. This is an exciting region that is a likely travel destination for Mr. and Mrs. tBoW. U20. 14%

2010 Beneventano IGT Falanghina “Flora” I Pentri $20: Fleshy exotic white wine from Campania near Napoli, made organistically sans oak. Marzipan flavors. Unusual, old vine wine. Big enough to complement plenty of foods. Yummy. Very good value. 14%

COS 2011WEB wine grapes value value value u20 umbria southern italy sangiovese northern italy merlot 2009 COS Terasuolo $24: Another Eno pick. Another tremendous Southern Italy value. This makes the Etna wine seem like a Rosé. This Sicilian hot blooded drink is a bit too zin-like for tBoW but others love it. The O in COS refers to Occhipinti and you know how we feel about her. 14%

2004 Lamborghini Campoleone Rosso $25: This is one of the bottles purchased in Mesquite. Fortunately, we were able to locate it in Los Angeles at our local hang Woodland Hills Wine Co. Half Sangiovese and half Merlot from Umbria (not in the south). The wine is earthy with cherry flavors. A tres bicchieri rating from Gambero Rosso which is the Italian premium rating source. Wine Spectator could learn a lot from these guys. 14%

Whether you like futbol or not… this Ronaldo tribute is worth a view [ed. the Brit announcer prefers ray-naaal-doe].