Bottlenecks & Gullets: Rioja Double Mag

1995 Roda I ‘en mag doble’. Wow. Was this perfect. More than good. So much can go wrong when a wine is stored two decades. Temp control is key, then moisture so the cork does not dry out. DONE.

The cork split anyway. Corkscrew was insufficient length. Double mag calls for special tools. Where was Dotore? He knows how to pull things out of bottlenecks and gullets. The wine was so perfect all concerns were quickly forgotten. Balanced. Plums and beets. More but words fail us. Most importantly it was good to the last drop. Two fine young fellas saw to that.

I guess we all realize the world changes. When we saw the image below we could not help but recall how images of Chinese women in uniform once were portrayed…especially compared to that which appeared in a national newspaper this week. See below.

The New China. I wonder what would be the consequences if these modern Chinese women decided to kneel in Tiananmen Square before May Day? The costumes are not quite the SC cheer squad…but…it seems obvious old school revolutionary zeal has dissipated.

The Old China. Mister we could use a rapper like Mau Say Tongue again. Check me out. I’m from peeyongyang. My hair is flyin like a mustang. We dig toe shoes and lotsa rifles. That Kim dood is one crraaazzy mufukka.

Here is something to ponder while awaiting the November Classic [baseball knucklehead!!!]. Which pro league locates in China first; NBA or NFL? What?? Ice hockey? Futbol already dominating. Parting shot: TGJ (The Glass Jar) thinks Le Gran Cheeto is fair game when it comes to wine humor. Hell yeh…

Presidential edicts, fires in wine country…no wonder we turn to goff

October 10, 2017 – Solano County/Napa County, CA, USA – The Atlas Fire burns east of Woodley Canyon Rd near vineyards late Tuesday evening in Napa County, CA…Long exposure image. ..The Atlas Fire burns in Napa and Solano Counties Monday evening October 10th, 2017. The fire was 3% contained and had burned 25,000 acres. Multiple structures were destroyed as crews battled strong winds and tinder dry vegetation after multiple fires burned in the area. (Credit Image: © Stuart Palley via ZUMA Wire)

We will get to Napa/Sonoma in a few. This was quite a week for disasters.

At the risk of irritating tBoW readers I must say the Big Cheeto is a moron. What? Already been written? What about he’s a f***ing moron? That too already done? We need a drink from a glass jar. Here are some nostalgic millennial thoughts from The Glass Jar

Goff requires focus and determination in very different ways than do other sports. One must analyze the course and put thoughts into their swing for a successful day on the course. These swings should not be interrupted by excessive use of one’s phone. Millennials have demonstrated their need to not only go to new locations but also show their internet audiences their newly discovered party, restaurant, sporting event, etc. This need to show the world every step taken, sight seen and thought thunk will never work on the golf course. Golf requires the mentality of just you and the ball and nothing else in the world. Worrying how many likes your photo gets will never help your backswing.

A round of golf requires a degree of class that seems distant from the millennial generation. The game asks players to show up on time. Oftentimes strangers are asked to play together. Many millennials fail to reach out to the older generations. The atmosphere of small talk with elders is uncomfortably different from daily social networks. Heaven forbid they pay good money to hit a golf ball with an old man who remembers the days of Dwight Eisenhower.

As golf courses present new challenges in staying afloat financially, millennials will likely face a tidal wave of millennial norms colliding against a game of tradition. Without a doubt, the sport will survive yet this upcoming generation will put forth obstacles the game has never seen.

Views from the Glass Jar relax me; give me perspective; reassure me it’s going to be OK. Even though the wine news was bleak this past week. Sonoma and Napa wine towns suffered tremendous devastation. We thought about Regusci Winery. The news pinpointed one of the fires was above the Silverado Trail near many of our favorite Napa wineries. We have written about Regusci in the recent past. We especially like their Rose and special Chardonnay. tBoW is on the mailist.

An email from Regusci Winery captured the terror. The Atlas Peak flames crept right up to their vineyards. The Regusci family worked all day and night to dig fire breaks and put out windborne embers. They saved the historic buildings on their property however they will be recovering for some time. Everyone who lives in one of the most popular wine destinations in the USA (and globally) knows people who lost everything or close to it. One of many lists of damaged wineries can be found here.

We realize this year has been a boon for natural disasters. The Napa/Sonoma fires are the disaster closest to this blog. Visit next Spring. Support the valleys and their hard working winemakers and staff.

For our readers long in the tooth…Spirit sings about a burning Topanga Canyon [click to see].

Millennials meet goff…tBoW meets the GlassJar

tBoW was considering a new tBoW feature; the Stuhl Report. Well you can put that Stuhl on hold. Allow me to introduce The GlassJar; wine writer with a wine pedigree who could care less about wine. GlassJar has enjoyed wine in the past. Today he has a burr under his saddle and goff is his muse. Wine reviews follow.

GJ – Despite one’s skill level, there remains no doubt that golf shines as one of the most unique sports. People of all levels of athletic ability come together for a rewarding day on the links. Golf serves as an ageless game for those of all ages. The ongoing love-hate relationship many have with the game allows the sport to stand out in ways newcomers would never anticipate. The agonizing frustration of missing a putt for par, the relaxed setting of beautiful scenery, plus charming company typifies the game that can bring out the worst and best of us in the same couple of minutes. While the sport has stood the test of time since it’s advent on American soil, a unique generation undeniably imposes noteworthy challenges to the survival of this American classic.

Generating complaints from all over, millennials have made a rather notable mark on society. From taking pictures of their meals to tweeting their anger towards elections they don’t vote in, this generation will undoubtedly grow up with a different mentality into adulthood than generations before. This selfie-taking demographic will have a significant impact on the more than 2 million acres dedicated to golf in the United States. As a game of class and patience, golf will receive an alarming wake up call from an upcoming generation known for opposite qualities. Working to improve your game under the scorching sun – without a suitable swing – takes an immense amount of patience. Many millennials have a hard time sticking with a job they find unglamorous. Many can’t find the patience to listen to what a college guest speaker has to say before bursting into protest. Youngsters without the ability to stick with something long enough to see desirable results. They will not likely have the resolute nature needed to perfect their chip shot.

Back to wine…innaminnit. Apparently, millenials lack patience. And are ill suited for goff. Lordy lordy there is some kind of concern with Millenials. Whaddya think?

Here’s yer dang wine review dadgummit.


Eiswein is harvested in the field by hand at the first seasonal frost. Juice is pressed from the frozen bunches. It is ridiculously sweet and typically low alcohol – 12% in this gem. This producer is among the greatest in the world; Robert Kracher. He is Austrian. The wine is made from Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, and Scheurebe. Many wineries specialize in dessert wines but they are cheaters. They pick the late harvest grapes then freeze them. These wine makers’ best customers are – you guessed it – millennials and golfers.

For your further amusement…RRRRUBBBBIIITTTT!

The Wine Exchange: Best Wine Store Not in LA

Crystal Skull in Bowers MuseumThe Wine Exchange moved sites about 5 miles three years ago. Wish they had moved to my neighborhood…but no. The switch was a great move. Everything I liked before about WineX is still there only moreso.

(1) SELECTION Many importers not seen at other top end shops can be found here. You’ll find Kermit and Rosenthal of course, as one would expect at a real wine store WineX has less common importers like Eric Solomon and Regal Wine Co. WineX quality wine store floor
High quality wine store floors look just like this.

SIDEBAR. Word to the wise: Shop at real wine stores instead of taking the road well-traveled to a grocery store such as Ralphs, Gelsons, even Bristol Farms and TJs where selection may seem to vary but actually she don’t. All grocery stores carry the same labels; certainly in marketing if not in fact. A real wine store has better selection with the same price points which adds up to a greater price quality ratio.

(2) VARIETY all the top wine regions in the world are represented even an $85 Pinot Noir from Australia. Of course we did not buy!

(3) PRICE POINTS Low as $10 up to hundreds BUT the triple digits are only for “collectors.” No trophy wines – no Opus, no DRC, or whatever is the latest stoopid vanity Cab from Napa.

Only WineX drawback is the drive from LA. When you absolutely must drive to Santa Ana be ready to spend $400 and bring back two WineX cases. If you live in the OC then you are foolish if you do not make this your prime wine destination.

We paired the drive with a trip to Bowers Museum. Another winner less known. LA has MOCA, LACMA, Petersen… However, the Santa Ana Bowers gives
power packed viewing and engaging winna exhibits. The temp installation we saw featured hand made movie posters from the 70s and 80s before studios sent film posters for martial arts and blaxploitation pics to West Africa. Somebody local had to paint something from pre-memory raw fantasy on gunny sacks.

There are quite a few great wine stores in LA and south: (i) Hi Time in Costa Mesa; (ii) Woodland Hills Wine Company in the Valley; or (3) the old guard shops like Wallys in West LA, LA Wine Company in the Marina (new releases only), and many others around town that are too many to name. However, to encounter labels we DO NOT see up ’round hyah, AND to stop in Bowers on the way, you have to head to Santa Ana.

Oh yes. Welcome back tBoW. Hell yeh. Go Doyers.

Flying Pigs, LSD and Green Choices in Making Wine

2 points of  view

2 points of view

The natural wine movement has made an impact only in parts of the wine industry that care about going green. In other sectors of the wine industry where the goal is a $300 / 95 point bottle of Napa Cab, impact is marginal. “Green washing” for the sector that cares is real. For the high priced high points sector green means cash. Making copious amounts of cash in any sector of the wine business is something of an illusion. At least until you get to the scale of filling millions of bottles (Scheid Vineyards mega bottling facility) or owning hundreds of brands (Diageo, Constellation).

If you are a vintner who wants to make what s/he considers ethical or moral choices that may yield a better wine product then the choosing can be complicated. Our fanton vintner is a veteran Napa winemaker who has consistently sought to balance economic and vinification choices. He has put together his more complete thoughts on this topic, which he introduces with an obscure song reference, of course.

The Green Manalishi: So was that green dog which inspired Peter Green’s song title really symbolic of money? Or simply a consequence of his fervent LSD induced dream? Whether or not it represented money and by extension his perception of greed, in today’s world replete with constant, incessant green-washing – does anybody need acid to see a connection between the concept of ‘green’ and filthy lucre?

As Kermit once said (that would be Kermit the fictional amphibian, not Kermitflying-pigWEB the legendary wine importer) “it is not easy being green.” So the next time you find yourself shopping in a grocery store with an organic fruit and veggie section in one corner and a fairly generic wine department in the other, you might consider asking yourself ‘just what is green?’ And more importantly ‘how is it measured?’

While we eschew a dogmatic approach such as bio-dynamic – we do ascribe to being ‘Locavore’ and always endeavor to be ‘Sustainable’ and use sustainable in a classic sense of the word; which for us means remaining in business, vintage after vintage. We always approach things pragmatically, yet in a manner as enlightened as possible.

In the vineyard it means minimal tractor work, cover crops and alternate row tilling – to reduce fuel consumption, to encourage micro fauna and biodiversity, plus minimize soil compaction. hottypigWEBAlso we approach farming responsibly, with minimal spraying, limited to the application of fungicide (to prevent mildew) and occasionally an herbicide (Round-up for weed control, which is applied using a quad, because it requires less fuel than a tractor and reduces soil compaction). We never use pesticides.

The wines we craft in the cellar only use grapes and grape juice, occasionally augmented with naturally occurring acids (tartaric and malic), selected yeast strains (usually cultured, so we can realize specific and predictable outcomes), sometimes bentonite (which is mined from the earth) and a judicious amount of SO2. In fact, less is added to our wine than are the number of ingredients found in a jar of celebrity attached pasta sauce.

pigs get "natural"

pigs get “natural”

Also, we strive to make a difference with our packaging decisions, such as using bottles manufactured in California. This choice supports jobs in our own backyard. Even though Chinese glass is less expensive, it has a substantially greater carbon footprint, being manufactured in a coal fired [not gas fired] factory, and requiring a copious amount of dirty bunker fuel just getting the glass to port). Another minor detail is the use of a pure tin capsule (which is 100% recyclable, whereas a plastic based, poly-lam capsule is nothing more than future landfill).

Much like the current ‘farm to table’ restaurant movement, one hears the phrase ‘vineyard to bottle’ so much these days that one should take pause and wonder, what does this really mean? And how does it reflect in my purchases?

Well the sad news is it applies as much to a wine bottled in Manteca or Modesto as it might to some poor chicken being ‘humanely’ processed in Livingston. “Not that big” is necessarily bad, as it offers a certain level of economy, as reflected by the fact Wal-Mart is our country’s largest employer. However, does big embody and promote meaningful, environmentally friendly practices? Or is it nothing more than an illusion, rather analogous to the Farmer John murals in Vernon?

Fanton provides a google images link where you can sample much of the notorious Farmer John piggy murals.

About the Green Manilishi… Peter Green inspired the original Fleetwood Mac. “Oh Well” was their big hit pre Nicks and Buckingham. This song was a fixture on our beach town playlist. Beautiful mid palate. Rocks the start. Finishes with beauty and dignity. Goes well with acid and reefer and as Green points out is really good “for talking with God.” Thanks for reminding me Fanton!