Chilled Bubbly is Perfect for Summer…Let’s Drink Some Real Soon!!

THE DARK LORD FINDS HIMSELF IN A LIME-LIKE POOL; DUNHILL IN A TOOTHY DEATH GRIP

When Did the Rules Change For Sparkling Wines?!? Is this some New Wine Gonzo?

Normally a post touting summer chilled sparkling wine would feature Prosecco; that frothy sweet little wine with low alcohol [ed. under 10%], tastes like peaches and mixes with anything. Guzzle an ice-chilled bottle, height of summer seated at a restaurant courtyard in Sevilla getting ready to tour the cathedral with its impoverished tesoro room. Today? Champagne style cava. Pink sparklers from Bordeaux. And a U20 sweepstakes runner from Mendocino? Man…that’s the way you do it. Money for nothin’…bubbles for free.

Things seem to have changed. We tasted three sparkling wines recently that suggest a sparkler trend with which we are not familiar. We are hardly the first to say this BBBUUUTTT Cava sparklers have come a long way! In fact the old rules that governed the commission of sparkling wines have been upended; notice we MUST NOT say champagne as that it is a total winespeak faux pas. Try any of the following without fear.

Sharffenberger Brut Rose Excellence “Suggested retail $26” but can be found for half that at World Market. Non-vintage approximately half and half Chard and Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. Muscular. Top heavy. Very pleasing. Could suck this down all day at…maybe…a wedding? Great news! Buy it at World Market at half price!

Calvet Cremant de Bordeaux Brut Rose 2015 U20 at $17 or less, almost 100% Cab Franc. Come on. That’s impressive. I guess the old rules are officially thrown out. Balanced, Seductive. On the red side of pink. Tougher to find than a collusion conviction.

Raventos i Blanc Blanc de Blancs U20 at ~$20: YUMMY JUMMY NUMMY NUM NUMS! Cava sparkler perfectly balanced, good weight golden apples sez Mrs tBoW. We could say poor mans Krug but that would be quite a stretch. Or would it? Great backstory here worth reading how this Penedes winery stepped it up champagne style in 2012. Sold to tBoW by Katie of Desert Wine Shop [ed. now there’s a surprise.]

Hunter S. Thompson is an iconic symbol of the Baby Boomers. He blew his brains out.  People do that when facing mortality. Just sayin’ [ed. so did Anthony Bourdain]. Thompson (and Bourdain) was not old enough to do that. He did practice excessive habits which certainly contributed to his impulse control. And he loved guns. We have two videos about the Dark Lord. He merits that. Look at this embedded video about his unimaginable daily intake of substances. Then open the vid below in which “kindred” authors and film people reference Thompson’s works. Ask yourself this. Was this any way to live?

Field Maus Finds His Hoops+Wine Tabernacle!

Lakers Get Anthony Davis. Pelicans Get Instant Contender Status. tBoW Gets Grenache. Continue Reading »

Cellar Sale: Raptors Re-Org Waryers! tBoW & Ikorb Re-Org Cellar

I was chatting with KrisB about wines from the Northern Rhone. He was trying to ‘splain me why I should be more open-minded about Rhone wines [ed. if this doesn’t raise a Field Maus eyebrow…]
“Over-extracted means medium for Fass and lightweight for Parker.” [ed. I don’t care who you are that’s funny]. Kris B directed me to the email notices for offerings by Mr. Fass who must be on the road about 13 months a year. The two or three cases I have already shelled out for arrive in the Fall. All the wines will be from the regions I favor which include Alto Piemonte [ed. Nebbiolo in the light style from above Milano] along with wines from Sardinia and Sicily. And of course, Burgundies.
KrisB directed tBoW to Garagiste years before. Fass is another madman itinerant wine voyager – altho’ the Krisses have done their share of wine touring – who sold me Burgs, Rieslings, Cabs from Languedoc and who knows what else. I posted that Rimmerman was the Rasputin of online wine vendors! Like Fass Selections, Rimmerman – aka Garagiste – is a super salesman who I believe L-O-V-E-S wine and loves offering deals. Ikorb – known tBoW follower – says Rimmerman offers top tier Bordeaux. If that is true it would be sad news as that suggests he has cultivated “trophy hunters” who go after the “big game” bottles. It’s a market with which I am not familiar. I know this. Lyle Fass has some very engaging video reviews on his Instagram.
Quite a few tBoW readers and affiliates are sophisticated purveyors of email vendors like Garagiste, WTSO and Fass. This is a game for the Cognos. We really enjoy there is little risk in supporting these wandering vendors. The payoff is enjoying great and unusual wines at great prices. Can’t wait for my German Pinots!
Not that a bottle hunter is unable to find great wines at great values in the right wine shops. We named a handful in the Story Tasting post with another chance to drive traffic to Kate in the Desert Wine Shop.
At the end of the day it comes down to Burgs. Ikorb helped tBoW re-organize the wine cellar recently…with astounding and unexpected results. Three cases of Burgs were scattered across nameless bins. Now they are divided into BURG READY and BURG WAIT. If you’re having a rough day, maybe you had a weak round of goff…you can always pull the cork on a wine recently recovered from shelves sensibly divided into Reds and Whites. To the reviews.
2009 Sylvaine Patais Marsannay Clos du Roy $45 [available supposedly in LA at secret tBoW shop] tBoW tasting notes:
feral without a growl…brick red color means it is ready…not ready to give up the booty…needs 30 minutes…perfect 
accompaniment to Kawhi Leonard and Steph Curry…blending finesse and grace [boaf uv um] with the unstoppable power [Kawhi]. As the game [ed. 6th and final, Waryers vs. Raptors] chugged towards its end, the wine showed the fading power of Boogie Cousins. Delicious and working all the way to the last drop. Changeling and still energetic. Beets or cherries you ask? Neither nor a combo of both…a fox crossed with a bobcat? DeNiro on the hunt for a ten point stag…instead of shooting it he drinks it?
2012 La Croix Montjoie Irancy~$24 purchased from Fass maybe 3 years ago. This wine is so funky the vintage is not listed on the label! This is great farmer wine. I can see the gnarly creased fingers with deeply etched skin. Flavors are all beets and nose of hay after a light rain. A real deal. Puts you in a lost corner of Burgundy where the trophy hunters rarely enter.

KrisB knows his wines. I suppose I have no choice but to let him persuade me as to the pleasures and joys of Northern Rhone Syrah wines. See you in August!

Mike the Nam survivor (played by Robert DeNiro) can’t pull the trigger. Make one film this beautiful and have nothing left. Is there a Wine Lesson here?

The Storied Tasting

Picture this…a cooler than normal day in late May.

Wine, cheese and ready tasters.

Bacchus and Mr. Story smiled.

Image result for Bacchus blows clouds

Eight tasters around the table outside the kitchen: Lou, Shag Man, David Mac, Large, tBoW hisself, Mr Story, Dotore and Broki. Five cognoscenti – Cognos and three Ignorami – Ignos. At least ten corks were pulled. The day’s goal was to edjicate Mr. Story about wine. And to chew on cheese.

When one is trying to “get it” about wine, the first lesson is to comprehend the many traps that must be avoided. Such as the 100 point rating scale. Total bullshit. Marketing to sell wines and magazines. When the lowest rating EVER is 87 then the scale is actually 13 points; not 100. Ignore the score.

That was an easy sell. The U20, U15 and U10 ratings defined by Le Large is far more useful [ed. wines that cost “Under” the dollar amount]. Wine is all about the price/quality ratio [ed. see tBoW discussion from waaaay baaaack].

The mission was to provide the Ignos with enough experience to get along on their own in the silly pompous scores-driven world of wine. Where to buy wine? What to buy? How to tell if a wine is good or bad? tBoW’s goal was to keep the table breeze from blowing too hard if ya gets me drift. Here is how it went.

tBoW dug some older wines from his cellar that were beyond their shelf life by about a decade each. These wines were tired and out of synch. The only hints and notes they had were wrong (hints) and flat (notes). Great starters. Dispensed with 15 years of “flawed wine” disgruntlement in 45 minutes.

After the parade of flat , unbalanced and otherwise FLOD wines, the first “best wine” was opened. It was classic, seven year old burgundy from a highly reputed producer and a decent vintage.

2012 Regis Bouvier Clos du Roy, $35 at buy. Lou almost spit it out [ed. she likes wine with fruit]. The rest of the Cognos cooed. The Ignos did not know what to think. This wine opened for at least an hour. Burgs come in two flavors: beets or cherries. This was beety. A discussion about noble grapes erupted and the conceit of the New World to compete with the Old World noble varietals; Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauv, Nebbiolo and Riesling. Why are these grapes “noble?” Because they are! Now stop asking stupid questions. Lou came round in 40 minutes.

Other “star wines” included an Alto Piemonte (north Piedmont) and a Barolo (south Piedmont). Nebbiolo is the noble grape. Conversation focused on how Neb is a single grape wine near Alba (south of Torino) yet is still blended with local grapes in the Alto Piemonte. (north of Milano). The Cognos are fans of the Alto style: lean, low alcohol, lightweight, and simply delicious bending fruit with a distinctive local flavor, i.e., Gattinara, Bramaterra, Choochoo Wassy, etc.

As the second hour arrived it was time to open the guaranteed winner bottle; a single vineyard vintge Oporto. Port is a sweet wine that cannot be tasted until at least a decade passes. This had 25 years on it. It is a desert wine with a charming back story rooted in one of the extended wars between England and Spain. The producer is Martinez. Alcohol is 20% which is typical of port. Transcendent as aged ports can become.

1994 Quinta da Eira Velba by Martinez $35 on futures. The color was rusty brown. The nose showed toffee, coffee and rum. The flavors were true. We should all age so wonderfully. One bottle left in tBoW’s cellar!

But wait! said David Mac. I brought that Alysian Vermouth (17%). Pop goes the cork. The chilled wine was so exotic it challenged description. Oily. Bittersweet. Sorgum and spice. Camphor?  flavors are balanced. Orange peel. Must be therapeutic because I am reminded of my last rubdown. One of the Ignos – Shag Man – said “reminds me of an Old Fashioned.” The real amazing fact was the vermouth is made in Healdsburg! That’s right. Sonoma County. New World.

To summarize, here are some Quick and Dirty lessons for enjoying wine.

#1 Avoid grocery store wines. Unless the store is Gelsons in LA, Draegers in Palo Alto, Flatiron in San Francisco, or AJs in Scottsdale AZ. Forget Trader Joes and Whole Foods although if it came down to those 2? Better shot is Whole Foods.

#2 Identify and shop at a local Wine Store. Here in our neighborhood that is Woodland Hills Wine. The only others are Wine House in West LA, Hi Time in Costa Mesa and Wine Exchange in Santa Ana. Hi Time is best in So Cal. Honorable mention goes to Desert Wine Shop on 111 in Palm Desert [Katie of DWS below].

Katie Desert Wine Shop

#3 Shop online for best prices. This can be tricky. To do this well one must be armed with label, producer and vintage knowledge. The best deals are online. The Cognos cited Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO), Fass Selections and Garagiste. Most of these operations ship 2x/year so when the stash arrives after the summer it is in cases! Easy to lose track of how much you bought! KrisB is an exclusive online shopper. Many Cognos shop online.

#4 Buy the importer. Labels can be confusing. It takes years to read them. Wineries especially in the USA invent terms to impress the Ignos, such as Reserve, Special Select, Single Vineyard and Special Reserve. These mean n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Wait. I take that back. These phrases mean you pay a couple more bucks for n-o-t-h-i-n-g. You can always buy with confidence any wine imported by Kermit Lynch, Neal Rosenthal, Charles Neal or Louis/Dressner.

#5 Old World over New World. Europe and the Continent before Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Canada and Napa.

There were at lest two Dependable Quaffers. Cognos always have a handful of DQs nearby. Pull those U20 corks today. The Chave Mon Couer from the Rhone is always a U20, always balanced and easy to suck down on its own or with cashews. The 2015 Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona from Thessaly is a recent find with teasing exotica. At $17 it is a real deal. We found it at Desert Wine Shop and Hi Time.

Things get wild at Desert Wine Shop! Jump to the 1 minute mark and watch thru the 4 minute mark.

Two Trophy Rhone Wines…RRUFFFF!

A Tale of Two Trophies and some Late MidMod Musical Nostalgia

Remember Rhone? Rike Resterday!

Astro the Jetson’s hound filed this report about two rines from the Rhone. Kate Finn sweetheart of the Desert Wine Shop on 111 in Rancho Mirage put the Rhone idea in our head. We were unable to shake it. Result? Popped two corks on long standing cellar dwellers soon as the occasion arose; within 48 hours.

These two wines are highly reputed from the days when we were readily influenced by “label reputation.” The two wines [ed: the labels are Big Rep trophies] retain alot of cachet today. Both wines are for “trophy hunters.” Fortunately, tBoW tasters learned decades ago it is better to drink what we like and leave the trophies to the hunters. Fact of things are we are fans of two red grapes from the Rhone; Grenache and Mourvedre. Both are from Southern Rhone and neither are in these bottles.

What is our problem with Syrah? Too much body. The wines made from Syrah are often deep and tannic. Like drinking crayons. These wines are from the Northern Rhone with the big collector names and prices to match. Here is a decent site to learn more on your own about the “fabled” Rhone. [https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-topics/wine-educational-questions/grapes-for-wine-making-flavor-characteristics-explained/guide-to-rhone-valley-wine-grapes-for-red-and-white-wine/]

Grenache is from the Southern Rhone. It is the grape we would favor even though regional practices favor making wines in the “big” style. We much prefer the Spanish wines made from “Garnacha.” Mourvedre is the other Southern Rhone staple. It is inherently more lean and the regional winemakers tend to leave it that way. Unfortunately, Mourvedre (moor-ved) is the lowest priority grape to be bottled within the tradition driven wine region [ed: Is there a wine region NOT driven by tradition?].

tBow prefers delicacy over fruit bomb. So that pretty much takes Northern Rhone RED wines off the table. Both wines reviewed below hail from the Northern Rhone [ed. Please refrain form using the word “hail” when discussing wine.]. We leave it to the Field Mouse to expound on the merits of WHITE Rhone grapes (Viognier, Grenache others?) and white wines in general from the Rhone [insert Mouse links]. Finally, the red wines in the South commonly blend their red wines with white grapes. [ed: hhhnnnhhh.] As my godmother would have said “so that!”

2007 Cornas Coteaux Tardieu-Laurent 13%. Could not find this bottle online. A Wine Speculator reviewer wrote “kaleidoscope of spice, fruit, toast and mineral notes develop together.” Makes you dizzy, right? Much lesser tasters thought the wine was fruity with plenty of tannin. In our humble view the wine was free of HINTS and NUANCES. The bottle was cool from our superb cellar tomb so we had to impatiently let it sit awhile. Very spicy, some ash and sweet pepper.

2012 St. Cosme Cote Rotie 12.5%. $80 online. One can still find this hot ticket label in every prestige wine shop; from a more recent vintage. This particular bottle is available online. Barbecue capable. 100% Syrah. We would pair this with some flash grilled skirt steak and plenty grilled veggies. Medium to light weight, almost creamy.

This is what happens when one buys trophy labels. Taste enough trophies and you may conclude better to win the trophy than to taste it. The cupboard is bare now. Thanks Kate. We still love the shop and plan to visit before temps get unpleasantly deadly this summer.

Now for some late midcentury trophy hunter music!