the Glass Jar Looks Back on 2019 and Foresees 2020: from Mindless to Winedless

The Glass Jar has returned to The Best of Wines bearing words of wisdom learned from the past while also casting an eye to 2020. For this we are grateful. Amen. Let us read..

ancient winemaker with fuzzy revus

modern winemaker seeking comeback

GJ: When is it a good time to take a break from the blog? This a trick question. People often live in states of uncertainty demonstrating little remains constant in life. Except the blog. For years now, the Glass Jar has considered the blog to be somewhat of a second tier Thanksgiving relative. Maybe I am not always in touch with the blog as much as I should be and perhaps I struggle to understand everything the blog says but I will always know the blog is there. I mean would you rather be talking about your life plans with some dull relative or would you rather be in the company of the greatest wine blog ever to exist? The choice is yours. So make it wisely and don’t look back. 

The Glass Jar has been making a lot of phone calls lately as he is spending this chapter of my life in a “sales type” role. [ed. he is selling stuff on cold calls]. My employer will not be named to protect its questionable reputation. The Director of Sales asked a co-worker why he wanted the job. He responded he was driven to leave a prior job of great intensity. He wanted to simplify his life by doing something mindless. He got the job. The Sales Director fired this go-getter. Last month the Sales Manager was fired.

I did make some friends, for example a man who taught me some basic archery. He got fired. My other friend has not been fired and is one of the better salesmen at the company. But he has kept a box under his desk for years for when the day comes.

Darwinism in cubicles? The Glass Jar walks in the building with no fear as he learned a tender lesson in his pizza employment [ed. read about giving back to the pizza here]. He has bounced back through unimaginable hardships.

So what is my word for 2020? You may have guessed: Mindlessness. The word captures giving time and energy towards an endeavor that doesn’t really mean anything. Those in search of mindlessness will likely find some form of it nearer than realized. Which leaves me wondering…is wine mindless? Is there no point regarding wines celebrated by blogs such as The Best of Wines? Or is there a truer meaning in wine which must be discovered?

I remember in my younger years, watching people sit around tables sipping wine and talking about the flavors. I remember wondering if there was really a point to this. It seemed pretty mindless but the drinkers enjoyed it. Maybe mindlessness is an excuse to enjoy life. Why else would salespeople putt golf balls on the rug? Is wine mindless or not? Why not be a little mindless? Word for 2020 – Winedless!!

bombast sells in politix!

tBoW: Oh my. The Glass Jar uncovers yet another corner of cognitive dissonance; an experience omnipresent in life. Mindlessness runs the gamut from the current President and his moronic cabinet, to the endless news cycle which runs the idiocy like a broken bicycle, to annual wine holiday catalogs for the oenologically challenged. Wallys Wine used to be a terrific wine shop in West Los Angeles. tBoW found purpose every time in the Westwood Boulevard store owned by Steve Wallace and managed by Gary Fishman. Steve had been buying great wines for so long his backroom was littered with bottles. Wallys backroom was like the storerooms with Euro antiquities purchased mindlessly by Charles Foster Kane [ed. cue Citizen Kane]. It was well known in the 40s that the controversial movie was inspired by the ultra wealthy protagonist newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane who was William Randolph Hearst. tBoW’s purpose was to locate and capture the fab bottles lost to time In Wally’s backroom. tBow even placed his own son as curator of Wally’s backroom.

Steve Wallace sold out at least a decade ago. Wally’s today is a mindless wine store that caters to mindless “wine collectors.” WINEDLESSNESS applies! The holiday catalog is a monument to mindlessness. tBoW was so appaled wth the tastelessness of the premier post sale catalog we featured it here.

Is the Glass Jar presaging the greatest events of 2020…the national and key state elections? Stay tuned. And pop a great Cava sparkler during the holidays…something like 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.]

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

 

Wine Dinner with the Krisses

What? Sounds boring? Hardly. Neither was the Krisses Tasting boring. In fact, it was splendid. KrisA is preggers again so no wine for her and more for us. KrisB, tBoW and Sam-the-Rioja-Man [ed. SRM?] were on hand to help out with the h-e-a-v-y lifting…if ya git mah drrriiiiffftttt. PT8Y handled child care with the very active 4 y.o. Everett. Mrs. tBoW assisted with light sipping esp when the desert wine cork was pulled. She’s like that.

Count on KrisB to pull corks on cool, unusual and top quality bottles. No wonder we like him. The West Coast Maus. After a grueling 90 minute ride to go 20 miles – LA baby – we were greeted with a glass of chilled 2006 Gaillez Lemaire Champagne Cuvee Jadis. Mostly Petite Meunier which the Krisses prefer in their champagne. Bracing acidity buttressed by the cool temp. Comes thru Fass Selections [ed. ~$46] which KrisB has seriously engaged as a purveyor! Here is some typical Fass prose and praise: “Gorgeous nose. Biscuits. Mineral. Brioche. Palate is opulent and deep but so elegant and wonderfully vivid. What a stunning wine. Huge and elegant.” Sooooo, we found the wine to be crisp, bright, richly flavored and bracing. Opulent? Why not. Only if Grace Jones is opulent. Alcohol on the lable estimated at 11% to 14%. Hey. Beats a 100 point rating scale when it comes to precision.

2007 Pricum Prieto Picude 13.5% $25. The grape is prieto picudo. The reviewer from Wine Enthusiast called out “tomato, red currant, raspberry and herbs” which he said are snappy. Excuseme fro being droll bbuuutttt if tBoWcalls out herbs he usually names which ones… e.g., Herbert Hoover (US prez), Herb Adderley (Green Bay Packers safety) or Herbert Lom (Inspector Dreyfus who oversaw the investigations of the bumbling idiot Inspector Clouseau). This bottle mollified SRM and pleased Mrs tBoW.

Glasses in hand KrisB agreed to show us his wine cellar. He was in the midst of unpacking nine [ed. nicht nein, jah nine!] Fass shipping boxes so thw space was a tad unruly. KrisB shared his sorting scheme: ready to drink now, will be ready soon, and not ready for a while. We immediately felt a wave of relief as if the 100 point rating scheme had been hurled into the Santa Maia volcano never to be seen again. 

tBoW brought a bottle of $14 2017 Gelsons Mayfair. Bottled by Margerum in Santa Barbara with a 13.5% rating. Medium weight blend of 50% Marsanne, 25% Grenache Blanc and the last quarter Viognier. This is a very pleasant drink that will suffice for any season.

Following grilled Japanese yams, salmon and scallops the final cork was removed from the neck of a svelte bottle. Yesitwas the 2007 Domaine des Bories Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. It was desert wine. KrisB did not disappoint with the perfectly chilled bottle. The wine comes from a region referred to as Madiran in Gascony in southwest France which is easier to “see” as northeast Spain. It is so off the beaten path in France that it is known more for surfing than for wine. I kid you not. Basque I tell you. This wine is also a Fass find and as it seems nearly every Fass wine…it is delicious and delightful. So are the Krisses.

As for the aforementioned bumbling idiot…I almost choked watching the following clip! Happy Thanksgiving all. Enjoy some wines especially bubbly and desert styles. Do not watch the following with food in your mouth…which the Inspector would surely pronounce “moooth.”

 

 

 

 

Minneapolis Hoedown: GREAT wines & a superb set of museums

Minneapolis Impresses like its Early Gehry Tin Can

A wedding obligation pulled Mr. and Mrs. tBoW to Minneapolis for the last days of summer/fall. Temps between 30 and 50. Balmy. The groom and betrothed selected a very fine restaurant for the first evening out: Alma Cafe [ed. click for winelist and food choices]. The wine and food set the standard for the remaining dozens of hours in town. Let’s get the other stuff out of the way.

Samurai headdress in Mia

Minneapolis is a very cool town. Easy to get around. Excellent public trans. A bevy of top flight museums that put “classic big ticket” LA museums to shame. Like the Brentwood Getty and LACMA. The Minneapolis Institute of Art [ed. Mia to the locals] has outstanding collections in modern, turn of the 20th cenury and international paintings and artifacts. The Weisman Art Museum covers modern artists and movements like a light scarf on a blustery downtown day.

What to do after the museums? Eat and drink of course. The wedding was also really fun…but how often does one go to Minnesota for a wedding?

Sonia the somm with her tBoW selection

The principal wine and dine highlights took place at Alma Cafe. Seven wedding goers sat and chatted. tBoW spent his evening in the capable hands of Michael the waiter and Sonia the somm. The daily cocktails featured a Sangria unlike any other we have seen or tasted: “Burgundy & Chablis, Miro Vermouth, XO Brandy, Elderflower, Pink Peppercorns, Cyelon CInammon.” Is it a drink or a travel guide? The blend was superb. Of course tBoW wants to re-create this. Must check the bottom shelf where he puts the never used bottles of whatever – mostly forgotten and forgettable Kahlua brands.

From there to the wine list; the most varied and thoughtful selection encountered in a very long time with a strong adherence to the PQR – Price Quality Ratio. For examples, the red wines offered fell under six sections: France, Chile/Argentina; North America; Italy/Central and Eastern Europe; Australia/South Africa; and Spain. Flip the single page for the White Wine list which is similar with exceptional additions; i.e., the Italy/Central Euro group adds Eastern Europe. Name a wine list in SoCal with this range.

Selections that required a mini study hall with Sonia:

2016 Grenache/Syrah Pic St Loup “La Closerie du Pic” from Puech-Haut – $16/glass

NV Sangiovese “plus” from Merkin “Shinola” from Cochise County Arizona $15/glass (winery started by Tool frontman)

Pinot Noir plus, Pearl Morrissette (Alana?) “Metis Rouge” Niagra Penninsual – $17/glass

The list included so many labels we never see in LA (and perhaps the West Coast) it was thrilling. Sonia poured a Croatian red for one of our group. Light to medium body with enough flavor to drink. Just like the wine [ed. nyuk nyuk].

When Sonia asked what tBoW might like with my veggie plate I asked her to choose. She returned with a Sardinian wine that was medium bodied and unique: Monica di Sardegna, Cardedu “Praja” $17/glass. [ed. U20 looks like it is available at Wine House]!

Why do we not see more of these wines in LA? Could be the importers of gem wines from the continent just do not get out here. If we do encounter a thoughtful even creatively considered wine list in our town the cost for food and drink is abhorrent. Could be the industry is undergoing a welcome overhaul post-Kermit-Rosenthal-Louis Dressner, as Lettie Teague recently noted. The closest destination next to the Pacific Ocean where food and wine and cost would align in harmony is probably Portland. Better choices and golf in Minneapolis? Must fly to either one.

If you’re flying to Minneapolis just becuz you can you must go in May after the winter thaw and before the Summer mosquitos.

Akira Kurosawa would eat and drink at Alma…check out his samurai fight from “Seven Samurai.”

.

 

Let me clear my throat.

Image result for venus williams

The backlog of wines tasted and notes written is now presented for your consideration. No quid pro quo has been made in exchange for any further tasting of wine products. the recent arrival of Uvaggio wines notwithstanding.

Lettie Teague [tbow: Wall Street Journal wine writer] has written about the wisdom of buying the importer if one is looking for a shrotcut to selecting winners. Label style might suffice in certain cases. For example, the Boxler wines we recently purchased from Teague-noted importer Kermit Lynch have superb labels. The price was so right and the label held such appeal to classic old world sentiments we could not resist. Good old Kermit. Still leading the pack from Hawaii.

2017 Boxler Riesling Réserve $60: Kermit Lynch offered this bottle as part of an all-time special of 6 mixed bottles for $180. 13.5%. This is the first opened. Now we are on an Alsatian binge. Lime, freshness with depth. Long finish. Hairy in an Alsatian manner…like the huntsman in Maleficent. And the label is ultra old school cool.

2012 Diess Riesling $25 in Delaware [ed. Wine Searcher, good luck finding this]: Picked off the wine list at Republique, a pricey dining spot without even one Michelin star…but a superb wine list. Vlad the somm helped tBoW pick this value Alsatian. The softer complement to the hardy Boxler [ed. tBoW too chicken to go with gender similes]. Not quite delicate but definitely charming. Think middle of the night Classic Arts Showcase ballet or cello performance. Sweeter where Boxler would be savory…although Boxler was too complex to be reduced to culinary terms [ed. hey! at least no mention of hints or notes.]

Rioja Taste Off!! Spontaneously held once tBoW saw there were copious amounts of 2006 Rioja wines in the revamped cellar. Pull those corks! Tote those bales!! Clear those bins!!!

2006 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva $40 in my local wineshop, 13% [ed. ghat would be Woodland Hills Wine Co]. Candy nose? Body like Venus WIlliams, taught, toned, fluid. Long finish. Needed time to open. With time a sweetness came on.

2006 Beronia Reserva 13%. Was ~$30 when last available. Tighter than the LdH Tondonia. Tight when opened. Nose black licorice. Forty minutes full of cherries and dark red plum. The lesser alongside the Lopez however all things considered…we preferred Beronia.

THREE BAD BOYS. The three wines below were purchased on a road trip to NoCal. Each one sucked. The implications for  impending arrivals of German Pinot Noir is officially of concern. We need to do a “mulvaney;” i.e., tell the godawful truth then walk it back.

CA NV Proprietary Blend $15. Big red for the tooth stainers and throat blasters. Recommended as perfect complement for grilled steak. Sounds fine except tBoW don’t eat meat.

And if he did it would be pork and that would go great with a Boxler Alsatian. Parker and Wilfred Wong have plenty of sycophants who will run out and buy this wretched bottle. All I can say is the relatively small production at 15K cases is notable. And he price is fair. For heartier palates than mine. Gimme Uvaggio. Drink Jim Moore’s reds with fish!

2015 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir $15 and Markus Prackwieser Gump Hof Praesulis Pinot Noir $35. tBoW thought he might

get a preview of the cases of Pinot Noir wines he has coming from Deutschland. God we hope and pray these wines are not emblematic of those wines which arrive in 4 to 6 weeks. These Pinot Noir wines afe not Burgundies. I guess we should know that. However, how can we not presume the wines from the heated up Rhineland are not AKIN to Burg wines? Oh woe is we if these are any kind of hint what we will find.

Let us pray…

Once in a Milestone…A Cultural Event for Which There Is No Wine Match

KING CRIMSON WITH 3 DRUMMERS LIVE: RED

Le Large is my jazz shepherd. I shall not want.

Greek Theater perfect summer evening. Sssssupppperrrrbbb venue inside the city-encircled Griffith Park. King Crimson all seven pieces (sometimes they are 8) on the stage. Their appearances are few and far between; infrequent enough to draw every ProgRock codependent in town and a few hundred miles.

tBoW sits next to LeLarge who has indoctrinated the blogmeister via mandatory ingestion of the greatest ProgRock band in modern history.

click link wait 10 seconds for one King Crimson masterpiece: 21st Century Schizoid Man Including Mirrors

ProgRock? A blend of rock and jazz; short for Progressive Rock. Comparing the music from the fever dreams of Robert Fripp to a bottle of wine m=concocted from Syrah and Reisling…well…NO…not in this town…in this venue…on this night.

Lope de Heredia trio of classics

tBoW is a very recent fan of the Fripp led ensemble. If King Crimson was a wine the closest match might be Lopez de Heredia which releases a vintage every twelve years…when the vintage is at least a decade in the bottle. Crimson tours on a similar schedule. Like Lopez de Heredia one can be confident the contents – wine or music – are for primo highest quality consumption.

One can read about the 50 year history of ProgRock music and KC lineups. What is amazing is that the KC music holds up so well.

We paid for VIP parking and walked to our seats. The Greek is a superb venue for 5700 folks. Forty plus years in LA and this was tBoW’s first visit to the shrine. It was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

Impressions 24 hours post the three hour tidal wave that washed over row after row of seats. Notes from the King Crimson typhoon.

Crimson lava over Pompei

…melodic gives way to structured and unstructured cacophony that is……rhythmic? Brit musical styles from 15th thru 19th centuries; folk, modern 60s & 70s rock styles…and other

Is that the moody blues [ed. sure sounded like it] or maybe It’s A Beautiful Day? [ed. turns out the KC sound is both highly derivative AND trend setting, inspired by others and inspiring for others to catch on…keep thinking about the wine analogy!]

GWAR meets JAZZ…heavy welders’ torch metal, Pantera… megadeth…mmmmmmm I am hearing Bad Plus [ed. groundbreaking new jazz group from Idaho or someplace equally unexpected]. That is definitely Ornette Coleman meets Beethoven. Seems unusual that KC has THREE DRUMMERS and yet they are mostly NOT overwhelming [ed. sometimes the entire experience is so overwhelming I can only sit frozen in my seat].

Dr Manhattan

 

Never overwhelming… 3 drums for this noyz… WARNING – do not move or you may fall to your auricular death. If you like shiatsu massage you’ll love KC and the Mad Genius Robert Fripp.

quoth LARGE-nez: Mad genius makes Mad Noyz…Typhoonius Maximus. Fripp Is the mad genius who can burn a brain alive with lava music buries Pompei.

What about craftsman wines? Is Fripp a master craftsman? His musical men are hand picked and long standing like a winemaker picks his growers or even moreso his vineyard manager, botanist, chemist. Choosing labels and bottles is like choosing music by the album covers… does Fripp want control there as well? quoth Le Large: Probably. Fripp is total control freak!

When I think of Fripp as a character I see a guy in a straight jacket or maybe Dr Manhattan [ed. OVER THERE –>]. Is Fripp flawed? A wine can be flawed…  but a flawed wine rarely is spectacular or even notable. Fripp is no brettanomyces. He could be an eccentric – very eccentric – superhero.