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Most Wine is Bad. It’s True.

New World rack of bottles

New World rack of bottles in your nearest supermarket

The simplest truths are often the most obvious. At a recent tasting one of the Young ‘Uns asked how can she identify the best wine at Trader Joes. Young Un tasters such as PT8Y live on a budget and prefer to limit wine purchases to $10. Boom! The obvious truth was revealed. Buying decent wine at TJs requires knowledge that draws on several data sets. The easiest answer, it turned out, was – when in TJs – look for a Spanish or Italian label in the target price range. Avoid popular domestic labels. “You mean like Cupcake” she replied proving she already was onto the obvious truth. (more…)

Mr Story Applies Lean SIX∑ to Wine

There’s a new sheriff in tBoW town and his name Story.
Mister Story.

He lays down a few laws that should clear an often muddled path to enjoying wine. This is Part One.

I’m new on the blog. They call me Mr. Story. I reside in Playa Del Rey- where the only grapes can be found at a local grocery store or in a bottle. I don’t own a winery, produce wine, and I have never studied the subject.

Today I am here to enlighten you with the Healthcare Systems Engineer’s perspective on wine. The production of wine is inefficient. Advanced LEAN production techniques can be applied. Readers may recognize my wine selection habits, acquisition techniques, and consumption behaviors. You may be wondering why a man like me is writing a post on the world-famous The Best of Wines blog. I care. I care about you. I care about the planet. I care about good wine.

Charles Neal value importer

Statement of Principles: select wines that are low cost and high value CLICK!. A $25 bottle of wine in my budget includes the following: transportation to and from the store, taxes or fees, bags, chilling, preservation, and glass cleaning. In my experience Extremely Low Cost Bottles (ELCB) of wine can be quite sickening. This negatively impacts my productivity. This is extremely problematic. Outcomes of ELCB – extremely low cost bottles – include lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea. No one will be able to solve these major healthcare issues if they have had even a sip of ELCB.

One expense over which wine consumers have complete control is where to buy wines. For me, driving six hours and eighteen minutes to go to the Napa Valley to select wines is simply not a financially wise option. The cost of fuel plus the opportunity cost is quite large, meaning that even the state of Texas would start to feel intimidated. I go to the local Trader Joes [ed. TJ] which has decent wines and is four stoplights and two full plays of Rock Lobster away.

Kermit Lynch original value wine hunter

I suggest four TJ wines [ed. tBoW has inserted a few choices other than TJ]. If you don’t have a Trader Joes near you, then perhaps go into a nearby Italian restaurant, see if a man named Joe works there and if he is open to doing some trading. If he is you just might be in luck. If you don’t enjoy these wines as much as I do, then so what? They weren’t that expensive.

2017 Miraval Cotes De Provence Rosé $21.99. With climate change causing erratic weather patterns and an increase in the number of uncomfortably hot days during the year, having a delicious Rose at your disposal is strongly advised for survival. Miraval is one of my favorites. Not too sweet and quite sophisticated. Fruity, but not disgustingly so, with a careful and nicely balanced blend of strawberry fruitful flavors, caramel, and spice. I always have a bottle of this chilled in my refrigerator. The bottle has a unique shape which is the only pesky thing about this wine. Makes it difficult to fit on wine racks. I enjoy this rosé very much and think you will too. If you want to be a pro with this wine like me, make wine cubes with one bottle (pour the wine into ice cube trays and freeze it). [ed. now THAT IS berry berry shmahhhttt!] That way, you don’t ruin the wine by adding ice cubes to it and can enjoy it at an even more refreshingly cold temperature. It bothers me when people dilute their wine.

Jim Moore top “value to quality” winemaker in Napa

2016 Bonterra Chardonnay $9.99 [ed. dingdingding! U20 even U10!!!] Made with Organic Grapes from Mendocino County, this wine is fantastic if you just have cheese without the typical cheese platter essentials. Creamy buttery taste transitions to an appetizing collection of honey, lightly toasted, lemon, pear, pineapple, with a very slight hint of oak. Yum. While your mouth enjoys it, your bank account will as well.

2017 Erath Pinot Noir $12 [ed. another U20]. Versatile wine from Oregon. A sip of this wine will transport you into a mystical forest of black cherries, plumbs, raspberries, pomegranates, and hints of nutmeg on the outskirts. As the beverage departs your tongue, the fruity flavors will gently linger, increasing your drinking pleasure. While it is indeed a very versatile wine, I find it pairs nicely with meats.

2011 Poggio al Casone Toscana $9.99 [U10]. Consuming this Italian wine takes me through a coffee plantation. My palate is greeted by toasted oak and wood-driven spice. Subtle hints of dried fruit (predominately black cherries) and black pepper, hints of mint. A smooth blend of Sangiovese (80%) and Syrah (20%). Enjoy.

The most important part of wine is the cheese pairing. Appropriate cheese pairing is critical to a pleasurable wine experience. The cheese pairing is ultimately the foundation of my wine philosophy. In my next post, you’ll get to know wines in a different way. I will be exploring the inefficient production of wines and explaining advanced LEAN production techniques that can be used to improve the value of the wine (better quality at a lower cost) and production efficiency.

tBoW: Thanks Mr. Story for sharing. The “cheesy” finish is splendid. I will be searching out some selections today. Excuse my relentless links to former tBoW posts on themes you have cited! We are in synch. TJs is the go-to for many folks who enjoy wine. The most useful articles on tBoW try to address similar themes, such as most wines are awful! What TJs is missing is staff obsessed with wine. Find a local wine store – a premium wine store, one that specializes in wine – and make a friend among the staff who hate working normal jobs and are crazed about wine and esp wine travel. Tell your new pal you enjoy wines that are good value (<$20> and great quality. You abhor “big ticket trophy wines” and and you could care less what are the “points”. In fact, if your new pal mentions points ask for a new friend. Another short cut to buying great wines at great values is to buy the importer CLICK!; Kermit Lynch, Neal Rosenthal, Louis/Dressner, Charles Neal and others. These are a few who can ALWAYS be trusted.

Send Part Two asap. And many minny money thanks! Now for that new sheriff….

Tahoe 2018: World Class Fishin’ & Winein’

Lake Tahoe is a World Class Winter AND Summer Resort


Crystal clear view from Tahoe City on North Shore to Heavenly Valley Ski Resort on South Shore Eleven Miles Across the lake

Young people live and ski around the lake all Winter. When they are ready for babies they come for a couple weeks in the summer. When you are no longer crazy enough to race down a mountain for the pure thrill you come back in the summer. Sleeping in is the aim. The thrill comes when you can sleep again at 3:00 while enjoying the Alpine view.

For excitement tBoW gets up at 6:15 with the sun and drives down the Truckee River on the road to Reno. The trick is to catch some trout waiting for breakfast as the sun comes up. This rainbow fought like an Attorney General trying to stay in office. However, a few hours later he was helping feed the needy just rising at 8:30 [tBoW not Sessions].

Once the word got out tBoW caught a couple fish the early morning meditative moments were replaced with family ‘n friends time. No problem. Everybody wants to go fishin! The next day with PeeWee on the river with me a 15 foot rubber raft floated by on the opposite bank. It was Lewis & Clark in the 21st century. Three men in their 30s, two tossing fly lines in every 5 seconds, while one guy in the middle handled the fast flow and the large rocks with two oars and his scraggly beard. A 19th century mirage outfitted by Patagonia. Fantastic. Video posted below.

tBoW made sure dinner on the cabin deck or in one Tahoe’s fine restaurants was paired with wines worth attention.

We brought two bottles of Tablas Creek that had been in the cellar since release. TC is our first favorite vineyard winery in California. There is no question they have the vision and the dedication to execute that. For the record we would like to embarrass our favorite domestic winemaker – who sources all his juice – once again with this link. Back to TC and aging “big reds.” You may find the story to be familiar.

2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel: For many years the Esprit line was the winery’s top end red. This is the FIRST TC top-end red we have opened that was ready to drink. We have opened earlier vintages of Esprit before a decade had passed and found them to be “challenging.” Toffee flavors, soft, knitted well (wine snob speak). Delicious with Halibut and veggies on the deck. It was remarkable.

2007 Tablas Creek Panoplie: Two years older than the Esprit, one of the earliest Panoplie line that succeeded the Esprit [maybe Jason Haas will see this and tell us the thinking behind going one step higher]. Not so good. A bit firm, not well knitted (more wine snob speak), I did not finish my glass. I had risotto with veggies and some shellfish. Just not ready.

We opened the Panoplie at Garwoods in Carnelian Bay. This restaurant has long been known for having the best site for dining on the North Shore and the worst food. No longer. The birthday dinner and the company were outstanding. We addressed the Panoplie fail by ordering the Scharfenburger Rose sparkler. Perfect.

Why do wine-os wait so long to pull the corks on their most reputed – even cherished – wines? One reason is because the wines are not ready. The only way to know if a wine is ready is to take your best guess and pull that cork! Figure a wine built for aging should be ready after a decade but sometimes not! So we play with the region – Burgs (Pinot Noir) should not need as much time as Bordeaux (Cabernet). This is much to simple. We know our wines. There must be other factors. Bring out those bottles you are holding onto for emotional reasons. Take a stab at mystery.

Other wines and dines worth mentioning…

2008 Beronia Rioja: We ordered this off the list at one of two very good restaurants we visited. Soule Domaine is located where Kings Beach hits state line in a very quaint log cabin built by Charlie Chaplin [good story]. We brought our own red – following – however we did find this delightful Rioja on the list; the “last” bottle in the bin. The wine list had very interesting selections. At $53 this seemed like a good value. Sam the host knew the label and showed restrained excitement. The waiter encouraged us by offering to waive corkage if we order the Beronia off their list. Everyone was happy and the Slovenian cork was pulled next!

2015 Burja Reddo ~$35 Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa. The gal who “found” the wine in Slovenian thought it was the best offered. She could not describe even tho’ she tasted in Slovenia. Do you know where is Slovenia? OK. How about the Vipava Valley. Here is the winery website. Time for our local wine snob shop Woodland Hills Wine Company to host a regional tasting! This wine was very fruity with enough acid to keep the flab out. Very berry somewhere between cran- and boysen-. Buy it again? Not likely.

Watch these guys fling their fly lines lashing the river to give up her stubborn trout. Not bad for taking it from 60 yards away with a cell phone. Thanks to YoungUn PeeWee.

Wine Travel Is So Easy!!

Argentina! Italy! Canada? Portugal and Spain?!

Knowing how to travel is simple. A great getaway is built on two pillars: castle and wine regions. If you want to save money yet still get the feeling of  what it is like to visit a wine region you can attend a well planned tasting. The local primo wine shop – Woodland Hills Wine Company – is really good at putting on tastings.

The November 15 2017 Las Joyas wine tasting featured seven winemakers from Spain and Portugal. Pause a moment. Imagine you are a winemaker from a little beach town in northern Portugal. You and your wife decide a national tour could be fun! You join a mini barnstorm tour and see the USA while chatting up strangers about the wine you make. Not a bad idea for a Fall activity. Like driving across country in a VW van with dogs and strangers.

Once WHWC decided it would become a tour stop they had to find a hosting restaurant. The Peasant Bistro is conveniently located two blocks from WHWC. The little food plates were ideal for the tintos and blancas…crab cakes, meatballs in red sauce, and other stuff I forgot already. All delicious without distracting from the wines. And the wines were good.

A Few Winemakers We Kept Pretty Good Notes About. Alberto Orte is the winemaker for La Antigua which produces ~2,200 cases annually. He is also a partner for Ole Imports which represents many of the wines at the tasting. In California production this small is almost a hobby. We bought the 2008 Clasico made from 40 to 80 year old vines. Head cut gnarly stumps. 60% Garnacha (tBoW’s favorite Spanish red grape. Tempranillo is fruity and fussy. Vines grown in limestone at 700 meters which is high for Rioja. Aged in neutral oak. No new oak and we could taste that. Organic and natural.

Leirana Finca Genoveva is in Galicia which is furthest west on the coast. Rodri and Ari are winemaking love birds. They showed three white wines: two albarinos, and one made from Meano Sanxenxo. One of the pleasures of wine travel and tasting is getting to try something unusual like wine made from the Meano Sanxenxo grape. Not sure I would learn anymore from being there than Albarino is not just that. Ari showed me fotos of the eight foot tall vines! The cordons start around seven feet. Their total production is…drum roll please…300 cases! Organic, natural wines aged in old oak – neutral. Thank goodness these two are sufficiently impoverished to not be able to afford new oak. We hate new oak.
There were more wines including those from the Azores [above foto of vines growing below volcanic Mt Pico]. All in all a lovely getaway from LA. Good job Daniel. Here’s an audio treat that goes with Alabarino from In Deep.

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Wine Profiling. Hands In The Air. Don’t Pull That Cork.

waiting is half the fun!

waiting is half the fun!

Do you really know what’s in the bottle you’re holding? Sure you do. You know a lot about it. You bought it because you know it’s from a region you like. Or, for the incognoscenti, the label is pretty. It speaks to you. Perhaps you have insider information. A source of outstanding obscure wine knowledge, a de Gama like explorer of vinous worlds, has told you what to expect from bottles like these. Grab it right now. Buy it. Put it in your cellar.

What do we really need to know about wine to enjoy it? An older person once said youth is wasted on the young. The new axiom adhered to by underground weisenheimers is simple. Drink wine now. Buy enough to enjoy over the next 18 months.

Profile your wines.

tBoW has wines he wants to open and taste. But when? With whom? Planning is so hard Papa. Must we open to enjoy? No. We can enjoy wine without pulling the cork. Amend that statement. We always enjoy wine without pulling the cork.

tBoW introduces the newest form of wine tasting. Enjoying wine without pulling the cork. Think of it as pre-season. The joy of anticipation. You know, Elvis loved to cuddle. He rarely pulled the cork.

Here are a few wines we look forward to tasting. We are already enjoying them.

BlairReisling12WEB2012 Blair Vineyards Riesling $14: The first of two Blair Vineyards wines we are covering [ed. do not confuse with the Santa Lucia Highlands winery named Blair]. This wine was sent to tBoW by the HouseMouse. The wine is from Blair Vineyards in Pennsylvania. Mr. HM swears this is fine wine. We love the label. We love the story how +HM discovered this wine doing pre-college touring with his oldest child. Mostly we love HM’s enthusiasm for what is taking place in Blair Vineyard. Go Big Ben! Riesling must have high acid to make it palatable. Did the 2011 Blair make it happen? Are the Pennsylvania highlands the new Okanagan Valley only 3500 miles south and east and not at the northern tip of the Sonoran desert? We are excited to try. We have clearance to pull this cork on Turkey Day. This ain’t our first go-round with Blair.

duvelWEBDuvel Golden Belgian Ale $8 (Trader Joes): TJs is back. It has been at least 20 years by our clock since TJs had decent stuff on its shelves. This is a premium if MOR product for beer drinkers. Golden color as advertised on the label. Nice gluey flavor with a frothy head. At $8 it is 40% below what Whole Wallet gets. Where ya been Trader Giotto?

sangiotwinsWEB2011 Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana $12 and 2008 La Manella Rosso di Montalcino $15: We can’t wait to try these wines. Consider the pedigree. The Bibi Graetz is the entry level from one our favorite Sangiovese wines, the Testamatta, which goes for $30 when you can find it. The La Manella Rosso is the half-as-costly entry wine for the La Manella Brunello. Bibi Graetz Testamatta needs years to come around then it is beautiful. So you have to be it already aged. Like the 2006. We actually tasted the 2007 upper end La Manella a couple weeks ago and it was not near ready. See our point? This 2008 will be made from younger vines and should be ready to go today. At half the cost. How great is that? Just knowing we have these wines in hand is enough to sleep softly my love.

Here is a wine we have not tasted but we can still enjoy because a trusted wine snob – Mr HouseMouse – opened it. Here is what he would like to share.

sandhi_SRH_pinotnoirWEB2011 Sandhi SRH Pinot Noir $32 (Lincoln Wine 8/13): This offering lives solely off reputation, as it’s crafted by the acclaimed Sashi Moorman, who rose to fame via Stolpman Vineyards. Maybe he’s better suited to sangiovese and syrah [ed. not in combo we hope?!?]. This is a rare SRH Pinot Noir that won’t pummel your tastebuds with overextracted fruit. Too bad. It was lean and peppery, like a red Gruner Veltliner. [ed. hahaha, a red Gruner. Well played HM. Well played.]. Perhaps they were going for a cotes de nuits style. It didn’t work. 2011 wasn’t California’s best, and this is no exception. Save your cheese. No mice.

Major Kong pulls the cork on his government issue (GI) survival kit.