Posts belonging to Category Malbec

The New Era of Wine Tasters Are Not Spectators!

younguns_idealized1The new generation of adults who find an interest in wine don’t buy 100 point scoring systems. They are not interested in putting out cash to “learn” how to appreciate wine or to attend mega tasting events. They are not interested in the Wine Spectator or Robert Parker or any of the folderol that has shaped the image of wine as lifestyle since Robert Mondavi invented it. The new generation of young people prefer to figure out wines on their own. They appreciate guidance and they appreciate variety. They do not feel the urge to latch onto “Napa Big Reds” or 100 point trophy wines. Indeed, The economy has been depressed as they have matured into self-supporting adults. They do not have the discretionary income to Be A Spectator as Young Un Sawa EM put it. And so say all of us!

Here are some wines tasted with a group of Young Uns with in-their-own-words comments while immersed in the tasting of a group of wines as interesting as the tasters themselves.

gassier_sables_dazurCROP2012 Michel Gassier Cotes de Provence Sables d’Azur Rosé $10: The bottle has curves in all the right places. This Provencal wine is salmon color. The flavors are fresh with plenty of acid, of the sea. Inspired by the aromas and flavors Young Un E said “it tastes like the beach, an ocean breeze before sunrise in Normandy after a long night. It’s going to be a warm day.” tBoW feels it. Add lime back and rocky sand. 13%

1996 Giessinger Zinfandel: REL says the wine nose and flavors conjures Grand Central Station in 1958 [ed. she wasn’t even born! No matter she’s on a roll!]; worn leather and wood. I get it. These are the aromas and flavors of aged red wines usually captured in more familiar cedar box and graphite bullshit. Dr. Geissinger the astrophysicist is a local winemaker who makes all kinds of wines. It would not be unfair to describe him as a wine tinkerer. I once tasted a White Cabernet he made. He seems to favor sweet wines ergo many of his wines have a floral nose and candied flavors. He has captured the affection of Young Uns up and down the Central coast. This wine is unlabeled. Color is brick red. The sweet nose has caramel and milk chocolate. This wine has held up nicely. Flavors include molasses and pine nuts. On his website he offers the following advice under the heading “What Matters”: Drink in moderation. It is better not to drink than drink excessively.

2010 Giessinger Paso Robles Limited Vintage Malbec ~$25: Dr. G sources all his fruit. His joy is making the wine. Perfumed nose. Bordeaux flavors. Young Un E says it is medieval, Pre Golden Age. Royalty in the bottle. Think Game of Thrones. GenH says “like coming home and changing out of your work clothes into some comfy PJs, watching Teen Moms and eating a bowl of cereal. [ed. A discussion of Teen Moms breaks out]. tBoW says prunes-plus.

Dinner at local favorite Saddle Peak Lodge introduced us to a couple new tastes out of the Central Coast. Somm Jen Carter has performed some of her own wizardry with the wine list which emphasizes ONLY domestic wines. martian-ranch-vineyard-los-alamos2Jen has dug into the blooming field of new winemakers and labels from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles and peppered her wine list with a dozen or so labels that will jump out for their affordable price points and their unusual varietals. Mind you this is a winelist that for decades featured heavy hitter Cabs. Check these out.

2011 Martian Ranch & Vineyard Los Alamos ‘UFOric’ Albarino Santa Barbara County $46 (on the wine list $25 at winery): Only 300 cases. Oily feel and weight. Very flavorful with acidic melon. The perfect pre-dinner sipper. How much Albariño can be planted in Santa Barbara? She pours it by the glass ($13).

sierra-madre-vineyard-estate-pinot-blanc-santa-mariaCROP2010 Sierra Madre Pinot Blanc Santa Maria Valley $42 (on the wine list, $19 in stores): 500 cases. Herbal. spiny flavors, rich with some power. Meal wine. Nice job.

Don’t be a Spectator when it comes to Wine. There are plenty of wines worth trying out with price points under $20. Inventing your own “lifestyle” and wine language is so much more interesting. For all of us older tasters…encourage discovery…host a new gen tasting ASAP.

Faded Seaside Glamour: the Delays and Santa Rita Hills

bridlingtonbeachWEVThe Delays are a UK Band that debuted a remarkably lovely set of songs in 2004. The singer Greg Gilbert can make his falsetto voice sound like Michelle Philips crossed with Stevie Nicks. The songs are lushly textured with guitars, keyboards and tambourines. Sometimes they are the Byrds in 1964. The band named their debut set of songs Faded Seaside Glamour. The music conjures images of notable British seaside resorts that pop up in movies like the Witches. What does this all this pop music have to do with Santa Rita Hills wine country?

delays-01-bigWEBSRH is old enough now to have its own sense of faded seaside glamour. Dotoré and tBoW “discovered” the region in 2003 attending the Santa Barbara Wine Futures show which was the invention of Doug Marjerum and was held adjacent to his original and trend-setting restaurant The Wine Cask. These are good memories. The first wines we bought were all Pinot Noir: Drew, Kenneth-Crawford, Foxen, Clos Pepe and a bottle of Babcock Cargassachi Vineyard made by the K-C guys. We met Paul Lato and bought his wine when he was in the corner of the back room next to where the waiters came and went with more mussels and shrimp for the lumpen. While the crowd was six deep at Seaside we were all by ourselves with the only winemaker able to bring in a Pinot Noir from regional grapes under 14%. A few years later we realized he (along with Jim Clendenen) was the only one WILLING to produce low alcohol wines in SRH.

The bloom came off the rose shortly after the film Sideways put Buellton, Los Olivos and the Hitching Post on the map. Miles – played by Paul Giamatti in his breakout role – ranted on despicable Merlot and raved on magical Pinot Noir. Molly and Jason Drew moved to the Anderson Valley (where was that?). The Kenneth-Crawford team went separate ways. Kris Curren left Seasmoke and Foley set up shop like a dormant volcano that someday just has to blow it all up. The Delays have made three CD song sets since 2004. Wines from SRH are still highly desirable. tBoW just put in for two of the most recent Delays CDs but he did open a couple of wines made by SRH premium winemakers recently… along with a couple other wines. Here are the reports from the transverse oceanside valley known as Santa Rita Hills that may have lost just a touch of glamour in the past half decade.

lato06WEB2006 Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir $xx: The first two vintages made by Paul Lato using Santa Maria fruit were both under 14%. They were not simply remarkable they were exceptional. By the 2004 vintage Paul had stopped making delicate feminine Pinto Noir. He remains a talented winemaker but his wines are no longer femmy like gossamer. This is young at seven years, plenty of alcohol on the nose. Color is deep red. Medium wight Fruit is rich and ripe, big. Fruity. Somewhere in that thicket of fruit is a core of tender sap. 14.7%

curran06syrahWEB2006 Curran Syrah Black Oak Vineyard $xx: Kris Curran is arguably the most heralded winemaker from SRH. She was raised in Santa Barbara and spent most of her life around Santa Ynez. She is local as one can get. Kris was the original winemaker for the region’s breakout “collectible” label, Seasmoke. Doug Marjerum signed up a tiger when he signed Seasmoke. The prospect of tasting the Wine Spectator darling wine was enough to pack the table which always had a prime spot in a corner of the main hall. The prospect of buying a case or two at 25% off was enough to guarantee that wine sold out within the first hour of a two day event. Kris makes lush juicy wines. These are the wines she loves. These are the wines she knows. She does not travel to other wine making regions. She rarely drinks wines other than the jammy wines from the region. She is the purest of purists. This wine is fruity but not forward. She keeps it balanced and fruity. After 30 minutes a bit of veggie and bricquets emerges. Weight is medium, red ruby after seven years. Her wines are not terroir driven with a neutral winemaker. She makes a “style” of wine. Paul must like her style because his style – post 2003 – is very similar. This wine has lots of legs. I have never tasted an “aged” Curran wine. 14.6%

chermettebeauj07WEB2007 Pierre Chermette Beaujlais $15: This is the entry level wine from a seminal producer in “The Beauj.” tBoW has left in his cellar at least a year too long. The color is brick red. The nose is dusty, earthy with red veggie fruits that have just a bit of sweetness: beets, rhubarb. “Roasted blackberry, red wine vinegar” say the Young Uns. This wine at this age, over-the-hill-but-still-walking, defines the difference between Old and New World. Later the YUs give me some “hickory flavors, BBQ and parsnip. Sour.” They keep it coming now that they are on a second taste. “Golden beets, non-pickled beets.” For tBoW this wine is alike a lavendar sashay Gramma might have kept in her den. U20 delight. 13%

vista_corte_b05WEB2005 Vistalba Corte B $25: No fading glamour in Mendoza, Argentina’s powerhouse wine region. This producer is a bit under the radar although it is well known in Argentina. If this were Bordeaux is would be Pichon Lalande. If it were Napa it would be Spotswoode. We like Malbec especially with beef of the grill. Should you have the good fortune to visit an Argentine restaurant in Buenos Aires or Mendoza do not bother looking for the fish or chicken entrees or a lightweight red to go with either. Malbec with enough fruit to sweeten the glass and plenty of stuffing to satisfy the most macho bolero is the perfect wine for beef. This wine is very flavorful after 8 years in the bottle. We found it on a sale rack at one of our “underground” stores. Remember the label. It is around town. 14.5%

Here are the Delays singing Wanderlust. The girl is NOT singing.

Xmas to New Years, Le Ka Restaurant Review

young'uns2012WEBNothin’ left of 2012 but the memories. The fiscal cliff, the NFL season, Steve Nash’s return date…all yesterday’s headlines. How was New Years Eve? Memorable or forgettable? We are looking forward to 2013 and more and more U20 wines, Largené, the Krisses in Piemonte, and a return of the Field Mouse. Now that he converted us to white Rhones and Pennsylvania Pinot Noir we need to be regaled again for missing other little known regions. It could be make-or-break year on many fronts…including wine. Soon as the Eno Merchant comes online we will be announcing and buying. While he is getting ready Mr. G has provided a restaurant review below of a new hot LA dining spot. Forewarned is fore-armed. We also plan to feature more tasting notes from our newest tBoW team tasters the Young’uns, Their awesome [ed. young’un speak] palates are ready and willing. God Bless’em! (more…)

Eat Something! It’s Thanksgiving.

Santa Anita Staff waiting to serve you.

Gather your bottles of wine, your trays of scalloped green beans, and the all-grown-up cousins. Turkey Day is upon us. Let’s all be together cracking jokes, talking about old times, and checking out the young ‘uns and their “sig Os.” Tell stories, think about those who are no longer here. As Grandma used to say, “eat something!” As we like to say “Drink Something!” Everyone have a great time. (more…)

Turkey Day Warmup: Tasters Start Your Engines Now…Diets Later

Even though it was 86 in LA today the Summer of 2012 is definitely over. I’m wearing long sleeves here fercyrinoutloud! Turkey Day is right around the corner. We have been preparing by getting our taste buds in shape for the food and wine extravaganza. Thanksgiving is the great consumption holiday because we get to bring together the volunteer army of foods and wines. It’s like we’re going to fight the bloody British at Nantucket [ed. Cornwall idiot. Lancaster?]. We have been sampling an array of big flavored wines like those bottles that will dress up the table on Thursday Nov 22. This is not a day for delicate elegant wines. The day calls for the Crimson Tide O-line in a bottle. Big beefsters. Push your palate around like a puppy. If the wines you go with can show some style so much the better. You are almost always obliged to bring a few foils – you know, P-L-O-N-K decoys for the relatives who always leave half glasses laying about. We always save up the best decoys throughout the year. Forget your guilt. It is a fact of life. Like paying taxes. Remember to give thanks. (more…)