Posts belonging to Category Loire Valley



the Best and the Worst of Wines 2013

Piemonte vineyards

Piemonte vineyards

Hopppy Noooo Yeeeer! We made it through another holiday season. Reading through Zealot probably helped, placing Jesus in perspective and such. Man… is that guy getting press or what?!? zealotWEB[ed. he means the author, no we are not going to mention his name, that already happens often enuff; wait… maybe that would help click count? Reza Aslan!!] tBoW will follow the herd and host our “best of” column. Of course, we must begin with the “worst of”.

The WORST Holiday Catalog in 2013 came from the venerable Westside wine shop, Wally’s. Founder Steve Wallace sold his “local” shop with the A-list customer directory to the Guess?? brothers in 2013. The new owners let everyone know where they are taking the “insiders” store with their first holiday catalog. wallys-cat-2013WEBThe cover featured the name-artist-created handbag [ed. you sure that’s what it is?] for the name-champagne 2003 Dom Perignon Rosé. Gift baskets for everyone and anyone who knows zip about wine [ed. you’re a snob tBoW]. Spectacularly awful.

The BEST New e-Commerce Site: Steve Goldun finally got his online wine site online before the year closed. It has been worth the wait. Eno Fine Wine has a shopping cart that functions easily, a catalog that features Steve’s succinct prose, and, most of all, wines that reflect Mr. Goldun’s particular palate. If your palate matches up well with Steve’s – i.e., you are really fond of Baroli, Burgs and higly inverted price (low) to quality (high) ratios – then you will be very happy buying your wine here. enofinewineWEBHere are some examples of wines that sometimes can be found elsewhere but not very often for less cost and NEVER with any doubt about what you are buying. Added plus – he understands v-a-l-u-e.

2012 Charles Briords Cuvee Vielles Vignes Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie $18: We served this wine at a holiday party after six other white wines had already assaulted our collective palates. The fresh rounded citric flavors immediately revived all. This should probably be included in every earthquake kit [ed. thanks for the keynahore]. U20! 12%

2010 Cour-Cheverny Vendanges Manuelles Let Petit Chambord $17: Another stupidly excellent wine and buy. We tasted this after it had been open 10 days. Still lively and fresh. Why Mr. G? “So much acid.” 13%

liquidWEBThe BEST Bricks and Mortar Store: Liquid Party Works. Granted this recognition could go in any year to local fave Woodland Hills Wine Company. However, in 2013 Pete and his Liquid shop blew us away. We picked so many great values out of this store we had trouble sleeping. Pete’s palate is another ting-a-beauty. His inventory mixes the most unusual bottles – the Sudtirol red with a label in Italian and German – with some of the most hard to find – 2007 Ghiseline Berthod Chambolle-Musigny, or a 1998 Cabernet. If you find yourself at the eastern end of Topanga Canyon Road past Devonshire you might stop in. Look for the wine shop that looks like an aquarium store.

The Best Importer: It seems like half the wines in tBoW’s cellar have the Louis Dressner label on the back; a mark of unquestioned quality. backbutte2010WEBMakes it really easy to pick a bottle if you only have to remember “look for the Louis Dressner label on the back.”

The Best Los Angeles Area Restaurant with animal heads and a remarkable wine list: Saddle Peak Lodge in Cold Canyon Road. Jen Carter works with chef Chris K and an outstanding wait staff to produce a memorable evening every time we are there. What Ms. Carter has done with the domestic-only wine list is a tribute to her curiosity and enthusiasm for the grape. Worth the ride. Hard to match the total experience anywhere.

The Best Wine: Running out of “best of” gas. This is so subjective. We tasted plenty of exceptional value wines in 2013. We tasted plenty of exotic wines in 2013. We tasted plenty of unusual wines in 2013 [ed. plenty enuff already!]. So if you put it that way, the best exceptional exotic unusual value wine we tasted in 2013 has to be the La Butte Roche. We already covered this and recently. Available from Eno.

We hope everyone drinks more wines from Burgundy, Barolo, Mosel, Alta Rioja, Southern Spain and the Loire in 2014. Or try more white Rhone styles from Paso Robles and David Corey’s incredible Old World style reds from Cuyama Valley. Next time you see wine with the ‘Uvaggio label on a list buy it. If you ever see a Mackenzie-Mueller red wine from the 1990s buy it. Mostly, live a good life best you can. When is it summer again?

Holy Holidays Burg Man. tBoW Blog Day is Christmas!

Venice art tree

Venice art tree

Talk about your freaky coincidences. Christmas week in LA is in the 80s. If I told you how often this is the case you would leave Connecticut and move back here. Wait. You may already know that. Looks like stogies on the patio and another round of goff. Merry Christmas to everyone especially those we know who retired this year. Hope everyone drinks better wines more often. (more…)

Officially Summer: Playboy Jazz, Grub and Vin!!

jazz_beautiesWEBFather’s Day in LA means the Playboy Jazz Festival is kicking it at the Hollywood Bowl all weekend. What you get is a sun soaked day with food from Joan’s On Third and plenty of wine from both tBoW cellars [ed. including Dotorés “cabinet” once again bursting at the seams] and great live music, and LA’s most “diverse” collection of silly old folks testing the boundaries of self-control. Photos and wine reviews tell the tale. (more…)

How to Taste Wine: Old School Tasting for New World Wines

Tasting wines blind usually works well…usually. It turns out that bagging and tagging can challenge even the most widely traveled among us. RULES for bagging: Learn to hold onto the bags used at your local wine shop; i.e., Woodland Hills Wine Co. Place the wines in plain brown wine bags. Pull the corks first and put them aside. Use corks from other bottles that occupy an otherwise useless drawer in the kitchen. Tape the bags tightly just below the rims. Send someone else to number the bags.

Problems can also arise when the concept fails. The latter occurred recently when we tried to taste off Pinot Noir wines, all from Santa Rita Hills. We were hoping to discern the differences between winemaker styles: terroir vs. fruit driven, lower vs. higher alcohol levels, New versus Old World preferences. Other “territorial” nuances might have played a role but that would lower this blog to the level of “entertainment” rags like People, US, and OK or some other Rupert Murdoch publication [ed. just ask, he’s itching to gossip if only someone was interested!]. Suffice it to say the SRH Pinot Noir taste-off proved to be more cerebral than distinctive. Given the sameness of outcomes, i.e., all the wines were pretty darn fruity with alcohol levels above 14%, we turn to the science of measurement to present our findings.

Here then is a matching quiz where you THE WELL INFORMED READER will successfully match the label to the description of the wine. Record your matches at the end under COMMENTS. Enter the number for the wine with the letter for the description. If you believe the #1 wine 2010 La Grange aux Belles La Niña matches the letter F description then enter 1F under COMMENTS. Your complete finished answers will read 1F, 2G, 3D…

OK. Pick up your pencils and break the seal on your booklets. Like so. You may begin.


THE 5 WINES..

1. 2010 La Grange aux Belles La Niña (Gamay) 13%
2. 2001 Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial (80% Tempranillo) 13.%
3. 2010 Cold Heaven Peacemaker Pinot Noir 14.75%
4. 2006 D’Alfonso-Curran Pinot Noir Los Hermanas Vineyard, 14.1%
5. 2007 Talley Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir 14.1%

THE NOTES…

A. Fruity, balanced, not overwhelming. Tastes like Sangiovese. Forward cherry fruit. Medium weight. Pretty fresh for older wine. Fan favorite. $30

B. Alcoholic, big wine with peppery nose and flavors. Cherry cola. Powerful, like Syrah. $45

C. Funky nose and flavors. Is this Pinot Noir? Thick, unctuous, vinous. Sweet, cherry Robitussin, tannic. Off balance. $15

D. Sweet flavors. Smells and tastes like Pinot Noir but not distinctive. $25

E. Too big. Lots of alcohol. Hot. Everything wrong with SRH Pinot Noir. Gets more intense with time in the glass. Too focused. $45

Our tasting was undone not only by the lack of distinction among Central Coast Pinot Noir winemakers but also by the entry of two non-Pinot Noir wines. In the end the Spanish wine was most favored [ed. hint hint]. Once again, SRH Pinot Noir wines will go on hiatus. As took place with Paso Robles, we shall turn our attention to Rhone style reds from Santa Barbara. David Corey of CORE Wine Company has made the point in spades that these are the varietals which do best round these parts. In the queue for further testing on that proposition, we have Blair Fox of Blair Fox Cellars and Mikeal Sigouin of Kaena Wine Company; both premium and high rep Rhone style wine makers from the region.

As we observed in Paso Robles White Rhone style wines from SRH are another story. Some local SRH winemakers are doing a bang-up job with Rhone varietals such as Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. Kris Curran has been making very popular and luscious Grenache Blanc wines for longer than we can look up. We tasted two Viognier wines recently from producers with whom we were less familiar. We often find the Rousanne/Marsanne/Grenache Blanc blends fairly pleasing. However, we have consistently been unimpressed with Viognier as a varietal in general. Things have changed.

2010 Cold Heaven Sanford & Benedict Viognier $34: This is Morgan Clendenen’s signature wine. The next issue of Elegant Living magazine includes my incredibly perceptive interview/profile of her. This wine has a powerful nose. First flavors are steely, acidic, sharp. There is ferality but none of the dreaded feline quality. With a little more time citric and lemon flavors emerge. Kind of like ripe kiwi. Next stage shows peach. This is getting delicious. Excellent. Check the alcohol. 13.5%

2009 Blair Fox Paradise Road Santa Barbara County Viognier
$24: Another winner. Comes out strong but not beefy. Think Marshall Faulk. A tough, persistent and shifty runner with enough power and strength to carry the ball the entire game. Solid fruit flavors. More peachy than lychee. Also more straight ahead where the Cold Heaven teases and tempts. Like the Cold Heaven version this wine has very good acid to support the fruit. Also featured in the November 2012 issue of EL. Another winner. 14.2%

Although these two wines are not U20 values they are still good value in terms of quality. Keep in mind these are very low production hand-crafted wines made very skilled local winemakers. It shows. If somebody wants to know what to bring to the holiday party suggest one [ed. or both!] of these wines and you will be watching the door. Timing is perfect for bigger red and solid white wines. We especially like these white Rhone varietals with their lighter alcohol levels. The weather will turn cooler and Turkey Day is on the horizon. Stay frosty.

Dinner! Cameras!! Action!!! Blogging Wild Yellow Tail on the Web

bacon habanero brittle


The Internet is a tool for having fun with anything you like. Well, we like food and wine so when REL invited us to her blog dinner we said we’ll bring the wine. We arrive at REL’s apartment building. She and Sean Rice have begun shooting this evening’s dinner that will be featured on Sean’s food blog Meat Me. REL has her own food blog Things I Make in my Kitchen. Obviously, the two have been trading bits, bytes and quite a few megapixels. We are the first of four guests. Sofie and Paul will arrive shortly. I open the first wine. (more…)