Posts belonging to Category I.M.H.O.



Murder, Spies, the News Cycle and Tasting Wines

We understand many people drink wine to avoid the news cycle. Not tBoW. We find tasting wine complements the disorder of politics.

We share our definitive guide to recent White House literature so our readers can decide which of these worthy books will go best with their choice of wines. [ed. tBoW uses “news cycle” but he means the President. We would prefer to avoid being cyber-bombed by the Russians.] Each book will be turned into a movie so you could also wait a bissel.

The White House reality show is not really funny [ed. Mr. Story: Oh no.] For now. In fact it is chilling…like a nice bottle of sparkling wine on a summer evening [ed. Mr. Story: A copper cube in a cryostat at zero kelvin is more scientifically accurate.] Things will definitely get very ugly shortly. The US and our allies continue to be undermined from across the Volga. Democratic European countries are under assault by right wing fascist nationalists – Marine Lepin – and eastern bloc neo-Nazis in Bulgaria.

tBoW has read a handful of books about the “hybrid war” that helped elect the Big Cheeto. This “hybrid war” continues to undermine democratic nations who have long been friends and allies. Russian money, loyalists and hackers lead the charge under Putin and his Oligarchs.

The Plot to Destroy Democracy by Malcolm Nance, published June 2018 is a freaking espionage dissertation. The message is Putin has deployed cyberwarfare and limited on-the-ground warfare to disrupt NATO, the EU and US elections. This blended attack – arms, tanks and Facebook – caught most Western political groups with their pants down. tBoW recommends an extra dry martini made with Sardinian Wild Vodka [ed. tBoW says shake 75 times] in order to properly process Nance who worked as a code breaker for the US Navy. Message? We are losing. Putin is winning. Trump and crew are Russian assets[ed. Mr. Story: We must consider diversifying our assets and launch a new blog for this growing market- The Best of Vodkas.]

Fear by Robert Woodward, early 2018. Superbly documented and sourced (although very few sources are named) to reveal how chaotic is the White House and it’s main occupant. We learned what is a “deep source.” Of course when the only two people in the room are Trump and Bannon it is pretty easy to guess who told Bob what went on. Message? Trump is a liar. That’s a repeated quote from Woodward and his “deep sources.” Read Woodward with a crisp Rosaro Negroamero Rosé from Puglia.

Putin’s Labyrinth by Steve Levine, published 2008. Absolutely chilling. The murder of former KG/FSBB officer Litvinenko who turned against Vlad P. He was poisoned in London – Litvinenko was – with some radioactive drops by a former FSB colleague. Painful death. Russian spies prefer using radioactive poison. Use your imagination why. Message? Putin and the FSB are ruthless killers. Try a mojito with Club Havana 3 y.o. “ron”.

Red Notice by Bill Broward, published 2009. Obviously written by a “helping pro” in the “thriller” style. Bottom line: Broward figured he could make billions in Russia when the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 90s. Broward bought “citizens’ shares” of industries that were no longer publicly owned. The Putin-led oligarchs ran Broward out of town. Broward’s Russian lawyer Magnitsky stayed, was tortured and murdered. Broward lobbied for the Magnitsky Act which impounded billions of oligarch money stashed in Western banks. The White House is working tirelessly to dismantle the Magnitsky Act and free billions of locked down Oligarch cash. Message: Capitalism cuts many ways. A zesty briny Albariño from Rías Baixas will give you strength. Finish the bottle.

The Apprentice by Greg Miller, published 2018. If Woodward is all about Bannon, Tillerson and “the 2017 Oval Office gang” then Miller is all about Flynn, Carter Page, Papadopoulis, Manafort, Assange and Roger Stone. Miller is the WaPo beat writer on cyber warfare. He details how the Russian hackgroup, the Internet Research Agency, worked Facebook, Yahoo, Google and hundreds of online “news houses” to whip the alt-right and radical left into a frenzy. Trump won with fewer votes than Romney who lost. Message: Cyber warfare rules, these guys are all “assets.” Woodland Hills Wine Company has a $16 Prosecco Loredan Gasparini Asolo Superiore that will keep you turning pages and shaking your head.

Malcolm Nance explains how hybrid warfare works.

Glass Jar Goes Home – Your Home – for the Holidays.

The Holidays are over. But for one tBoW reporter the Holidays are just eleven short months away.

Is eleven months sufficient time to find a new line of beeswax? What will the future bring for the Reluctant Millennial.

The Glass Jar did not have time to wish all tBoW readers a happy holiday. You see, after my slap in the face from the pizzeria, I had to find a new calling. It was time for something far from the pizza crowd to help stay the horrible memories. There was blue wave work in Clarksville, TN where a Yankee is welcome in any waffle house should he dare set foot. My days working for the Democrats were long and often grueling. However, working on a campaign in the south was worth it. The payoff was not our candidate’s victory. He got crushed. The 250+ phone calls personally made along with endless doors knocked on were worth it. I felt qualified for my next gig; putting packages on doorsteps [ed. Mr. Story: Some of the packages delivered by the Glass Jar must have been the gifts I recommended for wine lovers in my December post.]

I was ready to walk into UPS for a job interview to see if I was qualified. Like a field organizer trusted to organize Democrats in Trump country, the pressure was on. It was time to see if I was ready for the demands of “put the box by that front door.”

The interview was brief. I walked in. The test aimed to identify one qualification. Was I breathing. Anybody with a pulse got offered the job. My “boss” confirmed I was a living human capable of movement. Could I start tomorrow? The holidays are truly a magical time. [ed. Mr. Story: Indeed- a magical time- with lots of wine AND cheese!]

I waited for my driver with the other driver helpers in a commuter lot for about an hour. It was cold. I made my elementary health teachers proud. I was the only helper waiting for my driver without smoking a cigarette. I worked for three different drivers who expressed their thoughts in words that would not belong in a Christmas special. By the time the holidays ended, I had lasted in a job for which the demands where beyond daunting. Putting the correct packages on the correct doorsteps will go down as one of my signature achievements.

Contrary to what others may say, this is a wine blog. Wine is relevant to the life of a UPS driver helper. When we delivered wine to homes we had to collect a signature. If the residents were not there, we had to leave them a note without dropping off the package. This was not the way to spread holiday cheer. Nothing spoils the holidays more than a paper saying “I brought wine but you were not here so let’s wait 24 more hours.” I did the best I could to bring the wine boxes to the doorstep but if there was nobody there to sign, there was nothing I could do. The Glass Jar is now seeking $550,000 for 3% of his new company, Holiday Winesigners. We hire elves over the age of 21 to sign for your booze over the holidays. Interested? [ed. Mr. Story: I must review the financials while sipping on some wine before I make a commitment to this new endeavor of the Glass Jar.]

BONUS DIGRESSIVE WINE MOMENT: The Field Mouse (known to and knows the Glass Jar) offers wine wisdom from decades of research. “At age 60 I can lay out my list of wines. Riesling from anywhere except California. Rousanne. Dessert wine would be Chenin Blanc from the Loire. Pinot Noir from anywhere except the Loire.. Just about any Italian red.

The acorn does not fall far from the tree. Or should that be “the acorn falls near the tree.” Let’s unpack this then take a deep dive.

Holiday Winesigners. Any Italian red. Genius. Prevent your holiday blues by delivering your holiday booze. Happy New Year everyone!

HELL NO. NOT ON HIS WATCH!!

the Trouble with White Burgundy

Happy New Year from Mauna Loa Volcano

2017 was good for tBoW. We started posting again. Having fun with it. Found a new webmaster who likes wine. Look for change in utility but not in tone. Sticking to the same POV when it comes to wine. We see no separation from life when it comes to wine. Life brings plenty of  interests and conondra. Like the plural of conondrum. Dictionary says go “s” for plural but this does not seem correct. Which brings us to white Burgundy.

tBoW is loving red burgs but they are getting pricey. Good thing snappy observers such as Lettie Teague of the Wall Street Journal offer guidance to V-A-L-U-E wines “in the space.” Unfortunately, not even Ms. Teague can persuade tBoW to buy another bottle white Burgundy, value or not. Our (royal “we”) problem with the genre is we have lost our flavor for chardonnay. There are dozens – docenes – of white wines we would rather taste and swallow. Here are just a few worth your searching out.

Etna Bianco from Tenuta delle Terre Nere is made from “white grapes… a mumbo-jumbo of local varieties: Carricante, Catarratto, Grecanico, Inzolia and Minnella. So that’s what my Etna Bianco was: a field blend of all the above, with Carricante dominating the blend with roughly 65%.” We paid $21 for the 2016. Simply espectaculo. Sicilia wines are hot in the marketplace; deservedly so. Good news for small vintners not from California or Bordeaux. Look for it and buy some.

Arneis is the white wine from the Barolo region (southern) of Piemonte. Keep in mind the northern region (Milano) known as Altopiemonte produces our favorite red wines. Bottles of Arneis can vary in quality. Price point is around $20 and up. A tBoW favorite is Bruno Giacosa.

Spain makes excellent white wines. We are most familiar with Verdejo and Albarino. There are other white wines from Spain however these two can seem most reliable. Check out the big tasting profile!! Ochechonya!!Verdejo is dry, charming like Robert Morely might have been. Albarino is acidic, zesty and full of picque. Like Terry Thomas; sneaks up on you. It is the nature of Spanish culture that there always be an abundance of choices and ways to enjoy life. Here is a brief and engaging overview of Spain’s white wine varietals to be challenging, distinctive, even if to a fault. If you get the culture you will get the point. Here is a brief description of Spanish varietals. Of course it is not simple!

Gruner Veltliner is the go-to Austrian wine. Notice we do not say Austrian white wine becuz that would be like introducing a German red wine. German and Austrian wines are known for white varietals especially Riesling. Supposedly climate change has resulted in the production of decent red wines from the Boch regions. Where Riesling runs racy and sweet (simplified, I know) Veltliner is racy and sleek. When it’s on it is really on.

Why chardonnay no longer? As a varietal I find it kind of monotone with a narrow flavor profile. Make it fat and it becomes tropical (think Rombauer). Make it lean and without oak and it gets better but stays foxy. I did have an aged Leflaive Chevalle that was so aged it tasted like butterscotch in the glass. That was exotic and certainly delicious.

That reference to Robert Morley made tBoW think of Terry Thomas. I was able to find this lovely brief of the wit of Englishmen like Morley and Thomas. If oyu find yourself with a couple minutes to spare you really should give it a look.

Happy New Year all.

The Wine Exchange: Best Wine Store Not in LA

Crystal Skull in Bowers MuseumThe Wine Exchange moved sites about 5 miles three years ago. Wish they had moved to my neighborhood…but no. The switch was a great move. Everything I liked before about WineX is still there only moreso.

(1) SELECTION Many importers not seen at other top end shops can be found here. You’ll find Kermit and Rosenthal of course, as one would expect at a real wine store WineX has less common importers like Eric Solomon and Regal Wine Co. WineX quality wine store floor
High quality wine store floors look just like this.

SIDEBAR. Word to the wise: Shop at real wine stores instead of taking the road well-traveled to a grocery store such as Ralphs, Gelsons, even Bristol Farms and TJs where selection may seem to vary but actually she don’t. All grocery stores carry the same labels; certainly in marketing if not in fact. A real wine store has better selection with the same price points which adds up to a greater price quality ratio.

(2) VARIETY all the top wine regions in the world are represented even an $85 Pinot Noir from Australia. Of course we did not buy!

(3) PRICE POINTS Low as $10 up to hundreds BUT the triple digits are only for “collectors.” No trophy wines – no Opus, no DRC, or whatever is the latest stoopid vanity Cab from Napa.

Only WineX drawback is the drive from LA. When you absolutely must drive to Santa Ana be ready to spend $400 and bring back two WineX cases. If you live in the OC then you are foolish if you do not make this your prime wine destination.

We paired the drive with a trip to Bowers Museum. Another winner less known. LA has MOCA, LACMA, Petersen… However, the Santa Ana Bowers gives
power packed viewing and engaging winna exhibits. The temp installation we saw featured hand made movie posters from the 70s and 80s before studios sent film posters for martial arts and blaxploitation pics to West Africa. Somebody local had to paint something from pre-memory raw fantasy on gunny sacks.

There are quite a few great wine stores in LA and south: (i) Hi Time in Costa Mesa; (ii) Woodland Hills Wine Company in the Valley; or (3) the old guard shops like Wallys in West LA, LA Wine Company in the Marina (new releases only), and many others around town that are too many to name. However, to encounter labels we DO NOT see up ’round hyah, AND to stop in Bowers on the way, you have to head to Santa Ana.

Oh yes. Welcome back tBoW. Hell yeh. Go Doyers.

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.