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



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.

Wine School: How to Value Wine From $10 to $100

Recently we’ve been thinking how the wine world has it all figured out now. The recession blew the socks off trophy wines taking down everyone with them. The “survivor-type” wine producers foresaw the end of the “wine bubble” and started moving to lower pricing without sacrificing quality. The intersection of CHEAP and QUALITY is precisely where most wine consumers get lost. The old signals no longer work. You really just have to taste the wines to know for sure. There are other indicators such as knowing the importer or distributor but that gets into advanced wine studies. Here are some tips for selecting and detecting which wine to buy and which wine to pass on. (more…)

Izit summer yet?

Arianna Occhipinti works it!

With temps in the 80s, offshore winds and longer daysit is starting to feel like Dotoré’s favorite season. Fighting off the urge to nap we have time to hit you with some wine reviews. And the occasional observation.

What if Andrew Dice Clay reviewed wines?

The Underground Wine Letter is running a series on wine fraud. Phony DRC wines caught at auction. I saw a guy on Auction Hunters crying because he only got $55,000 for his Delorean “time machine.” It was a replica. So these wine frauds pay for empty bottles of premium Bordeaux and Burgundy. If you can get past the effete-iness it makes for interesting reading. Especially the entry where Tilson (UWL editor) goes through a multi-decade process solving a mystery about a case of very unusual 1928 St Emilion he bought at auction. (more…)

Personal Growth for Oenophiles: Share Your Feeeeelings

"Red wine makes them live longer, but they get to be a real pain."

This blog supports exploring your feeeelings especially as they apply to wine consumption and appreciation. A questionnaire was recently presented to us that helps all of us consider how our wine fascination came to be and how it is progressing. tBoW share his replies below and encourage you the reader to share your own feeelings here in the safety of our little community among friends of our palates.

A true wine geek goes through the following spiritual stages: (more…)