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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?

Barolo Tasting at BEST Local Wine Shop

We got lucky when Paul Smith moved his wine shop from the north end of the West Valley to the South end. Changed my ten mile drive to one mile in his new shop, the Woodland Hills Wine Company. Son Kyle runs the place now but you can

ask 4 kaj

usually find Paul glad-handing everyone and selling some of the outstanding selections domestic and international in his store. I love the place for more reasons than the presence of the sardonic Paul. (more…)

Holiday Leftovers and BEST New Year Wine Resolutions

2012 will be a terrific year just because there is a Presidential election. This one promises to be more entertaining than is usual mainly because tBoW has it on good authority the GOP has already thrown in the towel on going up against an incumbent in a re-election year… even though the incumbent appears to unusually vulnerable even though he drifted to the right all summer long. This election is set up for the GOP regulars who are by all indication going to deal with the Tea Party goofballs with extreme prejudice. More in coming blogs. Cross your fingers for an old-fashioned GOP convention where a surprise nominee is put forward from the convention floor! This could be as exciting as awaiting a Garagiste shipment! (more…)

Minutes from the Wine Bored: Is It Just Me?

All of a sudden I am totally bored with wine. All I think about when it comes to wine is how I do not want to think about it at all. I still like drinking wine. I am just out of gas when it comes to describing the experience or even caring about it.

Maybe it is because we are at the end of a summer that hardly got started. Maybe it is because I have decided to drink less for health reasons. Before I get an email about the French Paradox let me make my position clear right now…who cares. Wait…it gets worse. (more…)

Becky Wasserman, part 2: the REDS

hubby.jpgBecky Wasserman is choosing and Russell Hone is pouring Red Burgundies. Not only do you get to try great wine, you also get to hear great stories and enjoy a couple of well spent hours. This entry continues coverage of the Woodland Hills Wine Company tasting of Becky Wasserman Selections. tBoW covered the whites, pinks and sparklers in the previous entry.
While Becky staffed the white and pink flight her husband Russel Hone [ed. greeting us above] handled the Red Table. The wines were all very good. What was really special was how the wines became better as we moved up the ladder…really better. (more…)