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Wine Travel Is So Easy!!

Argentina! Italy! Canada? Portugal and Spain?!

Knowing how to travel is simple. A great getaway is built on two pillars: castle and wine regions. If you want to save money yet still get the feeling of  what it is like to visit a wine region you can attend a well planned tasting. The local primo wine shop – Woodland Hills Wine Company – is really good at putting on tastings.

The November 15 2017 Las Joyas wine tasting featured seven winemakers from Spain and Portugal. Pause a moment. Imagine you are a winemaker from a little beach town in northern Portugal. You and your wife decide a national tour could be fun! You join a mini barnstorm tour and see the USA while chatting up strangers about the wine you make. Not a bad idea for a Fall activity. Like driving across country in a VW van with dogs and strangers.

Once WHWC decided it would become a tour stop they had to find a hosting restaurant. The Peasant Bistro is conveniently located two blocks from WHWC. The little food plates were ideal for the tintos and blancas…crab cakes, meatballs in red sauce, and other stuff I forgot already. All delicious without distracting from the wines. And the wines were good.

A Few Winemakers We Kept Pretty Good Notes About. Alberto Orte is the winemaker for La Antigua which produces ~2,200 cases annually. He is also a partner for Ole Imports which represents many of the wines at the tasting. In California production this small is almost a hobby. We bought the 2008 Clasico made from 40 to 80 year old vines. Head cut gnarly stumps. 60% Garnacha (tBoW’s favorite Spanish red grape. Tempranillo is fruity and fussy. Vines grown in limestone at 700 meters which is high for Rioja. Aged in neutral oak. No new oak and we could taste that. Organic and natural.

Leirana Finca Genoveva is in Galicia which is furthest west on the coast. Rodri and Ari are winemaking love birds. They showed three white wines: two albarinos, and one made from Meano Sanxenxo. One of the pleasures of wine travel and tasting is getting to try something unusual like wine made from the Meano Sanxenxo grape. Not sure I would learn anymore from being there than Albarino is not just that. Ari showed me fotos of the eight foot tall vines! The cordons start around seven feet. Their total production is…drum roll please…300 cases! Organic, natural wines aged in old oak – neutral. Thank goodness these two are sufficiently impoverished to not be able to afford new oak. We hate new oak.
There were more wines including those from the Azores [above foto of vines growing below volcanic Mt Pico]. All in all a lovely getaway from LA. Good job Daniel. Here’s an audio treat that goes with Alabarino from In Deep.

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Thoughts and Prayers Going Forward at the End of the Day

Who is this dude? Izit Kim Young Gun? Or Shootin’ Roy NoMoore? Or the Big Cheeto gone dark, er? More whiffs there than a Cody Bellinger series. It is a handmade movie poster from the 70s when the movie showing moguls in Ghana had to fabricate their own posters out of gunny sacks. Made the entire story up their own. Why not?!? Starring Guy Jesus. Wonder where he is today.

Switch to cable news content, obviously. I mean literally…how many cliches can one viewer stand? It’s almost enough to make tBoW turn off Fox & Friends. I agree with N-O-T-H-I-N-G Bill O’Reilly ever had to say except when he once – and only once – made this point: “at the end of the day” is a phrase overused. Literately. We know what happened to Bill’O. He overused his welcome.

Makes me want to drink WINE. Have wine with food. With friends who like wine. It’s almost Turkey Day already. People gotta prepare. Tinkaboudid.

Here are a few wines that don’t cost so much and are very friendly to the hoi polloi.

On the left is the blancs 2016 M. Chapoutier  Belleruche Cotes du Rhone $15-ish. Picked this up on sale at a local primo market that needs no added press. Tasting notes: Grapes in the bottle include Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette and Bourboulenc. Golden color. Full bodied for a vin blanc from the Rhone. Perfectly suitable for turkey, beets and stuffing.

On the right is the 2016 Domaine Duffour Cotes de Gascogne white wine $10! In the bottle is a blend of “mostly Colombard, along with smaller amounts of Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng.” This wine is preferred to its pairing partner. Tasting notes: (with interpretations) bright (acidic), flavorful (slightly sweet) and fresh (holds together well for the entire meal). Skurnick imports writes about the domaine (under the radar failsafe importer on par with no-risk importers Louis/Dressner and Kermit Lynch).

Today’s theme seems to be oddballs. How about a rare Piemontese grape that is almost rare as a prehistoric shark found recently off the coast of Portugal. You can read about the Pelaverga grape here. This is the kind of shaggy dog story that always merits oenophilic interest. I say Watson! Read the above link! Know this. The juice is tasty though neither enchanting, nor seductive. The price is justified by the curiosity factor.

2015 G.B. Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga $20-ish. Sharp flavors backed with raspberry/cranberry fruit. Lithe and charming. Has the stuffing to go with turkey stuffing. Is it me or do others wish turkey stuffing spent time in the turkey?

Here’s the shark. Looks scary however the actual fish is about 12 inches long.

Time for one more wine!! 2008 Antica Terra Pinot Noir $150 today; $40 on release. if you can find it. We pulled this out of the cellar for a dine out with pals. Bought on release, the third wine made by winemaker extraordinaire Maggie Harrison. tBoW featured her in this 2011 post. A nice story. Good luck if you look for it. Let us know where you found it…and what you paid! Here is a foto of Maggie. I believe she is reluctant about having her foto being taken. Tasting notes: Gentle but not soft. More plum than rhubarb. Exotic and simple. The hazers at the table sucked it up like vampires at a White House “tax reform” strategy meeting. I may have a few more.

Thank you for your service.

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…)