Posts belonging to Category Los Angeles Culture



“Tour of Italy Tasting”…meanwhile somewhere in Puglia…

Wine Tasters Steel Themselves for 21 POURS

The Wine House in West LA sponsored an Alto Piemonte Tasting May 16 2018 presented as “A Tour of Italy” hosted by Vinity Imports. Somehow tBoW got it in his head this was going to feature Alto Piemonte wines. Not. The clever title avoided any representation of an exclusive Alto Piemonte offering while at the same time over-representing the narrow selections [ed: what a whiner].

Five wineries each poured four wines.

Simon di Brazzan poured whites from Friuli including Pinot Grigio, Friulano, Sauv Blanc and a traditional blend. Not impressed. Not our varietals. We came for the Neb blends. The Friuli geography IS interesting. In the Northeast corner of Italy, Friuli spans terrain from the Adriatic to the Austrian Alps. This winery is in the alpine foothills. Friuli in the southeast is very close to Slovenia. Looking at a map I never realized that the city of Trieste is the very end of Italy at the “back tip of the top boot.” [ed. check out the Old Vine Primitivo in Puglia…bella!]

Poderi San Lazzaro is located in the Marche on the Adriatic, maybe even farther from Alto Piemonte than Friuli. Their premium bottle is Grifola made from 100% Montepulciano grape. Not a fan of rich red wines with lots of body and alcohol. Alcohol above 14%. tBoW has in-laws named Lazzaro [ed. fonzy that].

Le Piane Winery holds all the possibilities and promises of Alto Piemonte wines made from 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Vespolina. Le Piane has a good story, a  a great location, and the right grapes…however Lu2 and tBoW were not fond of what was in the glass. Over extracted, thick, high alcohol. Collector wines. Be charmed by the STORY and LOCATION links above and vine picker over there.

Ar.Pe.Pe. is the headliner tonight. The wines are widely heralded as a star small producer of Nebbiolo blended with indigenous varietals. Just look at their premium Sassela vineyard. Izzat Dracula Castle? NEWS FLASH! This winery is located in Lombardy and not AltoPiemonte. Whatever. The wines show everything Lu2 likes in wines from the northwestern regions of Italy: balance, acid enuff to “hold that thought” and bright flavors. And Lu2 loves food and cooking. Just one problem: pricey at $40 (Valtellina Rosso), $60 (Grumello) and $75 (Inferno). tBoW has reviewed many other wines he prefers that are a third to half as much as Ar.Pe.Pe.

The final winery tasted was Giovi from Sicily. We love Sicily. Thank goodness these guys were showing. Located on Mt Etna at [undetermined number of feet – somebody please look this up and comment, grazi!!] on the 11,000 foot volcano. The sots poured a white – 2016 Etna Bianco $30, a Rosato $30, and 2 reds at $40 and $60. We both bought the white wine. Lu2 also bought the Etna Rosato. Both wines are delightful for summer sipping [ed. ha! more like chugging]. Both have the requisite balance of acid and fruit.

You should read more about the charm of Sicily here is a New York Times Travel piece published in January. Sicily and Puglia at the top of tBoW’s travel list. Right behind perennial Egypt which Mrs. tBoW is finally warming up to.

Meanwhile somewhere in Puglia…tBoW tasters the Krisses enjoy old vine vineyards and a view of where the Atlantic meets the Adriatic from the deck of their Air BnB $70 a day rental.

In case that view did not give you a thrill…check this video of Mt Etna erupting with giant smoke rings. Timely considering what is taking place this week on the Big Island.

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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The President is a MO….!!!!

Did Mel Brooks script the current administration? Could that be Larry David on a horse? You may not approve of the President but you gotz to admit…he sure inspires the absurd.

The Thanksgiving Classic – you know the World Series – is over. I would tell you hearts are broken all over LA…but that would be a lie. Folks in SoCal fuggedaboudsheeat faster than a Hollywood mogul pops…CENSORED… [ooo..he did not write that].

Let’s review a wine.

Yohan Lardy 2015 Beaujolais-Villages Blanc Les Bruyeres $20. Yummmeee. Not exactly citric but with good acid. Flavors are chard-ish. Mostly the wine is fresh and a great sipper with food. Contributed by Le Large. This is the remarkable piece. This is chardonnay from the land south of southern-most Burgundy: Beaujolais. Where they grow Gamay. when did they start growing chardonnay [KrisB will know]? Beaujolais is about to release its Beaujolias Nouveau which is a marketing ploy cooked up 20 or 30 years ago to prop up a failing market. Think of Beauj Nouv as raw fermented grape juice. Even high falootin trade types (Kermit Lynch) say they love it. Try it and see. It comes round in next couple weeks then it will be gone. Wonder if Costco will carry some? Beaujolais has a sordid history. It wasn’t enough to push awful juice. Certain vignerons mixed in other less-than-fresh juice. tBoW described the decades old sordid history in an earlier entry. Since that epoch of fraud, vintage Beaujolais became serious wine. We always have something in the cellar such as Clos de la Roilette 2009.

WHAT IF BASEBALL FIELD REPORTERS COVERED A WINE TASTING?
tBoW: We are tasting in LA today at the World Serious Wine Event near the ballpark in Silverlake. Our field reporters are Buck Moose and Vine Skully.
Moose: What are your thoughts on this tasting? Do you want it to be the best tasting ever? Tell us what you’re thinking? Are you anxious the tasting may be able to score enough points to be ready for the next LA series?
Winemaker: Sure. We want the best…
Viney: This wine tasting is a lot like the great beer tasting when the Babe called his shot…of Porter. There used to be a wine named Porter that could be drunk with either hand. Much like the Babe was often… After the game of course. Is tonight’s game over yet?
Winemaker: wha…?
Moose: What are your thoughts on Viney? Do you want him to be the greatest announcer of all time? Or just the greatest of all time? Tell us your thoughts on Viney as the greatest announcer of all time?
Winemaker: Well, to tell the truth we just want to pour our best for all the great fans that came to Silverlake today.

Make the safe bet like the Large has learned. Buy the importer – e.g., Louis Dressner and Kermit Lynch; and the region: Alto Piemonte and Southern Burgundy. And count on Verlander.

Millennials meet goff…tBoW meets the GlassJar

tBoW was considering a new tBoW feature; the Stuhl Report. Well you can put that Stuhl on hold. Allow me to introduce The GlassJar; wine writer with a wine pedigree who could care less about wine. GlassJar has enjoyed wine in the past. Today he has a burr under his saddle and goff is his muse. Wine reviews follow.

GJ – Despite one’s skill level, there remains no doubt that golf shines as one of the most unique sports. People of all levels of athletic ability come together for a rewarding day on the links. Golf serves as an ageless game for those of all ages. The ongoing love-hate relationship many have with the game allows the sport to stand out in ways newcomers would never anticipate. The agonizing frustration of missing a putt for par, the relaxed setting of beautiful scenery, plus charming company typifies the game that can bring out the worst and best of us in the same couple of minutes. While the sport has stood the test of time since it’s advent on American soil, a unique generation undeniably imposes noteworthy challenges to the survival of this American classic.

Generating complaints from all over, millennials have made a rather notable mark on society. From taking pictures of their meals to tweeting their anger towards elections they don’t vote in, this generation will undoubtedly grow up with a different mentality into adulthood than generations before. This selfie-taking demographic will have a significant impact on the more than 2 million acres dedicated to golf in the United States. As a game of class and patience, golf will receive an alarming wake up call from an upcoming generation known for opposite qualities. Working to improve your game under the scorching sun – without a suitable swing – takes an immense amount of patience. Many millennials have a hard time sticking with a job they find unglamorous. Many can’t find the patience to listen to what a college guest speaker has to say before bursting into protest. Youngsters without the ability to stick with something long enough to see desirable results. They will not likely have the resolute nature needed to perfect their chip shot.

Back to wine…innaminnit. Apparently, millenials lack patience. And are ill suited for goff. Lordy lordy there is some kind of concern with Millenials. Whaddya think?

Here’s yer dang wine review dadgummit.


Eiswein is harvested in the field by hand at the first seasonal frost. Juice is pressed from the frozen bunches. It is ridiculously sweet and typically low alcohol – 12% in this gem. This producer is among the greatest in the world; Robert Kracher. He is Austrian. The wine is made from Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, and Scheurebe. Many wineries specialize in dessert wines but they are cheaters. They pick the late harvest grapes then freeze them. These wine makers’ best customers are – you guessed it – millennials and golfers.

For your further amusement…RRRRUBBBBIIITTTT!

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.