Posts belonging to Category Los Angeles Culture



Forced and Unforced Wine Errors.

 

Making Sense of Chaos.

Lettie Teague recently wrote what she really loves about wine 7 Reasons We Love Wine. tBoW loves Lettie Teague…and wine. Much to love when it comes to wine. However, there is a lot of dopey stuff as well. And since tBoW does not write for a living (at least not about wine) we can poke fun at all the silliness involved.

Take Wallys Wine and Spirits. For more than four decades Wallys was the trendsetter in how to market fine wine. Steve Wallace and Gary Fishman [ed. call me Gary, Matt’s Dad wants to interview you] ran the best WINE shop on the Westside. The only competition was the Wine House which became the SUPER market for wines ’round the world. However, Wallys was the top dog with the Hollywood client list. Ran into Danny Kay there. Had him sign the birthday card I happened to be carrying with me. Now Wallys is a laff riot of misguided pretension. Glamour and importance. Cater your next awards season party. Affect your glamorous lifestyle. Forced error – misguided hubris.

The aging wine thing is D-U-M-B. Archaic. Silly. Producing wine to be aged is bull pucky; a fashion foisted on the innocenti who believe wine is better with age. The only thing better with age is adolescence. In fact aging wine is a gamble…a poor one. Odds are stacked against those who love wine when the wine needs to “lay down.” This is doublespeak for heavy oak and tannins more commonly found in wood sealers. Those phonies who would write a wine review suggesting “lay down this beauty for a decade” are lost in the “fog of wine.” Lettie Teague would never suggest laying down a wine. At least we believe that is true.

Ever freeze a bottle of wine? You now…put it in the freezer to cool and discover a few days later you actually put in the cooler to freeze? Unforced DUMB error.

tBoW recommends wines that can be opened and consumed right now. Sometimes it is necessary to lay the wine down in the cellar. This is usually the case when wine is shipped. Wait 2 weeks if you can stand it. Sometimes it is necessary to allow a wine to settle down if the bottle has been cooled in the freezer on a bed of ice…and forgotten. That wine should be defrosted at room temp before pulling the cork in another week…if the cork has not forced its own exit from the bottle. Barring unforced errors like freezing wine for good cause there is no excuse for buying wine that needs to be aged for a decade or more. There are two exceptions to this rule: ports and sauternes.

Here are two wine paragons that can please greatly when opened “before their time;” and one wine that missed its “open by” date.

2016 Boxler Gewurtztraminer $35: Floral nose, a flower bouquet, honey suckle. Flavors of hay and mint. Say what? Over the top AND balanced. Honey. A knockout. Can it age. Certainly. However, if we bought more it would be like trying to keep my hands off my baby granddaughter. Oh sure. Wait until she’s five years old and more ambulatory. Looks like this gewurtz baby is still available at Kermit Lynch, Flatiron and Vintage Wine Merchants in San Jose. Lucky buy! Thank you Kermit.

NV Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut 13.5% $39 at Costco. May seem pricey however for champagne of this pedigree it is the go-to choice for tBoW on Valentines Day. Fruity, marzipan like. Break out the nice flutes. Dependable selection for the special occasion. The right question is whether the tBoW reviewed Cava sparkler Ravenots at 40% the cost, is good enough? We would say not quite…but close.

2011 Domaine Joseph Roty Marsannay 13%. $40ish. Tough to find. Because it is old now. Generally the vineyard designations age longer and are more interesting than this village bottling. The pedigree – Roty – is top notch. The wine is exotic but on its way to the Assisted Living Facility. tBoW finds that Burgs are generally better when consumed “before their time.” We missed here by a couple years. Forced PEDIGREE error. Fuggedaboudid. It’s Burg Town..

Making the right choices when buying wines is important to our list of reasons to love wine. As Chuck D and Public Enemy put it don’t believe the hype. However we find Bob McNamara in all his confidence and technicalities the more appropos analogue when it comes to figuring out how to enjoy wine by accepting the Fog of Wine.

Wine Enlightenment is a THING!!

 

Hume! Smith! Carlyle! Siegel? Blair! The greatest minds of the Scottish Enlightenment all loved Spatburgunder!

Mr Story is a notable thinker in his own write. He has been giving thought to a delicate topic; guidelines for regulating wine purchases. I am confident tBoW speaks for many when he says buying wine is an impulsive act. Count sellers among that group. The general impression is that people who buy wine as a “hobby” are compulsive idiots who disdain the self control they otherwise widely practice in their lives. I am speaking of clinicians, dentists, $$ investors, high school teachers, attorneys, movie folks and professors. BY contrast, actors, dentists and politicians are undisciplined folks driven by base amoral impulses.

It seems timely that tBoW publishes the following testamento. Reflecetions follow.

[STORY BEGINS HERE] Greetings, blog recipients! It has been awhile since I – Mr. Story – have gathered my thoughts and carefully crafted them into a fine delicious blend for you, my dearest readers, for light sipping and enlightenment. Following the Storied Tasting of 2019 there was much to reflect on. I am ready to be back on the blog to share my wisdom with you! Now, I come to the next crossroads. What do I discuss on the blog? Yes, rumor has it that the Best of Wines is a wine blog, but methinks there is more to life than wine. So how about we discuss money. Wait, how about we discuss wine AND money! Brilliant. [ed. now tBoW is paying attention].

Did you know that millions of Americans are drinking their way into debt? Yes, I said it! It’s quite a terrible thing. As Dave Ramsey says “adults delay pleasure. Children do what feels good.” I guess there are a bunch of “children” over 21 running around and drinking their brains out instead of putting their money into mutual funds or saving to buy a house. They go to the bottle because it “feels good” in the moment.

I am not saying get rid of wine altogether, no, no! What I am recommending is putting together a monthly wine budget to ensure that your wine spending doesn’t get out of control. Yes, create two of them. One monthly wine budget for bottles of wine at home and the other for purchasing glasses of wine outside of the home… at a restaurant, for example. For the more adventurous, you may want to create a third annual budget for wine tastings and outings. The important thing here is to have a budget and to follow it. Every time you buy wine, keep the receipt and put them all into a wine glass [ed. tBoW suggests using the glasses “given away” at tasting rooms.]. Keep a piece of paper near the wine glass or track the expense category of WINE in your favorite budgeting app. I use Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar App and it works great. While we are talking about Dave, no, you shouldn’t be buying wine with a credit card or going into debt for it. It’s not worth it.

Here’s the thing. You probably have no idea how much you are spending on wine. Let me introduce you to some numbers and math to do the explaining here.

[ed. tBoW reviews value wine in midst of Story’s thoughts] 2016 Chateau Bonneau Haut Medoc $25 altho we probably got it for less. Review is sourced from Vivino Dark garnet. Smoky vanilla and cedar, touch medicinal. Cherry, woody red currants and a hint of ash. Decent length with a slight tickle of woody tannins. Perfectly mature now, but decant to avoid sediment. 🌟86 pts – good QPR. tBoW recalls he liked this wine mucho esp for a Cab blend. Best thing about the Vivion review is the “good Quality-Price Ratio – QPR.” 86 points means N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Back to the Story story.]

For the at-home-drinker: Online wine retailer Vivino reports that the average bottle of red wine costs $15.66. If you drink 1 bottle a week, you are spending roughly $814.32 per year. 2 bottles a week brings you to $1,628.64 per year. See why we recommend wines $25 and under on this blog now, right? Imagine if you were buying $50 bottles to try to impress your friends and doing so twice a week? That would be costing you $5,200 per year! Yikes!

According to the Wine Market Council, millennials and boomers are most at risk for drinking up their paychecks. They found that 42% of all wine in the United States is sold to millennials. Boomers however, account for a slightly smaller portion of the U.S. population but are more heavy wine drinkers than millennials.

[ed. tBoW reviews value wine in the middle of Story’s thoughts: 2009 Ghemme Terre Moreniche Ill Chiosso 13% unclear on price altho guessing $25. Lyle Fass offer and buy. Only ONE review of this wine on Vivino. What makes AltoP wines so terrific is they are blended! Unlike most Baroli. Did not locate many Altopiemonte wines on Vivino. Guessing because the region is too far off the beaten path. The wine was spectacular. We would buy again in a heartbeat faster than Mahomes can deliver a heater 20 years downfield throwing across his body. We MUST have an Altopiemonte & Spatburgunder tasting in the Spring! Mr Story will be there I am sure.]

Interesting stuff. Read this blog and get the good deals. Make your wine budgets, two or three depending on your relationship with wine. [END OF STORY!]

Thank you Mr. Story. My reflections follow from a Boomer palate…okay? (1) I cannot believe I am pimping for Dave Ramsey and getting zilch in return. (2) My dental surgeon reviews wines for Vivino which is a populist website that rates wines on a five point scale that is actually 40 points using a single decimal point between 1 and 4.9. I give them credit for rejecting the ABSURD and USELESS marketing tool…100 point scale. (3) I respect Mr Story’s POV. (4) Not a chance I will budget anything including golf clubs. Keep in mind tBoW is an old boomer fart. Wait until Dotore weighs in. Or IGTY aka IWTYT. I leave it to Story contempos Glass Jar, KrisB and Ikorb to share their views which is unlikely given their compulsive Millenial work ethic.

I have an idea. Let’s drink some value wines with a decent price-quality ratio…and post up here!

It’s Safe to Come Out Munchkins! The Next – I mean New – Year has Begun!

The holiday season can be taxing. But now that its O-V-E-R we can only say don’t let the door

hit you on the way OUT DUDE!

Image result for Santa wrecks sled

The celebration gauntlet was especially long in the tBoW household oin 2019 with endless events to attend and host. There were highlights marked by memories [ed. all good] and in some cases there were memorable wines.

The BIG EVENT was the Friday the 13th Holiday Wine Tasting at RiTA House hosted by “Stacie’s Wine Cellar.” Stacie’s collection is legendary. The lineup created a locust-like buzz (ed. cue Exorcist II locusts clip) given it was an all star, all desirable lineup of labels and vintages. The RiTA House venue is excellent – a 100 year old 3 story “townhouse” in mid Wilshire with no parking. Stacie hosts the “Share A Glass” wine tastings at RiTA House which are open to members.

The lineup included top labels from Burgundy, Chianti (early 90s Biondi Santi) and Bordeaux (1988 Pichon Lalande): “Classic Vintages and Magnums of Champagne, Barolo, Barbaresco, Burgundy, Bord

eaux, Tuscan, Napa, Paso Robles.” The evening became a lesson in the perils of holding on too long to our most precious bottles. Too many wines were tired and simply over the hill. tBoW covered this phenomenon from his own supply mid-year with his “How To Tell When a Wine is Bad” tasting. Of course that tasting included judgment errors! Stacie did hit the gong with several outstanding wines. Dotore – who attended – captured the holiday message succinctly. Be careful to not hold onto your favorite wines too long. Suivez vos conseils mon ami!

2000 Billecart Salmon Amreuil-sur-Ay. $?? Priceless. The R-A-R-E single vineyard triple mag was served chilled. Came off like a kiwi lemon fruit bowl on ice. With ~20 plus guests the bottle was finished…but it took a few hours! If we had to pick one wine for a second round it would clearly be the Billecart! tBoW probably stuck his glass in front Gianfranco the distracted somm at least 6 times. Speaking of sparkling wines…we ope

ned several between Christmas and New Years. Here is one we really loved that can be found and bought for a fair price.

Laghibellina Gavi Metodo Classico $28: “on the lees 24 months” with 13% alcohol. This was the sparkler of the holidays (excepting the Billecart of course). Easy quaffer. Full flavored fruity and tart. Th grape is Cortese di Gavi which tBoW would usually avoid. Not in this case!  Imported by Oliver McCrumm Wines [ed. who’s he? say Broon fans] which is also worth remembering. We will probably have a post coming that reviews the new importers – succeeding Kermit and Rosenthal and more who are reshaping the wine import industry with direct to seller – themselves.

The early 90s Biondi Santi [ed. apologies; failed to note vintage] had survived almost 3 decades with great panache. Pulled this cork just in time.

Finally, the 1994 Quinta de Eira Velha Noval Single Quinta [ed. quinta means single vineyard] Port was served last after many tasters were fatigado. Flavors of maple and chocolate. This was the last of a case tBoW acquired on futures way back when on release. F-U-T-U-R-E-S was a commercial scam dricen by the 1980s and 90s wine fever that excited middle-aged men who just had to have that vintage from that producer. Martinez and port wines generally are an interesting story for anyone who likes wine. A single vineyard is unusual and certainly an attempt to get with the hot sales tip that continues to thrive today.

Come Out! Come Out! Wherever you are!!

 

From Yasgur’s Farm to a Back Yard in Woodstock: Eyewitness Account of the 50th Anniversary That Fell Apart Like a Hand-Rolled Doobie

The 50th Anniversary of Woodstock did not get far. Reflections include the failure as being endemic of the Woodstock Generation. You know. Unable to foment nationwide revolution.
Jerry Image result for yippies surround pentagonRubin who helped start the Yippies (Youth International party) switched to the Venture Capitalist Party and hosted networking events on Wall Street. Wikipedia (where tBoW gets mucho research done quickly) says Rubin hosted Yippie Meets Yuppie “debates” with his fellow “rad” Abbie Hoffman. Both dead now. Those were the days. The greatest Yippie event was to surround the Pentagon with thousands of Yippies and levitate it. Great idea. Political theater. Today the reproduction would be in Yankee Stadium. Fox would disapprove and MSNBC would ask what Bernie thought about it.
The resurrection of Woodstock has mercifully passed away. tBoW DID NOT go. Nor did anyone else cuz it was cancelled.Altamont Magic

He did go to Altamont in 1970 where the Hells Angels beat a guy to death with pool cues while boring bands tried to play boring rock to hundreds of thousands. It has been said Altamont killed the 60s. So did Charlie Manson and his Family. Thank goodness we dwell on wine and other more sane cultural events like the Herbie Hancock show at the Hollywood Bowl with Thundercat guesting. Garden box. Chilled Rose’ and epoises cheese on a summery cool night in LA. Mayhaps Le Large will report.

By the bye tBoW has a reporter who lives in Woodstock. Her handle is “The Heavenly One or THO.” And she did celebrate the unseminal Woodstock affair. She has agreed to share her impressions. Here are her uncensored comments.

“Michael Lang [ed. original festival sponsor] is kind of a pig so I didn’t mind that his festival didn’t come off. We went to a Woodstock themed party on Saturday night and everybody was dressed predictably — Emily [ed. her lovely daughter] wore her Woodstock Elementary School tie-dyed tee shirt; the one they have to wear on field trips) and I thought she was the only authentic Woodstocker there, having been born and raised here!
The people were old but the music was great. The only acid I saw was the balsamic on the quinoa and heirloom-farmstand tomato salad. We group-hallucinated that we were still capable of dancing without straining anything. Most of the food was along the lines of hot dogs and hamburgers. There was some good cheese, however, and the aforementioned quinoa salad. I ‘sampled’ a rose’, which was perfectly fine, and my friend Jonathan (who is an organic wine nut — also writes about it) raved over the random bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the cooler.
This is only THO’s second wine blog post. Her other was about a wine-and-cheese pairing. “It was so much fun! Mostly my pieces are about internet fraud. Scary and boring at the same time.” I don’t know about you but this is all I need to know about Woodstock in 1969 and 2019. tBoW is very interested in having “friend-of-THO Jonathan” write a post for the best of wines.

 

We also like pink wines especially in the summertime. Here is one that satisfied immensely.
2017 Wagner Stempel Rose Gutswein: Imported by Rudi Wiest from the Rheinhessen (the wine not Rudi – good to remember Rudi’s name as he brings in super German wines; dependably). Bright acid. Lean but not mean. High tone fruit. Like drinking some kind of not quite ripe Lychee. Good thing Mrs. tBoW was not fond of it. The bottle was finished that evening under cool LA summertime skies. [ed. Little help here with the grape and price.]
The J Dilla moment: an interview with Thundercat and Lotus [Flying] chatting with Herbie Hancock and inform the Genius that J Dilla sampled one of his songs and Herbie DID NOT KNOW THAT.

 

Wine Talk with the Ultimate Cognoscentus: Mr. David Russell

 

We have an exclusive interview with David Russell who is the Senior Wine Advisor at Woodland Hills Wine Company which is tBoW’s home store. A truncated set of questions and answers follow [ed. that means there are others on the shelf]. Suffice it to say David has wasted most of his life chasing a wine dream. Something with which tBoW and readers are familiar. There are worse things to pursue like going into politics. He has worked at prestigious wine shops along the Coastal Premium Wine Shop Trail which runs from Seattle thru Portland then the Bay Area to Santa Barbara, LA and Orange County. In case he looks familiar his personal tracks cover the Bay Area and Santa Barbara, and now Woodland Hills. There are maybe a dozen or so premium wine shops where one can count on great wine for a fair price sold by folks who know their shit. And away we go.

David wears glasses and is often fighting a chill.

1. tBoW: You are from SB and almost the right age. Did you riot in IV? DR: I’m definitely the right age, however I was in Hong Kong dodging the draft serving a Mormon mission (seriously!) when the really heavy shit went down in about 1970. Also I went to UC Berkeley, not UCSB (although most of my friends did go to UCSB and did participate in, uh, acts of civil disobedience.

2. tBoW: Spumante or prosecco? DR: I can tolerate a decent Prosecco. 

3. tBoW: what was the last wine you drank – not tasted – that was higher than 15%? DR: Though it doesn’t taste like it’s 15%, the 2014 Passopisciaro from Etna is labeled as such, and I definitely enjoyed it.

4. tBoW: Compare these wines for relative quality: Rochioli and Williams Selyem (Burt years). DR: I haven’t had nearly the experience with either that many have, but the W-S during the Burt years that I have tasted were not only frighteningly Burgundian, but I’d go even further and say that some were even Jayer-like.

5. tBoW: What Burg region would you recommend TODAY for value? What is your personal fave Burg region? Producers: choose Leroy/DRC vs, Armand Rousseau?

the wine that inspired this post was sold to us by David Russell!

DR: Probably the Côte Chalonnaise. Or Marsannay and/or Fixin. I likely have more favorite producers in the Côte de Nuits than in the Côte de Beaune, simply because the former is so much bigger and has so many more growers. I’d give DRC the nod over Leroy (though we’re splitting hairs here), as I’ve had more older bottles that truly delivered (’62 La Tâche being a case in point). Remember: Domaine Leroy has only been existence since 1988. As much as I adore Rousseau, it’s only their top three wines that really perform at the level they ought to; the Charmes-Chambertin, Mazy-Chambertin, and Clos de la Roche routinely under-deliver. There also other producers among the very elite: Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, Mugneret-Gibourg, Mugnier; Lafon, Raveneau, and Roulot in white.

7. tBoW: How long have you known Marsanne is not south of Beaune? DR: But Marsanne is south of Beaune, unless you mean Marsannay.

8. tBoW: We support the Price/Quality ratio and NOT the 100 point system which is only 13 points. Is Shanken a prick? DR: He strikes me more a buffoon than a prick.

9. tBoW: Port or Sauternes? DR: Sauternes.

10. tBoW: Is Santa Barbara suitable for Pinot Noir? Didn’t Richard Sanford have it right (how to make SB Pinot) from the start? DR: Yes, although I think Santa Maria is undervalued and Sta. Rita Hills overrated. Richard Sanford may indeed have had it right, to a degree at least, but the most compelling SB pinots for me have come from Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat).

11. tBoW: Can Calif produce great wines? Does it? Who are SOME of the GREAT producers? DR: Yes. It does, at least it did…pre-Parker. Ridge Monte Bello is still great. But none of the Big Bucks Cult Cabs are even worthy of mention in the same sentence with ’68-’70 Heitz Martha’s, ’68 or ’70 BV Private Reserve, ’74 Conn Creek, etc.

12. tBoW: What is it about Lodi that makes it the most dependable and best growing region in CA. DR: Who says Lodi is the best growing region in CA? Certainly not I.

13. tBoW: What can u say about Riesling in less than 10 words? DR: Rivals pinot in its ability to express terroir.

Many many thanks to David for sharing some time with tBoW readers. When in Woodland Hills drop into Woodland Hills Wine Company. As you can see, if you love wine then you always end up at some point with Burgundy. Maus will tell you to hunt down white Rhones and KrisB will expound on Riesling values. IGTY will ask is this all you got? tBoW Jr wants to know what we are drinking tonight. We value winemakers like Jim Moore and wine retailers like David Russell. Christ. I’m getting moist eyes.

Here. Try some Ron Burgundy with your wine Burgundy…