Weird Wine Conversation Has Legs!!

When the going gets weird the weird turn pro.
Hunter S. Thompson

Target wins top award for selling the most uninteresting wines at the most attractive prices.

Target selling wine is weird to tBoW. The “word” weird looks wierd to me. There is a new kind of weird convo taking place in wine. tBoW is serving notice: “weird wines” is a hot topic. National Wine Day – May 25 – has come and went. We guess this “holiday” celebration online piece officially kicks off the 10 month long holiday season. Dotore is eating his liver!

We have received solicitations to buy “weird wines” from vendors. Kermit Lynch features some weird wines in his current June newsletter. His staff presents articles on “The Bigfoot of Chateauneuf,” [a producer who favors the “M” in G-S-M]; the Vaucluse region of Provence [keeping it simple here] and the varietal Mourvedre from a Pic St Loup producer [tBoW KLWM hits a two bagger – region AND varietal – on the weird wines scorecard]. KLWM is also offering “20% Off “White Wines for the Curious Drinker.” KLWM is like Kaiser health. Where Kaiser goes the industry follows.

And while tBoW may not take credit for initiating this especially refreshing direction in discussing wine and wines, we reserve some credit for getting on this quickly so that our readers/viewers can get up to speed.

Talking about weird wines is good.

How many years have the tBoW writers suffered through formulaic wine writing [off blog] with these silly conventions: 100 point scores, market driven varietals, glamorous attachments to whatever kind of activity can be shopped through the pages of the Wine Speculator and other imitators.

Oh the glamour of the wine industry! I love wine! I could not live without wine!! It’s all so wholesome farm to bottle getting closer to nature working with the earth how do you like my overalls and my farm truck and my new custom crush winery labels?!

Break time. tBoW is getting dizzy.

Thank goodness tBoW contributors and wine freaks KrisB and Maus have non-conforming points of view and are willing to share them when it comes to wine. In last week’s post we featured their thoughts and comments. That was just the beginning. There is more to be shared! Great for us.

Maus – Finally read the rather fascinating article. As you know, I’ve been around the euro block, as KrisB obviously has. One place that was mentioned in that article blew me away. Gaillac. It’s in the Dordogne region. Years back we stayed there. I didn’t have memorable reds, but we were drinking white mainly, and they rocked. I remember a grape called Mauzac. However, the amazing offerings concerned dessert wines. I remember going into a damn grocery store and seeing about two dozen local choices. all for under $15! all very good. I had Negrette along the way, but wasn’t too impressed. Tannat is wonderful. quite tannic. Tannic Tannat. Grows near the Spanish border. And at this point of my life, that wine will outlive me.  Uruguay, of all places, grows it. [tBoW consumed an Uruguayan Tannat “years back”] – forgettable except for the varietal name and the state of origin – by the way Tablas Creek grows and produces Tannat. I picked up a dessert tannat (it’s red) once in Long Island on my way to a Glee concert, godhelpme. Wonderful! …cheers, having a Holloran Reisling tonight. Oregon.

KrisB – I have a weird Gaillac sweet white or two that I’ve been keeping with tBoW’s name on it (https://www.cellartracker.com/classic/wine.asp?iWine=1217606). Problem with these “weird” wines is that there doesn’t always seem to be an occasion to open them.

Maus – You’ll be in beerland before you get to Belgium…in the land of Kolschs! Although I prefer a good lager (Bitburg is also nearby for Bitburger)…man I love German beers. Are you just staying in the towns or will you make a trip to the Ahr?

[SCANDAL ALERT -NEXT COUPLE COMMENTS NSFWS]

KrisB – Love the peasant farmers, except when they make wines without sulfur and think they are all “BIO,” but really are just selling oxidized dreck. Ran into one of these a few weeks ago in Puglia who made wines that would be really beautiful, but they were undrinkable for us. And this guy is imported by Dressner!

The best story is when we visited a Beaujolais producer that we liked, Michel Guignier. He said he was all natural, no sulfur. He gave us a the first wine to try, a rose, and said this has been opened for 2-3 days, see how fresh it is!

Well, it was absolute shit, reminded me of canned dog food. Around the time we were trying not to gag on that first one, he mentioned that there is more than one Michel Guignier winemaker in the region and that’s when we knew we made a horrible mistake! We suffered through the rest of the tasting and got out as fast as we could. He did not have a nice atmospheric tasting room/cellar. I think we are going to a tasting of Slovenian wines this afternoon…

MAUS – Yeah, got a little sideways in Mosel 30 years ago. My best memory is Graach, where my wife who speaks fluent German interpreted a conversation with a typical small European winemaker, meaning he was a peasant farmer in overalls. [tBoW – I don’t care who you are that’s funny]

The Holloran reisling was delicious. Vibrant, pugnacious with a slash a pineapple! Sounds like you’ll be in a land [tBow – think he means Slovenia] where you can have the white wine that began this whole conversation [tBoW – the Himbrecht?]. It’s funny how those small time European wine operations can range from absolutely delightful to Frankenstein. I had bipolar experiences 2 years ago in Sud Tirol.  When the people are nice I always feel compelled to buy something, usually doesn’t cost more than $12  at any rate.

I was in Prague 10 years ago. I learned that Slovenia is Wine Country and Bohemia is beer land. I found a dessert Chardonnay that I accidentally froze and when it started to thaw out I had the most delicious snow cone ever. By the way my recent trip to Greece convinced me that the cradle of democracy has not enjoyed a wine Renaissance. Good lamb, though.

tBoW – Only way to top off this convo is with a video that provides a quick review of Hunter S. Thompson’s daily schedule as he ramped up for daily writing.

Wine Geeks Speak

Weird Wines Stir Strong Interests

This post is for everyone who drinks wine without looking first at the “score;” for those who buy wine to consume yesterday, today and tomorrow; for those who do not collect trophy wines; and for those of us who would only pick up a “leading wine magazine” if stuck in the waiting room of a healthcare provider.

This convo erupted spontaneously when tBoW shared a May 26 2018 article from the NYT “Why You Should Be Drinking Weird Wines”. Jason Wilson (Lettie Teague traveling?) describes several key reasons for buying and drinking obscure wines including 80% of all wines are made from 20 0f 1368 varietals. I have done the heavy lifting: about 1.5% of all vinifera account for eighty percent of all wines. We can all thank 100 point scores and glossy wine mags for the widely limited access to what should be a wildly invigorating hobby.

This he argues creates a monoculture of wine featuring chardonnay and pinot noir. tBoW has posted how I am less and less fond of both varietals, esp chardonnay.

Wilson dips into “oddities type” wines pointing out one varietal in the Swiss alps from which 800 bottles are produced annually. Why bother even referencing the grape? We will NEVER taste it. He describes the flavors as “forest floor that’s been spritzed with lemon and Nutella.” Now I am certain I will never taste it. Oddities TV programming  seems to have had its heyday. Here is one we liked about a NYC shop Obscura where the customers often obscured the shop contents.

The good news is a wonderful email conversation – detailed here without permission – followed between two of the more intriguing tBoW readers – KrisB and The Fieldmouse, aka Maus. The conversation follows more or less in sequence.

tBoW – did you see this NYT piece on obscure wines?

Maus – What does tBoW think of Zidarich Carso Vitovska Belo? Funny this article made you think of us because it’s pretty much Riesling, Pinot, or Piemonte at our house most days. Nothing else usually sounds appealing.

tBoW – whadafaaa and perhaps this could soon be a blog topic.

Maus – well, I’ve already ordered two vitovskas, so come what may. Chris, don’t know if we’ve met, but do acquaint yourself with roussanne! but i must say, for us it’s mostly riesling and pinot (and sango blends) as well! Cheers!

KrisB (like Maus a fan of the Friuli region) – the vitovskas that I’ve had tend to be somewhat oxidative in style which is something that I just don’t like for the most part (except in some sherries, go figure).  YMMV (undecipherable notation) Roussanne can be nice, but it’s no Riesling! :)

You drinking domestic, Rhone, or more exotic like savoie?

Maus – ah, Bergeron. a bit hard to find around here, to say the least. tends to be a bit lean. Well, i’ll take roussanne where I can get it. sometimes i settle for the majority in a blend. white rhones are typically better, but Paso and, believe it or not, Washington, do nice jobs as well. My favorite budget choice is Chateau de Trignon in Southern Rhone.

For Rieslings, where do you go? Anywhere but California, I assume. I hope you had some Australians and Finger Lakes along the way… tBoW and I used to slurp Germans way back in the ’80s and I’m pretty sure we honeymooned in Mosel! [ed. He means with his spouse] Not that we don’t anymore!

Kris B – “Our Pinot has been mostly burgs lately too. As you know, I like to find a direct to consumer importer who finds unknown values. Fass Selections has been working pretty well for me on the burg and other front. Ugh vitovska. We visited the Carso a few years back. Some very good wines. But didn’t have a vitovska that I liked. They probably exist but maybe are hard to find.

And there it is. Cannot wait until we pull the corks on Vitovska and Himbertscha this summer in tBoW’s Summer Weingarten!

CHEERS INDEED! Here is a non-English video about the most rare wine grape, and the wine made from it, in the world! I think I understand what is being said!

“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.

Politix Alert! tBoW Sees Red Wine Collusion

the Glass Jar takes a closer look at the “news cycle” and finds a deeply personal POV


As James Comey swept the news cycle with reflections on his encounters with President Trump and his termination from the FBI, he gave the world many images for our time. One of these images had Trump alone with the former FBI Director asking for loyalty which illustrated the “mob boss” style of leadership Comey has articulated. Another image depicted Comey staring at the news informing him of his firing and leaving him in shock.

Yet another image depicted by Comey may have deeper meaning than one may initially suspect and that involves him drinking red wine from a paper cup. We typically make the effort to ensure our wine remains in a clear wine glass although the glass itself will not likely affect the taste yet during such a low moment one may feel such trivial details do not matter in the larger scheme of things.

Comey’s description of himself drinking wine in a cup resembles a scene from the 2004 film Sideways [ed. the movie is a favored tBoW device for illustrating obtuse points, most recently the fact that Paul Giamatti and Paul Lato doppelgang each other].

In Sideways Miles helplessly watched his best friend get married while meeting his ex-wife’s new husband. Trying to maintain his cool when talking to the woman who broke his heart, she informs him of the baby she will soon have with her new husband. Suddenly, he realizes the woman who meant so much to him will start a family leaving him as insignificant to her as ever. Given his hectic and paranoid nature, Miles reaches a low moment where nothing seems to matter under a cloud of utter misery. After the wedding, he sits down at a fast-food restaurant and drinks his coveted 1961 Cheval Blanc in a paper cup just like the one Comey prefers! Miles frequently mentions this bottle throughout the film and how he’s saving it for a special moment. His despair sends the message that there’s no point in waiting for such a moment or even a wine glass.

The choice between a wine glass and a cup seems insignificant, especially when we are with loved ones. Who needs a wine glass? The moment feels comfortable and any worries about propriety stay out of the room. The wine glass is a symbol of a relaxed social endeavor. When we feel alone and are facing the currents of hopelessness, what’s the difference between wine in a glass or in a cup?

As a natural born New Englander who has never been known to my friends as an avid hugger, I am not one to say “hug a stranger” or any of that bullshit. Sometimes people just want some space and a hug feels like almost too much at once. I would say don’t give somebody a hug if you see them crying and do not give somebody a hug if they want to be alone. In fact, don’t hug strangers ever. I don’t know who came up with that phrase or what they were on. There is one exception.

Should you ever encounter somebody drinking wine from a cup, give them a hug. People cry and people feel down from time to time but a person drinking wine from a cup is telling the universe that he needs all the help he can get. Go give that person the biggest fu**ing hug you’ve ever given.

[ed. Glass Jar hits another high point in the culture of tasting wine. On a 100 point scale I would give this report a solid 99!]

Here are some wines we quickly tasted after reading the Glass Jar’s thoughtful message.

2015 Vena Cava Rose ~$20 if you buy it at the estate. We expected it would come in 2nd – a close second – to the Casa Magoni. But we were wrong. More acidic and darker red color made us recall the deep red rose wines from Sevilla. Lovely. Wish we had more. Avenatti would like this wine.

Casa Mongoni Rose ~$20 made by the most renowned winemaker in the Guadalupe Valley. More fleshy which means for tBoW more soft than he prefers. However, just about perfect for Mrs. tBoW. April Ryan – WH correspondent who is a sweetheart with a nasty bite if you cross her – would agree.

2005 Lopez de Herredia Bosconia $35 Call this one of the most dependable wines of breed and elegance out there. Rioja blend of Tempranillo, Tinto Fino, Tinta Roriz, Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo. 12.5% alcohol. At 14 years age (believe me an oversight) this is just perfect. Lopez does wait like eight years to release these wines so it was only forgotten in the cellar for a few years.

We are a bit past May 5 but better late than never for Cinco de Mayo!!

Brrrrr Gun Deeee Shudder

Chambolle Musigny Vineyard

The Old BeeDee used to quote his Uncle Geezer whenever he (OBD) was feeling special about something: “quail on toast, nuthin’ like it!

Something similar takes place whenever a “real wine taster” gets around to the subject of Burgundy wines – nuthin’ like ’em. There are certainly other wines we like and favor: like Alto Piemonte and Rioja Rose’s. However, the feeling we get when contemplating Burgs is immediately nostalgic dredging up memories of bottles drained, trepidation for costs to come, forlorn about bottles missed becuz we were too wimpy to meet the price of a ticket to wine Caanan, and unsettling for the possibility that the highest peak in wine consumption – an experience that is always elusive – can never be reached.

We tried once more to scale that slope recently…as we will surely try again and again. Forget the “value.” No U20 wines here. More like U60. How bad do you want it??

The bottles were from the Chambolle Musigny region whose reputation proceeds itself. Musigny is a magic word uttered only in the process of incantation. Moo-zin-yee. Not so much spoken as inhaled. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.

Two producers lesser known – Domaine Anne Gros and Domaine Patrick Hudelot; but then there are so many more producers in Burgundy who are “lesser known” than the handful that are “known.”

tBoW purchased the DPH bottle from local wine merchant Woodland Hills Wine Co which is our local go-to wine store with a particularly strong Burg selection. This was the last bottle. The $60 price was quite “reasonable” for Chambolle-Musigny. The Anne Gros had been purchased on release along with a few more 2009s. Runki-san, aka tBoW Jr “best palate of any 10 year old”, picked it to go with a humble meal of veggies, rice and swordfish. Wine snobs will tel you great wine really should be drunk on its own. Not really. Great wines go great with a simple meal.

Here are tasting notes from winemaker Anne Gros on her product: 2009 Chambolle Musigny la Combe d’Orveau: this is fine, quite floral bouquet with touches of rose petal and violets accompanying the dark cherry fruit. Good definition – develops a gourmand element with time. The palate has a taut entry, a little brusque even, very linear with chalky tannins towards the more masculine, structured finish.

Here is what tBoW and tBoW Jr. tasted: Powerful nose that is all ripe ripe cherries. Color is deep cherry red with some brick color showing age. It is time to drink this wine. Flavors are rich ripe cherry brandy. Is there such a thing as cherry brandy? Yes from Eastern Europe. If we say “brandy” we mean the alcohol can be detected in the nose. Not a bad thing. The alcohol is sub 14%. Everything in ripe rich fruity balance. If I was a French monk in the 15th century this wine would make me want to do some sinning! The flavor weakened and the brick color grew more pronounced as the wine faded over 40 minutes. Drink it now. This is great pinot noir. We always end up saying “you cannot get these flavors out of pinot noir anywhere else in the world.”

What about the DPH Chambolle (the one we purchased at WHWC)? This wine had plenty of head winds facing its tasting eval; 2 night golf outing with IGTY, lumpen palates, THC laden gummy candy innocently chewed on by an unbeknownst tBoW…not to mention the produce is unknown, unseen and had recently changed his label (at least since 2009). Nevertheless…C hambolle was true to pedigree.

2009 Domaine Patrick Hudelot Chambolle Musigny Beaux Brands: beety flavors (NOT beeFy), more towards the earthy side, weighty drink for Burgundy (the popular term is “legs”), rich dark red robe without any brick showing, held up to the relentless assault on the bottle. Very nice in the masculine style of Burgundy. No forest floor (pooh aromas). No mushrooms (under ripe). Only the delicious beet flavors like the vacuum sealed packs sold at Costco, try those!

Denouement: Burgundy not only makes the best Pinot Noir wines in the world, it really makes the only ones we enjoy drinking. Drink them without food. Drink them with food. Treat these wines like they treat us; with care, pleasure, and in good company that enjoys and knows something about wine.

Dig a little deeper next time you are in a fine wine store like Wine Exchange or Hi Time Wine Cellars in Coata Mesa or Woodland Hills Wine Company. Ask the floor guide to pick out something from Burgundy under $60. Go for it. Let us know.