Posts belonging to Category Under$20



the Glass Jar Looks Back on 2019 and Foresees 2020: from Mindless to Winedless

The Glass Jar has returned to The Best of Wines bearing words of wisdom learned from the past while also casting an eye to 2020. For this we are grateful. Amen. Let us read..

ancient winemaker with fuzzy revus

modern winemaker seeking comeback

GJ: When is it a good time to take a break from the blog? This a trick question. People often live in states of uncertainty demonstrating little remains constant in life. Except the blog. For years now, the Glass Jar has considered the blog to be somewhat of a second tier Thanksgiving relative. Maybe I am not always in touch with the blog as much as I should be and perhaps I struggle to understand everything the blog says but I will always know the blog is there. I mean would you rather be talking about your life plans with some dull relative or would you rather be in the company of the greatest wine blog ever to exist? The choice is yours. So make it wisely and don’t look back. 

The Glass Jar has been making a lot of phone calls lately as he is spending this chapter of my life in a “sales type” role. [ed. he is selling stuff on cold calls]. My employer will not be named to protect its questionable reputation. The Director of Sales asked a co-worker why he wanted the job. He responded he was driven to leave a prior job of great intensity. He wanted to simplify his life by doing something mindless. He got the job. The Sales Director fired this go-getter. Last month the Sales Manager was fired.

I did make some friends, for example a man who taught me some basic archery. He got fired. My other friend has not been fired and is one of the better salesmen at the company. But he has kept a box under his desk for years for when the day comes.

Darwinism in cubicles? The Glass Jar walks in the building with no fear as he learned a tender lesson in his pizza employment [ed. read about giving back to the pizza here]. He has bounced back through unimaginable hardships.

So what is my word for 2020? You may have guessed: Mindlessness. The word captures giving time and energy towards an endeavor that doesn’t really mean anything. Those in search of mindlessness will likely find some form of it nearer than realized. Which leaves me wondering…is wine mindless? Is there no point regarding wines celebrated by blogs such as The Best of Wines? Or is there a truer meaning in wine which must be discovered?

I remember in my younger years, watching people sit around tables sipping wine and talking about the flavors. I remember wondering if there was really a point to this. It seemed pretty mindless but the drinkers enjoyed it. Maybe mindlessness is an excuse to enjoy life. Why else would salespeople putt golf balls on the rug? Is wine mindless or not? Why not be a little mindless? Word for 2020 – Winedless!!

bombast sells in politix!

tBoW: Oh my. The Glass Jar uncovers yet another corner of cognitive dissonance; an experience omnipresent in life. Mindlessness runs the gamut from the current President and his moronic cabinet, to the endless news cycle which runs the idiocy like a broken bicycle, to annual wine holiday catalogs for the oenologically challenged. Wallys Wine used to be a terrific wine shop in West Los Angeles. tBoW found purpose every time in the Westwood Boulevard store owned by Steve Wallace and managed by Gary Fishman. Steve had been buying great wines for so long his backroom was littered with bottles. Wallys backroom was like the storerooms with Euro antiquities purchased mindlessly by Charles Foster Kane [ed. cue Citizen Kane]. It was well known in the 40s that the controversial movie was inspired by the ultra wealthy protagonist newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane who was William Randolph Hearst. tBoW’s purpose was to locate and capture the fab bottles lost to time In Wally’s backroom. tBow even placed his own son as curator of Wally’s backroom.

Steve Wallace sold out at least a decade ago. Wally’s today is a mindless wine store that caters to mindless “wine collectors.” WINEDLESSNESS applies! The holiday catalog is a monument to mindlessness. tBoW was so appaled wth the tastelessness of the premier post sale catalog we featured it here.

Is the Glass Jar presaging the greatest events of 2020…the national and key state elections? Stay tuned. And pop a great Cava sparkler during the holidays…something like Raventos i Blanc Blanc de Blancs U20 at ~$20: YUMMY JUMMY NUMMY NUM NUMS! Cava sparkler perfectly balanced, good weight golden apples sez Mrs tBoW. We could say poor mans Krug but that would be quite a stretch. Or would it? Great backstory here worth reading how this Penedes winery stepped it up champagne style in 2012. Sold to tBoW by Katie of Desert Wine Shop [ed. now there’s a surprise.]

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

 

Minneapolis Hoedown: GREAT wines & a superb set of museums

Minneapolis Impresses like its Early Gehry Tin Can

A wedding obligation pulled Mr. and Mrs. tBoW to Minneapolis for the last days of summer/fall. Temps between 30 and 50. Balmy. The groom and betrothed selected a very fine restaurant for the first evening out: Alma Cafe [ed. click for winelist and food choices]. The wine and food set the standard for the remaining dozens of hours in town. Let’s get the other stuff out of the way.

Samurai headdress in Mia

Minneapolis is a very cool town. Easy to get around. Excellent public trans. A bevy of top flight museums that put “classic big ticket” LA museums to shame. Like the Brentwood Getty and LACMA. The Minneapolis Institute of Art [ed. Mia to the locals] has outstanding collections in modern, turn of the 20th cenury and international paintings and artifacts. The Weisman Art Museum covers modern artists and movements like a light scarf on a blustery downtown day.

What to do after the museums? Eat and drink of course. The wedding was also really fun…but how often does one go to Minnesota for a wedding?

Sonia the somm with her tBoW selection

The principal wine and dine highlights took place at Alma Cafe. Seven wedding goers sat and chatted. tBoW spent his evening in the capable hands of Michael the waiter and Sonia the somm. The daily cocktails featured a Sangria unlike any other we have seen or tasted: “Burgundy & Chablis, Miro Vermouth, XO Brandy, Elderflower, Pink Peppercorns, Cyelon CInammon.” Is it a drink or a travel guide? The blend was superb. Of course tBoW wants to re-create this. Must check the bottom shelf where he puts the never used bottles of whatever – mostly forgotten and forgettable Kahlua brands.

From there to the wine list; the most varied and thoughtful selection encountered in a very long time with a strong adherence to the PQR – Price Quality Ratio. For examples, the red wines offered fell under six sections: France, Chile/Argentina; North America; Italy/Central and Eastern Europe; Australia/South Africa; and Spain. Flip the single page for the White Wine list which is similar with exceptional additions; i.e., the Italy/Central Euro group adds Eastern Europe. Name a wine list in SoCal with this range.

Selections that required a mini study hall with Sonia:

2016 Grenache/Syrah Pic St Loup “La Closerie du Pic” from Puech-Haut – $16/glass

NV Sangiovese “plus” from Merkin “Shinola” from Cochise County Arizona $15/glass (winery started by Tool frontman)

Pinot Noir plus, Pearl Morrissette (Alana?) “Metis Rouge” Niagra Penninsual – $17/glass

The list included so many labels we never see in LA (and perhaps the West Coast) it was thrilling. Sonia poured a Croatian red for one of our group. Light to medium body with enough flavor to drink. Just like the wine [ed. nyuk nyuk].

When Sonia asked what tBoW might like with my veggie plate I asked her to choose. She returned with a Sardinian wine that was medium bodied and unique: Monica di Sardegna, Cardedu “Praja” $17/glass. [ed. U20 looks like it is available at Wine House]!

Why do we not see more of these wines in LA? Could be the importers of gem wines from the continent just do not get out here. If we do encounter a thoughtful even creatively considered wine list in our town the cost for food and drink is abhorrent. Could be the industry is undergoing a welcome overhaul post-Kermit-Rosenthal-Louis Dressner, as Lettie Teague recently noted. The closest destination next to the Pacific Ocean where food and wine and cost would align in harmony is probably Portland. Better choices and golf in Minneapolis? Must fly to either one.

If you’re flying to Minneapolis just becuz you can you must go in May after the winter thaw and before the Summer mosquitos.

Akira Kurosawa would eat and drink at Alma…check out his samurai fight from “Seven Samurai.”

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Chilled Bubbly is Perfect for Summer…Let’s Drink Some Real Soon!!

THE DARK LORD FINDS HIMSELF IN A LIME-LIKE POOL; DUNHILL IN A TOOTHY DEATH GRIP

When Did the Rules Change For Sparkling Wines?!? Is this some New Wine Gonzo?

Normally a post touting summer chilled sparkling wine would feature Prosecco; that frothy sweet little wine with low alcohol [ed. under 10%], tastes like peaches and mixes with anything. Guzzle an ice-chilled bottle, height of summer seated at a restaurant courtyard in Sevilla getting ready to tour the cathedral with its impoverished tesoro room. Today? Champagne style cava. Pink sparklers from Bordeaux. And a U20 sweepstakes runner from Mendocino? Man…that’s the way you do it. Money for nothin’…bubbles for free.

Things seem to have changed. We tasted three sparkling wines recently that suggest a sparkler trend with which we are not familiar. We are hardly the first to say this BBBUUUTTT Cava sparklers have come a long way! In fact the old rules that governed the commission of sparkling wines have been upended; notice we MUST NOT say champagne as that it is a total winespeak faux pas. Try any of the following without fear.

Sharffenberger Brut Rose Excellence “Suggested retail $26” but can be found for half that at World Market. Non-vintage approximately half and half Chard and Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. Muscular. Top heavy. Very pleasing. Could suck this down all day at…maybe…a wedding? Great news! Buy it at World Market at half price!

Calvet Cremant de Bordeaux Brut Rose 2015 U20 at $17 or less, almost 100% Cab Franc. Come on. That’s impressive. I guess the old rules are officially thrown out. Balanced, Seductive. On the red side of pink. Tougher to find than a collusion conviction.

Raventos i Blanc Blanc de Blancs U20 at ~$20: YUMMY JUMMY NUMMY NUM NUMS! Cava sparkler perfectly balanced, good weight golden apples sez Mrs tBoW. We could say poor mans Krug but that would be quite a stretch. Or would it? Great backstory here worth reading how this Penedes winery stepped it up champagne style in 2012. Sold to tBoW by Katie of Desert Wine Shop [ed. now there’s a surprise.]

Hunter S. Thompson is an iconic symbol of the Baby Boomers. He blew his brains out.  People do that when facing mortality. Just sayin’ [ed. so did Anthony Bourdain]. Thompson (and Bourdain) was not old enough to do that. He did practice excessive habits which certainly contributed to his impulse control. And he loved guns. We have two videos about the Dark Lord. He merits that. Look at this embedded video about his unimaginable daily intake of substances. Then open the vid below in which “kindred” authors and film people reference Thompson’s works. Ask yourself this. Was this any way to live?

Cellar Sale: Raptors Re-Org Waryers! tBoW & Ikorb Re-Org Cellar

I was chatting with KrisB about wines from the Northern Rhone. He was trying to ‘splain me why I should be more open-minded about Rhone wines [ed. if this doesn’t raise a Field Maus eyebrow…]
“Over-extracted means medium for Fass and lightweight for Parker.” [ed. I don’t care who you are that’s funny]. Kris B directed me to the email notices for offerings by Mr. Fass who must be on the road about 13 months a year. The two or three cases I have already shelled out for arrive in the Fall. All the wines will be from the regions I favor which include Alto Piemonte [ed. Nebbiolo in the light style from above Milano] along with wines from Sardinia and Sicily. And of course, Burgundies.
KrisB directed tBoW to Garagiste years before. Fass is another madman itinerant wine voyager – altho’ the Krisses have done their share of wine touring – who sold me Burgs, Rieslings, Cabs from Languedoc and who knows what else. I posted that Rimmerman was the Rasputin of online wine vendors! Like Fass Selections, Rimmerman – aka Garagiste – is a super salesman who I believe L-O-V-E-S wine and loves offering deals. Ikorb – known tBoW follower – says Rimmerman offers top tier Bordeaux. If that is true it would be sad news as that suggests he has cultivated “trophy hunters” who go after the “big game” bottles. It’s a market with which I am not familiar. I know this. Lyle Fass has some very engaging video reviews on his Instagram.
Quite a few tBoW readers and affiliates are sophisticated purveyors of email vendors like Garagiste, WTSO and Fass. This is a game for the Cognos. We really enjoy there is little risk in supporting these wandering vendors. The payoff is enjoying great and unusual wines at great prices. Can’t wait for my German Pinots!
Not that a bottle hunter is unable to find great wines at great values in the right wine shops. We named a handful in the Story Tasting post with another chance to drive traffic to Kate in the Desert Wine Shop.
At the end of the day it comes down to Burgs. Ikorb helped tBoW re-organize the wine cellar recently…with astounding and unexpected results. Three cases of Burgs were scattered across nameless bins. Now they are divided into BURG READY and BURG WAIT. If you’re having a rough day, maybe you had a weak round of goff…you can always pull the cork on a wine recently recovered from shelves sensibly divided into Reds and Whites. To the reviews.
2009 Sylvaine Patais Marsannay Clos du Roy $45 [available supposedly in LA at secret tBoW shop] tBoW tasting notes:
feral without a growl…brick red color means it is ready…not ready to give up the booty…needs 30 minutes…perfect 
accompaniment to Kawhi Leonard and Steph Curry…blending finesse and grace [boaf uv um] with the unstoppable power [Kawhi]. As the game [ed. 6th and final, Waryers vs. Raptors] chugged towards its end, the wine showed the fading power of Boogie Cousins. Delicious and working all the way to the last drop. Changeling and still energetic. Beets or cherries you ask? Neither nor a combo of both…a fox crossed with a bobcat? DeNiro on the hunt for a ten point stag…instead of shooting it he drinks it?
2012 La Croix Montjoie Irancy~$24 purchased from Fass maybe 3 years ago. This wine is so funky the vintage is not listed on the label! This is great farmer wine. I can see the gnarly creased fingers with deeply etched skin. Flavors are all beets and nose of hay after a light rain. A real deal. Puts you in a lost corner of Burgundy where the trophy hunters rarely enter.

KrisB knows his wines. I suppose I have no choice but to let him persuade me as to the pleasures and joys of Northern Rhone Syrah wines. See you in August!

Mike the Nam survivor (played by Robert DeNiro) can’t pull the trigger. Make one film this beautiful and have nothing left. Is there a Wine Lesson here?

The Storied Tasting

Picture this…a cooler than normal day in late May.

Wine, cheese and ready tasters.

Bacchus and Mr. Story smiled.

Image result for Bacchus blows clouds

Eight tasters around the table outside the kitchen: Lou, Shag Man, David Mac, Large, tBoW hisself, Mr Story, Dotore and Broki. Five cognoscenti – Cognos and three Ignorami – Ignos. At least ten corks were pulled. The day’s goal was to edjicate Mr. Story about wine. And to chew on cheese.

When one is trying to “get it” about wine, the first lesson is to comprehend the many traps that must be avoided. Such as the 100 point rating scale. Total bullshit. Marketing to sell wines and magazines. When the lowest rating EVER is 87 then the scale is actually 13 points; not 100. Ignore the score.

That was an easy sell. The U20, U15 and U10 ratings defined by Le Large is far more useful [ed. wines that cost “Under” the dollar amount]. Wine is all about the price/quality ratio [ed. see tBoW discussion from waaaay baaaack].

The mission was to provide the Ignos with enough experience to get along on their own in the silly pompous scores-driven world of wine. Where to buy wine? What to buy? How to tell if a wine is good or bad? tBoW’s goal was to keep the table breeze from blowing too hard if ya gets me drift. Here is how it went.

tBoW dug some older wines from his cellar that were beyond their shelf life by about a decade each. These wines were tired and out of synch. The only hints and notes they had were wrong (hints) and flat (notes). Great starters. Dispensed with 15 years of “flawed wine” disgruntlement in 45 minutes.

After the parade of flat , unbalanced and otherwise FLOD wines, the first “best wine” was opened. It was classic, seven year old burgundy from a highly reputed producer and a decent vintage.

2012 Regis Bouvier Clos du Roy, $35 at buy. Lou almost spit it out [ed. she likes wine with fruit]. The rest of the Cognos cooed. The Ignos did not know what to think. This wine opened for at least an hour. Burgs come in two flavors: beets or cherries. This was beety. A discussion about noble grapes erupted and the conceit of the New World to compete with the Old World noble varietals; Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauv, Nebbiolo and Riesling. Why are these grapes “noble?” Because they are! Now stop asking stupid questions. Lou came round in 40 minutes.

Other “star wines” included an Alto Piemonte (north Piedmont) and a Barolo (south Piedmont). Nebbiolo is the noble grape. Conversation focused on how Neb is a single grape wine near Alba (south of Torino) yet is still blended with local grapes in the Alto Piemonte. (north of Milano). The Cognos are fans of the Alto style: lean, low alcohol, lightweight, and simply delicious bending fruit with a distinctive local flavor, i.e., Gattinara, Bramaterra, Choochoo Wassy, etc.

As the second hour arrived it was time to open the guaranteed winner bottle; a single vineyard vintge Oporto. Port is a sweet wine that cannot be tasted until at least a decade passes. This had 25 years on it. It is a desert wine with a charming back story rooted in one of the extended wars between England and Spain. The producer is Martinez. Alcohol is 20% which is typical of port. Transcendent as aged ports can become.

1994 Quinta da Eira Velba by Martinez $35 on futures. The color was rusty brown. The nose showed toffee, coffee and rum. The flavors were true. We should all age so wonderfully. One bottle left in tBoW’s cellar!

But wait! said David Mac. I brought that Alysian Vermouth (17%). Pop goes the cork. The chilled wine was so exotic it challenged description. Oily. Bittersweet. Sorgum and spice. Camphor?  flavors are balanced. Orange peel. Must be therapeutic because I am reminded of my last rubdown. One of the Ignos – Shag Man – said “reminds me of an Old Fashioned.” The real amazing fact was the vermouth is made in Healdsburg! That’s right. Sonoma County. New World.

To summarize, here are some Quick and Dirty lessons for enjoying wine.

#1 Avoid grocery store wines. Unless the store is Gelsons in LA, Draegers in Palo Alto, Flatiron in San Francisco, or AJs in Scottsdale AZ. Forget Trader Joes and Whole Foods although if it came down to those 2? Better shot is Whole Foods.

#2 Identify and shop at a local Wine Store. Here in our neighborhood that is Woodland Hills Wine. The only others are Wine House in West LA, Hi Time in Costa Mesa and Wine Exchange in Santa Ana. Hi Time is best in So Cal. Honorable mention goes to Desert Wine Shop on 111 in Palm Desert [Katie of DWS below].

Katie Desert Wine Shop

#3 Shop online for best prices. This can be tricky. To do this well one must be armed with label, producer and vintage knowledge. The best deals are online. The Cognos cited Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO), Fass Selections and Garagiste. Most of these operations ship 2x/year so when the stash arrives after the summer it is in cases! Easy to lose track of how much you bought! KrisB is an exclusive online shopper. Many Cognos shop online.

#4 Buy the importer. Labels can be confusing. It takes years to read them. Wineries especially in the USA invent terms to impress the Ignos, such as Reserve, Special Select, Single Vineyard and Special Reserve. These mean n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Wait. I take that back. These phrases mean you pay a couple more bucks for n-o-t-h-i-n-g. You can always buy with confidence any wine imported by Kermit Lynch, Neal Rosenthal, Charles Neal or Louis/Dressner.

#5 Old World over New World. Europe and the Continent before Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Canada and Napa.

There were at lest two Dependable Quaffers. Cognos always have a handful of DQs nearby. Pull those U20 corks today. The Chave Mon Couer from the Rhone is always a U20, always balanced and easy to suck down on its own or with cashews. The 2015 Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona from Thessaly is a recent find with teasing exotica. At $17 it is a real deal. We found it at Desert Wine Shop and Hi Time.

Things get wild at Desert Wine Shop! Jump to the 1 minute mark and watch thru the 4 minute mark.