Posts belonging to Category Albarino



Saddle Peak Showcase: Martian Ranch & Vineyard

mars_planetWEBSeated under the moosehead with the French doors open to the early evening air we sat in wicker chairs that are never this comfy anywhere else. Our love affair with Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas got even steamier this week. Somm Jen Carter presented her first small winery Winemaker Dinner featuring Martian Ranch & Winery of Los Alamos. The invite said the “owner, operator, winemaker and sommelier would be available to educate and entertain.” Two out of four is good enough for us especially when that duo includes Ms. Carter and winemaker Mike Roth. Somm Jen, GM Bobby Caravella and chef Chris Kurek have turned the onetime staid and spotty Saddlepeak Lodge into our favorite dining venue in the city. Saddlepeak has always had the space-based charm with the Water Buffalo and other icons of taxidermy everywhere which fortunately do not count towards the fire department occupancy limit. Now it has tons of personal charm that shows on the scorecard. (more…)

The New Era of Wine Tasters Are Not Spectators!

younguns_idealized1The new generation of adults who find an interest in wine don’t buy 100 point scoring systems. They are not interested in putting out cash to “learn” how to appreciate wine or to attend mega tasting events. They are not interested in the Wine Spectator or Robert Parker or any of the folderol that has shaped the image of wine as lifestyle since Robert Mondavi invented it. The new generation of young people prefer to figure out wines on their own. They appreciate guidance and they appreciate variety. They do not feel the urge to latch onto “Napa Big Reds” or 100 point trophy wines. Indeed, The economy has been depressed as they have matured into self-supporting adults. They do not have the discretionary income to Be A Spectator as Young Un Sawa EM put it. And so say all of us!

Here are some wines tasted with a group of Young Uns with in-their-own-words comments while immersed in the tasting of a group of wines as interesting as the tasters themselves.

gassier_sables_dazurCROP2012 Michel Gassier Cotes de Provence Sables d’Azur Rosé $10: The bottle has curves in all the right places. This Provencal wine is salmon color. The flavors are fresh with plenty of acid, of the sea. Inspired by the aromas and flavors Young Un E said “it tastes like the beach, an ocean breeze before sunrise in Normandy after a long night. It’s going to be a warm day.” tBoW feels it. Add lime back and rocky sand. 13%

1996 Giessinger Zinfandel: REL says the wine nose and flavors conjures Grand Central Station in 1958 [ed. she wasn’t even born! No matter she’s on a roll!]; worn leather and wood. I get it. These are the aromas and flavors of aged red wines usually captured in more familiar cedar box and graphite bullshit. Dr. Geissinger the astrophysicist is a local winemaker who makes all kinds of wines. It would not be unfair to describe him as a wine tinkerer. I once tasted a White Cabernet he made. He seems to favor sweet wines ergo many of his wines have a floral nose and candied flavors. He has captured the affection of Young Uns up and down the Central coast. This wine is unlabeled. Color is brick red. The sweet nose has caramel and milk chocolate. This wine has held up nicely. Flavors include molasses and pine nuts. On his website he offers the following advice under the heading “What Matters”: Drink in moderation. It is better not to drink than drink excessively.

2010 Giessinger Paso Robles Limited Vintage Malbec ~$25: Dr. G sources all his fruit. His joy is making the wine. Perfumed nose. Bordeaux flavors. Young Un E says it is medieval, Pre Golden Age. Royalty in the bottle. Think Game of Thrones. GenH says “like coming home and changing out of your work clothes into some comfy PJs, watching Teen Moms and eating a bowl of cereal. [ed. A discussion of Teen Moms breaks out]. tBoW says prunes-plus.

Dinner at local favorite Saddle Peak Lodge introduced us to a couple new tastes out of the Central Coast. Somm Jen Carter has performed some of her own wizardry with the wine list which emphasizes ONLY domestic wines. martian-ranch-vineyard-los-alamos2Jen has dug into the blooming field of new winemakers and labels from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles and peppered her wine list with a dozen or so labels that will jump out for their affordable price points and their unusual varietals. Mind you this is a winelist that for decades featured heavy hitter Cabs. Check these out.

2011 Martian Ranch & Vineyard Los Alamos ‘UFOric’ Albarino Santa Barbara County $46 (on the wine list $25 at winery): Only 300 cases. Oily feel and weight. Very flavorful with acidic melon. The perfect pre-dinner sipper. How much Albariño can be planted in Santa Barbara? She pours it by the glass ($13).

sierra-madre-vineyard-estate-pinot-blanc-santa-mariaCROP2010 Sierra Madre Pinot Blanc Santa Maria Valley $42 (on the wine list, $19 in stores): 500 cases. Herbal. spiny flavors, rich with some power. Meal wine. Nice job.

Don’t be a Spectator when it comes to Wine. There are plenty of wines worth trying out with price points under $20. Inventing your own “lifestyle” and wine language is so much more interesting. For all of us older tasters…encourage discovery…host a new gen tasting ASAP.

Viva the Vs! Vinho Verde and Verdelho wines!

We think summer is the perfect time for drinking Ros√©s and bright acidic Albarinos and Italian Pigatos along with other Ligurian whites. Not so fast you cock-a-roaches. Please say hello to my little friends from Portugal and Southern Spain – the Vees of white wines. tBoW was awash in these copa Blancos or as they say in Portugal copa Brrrranco for two breakneck weeks. Thank goodness this corner of Europe believes in late lunch washed down with a bright, crisp well-chilled white wine that tastes like nothing we have ever had. Albarino has more acid and a rice-like quality. These V wines are pure citrus. Vinho Verde comes from Portugal and is leaner than Verdelho which comes from Spain which is more gentle but only by comparison. Verdelho would dance the flamenco on your typical Sauvignon Blanc. (more…)

Basque-ing in a Tablas Creek tasting

The Basque country is in northwestern Spain on the border with France and includes the Navarre region. The French resort Biarritiz is right over the county line [ed. tBoW’s first link to wikitravel]. Notable Basque towns include Bilbao and San Sebastian although Hondarribia (near San Sebastian) is certainly one of the most charming. This is the road less traveled when it comes to Spanish tourism. Good for you!! Area highlights include Bilbao’s Gehry-designed museum, knocked off repeatedly, even by himself, (see LA’s Disney Hall) and the surfing town of [ed. to prove the point side by side pics can be examined at bottom] and Mundaka… (more…)

Wine Intelligence part 1: Time of the Season

I am not finished with the recent entry about corresponding the wine to the season. The good dokker calls it wine intelligence. I agree. The immediate objective is to provide a few simple guidelines for how to know what to take to a wine dinner-slash-tasting. The longer term objective is to give some hints on how to enhance your enjoyment of wine. (more…)