Posts belonging to Category Chardonnay



World Series, Halloween and Fall Tastings

SF-pandasWEBMajor League baseball can provide drama on the field like no other professional sports league. None of them. Not one. This year’s events have been nothing short of fabuloso. If you are a Doyers fan you have to be dumbstruck with the dumb luck the Giants are able to manufacture to advance their season into the September, October, uh… November Classic.

El Dean de Los Doyers

El Dean de Los Doyers

How can you not love the PANDAs down the third base line? They are watching the game through the mouths of giant Panda heads. This is fandom in the new millenium. The final round starts this week. You may be sick if it all by now… but we are not… and we will be tuning in.

Long as we are here [ed. hey, everybody here here?] let’s infuse some baseball with wines we have tried. Our guest taster tonight is Vin Scully. Read his revviews out loud while you hold your nose to capture the complete Vinny experience.

gambiaWEB2010 Andrea Faccio Azenda Agricola Villa Giada Gamba di Pernice $19: Piemonte wine that is not Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto or those other blending grapes used in communities we long to visit north of Barolo. This is Leg Partridge a robust and ancient grape rescued from extinction by the young dude who overhauled the family winery 20 years ago. Ruby red with spice. What does Vinny think?

“Andrea Faccio at the plate. The young Piemontese is a newcomer to fans having toiled for the Gaja farm team in Asti for years. Foul ball up the first ball line out of reach. Asti, of course, is where quite a few notable vingeron found their games. High fly to right field. Puig sets up and makes the catch. Faccio makes a nice spicy red that tastes nothing like Nebbiolo. This grape, we are told, is as goofy as the Dodger right fielder. Wow. Yasiel is refusing to throw the ball back to the infield. We hope to see him again in the Spring.” 13.5%

torrontes07WEB2007 Finca de Domingo Torrontes $11: At seven years this bottle was really pushing it. The color was too golden. Thick and near-oxidative. The announcer who will never retire shared the following.

“Latin American wines can always be counted on to do a creditable job. The white Argentines like Torrontes are somewhat of a special breed. They give their best effort when still youthful. Every now and then you get one from the high elevation Cafayate region – in the dirt but Posey is able to corral it – that manages to stay on the roster beyond its due date. Finca Domingo must have gotten lost in the cellar only to emerge when there was nobody left to pitch the 15th inning. Can’t go with the delicate workhorse Kershaw or the injured Reeyou. You say Roo? Either would be willing – low and away ball four he walked him – but the GM says no. We hope to see Colletti next Spring.” 11%

sousa-champWEB Champagne de Sousa Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Reserve $60: 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. Light yellow almost clear color. Wonderful hand harvested champagne following natural wine dicta inadvertently, one supposes since they been around too long. Sharp fruity flavors. Loved it! What did Vinny think?

“Coming to the mound is Eric de Sousa and he is not happy with.. with… he’s signaling to Puig to join him on the mound. This is unusual. Of course, this would not be first time a right fielder was asked to throw in releife. dia-de-los-gigantesWEBWhen the Dodgers were the Knickbockers back in the 30s when I was in my late 20s they had a player named Poog who used to amuse the crowd with his long throws to home. Even when the runner was standing on second. Second base here in Chavez Ravine sparkles around sunset. I am in my sunset years. Puig has the ball. De Sousa will probably get another feature piece in Vigneron magazine. I hope to be reading next Spring.” 11.5%

We thank the great Dodger announcer with the memory of an ankylosaurus, the voice of a blue jay falling out of a tree, and the most incredibly blond hair. Long live Vinny! See you next Spring.

Go Jints!

Great Vinny impressions by another broadcaster. Stay with this to hear the Japanese and Venezuelan Vinnies!

Wine Reviews Bold As Love

still rainin' still dreamin'

still rainin’ still dreamin’

This heat wave have sapped tBoW’s strength. It is all we can do to pull corks and take notes. Nowatisane? reguscichard11WEBSo here they are. Fortunately, all wines tasted were deliciously notable.

2011 Regusci Chardonnay Stags Leap District Mary’s Cuvee $40 online: The power of an AVA in full glory! Stags Leap baby. Regusci is about as down home as it gets in Napa and especially Stags Leap. Authentic Napa juice. Some might say “legit.” Purchased at the winery couple years back. We raved about the Burgundian nature then. Poop. This is pure California Chardonnay juice. CorbRose13WEBGets 14 mos American oak. Serve it cold. Bracing feral flavors. If I was up there I am sure I would buy this bottle again. 14.2%

2013 Château Ollieux Romanis Corbières Rosé $16: Cuts through the spicy tuna poke. Good match. Acid and fruit makes a formidable combo. Melon flavor but what kind? Must be tangelo [ed. uh, not a melon]. Corbieres is Cab Franc country. This is 28% Cinsault and 35% Grenache Gris 35%. cambiata12WEBYes. We think the balance of 37% is Grenache Noir. Love the Languedoc. Must return soon! U20 alert.

2012 Cambíata Albariño Monterey $18: Not like a New World wine. Honeydew melon rind flavor. Bit of clove [ed. he stole that]. Perfect on a late summer evening outside. Label says “Albariño: Bold As Love.” Cool. Jimi. Another U20 winna. 14.5%

At 2:49 of this revered and underrated Hendrix composition he takes off on a riff that makes me misty every time every time every time I hear it.

Pinot versus Pinot

Hit me!! Good god!

Hit me!! Good god!

It’s the BEST of the New World versus the BEST of the Old World… considering VALUE ev kerse. It should be expressly clear by now that Pinot Noir is the second greatest grape among vinifera; the greatest being Nebbiolo, ev kerse [ed. stop that you idjit].

Recent pullage has tested the claim. We pulled corks on two very fine and exceptional Pinot Noir wines at great value from the Willamette Valley which is the top growing region for Pinot Noir in the New World [ed. FYI that includes New Zealand, Ontario and Pennsylvania]. We tasted one red Burgundy with comparable age from Auxey Duresses which is a lesser known and lesser regarded region among 100 point fiends. The Burg blew the Willamette wines off the chart. This is not to say the Oregon wines were not good. They were wonderful.

Let us delay no further. There is reporting to be completed. But there is more. We opened the Burg with a Chablis at the same time. They fit like Kerry and Hagel [ed. they like each other?]. Kismet in a glass.

wahle08WEB2008 Wahle Vineyards and Cellars Holmes Hill Pinot Noir $30 (in 2010). Lovely, masculine, middle weight, refined not delicate. Dark red color. Great nose. Definitely New World. Bought this at the 2010 Portland Indie Wine Fest – once the finest wine festival on the West Coast. Dotoré picked this out from many candidates. In its middle age with plenty of youthful spirit [ed. like Dotoré]. Too friendly to be brooding although there is definitely some weight here. We stole much inspiration from this excellent site. Words you will never read on tBoW that you will read, apparently, on the Pinot File: “Upon returning to Oregon he discovered that his family transition plan had stalled and this was a life-changing event for him.” Something you will read on the tBoW site: Cellartracker rates this wine 88.5 points. Dopes! If this isn’t moronic… This is a 100 point wine for at least a dozen reasons. Oh. You want me to list them? 1. The wine is well made. 2. It has finesse. 3. It isn’t Cabernet. 4. Wahle is a physician who it looks like never practiced. The only MD who went to med school so he could make wine when he got out. 13.6%

couer-08WEB2008 Coeur de Terre Vineyard Estate McMinnville Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $30: The premium bottle from the “premium” vintage. Another Indie Wine Fest purchase. Understand we tasted dozens of Willamette wines. This and the Wahle wines are not from what we would come to understand is ideal premium wine country in Willamette. That would be Ribbon Ridge. Whatever. This wine is six years in the bottle. The nose is not full of oak. Smells like teen Pinot. The flavors are smooooth and black cherry. mainly, the weight and balance complement. You want firm and full Willamette Pinot Noir made with careful restraint, this is it. 13.8%

auxey09WEB2009 Auxey-Duresses Moulin Aux Clos Moines Monopole $36: Same price point for the Oregon wines. This is stunning Pinot Noir. For the rest of us schlubs who have never ever tasted DRC RC this has to be as good as. The balance is pinpoint delicado. Neither fruity nor forest floor. Fazzinating. Red cherries with a kick of kirsch. Showing the range of Pinot from Burgundy. And this is a less glam community. The Pinot fruit is so Old World I grew callouses holding the glass. The producer is just another guy. Got this from EnoFineWine. I found the wine at a SoCal shop but I ain’t telling. Really should get more. Really. 13%

Here is something we challenge anyone to accomplish with New World Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, same meal, same evening.

chablis-picq-12WEB2012 Gilbert Pica Chablis En Vaudecorse $28 (EoFineWine): Just enough spine to complement the green pineappley fruit. Served it too warm and it was great. Chilled it down and it was super. Let it lose the chill again and… you know. Just delicious. Even Mrs. tBoW who is a die hard unapologetic New World kind of gal loved these wines back to back and mixed in. Red then white then red then white. What a donnybrook. Like Germany and Argentina in a friendly. Try and put a New World Chard next to a California Pinot Noir at the same time. You’re wincing! 13%

DO NOT WATCH THIS CLIP OF JAMES BROWN FREAKING THE FLAMES OUT WITH HIS MOVES. And recall… Mick Jagger had to follow him.

The Best of New Mexico Wine!

stripers4WEBIzit Groo-et or Groo-ay?Regina the tasting room hostess gets this question all the time. Yet she remains warm, composed and friendly. The name is Gruet! But how are the wines?

The Grew-ae tasting room fronts the large winemaking and storage house right off the I25 north of ABQ. The Gruet family bought and planted 300 acres near Truth Or Consequences – TRC to locals – in 1988 which is 150 miles on a straight line south from I’ll Be Quirky.

ace host

ace host

Regina is in charge and knows everything tBoW needs to know about Gruet wines. All grapes on estate are hand harvested. Drip irrigation from nearby lake which is unusual since New Mexico is incredibly-pick-your-nose-til-it-bleeds dry. Bug killing chemicals, a natural wine no-no, not necessary at New Mexico elevations 3,000 feet and higher. TRC is 4300. Here is what we knew and did not know before we arrived. Wines reviewed in order of tasting.

What we knew: Gruet makes really nice sparkling wine.

What we learned: There is a French line as well under the Paul Laurent and Gruet et fils labels.

What we knew: The sparklers are priced very reasonably and deliver exceptional value.

What we learned: There are many more sparklers beyond the windely known labels along with still wines, some of which can be found in stores.

What we knew: You can find the Blanc de Noirs and Blancs de Blancs in BevMo and Total Yawn which gives snobs like ourselves a reason to visit.

What we learned: Gruet makes vintage sparklers and vintage still wines! These are made in small production and are “estate” juice. There is no such designation in New Mexico apparently or at least not at Gruet. Gruet_sparklersCROPWEBThe NV sparklers “potentially use juice from other states that “could include” California and Washington. The exact proportions are not released.

Let’s talk about tasting the Gruet lineup. Wine prices are winery recommended. As with every winery pricing at any winery is always higher and in-store pricing is heavily discounted; e.g., Bev Mo offers the the Brut Rosé for $16. Many of the wines reviewed are only available at the winery or through the Gruet Wine Club (another avenue to discounted pricing). All wines are NV unless noted. All wines are low alcohol. This is good.

Gruet Blanc de Blanc Sauvage $30: Their priciest wine, available only in restaurants and premium wine stores. 100% Chardonnay. Apples. Good acid. Lush.

Gruet Brut Rosé $25: 100% Pinot Noir. Delicious wine. If you served this at a wedding everyone would be very happy. Balanced with some power but mostly seductive.

Gruet 25th Anniversary Blanc de Blanc $25: Yeasty nose, richer than preceding wines. Very rich. Full flavors. Wish we knew how much juice was coming from West Coast.

2007 Gruet Grand Rosé $33: 90% Chardonnay, balance Pinot Noir. Estate juice. Nose and flavors impart immediately different character than other wines which is confirmed for each estate wine, as we learned. Our first impression is minty.

2010 Blanc de Blanc $17: Aged three years. 100% Chardonnay. Flavors like hard candy. Again, the terroir distinction of TRC grapes puts us in the popcorn machine

most patriotic city in US

most patriotic city in US

2005 Gilbert Gruet Gran Reserve $43: Whoa. Old World nose that is markedly different, a step up, from preceding wines. As tBoW struggles to capture this savor Mrs. tBoW pipes in with figs, prunes… Regina turns over all the cards and chimes in: “Champagne drinkers like this Old World nose and style. For me there is caramel, honeysuckle but mostly this is the smell of the desert after rain, dusty, like a sweet bleu cheese.” tBoW does not recall being in the desert after rain unless it was on a golf course in Palm Springs. He comes up with Maytag Blue, the softer domestic bleu cheese. He resists the urge to ask Regina how many Hillerman books she has read because her prose is right there with the iconic New Mexico writer and how he describes the wonder of the New Mexico high desert winds, smells and sights.

Following the 6 sparkler lineup we moved onto the four still wines which are all estate. We were most impressed with the Pinot Noirs. All the estate wines are small production; a few hundred cases available to Club Members.

2009 Gruet Pinot Noir $24: There it is; the distinctive Gruet estate nose. “That is wet desert sage.” We get rhubarb, sweet. We really like the airy weight of the wine and the balance. How do these age? Gruet_pinotsWEBThis one is 4.5 years old. It is soft, in harmony. Definitely New World without being jammy, a quality shown by many New World PNs.

2010 Gruet Pinot Noir $24: More ripe than the 2009 so we expect these will taste fine anytime within 6 years. Same character as 2009, just more ripe and showing more grip. We have tBoW tasting team members who search high and low for the ideal U20 Pinot Noir. Here it is… but you gotta come to ABQ.

Good job on the Pinot Noir wines! Gruet thinks the sparklers ARE the best price to quality ratio in any sparkler anywhere. Hard to argue.

“Rain hung over the northeast slopes of Black Mesa like a wall. The smell of it mixed with the smell of dust. It was heady perfume – the smell of good grazing, easy water, heavy crops of piñon nuts. The smell of good times, the smell of Sky Father blessing Mother Earth”. “Skinwalkers” by Tony Hillerman.

What’s it like to get caught in a rainstorm in the Four Corners? Look at the fury of the quick wash that made this road impassable. These folks are joking but their hearts are pounding.

Kicking It with Kokopelli

IndianCountryroadWEBKokepelli plays flute in the windy rock washes near the Four Corners. Mr. and Mrs. tBoW wonder if the powerful Navajo deity can make it rain wine, or will they wait another week before tasting the sacrament of their ancestors. On a road trip in the Navajo Nation where the state lines that separate Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico have no meaning; where the Navajo Nation is the largest among all other Indian nations; and the Navajo Nation is dry. Not that we would expect to find wines similar to those reviewed below; at least not until we hit Santa Fe, the outpost of cultures rooted in art, native traditions and Southwestern themed interior decorators.

Tony Hillerman’s Navajo crime fictions are a terrific contrivance for sinking one’s mind into the mysterious cultures of North America’s aboriginal peoples. There are 140,000 Navajos living on reservations in their home country northwest of Albuquerque, all throughout and within the high desert expanse known as the Four Corners. chassey_champWEBColossal landscapes dwarf everything human so it has to be magic. A drive through Monument Valley is medicine for eternity.

Wines reviewed somehow reminded us of the land and people of this region in which we have been auto-immersed.

NV Guy de Chassey Brut Carte Noire $50: Non-vintage blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay packs tight bubbles, high acid flavors without being astringent. The sparkler choice for greeting guests with bright eyes and a brisk airiness. We prefer Pinot-based champagne. Somewhat challenging like the first stretch of road that leads down into Monument Valley… but much friendlier! 12%

cowan_roseWEB2012 Cowan Cellars North Coast Rosé $18: Cowan makes natural wines sourced throughout the state. This wine is saignée from several premium Pinot Noir producers. Clever fella. For a higher alcohol wine this does not give off any alcohol burn.MerckButte-2WEB In fact, the wine also shows high acid and lean flavors, balanced and appealing. Pretty special like the Merrick Butte at sunset. U20 winner. 13.9%

garganelaWEB2012 Buglioni Il Disperato Bianco delle Venezie IGT $20: Italian natural wine made from a varietal – Garganega – that commonly goes into dessert style wines. From the Veneto, middle weight, recommended by

not any Neb

not any Neb

the somm at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica [ed. we would return] who sold it as a fleshier Vermentino. Worked! This is like seeing The Cube; each time you look, it is more distinctive [ed. it’s sitting on some kind of stand?]. A surprise pleasure. 12.5%

RPPgrumelloo-06WEB2006 Valtellina Superioire Grumello Riserva ‘Rocca de Piro,’ Ar.Pe.Pe. $45: I guess every Piemonte Nebbiolo needs at least 30 minutes to open. This beautiful ruby red wine with the raspberry nose was so muted when the cork was pulled we thought it was too delicate for the steak strips. Rare and unusual to see this wine. Much like it is rare and unusual and special to hear Kokopelli the Watersprinkler’s flute. This rare Grumello delivers Nebbiolo of the most luscious order. The definition of elegant. Very satisfying. If you love Old World Nebbiolo this is worth the dough; like Monument Valley is worth the 6 hour ride from Albuquerque. 13%

“His humpbacked figure supported by stick legs. Stick arms hold a straight line to his tiny round head, making him seem to be playing a clarinet. The flute might be pointed down or ahead. “A Thief of Time” by Tony Hillerman.