Posts belonging to Category Grenache



Field Maus Finds His Hoops+Wine Tabernacle!

Lakers Get Anthony Davis. Pelicans Get Instant Contender Status. tBoW Gets Grenache. (more…)

Two Trophy Rhone Wines…RRUFFFF!

A Tale of Two Trophies and some Late MidMod Musical Nostalgia

Remember Rhone? Rike Resterday!

Astro the Jetson’s hound filed this report about two rines from the Rhone. Kate Finn sweetheart of the Desert Wine Shop on 111 in Rancho Mirage put the Rhone idea in our head. We were unable to shake it. Result? Popped two corks on long standing cellar dwellers soon as the occasion arose; within 48 hours.

These two wines are highly reputed from the days when we were readily influenced by “label reputation.” The two wines [ed: the labels are Big Rep trophies] retain alot of cachet today. Both wines are for “trophy hunters.” Fortunately, tBoW tasters learned decades ago it is better to drink what we like and leave the trophies to the hunters. Fact of things are we are fans of two red grapes from the Rhone; Grenache and Mourvedre. Both are from Southern Rhone and neither are in these bottles.

What is our problem with Syrah? Too much body. The wines made from Syrah are often deep and tannic. Like drinking crayons. These wines are from the Northern Rhone with the big collector names and prices to match. Here is a decent site to learn more on your own about the “fabled” Rhone. [https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-topics/wine-educational-questions/grapes-for-wine-making-flavor-characteristics-explained/guide-to-rhone-valley-wine-grapes-for-red-and-white-wine/]

Grenache is from the Southern Rhone. It is the grape we would favor even though regional practices favor making wines in the “big” style. We much prefer the Spanish wines made from “Garnacha.” Mourvedre is the other Southern Rhone staple. It is inherently more lean and the regional winemakers tend to leave it that way. Unfortunately, Mourvedre (moor-ved) is the lowest priority grape to be bottled within the tradition driven wine region [ed: Is there a wine region NOT driven by tradition?].

tBow prefers delicacy over fruit bomb. So that pretty much takes Northern Rhone RED wines off the table. Both wines reviewed below hail from the Northern Rhone [ed. Please refrain form using the word “hail” when discussing wine.]. We leave it to the Field Mouse to expound on the merits of WHITE Rhone grapes (Viognier, Grenache others?) and white wines in general from the Rhone [insert Mouse links]. Finally, the red wines in the South commonly blend their red wines with white grapes. [ed: hhhnnnhhh.] As my godmother would have said “so that!”

2007 Cornas Coteaux Tardieu-Laurent 13%. Could not find this bottle online. A Wine Speculator reviewer wrote “kaleidoscope of spice, fruit, toast and mineral notes develop together.” Makes you dizzy, right? Much lesser tasters thought the wine was fruity with plenty of tannin. In our humble view the wine was free of HINTS and NUANCES. The bottle was cool from our superb cellar tomb so we had to impatiently let it sit awhile. Very spicy, some ash and sweet pepper.

2012 St. Cosme Cote Rotie 12.5%. $80 online. One can still find this hot ticket label in every prestige wine shop; from a more recent vintage. This particular bottle is available online. Barbecue capable. 100% Syrah. We would pair this with some flash grilled skirt steak and plenty grilled veggies. Medium to light weight, almost creamy.

This is what happens when one buys trophy labels. Taste enough trophies and you may conclude better to win the trophy than to taste it. The cupboard is bare now. Thanks Kate. We still love the shop and plan to visit before temps get unpleasantly deadly this summer.

Now for some late midcentury trophy hunter music!

Tahoe 2018: World Class Fishin’ & Winein’

Lake Tahoe is a World Class Winter AND Summer Resort


Crystal clear view from Tahoe City on North Shore to Heavenly Valley Ski Resort on South Shore Eleven Miles Across the lake

Young people live and ski around the lake all Winter. When they are ready for babies they come for a couple weeks in the summer. When you are no longer crazy enough to race down a mountain for the pure thrill you come back in the summer. Sleeping in is the aim. The thrill comes when you can sleep again at 3:00 while enjoying the Alpine view.

For excitement tBoW gets up at 6:15 with the sun and drives down the Truckee River on the road to Reno. The trick is to catch some trout waiting for breakfast as the sun comes up. This rainbow fought like an Attorney General trying to stay in office. However, a few hours later he was helping feed the needy just rising at 8:30 [tBoW not Sessions].

Once the word got out tBoW caught a couple fish the early morning meditative moments were replaced with family ‘n friends time. No problem. Everybody wants to go fishin! The next day with PeeWee on the river with me a 15 foot rubber raft floated by on the opposite bank. It was Lewis & Clark in the 21st century. Three men in their 30s, two tossing fly lines in every 5 seconds, while one guy in the middle handled the fast flow and the large rocks with two oars and his scraggly beard. A 19th century mirage outfitted by Patagonia. Fantastic. Video posted below.

tBoW made sure dinner on the cabin deck or in one Tahoe’s fine restaurants was paired with wines worth attention.

We brought two bottles of Tablas Creek that had been in the cellar since release. TC is our first favorite vineyard winery in California. There is no question they have the vision and the dedication to execute that. For the record we would like to embarrass our favorite domestic winemaker – who sources all his juice – once again with this link. Back to TC and aging “big reds.” You may find the story to be familiar.

2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel: For many years the Esprit line was the winery’s top end red. This is the FIRST TC top-end red we have opened that was ready to drink. We have opened earlier vintages of Esprit before a decade had passed and found them to be “challenging.” Toffee flavors, soft, knitted well (wine snob speak). Delicious with Halibut and veggies on the deck. It was remarkable.

2007 Tablas Creek Panoplie: Two years older than the Esprit, one of the earliest Panoplie line that succeeded the Esprit [maybe Jason Haas will see this and tell us the thinking behind going one step higher]. Not so good. A bit firm, not well knitted (more wine snob speak), I did not finish my glass. I had risotto with veggies and some shellfish. Just not ready.

We opened the Panoplie at Garwoods in Carnelian Bay. This restaurant has long been known for having the best site for dining on the North Shore and the worst food. No longer. The birthday dinner and the company were outstanding. We addressed the Panoplie fail by ordering the Scharfenburger Rose sparkler. Perfect.

Why do wine-os wait so long to pull the corks on their most reputed – even cherished – wines? One reason is because the wines are not ready. The only way to know if a wine is ready is to take your best guess and pull that cork! Figure a wine built for aging should be ready after a decade but sometimes not! So we play with the region – Burgs (Pinot Noir) should not need as much time as Bordeaux (Cabernet). This is much to simple. We know our wines. There must be other factors. Bring out those bottles you are holding onto for emotional reasons. Take a stab at mystery.

Other wines and dines worth mentioning…

2008 Beronia Rioja: We ordered this off the list at one of two very good restaurants we visited. Soule Domaine is located where Kings Beach hits state line in a very quaint log cabin built by Charlie Chaplin [good story]. We brought our own red – following – however we did find this delightful Rioja on the list; the “last” bottle in the bin. The wine list had very interesting selections. At $53 this seemed like a good value. Sam the host knew the label and showed restrained excitement. The waiter encouraged us by offering to waive corkage if we order the Beronia off their list. Everyone was happy and the Slovenian cork was pulled next!

2015 Burja Reddo ~$35 Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa. The gal who “found” the wine in Slovenian thought it was the best offered. She could not describe even tho’ she tasted in Slovenia. Do you know where is Slovenia? OK. How about the Vipava Valley. Here is the winery website. Time for our local wine snob shop Woodland Hills Wine Company to host a regional tasting! This wine was very fruity with enough acid to keep the flab out. Very berry somewhere between cran- and boysen-. Buy it again? Not likely.

Watch these guys fling their fly lines lashing the river to give up her stubborn trout. Not bad for taking it from 60 yards away with a cell phone. Thanks to YoungUn PeeWee.

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!!

the Trouble with Rioja Wines

tBoW goes on curmudgeonly jag! Two blogs in a row rip into popular international wines!! What’s next? Napa?

Lettie Teague is the wine writer for the Wall Street Journal. She covers a wide range of wines from pricey (Burgundies) to cheapos to odd regions and the ones wine snobs like to read about. I would link to her columns BUT without a subscription the columns are out of reach in 24 hours (or so).

Teague’s Jan 13 column covered Rioja wines: “Pour on the Oak: Rioja’s Reliably Aged Reds.” Immediately I recalled a Rioja tasted this New Year’s Eve party…2007 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. Had the big reviews from Suckling and Parker PLUS the big scores in the high 90s [Lettie’s WSJ image adjacent…nice, no?]

A couple of prelim caveats: In the first, the 100 point range for scoring wines is (how can I say this without scrinching faces) frivolous. Find me a wine below 85 points and I will tell you where to buy the 2014 Cune Crianza which is a great bargain at $12. When scores less than 85 are not assigned then the scale is actually 15 points. In the second, avoid reviewers who are paid to sell wines and assign the scores. Better to find a local wine shop with staff that actually drink the stuff. Let him or her get to know what you like and your preferred price point so they can tell you what to buy. One more point…what is the difference between a 96 and 97 point wine? Better yet what could possibly be the difference.

The New Years lineup was brave with many fine bottles lining the bar. Unfortunately, only one bottle was up to the task of pleasing palates. Different wines fell short for different reasons. The 2009 Sweeney Canyon Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara was well made. Our palates have changed since. We (and I am speaking for the smarty pants tasters) no longer favor Central Coast syrupy (to us) beety flavored wines. The two recent vintage Bourgognes were soft and fruity without much stuffing. The winner was opened and placed before the lumpen before the cogoscenti arrived so its remains lay dying in the glasses of the “social tasters” [man, tBoW a real S-N-O-B].

2007 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, $50: The Handle Man brought this with high hopes shared all round. Plenty fruit. Beautiful robe (taster talk for color, weight, luminosity). And big and tannic even after trying again and again for a couple of hours. TOO MUCH OAK. As Teague points out Gran Reserva signifies the wine spent FIVE YEARS in barrel. So this wine was bottled no sooner than 2012 and may have spent even longer in barrel [ed. upon reading about it turns out the wine was bottled after 4 years].

What to make of this? All were disappointed with how the wines we brought by the cognoscenti showed. After ten years we really expected the La Rioja Alta would be more accessible. What’s the deal? TOO MUCH OAK. tBoW favors natural wines made without oak. Or at least wines stored (“aged”) in neutral oak barrels which have been used more than five years and have lost all the oak flavors imparted by new barrels.

Let’s be clear. We hate oaked wines. We are not even sure why the “aged in new oak” style began or where it came from. Spain has institutionalized aging wines in oak to the extent of rewarding wines aged longest in oak with the “highest” rating of Gran Reserva which translates roughly to Grand Poobah of Wines. What is truly worth pondering is how a nation elected to value the use and abuse of oak in making (finishing) wine over factors that are more highly valued elsewhere; e.g., not using oak, steel fermentation, and using natural yeasts or even w-a-i-t-i-n-g for fermentation to spontaneously erupt.

Is there something to be said about the culture? tBoW speculates in his darkest mind that this system was spawned by the fascista values of Generalissimo Franco. Prove me wrong.

The CVNE 2014 Crianza – Crianza means aged no more than two years in barrel which is about 18 mos too long. This particular bottle is a go-to tBoW value perfect for Thanksgiving when the food multiplex is the most challenging to match. And at $14 – we have bought for $10 – it is probably the perfect one-size-fits-all wine for Turkey Day.

tBoW and fam visited La Guardia and Alta Rioja way back before he owned a digital camera. The hilltop village of LA Guardia was a highlight. The yougn ‘uns got a thrill when the “bulls” ran thru the streets. Does this happen every weekend? I was able to find a video of the running of the COWS which captures the thrill we all shared. The streets are narrow and the risks are meager. This ain’t no Pamplona. This was a disco. The only where gouging might take place would be lunch or diner with wine. Although that did not occur.