Posts belonging to Category Grenache

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.

Wine Travel Is So Easy!!

Argentina! Italy! Canada? Portugal and Spain?!

Knowing how to travel is simple. A great getaway is built on two pillars: castle and wine regions. If you want to save money yet still get the feeling of  what it is like to visit a wine region you can attend a well planned tasting. The local primo wine shop – Woodland Hills Wine Company – is really good at putting on tastings.

The November 15 2017 Las Joyas wine tasting featured seven winemakers from Spain and Portugal. Pause a moment. Imagine you are a winemaker from a little beach town in northern Portugal. You and your wife decide a national tour could be fun! You join a mini barnstorm tour and see the USA while chatting up strangers about the wine you make. Not a bad idea for a Fall activity. Like driving across country in a VW van with dogs and strangers.

Once WHWC decided it would become a tour stop they had to find a hosting restaurant. The Peasant Bistro is conveniently located two blocks from WHWC. The little food plates were ideal for the tintos and blancas…crab cakes, meatballs in red sauce, and other stuff I forgot already. All delicious without distracting from the wines. And the wines were good.

A Few Winemakers We Kept Pretty Good Notes About. Alberto Orte is the winemaker for La Antigua which produces ~2,200 cases annually. He is also a partner for Ole Imports which represents many of the wines at the tasting. In California production this small is almost a hobby. We bought the 2008 Clasico made from 40 to 80 year old vines. Head cut gnarly stumps. 60% Garnacha (tBoW’s favorite Spanish red grape. Tempranillo is fruity and fussy. Vines grown in limestone at 700 meters which is high for Rioja. Aged in neutral oak. No new oak and we could taste that. Organic and natural.

Leirana Finca Genoveva is in Galicia which is furthest west on the coast. Rodri and Ari are winemaking love birds. They showed three white wines: two albarinos, and one made from Meano Sanxenxo. One of the pleasures of wine travel and tasting is getting to try something unusual like wine made from the Meano Sanxenxo grape. Not sure I would learn anymore from being there than Albarino is not just that. Ari showed me fotos of the eight foot tall vines! The cordons start around seven feet. Their total production is…drum roll please…300 cases! Organic, natural wines aged in old oak – neutral. Thank goodness these two are sufficiently impoverished to not be able to afford new oak. We hate new oak.
There were more wines including those from the Azores [above foto of vines growing below volcanic Mt Pico]. All in all a lovely getaway from LA. Good job Daniel. Here’s an audio treat that goes with Alabarino from In Deep.


Chemistry Kismet Karma: Orange & Black Win(e) Brand

getcher Kismet righcheer!

Joe Kismet Don’t Panik!

Break up the Jints!The World Serious champs beat the odds and won again. Pandas everywhere are chewing extra bamboo stalks. San Fran the City will make a ton of $$ under the guise of a celebration parade. For the forelorn in Blue [ed. Royals right tBoW?] it’s a long wait for April, another unbearably long summer and, gottvilling, another shot at 3 pennants (division, league, series).

Things are looking up for Los Doyers who bought a new “President of Baseball Ops” who is not old-school. We wonder if Andrew Friedman watched the series. Here is what he would have seen. Chemistry! Royals and Jints play like a team woven together sub-atomically. Karma! Things went their way when they could not have. What makes luck break your way? Will driven by a group mind [ed. like a mindset? NO! Never use that word in front of me]. Try Kismet! There is a term with meaning. If karma is luck then kismet is GOOD LUCK. Very good luck. Mr. Friedman should consider how to create chemistry with strategic trades. Get rid of the pouters and goofballs. Bring in steady hands with a record of winning and who do not seek center stage all the freakin’ time. The good breaks will follow.

HALLOWEEN WINES right? Real horror show my droogies!

Montille-2010WEB2010 Deux Montille Pouilly-Fuissé En Vergisson $32: Tastes like steel fermented chardonnay. Firm backbone. Hard. Oh it is steel fermented chardonnay. Well why didn’t you say so. Tastes like french Chardonnay. Mrs. tBoW is charmed, Says Old World white grapes have more distinctive flavors than do reds. She continues: reds are less nuanced. They fold into each other. This wine has lichi green flavors. From the Mâconnais, a Burgundian value region. Biodynamic and organically grown and produced by pedigreed Burgundians. 13.%

Ouled-ThalebRoseWEB2013 Ouled Thaleb Rosé Morocco $14 (Wine Country in Long Beach): Who would not want to taste this? Made in Morocco, colonized by France, across the Gibraltar from Spain, sophisticated nation. They grow vinifera and make wines on this estate ten miles from the ocean since 1923. The blend is 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Cinsault. Bright acid, red orange color. Tastes just like what we would expect from Languedoc. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. The AOG is Zenata. Exotic. Brought to us by Nomadic Distributions. Cool! Had this with ersters at L&E Oyster Bar in Silverlake while Jints were getting crushed game six 10 zip. Fab diversion. Here is some splashy news on the brand. U20 alert! 13%

Here are a few Haloween costume ideas with a bit of the old ultraviolence.

Jim Gaffigan weighs in on the lighter side of All Hallows Eve. What about a Jim Gaffigan costume?

Dom 85!! Who knew?? Harvey Kurtzman knew.

cosmic comic juice for a young mind

cosmic comic juice for a young mind

This post is being written in a downpour of potrzebie popup ads. Not good. We have wines and events of import to review so let’s plunge ahead with another furshlugginer post.

First things first. Happy Birthday to Dotoré. OK. That is taken care of. The venerable and toothsome reporter and hopeless Dodger fiend owes tBoW $20. We will have to pull some corks.

Hurricane Iselle blew itself into a Tropical Storm. Family living on the Big Island survived the tempest on Mauna Kea.

Happy birthday to Peewee, loyal Young’un and bad MoFo, who enthusiastically hosts her Payola Show at Paolis Pizza joint Tuesday nights. Congrats to original Young’uns Sawa M and REL now gainfully employed so they will soon be popping their own corks with tBoW and The Geezer Troop.

Favorite Somm Jen Carter is no longer at Saddle Peak Lodge which means that wonderful place with all the potential that she was able to realize, will fall from its roost as the go-to spot in the Calabasas boonies. Jen did a fab job there and we will miss her. Until we find out where she takes up hosting and toasting in a new venue! Please let us know Jen!

In the midst of all, we have had some notable wines to present.

dom85WEB1985 Dom Perignon $300 (TAFI wine): No need to say champagne right? This is THE champagne. Imagine Bond calling for 1952 Dom Perignon, chilled, in From Russian With Love. This wine came serendipitously to the tBoW clan as a random raffle prize. I know huh? Provenance unknown which is to say who knows how it was stored. We popped the cork and poured. Perfect bubbles, tight and abundant. But the flavor was revelation. Every Dom we have ever had has been steely bordering on austere. This was no fat big boy Krug but it did show golden color, apple flavors and it was delicious! Sometimes the world tilts ever so slightly and something falls into your lap. Truly memorable. Spectacular. 13%melville-1-WEB

melvillPN02WEB The review to the left is not the work of popup ads or even an overzealous editor. It is tBoW’s policy to try and not say anything directly unkind, uncaring or unfriendly when it comes to bad wine. The harshest term we will is PLONK. However, we could not help expressing the 180 degree turnabout in our wine palate since 2001. The Melville wines represent that switch. The general movement in the direction of food friendly, natural, under or even unoaked wines had something to do with our redirect. Mostly, tBoW has always wanted to apply Harvey Kurtzman’s humor from the Mad magazines of his yoof in a wine blog.

TCPano05WEB2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Panoplie $80: The highest end selection from the greatest Central Coast winery. Still not ready! This is the top selection and it tastes that way… all the way. Dense dark red blood robed liquid. More like a Southern Italian Negro Amaro. Only bigger. TC wines are never about heavy tannins. However, the reds are very long aging. Had it with steak and the beef had to put up a fight. Stick with the whites… long as they are seven years post bottling. Blows by the Melville monster. 15%.coston10WEB

2010 Domaine Coston Terrasses du Larzac Languedoc $20: One of the last of the Great Garagiste selections in the cellar. A wine that can do the tango. Sophisticated in a very local way. Imagine an Argentine man in his 50s stepping through the porteño ritual dance. Light on its feet with the gravitas only a country defeated in in every war it ever fought could understand. Outstanding.

Bond is unable to turn down Dom Perignon 1959, from You Only Live Twice.

Remastering Greatness: Zeppelin and Summer Wines

prpl_cact3dCROPWEBJimmy Page spent two years remastering nine Led Zeppelin studio albums. The first three albums are newly released. Please someone send me a copy. Jimmy Page is 70 years old. What if winemakers could remaster their original wines? Would they review their old notes, revisit formative blends and do their best to replicate weather conditions? The weather piece sounds difficult. Not so much when we are talking about Southwest France or California where weather patterns are practically identical vintage upon vintage. It must easier to improve on Zeppelin than on great wines.

One of the all time great rock guitarists looks back and thinks things over. What we think about is the fantastic range of music which Zeppelin recorded. This is what tBoW thought about when considering wines recently tasted.

daminalo-chinatoWEBDamilano Chinato $60 (Liquid Wine): Sweeter than the Vergano Chinato tasted recently. It is the quinine base that throws off many tasters. Too strange for some. This is sweeter than we prefer. Give us the dry, the ginseng, cloves. We shall continue looking. We’re thinking Zep’s Four Sticks which mixes many ideas, meters and has Robert Plant singing at his whiniest. Tough for even the most hearty Zepophiles to swallow. 16.5%

tondoni10WEB2010 Tondini Taroni Cannonau Di Sardena $16 (Eno Fine Wine): The new wave of Sardinian and Southern Italy wines in general. Old style was heavy red wines that helpful for washing graffiti of the wall. The new style is lighter, barely middle weight, red to be sure with exotic fruit such as cinnammon, mildly spicy. Grenache is Cannonau in Sardinia. Nice change up. Eno Fine Wine has more wines like this one which will be reporting on. This summer it’s Southern Italy! Zeppelin recorded D’yer Mak’er as a lightly rollicking song with minimal lyrics. It begins “ohohohohohoh…you don’t have to go ohohohohoh.” Straightforward nursery rhyme rock with pretensions of being forlorn. Goes down easy. Pull the next cork please. 14.5%

milfloresWEBNV Bodegas Palacio Mil Flores Rioja Tempranillo Rosé $15 (Whole Wallet): We love Spanish Rose wines. They are a teeny bit heftier in alcohol which is offset by the ripe red Spanish fruit, often Tempranillo. Spanish “panks” are not pink at all. They are ruby red and beautiful. Like that 2009 Bach Vina Extremisima Rosado on the rooftop in Sevilla? Chill them down and suck them up. This wine is dry but definitely not Provencal dry. Zep’s Bron Y’Aur Stomp is a mid tempo rock ‘n roll acoustic hoe down complete with clapping that shows the versatility still unfamiliar to many music fans. Like Spanish Rosé wines. 13.5%

Most serious wine taster snobs are also big Zeppelin fans. We wanted close this post with Boogie With Stu but could not find a live performance. Bonham’s clackety drumming sets up John Paul Jones’ boogie woogie barrel house piano which in turn sets up Jimmy Page’s mandolin that keeps it all rocking. This vintage Canteen footage from WWII really caught us by surprise. Bet you watch to the end. Rock rock rock…. hey ay hey ay hey ay….