Posts belonging to Category Wine Grapes



Wine Talk with the Ultimate Cognoscentus: Mr. David Russell

 

We have an exclusive interview with David Russell who is the Senior Wine Advisor at Woodland Hills Wine Company which is tBoW’s home store. A truncated set of questions and answers follow [ed. that means there are others on the shelf]. Suffice it to say David has wasted most of his life chasing a wine dream. Something with which tBoW and readers are familiar. There are worse things to pursue like going into politics. He has worked at prestigious wine shops along the Coastal Premium Wine Shop Trail which runs from Seattle thru Portland then the Bay Area to Santa Barbara, LA and Orange County. In case he looks familiar his personal tracks cover the Bay Area and Santa Barbara, and now Woodland Hills. There are maybe a dozen or so premium wine shops where one can count on great wine for a fair price sold by folks who know their shit. And away we go.

David wears glasses and is often fighting a chill.

1. tBoW: You are from SB and almost the right age. Did you riot in IV? DR: I’m definitely the right age, however I was in Hong Kong dodging the draft serving a Mormon mission (seriously!) when the really heavy shit went down in about 1970. Also I went to UC Berkeley, not UCSB (although most of my friends did go to UCSB and did participate in, uh, acts of civil disobedience.

2. tBoW: Spumante or prosecco? DR: I can tolerate a decent Prosecco. 

3. tBoW: what was the last wine you drank – not tasted – that was higher than 15%? DR: Though it doesn’t taste like it’s 15%, the 2014 Passopisciaro from Etna is labeled as such, and I definitely enjoyed it.

4. tBoW: Compare these wines for relative quality: Rochioli and Williams Selyem (Burt years). DR: I haven’t had nearly the experience with either that many have, but the W-S during the Burt years that I have tasted were not only frighteningly Burgundian, but I’d go even further and say that some were even Jayer-like.

5. tBoW: What Burg region would you recommend TODAY for value? What is your personal fave Burg region? Producers: choose Leroy/DRC vs, Armand Rousseau?

the wine that inspired this post was sold to us by David Russell!

DR: Probably the Côte Chalonnaise. Or Marsannay and/or Fixin. I likely have more favorite producers in the Côte de Nuits than in the Côte de Beaune, simply because the former is so much bigger and has so many more growers. I’d give DRC the nod over Leroy (though we’re splitting hairs here), as I’ve had more older bottles that truly delivered (’62 La Tâche being a case in point). Remember: Domaine Leroy has only been existence since 1988. As much as I adore Rousseau, it’s only their top three wines that really perform at the level they ought to; the Charmes-Chambertin, Mazy-Chambertin, and Clos de la Roche routinely under-deliver. There also other producers among the very elite: Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, Mugneret-Gibourg, Mugnier; Lafon, Raveneau, and Roulot in white.

7. tBoW: How long have you known Marsanne is not south of Beaune? DR: But Marsanne is south of Beaune, unless you mean Marsannay.

8. tBoW: We support the Price/Quality ratio and NOT the 100 point system which is only 13 points. Is Shanken a prick? DR: He strikes me more a buffoon than a prick.

9. tBoW: Port or Sauternes? DR: Sauternes.

10. tBoW: Is Santa Barbara suitable for Pinot Noir? Didn’t Richard Sanford have it right (how to make SB Pinot) from the start? DR: Yes, although I think Santa Maria is undervalued and Sta. Rita Hills overrated. Richard Sanford may indeed have had it right, to a degree at least, but the most compelling SB pinots for me have come from Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat).

11. tBoW: Can Calif produce great wines? Does it? Who are SOME of the GREAT producers? DR: Yes. It does, at least it did…pre-Parker. Ridge Monte Bello is still great. But none of the Big Bucks Cult Cabs are even worthy of mention in the same sentence with ’68-’70 Heitz Martha’s, ’68 or ’70 BV Private Reserve, ’74 Conn Creek, etc.

12. tBoW: What is it about Lodi that makes it the most dependable and best growing region in CA. DR: Who says Lodi is the best growing region in CA? Certainly not I.

13. tBoW: What can u say about Riesling in less than 10 words? DR: Rivals pinot in its ability to express terroir.

Many many thanks to David for sharing some time with tBoW readers. When in Woodland Hills drop into Woodland Hills Wine Company. As you can see, if you love wine then you always end up at some point with Burgundy. Maus will tell you to hunt down white Rhones and KrisB will expound on Riesling values. IGTY will ask is this all you got? tBoW Jr wants to know what we are drinking tonight. We value winemakers like Jim Moore and wine retailers like David Russell. Christ. I’m getting moist eyes.

Here. Try some Ron Burgundy with your wine Burgundy…

Once Upon A Time In La Jolla…


He may not be your cup ‘o tea. Maybe the violence and r-u-d-e language offends you. The brutality of Reservoir Dogs. He worked in a video shop for years. It boiled his brain. He gave Travolta and Sam Jackson careers. Guess I should say he “helped” give them careers. Not that tBoW will see JT at a Scienctology Center or SJ on the golf course.

Tarantino…extends the legacies of DePalma, Cronenberg, Scorcese, Coppola. Throw in Leone, Kurosawa (the Kill Bills), and Peckinpah (Reservoir Dogs). tBoW knows there are others. He watches Noir Alley. He knows. However, these are the ones who make movies he considers “must watch” whenever one of these films is encountered while aimlessly trolling thru the cable channels. Why not use a flix vendor? Too much F&B. Besides tBoW can watch this multitude of films from the select few directors who know how to make a great movie…over and over and over.

Tarantino’s new film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will be in a move house July 26. Very strong chance tBoW will drag Mrs. tBoW along to see it in Cinemascope. She may decline. In fact, I predict she will decline. More corn for me.

We had a memorable 36 hours in La Jolla recently. Instead of Tarantino we had Brother Zev and Sister Katharine [soon-to-bees if ya get muh drift] directing the food consumables like masters. I learned the secret to cooking fish and meat and veggies. Make a bag of blended sauce and immerse food in the bag for hours. Also important to buy great stuff people like to consume over a fire pit or stove top. This includes funnel and esp king ‘shrooms. Hello Farmers Market.

While the meals were aww-sum the wines were outtasight [ed. “gonna hear that throwback often in Hollywood”? ya think?]!! Let’s get through this. Mr. and Mrs. tBoW brought a four pack of completely unrelated wines except that each was a W-I-N-N-E-R in its own genre. Does Tarantino have a genre? He may be a genre.


Y’Quem defines a genre: dessert wines from Bordeaux and everywhere else. The 1983 Y’Quem was one of the greatest from the tBoW cellar. It is the greatest of all Bordeaux dessert wines…throw in Hungarian multi putanyos.

Zev’s Stack O’ Spices

wine diamonds

Try this sometime. Drive two and half hours to a destination to stay with in-laws you really like. Open the wine of the year – a wine anyone who knows anything about wine knows this is the Tarantino masterpiece – anyway open that bottle within 10 minutes of arrival. That is how you get the party started. Did not slug it down. Coulda. Took a couple hours to finish it off. Had to break to recover from the “immensity” of being in the presence of the greatest [ed. I swear I would not be in awe of Tarantino if we were in the same space at the same time. Shit. I been in the same club with Nick Cage; twice in 30 years!].

That foto of the Y’Quem back shows the tartrate crystals the wine threw. Even this residue was delicate and perfectly balanced.

Here is what the cognos had to say: graham crackers, maple, charred honey. Medium light weight. You thought it might be thick and dense? Niuh. Leaner than the fat Rieussec with more weight than a slender Suidiraut.

Cognos on scene included Katharine and Zev, Broki and Marma. Don’t worry. We made sure there was enough to feed the many [ed. is that Biggie brah??].

Zev is a master chef. He L-O-V-E-S to prepare food. Apparently, Katharine only dates chefs. [ed. she owes me – as in all of US – a blog post]. Check out his travel stack o’ spices he brought from Brooklyn.

The plan was to pull the cork on the other wines before Zev and Katharine were ready to serve. Thinking the Big Cab might be tight we pulled that one next. Turns out Big Ed really is fond of Big Cabs from Napa. Once we pulled the cork Ed was short a hand. He could have used three. “I love a big napa cab.” Gotta say this one was pretty good. Ten years in the cellar. Of course tBoW didn’t buy it. Some of the spillover from wine blogging in Napa.

reliable dependable

After ten years in zee cooler the wine was tasty and mellowed. Still had power and flavor. Showing like Pacquiao at 40. Enough to win and put on a really good show. The wine never made it to the meal.

When the meal was ready to be served we turned to the most reliable wine we know; Uvaggio Radix. Of course, any of Jim Moore’s wines are beyond friendly. Uvaggio wines are always; like a pal you can always hang with or turn 18 holes with.

OK. Let’s get to the fun stuff. Which wines express the nature of which Tarantino films. The choices are Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill (1 or 2) and From Dusk til Dawn (he wrote and starred; tell me anyway stoopid).

1983 Y’Quem and Pulp Fiction. Will never get better than this. Fortunately we habba one more in da cellar so maybe Big Q has one in his, too. A spectacle with twists at every turn. Immensely entertaining. Unforgettable.

2009 Merus and Kill Bill 1. Surprising. Very nice. Tasting better than expected…of a genre (BigNapaCab) perfectly nailed. Can go back to it. For such a stylized copycat movie it just keeps getting better each time we sample.

2012 Uvaggio Radix and From Dusk Til Dawn. What’s not to like? So esay to watch. Sure we know every scene like we know Jim Moore will deliver easy to drink stylish wine with every label. tBoW can watch D2D anytime just to see Salma Hayak at her sexiest and Juliette Lewis at her unpredictably waif-iest.

Who else thinks of this shit? Hitchcock? Peckinpah?Tarantino.

 

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?

Field Maus Finds His Hoops+Wine Tabernacle!

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

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?