Posts belonging to Category Wine Grapes



“Tour of Italy Tasting”…meanwhile somewhere in Puglia…

Wine Tasters Steel Themselves for 21 POURS

The Wine House in West LA sponsored an Alto Piemonte Tasting May 16 2018 presented as “A Tour of Italy” hosted by Vinity Imports. Somehow tBoW got it in his head this was going to feature Alto Piemonte wines. Not. The clever title avoided any representation of an exclusive Alto Piemonte offering while at the same time over-representing the narrow selections [ed: what a whiner].

Five wineries each poured four wines.

Simon di Brazzan poured whites from Friuli including Pinot Grigio, Friulano, Sauv Blanc and a traditional blend. Not impressed. Not our varietals. We came for the Neb blends. The Friuli geography IS interesting. In the Northeast corner of Italy, Friuli spans terrain from the Adriatic to the Austrian Alps. This winery is in the alpine foothills. Friuli in the southeast is very close to Slovenia. Looking at a map I never realized that the city of Trieste is the very end of Italy at the “back tip of the top boot.” [ed. check out the Old Vine Primitivo in Puglia…bella!]

Poderi San Lazzaro is located in the Marche on the Adriatic, maybe even farther from Alto Piemonte than Friuli. Their premium bottle is Grifola made from 100% Montepulciano grape. Not a fan of rich red wines with lots of body and alcohol. Alcohol above 14%. tBoW has in-laws named Lazzaro [ed. fonzy that].

Le Piane Winery holds all the possibilities and promises of Alto Piemonte wines made from 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Vespolina. Le Piane has a good story, a  a great location, and the right grapes…however Lu2 and tBoW were not fond of what was in the glass. Over extracted, thick, high alcohol. Collector wines. Be charmed by the STORY and LOCATION links above and vine picker over there.

Ar.Pe.Pe. is the headliner tonight. The wines are widely heralded as a star small producer of Nebbiolo blended with indigenous varietals. Just look at their premium Sassela vineyard. Izzat Dracula Castle? NEWS FLASH! This winery is located in Lombardy and not AltoPiemonte. Whatever. The wines show everything Lu2 likes in wines from the northwestern regions of Italy: balance, acid enuff to “hold that thought” and bright flavors. And Lu2 loves food and cooking. Just one problem: pricey at $40 (Valtellina Rosso), $60 (Grumello) and $75 (Inferno). tBoW has reviewed many other wines he prefers that are a third to half as much as Ar.Pe.Pe.

The final winery tasted was Giovi from Sicily. We love Sicily. Thank goodness these guys were showing. Located on Mt Etna at [undetermined number of feet – somebody please look this up and comment, grazi!!] on the 11,000 foot volcano. The sots poured a white – 2016 Etna Bianco $30, a Rosato $30, and 2 reds at $40 and $60. We both bought the white wine. Lu2 also bought the Etna Rosato. Both wines are delightful for summer sipping [ed. ha! more like chugging]. Both have the requisite balance of acid and fruit.

You should read more about the charm of Sicily here is a New York Times Travel piece published in January. Sicily and Puglia at the top of tBoW’s travel list. Right behind perennial Egypt which Mrs. tBoW is finally warming up to.

Meanwhile somewhere in Puglia…tBoW tasters the Krisses enjoy old vine vineyards and a view of where the Atlantic meets the Adriatic from the deck of their Air BnB $70 a day rental.

In case that view did not give you a thrill…check this video of Mt Etna erupting with giant smoke rings. Timely considering what is taking place this week on the Big Island.

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!!

Brrrrr Gun Deeee Shudder

Chambolle Musigny Vineyard

The Old BeeDee used to quote his Uncle Geezer whenever he (OBD) was feeling special about something: “quail on toast, nuthin’ like it!

Something similar takes place whenever a “real wine taster” gets around to the subject of Burgundy wines – nuthin’ like ’em. There are certainly other wines we like and favor: like Alto Piemonte and Rioja Rose’s. However, the feeling we get when contemplating Burgs is immediately nostalgic dredging up memories of bottles drained, trepidation for costs to come, forlorn about bottles missed becuz we were too wimpy to meet the price of a ticket to wine Caanan, and unsettling for the possibility that the highest peak in wine consumption – an experience that is always elusive – can never be reached.

We tried once more to scale that slope recently…as we will surely try again and again. Forget the “value.” No U20 wines here. More like U60. How bad do you want it??

The bottles were from the Chambolle Musigny region whose reputation proceeds itself. Musigny is a magic word uttered only in the process of incantation. Moo-zin-yee. Not so much spoken as inhaled. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.

Two producers lesser known – Domaine Anne Gros and Domaine Patrick Hudelot; but then there are so many more producers in Burgundy who are “lesser known” than the handful that are “known.”

tBoW purchased the DPH bottle from local wine merchant Woodland Hills Wine Co which is our local go-to wine store with a particularly strong Burg selection. This was the last bottle. The $60 price was quite “reasonable” for Chambolle-Musigny. The Anne Gros had been purchased on release along with a few more 2009s. Runki-san, aka tBoW Jr “best palate of any 10 year old”, picked it to go with a humble meal of veggies, rice and swordfish. Wine snobs will tel you great wine really should be drunk on its own. Not really. Great wines go great with a simple meal.

Here are tasting notes from winemaker Anne Gros on her product: 2009 Chambolle Musigny la Combe d’Orveau: this is fine, quite floral bouquet with touches of rose petal and violets accompanying the dark cherry fruit. Good definition – develops a gourmand element with time. The palate has a taut entry, a little brusque even, very linear with chalky tannins towards the more masculine, structured finish.

Here is what tBoW and tBoW Jr. tasted: Powerful nose that is all ripe ripe cherries. Color is deep cherry red with some brick color showing age. It is time to drink this wine. Flavors are rich ripe cherry brandy. Is there such a thing as cherry brandy? Yes from Eastern Europe. If we say “brandy” we mean the alcohol can be detected in the nose. Not a bad thing. The alcohol is sub 14%. Everything in ripe rich fruity balance. If I was a French monk in the 15th century this wine would make me want to do some sinning! The flavor weakened and the brick color grew more pronounced as the wine faded over 40 minutes. Drink it now. This is great pinot noir. We always end up saying “you cannot get these flavors out of pinot noir anywhere else in the world.”

What about the DPH Chambolle (the one we purchased at WHWC)? This wine had plenty of head winds facing its tasting eval; 2 night golf outing with IGTY, lumpen palates, THC laden gummy candy innocently chewed on by an unbeknownst tBoW…not to mention the produce is unknown, unseen and had recently changed his label (at least since 2009). Nevertheless…C hambolle was true to pedigree.

2009 Domaine Patrick Hudelot Chambolle Musigny Beaux Brands: beety flavors (NOT beeFy), more towards the earthy side, weighty drink for Burgundy (the popular term is “legs”), rich dark red robe without any brick showing, held up to the relentless assault on the bottle. Very nice in the masculine style of Burgundy. No forest floor (pooh aromas). No mushrooms (under ripe). Only the delicious beet flavors like the vacuum sealed packs sold at Costco, try those!

Denouement: Burgundy not only makes the best Pinot Noir wines in the world, it really makes the only ones we enjoy drinking. Drink them without food. Drink them with food. Treat these wines like they treat us; with care, pleasure, and in good company that enjoys and knows something about wine.

Dig a little deeper next time you are in a fine wine store like Wine Exchange or Hi Time Wine Cellars in Coata Mesa or Woodland Hills Wine Company. Ask the floor guide to pick out something from Burgundy under $60. Go for it. Let us know.

Wine Buckets and Bucket Hats

Warning: this post is written by Beexlee [tBoW name] who gets paid $$ to cover fashion style. Clarity of vision, sharp phraseology and general wordsmithing may cause disorientation for some readers.

Bodega Tres Mujeres: Humility & Charm

When GQ came out with the article “25 Bucket Hats Built for Summer That You Can Buy Right Now” last year, I gasped. Why were they encouraging them? Young men, who already have a hard time understanding that flip flops are not shoes to be worn anywhere but the beach, are now being told that hats made originally for toddlers are FASHION. I had to put the magazine down and walk away.

But slowly (very slowly) I have come around to the idea of bucket hats. It started with an old picture of me in a denim one. It was, objectively, cute. But was it just because I was 6 years old? Or could it be…fashion? Then there was a whole thing during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris that made me rethink the trend. And then there was another situation in GQ I couldn’t ignore: Timothée Chalamet in a Burberry-print bucket hat. Could it be that I had been wrong? Here’s the thing about fashion: it’s all about experimenting. Whether it’s jean on jean, crop tops, flared pants, or turtlenecks, the best part of fashion is that you get to decide what looks good (and what makes you feel good).

After a weekend in Guadalupe Valley in Baja, Mexico, I came to realize that the same is true of wines. The winemakers of Baja are taking what we know about wine—what works, what tastes good, what people like and buy—and experimenting with these building blocks to create a new culture of Mexican wines. Camilo from Casa Magoni blends different grapes from all over the world (he’s originally from Italy). Mogor Bodan’s Natalia took knowledge from her family’s background in Switzerland, plus actual grapes from Europe, and grew them in Baja. Vena Cava vinter Phil gets many of his grapes from other growers and explores with natural wines and sparkling wines.

And thus, when my uncle emerged on our first day of vacation wearing a white bucket hat, instead of the shivers I used to feel when I saw one, I thought to myself, “Cool! He’s experimenting.”

[ed. tBoW sez Natalia’s quincey fig winw wine made from Swiss chasselet was lushooosh]

I can easily say that the glass of the Chasselet 2016 Natalia gave me was the best white wine I’ve ever tasted. To be fair, I don’t really like white wine, so it was a low bar, but still, I could tell. Bodega Mogor Bodan:This was GOOD. I may have been swayed by the cat on the label, but the floral crisp wine has convinced me that perhaps I should be more open-minded when it comes to trying new whites. The rose was also excellent, crisp and smelling of brown-sugar. I will be saving it to drink on a warm summer evening on my rooftop in San Francisco. Be sure to stop by Deckman’s, the restaurant next door, for delicious seafood and veggies made in an outdoor kitchen. I can officially check “eat lunch in a cave” off my list.

Bodega El Pinar de 3 Mujeres: Yvette was very knowledgeable about all of her wines, which we tasted in a small cave filled with ceramics and handmade jewelry (yes I bought a pair of earrings, which are always in style). Despite having a french name (she’s from a french-speaking region of Mexico), she knew more about wine making in Mexico than anyone I had talked to. She has lived in Baja for 37 years, and says she has seen winemakers come and go; because of the water shortage, because of the climate change, because of life.

Bodegas Vena Cava: Phil gave the most comprehensive explanation of how wine is made that I’ve ever heard. His winery, located on the same property as his hotel, Ville del Valle, was one of the most architecturally exciting building that I visited in Baja. Designed by architects Alejandro D’Acosta and Claudia Turrent, the structure is made out of old boats, and houses Phil’s reds, whites, and roses, plus his experimental sparkling wines and natural wines. Originally from England, Phil and his wife sold their house in Southern California to move to Guadalupe Valley and run their hotel. Phil’s wine making journey originally began as a few classes here and there at the local wine school, but quickly evolved to become part of his livelihood in Baja.

Bucket Hat in vivo

The wines that stood out were his natural orange wine and his rosé, and there was something extra special about tasting the wines in a building that brought the ideas of sustainability and creativity together in such a beautiful way.

Wear what you want. Drink what you want. Experimentation is key.

tBoW comments: “experimentation is key” says Beexlee. I would add a quote from a long gone pal “I’ll try anything twice. I might not like it the first time.” Well tBoW could not have captured the 3 day trip to Baja Wine Country any better [we have covered the ruta del vino before when there was 20 instead of 120 bodegas]. Aren’t you – the reader – impressed to know that a college education can lead to something so charming and entertaining?

Take a trip to the Tres Mujeres Bodega in Guadalupe Valley!

The Paul Lato Origin Story

The King of Santa Rita

This was going to a more ambitious tale of how amateur wine know-it-alls and cognoscenti – aka Dotore and tBoW – discovered Paul Lato at the 2004 Santa Barbara Wine Festival where he was tucked in a corner with just about the worst table possible at a premier tasting where tasters/buyers thronged like a Killer Whales pod on the hunt. Before looking – NSFWL!

There are dozens of links to reviews of Mr. Lato that fawn over his wines; even after he lost his focus on low alcohol and restrained fruit and went B-I-G in a very Santa Maria way. Here are a couple of links fyi with tBoW’s quickie evals.

“We’ve heard there is an epidemic outbreak on Clavius.”

2018 Santa Maria Sun “Ingratiating recycled history, writer’s creative tie-in how 911 (twin towers) influenced Paul’s reassessment, dated 2018 but obviously dates closer to 2005.” There goes my timeline.

2014 wakahawka wine reviews (online) “He’s a terrific cook, young life in Communist bloc countries, nice photo where his resemblance to Paul Giamatti in Sideways is evident; origin of Spanish word Duende which is difficult to translate but best pairs with “dream” and is what he named his early wines.”

2015 KCET coverage “Lato is anointed by Parker, Paul’s preferred vineyards,an upcoming dinner (long gone), Santa Barbara is home.” Thud.

“I’m sorry I am not at liberty to discuss that.”

FRESH POV FROM TBOW: The scene is the 2004 Santa Barbara Futures Wine Fest located in Santa Barbara’s magnificent El Paseo. Great place to get stoned. This is our third go-round where winemakers can only show if they agree to cut the market price by 20% for the “futures” sale. The Pinot Noir market is steaming in the Central Coast, especially Santa Rita Hills. All the Big Names are represented: Sea Smoke (6 deep at tiny pouring table), Clendenen, Tolmach plus Santa Rita wannnabes like Jaffurs, Babcock, Melville and many many more.

We are already tired of the high alcohol overbearing fruit style that plagues the region. Curse of Parkerism. We wander into the rear room where access to shrimp and mussels and cheese is only 1 or 2 slackers deep. At the eastern end of the buffet, next to the kitchen entry/exit, waiters and busboys moving in and out like a late night ride to Vegas – vroom, whoosh, scuze mee – is a single table where a balding guy with a slight paunch stands patiently. No crowd here. Did he sneak in? Was there one table left?

“All we know is it was buried here 4 million years ago.”

Paul pours his 2003 Duende Pinot Noir. Nice. Thirteen percent. Radical. Delicious. So not Santa Rita. Fruit is clear as a mountain spring filled with fairies. We head to the buyers table and grab half a case each. That’s the story. Next year Dotore and I had to get past Clendenen and Tolmach to snag a pour. WORD. Alcohol was already creeping up past 14%.

Last time tBoW purchased Lato Wine it was half a case out of Paul’s trunk in Calabasas; the 2006 Cinematique Syrah at $60. 15%. Thick and ornery as Trump’s White House staff. Undrinkable early on and over several years. Saved one to see if it would come around. We cracked it recently. Past a decade this wine is lovely. Clearly New World but not clearly Santa Rita. And it tasted pretty good. Color rich, flavors in balance. Just needed some time. Paul will always be cool. Even when faced with a bottle of Merlot.