Posts belonging to Category Pinot Noir



Forced and Unforced Wine Errors.

 

Making Sense of Chaos.

Lettie Teague recently wrote what she really loves about wine 7 Reasons We Love Wine. tBoW loves Lettie Teague…and wine. Much to love when it comes to wine. However, there is a lot of dopey stuff as well. And since tBoW does not write for a living (at least not about wine) we can poke fun at all the silliness involved.

Take Wallys Wine and Spirits. For more than four decades Wallys was the trendsetter in how to market fine wine. Steve Wallace and Gary Fishman [ed. call me Gary, Matt’s Dad wants to interview you] ran the best WINE shop on the Westside. The only competition was the Wine House which became the SUPER market for wines ’round the world. However, Wallys was the top dog with the Hollywood client list. Ran into Danny Kay there. Had him sign the birthday card I happened to be carrying with me. Now Wallys is a laff riot of misguided pretension. Glamour and importance. Cater your next awards season party. Affect your glamorous lifestyle. Forced error – misguided hubris.

The aging wine thing is D-U-M-B. Archaic. Silly. Producing wine to be aged is bull pucky; a fashion foisted on the innocenti who believe wine is better with age. The only thing better with age is adolescence. In fact aging wine is a gamble…a poor one. Odds are stacked against those who love wine when the wine needs to “lay down.” This is doublespeak for heavy oak and tannins more commonly found in wood sealers. Those phonies who would write a wine review suggesting “lay down this beauty for a decade” are lost in the “fog of wine.” Lettie Teague would never suggest laying down a wine. At least we believe that is true.

Ever freeze a bottle of wine? You now…put it in the freezer to cool and discover a few days later you actually put in the cooler to freeze? Unforced DUMB error.

tBoW recommends wines that can be opened and consumed right now. Sometimes it is necessary to lay the wine down in the cellar. This is usually the case when wine is shipped. Wait 2 weeks if you can stand it. Sometimes it is necessary to allow a wine to settle down if the bottle has been cooled in the freezer on a bed of ice…and forgotten. That wine should be defrosted at room temp before pulling the cork in another week…if the cork has not forced its own exit from the bottle. Barring unforced errors like freezing wine for good cause there is no excuse for buying wine that needs to be aged for a decade or more. There are two exceptions to this rule: ports and sauternes.

Here are two wine paragons that can please greatly when opened “before their time;” and one wine that missed its “open by” date.

2016 Boxler Gewurtztraminer $35: Floral nose, a flower bouquet, honey suckle. Flavors of hay and mint. Say what? Over the top AND balanced. Honey. A knockout. Can it age. Certainly. However, if we bought more it would be like trying to keep my hands off my baby granddaughter. Oh sure. Wait until she’s five years old and more ambulatory. Looks like this gewurtz baby is still available at Kermit Lynch, Flatiron and Vintage Wine Merchants in San Jose. Lucky buy! Thank you Kermit.

NV Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut 13.5% $39 at Costco. May seem pricey however for champagne of this pedigree it is the go-to choice for tBoW on Valentines Day. Fruity, marzipan like. Break out the nice flutes. Dependable selection for the special occasion. The right question is whether the tBoW reviewed Cava sparkler Ravenots at 40% the cost, is good enough? We would say not quite…but close.

2011 Domaine Joseph Roty Marsannay 13%. $40ish. Tough to find. Because it is old now. Generally the vineyard designations age longer and are more interesting than this village bottling. The pedigree – Roty – is top notch. The wine is exotic but on its way to the Assisted Living Facility. tBoW finds that Burgs are generally better when consumed “before their time.” We missed here by a couple years. Forced PEDIGREE error. Fuggedaboudid. It’s Burg Town..

Making the right choices when buying wines is important to our list of reasons to love wine. As Chuck D and Public Enemy put it don’t believe the hype. However we find Bob McNamara in all his confidence and technicalities the more appropos analogue when it comes to figuring out how to enjoy wine by accepting the Fog of Wine.

Ach du Lieber Spatburgunder!

Lederhosen und Rot Wein!! Sehr G-u-u-u-ut!

This is the Ahr Valley which is north of Mosel and which – until very recently – has been the most highly regarded wine valley in Germany.

Oh yeh. tBoW is going. Goodbye Luxor and Valley of the Kings…und Hellau Ahr.

We last (actually initially) wrote about German Pinot Noir, Spatburgunder, during the past summer. Das vas nicht gut.

Under relentless email assault from Lyle Fass tBoW dipped his tongue into the glass of German Pinot Noir sold by Fass. [ed. Fass is the successor or at least rival to the king of online megawinemarketers Jon Rimmerman of Garagiste]. The hype is powerful and compelling for any woke wine slugging environmentalist. Global warming has allowed for the propitious [ed. portentious even?] growth of Pinot Noir by Le Bosch. Rumors have been inconsistent. Fact checking – an impromptu tBoW tasting past summer – was inconclusive to be kind.

Two bottles were cracked together; one imported by Fass and the other by Kermit Lynch.

2017 Enderle & Moll Liaison $38 (online altho’ I am not sure what we paid Fass): Chambers Wines website says this…”a beguiling nose of stone, crushed strawberries and red florals, the palate is radiant with red cherries, strawberries, blood orange, and a hint of tart red currant.” Not the tBoW writing style however useful for a quick intro to top tier (at least for now) German Pinot Noir. Enderle & Moll as Fass warned is a hot ticket. What did we think? This wine is Burgundian. The wine is so tasty. The fact it is beyond quaffable is H-U-G-E news for tBoW and readers. The wine calls V-O-L-N-A-Y its brother. Volnay is commonly described as pretty, lush, floral. tBoW might add on the “cherries” side of Burgundy [ed. the other side is mushrooms, feral, “forest floor.”] We love cherries. The best news is that this could be easily mistaken – at least by tBoW – for “yer durn tootin” Burgundy. Don’t bother searching. Cannot get it.

Image result for Boxler Pinot Noir 20162016 Albert Boxler Pinot Noir $67: Man. We missed out here. One of those “why-didn’t-we-buy-more.” Imported from Kermit Lynch who this summer offered a 6 pack steal of Boxler Alsatian wines for under $220. We bought two six packs of Alsatian white wines and the lone Pinot Noir. Boxler is a reliable Alsatian white wine producer however who knew this red would be so incredible. It was the priciest bottle in the gang which we attributed to scarcity. As IGTY might put it…who makes Pinot Noir in the Alsace? Who would pay $67 for it? If the Enderle & Moss is Volnay then this is Russian River Pinot Noir from Williams Selyem or Rochioli circa 1980s. Those wines were distinctly Californian from one of the two best – amend that four best – growing regions for Pinot Noir in California (and therefore the nation).

The other two credible New World Pinot regions would be the Willamette Valley (Maggie Harrison/Antica Terra; Patty Green RIP) and soImage result for Burt Williams winemakeruthern Napa’s Carneros rolling hills. You can also throw in Jim Clendenen in Santa Barbara. Our point is this. The 2016 Boxler Pinot Noir is a ringer for the best of lush and balanced and sluggable California Pinots. Fruity without going over the top, balanced (always important even essential to well made wine), never acidic not even in the earliest stages.

Burt Williams was the legendary self-taught winemaker who put Williams-Selyem (and Pinot Noir outside Burgundy) on the map. He died recently…a healthy and greatly respected winemaker whom the wine industry just did not want to let go of.Image result for Patricia Green winemaker

And that is the good news [ed. he means the wines not the deaths]…two Pinot Noirs that tasted like Burgundy grown and produced outside Burgundy, along with Pinot Noir that tastes like the earliest great New World Pinot Noir wines.

We expect to be busting corks on other German Pinot Noir wines shortly. We shall duly report. For right now…keep your eyes peeled. Today we are back on the hunt for German Spatburgunder. So, as always…when buying German Pinot Noir? Research and stay frosty.

Und now vee haff ein spitzenmäßiger Schuhplattler, sehr exakt und rhytmisch getanzt. Sowas sieht man nicht alle Tage. Jawohl!!

Cellar Purge: Wait Too Long & Suffer Like Postseason Doyers

SIGN OF GREAT WINE? BE REAL.

Would you pull the cork on one of these dusty moldy bottles with excitement or trepidation? The task is not any easier for much larger concerns. Consider the Dodgers. Their pitching staff is somewhat like the photo. They got rid of one very bad bottle but held onto a couple showing serious signs of age.

Los Doyers had the chance to get another relief pitcher before the deadline and failed to do what was obvious. Now comes the lesson. When one fails to do the obvious now one often pays the price later on.

Image result for CLAYTON KERSHAW SLIPPING

PAST HIS PRIME

So it is also true with wine “collecting.” As the reader should understand we no longer “collect” wine. Although we have in the past. “Collecting” involves buying “trophy bottles” [ed. see Wine Speculator and 100 point scores] with heavily hyped name winemakers or labels. This rarely works out when it comes to actually pulling a cork. Another “collecting” mistake is buying a wine because it “means something” like a favorite travel destination. Or winning a World Series.

The final collecting mistake is actually good advice. Somebody gives you a bottle of plonk over the upcoming horrible holidays? Get rid of it. Re-gift it. Just do not let the Riesling from Yakima WA occupy any space on the bar or god forbid in the cellar. We learned these lessons once again when recently re-doing the cellar. Think about how the Dodgers dumped Yasiel Puig. He had to go. Stuck around way too long.

tBoW and Ikorb went thru our shared cellar last week. Every bottle was under consideration. The new cellar features a new cooler (Whisperkool 5000 on Craigslist $600 cash) and half as much space which means half as many bins. Many many bottles were purged. The new org scheme features the most precious wines, e.g., Ital Nebs and French Pinots. It had to be. [ed. he has a handful of domestic Pinot Noir which has-to-go] Ten cases of bought-and-paid-for wines will be arriving in 60 days from Fass Selections, Kermit Lynch and even Garagiste [ed. Fass and Rimmerman in dead heat for most entertaining online retailers]. tBoW Sr. has decided to devote his wine selections to David Russell of WHWC [ed. just picked up two Corsican DR picks].

HE HAD TO GO

Wines that did not make the cellar cut: Rangeland 2009 Cabernet and 2009 Zinfandel. tBoW felt strong ties to the young winemaker when visiting on 2010. When tBoW writes the following about a winemaker you know a purchase of wine will follow. “Shannon is Audrey Hepburn in a hoodie, Astrud Gilberto punching down the cap.” Bought too many bottles. Most opened within a couple years. Waiting 10 years for the last couple three makes the point.

Do not wait too long – like more than four years -on 95% of California wines. Unless the wines are from Tablas Creek. We expect those to be ready in another five years [ed. which would be a total of 15 to 20 years]! And they will be finally ready. Will they be worth the wait? Who can say. We are no longer fond of red Rhone style wines no matter the vintage! [ed. note to readers white Rhones not included]. At ten years the Rangeland – which was not intended to go this long – was completely out of sorts.

POWERHOUSE CONSISTENCY

The other wine we held far too long was the 2009 Chateau Cambon. This illustrates another “collector” mistake – buying the winemaker [ed. see above Rangeland] and not the wine. This was the last wine made by Marcel Lapierre the “legendary winemaker” of Beaujolais, in particular Morgon [ed. Beaujolais has more than 5 but less than ten villages – look it up!]. Beauj is 100% Gamay juice. Every wine drinker needs to make up her mind about Gamay juice. Part of the argument aside from palate preference, was that Beaujolais and Gamay were the poor man’s Burgundy choice. Not really. It is always about the Price-Quality ratio aannnndddd what your palate prefers. Gamay just does not do it for tBoW.

We still have Beaujolais in the cellar. None from 2009 any more. However there are several from 2013. These can form the first flight to a late summer tasting.

After three “flawed” wines we settled on Burgundy [ed. duh]. We had a 2010 and a 2011 Roty Marsannay. Right. We opened both. 

The 2010 was delishus. The 2011 was delishus. These Roty wines from Marsannay were a tad more rustic than the Fournier Marsannay slugged down recently. Small point. Both bottles were exhausted enthusiastically. Ikorb noted that the nose on the 2011 “stinks of truffles.” His sniffer is legendary.

One needs a guide to identifying quality Burgs. If you like truffles – or cherries or beets – you will love Burgundy wines however selection is everything. I believe the same can be said of German Rieslings. And Maus will tell us we may apply these same considerations to his special spots [ed. Rhone plus other off the trail regions in France] where he knows exactly what to buy.

Wait! One more lesson learned. Start with the highest quality when filing your cellar; not from the bottom. Andrew Friedman chose not to replace his GM who left for the Giants [ed. nice job there]. Instead he split the job of one technocrat among three others. Expect to see postseason analysis of that failure–to–fulfill. Astros in 6…again. However I actually hope the Dodgers prevail so there will never be another World Series trophy wine like this one below.

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.