Posts belonging to Category Pinot Noir



2014 Gone. Keep Up with the Year in Front of You.

so nice

mi holiday getaway


The year in review is a journalistic tradition; even a must-do. What was memorable about 2014? Who do we remember? What made the strongest impression? Who is writing this slop?

stupaulWEBOur most memorable bricks and mortar wine merchant is Paul Smith at Woodland Hills Wine Co. Smith was definitely the underdog on the LA wine scene when we first encountered him about 30 years ago in his liquor store turned “wine find” off the 118. Who’d-a-thunk a former pro ballplayer (brushback pitcher) and USMC Nam vet would eventually become the go-to guy in LA then the nation for top shelf Burgs and other collectibles. I am still holding out Paul will let tBoW write his memoirs. He hangs a Marine Corp flag out front. Truly one of a kind.

Most memorable virtual wine merchant is Steve Goldun of Eno Fine Wine. He has delivered the best wines we have tasted throughout the year including the 2011 Sylvan Pataille Marsannay Clos du Roy featured below [ed. click two words back if you must learn more right now]. Consistently bringing in the wine we love to own at prices at or below the best market prices… Eno Fine Wine.

Most memorable wine travelers hands down are the bashful Krisses. They are a tag team from one of those generations that nobody from tBoW’s boomer clique can differentiate. Kris A is a budding winemaker, accomplished brewmaster and extreme triathlete. Kris B is the intrepid travel planner who can turn an introductory credit card deal into two round trip tickets to Germany or Spain or Austria. They hear music at decibels only accessed by corks and vines. Kris B frequents Garagiste and other obscure online merchants enabling the more placid tBoW to go in on a few unusual, exceptional deals. See Mont Blanc sparkler below.

soft flabby underbelly

soft flabby underbelly disappoints

What do we have to look forward to in 2015? The HausMaus visits town in June. A robust tasting of Rousanne and Marsanne seems likely. The dollar will continue to drive down prices on our favorite wines from Italy, France and Germany. The organic sustainable biodynamic movement will continue to expand and influence what you are drinking [ed. unless you are a mega collector of trophy wines in which case you are most likely oak addicted].

By the end of 2015 there will still be domestic wine touts claiming their favorite Pinot Noir is “Burgundian.” This is neither possible nor necessary. Domestic Pinot Noir will never share the qualities of Burgundy Pinot. If anything the difference will become more striking. We have staked out our position on domestic Pinot. We prefer Burgundy and of course we mean only the right Burgs [ed. is there a wine more haughty than Burgundy? Get your snob on!]. More Burgundy producers will lose our interest (Camille Giroud) as we simultaneously learn more about who makes the styles we prefer (Roty, Pataille, Clos du Moulin aux Moines). We have moved on from Barolo and Barbaresco and quite possibly any wine with 100% of any grape in the bottle. This leaves us in and around the Valtellina when it comes to Nebbiolo in Italy where the vignerons blend everything. Expect more wines form Sicily. And more champagnes. Should be a grand year, we hope.

extremeWEBOne more 2015 target. There is rumor of a new blog, the Wine Whisperer, where topics will concern the wine trade, interviews with wine folk such as aspiring somms, wine phenomena of any and every sort, and quite likely Bigfoot.

2011 Extreme Spumante Metodo Classico Brut DOC di Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle ~$23: Sparkling wine for extreme mountain climbers? This IS the Krisses in a bottle. That IS Mont Blanc on the label. Note pick axe and rope at label top. These must be highest vineyards in Europe! But probably not. Reminded tBoW of the sparkling Gewurtz made by Navarro (producer of lightweight domestic Pinot we also prefer!). We liked it. 12%

lassagneWEBNV Lassaigne les Vignes de Montgueux Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $35: Purchased from Eno. Step aside Mont Blanc. Like the Warriors vs rest of the league [ed. talking NBA now], Champagne is King. And this bottle is special, Champions league, think Villareal futbol squad, La Liga Primera Division; not Real Madrid not Barcelona, but very competitive. Of course, please keep in mind a sparkling wine from Spain is not Champagne. Neither is a sparkling wine from Napa or anywhere other than Champagne. Does this mean there are sparkling wines as good as the best from Champagne? No. That would be unlikely. This remains useful info despite the end of the holiday.

pataille-marsannay-2011WEB2011 Sylvan Pataille Marsannay Clos du Roy $38 [TAFI]: the most memorable wine even though we opened it two weeks before the end of the year. Bought this at the Burgundy Hoe Down more than a year ago! Took a year to open just enough to get a glimpse of what was inside. So salacious! Unfortunately, finding more of this wine from this vintage will be a bitch. Wine of the year, as those things go.

halter-11WEB2013 Halter Ranch Cotes de Paso Blanc $20: Purchased by LeLg [ed. Le Large in short which the man is NOT] at Hi Time in Costa Mesa, the premium wine store in the OC. A lovely Paso white Rhone blend of mostly Grenache Blanc backed with Picpoul Blanc, Rousanne and Viognier; all estate grown. Read more about Paso the wine region including Halter the 900 acre ranch. This is a label to watch for. Don’t say we are too snobby for domestic wines. Especially not too snobby for Rhone style whites. Buy it. 13.5%

‘Tis the Season: Five Wine Truths

santa-sleighVINOWEBIn Vino Veritas must be the vanity plate on Santa’s sleigh. It is also a muy popular phrase among the cogniscenti du vin. Something about truth and wine. This blog is hardly averse when it comes to understanding more about our wine tastes and habits. Here is what the vines told us at a recent holiday party.

antica07WEB ayres10WEB Lesson #1: Palates change, or at least they should if you prefer truth to hype. The truth here is we are done with Oregon wines. We plan to drink thru what’s in the cellar. Not a knock on Oregon Pinot Noir. Just a move in a new direction.

2007 Antica Terra Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and 2010 Ayres Ribbon Ridge Pioneer Pinot Noir: Five years ago these Oregon Pinot Noir wines were at the top of our list. Had to have them. Nummy num nums. So delicious. So manipulated. Both wines are quite enjoyable. Antica still seems to the be the top PN in the New World per the party guests. We just see no further reason to purchase wines from the region.

latourmersault05WEB Lesson #2: Pierce the veil of personal bias. Consider all the data. As Inspector Clouseau might say “I suspect no one and I suspect everyone.” I suspect me. 2005 Louis Latour Mersault-Charmes Premier Cru: Forget the pedigree of the producer and especially the wine press. This bottle had everything going for it when purchased: big name producer, big name vineyard, should have checked the vintage, and deeply discounted. The most important red flag was the wine shop, now out of business. We had never bought a decent bottle from the site. The wine was flat. Over the hill. Some said premox. Some said too cold. When it warmed up it was chalk and dust with little fruit. Buy the wine you like, note wines you are supposed to like. More signals “The family-run company of Maison Louis Latour is one of the most highly-respected négociant-éléveurs in Burgundy. Renowned throughout the world for the quality of its red and white wines, the company has built a reputation for tradition and innovation. This Domaine has the largest Grand Cru property in the Cote d’Or with a total of 28,63 hectares (71,58 acres).” Large vineyards is not necessarily a detractor BUT a smaller vineyard is often associated with smaller producers who are more concerned with quality than quantity.

ranchero-vig-10WEB Lesson #3: Look at the small producer who is reasonably inspired. Amy Jean Butler is a case in point. From her website: “Founded by way of endless infatuation and intellectual curiosity, Ranchero Cellars is my just reward for years of making wine for others. I have lived and breathed winemaking on all levels – from the storied and venerated Napa institutions, to the intrepid Paso Robles startup – and have come to understand that this is where I belong. Over the past 16 years I have fallen in love with certain vineyards, particular varieties, specific styles and methods.” This is what inspiration reads like. And she signs off “XOXO Amy.” 2010 Ranchero Cellars Viognier: This 4 y.o. Viognier wine from Paso Robles is delicious. It has improved with a couple years. Proof that the New World/Old World distinction which we constantly cite has little meaning in the hands of a true winemaker.

santelenamag06WEBLesson #4: Cabernet is not Napa. 2006 Sant’ Elena Cabernet Sauvignon: An Italian red from the Friuli region in Northeastern Italy. Delightful. Served in mag so it has soft tannins 8 years later. Middle weight tasting just fine. There is another lesson here: if you know the wine and not the region, and the price is right ($40 for the mag), then give it a try.

stcosme12WEB Lesson #5: If spooked by too much information when considering a new prestigious brand, start at the intro level. St Cosme is a value label from the Cotes du Rhone. The label is intimidating with an ancient hut obviously hand illustrated. Old shit. Too much for us. We don’t know what to do… flight or fight! Recent release wines can purchased from $14 to $80. The site is ancient as in 15th century. Romans get a mention. 2011 St Cosme Cotes du Rhone: The entry level wine that is 100% Syrah. We worried it might be “hot” [ed. high alcohol], too big being from Gigondas a region we imagine is noted for “size” [ed. too rich]. What we got was a fairly exotic red wine that failed to meet any of our weenie-shaped fears. Great value too. Wine tasting can be so silly!

Please excuse this sentimental moment. Nat King Cole and Frank’s World are hard to resist.

Wine Profiling. Hands In The Air. Don’t Pull That Cork.

waiting is half the fun!

waiting is half the fun!

Do you really know what’s in the bottle you’re holding? Sure you do. You know a lot about it. You bought it because you know it’s from a region you like. Or, for the incognoscenti, the label is pretty. It speaks to you. Perhaps you have insider information. A source of outstanding obscure wine knowledge, a de Gama like explorer of vinous worlds, has told you what to expect from bottles like these. Grab it right now. Buy it. Put it in your cellar.

What do we really need to know about wine to enjoy it? An older person once said youth is wasted on the young. The new axiom adhered to by underground weisenheimers is simple. Drink wine now. Buy enough to enjoy over the next 18 months.

Profile your wines.

tBoW has wines he wants to open and taste. But when? With whom? Planning is so hard Papa. Must we open to enjoy? No. We can enjoy wine without pulling the cork. Amend that statement. We always enjoy wine without pulling the cork.

tBoW introduces the newest form of wine tasting. Enjoying wine without pulling the cork. Think of it as pre-season. The joy of anticipation. You know, Elvis loved to cuddle. He rarely pulled the cork.

Here are a few wines we look forward to tasting. We are already enjoying them.

BlairReisling12WEB2012 Blair Vineyards Riesling $14: The first of two Blair Vineyards wines we are covering [ed. do not confuse with the Santa Lucia Highlands winery named Blair]. This wine was sent to tBoW by the HouseMouse. The wine is from Blair Vineyards in Pennsylvania. Mr. HM swears this is fine wine. We love the label. We love the story how +HM discovered this wine doing pre-college touring with his oldest child. Mostly we love HM’s enthusiasm for what is taking place in Blair Vineyard. Go Big Ben! Riesling must have high acid to make it palatable. Did the 2011 Blair make it happen? Are the Pennsylvania highlands the new Okanagan Valley only 3500 miles south and east and not at the northern tip of the Sonoran desert? We are excited to try. We have clearance to pull this cork on Turkey Day. This ain’t our first go-round with Blair.

duvelWEBDuvel Golden Belgian Ale $8 (Trader Joes): TJs is back. It has been at least 20 years by our clock since TJs had decent stuff on its shelves. This is a premium if MOR product for beer drinkers. Golden color as advertised on the label. Nice gluey flavor with a frothy head. At $8 it is 40% below what Whole Wallet gets. Where ya been Trader Giotto?

sangiotwinsWEB2011 Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana $12 and 2008 La Manella Rosso di Montalcino $15: We can’t wait to try these wines. Consider the pedigree. The Bibi Graetz is the entry level from one our favorite Sangiovese wines, the Testamatta, which goes for $30 when you can find it. The La Manella Rosso is the half-as-costly entry wine for the La Manella Brunello. Bibi Graetz Testamatta needs years to come around then it is beautiful. So you have to be it already aged. Like the 2006. We actually tasted the 2007 upper end La Manella a couple weeks ago and it was not near ready. See our point? This 2008 will be made from younger vines and should be ready to go today. At half the cost. How great is that? Just knowing we have these wines in hand is enough to sleep softly my love.

Here is a wine we have not tasted but we can still enjoy because a trusted wine snob – Mr HouseMouse – opened it. Here is what he would like to share.

sandhi_SRH_pinotnoirWEB2011 Sandhi SRH Pinot Noir $32 (Lincoln Wine 8/13): This offering lives solely off reputation, as it’s crafted by the acclaimed Sashi Moorman, who rose to fame via Stolpman Vineyards. Maybe he’s better suited to sangiovese and syrah [ed. not in combo we hope?!?]. This is a rare SRH Pinot Noir that won’t pummel your tastebuds with overextracted fruit. Too bad. It was lean and peppery, like a red Gruner Veltliner. [ed. hahaha, a red Gruner. Well played HM. Well played.]. Perhaps they were going for a cotes de nuits style. It didn’t work. 2011 wasn’t California’s best, and this is no exception. Save your cheese. No mice.

Major Kong pulls the cork on his government issue (GI) survival kit.

World Series, Halloween and Fall Tastings

SF-pandasWEBMajor League baseball can provide drama on the field like no other professional sports league. None of them. Not one. This year’s events have been nothing short of fabuloso. If you are a Doyers fan you have to be dumbstruck with the dumb luck the Giants are able to manufacture to advance their season into the September, October, uh… November Classic.

El Dean de Los Doyers

El Dean de Los Doyers

How can you not love the PANDAs down the third base line? They are watching the game through the mouths of giant Panda heads. This is fandom in the new millenium. The final round starts this week. You may be sick if it all by now… but we are not… and we will be tuning in.

Long as we are here [ed. hey, everybody here here?] let’s infuse some baseball with wines we have tried. Our guest taster tonight is Vin Scully. Read his revviews out loud while you hold your nose to capture the complete Vinny experience.

gambiaWEB2010 Andrea Faccio Azenda Agricola Villa Giada Gamba di Pernice $19: Piemonte wine that is not Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto or those other blending grapes used in communities we long to visit north of Barolo. This is Leg Partridge a robust and ancient grape rescued from extinction by the young dude who overhauled the family winery 20 years ago. Ruby red with spice. What does Vinny think?

“Andrea Faccio at the plate. The young Piemontese is a newcomer to fans having toiled for the Gaja farm team in Asti for years. Foul ball up the first ball line out of reach. Asti, of course, is where quite a few notable vingeron found their games. High fly to right field. Puig sets up and makes the catch. Faccio makes a nice spicy red that tastes nothing like Nebbiolo. This grape, we are told, is as goofy as the Dodger right fielder. Wow. Yasiel is refusing to throw the ball back to the infield. We hope to see him again in the Spring.” 13.5%

torrontes07WEB2007 Finca de Domingo Torrontes $11: At seven years this bottle was really pushing it. The color was too golden. Thick and near-oxidative. The announcer who will never retire shared the following.

“Latin American wines can always be counted on to do a creditable job. The white Argentines like Torrontes are somewhat of a special breed. They give their best effort when still youthful. Every now and then you get one from the high elevation Cafayate region – in the dirt but Posey is able to corral it – that manages to stay on the roster beyond its due date. Finca Domingo must have gotten lost in the cellar only to emerge when there was nobody left to pitch the 15th inning. Can’t go with the delicate workhorse Kershaw or the injured Reeyou. You say Roo? Either would be willing – low and away ball four he walked him – but the GM says no. We hope to see Colletti next Spring.” 11%

sousa-champWEB Champagne de Sousa Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Reserve $60: 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. Light yellow almost clear color. Wonderful hand harvested champagne following natural wine dicta inadvertently, one supposes since they been around too long. Sharp fruity flavors. Loved it! What did Vinny think?

“Coming to the mound is Eric de Sousa and he is not happy with.. with… he’s signaling to Puig to join him on the mound. This is unusual. Of course, this would not be first time a right fielder was asked to throw in releife. dia-de-los-gigantesWEBWhen the Dodgers were the Knickbockers back in the 30s when I was in my late 20s they had a player named Poog who used to amuse the crowd with his long throws to home. Even when the runner was standing on second. Second base here in Chavez Ravine sparkles around sunset. I am in my sunset years. Puig has the ball. De Sousa will probably get another feature piece in Vigneron magazine. I hope to be reading next Spring.” 11.5%

We thank the great Dodger announcer with the memory of an ankylosaurus, the voice of a blue jay falling out of a tree, and the most incredibly blond hair. Long live Vinny! See you next Spring.

Go Jints!

Great Vinny impressions by another broadcaster. Stay with this to hear the Japanese and Venezuelan Vinnies!

Unnatural Sports R So Not Like Natural Wines

batter's POV

batter’s POV

There are only three natural sports left in the professional world: futbol (soccer to us), baseball and hockey. If natural wines are unencumbered with artifice [ed. nice phraseologizing tBoW!] then these three sports likewise remain fairly true to their earliest paradigm. Baseball has Instant Replay which is the landmark of a corrupted game and the DH. Otherwise the game is pretty much same as it ever was. Hockey is barely a sport so it is theoretically difficult to stray far from the source. Besides what was the singular technological advance in hockey – the TV highlighted puck – has been thrown to the heap of “hated it.” Soccer is the purest game. Our cultural chauvinism makes it difficult to accept.

Which brings us to the NFL. How I hate it. Let me count the ways. But wait. Natural wines provide the perfect reference point for everything WRONG with the NFL. Natural wines eschew sulfur and commercial yeasts used to inoculate wines in monstrous batches that must fit into a production schedule that optimizes the timely release of overpriced monochromatic drink masquerading as something exciting. The NFL gives the viewing public a product easy to recognize yet nameless in distinction (“parity”) that is even easier to consume than a 100 point Speculator wine, not worth comprehending (the technical machinations of endless substitutions), and so overdone in “coverage” to render “live” viewing irrelevant (instant replay O-U-T of control). Then we have the “analysts.” From Boomer to Primetime to the Mooch, NFL analysis is much closer to a supermarket tabloid than it is to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Excuse me. I must evacuate.

When will Manziel start? The suspense builds with every sports chat segment.

Back to the base. Thank God the end of the baseball season is here. Hooray for the Orioles. Best unis in sports, AL East Division Champs. They will not make the World Series. Neither will Los Doyers. It’s a red year and the Angels will win it all. hspiscedebeaueSP2007This is good for baseball and sports fans. Attempts to replicate this model in wine is fruitless. Hooray for natural wines! Yahoo for playoffs baseball. Like the harvest after the long and dull growing season.

Some recent fine wines worth your attention… or not…

2007 Scott Paul Hospices de Beaune $50: Third time we have tasted this wine purchased from the Scott Paul tasting room. Still not ready! So tight. Will it ever open? At least it smells like a Burgundy. We had a 1985 DRC La Tache like this. Lynne is right. Only buy wines ready to drink. Done. Finito. Nuff said. 13%

Lato-Duende-04WEB2004 Paul Lato Duende Pinot Noir $TAFI: The legend of Paul Lato has been documented on this blog several times. HE has achieved “old guard” stature in Santa Barbara wine country. He has a loyal following. His wines no longer suit our palate however this third vintage retains some of his original restraint in winemaking. At ten years Dotore’s summation of the Lato bottle is “nice Syrah.” But then Dotore is a snob, and he is right. This was the first vintage when Paul moved towards the big blowsy style that pretty much ruined SB wines for the tBoW tasting crew. Still a nice wine if you like a lighter domestic Syrah. 14.5%

Bill Belichick is the most same person in the NFL. His postgame interviews are by far the most compelling reasons to tune in to the No Fun League. Here the Patriots coach weighs in on technology. Hut! Hut Hut!!