BEST neighborhood wine shop in my neighborhood

3sisters1WEB.jpgWoodland Hills Wine Company sits on a lonely stretch of Ventura Boulevard populated by the West San Fernando Valley’s spurious claims to exotic cuisine…from Dan’s Super Subs to Exotic Thai to WHWC1WEB.jpgTopanga Pizza. Lonely stretch might be too kind. Except for a decent used book store and a pub that serves fairly decent English beers the 10 blocks between freeway exits is pretty desolate. [ed. sometimes you run into 3 – of 10 mind you – sisters out for some Saturday afternoon tasting]
Then there is WHWC. A wine fiend’s mecca. Founder Paul and son Kyle Smith have assembled the best collection of domestic and international wines in Southern California. I have been to every wine store from San Diego to Palm Springs to Paso Robles and there is no better selection for just about anything you might have on your radar. trojanfans1WEB.jpgThere are a few other stores that have more concentrated selections in certain regions but none with a better all round selection. If there is one store that gives WHWC a run for the money it is Hi Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa which has the same winning combo of informed sales staff and breathtaking breadth of choices.
But they are 90 miles south and WHWC is maybe 3 miles east.
WHWC hosts some very interesting tastings that range from the generic to the exceptional. Dotoré and tBoW recently attended the generic 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir tasting at the local emporium. Even when the staff runs a run-of-the-mill tasting like 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir they show good sense; they keep the cost down and show a handful of wines. Conversely, when they host a truly exceptional tasting such as wines from the Louis/Dressner or the Becky Wasserman catalogues they still hold down the entry price but not the selections.Klee08WEB.jpg
The first 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir report follows.
2008 Roots Willamette Valley Klee Pinot Noir $18: Second go round for this wine. About the same impression as with the 2007. Same label. Klee has lots of paintings. This one must be in the public domain. Chocolate nose which is not characteristic of Pinot Noir I recognize. Still it is not unpleasant. Wine is bit tight. Fruit s-l-o-w-l-y emerges. Still tight. Wonder how the 2009 will be? 13.7%
OwenRoeSharecropper082WEB.jpg2008 Owen Roe Sharecroppers Pinot Noir $22: Sharper flavors. Fruit is more apparent. Rubbery flavor. Gets richer with time in the glass. In the end just too sweet. 14.2%
2008 Evening Land Pinot Noir $22: Smells and tastes like Pinot Noir. Forest floor funk. Nice nose worth inhaling over and over before even thinking of tastes. A step above the first two wines. Fruit and funk are balanced well. Like Earth Wind and Fire! Winery is in Orcutt California. eveningland08WEB.jpgGets somewhat astringent with some time. THE STORY courtesy of our favorite Portland wine store Great Wine Buys: “The vineyard is considered one of Oregon’s best (that’s why Evening Land wanted it) but it needed work. After ripping out phylloxera-infested vines, they are replanting at a higher density, re-trellising and converting the whole vineyard to bio-dynamic farming. The consulting winemaker is none other than Dominique Lafon, an eyebrow-raising legend from Burgundy whose Meursault bottlings are an altar unto themselves for white Burg fans. The incredible care now being taken in the vineyard coupled with such amazing winemaking talent promises great wines to come, and it’s an exciting beginning. This “blue label” bottling, their first release from 2008, is mostly Seven Springs fruit with a small amount acquired from “a few friends”. Made in a relatively drink-now style.” 13.4%
OwenRoeKilmore08WEB.jpg2008 Owen Roe Kilmore Pinot Noir $35: The premium Owen Roe bottle on this day. Muted nose but flavors are very high tone. reminds me of the Bergstrom wines from Ribbon Ridge. Elegant and still with some power. Good fruit present. Sweet-ish. 14%
KenWrghtFreedomHIll08WEB.jpg2008 Ken Wright Freedom Hill $40: This is the big ticket highly touted wine so we are expecting big things. Thank you Mr. sales rep. Excellent nose of forest floor and vanilla. Plenty fruit but not sweet! Thank you. Rich with coca flavors. Extra rich flavors in the mouth. 14%
BONUS Oregon Pinot Noir…
JChrist07WEB.jpg2007 J Christopher Dundee Hills Cuvee Pinot Noir $27: Had this one shipped in from Portland by Great Wine Buys, favorite wineshop in the city and representing local wines very well. Ask for Murray. This is what we fell in love with in May 2009. Satin smooth with some weight but still light to middle. Great balance of fruit and funk. Easy going down. Tastes like well made Oregon Pinot Noir. More more more. A very good wine for a reasonable price. 13.5%
The tBoW tasting team will be making our own journey to the Willamette Valley in May so you can look forward to thorough 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir reporting in a few months looking for the 2008 Pinot Noir from Dewey Kelly. In the meantime, Mr. and Mrs. tBoW will be driving through Mendocino and plan to stop in at several Pinot palaces along the way.

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