Posts belonging to Category Syrah

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.

‘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.

Chemistry Kismet Karma: Orange & Black Win(e) Brand

getcher Kismet righcheer!

Joe Kismet Don’t Panik!

Break up the Jints!The World Serious champs beat the odds and won again. Pandas everywhere are chewing extra bamboo stalks. San Fran the City will make a ton of $$ under the guise of a celebration parade. For the forelorn in Blue [ed. Royals right tBoW?] it’s a long wait for April, another unbearably long summer and, gottvilling, another shot at 3 pennants (division, league, series).

Things are looking up for Los Doyers who bought a new “President of Baseball Ops” who is not old-school. We wonder if Andrew Friedman watched the series. Here is what he would have seen. Chemistry! Royals and Jints play like a team woven together sub-atomically. Karma! Things went their way when they could not have. What makes luck break your way? Will driven by a group mind [ed. like a mindset? NO! Never use that word in front of me]. Try Kismet! There is a term with meaning. If karma is luck then kismet is GOOD LUCK. Very good luck. Mr. Friedman should consider how to create chemistry with strategic trades. Get rid of the pouters and goofballs. Bring in steady hands with a record of winning and who do not seek center stage all the freakin’ time. The good breaks will follow.

HALLOWEEN WINES right? Real horror show my droogies!

Montille-2010WEB2010 Deux Montille Pouilly-Fuissé En Vergisson $32: Tastes like steel fermented chardonnay. Firm backbone. Hard. Oh it is steel fermented chardonnay. Well why didn’t you say so. Tastes like french Chardonnay. Mrs. tBoW is charmed, Says Old World white grapes have more distinctive flavors than do reds. She continues: reds are less nuanced. They fold into each other. This wine has lichi green flavors. From the Mâconnais, a Burgundian value region. Biodynamic and organically grown and produced by pedigreed Burgundians. 13.%

Ouled-ThalebRoseWEB2013 Ouled Thaleb Rosé Morocco $14 (Wine Country in Long Beach): Who would not want to taste this? Made in Morocco, colonized by France, across the Gibraltar from Spain, sophisticated nation. They grow vinifera and make wines on this estate ten miles from the ocean since 1923. The blend is 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Cinsault. Bright acid, red orange color. Tastes just like what we would expect from Languedoc. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. The AOG is Zenata. Exotic. Brought to us by Nomadic Distributions. Cool! Had this with ersters at L&E Oyster Bar in Silverlake while Jints were getting crushed game six 10 zip. Fab diversion. Here is some splashy news on the brand. U20 alert! 13%

Here are a few Haloween costume ideas with a bit of the old ultraviolence.

Jim Gaffigan weighs in on the lighter side of All Hallows Eve. What about a Jim Gaffigan costume?

Dom 85!! Who knew?? Harvey Kurtzman knew.

cosmic comic juice for a young mind

cosmic comic juice for a young mind

This post is being written in a downpour of potrzebie popup ads. Not good. We have wines and events of import to review so let’s plunge ahead with another furshlugginer post.

First things first. Happy Birthday to Dotoré. OK. That is taken care of. The venerable and toothsome reporter and hopeless Dodger fiend owes tBoW $20. We will have to pull some corks.

Hurricane Iselle blew itself into a Tropical Storm. Family living on the Big Island survived the tempest on Mauna Kea.

Happy birthday to Peewee, loyal Young’un and bad MoFo, who enthusiastically hosts her Payola Show at Paolis Pizza joint Tuesday nights. Congrats to original Young’uns Sawa M and REL now gainfully employed so they will soon be popping their own corks with tBoW and The Geezer Troop.

Favorite Somm Jen Carter is no longer at Saddle Peak Lodge which means that wonderful place with all the potential that she was able to realize, will fall from its roost as the go-to spot in the Calabasas boonies. Jen did a fab job there and we will miss her. Until we find out where she takes up hosting and toasting in a new venue! Please let us know Jen!

In the midst of all, we have had some notable wines to present.

dom85WEB1985 Dom Perignon $300 (TAFI wine): No need to say champagne right? This is THE champagne. Imagine Bond calling for 1952 Dom Perignon, chilled, in From Russian With Love. This wine came serendipitously to the tBoW clan as a random raffle prize. I know huh? Provenance unknown which is to say who knows how it was stored. We popped the cork and poured. Perfect bubbles, tight and abundant. But the flavor was revelation. Every Dom we have ever had has been steely bordering on austere. This was no fat big boy Krug but it did show golden color, apple flavors and it was delicious! Sometimes the world tilts ever so slightly and something falls into your lap. Truly memorable. Spectacular. 13%melville-1-WEB

melvillPN02WEB The review to the left is not the work of popup ads or even an overzealous editor. It is tBoW’s policy to try and not say anything directly unkind, uncaring or unfriendly when it comes to bad wine. The harshest term we will is PLONK. However, we could not help expressing the 180 degree turnabout in our wine palate since 2001. The Melville wines represent that switch. The general movement in the direction of food friendly, natural, under or even unoaked wines had something to do with our redirect. Mostly, tBoW has always wanted to apply Harvey Kurtzman’s humor from the Mad magazines of his yoof in a wine blog.

TCPano05WEB2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Panoplie $80: The highest end selection from the greatest Central Coast winery. Still not ready! This is the top selection and it tastes that way… all the way. Dense dark red blood robed liquid. More like a Southern Italian Negro Amaro. Only bigger. TC wines are never about heavy tannins. However, the reds are very long aging. Had it with steak and the beef had to put up a fight. Stick with the whites… long as they are seven years post bottling. Blows by the Melville monster. 15%.coston10WEB

2010 Domaine Coston Terrasses du Larzac Languedoc $20: One of the last of the Great Garagiste selections in the cellar. A wine that can do the tango. Sophisticated in a very local way. Imagine an Argentine man in his 50s stepping through the porteño ritual dance. Light on its feet with the gravitas only a country defeated in in every war it ever fought could understand. Outstanding.

Bond is unable to turn down Dom Perignon 1959, from You Only Live Twice.

The Best of Inter-Summer Holidays

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Spring ended May 23. Summer begins June 21. The weeks between are the Inter-Summer. The Inter-Summer party is held sometime over the Memorial Day extended weekend. Sunday seems ideal. Prepare leisurely on Saturday and recover even more leisurely on Monday. There is little going in the way of sports distractions. No Stupid Bores or Solemnly traditional golf tourneys. Just a nice long weekend to think about those who have served in wars… hang with pals, serve some food and pull some corks. Keep an open mind.

2010 Vignobles de Balma-Venitia Vacqueyras Cuvée St.-Roch $20: Vacquerays is a southern Rhone region that is generally under-publicized unlike neighbors Gigondas and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Wines are Grenache dominant. Simply put, expect value from Vacquerays wines. Notes borrowed on this bottle from the Internet say “Pure and focused, showing blood orange, St-Roche-VaqueraysWEBplum sauce and bitter cherry notes laced with plum pit and anise, with a mineral-tinged finish. Drink now through 2016. 32,400 cases made.” Plum pit? If tBow warn’t so lazy he might write… “nice, easy to drink red wine with character, ordered off the list in foreign city east of Sepulveda. A welcome compromise that satisfied the palates of a zin lover and a couple of related Old World tasters. Friendly with all food ordered by 14 people with wandering and alien palates.” A label we would never see in LA! 13%

oiseletWEB2011 Domaine Yannick Pelletier Saint-Chinian L’Oiselet $20: This bottle presents the problem with natural wines. As the somm presented, quickly grasping our naive interest in n-a-t-u-r-a-l wines he mentioned L’Oiselet uses no sulfides whatsoever at all no way no how. When he mentioned the wine is grown in schist it was game point and set for Matt the Somm. We bought. He decanted. Took 45 minutes to open. The juicy “attack” [ed. nice old school “taster” gab, you geek] finally lost energy but not in the new style taster geeky vocab way. The wine just got tired like some thoroughbreds do in the final stretch and the race looks like it is in slo’ mo’. This wine blends Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, and Syrah. That’s two grapes of which tBoW is not fond. In sum, we would not buy again altho’ we are now huge fans of Husk Somm Matt. Did we mention the wine list is organized by soil type? Smart. 14.5%

cebeneWEB 2010 Domaine de Cébène $25 (Garagiste): This is the last of the great Garagiste offers. Or at least the last we ordered. This is a wine of some celebrity. As Jancis Robinson has posted online “Brigitte Chevalier acquired in 2007 a ​​few acres of vines on amazing terroirs in the Languedoc. 20 km from the Mediterranean, its first vines rooted deep within a single large land and marine sediments villafranchien. bc-oligny1WEBThe other vineyard is perched on the balconies of shale oriented due north at the top of the Faugères. Judicious choice of this great terroir shale, associated with very low yields and its work in the service of their acidity.” Allow me to translate for foolish wine tasters who will buy anything written in a style that immediately penetrates the subconscious mind. Countrified winemaking woman grows small production on perfect soil in last place you would expect to find it, quantities are sufficiently small so that you might never see it. Bingbaddabing. BUY NOW. Languedoc winemakers are wonderfully free to blend whatever they like. There is a nice array of vinifera available from the recognizable mainstream to the less recognizable local fruit. This wine delivers kinky character, high acids and dry flavors that with some air rounds out just enough to put on toe shoes. Winnah. The blend is Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre which omits the two Languedoc grapes [ed. i.e. Carignane and Cinsault] that make us wrinkle our nose. 13%

Memorial Day down south

Memorial Day down south

Mr. and Mrs tBoW were surprised to see CSA flags in the Magnolia Cemetery a week before Memorial Day. We did see a very few Union flags next to ancient headstones. There are many Revolutionary War soldiers buried in this incredible cemetery outside the city. There was a separate plot for the dozen or more crewmen of the Hunley, a CSA submarine that sank in Charleston harbor before it could do much damage. Many Civil War soldiers were returned to their native homes for burial on Southern soil.

Johnny Horton had a hit in 1960 with “Johnny Reb.” Horton was born and lived in Los Angeles but he lived most of his life in the South. He was a career songwriter who wrote “saga” songs like “Battle of New Orleans” and “North to Alaska.” He died in 1960 while driving at the height of his success. He was in an inescapable head on collision on a Louisiana bridge. Here is Johnny Cash giving all the glory he can muster to this hit record from 1960. Funny world.