Posts belonging to Category Wine Regions



Is It Spring Yet?

Izit Spring Yet? tBoW Finds a Secret Wine Shop with a Delcioso Red Burg!

What a long and wintry Spring it has been. Long. And Winterrrryyyyy. Normally tBoW would hunker down in his wine cellar with a screwpull and a couple of goblets. Or even better invite over some pals [ed. The Large? Mr Story? Dotoré? the Glass Jar??] and pull corks together.

secret spot in Truckee

But not this Winter/Spring. Everyone is rained out or washed away or buried under an avalanche. Dark times? Perhaps. Can this be remedied? Certainly. tBoW is already planning his sunny wine tasting [ed. aka The Tasting Story or a Storied Tasting] for some time in April or May; soon as the temp tops 80⁰ during sunlight and stays above 70⁰ after the sun goes down while the jazz is still playing.

Mrs. tBoW will make appetizers. Veggies will get grilled. And at some point fish and meat will hit the refurbished BBQ.

BUTTTTT…What will be on the tasting list? This is where the balance must be delicately struck.

Mr. Story is a wine tasting novice. He certainly is fond of THE grape and THE cheese. He welcomes a gentle hand to guide him in the ways of value. Mr. Story loves value as do all tBoW tasters. He shuns costly items in general. His nose is already developed for sniffing out the hyped-up cybersecurity patch. Now he must learn the ways of detecting hyped-up wines. tBoW tries to make that decision tree very simple. NO WINES OVER $20! [ed. Note the Large came up with the U20 and the U10 designation – wines under $20 and $10. Such is value!]

Of course, this rally cry must be adjusted for inflation. And the exceptional find. [ed> please continue]

secret wine shop on 111

The mission was to golf three times in three days. And play some poker at the local Native Peoples casinos. In between those activities we had hours to fill so we went to the Desert Wine Shop in Palm Desert on Highway 111 (can be a fun ride from downtown Palm Springs thru an endless rush of towns east all the way to La Quinta).

Desert Wine is exactly the kind of wine shop we love. Hole-in-the-wall stacked with cases that allow just enough room to walk and p-e-r-u-s-e. And bingo. We had a strike like a native rainbow down the Truckee River on the road to Reno!

2016 Domaine Gachot Monot Cotes De Nuits Village $35. Yes. It is a VALUE Burgundy. Imported by Kermit Lynch. Always consider the importer when gauging the pedigree. Kermit is always at or near the top of importers worth recalling. How good was this wine? Good enough I had to keep it away from host IGTY. Lush but not full. Swoozy but not zaftig. Balanced like Cardi B on a unicycle. Cherry side of flavors. Perfect weight. Tannins? Guess I missed that call. Just about perfect. So delicious tBoW could not recall his last red Burgundy this good [ed. tBoW has given up on white Burgs LINK]. How could I pay $35 for wine if it out of bounds on the price/value ratio? I called the shop Friday so I could grab what was left in the store – one bottle – on the way out of town. Find it and buy a case. Split it with me. Now I have to check in Kermit’s newsletter to see if he ever listed this luscious drink.

Willamette Valley VIneyards Pinot Noir Whole Cluster $20 (good as a U20). You will never read about hints in tBoW. As refreshing as liquid fruit salad in a glass, this wine is ruby in color and opens with lively aromas of ripe cherry, blackberry and cocoa with a hint of earthiness. IGTY served this as his GO-TO pinot. Actually quite delicious! And at this price point a real steal; three vineyards covering ~1500 acres; been going since 1970s. Read about them here.

Back to the desert…..Ring-a-ding-ding!!

Murder, Spies, the News Cycle and Tasting Wines

We understand many people drink wine to avoid the news cycle. Not tBoW. We find tasting wine complements the disorder of politics.

We share our definitive guide to recent White House literature so our readers can decide which of these worthy books will go best with their choice of wines. [ed. tBoW uses “news cycle” but he means the President. We would prefer to avoid being cyber-bombed by the Russians.] Each book will be turned into a movie so you could also wait a bissel.

The White House reality show is not really funny [ed. Mr. Story: Oh no.] For now. In fact it is chilling…like a nice bottle of sparkling wine on a summer evening [ed. Mr. Story: A copper cube in a cryostat at zero kelvin is more scientifically accurate.] Things will definitely get very ugly shortly. The US and our allies continue to be undermined from across the Volga. Democratic European countries are under assault by right wing fascist nationalists – Marine Lepin – and eastern bloc neo-Nazis in Bulgaria.

tBoW has read a handful of books about the “hybrid war” that helped elect the Big Cheeto. This “hybrid war” continues to undermine democratic nations who have long been friends and allies. Russian money, loyalists and hackers lead the charge under Putin and his Oligarchs.

The Plot to Destroy Democracy by Malcolm Nance, published June 2018 is a freaking espionage dissertation. The message is Putin has deployed cyberwarfare and limited on-the-ground warfare to disrupt NATO, the EU and US elections. This blended attack – arms, tanks and Facebook – caught most Western political groups with their pants down. tBoW recommends an extra dry martini made with Sardinian Wild Vodka [ed. tBoW says shake 75 times] in order to properly process Nance who worked as a code breaker for the US Navy. Message? We are losing. Putin is winning. Trump and crew are Russian assets[ed. Mr. Story: We must consider diversifying our assets and launch a new blog for this growing market- The Best of Vodkas.]

Fear by Robert Woodward, early 2018. Superbly documented and sourced (although very few sources are named) to reveal how chaotic is the White House and it’s main occupant. We learned what is a “deep source.” Of course when the only two people in the room are Trump and Bannon it is pretty easy to guess who told Bob what went on. Message? Trump is a liar. That’s a repeated quote from Woodward and his “deep sources.” Read Woodward with a crisp Rosaro Negroamero Rosé from Puglia.

Putin’s Labyrinth by Steve Levine, published 2008. Absolutely chilling. The murder of former KG/FSBB officer Litvinenko who turned against Vlad P. He was poisoned in London – Litvinenko was – with some radioactive drops by a former FSB colleague. Painful death. Russian spies prefer using radioactive poison. Use your imagination why. Message? Putin and the FSB are ruthless killers. Try a mojito with Club Havana 3 y.o. “ron”.

Red Notice by Bill Broward, published 2009. Obviously written by a “helping pro” in the “thriller” style. Bottom line: Broward figured he could make billions in Russia when the Soviet Union fell apart in the early 90s. Broward bought “citizens’ shares” of industries that were no longer publicly owned. The Putin-led oligarchs ran Broward out of town. Broward’s Russian lawyer Magnitsky stayed, was tortured and murdered. Broward lobbied for the Magnitsky Act which impounded billions of oligarch money stashed in Western banks. The White House is working tirelessly to dismantle the Magnitsky Act and free billions of locked down Oligarch cash. Message: Capitalism cuts many ways. A zesty briny Albariño from Rías Baixas will give you strength. Finish the bottle.

The Apprentice by Greg Miller, published 2018. If Woodward is all about Bannon, Tillerson and “the 2017 Oval Office gang” then Miller is all about Flynn, Carter Page, Papadopoulis, Manafort, Assange and Roger Stone. Miller is the WaPo beat writer on cyber warfare. He details how the Russian hackgroup, the Internet Research Agency, worked Facebook, Yahoo, Google and hundreds of online “news houses” to whip the alt-right and radical left into a frenzy. Trump won with fewer votes than Romney who lost. Message: Cyber warfare rules, these guys are all “assets.” Woodland Hills Wine Company has a $16 Prosecco Loredan Gasparini Asolo Superiore that will keep you turning pages and shaking your head.

Malcolm Nance explains how hybrid warfare works.

Burgundy Shall Not Be Defeated.

“WE SHALL FIGHT IN THE HILLS” SPAKE CHURCHILL IN THE DARKEST HOUR OF A FADING EMPIRE.

 

Under tremendous pressure from the Bosch, looking into the abyss of Teutonic damnation, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century found himself rallying a nation for collective strength and a new energy to preserve a civilized history shared by women and men living on an island in the North Atlantic.

Things may seem familiar today with our own internal doofus who has – in a petulant mood – shut down our institutions without any clear goal.

I am writing about the survival of French Pinot Noir facing the ascent of German and American Pinot Noir wines which seek to dominate this beloved market.

Not without a fight! A hero has emerged.

2009 Domaine du Chateau de Chorey Beaunes Les Cras $60 (supposedly K&L). I know we just wrote about the un-Burgs and the wisdom of buying wines from the continent – and the USA – that rise near the height of good Burgs, are sold at fair value prices, and that deliver high quality-to-value drink. All it takes is one memorable and unexpected Burgundy wine to disrupt that idea.

We opened the “realBurg” bottle with the obscure and confusing label so common to Burgundy. Tight, fragrant and lean. Kirsch-like cherries. tBoW Jr and I talked about hoops and latkes punctuated by the wine in our glasses. It was changing. It was demanding. Then it happened about 40 minutes in. Pinot opened up like it only does when it comes from Burgundy. Cherry fruit showed texture and seductiveness that immediately made us wish this was a magnum. Not to worry there was plenty to taste. Sublime is a word pretty much reserved for Burgundy wines that hit the mark. So many miss this mark adding sting with the cost factor to even hold a Burg today. These wines can be very fussy; just this side of petulant. When one opens up…it’s like New Years in Havana.

I shared my delight with tBoW contributor KrisB who badgered tBoW to try Fass Wine Selections. I am halfway there. It is one thing to find a wine store like Woodland Hills Wine Co with guys on the floor who know wines AND there is a decent selection of Burgs, AND an excellent sales team. Is this a good time to populate the cellar once more? Can we work out a more sensible shipping schedule? Certainly it is timely with the cool climate for a few months.

Until these questions are answered…or the Big Cheetoh is removed from office…Happy 2019 to all from the writing team at The Best of Wines. FYI – if traveling to Havana for New Years please heed the following warning.

The Unburgs – Enjoy Great Wine For Less

HOW TO ENJOY BURGUNDY FOR HALF THE PRICE

Every wine snob has had this moment: discovering wines from Burgundy; finding out premium wines are not necessarily heavy cabs from Napa with the large corpulent fruit, prices and ratings. Wines that are made from Pinot Noir, a grape that is not friendly to Napa. F-R-E-N-C-H wines with complicated labels one can hardly tell what is in the bottle. Hold on. One CANNOT tell what is in the bottle.

Dotore and tBoW were initiated together, bitten by a Burg-hound werewolf [there wolf!] while groveling at a holiday tasting party with dozens of long forgotten wines filling every inch of a 12 by 5 table in a basement/cellar beneath a food market. The market is gone. The big cabs are gone, we wish Parker’s ratings were gone. 100 point scores made no sense if labels could not be easily understood.

One cannot put a score on a Burg. You might as well try and saddle up a butterfly. Hold starlight in your hand. Have a lunch date with Sasquatch. Our wine lives immediately changed. Forever.

That was then. Today the cognoscenti know that Burgundy is elusive especially when trying to pair quality with value [ed. readers may harrumph here]. One way to beat the hustle is to buy the importer . . . maybe. Burgs are expensive and $30 and $40 bargains are . . elusive.

What to do? Drink wines that have not been tainted by 100 point scoring fools. Drink wines that are not from Burgundy – UnBurgs! [ed. readers may stand up and shout here!] The UnBurgs include Schiava, Alto Piemonte, Sicily, the Canary Islands. Corsica. And that other island off the Italian coast. These are wines from a PLACE; not one lone grape. Blended wines. Local, ancient. Light weight, lower alcohol, balanced (much of the time), distinctive.

The UnBurgs. Here are three wines that share similar qualities as the best value Burgs. And are fairly priced.

2014 Patrick Javellier Savigny les Beaunes Premier Cru blahblahblah. $40 at Total Yawn (aka Total Wine – $35 in Chicago today). It is just as likely to find that the decent bottle of wine found online at Total Wine is no longer sold [ed. Beronia 2009]. However, IGTY found it, bought this Javellier Savigny and brought it to the dinner party. Excellent flavors. Tasted like Burg. Would not mistake for Rioja or Oregon Pinot. Sucked it down.

2010 Ayres Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir $20 at “winery in 2012” [$25 for 2015/16 in USA]: This held up really well. Won’t mistake this for Burgundy. But I will have another glass please. More full, more earthy. The old forest floor – pprrraaaaappp! tBoW went on a four or five year Oregon Pinot jag which was followed by a Mendocino Pinot jag. Searching for New World Burgundy? Fuggadaboudid. Does not exist.

One cannot find New World Burgundy because the grapes would have to come from Canada to come close to the Beaune fruit profile (forget the Nuits). And then the Canadian soil would not be right. Weather is getting very similar now. Nuff said there.

2008 San Francesco Antoniolo Gattinara $40 for the 2008 in Illinois, or $30 for the 2012 in New York/Joizy: You know you are getting close to Burgundy wine when the label becomes more obtuse and practically indecipherable. If the wine is white then it is likely German. But this is Burg-like from AltoPiemonte which is where tBoWfinally found Burgundy with the proper value/quality ratio. Like memorable Burgs the wine can take a bissel age. Balanced like Olga Korbut on the balance beam. Richness like KrisB in the market. Brimming with charm like IGTY himself.

If you must search for decent Burgundy wine [ed. we always will] then stay around Beaune and south. Look for wines imported by Rosenthal, Louis/Dressner, Kermit Lynch and Charles Neal. Should you feel you must spend more than $60 then look for wines imported by Becky Wasserman. Or consult your local REAL wine shop.

Halloween warm up from a true cohort of wine conno-sewers…

 

Some Mice! Some Wine! and Thou…

When the Cat Is Away…

[ed. Mr. Story: We are proud and honored to share with you the post below from the expert creator of the award-winning and globally known Mouse Wine Rating Scale, MAUS! Let us all read attentively as the MAUS politely squeaks his knowledge to us…]

A quick reminder about ratings. One MOUSE means I’d proudly serve this wine to anyone; Two MICE, a special occasion wine; three MICE, life-changing. [ed. Mr. Story fantasizes for a moment about how life changing a three mice wine would be paired elegantly with a three mice rated cheese. Oh who needs marriage when you could have that pairing!]

Today we look at SIX wines that total EIGHT mice.

Bacchus seems bearish on California pinot these days. I understand? Kinda? Problem is, they’re not burgundies, and they will never be. Nothing will. But they’re darn tasty.

2012 Onward Hawkeye Ranch (Redwood Valley). OK, I had to look up Redwood Valley, and what I learned was no surprise – Mendocino. Best pinot locale in USA. This wine, purchased for $10+S&H on winebid, is the lightest domestic around. Almost rose-ay. Slightly reminiscent of Marsannay, except Marsannay blows. This shows rose petals, red currant and lemon curd. Problem: it’s gone in 20 minutes.

2012 Inman Family Wine OGV Estate Pinot Noir. $25 plus S&H ($65 at wine shed they sell from). Olivet Grange, their site says, layers both Russian River and Sonoma Coast. Like the previous offering, this is subtle and Chambolley. What am I thinking? Burgundy? Well, this just needs a little spice to pass for the real deal. Bacchus would like. I sent a bottle to my brother-in-law and he flipped. You will too if you try this. More body than the Onward, but subtle as heck. An usually good domestic.

2012 Furthermore Weir Vineyard York Creek Pinot Noir. Pure California pinot in a great way. Lush, medium body, raspberry souffle that makes you want to buy an Alfa Romeo [ed. Mr. Story must contact the wine maker’s legal department immediately because the lack of a warning re this side effect is definitely a risk management issue that should be added to the label]. Another expensive wine (for me) that sold for half price on winebid, $25. York Creek is apparently as north as they grow in ever-loving Mendocino. I’ve never had a better pinot west of Paris. Almost changed my life. [ed. tBoW – I had a heckuvva time finding this winery, never located the particular bottling. These guys are P-R-I-C-E-Y so at $25 on winebid this was a super deal missing an extra digit up front ifyagetmuhdrift…and you like Sonoma Coast Pinot!]

White Interlude……………………

2014 Pikes Riesling Clare Valley. $15.  Aussies, and Kiwis, do a fine job with riesling. This is no exception. 12%, off dry. Lime with notes of petrol. Third glass starts to sear a bit of enamel off the teeth. Drink alone.  Meaning, don’t share. GREAT value. ONE Mouse.

 

 

GREECE! In spring we happened to be in Metsovo, a breathtakingly beautiful mountain village near nowhere. I read about its wine history; it’s boring.

 

 

 

 

2013 Rossiu di Munte Cabernet Sauvignon. I think the actual winery is called something else, but it’s Greek. Purchased in village from small food shop with local gourmet selection. Proprietor was super friendly and begged me try this wine. Perhaps his brother-in-law makes it. Not cheap! 27 Euros. Popped it last month. Had all the characteristics of a Graves but lacked body and depth. Menthol city, however. Superfun, however; the kind of experience that makes traveling a blast. 1/2 Mouse.

2015 Domaine Costa Lazaridi Amethystos. 90 percent cab and merlot, 10% indigenous agiorgitiko. Purchased for 18 Euro at Athens airport. From the northeast tip of the country in a region called Drama. I mean, they invented theater, right? So good that I went online to see if the wine [ed. tBoW; we already have plenty of drama round these parts] available stateside. Yes, about 20 minutes away from me at TotalWine in Milford CT for the same price as airport. Best I can describe: you’re 22 years old and just starting to drink wine that costs more than a movie ticket. You find this, and your whole perspective changes. Wait, there’s more than one flavor? OK, this is rather international in style. But so is Helen Mirren. One Mouse. [ed. tBoW loves Helen Mirren,]

[ed. Mr. Story: All of this mouse talk has Mr. Story thinking about cheese; a hobby he shares with mice. Perhaps Maus could rate cheeses with mice and then provide a rating (in mice) for the wine and cheese pairing.]

[ed. tBoW] The Greek actress, the Greek film, the Greek dance moves that started it all!! If this doesn’t warm you up get in front of a mirror…you may be a ghost.