Posts belonging to Category Wine Regions



Minneapolis Hoedown: GREAT wines & a superb set of museums

Minneapolis Impresses like its Early Gehry Tin Can

A wedding obligation pulled Mr. and Mrs. tBoW to Minneapolis for the last days of summer/fall. Temps between 30 and 50. Balmy. The groom and betrothed selected a very fine restaurant for the first evening out: Alma Cafe [ed. click for winelist and food choices]. The wine and food set the standard for the remaining dozens of hours in town. Let’s get the other stuff out of the way.

Samurai headdress in Mia

Minneapolis is a very cool town. Easy to get around. Excellent public trans. A bevy of top flight museums that put “classic big ticket” LA museums to shame. Like the Brentwood Getty and LACMA. The Minneapolis Institute of Art [ed. Mia to the locals] has outstanding collections in modern, turn of the 20th cenury and international paintings and artifacts. The Weisman Art Museum covers modern artists and movements like a light scarf on a blustery downtown day.

What to do after the museums? Eat and drink of course. The wedding was also really fun…but how often does one go to Minnesota for a wedding?

Sonia the somm with her tBoW selection

The principal wine and dine highlights took place at Alma Cafe. Seven wedding goers sat and chatted. tBoW spent his evening in the capable hands of Michael the waiter and Sonia the somm. The daily cocktails featured a Sangria unlike any other we have seen or tasted: “Burgundy & Chablis, Miro Vermouth, XO Brandy, Elderflower, Pink Peppercorns, Cyelon CInammon.” Is it a drink or a travel guide? The blend was superb. Of course tBoW wants to re-create this. Must check the bottom shelf where he puts the never used bottles of whatever – mostly forgotten and forgettable Kahlua brands.

From there to the wine list; the most varied and thoughtful selection encountered in a very long time with a strong adherence to the PQR – Price Quality Ratio. For examples, the red wines offered fell under six sections: France, Chile/Argentina; North America; Italy/Central and Eastern Europe; Australia/South Africa; and Spain. Flip the single page for the White Wine list which is similar with exceptional additions; i.e., the Italy/Central Euro group adds Eastern Europe. Name a wine list in SoCal with this range.

Selections that required a mini study hall with Sonia:

2016 Grenache/Syrah Pic St Loup “La Closerie du Pic” from Puech-Haut – $16/glass

NV Sangiovese “plus” from Merkin “Shinola” from Cochise County Arizona $15/glass (winery started by Tool frontman)

Pinot Noir plus, Pearl Morrissette (Alana?) “Metis Rouge” Niagra Penninsual – $17/glass

The list included so many labels we never see in LA (and perhaps the West Coast) it was thrilling. Sonia poured a Croatian red for one of our group. Light to medium body with enough flavor to drink. Just like the wine [ed. nyuk nyuk].

When Sonia asked what tBoW might like with my veggie plate I asked her to choose. She returned with a Sardinian wine that was medium bodied and unique: Monica di Sardegna, Cardedu “Praja” $17/glass. [ed. U20 looks like it is available at Wine House]!

Why do we not see more of these wines in LA? Could be the importers of gem wines from the continent just do not get out here. If we do encounter a thoughtful even creatively considered wine list in our town the cost for food and drink is abhorrent. Could be the industry is undergoing a welcome overhaul post-Kermit-Rosenthal-Louis Dressner, as Lettie Teague recently noted. The closest destination next to the Pacific Ocean where food and wine and cost would align in harmony is probably Portland. Better choices and golf in Minneapolis? Must fly to either one.

If you’re flying to Minneapolis just becuz you can you must go in May after the winter thaw and before the Summer mosquitos.

Akira Kurosawa would eat and drink at Alma…check out his samurai fight from “Seven Samurai.”

.

 

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.

From Yasgur’s Farm to a Back Yard in Woodstock: Eyewitness Account of the 50th Anniversary That Fell Apart Like a Hand-Rolled Doobie

The 50th Anniversary of Woodstock did not get far. Reflections include the failure as being endemic of the Woodstock Generation. You know. Unable to foment nationwide revolution.
Jerry Image result for yippies surround pentagonRubin who helped start the Yippies (Youth International party) switched to the Venture Capitalist Party and hosted networking events on Wall Street. Wikipedia (where tBoW gets mucho research done quickly) says Rubin hosted Yippie Meets Yuppie “debates” with his fellow “rad” Abbie Hoffman. Both dead now. Those were the days. The greatest Yippie event was to surround the Pentagon with thousands of Yippies and levitate it. Great idea. Political theater. Today the reproduction would be in Yankee Stadium. Fox would disapprove and MSNBC would ask what Bernie thought about it.
The resurrection of Woodstock has mercifully passed away. tBoW DID NOT go. Nor did anyone else cuz it was cancelled.Altamont Magic

He did go to Altamont in 1970 where the Hells Angels beat a guy to death with pool cues while boring bands tried to play boring rock to hundreds of thousands. It has been said Altamont killed the 60s. So did Charlie Manson and his Family. Thank goodness we dwell on wine and other more sane cultural events like the Herbie Hancock show at the Hollywood Bowl with Thundercat guesting. Garden box. Chilled Rose’ and epoises cheese on a summery cool night in LA. Mayhaps Le Large will report.

By the bye tBoW has a reporter who lives in Woodstock. Her handle is “The Heavenly One or THO.” And she did celebrate the unseminal Woodstock affair. She has agreed to share her impressions. Here are her uncensored comments.

“Michael Lang [ed. original festival sponsor] is kind of a pig so I didn’t mind that his festival didn’t come off. We went to a Woodstock themed party on Saturday night and everybody was dressed predictably — Emily [ed. her lovely daughter] wore her Woodstock Elementary School tie-dyed tee shirt; the one they have to wear on field trips) and I thought she was the only authentic Woodstocker there, having been born and raised here!
The people were old but the music was great. The only acid I saw was the balsamic on the quinoa and heirloom-farmstand tomato salad. We group-hallucinated that we were still capable of dancing without straining anything. Most of the food was along the lines of hot dogs and hamburgers. There was some good cheese, however, and the aforementioned quinoa salad. I ‘sampled’ a rose’, which was perfectly fine, and my friend Jonathan (who is an organic wine nut — also writes about it) raved over the random bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the cooler.
This is only THO’s second wine blog post. Her other was about a wine-and-cheese pairing. “It was so much fun! Mostly my pieces are about internet fraud. Scary and boring at the same time.” I don’t know about you but this is all I need to know about Woodstock in 1969 and 2019. tBoW is very interested in having “friend-of-THO Jonathan” write a post for the best of wines.

 

We also like pink wines especially in the summertime. Here is one that satisfied immensely.
2017 Wagner Stempel Rose Gutswein: Imported by Rudi Wiest from the Rheinhessen (the wine not Rudi – good to remember Rudi’s name as he brings in super German wines; dependably). Bright acid. Lean but not mean. High tone fruit. Like drinking some kind of not quite ripe Lychee. Good thing Mrs. tBoW was not fond of it. The bottle was finished that evening under cool LA summertime skies. [ed. Little help here with the grape and price.]
The J Dilla moment: an interview with Thundercat and Lotus [Flying] chatting with Herbie Hancock and inform the Genius that J Dilla sampled one of his songs and Herbie DID NOT KNOW THAT.

 

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.