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CHEERS FROM WINE-EXOTIC NEW ENGLAND!

DISCOVERY!! HIDDEN WINE SHOP IN CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS

 The Shop | Porter Square Wine & Spirits

Porter Square Wine & Spirits in Cambridge MA

When we used to travel to DC or NYC or other points east…

tBoW always was on the hunt for local wine shops with selections unavailable in LA…

That joy has abated certainly with the COVID pox on travel and the absence of a job that requires such.

What job requires travel anymore?

No problem there are plenty of great and special wine stores in LA/SoCal. And we can relive the joy of “wine store hunt” discovery through tBoW contributors.

Guest Editor today is the Field Maus who hails from Connecticut or Massachusetts. Call it New England. He wants to tell the tBoW readers about a splendid wine shop in Cambridge MA. Please notice there are multiple links to sites that give more depth to Maus’ wine fetishes which are always of interest to readers. Do click on the links! tBoW will embellish post notes.
“You will find Porter Square Wine and Spirits, a small shop in Cambridge Mass that is crammed with hundreds of wines you never see anywhere, from grapes you’ve never known, and bottles sizes you’ve forgotten about…”
Val d'Aosta | Natural landmarks, Wine region, Aosta

Valle d’Aosta above Alto Piemonte

Cave des Onze Communes Vallee d'Aoste Mayolet, ... | prices, stores,  tasting notes and market dataMy first time in the store I was somewhat rushed, but I managed to find a red from Valle d’Aoste, a sparsely populated area above Piedmont. RARE. I’ve only seen them online, and the one I purchased a few years back was memorable, so I took a flier on this $23 bottle. Made from a grape called Mayolet, it tasted a bit like gamay, maybe? Very light, would go with anything. Fun, but not a re-buy. Would love if anyone poured me a glass, tho.

My second time there, I repurchased two bottles of Manincor ‘der Keil from what may be the world’s loveliest wine region: Sudtirol. 100% schiava, this comes from Lago di Caldaro, one of Oz Clarke’s favorite sources. Imagine a lighter, chocolately pinot noir with a bit of BLT. $23 as well, and worth every penny.

First-Taste Guide to Alto Adige Schiava | Learn Wine | Opening a Bottle

Sudtirol borders Austria and Italy above Venice

On a slightly more conventional note, also picked up two bottles of Bergerie Anjou Blanc from Pierres Girard. Why? ‘Cause it’s made with chenin blanc, and this is demi-sec. The versatile chenin reaches its highest potential when it’s on the vine into the month of October. This will last longer than me, by the way. $21.
In Mass, the retail sticker includes tax. Delightful. Cheers from New England, Maus.”
Quite a bit to UNPACK. tBoW has been waiting for a chance to use that premier term strongly favored by newscasters. Now that is gone.
Wine shop discoveries are one of the delights of being a wine snob…and I use that designation in the most irreverent sense. Finding your palate – learning what flavors you like and which grapes deliver those delights – is the the first important lesson in tasting and enjoying wine. Maus likes white wine grapes associated with the Rhone. These include Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, perhaps even Viognier [ed. endorse all except yuk on viognier]. He also likes wines from regions off the beaten path, roads less traveled, especially in countries he has visited on numerous occasions. He often eschews the standard and highly touted regions preferring the less fahionable and “sellable.” Agreed.
tBoW has written repeatedly about his favorite shops where staff can discern my flavor profile (strawberries, cherries, kiwi…think of fruits you like) and price point ($U20 but willing to go to $30 if all criteria are met with exception) and low alcohol level…sub 14% down to 11% (especially for pink wines in the summertime).
Schiava grape meets all criteria of interest. tBoW has had a few and never been disappointed. Color is quit light for a “red”; alcohol is low at 12% even lower; and costs are chained to the $20 level. tBoW is on the fence with Chenin Blanc. I have tasted quite from the Loire and other regions near. Flavor is too sweet from my palate. Makes a highly desirable dessert wine. Note both are relatively light wines from mountain regions on either side of northern Italy.
All in all Maus always has something of great interest to share when it comes to wine. Did I mention he’s a huge Dodger fan? We all have our flaws.
Be sure to search for other posts by Maus on tBoW. Here are a couple.
As for what job requires travel? The wine business abounds with traveling wine hunters. In fact a great wines strategy for choosing unusual, affordable and downright interesting wine if to BUY THE PRODUCER. Here is a great piece on this approach.
CANNED HEAT “ON THE ROAD AGAIN”

What Is Wine? Who Wants to Know? A Primer for Getting Started.

It’s a good time to leave the cave.

 

Before heading into the next COVID trough…let’s buy and drink some wine!

tBoW has been drinking copious bottles of wine during the p-a-n-d-e-mic. Why not? Wine is an indoor sport that takes some know how and the will to carry on. Even during COVID.

Contributing writer/editor Field Maus left a mysterious message. “Hey! I’m in a wine shop in [east coast burg] and it’s tiny and it’s filled with bottles from all the places we’ve never been and there are a ton of wines I never heard of so I bought a bunch.”

Message to Maus::::::hell yeah. Send label fotos and tasting notes. Maybe include some maps with wine bottles that mark the nation-region. Wine touring off the common path is tons ‘a fun.

Goffing pal Mighty Mike Daig-Known [symbolized at top] is “getting into wine.” He understands domestic big names are mostly crap. He recognizes tBoW is a terrific source for learning more about what is in the bottle and which bottles to buy. Mike makes his purchases at Trader Joes and Costco. tBoW TRUTH #1: Costco is good; TJs not so good.

SOLUTION: Find a local fine wine shop you can trust long as they are not fullapoo and try selling you overpriced trophy wines. Many premium wine shops like Woodland Hills Wine Co have a rack with discounted wines. When you are in Costa Mesa you should stop in Hi Time [ed. ask for Patti] and buy a case of mixed wines between $10 and $20. These wines are not loss leaders or closeouts from some distributor. They are the ten to twenty dollar bottles from under-publicized regions like Chile, Languedoc, Alsace….

WHAT ABOUT COSTCO? There are some really good wines at Costco but how do you know which to buy?

RULES FOR BUYING WINE AT COSTCO: (1) Never buy “special wines” like the double mags of Napa Bombast Special Reserve or stupidly priced singles in plastic displays. (2) Find the bottle that stands out like a guy with orange hair in the White House. Last time tBoW was there it was obvious which bottle fit this mold. It was Austrian. DING. It had a screw top. DING. The label was unintelligible with words like Gruner Veltliner (native Austrian white wine grape). And it was $12. DING DING DING. That’s the winner. And it was excellent served chilled while in the spa.

Let’s get to the wine reviews.

Mike has been told Spanish sparkling wine is pretty good and can also be a good deal. Raventos Blanc (~$23) is a Spanish Cava that is good as or better than any champagne or domestic sparkler. tBoW posted on it here. The only problem it is tough to find. When I find it I buy at least six bottles. Also in pink!

What about Chardonnay? Mike is not a fan “no matter how cold it is served.” tBoW agrees. There are so many other white wines that are far more interesting. Here is one sold under the Gelsons label which they named “Mayfair.” Price is ~$14; blend is 61% Marsanne, 29% Viognier and 10% Rousanne. The wine is made by Doug Margerum who makes wines under his own Margerum label. Doug’s winery is located outside Santa Barbara. Doug is an excellent winemaker covered several times in tBoW. The white wine grapes come from the Rhone region. Made as single wines they suck. Most single grape wines suck. Wines should be blended….with regional varietals as has been practiced for centuries.

Summertime is for pink wines aka “rozays.” We have tasted many. Drink them chilled down. Here are a few bottles with busted corks.

2019 Les Gris from La Ferme Rouge 13% is from an estate in Morocco. Forgot what is tasted like. Watermelon with a little spine which means it was a bit firm and with good acid. Looks like the pinks are made from Cinsault (versatile red Mediterranean grape) and Grenache (as before). Would buy again. $14.

2019 Chateau Saint Eulalie Printemps d’Eulalie 14.5%. Minervois is a town in the un-sexy part of Southern France. This is southwest of Provence which is too sexy for tBoW. Do a search on this blog about the Languedoc. Wines that are so far under table dogs lap them up. This is a masculine wine that is not pretty. It is high acid and somewhat bracing. Look at the alcohol %. Like a round of goff with Mike D.

2019 Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg Cistercien 12%. Glad I bought two bottles. Everything I love in Austrian wines: high acid and bright fruit. $13.

2018 Juliette La Sangliere 12.5%. Pretty petty pretty. Delicate. Gentle. Seductive. Would get more of this. $12.

The only thing to figure out is how to buy wines like these. Plenty of guidance can be found on The Best of Wines dot com. Use our super slick search engine. G’head. Memo to Mike. Next time I get strokes. Click below on tBoW posts on buying and evluating wines.

Buying Wine: Our Favorite LA Shops

Forced and Unforced Wine Errors.

Wine Geeks Speak

and now…Miss Peggy Lee reflects on drinking wine and pandemics…

This Is No Time to Fälter. Jim Moore exclusive!!

CURIOUS TIMES CALL FOR CURIOUS PRACTICES.

IF YOU ARE CURIOUS ABOUT BLENDING WINES THEN READ ON.

The more we hear from The House of Morons on Pennsylvania Avenue the more valid we find the phrase in vino veritas. We offer our own contempo observations on Wine as Remedy. How are members of the tBoW family faring?

Let’s clear the text bag. KrisB ignited a textstorm upon opening and slugging down a 2007 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling Spatlese from the Mösel aka “Moselle vine.” He bought at Woodland Hills Wine Co in 2011. He sat on it for nine years. It took him two nights to consume. Then he wrote this. “It was glorious. Guava flavors predominated, on the nose like the purest fresh squeezed guava and the most sophisticated POG juice on the palate.”

tBoW reviewed this wine in 2014 under the guise of tBoW interviewing Bill Belichick on wine. In Jan 2011 tBoW [ed. hit the link! hit the link!] we wrote our own review of this very same bottle… Belichick is the legendary NE Pats prick coach known for being exceptionally taciturn.

tBoW: Coach, the 2007 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling Spätlese surprised alot of holiday partygoers with its bracing acidity, typical Mösel low alcohol and U20 price. Were you ready for this wine? Belichick: Mösel is known for Riesling. They always do a good job. We have to focus on our next wine.” [ed. I don’t care who you are that’s funny; helps to be an NFL fan.]

KrisB loves him some Riesling and Farmers Fizz. We got so excited I opened a spa bottle immediately. There is a nest of these in the cellar!

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Riesling Spätlese Urziger Wurzgarten. Naturally tBoW had to pull an ancient Riesling – 26 years young – from the cellar for the spa. Spätlese means it is NOT super sweet. The color was medium gold with good viscosity. Flavors were Lychee backed with marzipan. How Germanic! Alcohol 11%.

2018 Vin de Savoie Gamay Rose. $10. This is the top rose for the summer to date and it ain’t even summer yet. The PQR [ed. price quality ratio] is outasite. The flavors are a bit exotic with Lebanese spice [ed. cardamon? is he talking cardamon?] and some tropical flavor like fresh lychee close to ripe. Suchadeal. Try Desert Wine Shop.

Heard from Jim Moore from Napa this week. He is staying in place which somewhat conflicts with selling wine. Here is an inside peek at how one goes about selling and ends up buying wine in a pandemic. Jim’s label is Uvaggio. Lodi Winegrape Commission - Blog - Uvaggio's Vermentino and ...

JM: I was out selling in late Feb (a time when such was still feasible) and bought a few interesting modestly priced bottles. One of the wines was so-so, another well above average. The latter wine happened to be a Cinsault Rose from the south of France which is a particular weakness for me. It checked all the right boxes, although it was very commercial starting with the packaging and far from artisanal. I contemplated routine consumption so I called the boutique distributor to ask about local availability, plus whether I could buy direct. Lucky for me not only would they offer me wholesale they would deliver to my door gratis. So far I have drunk or given away 3 cases, plan on buying another 3 cases. BTW – it is a 2018 Rose. I think most Rose is consumed a little too young. Last spring I really enjoyed a similar (yet different) 2017 Rose but when I purchased another case they only had the 2018! Not as ready for immediate enjoyment. My goal (as always) is finding the best VALUE which for me is a combo of PQR, utility and personal satisfaction. The past Friday evening meal was a spicy bowl of “Jim’s homemade faux pho.” I enjoyed a bottle of Pfalz Riesling (kabinett halbtrocken) which was $11 from Last Bottle. It was exactly the type of value and food affinity I always seek, maybe even more so in these uncertain times.”

Thank you Mr Moore. My online list for purchases leans towards Desert Wine Shop and Kermit Lynch. tBoW hits Last Bottle on occasion. If you love Riesling and similar wines from Italy, i.e., Vermentino [ed. Jim’s Uvaggio Vermentino is special] and Spain, e.g., Basque, then you must go to Kermit Lynch who by the way has his own dirt cheap sampler. You can be certain Kermit has no…bad…wines.

Lettie Teague is often worth reading. She is the wine columnist for WSJ. She posted on California Chardonnays this past week. She commented on the disappointing New World styles [ed. we coulda warned her..but everybody needs copy]. She made positive comments on two labels then shared a common tBoW POV on the others.

“The rest of the Chardonnays I tasted were a mixed bag of wines from large corporations and tiny family-owned properties whose names I’ll refrain from citing. While the former were largely formulaic—dosed heavily with oak chips and redolent of tropical fruit—the latter group disappointed me even more.” Summing it up in one sentence she wrote “the cocktail of wood and tropical fruit that a heavier hand can make of Chardonnay.”

tBoW long ago lost his palate for Chardonnay generally finding it “foxy” and “feral.” I can live with the latter but not the former. When Mr. and Mrs. tBoW were “discovering” Calif wines living in SF [ed. a Cow Town then if ever there was one] in the mid 70s Chardonnay and Cabernet were the press favorites. Consensus was Chardonnay was world class (as seen in the move Bottle Shock about the 1976 Blind Tasting in Paris; a Napa Chard took some dopey prize…and this is why we have Rombauer).

HOW TO BLEND WINE. I learned this from pal Milt Olin. He routinely mixed red and red wines and even white and red wines. Of course tBoW was horrified. However our motto is “I’ll try anything twice. I might not like it the fist time.” Case in point…why it is important to look past the conventional and mix bottles when one or more is just not right!

This happens to everybody who drinks wine. You open a bottle of red and decide it is too fruity. So you figure let it sit a bissel and you open another red. Too rugged as in harsh, spicy. Now what? AHA! Blend the two wines in one glass. The fruity Sangiovese should match pretty well with the muscular Aglianico. All you need to do is get the proportions right which depends on who is drinking. Some prefer fruit to spice and muscle. Others go the opposite. Consider the meal. The fare on that evening was veggie burgers grilled with ketchup and onions and cheese. Bada bing! Perfect match. Stranger things have happened.

 

Outta Gas. Pandemic Fatigue. Only Wine Can Save Us Now.

HOW MUCH PANDEMIC CAN A PERSON TAKE?

EXCUSE ME IF I AM THINKING OF ONLY MYSELF…WHO AM I THE PRESIDENT?

Let’s get political. Trump is a M-O-R-O-N. It is truly amazing that such a dummy could end up the LEADER of a nation…any nation. But the USA? His stupidity is boundless. His narcissism is so transparent it is “beautiful.” Glad I got that out. Let’s talk about wines. I reserve the right to return to this topic.

Mrs tBoW advised I have to slow down with the online wine purchases. There are several plum choices: Woodland Hills Wine is my local go-to. They have pickup out back. I’ve been in that store so often I could walk in blindfolded – with mask and gloves of course – and find my way to their best buys. Besides David Russell is the Burg Whisperer. Quality is his middle name. I bought some Huet sparkling wine from David in the past 6 weeks. Huet is a major Alsatian producer which means this is made with Chenin Blanc. Yeh. No chard or pinot.

2016 Huet Petillant Brut $28: 14% Golden color, thick on sight. Ripe green apples (yes you can have ripe green apples!), clove, viscous. Masculine wine. If Brad Pitt was a sparkling wine…Robert Mitchum for the TMC fans. David Russel of WHW pushed out it out near $20.

2017 Domaine Audebert et fils Bourgeil $20: 100% Cab Franc rose! Yummmeeee. You might think lotta body. Nope. You might think lotta flavors. Nope. Delicate in a masculine way. 12.5%. OMG. Jeff Welburn imported this wine. Hi Jeff!! Jeff is a very decent person who knows his wines and can be trusted. Nuff said. Congrats to Jeff and Wine Agencies Inc.

2018 Ginglinger-Fix Riesling Vielles Vignes 12.5%. $20. The Krisses love Riesling wines including those from Alsace which is the center of every war between Le Bosch and Les Francais. None of which is apparent in the wines. Alsatian Rieslings do seem different than German or Austrian. For tBoW it is about the delicacy. Maybe Viennese (and near regional) Rieslings are operatic even stuffy, while German Rieslings show power and finesse. Or maybe that is too much stereotyping. This wine is delicious, a titanic food wine and a repeat buy.

2012 Il Chiosse Gattinara Terre Vulcaniche 14%. Mrs. tBoW upbraided tBoW with the latest credit card statement. Slow down pal. This Fass selection is another example of what happens when tBoW encounters an importer who is 75% matched in palate. Same is true for Desert Wine Shop…Fass is a direct importer and we like what he likes. This is Alto Piemonte – a region which tBoW personally discovered and uncovered to the world for value and quality. AltoP [ed. cognoscenti wine speak] blends Nebbiolo with native varietals unlike Baroli wines which went to single varietals to sell into the USA market [ed. undrinkable since 2000]. This wine is a monster. Deep and impenetrable [ed. but not like VP Pence cannot be penetrated or would not ever be penetrated – never mind]. Hmmm. I wonder what “vulcaniche” means? Maybe grown in volcanic soil? Ya think? Needs minimum 3 years to round out. Even longer. Hell we cannot wait. That is why we must buy wines that drink on a more human SARS2 timetable. I left this bottle open overnight and it was still brawny and stout. Yeh. Gone now.

Feeling better now. I feel like I can take off my mask and gloves. Be careful and stay healthy. Please.

Bet you haven’t seen this Corona parody song.

PASS THE TORCH! WINE REVIEWS FROM THE OLD NEW CREW

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME RIESLING?

THE KRISSES ARE NOTHING IF NOT COMMITTED TO THE GRAPE AND THE BEST OF WINES!

This post features the Krisses. If you search for Kris A and KrisB on tBoW you will find them loping up and down the steeps of the Mosel. They learned to l-o-v-e German wines. In fact, they love all German beverages including BEER of which tBoW and kindt also are quite fond. In fact, you may quote KrisB in confirming that German beverages are pretty much tops all round.

Then they dropped out of sight like a hailstorm in September [ed. metaphor does not really work but what the hey.]…like a vineyard in February. Like a plate of cheese on a Spring afternoon with a delightful bottle of Burgundy.

They produced their own special blends – two bebes – and now the Krisses are back to share their favorite post partum wines with all of us.

2013 Weingut Beurer Riesling trocken: Really delicious estate trocken. All the cut you want. Reminds me of the beginning of a wine tasting in Germany. Tastes like Germany? Very good. Honestly maybe didn’t know a basic estate could be this good.

2010 Renato Motalli Valtellina Superiore – Valgella NEBBIOLO Very nice. Had this tinny thing that took a while to blow off, but really deepened and fleshed out the next day. Great wine. Here are cellar tracker notes. [ed. hmmm..posting cellar tracker notes.]

2018 Azienda Agricola Platinetti Guido Colline Novaresi Guido. Super tasty. Tastes like Italy. Classic northern Piemontese blend. Super delicious. Cellar tracker notes. [ed. he did it again. Once more and it’s a trend.]

NV Coessens Champagne Brut Nature Largillier Definitely very mineral with not a lot of red/blue fruits (surprisingly, because it is 100% Pinot), instead yellow fruits abound with a stony edge. Very very good. Cellar tracker [ed. crime-in-italy!]

2016 Enderle & Moll Pinot Noir Basis KrisA’s [ed.that be the missus] first Pinot after Beckett was born. Amazing nose off the bat. Very rangy at first with super high acids. Deepened further by the hour. Really good. And the price! Super value. Cellar tracker. [OK. Since this wine helped tBoW turn a corner on German pinots I had to see what CT said. “Decanted but was open from first pour. Beautiful just ripe cherry fruit with minerals, herbs, and some bark. Mild tannins were barely noticeable. Elegant but with excellent concentration of flavors. Excellent and great QPR. If this is the base wine, really looking forward to the Liaison and single vineyard wines.” tBoW rebuttal: No need to decant. Flavors are dependent on one’s palate. I will say this: based on QPR – quality-price-ratio – I bought summore!]

2010 Weingut Günther Steinmetz Wintricher Geierslay Riesling Spatlese sur lie: This was killer First wine after Beckett was born. [ed. the Enderle & Moll was 1st for Kris A. This must be for KrisB, no?] Nearly ten years old, yet still super electric and pithy, but also with delicate kabinett fruit flavors. Tastes mostly dry despite 28g RS. 11g of acid will do that! Super fresh too. https://www.cellartracker.com/w?1338552

Lets also welcome the Field Maus [ed. he’s still around? been ages since he posted!] who would like to share something warm and touching about dogs and wine. We can all use some of that. https://www.oregonwinepress.com/wine-countrys-best-friend

Here’s something unusual. Dance competition for cowboys and polka.