Saturday in my “hood”

Summer is really starting to slip over the horizon. I can feel Fall in the evening air. We have to close the doors at night it is so cold!! Brrrr. It is also football time.The Trojans are rocking (even though we played like plonk against the Huskies) and the other local team has faltered as expected. I posted a pic of the band for the #1 team in the country at the Idaho rout at the end of this entry.
Nino-%26-Lou.jpgSomething nice about the end of summer, post-Labor day, pre-Halloween weeks is that we find ourselves with open weekends. No plans. Relaxing and playing it by ear is nummah wun. A good time to hang out in your ‘hood. So naturally I am going to visit my local wine shop, Woodland Hills Wine Company (WHWC). I have been instructed by the Connecticut Mouse that I must get my hands on a bottle of Sagrantino post haste. Mouse has recently returned from Barolo where he stayed at Da Felicin and LOVED every pour and bite. Here is a photo of da man Nino at da place Da Felicin. Somehow in the calculus of wine pals I am now beholden to Mouse to get over to Paul Smith’s emporium, WHWC, ASAP. Mouse has already foraged around the website and verified Paul has at least one bottle of the Sagrantino.
WHWC is humming at 2:30 on Saturday. I spot super-sales guy Steve Gulden Steve-Gulden.jpgimmediately and present the details of my quest. He finds the bottle and asks me if I would care to sample the 2005 Beaujolais being poured in flight at the wine bar. I have a couple hours until USC kicks off in Lincoln so why not?
WHWC (aka Paul’s) just gets better all the time. The sales team has always been fun. Paul sets the ribald tone and the wine flows. The wine flights (fLights not fights) at the bar are always interesting and well considered. Pricing is quite fair. Stemware is top notch. What’s not to like? What I love is the 2005 Beaujolais flight. I have tasted some of these wines but not all.
There are 2 Trenel wines – St Amour, Morgon Cote du Py; a Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie les Deux Roches; and a Vissoux Morgon. Paul has something special with Trenel. I just do not see them anywhere elses and they are across the board excellent. Brittany is one of the reps pouring the 4 wines and she happily poses with Paul for mePaul-and-Brittany-9-07.jpg then gets her own pal to get a shot with Paul on her own camera. Doesn’t Paul look great? I forgot what we talked about. I bought the 4 Beaujolais wines. How could I not?
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When I got home Linda M. called and invited us to her home for BBQ and whatever wine I would like to bring. Curious to learn what other wine lovers might think of a 2005 Beaujolais and pull something waiting long enough in the cellar I accepted the invite. Plus I adore Linda. OK. There is the setup for a casual afternoon and evening. Here are the wines.

2006 Mirassou Sauvignon Blanc ~$12
: This was open when we arrived. The wine is quite nice. This category of wine (~$10 California wines from high volume wineries that make their stake in supermarkets) is meant for easy pickins. Mirassou competes with Gallo…and thank God it does. This is fine wine for the price. Well made, balanced, nothing challenging here. Easy to drink. It would never spoil a meal and it complements many. I saw the Wine Speculator gave the 2005 an 83 score. While I have never tasted the 2005 version I cannot imagine it was much different. The grapes for this wine come from all over the state so any vintage issues are washed out in the blending. Alcohol is admirably restrained at 13.4% You have to be a real s-n-o-b to rate this wine in the low ’80s which is equivalent being tossed to the WS deepest dungeon.

2006 Quincy Domaine Fouassier $15
: Now here is what you get for a few bucks more if you shop at WHWC and hit their floor stacks or the back wall as you walk in from the parking lot. This is also sauvignon blanc but instead of the goal being to to smooth out all the wrinkles this wine is all about the idiosyncracies of the region. The wine is aromatic with mild grassy aromas (sauvignon blanc, especially California and New Zealand SBs have profound grassy noses). Maus-%26-Rachel.jpg
The flavors are mineral without beaucoups acid. Anise in the flavor. The wine is very well balanced. 12.5%. When I asked Steve at the counter what he thought of the wine he kept it simple “great wine for the price”. Right. Take that Mr. Mouse!
Trenel-CHIROUBLES-2004.jpg2005 Trenel Chiroubles $16: Second review for this wine this summer. I said I needed to get more. Now I have more. Same fruit bomb ala’ France. Among the 2005 Beaujolais this is the seductress. Who needs fruity California wines when we have fruity French wines from this vintage? The resemblance (to fruity Cal wines) is there although the nuances are important. Start with 13% alcohol – low by Cal standards. The black cherry fruit is still there. Dokkerm asks can it age? Will any of these 2005 Beaujolais be drinkable in a couple years? Do I realize how many fruit bombs from Santa Rita Hills he is sitting on? Yes…yes…and yes.

2003 Anglim Syrah French Camp Vineyard $35
: Speaking of California fruit bombs, this wine falls in that group but remains captivating. The fruit bomb benchmark for myself and the good Dotore’ has to be Kenneth-Crawford wines. When we first tasted these in 2003 it was an epiphany. We realized that the Santa Rita Hills were going to be the next great growing region and the next great set of California winemakers were coming out of SRH. And the winemakers of K-C were two guys to watch. A year later we were in deep reconsideration. The alcohol levels for these wines are…how to put this…high…maybe even excessive…out of control? We have a Melville Pinot that is more than 16%. The better winemakers get so much ripeness and extraction from the fruit that the alcohol is overwhelmed by it. At least upon release. Which leaves us with the nagging question…can wines with all this alcohol last? When the fruit fades will there only be vodka? But I digress. Mr. Steve Anglim makes very good wine and he is not even in SRH. He is in Paso. This wine is big and juicy. It is not thick as the Lone Madrone (which is a cabernet) but it definitely falls in with the K-C crowd. 15.4% alcohol. Glad I bought it. Glad I drank it. Had it with grilled steak. Just like they say you should.

1995 Pelissero Barbaresco Vanotu ~$40/$80
: I am sure I paid around $40 but I have found it online closer to $80. This is my cellar wine that I took over to Linda’s.Giacomo-Conterno-%26-niece-in-cellar.jpg Her guy – El Rocco – liked it mucho. I can see he and I will probably be sharing more wines in the future. He has a good palate. I was happy with this wine. The 1995 vintage is a toughie to count on. Same with 1993. When we returned from a Barolo vacation in 1998 I loaded up on 93 and 95 Baroli while I waited for 96 (I have always preferred 96 to 97 in spite of the hype). This wine has classic tar and roses in the nose and in the flavor profile. Baroli are like train travel; they need a little extra time to arrive. This took 15 minutes to open. The first whiff out of the glass complemented the first taste; dusky but not corked, some say “old world” when what they mean is lean and almost astringent. This is because the old world Barolo winemakers (Giacomo Conterno) still use Slovenian oak barrels the size of a scud missile to age the nebbiolo. Look at this photo I took in the cellar of a very famous Barolo wine house. SC-band-vs-Idaho.jpgNo wonder the flavors can taste old world. But when a Barolo (and I should point out that this wine is from Barbaresco which is adjacent to Barolo and is often considered a younger sibling) comes into its own the wine is like no other. It is truly unique, seductive, fruity and lean, luscious and delicate. Wish I had another. I think the Dotore’ needs to prune his Barolo stash. I really hope he doesn’t give me a hard time on this rather urgent matter.
Up next…Trojans conquer all who face them. Still not safe to lay the points. Uncle Pete has shown his kind side. Now it’s winning time.

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