Posts belonging to Category Burgundy



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!!

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…

 

Wine Geeks Speak

Weird Wines Stir Strong Interests

This post is for everyone who drinks wine without looking first at the “score;” for those who buy wine to consume yesterday, today and tomorrow; for those who do not collect trophy wines; and for those of us who would only pick up a “leading wine magazine” if stuck in the waiting room of a healthcare provider.

This convo erupted spontaneously when tBoW shared a May 26 2018 article from the NYT “Why You Should Be Drinking Weird Wines”. Jason Wilson (Lettie Teague traveling?) describes several key reasons for buying and drinking obscure wines including 80% of all wines are made from 20 0f 1368 varietals. I have done the heavy lifting: about 1.5% of all vinifera account for eighty percent of all wines. We can all thank 100 point scores and glossy wine mags for the widely limited access to what should be a wildly invigorating hobby.

This he argues creates a monoculture of wine featuring chardonnay and pinot noir. tBoW has posted how I am less and less fond of both varietals, esp chardonnay.

Wilson dips into “oddities type” wines pointing out one varietal in the Swiss alps from which 800 bottles are produced annually. Why bother even referencing the grape? We will NEVER taste it. He describes the flavors as “forest floor that’s been spritzed with lemon and Nutella.” Now I am certain I will never taste it. Oddities TV programming  seems to have had its heyday. Here is one we liked about a NYC shop Obscura where the customers often obscured the shop contents.

The good news is a wonderful email conversation – detailed here without permission – followed between two of the more intriguing tBoW readers – KrisB and The Fieldmouse, aka Maus. The conversation follows more or less in sequence.

tBoW – did you see this NYT piece on obscure wines?

Maus – What does tBoW think of Zidarich Carso Vitovska Belo? Funny this article made you think of us because it’s pretty much Riesling, Pinot, or Piemonte at our house most days. Nothing else usually sounds appealing.

tBoW – whadafaaa and perhaps this could soon be a blog topic.

Maus – well, I’ve already ordered two vitovskas, so come what may. Chris, don’t know if we’ve met, but do acquaint yourself with roussanne! but i must say, for us it’s mostly riesling and pinot (and sango blends) as well! Cheers!

KrisB (like Maus a fan of the Friuli region) – the vitovskas that I’ve had tend to be somewhat oxidative in style which is something that I just don’t like for the most part (except in some sherries, go figure).  YMMV (undecipherable notation) Roussanne can be nice, but it’s no Riesling! :)

You drinking domestic, Rhone, or more exotic like savoie?

Maus – ah, Bergeron. a bit hard to find around here, to say the least. tends to be a bit lean. Well, i’ll take roussanne where I can get it. sometimes i settle for the majority in a blend. white rhones are typically better, but Paso and, believe it or not, Washington, do nice jobs as well. My favorite budget choice is Chateau de Trignon in Southern Rhone.

For Rieslings, where do you go? Anywhere but California, I assume. I hope you had some Australians and Finger Lakes along the way… tBoW and I used to slurp Germans way back in the ’80s and I’m pretty sure we honeymooned in Mosel! [ed. He means with his spouse] Not that we don’t anymore!

Kris B – “Our Pinot has been mostly burgs lately too. As you know, I like to find a direct to consumer importer who finds unknown values. Fass Selections has been working pretty well for me on the burg and other front. Ugh vitovska. We visited the Carso a few years back. Some very good wines. But didn’t have a vitovska that I liked. They probably exist but maybe are hard to find.

And there it is. Cannot wait until we pull the corks on Vitovska and Himbertscha this summer in tBoW’s Summer Weingarten!

CHEERS INDEED! Here is a non-English video about the most rare wine grape, and the wine made from it, in the world! I think I understand what is being said!

Brrrrr Gun Deeee Shudder

Chambolle Musigny Vineyard

The Old BeeDee used to quote his Uncle Geezer whenever he (OBD) was feeling special about something: “quail on toast, nuthin’ like it!

Something similar takes place whenever a “real wine taster” gets around to the subject of Burgundy wines – nuthin’ like ’em. There are certainly other wines we like and favor: like Alto Piemonte and Rioja Rose’s. However, the feeling we get when contemplating Burgs is immediately nostalgic dredging up memories of bottles drained, trepidation for costs to come, forlorn about bottles missed becuz we were too wimpy to meet the price of a ticket to wine Caanan, and unsettling for the possibility that the highest peak in wine consumption – an experience that is always elusive – can never be reached.

We tried once more to scale that slope recently…as we will surely try again and again. Forget the “value.” No U20 wines here. More like U60. How bad do you want it??

The bottles were from the Chambolle Musigny region whose reputation proceeds itself. Musigny is a magic word uttered only in the process of incantation. Moo-zin-yee. Not so much spoken as inhaled. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying.

Two producers lesser known – Domaine Anne Gros and Domaine Patrick Hudelot; but then there are so many more producers in Burgundy who are “lesser known” than the handful that are “known.”

tBoW purchased the DPH bottle from local wine merchant Woodland Hills Wine Co which is our local go-to wine store with a particularly strong Burg selection. This was the last bottle. The $60 price was quite “reasonable” for Chambolle-Musigny. The Anne Gros had been purchased on release along with a few more 2009s. Runki-san, aka tBoW Jr “best palate of any 10 year old”, picked it to go with a humble meal of veggies, rice and swordfish. Wine snobs will tel you great wine really should be drunk on its own. Not really. Great wines go great with a simple meal.

Here are tasting notes from winemaker Anne Gros on her product: 2009 Chambolle Musigny la Combe d’Orveau: this is fine, quite floral bouquet with touches of rose petal and violets accompanying the dark cherry fruit. Good definition – develops a gourmand element with time. The palate has a taut entry, a little brusque even, very linear with chalky tannins towards the more masculine, structured finish.

Here is what tBoW and tBoW Jr. tasted: Powerful nose that is all ripe ripe cherries. Color is deep cherry red with some brick color showing age. It is time to drink this wine. Flavors are rich ripe cherry brandy. Is there such a thing as cherry brandy? Yes from Eastern Europe. If we say “brandy” we mean the alcohol can be detected in the nose. Not a bad thing. The alcohol is sub 14%. Everything in ripe rich fruity balance. If I was a French monk in the 15th century this wine would make me want to do some sinning! The flavor weakened and the brick color grew more pronounced as the wine faded over 40 minutes. Drink it now. This is great pinot noir. We always end up saying “you cannot get these flavors out of pinot noir anywhere else in the world.”

What about the DPH Chambolle (the one we purchased at WHWC)? This wine had plenty of head winds facing its tasting eval; 2 night golf outing with IGTY, lumpen palates, THC laden gummy candy innocently chewed on by an unbeknownst tBoW…not to mention the produce is unknown, unseen and had recently changed his label (at least since 2009). Nevertheless…C hambolle was true to pedigree.

2009 Domaine Patrick Hudelot Chambolle Musigny Beaux Brands: beety flavors (NOT beeFy), more towards the earthy side, weighty drink for Burgundy (the popular term is “legs”), rich dark red robe without any brick showing, held up to the relentless assault on the bottle. Very nice in the masculine style of Burgundy. No forest floor (pooh aromas). No mushrooms (under ripe). Only the delicious beet flavors like the vacuum sealed packs sold at Costco, try those!

Denouement: Burgundy not only makes the best Pinot Noir wines in the world, it really makes the only ones we enjoy drinking. Drink them without food. Drink them with food. Treat these wines like they treat us; with care, pleasure, and in good company that enjoys and knows something about wine.

Dig a little deeper next time you are in a fine wine store like Wine Exchange or Hi Time Wine Cellars in Coata Mesa or Woodland Hills Wine Company. Ask the floor guide to pick out something from Burgundy under $60. Go for it. Let us know.