Posts belonging to Category Champagne



Forced and Unforced Wine Errors.

 

Making Sense of Chaos.

Lettie Teague recently wrote what she really loves about wine 7 Reasons We Love Wine. tBoW loves Lettie Teague…and wine. Much to love when it comes to wine. However, there is a lot of dopey stuff as well. And since tBoW does not write for a living (at least not about wine) we can poke fun at all the silliness involved.

Take Wallys Wine and Spirits. For more than four decades Wallys was the trendsetter in how to market fine wine. Steve Wallace and Gary Fishman [ed. call me Gary, Matt’s Dad wants to interview you] ran the best WINE shop on the Westside. The only competition was the Wine House which became the SUPER market for wines ’round the world. However, Wallys was the top dog with the Hollywood client list. Ran into Danny Kay there. Had him sign the birthday card I happened to be carrying with me. Now Wallys is a laff riot of misguided pretension. Glamour and importance. Cater your next awards season party. Affect your glamorous lifestyle. Forced error – misguided hubris.

The aging wine thing is D-U-M-B. Archaic. Silly. Producing wine to be aged is bull pucky; a fashion foisted on the innocenti who believe wine is better with age. The only thing better with age is adolescence. In fact aging wine is a gamble…a poor one. Odds are stacked against those who love wine when the wine needs to “lay down.” This is doublespeak for heavy oak and tannins more commonly found in wood sealers. Those phonies who would write a wine review suggesting “lay down this beauty for a decade” are lost in the “fog of wine.” Lettie Teague would never suggest laying down a wine. At least we believe that is true.

Ever freeze a bottle of wine? You now…put it in the freezer to cool and discover a few days later you actually put in the cooler to freeze? Unforced DUMB error.

tBoW recommends wines that can be opened and consumed right now. Sometimes it is necessary to lay the wine down in the cellar. This is usually the case when wine is shipped. Wait 2 weeks if you can stand it. Sometimes it is necessary to allow a wine to settle down if the bottle has been cooled in the freezer on a bed of ice…and forgotten. That wine should be defrosted at room temp before pulling the cork in another week…if the cork has not forced its own exit from the bottle. Barring unforced errors like freezing wine for good cause there is no excuse for buying wine that needs to be aged for a decade or more. There are two exceptions to this rule: ports and sauternes.

Here are two wine paragons that can please greatly when opened “before their time;” and one wine that missed its “open by” date.

2016 Boxler Gewurtztraminer $35: Floral nose, a flower bouquet, honey suckle. Flavors of hay and mint. Say what? Over the top AND balanced. Honey. A knockout. Can it age. Certainly. However, if we bought more it would be like trying to keep my hands off my baby granddaughter. Oh sure. Wait until she’s five years old and more ambulatory. Looks like this gewurtz baby is still available at Kermit Lynch, Flatiron and Vintage Wine Merchants in San Jose. Lucky buy! Thank you Kermit.

NV Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut 13.5% $39 at Costco. May seem pricey however for champagne of this pedigree it is the go-to choice for tBoW on Valentines Day. Fruity, marzipan like. Break out the nice flutes. Dependable selection for the special occasion. The right question is whether the tBoW reviewed Cava sparkler Ravenots at 40% the cost, is good enough? We would say not quite…but close.

2011 Domaine Joseph Roty Marsannay 13%. $40ish. Tough to find. Because it is old now. Generally the vineyard designations age longer and are more interesting than this village bottling. The pedigree – Roty – is top notch. The wine is exotic but on its way to the Assisted Living Facility. tBoW finds that Burgs are generally better when consumed “before their time.” We missed here by a couple years. Forced PEDIGREE error. Fuggedaboudid. It’s Burg Town..

Making the right choices when buying wines is important to our list of reasons to love wine. As Chuck D and Public Enemy put it don’t believe the hype. However we find Bob McNamara in all his confidence and technicalities the more appropos analogue when it comes to figuring out how to enjoy wine by accepting the Fog of Wine.

It’s Safe to Come Out Munchkins! The Next – I mean New – Year has Begun!

The holiday season can be taxing. But now that its O-V-E-R we can only say don’t let the door

hit you on the way OUT DUDE!

Image result for Santa wrecks sled

The celebration gauntlet was especially long in the tBoW household oin 2019 with endless events to attend and host. There were highlights marked by memories [ed. all good] and in some cases there were memorable wines.

The BIG EVENT was the Friday the 13th Holiday Wine Tasting at RiTA House hosted by “Stacie’s Wine Cellar.” Stacie’s collection is legendary. The lineup created a locust-like buzz (ed. cue Exorcist II locusts clip) given it was an all star, all desirable lineup of labels and vintages. The RiTA House venue is excellent – a 100 year old 3 story “townhouse” in mid Wilshire with no parking. Stacie hosts the “Share A Glass” wine tastings at RiTA House which are open to members.

The lineup included top labels from Burgundy, Chianti (early 90s Biondi Santi) and Bordeaux (1988 Pichon Lalande): “Classic Vintages and Magnums of Champagne, Barolo, Barbaresco, Burgundy, Bord

eaux, Tuscan, Napa, Paso Robles.” The evening became a lesson in the perils of holding on too long to our most precious bottles. Too many wines were tired and simply over the hill. tBoW covered this phenomenon from his own supply mid-year with his “How To Tell When a Wine is Bad” tasting. Of course that tasting included judgment errors! Stacie did hit the gong with several outstanding wines. Dotore – who attended – captured the holiday message succinctly. Be careful to not hold onto your favorite wines too long. Suivez vos conseils mon ami!

2000 Billecart Salmon Amreuil-sur-Ay. $?? Priceless. The R-A-R-E single vineyard triple mag was served chilled. Came off like a kiwi lemon fruit bowl on ice. With ~20 plus guests the bottle was finished…but it took a few hours! If we had to pick one wine for a second round it would clearly be the Billecart! tBoW probably stuck his glass in front Gianfranco the distracted somm at least 6 times. Speaking of sparkling wines…we ope

ned several between Christmas and New Years. Here is one we really loved that can be found and bought for a fair price.

Laghibellina Gavi Metodo Classico $28: “on the lees 24 months” with 13% alcohol. This was the sparkler of the holidays (excepting the Billecart of course). Easy quaffer. Full flavored fruity and tart. Th grape is Cortese di Gavi which tBoW would usually avoid. Not in this case!  Imported by Oliver McCrumm Wines [ed. who’s he? say Broon fans] which is also worth remembering. We will probably have a post coming that reviews the new importers – succeeding Kermit and Rosenthal and more who are reshaping the wine import industry with direct to seller – themselves.

The early 90s Biondi Santi [ed. apologies; failed to note vintage] had survived almost 3 decades with great panache. Pulled this cork just in time.

Finally, the 1994 Quinta de Eira Velha Noval Single Quinta [ed. quinta means single vineyard] Port was served last after many tasters were fatigado. Flavors of maple and chocolate. This was the last of a case tBoW acquired on futures way back when on release. F-U-T-U-R-E-S was a commercial scam dricen by the 1980s and 90s wine fever that excited middle-aged men who just had to have that vintage from that producer. Martinez and port wines generally are an interesting story for anyone who likes wine. A single vineyard is unusual and certainly an attempt to get with the hot sales tip that continues to thrive today.

Come Out! Come Out! Wherever you are!!

 

Wine Dinner with the Krisses

What? Sounds boring? Hardly. Neither was the Krisses Tasting boring. In fact, it was splendid. KrisA is preggers again so no wine for her and more for us. KrisB, tBoW and Sam-the-Rioja-Man [ed. SRM?] were on hand to help out with the h-e-a-v-y lifting…if ya git mah drrriiiiffftttt. PT8Y handled child care with the very active 4 y.o. Everett. Mrs. tBoW assisted with light sipping esp when the desert wine cork was pulled. She’s like that.

Count on KrisB to pull corks on cool, unusual and top quality bottles. No wonder we like him. The West Coast Maus. After a grueling 90 minute ride to go 20 miles – LA baby – we were greeted with a glass of chilled 2006 Gaillez Lemaire Champagne Cuvee Jadis. Mostly Petite Meunier which the Krisses prefer in their champagne. Bracing acidity buttressed by the cool temp. Comes thru Fass Selections [ed. ~$46] which KrisB has seriously engaged as a purveyor! Here is some typical Fass prose and praise: “Gorgeous nose. Biscuits. Mineral. Brioche. Palate is opulent and deep but so elegant and wonderfully vivid. What a stunning wine. Huge and elegant.” Sooooo, we found the wine to be crisp, bright, richly flavored and bracing. Opulent? Why not. Only if Grace Jones is opulent. Alcohol on the lable estimated at 11% to 14%. Hey. Beats a 100 point rating scale when it comes to precision.

2007 Pricum Prieto Picude 13.5% $25. The grape is prieto picudo. The reviewer from Wine Enthusiast called out “tomato, red currant, raspberry and herbs” which he said are snappy. Excuseme fro being droll bbuuutttt if tBoWcalls out herbs he usually names which ones… e.g., Herbert Hoover (US prez), Herb Adderley (Green Bay Packers safety) or Herbert Lom (Inspector Dreyfus who oversaw the investigations of the bumbling idiot Inspector Clouseau). This bottle mollified SRM and pleased Mrs tBoW.

Glasses in hand KrisB agreed to show us his wine cellar. He was in the midst of unpacking nine [ed. nicht nein, jah nine!] Fass shipping boxes so thw space was a tad unruly. KrisB shared his sorting scheme: ready to drink now, will be ready soon, and not ready for a while. We immediately felt a wave of relief as if the 100 point rating scheme had been hurled into the Santa Maia volcano never to be seen again. 

tBoW brought a bottle of $14 2017 Gelsons Mayfair. Bottled by Margerum in Santa Barbara with a 13.5% rating. Medium weight blend of 50% Marsanne, 25% Grenache Blanc and the last quarter Viognier. This is a very pleasant drink that will suffice for any season.

Following grilled Japanese yams, salmon and scallops the final cork was removed from the neck of a svelte bottle. Yesitwas the 2007 Domaine des Bories Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. It was desert wine. KrisB did not disappoint with the perfectly chilled bottle. The wine comes from a region referred to as Madiran in Gascony in southwest France which is easier to “see” as northeast Spain. It is so off the beaten path in France that it is known more for surfing than for wine. I kid you not. Basque I tell you. This wine is also a Fass find and as it seems nearly every Fass wine…it is delicious and delightful. So are the Krisses.

As for the aforementioned bumbling idiot…I almost choked watching the following clip! Happy Thanksgiving all. Enjoy some wines especially bubbly and desert styles. Do not watch the following with food in your mouth…which the Inspector would surely pronounce “moooth.”

 

 

 

 

Chilled Bubbly is Perfect for Summer…Let’s Drink Some Real Soon!!

THE DARK LORD FINDS HIMSELF IN A LIME-LIKE POOL; DUNHILL IN A TOOTHY DEATH GRIP

When Did the Rules Change For Sparkling Wines?!? Is this some New Wine Gonzo?

Normally a post touting summer chilled sparkling wine would feature Prosecco; that frothy sweet little wine with low alcohol [ed. under 10%], tastes like peaches and mixes with anything. Guzzle an ice-chilled bottle, height of summer seated at a restaurant courtyard in Sevilla getting ready to tour the cathedral with its impoverished tesoro room. Today? Champagne style cava. Pink sparklers from Bordeaux. And a U20 sweepstakes runner from Mendocino? Man…that’s the way you do it. Money for nothin’…bubbles for free.

Things seem to have changed. We tasted three sparkling wines recently that suggest a sparkler trend with which we are not familiar. We are hardly the first to say this BBBUUUTTT Cava sparklers have come a long way! In fact the old rules that governed the commission of sparkling wines have been upended; notice we MUST NOT say champagne as that it is a total winespeak faux pas. Try any of the following without fear.

Sharffenberger Brut Rose Excellence “Suggested retail $26” but can be found for half that at World Market. Non-vintage approximately half and half Chard and Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. Muscular. Top heavy. Very pleasing. Could suck this down all day at…maybe…a wedding? Great news! Buy it at World Market at half price!

Calvet Cremant de Bordeaux Brut Rose 2015 U20 at $17 or less, almost 100% Cab Franc. Come on. That’s impressive. I guess the old rules are officially thrown out. Balanced, Seductive. On the red side of pink. Tougher to find than a collusion conviction.

Raventos i Blanc Blanc de Blancs U20 at ~$20: YUMMY JUMMY NUMMY NUM NUMS! Cava sparkler perfectly balanced, good weight golden apples sez Mrs tBoW. We could say poor mans Krug but that would be quite a stretch. Or would it? Great backstory here worth reading how this Penedes winery stepped it up champagne style in 2012. Sold to tBoW by Katie of Desert Wine Shop [ed. now there’s a surprise.]

Hunter S. Thompson is an iconic symbol of the Baby Boomers. He blew his brains out.  People do that when facing mortality. Just sayin’ [ed. so did Anthony Bourdain]. Thompson (and Bourdain) was not old enough to do that. He did practice excessive habits which certainly contributed to his impulse control. And he loved guns. We have two videos about the Dark Lord. He merits that. Look at this embedded video about his unimaginable daily intake of substances. Then open the vid below in which “kindred” authors and film people reference Thompson’s works. Ask yourself this. Was this any way to live?

2014 Gone. Keep Up with the Year in Front of You.

so nice

mi holiday getaway


The year in review is a journalistic tradition; even a must-do. What was memorable about 2014? Who do we remember? What made the strongest impression? Who is writing this slop?

stupaulWEBOur most memorable bricks and mortar wine merchant is Paul Smith at Woodland Hills Wine Co. Smith was definitely the underdog on the LA wine scene when we first encountered him about 30 years ago in his liquor store turned “wine find” off the 118. Who’d-a-thunk a former pro ballplayer (brushback pitcher) and USMC Nam vet would eventually become the go-to guy in LA then the nation for top shelf Burgs and other collectibles. I am still holding out Paul will let tBoW write his memoirs. He hangs a Marine Corp flag out front. Truly one of a kind.

Most memorable virtual wine merchant is Steve Goldun of Eno Fine Wine. He has delivered the best wines we have tasted throughout the year including the 2011 Sylvan Pataille Marsannay Clos du Roy featured below [ed. click two words back if you must learn more right now]. Consistently bringing in the wine we love to own at prices at or below the best market prices… Eno Fine Wine.

Most memorable wine travelers hands down are the bashful Krisses. They are a tag team from one of those generations that nobody from tBoW’s boomer clique can differentiate. Kris A is a budding winemaker, accomplished brewmaster and extreme triathlete. Kris B is the intrepid travel planner who can turn an introductory credit card deal into two round trip tickets to Germany or Spain or Austria. They hear music at decibels only accessed by corks and vines. Kris B frequents Garagiste and other obscure online merchants enabling the more placid tBoW to go in on a few unusual, exceptional deals. See Mont Blanc sparkler below.

soft flabby underbelly

soft flabby underbelly disappoints

What do we have to look forward to in 2015? The HausMaus visits town in June. A robust tasting of Rousanne and Marsanne seems likely. The dollar will continue to drive down prices on our favorite wines from Italy, France and Germany. The organic sustainable biodynamic movement will continue to expand and influence what you are drinking [ed. unless you are a mega collector of trophy wines in which case you are most likely oak addicted].

By the end of 2015 there will still be domestic wine touts claiming their favorite Pinot Noir is “Burgundian.” This is neither possible nor necessary. Domestic Pinot Noir will never share the qualities of Burgundy Pinot. If anything the difference will become more striking. We have staked out our position on domestic Pinot. We prefer Burgundy and of course we mean only the right Burgs [ed. is there a wine more haughty than Burgundy? Get your snob on!]. More Burgundy producers will lose our interest (Camille Giroud) as we simultaneously learn more about who makes the styles we prefer (Roty, Pataille, Clos du Moulin aux Moines). We have moved on from Barolo and Barbaresco and quite possibly any wine with 100% of any grape in the bottle. This leaves us in and around the Valtellina when it comes to Nebbiolo in Italy where the vignerons blend everything. Expect more wines form Sicily. And more champagnes. Should be a grand year, we hope.

extremeWEBOne more 2015 target. There is rumor of a new blog, the Wine Whisperer, where topics will concern the wine trade, interviews with wine folk such as aspiring somms, wine phenomena of any and every sort, and quite likely Bigfoot.

2011 Extreme Spumante Metodo Classico Brut DOC di Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle ~$23: Sparkling wine for extreme mountain climbers? This IS the Krisses in a bottle. That IS Mont Blanc on the label. Note pick axe and rope at label top. These must be highest vineyards in Europe! But probably not. Reminded tBoW of the sparkling Gewurtz made by Navarro (producer of lightweight domestic Pinot we also prefer!). We liked it. 12%

lassagneWEBNV Lassaigne les Vignes de Montgueux Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $35: Purchased from Eno. Step aside Mont Blanc. Like the Warriors vs rest of the league [ed. talking NBA now], Champagne is King. And this bottle is special, Champions league, think Villareal futbol squad, La Liga Primera Division; not Real Madrid not Barcelona, but very competitive. Of course, please keep in mind a sparkling wine from Spain is not Champagne. Neither is a sparkling wine from Napa or anywhere other than Champagne. Does this mean there are sparkling wines as good as the best from Champagne? No. That would be unlikely. This remains useful info despite the end of the holiday.

pataille-marsannay-2011WEB2011 Sylvan Pataille Marsannay Clos du Roy $38 [TAFI]: the most memorable wine even though we opened it two weeks before the end of the year. Bought this at the Burgundy Hoe Down more than a year ago! Took a year to open just enough to get a glimpse of what was inside. So salacious! Unfortunately, finding more of this wine from this vintage will be a bitch. Wine of the year, as those things go.

halter-11WEB2013 Halter Ranch Cotes de Paso Blanc $20: Purchased by LeLg [ed. Le Large in short which the man is NOT] at Hi Time in Costa Mesa, the premium wine store in the OC. A lovely Paso white Rhone blend of mostly Grenache Blanc backed with Picpoul Blanc, Rousanne and Viognier; all estate grown. Read more about Paso the wine region including Halter the 900 acre ranch. This is a label to watch for. Don’t say we are too snobby for domestic wines. Especially not too snobby for Rhone style whites. Buy it. 13.5%