Posts belonging to Category Napa



Napa Trip and Golf Wines

if I drank Cab it would be Regusci

I never drink Cab but if I did it would be Regusci…stay thirsty

It may surprise the reader that Napa and golf attract similar wine hounds. Napa is the Land O’ Cab and many goffers we know do love a big rich Cabernet or Cab blend. tBoW was on assignment for Elegant Living magazine in Napa a few weeks ago; a trip followed by another plunge into hedonistic darkness a couple weeks later in a four day country club tournament. Next stop: the sanitarium.

The Napa trip included a spectacular site on top of Spring Mountain [ed. that would be Barnett Vineyards], a super collectible site also on top of Spring Mountain [ed. that would Pride Mountain Vineyards], a new hot shot R’n’R winery off Silverado Trail [ed. that would be Cliff Lede, look for the magazine], and an oldest of the old guard wineries that is undergoing a much anticipated transformation [ed. that would be Charles Krug]. There were others however I may save for a future post. In the meantime, should you find yourself in Napa I highly recommend a stop at any of the aforementioned.

The Goff Tournament was another matter. If Napa is decadent then the golf tourney is indulgent to a fault. Three days of official competition and one extra day of a warm up round added up to 81 holes in a row. Two days in matching knickers and plus fours. Add to that about 10 stogies and numerous life-giving Bloody Marys (call out your vodka) and you have a floating 12 Step program waiting to happen. It might have ended somewhat poorly if my partner and I had not backed into the Champions Derby by the logo on our balls only to lose by a quarter inch in a chip off. All this goff talk may only make sense to the goffers among tBoW readers.

Stacy Clark

Krug windfall!

What everyone will understand is that we were handed a bundle of cash for reasons we could not comprehend. And we’re going back next year just for aggravation’s sake!

Here is what we learned in Napa…about white wines! Sorry. You already know about the red wines from these houses and if you don’t you can find them written up by adoring Parker/Suckling wannabes everywhere.

Charles Krug Winery is the oldest in the Napa Valley. Peter and Robert Mondavi had the most famous Napa family spat in the last 100 years out of which Robert became world famous and Peter lived in a house on his 150 year old estate making good old Napa Cab that very few people cared about. NOT ANY MORE! The sons (brothers who get along) are building a monster new storage facility with a giant window in the adjacent tasting room where we normals can sip the new Krug blends made by super-winemaker Stacey Clark. While watching the magnificent casks that will probably be stacked 10 high! Stacy Clark was the winemaker at Pine Ridge for 30 years. I think all our readers know that the tBoW tasting team is not wild about Cab blends unless they come from Bolgheri. This does not take anything away from the absolute truth that the best Cabernet is grown in Napa. Stacy Clarke is also a superb winemaker. If this was golf someone would say “nice rescue.” While at Pine Ridge she oversaw their fantastic white wine blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier. Krug-2011SBWEBAt $14 it was and is a steal. We tasted her first wine for Krug and it shows the same style and pedigree as the super U20 Pine Ridge white.

2012 Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc $14: Wine made form estate fruit. Floral nose with pears and bright flavors. Super acid spine and tones of pear fruit. The non-alcohol version would be a terrific breakfast drink! The 2011 is still on the shelves at Total Yawn but they are supposed to call me soon as the 2012 arrives. Buy it. 13%

Pride_ViognierCROPWEBPride Mountain Vineyard Mistelle de Viognier $40: Pride probably makes THE BEST VALUE collectible wines in Napa. People just love these red mountain wines. tBoW is not qualified to judge them. However, this white beauty is impressive. It has so much fruit and acid it came off like a dessert wine. But it ain’t. It is a just another crazy ripe mountain white. They make it as free run juice meaning there is no time on the less to get color or tannins. It is not late harvest but you may be fooled into thinking it is. Yummy. 14.1%

Mamie and Monica werkinit!

Mamie and Monica werkinit!

2011 Regusci Mary’s Cuvee Carneros Chardonnay $36 (at the winery not available anywhere else): This is one of our must stop wineries in Napa. The place which is a so-called ghost winery is too cool with all the rock and the 19th century legend over the arch. Te ladies behind the long tasting bar are usually tons o’ fun [ed. Monica and Mamie to the right]. Unlike many counterparts or neighbors Regusci does not make many labels. They make a big Napa Cab of course. Notes say “if I drank Cab it would be Regusci.” They also farm properties for many other labels. Check the website. We did not see this wine coming. Mamie or Monica said “white burgundy” and we thought “sure it is. Every Chard in Napa has Burgundian character.” But this has no malolactic fermentation and spends 5 years in neutral oak. It is Burgundian. Bought it. Now if only they used a different shipper I would be tasting it this Saturday. Only 252 cases. 14.2%

Isosceles08WEB2008 Justin Isosceles Reserve $250: Here is the red wine provided by The Ranch Bishop as our team shot its way into the finals while three-putting and hitting balls OB. We have always recognized Justin makes the ebst Cabernet blend in Paso Robles. In fact, we have openly wondered how they tricked it up to remove the green bell pepper character often found in Paso Cabs. We still don’t know their secret. We do know this wine is delicious. Poured into a plastic cup on a fairway one can still pick up the lovely seductive nose waiting to hit. Balance is perfect, Tannins not in the forefront at 5 years. Whatever tobacco pollution might have overwhelmed a lesser red was handily seduced by this wine. 14.3%

The Napa settings were stupendously spectacular. Justin is in the NW corner of what we consider the loveliest wine country in California. Have a great Memorial Day holiday drinking whatever wine you like.

Carl played by Bill Murray comes up with a good idea about course maintenance.

“Erster” Tasting at the Water Grill: Slurp, Sip, Sexitup

oyster_sexyWEBOysters are sexy.How could Georgia O’Keefe miss the inspiration? Orchids and oysters. We get it. Amy Reily makes a living writing about sexy foods and oysters are at or near the top of her list [ed. Amy blows away the competition in the sexy food and wine grouping]. I found myself in splendid company thick and tasty as a miyagi oyster. The event was the 19th Annual Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition sponsored by Taylor Fish Farms in Washington. The gig is more than just promoting the consumption of oysters. It is also about pairing oysters with domestic white wines. Jon Rowley is the architect of this two decade long “competition.” Longevity is a strong marker for interest but not always for quality which is best evaluated with a hands-on evidence based participation observation. This tasting hit both marks.

oyster lovers??

oyster lovers??

We arrived at the Water Grill in downtown Los Angeles at 3:00 sharp, chose a solitary table with 20 empty glasses, and waited for the glitterati to arrive. No disappointments there. Mary Sue Miliken – highly respected cute-as-a-button and sweeeter-than-honey LA food entrepreneur – sat down in an adjacent booth. LA food critic Jonathan Gold sat a few tables across. Apologies in advance for anyone not mentioned. The A-list food writers and job creators was fun. However, for tBoW the matching exercise was quite serious.

Jon officially opened the tasting with a quote from A Moveable Feast which is a collection of unpublished essays published posthumously. In one of the essays he describes chowing down on oysters, slowly, carefully, noting each nuance. For Hemingway the experience is, of course, transcendent. The urge to wonder what further stimulation awaits when pairing the slimy critters with wine seems obvious, no?

We are not strangers to oysters. In fact we love them. Acme Oyster in Nawlins is a must stop when in town. No trip to Seattle is complete without multi-raw dining. We once ate 5 dozen on a beach in Colombia… with another couple. So this was bound to be a treat.

A method was advanced. Chew the oyster first filling mouth with sea-borne flavors. Oysters are no more all alike than are acidic white wines that keep them company. Here come the platters. The first flight of glasses get three-finger fills. Generous. Sniffing before sipping is discouraged. No problem. tBoW powered through each flight directly, chewing and tasting his wine through all 20 wines. In fact, the kumamoto ersters were so delicious we polished off another half dozen for good measure. Forget about Honey Boo Boo. Oyster Boy below knows how to take down a slimy delight then pick thru the detritus for bits n’ pieces.

The kumamoto oyster is briny with a starchy texture and flavor. Each wine was bagged and tagged with a unique letter. Part of the deal is to see how well my oyster & wine palate matches with the other judges. The winning wines are announced but not in ranked order which is certainly the right decision given there is really no quantifiable argument. The only competition that truly matters is how many judges matched winning wines. A return invite could hinge on this outcome.

The tasting takes place in three cities – LA, SF and Seattle. Scores from all three tastings are combined. One LA judge and two San Fran judges matched 8 of the 10 winners. Jon Rowley points out no one has ever matched all 10. I gotta think 8 is pretty dang good. tBoW matched 3 of the top 10 wines which was the lowest matches among the judges. Gratefully, there were two others on the LA judging panel with similarly idiosyncratic palates. I found one pairing elicited a dry gin martini. Four of the top 10 wines were among my lowest ranked. Winning varietals included Sauvignon Blanc (6), Chenin Blanc (2), one Pinot Gris and one Riesling. Wineries represented California, Washington and Oregon.

All I know is this. After all the chewing and coating my mouth, then sipping on wines and spitting, and not taking one single sniff ever, I was left with a profound hunger for sourdough bread. Apparently this is something akin to how the Irish consume oysters. I will stand on Irish tradition any day except when it comes to religion. And Amy Reily walking away in heels should be available on video.

This was a wonderful affair which I hope to repeat. There are a couple oyster bars in LA that I plan to visit including L&E Oyster Bar in Sliverlake and Blue Plate in Santa Monica. The L&E GM was the 8-match dude in our group. It was all over much too soon.

Could be another match for oysters is Blue öyster Cult. Goes with slurpin’ n’ sex, no?

Wine-Napped! The Case of the 13 Bottle Case

the man amidst the problem

the man amidst the problem

“The system won’t let us do that sir” said the creamy voice on the phone. “We can ship your one remaining bottle for $10.” Wine crime is a real world phenomenon what with the fraudulent labeling scandal and auction house travesties. Unfortunately we are compelled to report a lesser but no less aggravating kind of wine crime. In fact, it really isn’t a crime as much as it is a matter of cheap software meets a scrambling warehouse crew. It is, nevertheless, a deal breaker. We are taking about a case of winenapping. Bottles already paid for that held hostage in a Pacific Northwest warehouse until a ransom can be paid for their release! (more…)

Scary Wine Country Tales / Big Cab Tasting

We do not commonly think of wine tied to horror. The truth is, sometimes wines and the wine industry can lead to some pretty awful circumstances. Halloween passed this week. Kids in costumes came by the house. We attended a Hallow-Wine party where the good shit was downstairs on a table in front of two guys older than tBoW. Those grim details follow these true life stories. Read our three recounts of vinous venality where red is more than the color of wine. (more…)

Pink Savages: BEST of the Large Fantastic

tBoW team taster The Large got inside the ropes at the premiere party for Savages. Being this close to Benicio del Toro [ed. the Hunted, Fear & Loathing], and Salma Hayek [ed. lead vampire From Dusk Till Dawn – see video!] sent Large for a Loop crossing his appetite for blush wines with movie star fever. We all benefit from his pyretic vision shared herein: tasting notes, sexy babes, paired foods. Welcome to the Large location food truck.

Summer is the season of blush. You see it in the cheeks of that beguiling and shapely post-teen prancing the beach!…in her bikini — tiny sparks of sand fly off her electrically as he turns to notice her staring at him; she’s caught with an embarrassed smile, pale perfectly smooth skin scattered with freckles turning deep pink… her deep red hair masking the sun like some flaming halo…. Or is it just the way the late afternoon sun disperses as you twist your glass, its dancing rays sparkling atop a sea of pink. It’s the season of hotter days… our ecosphere is boiling over, starting to fry large swaths of the Eastern seaboard into the midwest.

Hollywood spews out sizzling summer thrillers, with tall blondes in pink dresses sharing bong hits while manacled, held hostage by a ruthless, decapitation-happy enforcer working for a struggling, ruthless Baja cartel (Benicio del Toro, could it be any other, I ask you?). And after cutting a maniacal workday short and putting your feet on the patio furniture, it’s time at last to savor another wine of countless variations: Rosé.. (more…)