Posts belonging to Category Barolo



Buying Wine: Our Favorite LA Shops

stacks 'n racks

stacks ‘n racks in Tarzana

“Dimi. Why you do dees to me?” The sweet grandmother asked her son the priest with pain in her voice as Bill Friedkin looked in from behind the camera. The memorable scene from the Exorcist was almost as chilling as buying wine at one of your local haunts only to have it disappoint at the table. What makes a good wine store? What are the qualities in play? Can there be more than one good store? Can we think of another question and keep this party going? Holidays are coming. Heck. They’re here.

Places we like to shop for wine in our town and why we like them.

Tarzana Wine & Spirits looks like just another family owned liquor store that understands the word WINE on the sign could help boost sales. Inside the floor is stacked two to three cases high with what a wine fiend likes to see. Behind the floor stacks are the rows and rows of racks. Twenty years ago you had to go to a real wine store like Wally’s or Paul Smith’s WHWCo to find this level of wine shopping experience. Today the appearance is much more commonplace. As one tBoW reader pointed out, the difference is the staff. He likes a sales associate who knows what she is selling. With nice hair. The buyer makes the clever purchases. Can find good stuff here.

unsure what to buy?

unsure what to buy?

Liquid Wine is a local stop we must always hit when driving down Topanga from the 118 to the West end of the Valley. Never changes. Pete mans the register while watching baseball or hockey. His selection is quirky like New Mexico and just as intriguing. And Pete fulfills the knowledgeable sales clerk standard. He knows his poop. If you know yours then you will find something unusual. If you do not then ask him to recommend something around $15.

Once upon a time the Liquor Store on Ventura one block east of Topanga was a place a guy could stop in and pick up a couple of mixed cases of Old World wines the owner bought on close out.

perusal plan

Domaine perusal plan

He specialized in Italian and French closeouts shunned by the snob stores with price points in the high 20 to mid 30s. The hit rate was close to 70%. But the owner sold out and now it’s just another liquor store with a wine on the sign in big letters.

Domaine LA is always a good destination wine shop. Drive to West Hollywood with a couple hundies. Let the well-informed sales gal lead you around the shop layed out for a casual stroll. She points out the organic biodynamic sustainable wines of the moment: orange, Spanish, Clear Lake, cloudy, “let it sit a while” she advises. Our mind reels. We sit. Yes we would love a taste… from a glass. Leave with a mixed case for the coming holidays. Satisfied. This is not the rack populated traipse through the bottle forest. Domaine LA’s floor is spacious. Selections are selective. We are absolutely certain there is not a bad bottle in the store. We see quite a few of the same merchandise we get from our dealer and he sells to super models. It must be good.

Wines we recently tasted while dining at Panzanella in Sherman Oaks.

Scavino-03WEB2003 Scavino Barolo $35: Full and soft. “Better tomorrow” advises Dotoré. Tasting like a bull ready for the ring, with pedigree, tonight. Nebbiolo is sexy wine. Always elegant, regal. Seems at odds with the humble agro Piemonte region. This wine is the “pedestrian” bottle. Young. Came out of the cellar. 13.5%

la-mannella-07WEB2007 La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino $30: Sangio based Tuscan. Purchased at Tarzana W&S. Oaky, big, needs air even after being decanted. Needs to open. The “giftor” says the wine is outta whack while others find it full flavored and jummie. It is full and tannic. Worth buying once the price drops which it will. Sit on it at least a year. 13%

Bucci-verd12WEB2012 Bucci Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi $20 ($48 on the list): Delicious white wine. The 250% markup on the wine list is normal. The wine shows light acid, not much spine with very friendly pleasing flavors, ripe fruit closer to orange than lime. Did not come in bottle shaped like a fish. 13%

Panzanella is a nice place to dine in the Valley. Part of the Drago dining empire that has overtaken LA. The family-style Valley needs a white table cloth family-style dining spot where middle aged adults can go with friends, sit boy-girl-boy-girl, and eat a well-prepared Italian meal. We were in the wine room which is the quieter area. Massimo makes sure everything goes smoothly. A “holidays” return is already in the works.

Holiday Road Trip to The City

pray for parking

the dao of parking

It is hard to go wrong with a quick trip to San Francisco. In the Wintertime the San Francisco air is exceptionally crisp. The sunlight can cut glass. What’s not to like? OK. Cars are strongly discouraged. It can cost twice to park overnight as it does to rent for a day. The scene at Union Square is bright and cheery and overly commercial; full of holiday shoppers.

However, if you want to try another cultural flavor the city is hardly bereft of captivating neighborhoods. arlequinWEBThe Mission bustles with local shops and plenty of homeless people crashing in the alleys. The mural filled alleys of the Mission are tourist destinations. Thank you Trip Advisor. Hayes Street Gulch has two blocks of shops, food spots and a very appealing wine shop/bar/deli. The sign says Arlequin. If you like a combo wine shop/deli this should work. tBoW purchased a bottle of Cowan Cellars Ribollo Gialla that came highly recommended as an “orange wine.” This Eastern Mendocino product tasted nothing like oranges but it was pretty cool even though we did not decant as recommended. We opened and poured on the spot.

Cowan-2012-Ribolla_400WEB2012 Cowan Cellars Ribollo Gialla $24: From the website: “Light gold color, brilliant; aromas of apricot, light honey, persimmon, nutmeg and a floral note might give the impression of a sweet wine but the palate is dry; the flavors echo the nose, concentrated texture, lively acids and grippy tannins; good length but needs a year in bottle to become integrated. Should be cellared for at least a year and should drink well for another decade. This wine should never be over-chilled; cellar temperature or warmer for service.” The wine has an orange tint. The winemaker stops fermentation so “retain acidity.” What a great idea! As Kris-B touted, this is a good sign of the thinking winemaker figuring how to make wines more food friendly and generally interesting. As Cowan’s website states “fine wines for lighter meals…if you want a wine of personality and quality at a reasonable price…” We’re convinced. 12.5%

Mission mojo hand

Mission mojo hand

tBoW dined at Foreign Cinema in the Mission. The expansive restaurant is set in an old movie house. A movie plays on the rear wall in the (heated) outdoor patio. The rustic interior hall is noisy and alive. We shared half a fresh Dungeness crab with a glass of Old World white from the more than satisfying wine list. This is how it is in SF dining. In fact, wine is passe. The cocktail culture has gripped on the city. tBoW ordered a muddled something with Bourbon and cane sugar. Yum.

Here are some pretty impressive bottles recently cracked.

TAMI12WEB2012 Arianna Occhipinti ‘Tami’ Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane $15: Soulful, luscious, inspiring in the most sensual ways. But enough of Arianna Occhipinti. How’s her wine? Blackberry fruit, bright acid, light to middle weight. The label says typical for Southern Italian wine AND at a price everyone can afford? What’s not to like? Ms. Occhipinti is a terrific winemaker. We hope she gets out a little. All that time stirring the cap and beating down the must has to make a girl lonesome. A U20 deal. 13%

PerraudMaconVillages09WEB2009 Domaine Perraud Macon-Villages Vielles Vignes $19: Nobody can say it better. “A wine made by XXX censored2WEB so you can count on lots of oak/batonnage, etc. Whatever they have to do to make it slutty. And they’re not picky about farming practices.” Hey. Don’t shoot the reporter. We thought we were crossing the line sexualizing Arianna O. Slutty wine? We liked this little Chard but we would not buy it again, especially now that we could get herpes or something worse. Screw top Chardonnay [ed. big tip right there] from Burgundy’s bargain basement. I feel so dirty. 13%

2007 Angelo Germano Barolo $34: Entry level Barolo from Germans. Very good buy from Eno Fine Wine. Bro’ in law flipped and the last time that happened with wine was when I showed him the Arianna O googleimages page. Dark red black color, not thick. Anise nose on the open, full of life, could take decanting but it is so exciting right away. Not much chance to see it develop as it got sucked up tout suite. Higher alcohol not even noticed. Listed online for less $$ but not usually in stock. 14.5%

Papa Fred Memorial Saturday.

Champs of Sports ::: Champs of Wine

Dom Moulin Aux Moines

Domaine Moulin Aux Moines

Baseball fever is here. 100 point scales for ratings wines are dumb. Can these claims be related? YES. Baseball is dreary for 162 games then suddenly it is wonderful to watch. Most wines are bad. Until you hit on one that you know will be good but it is, in fact, remarkable. Why slog through the long hot summer when you can tune in to exciting play on the diamond come October? Why slog through plonk upon plonk from TJs or Costco – and they are the best of the worst – when every bottle of wine can be like watching at least a divisional playoff game?

BUT… does the best of every region offer the same quality and excitement? We have answers.

Forget wine’s 100 point scale for “scoring” wines. It is more useful and far more interesting – not to mention more defensible methodologically – to rank regions/varietals.

RIP RnR Animal

RIP RnR Animal

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Tahoe Mishpocha Tasting: Teachin’ and Beachin’

later afternoon on the lake

late afternoon on the lake

Tahoe is to Alpine lakes like Barolo is to great red wines. Peerless. The whole damn fam assembled on the beach for 9 days. Nearly all the Young ‘Uns too; studying analogies for LSATs, living with parents hoping for a job in San Francisco, working their way through JUCOs on their way to a UC, finishing high school, and on and on and on. Good opportunity to pull corks. (more…)

Truffles, Baroli and Sonoma’s Oldest “Old Vines Port”

TahoewestshoreWEBIf you’re talking wine and truffles 2013 has gotten off to a fine start. Forget the sequester, the Lakers and the Oscars. The truffle season in Oregon is in its final throes. The Eno Merchant is about to go live. tBoW just feels good all over. Let’s talk about truffles and Barolo wines! (more…)