Posts belonging to Category Northern Italy



Kicking It with Kokopelli

IndianCountryroadWEBKokepelli plays flute in the windy rock washes near the Four Corners. Mr. and Mrs. tBoW wonder if the powerful Navajo deity can make it rain wine, or will they wait another week before tasting the sacrament of their ancestors. On a road trip in the Navajo Nation where the state lines that separate Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico have no meaning; where the Navajo Nation is the largest among all other Indian nations; and the Navajo Nation is dry. Not that we would expect to find wines similar to those reviewed below; at least not until we hit Santa Fe, the outpost of cultures rooted in art, native traditions and Southwestern themed interior decorators.

Tony Hillerman’s Navajo crime fictions are a terrific contrivance for sinking one’s mind into the mysterious cultures of North America’s aboriginal peoples. There are 140,000 Navajos living on reservations in their home country northwest of Albuquerque, all throughout and within the high desert expanse known as the Four Corners. chassey_champWEBColossal landscapes dwarf everything human so it has to be magic. A drive through Monument Valley is medicine for eternity.

Wines reviewed somehow reminded us of the land and people of this region in which we have been auto-immersed.

NV Guy de Chassey Brut Carte Noire $50: Non-vintage blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay packs tight bubbles, high acid flavors without being astringent. The sparkler choice for greeting guests with bright eyes and a brisk airiness. We prefer Pinot-based champagne. Somewhat challenging like the first stretch of road that leads down into Monument Valley… but much friendlier! 12%

cowan_roseWEB2012 Cowan Cellars North Coast Rosé $18: Cowan makes natural wines sourced throughout the state. This wine is saignée from several premium Pinot Noir producers. Clever fella. For a higher alcohol wine this does not give off any alcohol burn.MerckButte-2WEB In fact, the wine also shows high acid and lean flavors, balanced and appealing. Pretty special like the Merrick Butte at sunset. U20 winner. 13.9%

garganelaWEB2012 Buglioni Il Disperato Bianco delle Venezie IGT $20: Italian natural wine made from a varietal – Garganega – that commonly goes into dessert style wines. From the Veneto, middle weight, recommended by

not any Neb

not any Neb

the somm at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica [ed. we would return] who sold it as a fleshier Vermentino. Worked! This is like seeing The Cube; each time you look, it is more distinctive [ed. it’s sitting on some kind of stand?]. A surprise pleasure. 12.5%

RPPgrumelloo-06WEB2006 Valtellina Superioire Grumello Riserva ‘Rocca de Piro,’ Ar.Pe.Pe. $45: I guess every Piemonte Nebbiolo needs at least 30 minutes to open. This beautiful ruby red wine with the raspberry nose was so muted when the cork was pulled we thought it was too delicate for the steak strips. Rare and unusual to see this wine. Much like it is rare and unusual and special to hear Kokopelli the Watersprinkler’s flute. This rare Grumello delivers Nebbiolo of the most luscious order. The definition of elegant. Very satisfying. If you love Old World Nebbiolo this is worth the dough; like Monument Valley is worth the 6 hour ride from Albuquerque. 13%

“His humpbacked figure supported by stick legs. Stick arms hold a straight line to his tiny round head, making him seem to be playing a clarinet. The flute might be pointed down or ahead. “A Thief of Time” by Tony Hillerman.

Taking Back the “M” Word in 2014

wine futures

wine futures

Hissy fit! Minerality is such an overused term we banned it from the tBoW wine lexicon. Like “it is what it is.” Not on this blog. However, upon consulting with cooler heads and more clear minds the “m” word is back in the game with the caveat that we will only use it to describe wines with high acid and stony character including sulfuric aromatics. High acid and strong citric flavors will not suffice to invoke “minerality.” It’s a new day and we have wines to review.

The Stupid Bore is over. With it the holidays have officially completed. We have a clear pathway to summertime which means Roses and bright summer white wines. It is also means severe drought conditions in California. At least the East and Midwest regions will dry out. Maybe one last crippling character building snowstorm in April. Hope not.

DomaineLA is a somewhat new wine shop on Melrose Avenue in WeHo. They have “more wine and less attitude.” We can say they have wines we are looking for and a highly informed floor person – Courtney – naked-wineWEBwho was able to answer nearly every question we had… about wines. We found the impossible-to-find-on-the-West-Coast Close de la Roillete Vendange Tardive at the shop at a very fair price discounted 10% with overall case purchase. We also found a very decent selection of “natural” wines [ed. new obsession alert!], Burgs and wines from other regions we like including Beaujolais and the Loire. She also had a nice group of Italian wines but not the Sagrantino which Alice Feiring writes about that we were looking for. tBoW also checked at WHWineCo. They have had these unusual wines – specific producers, read the book – but not for several vintages.

The Alice Feiring book “Naked Wine” is exceptionally informative. She covers the original winemakers pushing the “natural” wine movement. She describes their methods and provides a very helpful running discussion of the underlying philosophy and vine to wine values. Feiring is a thorough reporter as well making sure to describe the squishiness of this “movement” and how hard and fast opinions on actions such as using sulfur are actually quite malleable. Still digging it. Here are some wine reviews; not one with minerality.

roty_mars_082008 Roty Marsannay Les Ouzeloy $35: With this bottle and the recent Pataille tasting that featured his Marsannay wines we believe we have a sense of this undervalued and, for us, under-investigated region in the northern Cote d’Or. This wine took 2.5 hours to open. Over that period we saw more action than was taking place on the “most watched TV program ever.” This wine opened masculine and finished that way going from rough and brutish to firm and manageable. This is manly Pinot Noir, sinewy and powerful like the Olympic ice racers [ed. not the “dancers”] we will be watching very soon. Impressive. Roty is a premium producer. Bought from Eno Fine Wine. 13%

deforvill_neb_10WEB2010 De Forville Langhe Nebbiolo $18: Young vine Barbaresco, Rosenthal selection. We had the 2008 version and just purchased the 2011 at DomaineLA. This is a great intro wine to premium Piemonte at a very good price U20 price. Rich and full, middleweight, will take some age to reveal the Piemonte Neb character. We sucked this down after the Marsannay ran out. That helped us through the 4th quarter. We have found older vintages at Liquid Wine. 13.5%

scavino_96WEB1996 Silvio Grasso Barolo Ciabot Manzoni $80: Special meal wine shared by Dotoré. Classic aromas of tar and roses. Meaty yet light on its feet. Boxers – lightweights, welterweights, middleweights – often crowd our consciousness when tasting aged Baroli. This is a Carlos Monzon [ed. Argentine 70s] bottle. Exotic, hitting power, elegance. The wine kept its power and finesse for the entire evening. 14%

nav_gewurtz_2001WEB2001 Navarro Gewurtztraminer Late Harvest Cluster Select $24: Picked off the shelf at Liquid. It is always somewhat of a risk when payng for a dessert wine in a split from a producer not known for such. Weighing in favor of the buy was that Navarro is a very consistent winery and Gewurtz is one of their staple white wines. But could it last 12 years? Poured out dark brown and clear. Looked like root beer without the fizz. The flavors were completely exotic: caramel, coffee and cola. All in harmony and so tasty. A perfect dessert wine for the fresh Meyer lemon possit pudding it accompanied. Spectacular. 10%

The image at top was taken in our local Target [ed. “tar-zjay”] store. The marketing genius displayed… Think about Colonel Kurtz explaining to Capt Willard how… never mind. Will the next generation of these Modern House Wines labels will include “minerality mania” and “natural wonder.” I kid you not: Oprah Favorite.

Recommended reply to the use of “it is what it is”: fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. Try it. Fun.

On the topic of boxers…here is the commentary from the end of the 12th round from the 1962 Emile Griffith vs Benny Paret fight which Griffith won by knockout. Paret never got up. Televised boxing was suspended for a decade. Supposedly Paret had called Griffith “maricon” at the weigh in.

2014 Kicks Off with New Winners

new Rose Bowl winners

new Rose Bowl winners

The Michigan State Spartans came to Pasadena and stuck it to the Stanford Cardinal. The substitute middle linebacker playing in place of the team captain resting in the dog house made the play of the game (above). Let me be Frank. Shirley there is a wine story here. (more…)

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.

Ciao Bello! Il Topo di Vino Ritorno con Vino di Nuovo

fit for a Mouse King

fit for a Mouse King

[ed. Our prized least coast correspondent has returned with Italian discoveries. Why does it often seem whatever he has been drinking… we just started? The more mice the more bella il vino.

It’s been hectic, irrational and nonsensical, therefore the appropriate choice here targets Italian wine. More and more, when we approach the cellar for the habitual nightly offering, we land in the peninsula whose offerings present a host of personalities.

eternal dilemma

dilemma eterna

Schizophrenic comes to mind. We love dozens. The Nebbiolos of Piedmont, while less reliable than Cotes de Nuits, either beguile, intrigue, astonish, or all three. I’m flat in love with Sangiovese, either alone, or better yet, with a dash of Cabernet or Merlot. Cab Franc (sorry Milo) from the northeast, makes increasingly more sense. Nero d’Avola from that big island near Tunisia continually represents tremendous value. Love Dolcetto, Barbera, Arneis, Moscato, and Umbria’s Sagrantinos and Grechettos. Love them all. And, without being too freaking trite, great chow wine. So, here goes… (more…)