Posts belonging to Category Carlton



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…

 

Most Wine is Bad. It’s True.

New World rack of bottles

New World rack of bottles in your nearest supermarket

The simplest truths are often the most obvious. At a recent tasting one of the Young ‘Uns asked how can she identify the best wine at Trader Joes. Young Un tasters such as PT8Y live on a budget and prefer to limit wine purchases to $10. Boom! The obvious truth was revealed. Buying decent wine at TJs requires knowledge that draws on several data sets. The easiest answer, it turned out, was – when in TJs – look for a Spanish or Italian label in the target price range. Avoid popular domestic labels. “You mean like Cupcake” she replied proving she already was onto the obvious truth. (more…)

The Wonder of Willamette Pinot Noir

Big Table Farm impressed

Big Table Farm impressed

We got our mission. Find the “Pinot in the City” event and taste the best of wines there. It was better than Disneyland. And when we were done, like Capt Willard grabbing Corporal Lance on his way out of the Montegnard stronghold, through the dazed tribesmen and ex-soldiers, Dotoré led tBoW away from the madness into a new hell. The afternoon was approaching 100 degrees; cooler than inside the grand ballrooms where the tasting had wound down.

We had driven far. Faced down native hordes. Exercised tradecraft. Fulfilled our mission. We were good soldiers. We fared better than Col Kurtz and the unfortunate water buffalo at the end of the great film. Auteurs may discuss how CGI will never capture the authentic horror of a live slaughter from multiple angles. Our attention was on the emblematic tasting we had just survived. (more…)

The Praedominium of Wine: a Passover Tale

Seige of Jerusalem

Seige of Jerusalem

The history of Jerusalem is beyond EPIC. No filmmaker has or will ever capture the full impact [ed. Kingdom of Heaven is decent]. Only a great modern biographer such as Simon Sebag Montefiore can do the story justice; pick up Jerusalem: The Biography.

Jerusalem is not the most ancient city nor is it necessarily the most historic although there would certainly be arguments on that point. It is without doubt the most holy city if for no other reason than three major inter-related religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – claim Jerusalem as their own but have been forced to share it for millenia. Neither Buddhism nor Hinduism have a Jones for Jerusalem. Think of Buddhism as the Riesling of important religions: alluring with its particular salvational purpose [ed. would you align Hindi with Chianti?]. Which brings me to wine worship. (more…)

Chipmunks & Lasagna Chase Wine Thoroughbreds

ME..I WANT A HULA HOOP! Fortunately, Alvin did not help select the offerings of the day-long tBoW Open House. Dotoré and REL were first to arrive and nearly last to leave eight hours later. tBoW team tasters filled the front lines as veterans retreated for fresh glasses. All indulged enthusiastically on Christmas lasagna and an endless loop of corny cool Christmas music that competed for attention with what turned out to be a very nice wine lineup. The wines were especially intriguing because they included a couple of oldies (mid 90s), a pricey recent vintage white wine, and a slew of U20 bargains in white and red. I’ll tell you what – that was more than a party. It was a dang seminar. After all was poured and quaffed, the wines showed up the Chipmunks pretty well. The lasagna and butter cookies held their own. The next day we skipped the sales and headed for Santa Anita for more excitement!

2009 Dauvissat Chablis Vaillons Premier Cru
$50: First wine this day so it had to be good. With palates alive we found the wine to be even lovelier than hoped for. Baking soda nose. Butterscotch already there although muted. Should develop with a few more years. Wish we had a few more bottles of this. Truly lovely Chardonnay from a supposedly underwhelming vintage in Burgundy. Hnnh. Supposedly from 50 y.o. vines. Maybe that’s why it costs 50 bucks. 13%

1995 Elio Altare Barolo $70: Carried por mano from La Morra in 2001 by Dotoré. It was just the two of us when Doc Holliday’s “heir-ator” apparent bespoke “pop that cork.” 1995 was a tough vintage followed by two magnificently seductive ones. This wine was rough-hewn right out of the bottle. The deeply lined face of Tommy Lee Jones comes to mind, along with his intriguing charm. All the tar is there. We knew the bouquet would open with time and hoped it would be the tell-tale Barolo roses. 45 minutes later the fruit is beginning to show along with meaty aromas and flavors. The wine did not completely bloom to Piemonte roses but the informed few like PTT8Y and T3 Tootsie-The-Taster, kept coming back for more until it was all gone. Nice work Dotoré. 13.5%

2007 Scott Paul Le Paulee $30: We have linked the two wines because a naive taster noted “these two wines remind me of each other.” We love an innocently stated astitution.

tasters review panel

Barolo and Pinot Noir do share qualities and characteristics if not flavors. Usually takes awhile to get it…but not always. Screw top entry level from notable Carlton vintner Scott Paul Wright. 2007 got some negative early press that we now see was based on a misbegotten love affair with the over-ripe 2006 vintage. This wine is delightful and delicious. “Volnay, simply nice” says Dotoré in a good way. Forthright Pinot nose. No mistaking this grape. Not too ripe for which the 2007 vintage from the Willamette Valley is known and unfairly maligned. Really makes the case for the best domestic Pinot Noir coming out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley 40 minutes southwest of Portland. Nice effort. Could easily go another year if you see it anywhere near $25. But why wait? 13.1%

2010 Domaine St Antonin “Lou Cazalet” Faugéres
$15: Garagiste posts another winner! With the 2 Rieslings below this brings the G. record to 4-1-1. Much better. This is the Languedoc blend we know we prefer: Syrah, Grenache, maybe some Mourvedre. Big, rough, middleweight red. “Blowsy” declares the suddenly loquacious Dotoré. This wine held up for 90 minutes before it disappeared. Call me hope-ful but I think the November election will go the same way as this day’s tastes. The voters will go back for what they like and forget about what they don’t like. Uuhhh…the wine. Here is an example of high alcohol level balancing out with enough fruit, weight and general presentation so that the alcohol is integrated. A U20 super value. 15%

2007 Schlöss Lieser Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling Spatlese $19: Show me the apples! Just fab. I thought we were past the white wines and came the call…Riesling? Where’s the Riesling? This is a G. [ed. G. is Garagiste, soon we will have O.G. for Original Garagiste] winner. Just yummy. Light on its feet as we might expect. Dances across the palate. Amazing that after several hours of reds with the Chablis long gone and a Vinho Verde upside down in the ice bucket (excellent $5 Espiral from Trader Joes) this wine would still be able to call attention to itself. 2012 will be a Riesling year. 8.5%

2007 Reichsrat Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett $13: Mouthful of tangy zesty lychee fruit. Kris-B thinks the wine is a bit simple. We got a whollop of tangerines on the finish after another 15 minutes in the glass and are happy Kris-B suggested we grab it. It is from the Pfalz which is a region a Mösel snob would eschew but this proves how biasing auto-preference can be. What’s not to like? A G. and a U20 winner. 9%

1994 Ferreira Port $87: We started the day in the mid 90s and finished there. Ask and ye shall receive a bookend finish on Christmas Day. These are good years to be opening the finest vintage since 1977. These wines are just perfect and still on the upward arc. This is ready to be enjoyed right now. Solid fruit with next to zero tannins showing. Up-and-coming team taster X captures the flavors: “chewy dried mango fruit.” Perfectly balanced. Complemented the cakes and cookies like the 4th horse in the 4th race. Another winner down the stretch. 20%

Sorry to blog and bolt but another year is already here and it is going to require our full attention. Happy New Year. We leave you with the last of the Krisses Mösel tour images, the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr vineyard.