Posts belonging to Category Ribbon Ridge



‘Tis the Season: Five Wine Truths

santa-sleighVINOWEBIn Vino Veritas must be the vanity plate on Santa’s sleigh. It is also a muy popular phrase among the cogniscenti du vin. Something about truth and wine. This blog is hardly averse when it comes to understanding more about our wine tastes and habits. Here is what the vines told us at a recent holiday party.

antica07WEB ayres10WEB Lesson #1: Palates change, or at least they should if you prefer truth to hype. The truth here is we are done with Oregon wines. We plan to drink thru what’s in the cellar. Not a knock on Oregon Pinot Noir. Just a move in a new direction.

2007 Antica Terra Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and 2010 Ayres Ribbon Ridge Pioneer Pinot Noir: Five years ago these Oregon Pinot Noir wines were at the top of our list. Had to have them. Nummy num nums. So delicious. So manipulated. Both wines are quite enjoyable. Antica still seems to the be the top PN in the New World per the party guests. We just see no further reason to purchase wines from the region.

latourmersault05WEB Lesson #2: Pierce the veil of personal bias. Consider all the data. As Inspector Clouseau might say “I suspect no one and I suspect everyone.” I suspect me. 2005 Louis Latour Mersault-Charmes Premier Cru: Forget the pedigree of the producer and especially the wine press. This bottle had everything going for it when purchased: big name producer, big name vineyard, should have checked the vintage, and deeply discounted. The most important red flag was the wine shop, now out of business. We had never bought a decent bottle from the site. The wine was flat. Over the hill. Some said premox. Some said too cold. When it warmed up it was chalk and dust with little fruit. Buy the wine you like, note wines you are supposed to like. More signals “The family-run company of Maison Louis Latour is one of the most highly-respected négociant-éléveurs in Burgundy. Renowned throughout the world for the quality of its red and white wines, the company has built a reputation for tradition and innovation. This Domaine has the largest Grand Cru property in the Cote d’Or with a total of 28,63 hectares (71,58 acres).” Large vineyards is not necessarily a detractor BUT a smaller vineyard is often associated with smaller producers who are more concerned with quality than quantity.

ranchero-vig-10WEB Lesson #3: Look at the small producer who is reasonably inspired. Amy Jean Butler is a case in point. From her website: “Founded by way of endless infatuation and intellectual curiosity, Ranchero Cellars is my just reward for years of making wine for others. I have lived and breathed winemaking on all levels – from the storied and venerated Napa institutions, to the intrepid Paso Robles startup – and have come to understand that this is where I belong. Over the past 16 years I have fallen in love with certain vineyards, particular varieties, specific styles and methods.” This is what inspiration reads like. And she signs off “XOXO Amy.” 2010 Ranchero Cellars Viognier: This 4 y.o. Viognier wine from Paso Robles is delicious. It has improved with a couple years. Proof that the New World/Old World distinction which we constantly cite has little meaning in the hands of a true winemaker.

santelenamag06WEBLesson #4: Cabernet is not Napa. 2006 Sant’ Elena Cabernet Sauvignon: An Italian red from the Friuli region in Northeastern Italy. Delightful. Served in mag so it has soft tannins 8 years later. Middle weight tasting just fine. There is another lesson here: if you know the wine and not the region, and the price is right ($40 for the mag), then give it a try.

stcosme12WEB Lesson #5: If spooked by too much information when considering a new prestigious brand, start at the intro level. St Cosme is a value label from the Cotes du Rhone. The label is intimidating with an ancient hut obviously hand illustrated. Old shit. Too much for us. We don’t know what to do… flight or fight! Recent release wines can purchased from $14 to $80. The site is ancient as in 15th century. Romans get a mention. 2011 St Cosme Cotes du Rhone: The entry level wine that is 100% Syrah. We worried it might be “hot” [ed. high alcohol], too big being from Gigondas a region we imagine is noted for “size” [ed. too rich]. What we got was a fairly exotic red wine that failed to meet any of our weenie-shaped fears. Great value too. Wine tasting can be so silly!

Please excuse this sentimental moment. Nat King Cole and Frank’s World are hard to resist.

End of Summer Smoke and Wine 2013

buenavistacigarclubWEBWhoa! Discovered a super cigar bar in Beverly Hills – the Buena Vista Cigar Club. Reminded our old friend Ricolini and me of the incredible cigar bar he and I have frequented in San Francisco behind the Bank of America building on California Street. Both are tiny holes in the wall with high comfort quotients operating on a low key axis. (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…)

Izit summer yet?

Arianna Occhipinti works it!

With temps in the 80s, offshore winds and longer daysit is starting to feel like Dotoré’s favorite season. Fighting off the urge to nap we have time to hit you with some wine reviews. And the occasional observation.

What if Andrew Dice Clay reviewed wines?

The Underground Wine Letter is running a series on wine fraud. Phony DRC wines caught at auction. I saw a guy on Auction Hunters crying because he only got $55,000 for his Delorean “time machine.” It was a replica. So these wine frauds pay for empty bottles of premium Bordeaux and Burgundy. If you can get past the effete-iness it makes for interesting reading. Especially the entry where Tilson (UWL editor) goes through a multi-decade process solving a mystery about a case of very unusual 1928 St Emilion he bought at auction. (more…)

Turkey Day Preview: How to Taste Wine

Hopefully you will be able to read this in time for the big meal Thursday. We are going to reveal the secrets of tasting wine so you can be the brain bully and sound like a real snob. You know casual like but intelligent. It’s easy if you stick to these few pointers. Don’t get too excited.

please exercise moderation

You won’t be like a “somm” but you will take on the trappings of a pretty dope snob. Like tBow and Dotoré. Even IGTY practices these techniques and now he’s a snob too. (more…)