Posts belonging to Category Paso Robles



2014 Gone. Keep Up with the Year in Front of You.

so nice

mi holiday getaway


The year in review is a journalistic tradition; even a must-do. What was memorable about 2014? Who do we remember? What made the strongest impression? Who is writing this slop?

stupaulWEBOur most memorable bricks and mortar wine merchant is Paul Smith at Woodland Hills Wine Co. Smith was definitely the underdog on the LA wine scene when we first encountered him about 30 years ago in his liquor store turned “wine find” off the 118. Who’d-a-thunk a former pro ballplayer (brushback pitcher) and USMC Nam vet would eventually become the go-to guy in LA then the nation for top shelf Burgs and other collectibles. I am still holding out Paul will let tBoW write his memoirs. He hangs a Marine Corp flag out front. Truly one of a kind.

Most memorable virtual wine merchant is Steve Goldun of Eno Fine Wine. He has delivered the best wines we have tasted throughout the year including the 2011 Sylvan Pataille Marsannay Clos du Roy featured below [ed. click two words back if you must learn more right now]. Consistently bringing in the wine we love to own at prices at or below the best market prices… Eno Fine Wine.

Most memorable wine travelers hands down are the bashful Krisses. They are a tag team from one of those generations that nobody from tBoW’s boomer clique can differentiate. Kris A is a budding winemaker, accomplished brewmaster and extreme triathlete. Kris B is the intrepid travel planner who can turn an introductory credit card deal into two round trip tickets to Germany or Spain or Austria. They hear music at decibels only accessed by corks and vines. Kris B frequents Garagiste and other obscure online merchants enabling the more placid tBoW to go in on a few unusual, exceptional deals. See Mont Blanc sparkler below.

soft flabby underbelly

soft flabby underbelly disappoints

What do we have to look forward to in 2015? The HausMaus visits town in June. A robust tasting of Rousanne and Marsanne seems likely. The dollar will continue to drive down prices on our favorite wines from Italy, France and Germany. The organic sustainable biodynamic movement will continue to expand and influence what you are drinking [ed. unless you are a mega collector of trophy wines in which case you are most likely oak addicted].

By the end of 2015 there will still be domestic wine touts claiming their favorite Pinot Noir is “Burgundian.” This is neither possible nor necessary. Domestic Pinot Noir will never share the qualities of Burgundy Pinot. If anything the difference will become more striking. We have staked out our position on domestic Pinot. We prefer Burgundy and of course we mean only the right Burgs [ed. is there a wine more haughty than Burgundy? Get your snob on!]. More Burgundy producers will lose our interest (Camille Giroud) as we simultaneously learn more about who makes the styles we prefer (Roty, Pataille, Clos du Moulin aux Moines). We have moved on from Barolo and Barbaresco and quite possibly any wine with 100% of any grape in the bottle. This leaves us in and around the Valtellina when it comes to Nebbiolo in Italy where the vignerons blend everything. Expect more wines form Sicily. And more champagnes. Should be a grand year, we hope.

extremeWEBOne more 2015 target. There is rumor of a new blog, the Wine Whisperer, where topics will concern the wine trade, interviews with wine folk such as aspiring somms, wine phenomena of any and every sort, and quite likely Bigfoot.

2011 Extreme Spumante Metodo Classico Brut DOC di Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle ~$23: Sparkling wine for extreme mountain climbers? This IS the Krisses in a bottle. That IS Mont Blanc on the label. Note pick axe and rope at label top. These must be highest vineyards in Europe! But probably not. Reminded tBoW of the sparkling Gewurtz made by Navarro (producer of lightweight domestic Pinot we also prefer!). We liked it. 12%

lassagneWEBNV Lassaigne les Vignes de Montgueux Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne $35: Purchased from Eno. Step aside Mont Blanc. Like the Warriors vs rest of the league [ed. talking NBA now], Champagne is King. And this bottle is special, Champions league, think Villareal futbol squad, La Liga Primera Division; not Real Madrid not Barcelona, but very competitive. Of course, please keep in mind a sparkling wine from Spain is not Champagne. Neither is a sparkling wine from Napa or anywhere other than Champagne. Does this mean there are sparkling wines as good as the best from Champagne? No. That would be unlikely. This remains useful info despite the end of the holiday.

pataille-marsannay-2011WEB2011 Sylvan Pataille Marsannay Clos du Roy $38 [TAFI]: the most memorable wine even though we opened it two weeks before the end of the year. Bought this at the Burgundy Hoe Down more than a year ago! Took a year to open just enough to get a glimpse of what was inside. So salacious! Unfortunately, finding more of this wine from this vintage will be a bitch. Wine of the year, as those things go.

halter-11WEB2013 Halter Ranch Cotes de Paso Blanc $20: Purchased by LeLg [ed. Le Large in short which the man is NOT] at Hi Time in Costa Mesa, the premium wine store in the OC. A lovely Paso white Rhone blend of mostly Grenache Blanc backed with Picpoul Blanc, Rousanne and Viognier; all estate grown. Read more about Paso the wine region including Halter the 900 acre ranch. This is a label to watch for. Don’t say we are too snobby for domestic wines. Especially not too snobby for Rhone style whites. Buy it. 13.5%

‘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.

Dom 85!! Who knew?? Harvey Kurtzman knew.

cosmic comic juice for a young mind

cosmic comic juice for a young mind

This post is being written in a downpour of potrzebie popup ads. Not good. We have wines and events of import to review so let’s plunge ahead with another furshlugginer post.

First things first. Happy Birthday to Dotoré. OK. That is taken care of. The venerable and toothsome reporter and hopeless Dodger fiend owes tBoW $20. We will have to pull some corks.

Hurricane Iselle blew itself into a Tropical Storm. Family living on the Big Island survived the tempest on Mauna Kea.

Happy birthday to Peewee, loyal Young’un and bad MoFo, who enthusiastically hosts her Payola Show at Paolis Pizza joint Tuesday nights. Congrats to original Young’uns Sawa M and REL now gainfully employed so they will soon be popping their own corks with tBoW and The Geezer Troop.

Favorite Somm Jen Carter is no longer at Saddle Peak Lodge which means that wonderful place with all the potential that she was able to realize, will fall from its roost as the go-to spot in the Calabasas boonies. Jen did a fab job there and we will miss her. Until we find out where she takes up hosting and toasting in a new venue! Please let us know Jen!

In the midst of all, we have had some notable wines to present.

dom85WEB1985 Dom Perignon $300 (TAFI wine): No need to say champagne right? This is THE champagne. Imagine Bond calling for 1952 Dom Perignon, chilled, in From Russian With Love. This wine came serendipitously to the tBoW clan as a random raffle prize. I know huh? Provenance unknown which is to say who knows how it was stored. We popped the cork and poured. Perfect bubbles, tight and abundant. But the flavor was revelation. Every Dom we have ever had has been steely bordering on austere. This was no fat big boy Krug but it did show golden color, apple flavors and it was delicious! Sometimes the world tilts ever so slightly and something falls into your lap. Truly memorable. Spectacular. 13%melville-1-WEB

melvillPN02WEB The review to the left is not the work of popup ads or even an overzealous editor. It is tBoW’s policy to try and not say anything directly unkind, uncaring or unfriendly when it comes to bad wine. The harshest term we will is PLONK. However, we could not help expressing the 180 degree turnabout in our wine palate since 2001. The Melville wines represent that switch. The general movement in the direction of food friendly, natural, under or even unoaked wines had something to do with our redirect. Mostly, tBoW has always wanted to apply Harvey Kurtzman’s humor from the Mad magazines of his yoof in a wine blog.

TCPano05WEB2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Panoplie $80: The highest end selection from the greatest Central Coast winery. Still not ready! This is the top selection and it tastes that way… all the way. Dense dark red blood robed liquid. More like a Southern Italian Negro Amaro. Only bigger. TC wines are never about heavy tannins. However, the reds are very long aging. Had it with steak and the beef had to put up a fight. Stick with the whites… long as they are seven years post bottling. Blows by the Melville monster. 15%.coston10WEB

2010 Domaine Coston Terrasses du Larzac Languedoc $20: One of the last of the Great Garagiste selections in the cellar. A wine that can do the tango. Sophisticated in a very local way. Imagine an Argentine man in his 50s stepping through the porteño ritual dance. Light on its feet with the gravitas only a country defeated in in every war it ever fought could understand. Outstanding.

Bond is unable to turn down Dom Perignon 1959, from You Only Live Twice.

Fada Day, Birthday, Playboy Jazz, July 4th!! Must be SUMMER.

who_yo_fadaWEBSummer just gets started and THEN… it just bombs forward with special days and celebrations. So many corks get pulled it takes concentration to keep up with the luxuriously warm evenings. No wonder Dotoré loses his mind. The water in SoCal is a delicious 70 degrees. Someone said it’s the precursor to an El Niño Winter. Yellow Tail running off Newport Beach and Great Whites are biting… poles and people. So we drink wine and hang with our homies. Here is what we been tasting.

vergano-vermouth-frontCROPWVergano Vermouth Bianco NV 500ML $43: LA Times wine tout SIrene V. wrote a blurb on Vermouths. As usual she’s a day late and a dollar short! The venerable critic covered domestic vermouths. For data more substantive try Goldun’s own prose: “Vermouth is the only fortified and aromatized wine with a precise historical origin. It was first concocted 1786 in Turin by Benedetto Carpano. Since then the Vermouth has become one of the most famous drinks in the world both as aperitif or as an ingredient in cocktails. Its name derives from the German word “Vermuth” which means Absinthe, one of its main components.” Absinthe? If you must have more info try here. A pot store opened behind tBoW’s favorite Mexican food palace. Back to SIrene V. We would bet dinner at Faith & Flower the real Vermouth wiener is this Piemonte effort. Who knew vermouth was an aperitif and not something to avoid in your ultra dry Martini. This Vergano drink brought to us by Eno Fine Wine is just perfect anytime anywhere. Some anise. Some Tonic. What balance. Over cubes. Dangerously delicious. 16%

Rami-09WEBAzienda Agrocola COS Rami 12.5%: Orange wine from Sicily. This is really terrific wine. Southern Italy kicks booty one more time. This would work in Fall as well as Summer. Lovely orange color [ed. Goldun tells why, no? Si.] with delicate spicy flavor, acidic, ripe fruit but NOT citric. More like kiwi-lite. Even better next evening. We panned the COS red last week as too zin-like for tBoW’s palate. This shit is so good we want more. 12%

TC-CT-2011WEB2011 Tablas Creek Cote de Tablas Blanc $24 (Fine Wine House): You MUST decant the reds if you MUST drink them. You should wait! Not one is at full potential even at 10 years. They need 15 or more. However, DO NOT FORGET THE WHITES from this top Paso estate. Creamy and lean at the same time. Light oak (we think). Almost one quarter each Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Rousanne and Marsanne. The contribution from each varietal is distinct and harmonious. The secret is out. Sit on the reds and drink the whites without hesitation or shame. A bravo for the 13.1% alcohol level.

As a great man once said “Keep the party hat on!” That would be Mungo Jerry’s lil’ bra’… the ole BeeDee.

Hustling round Atlanta in his alligator shoes….

Local3-AtlantaWEBAtlanta is a cool town. It helps having a guide who knows wine and spent the past two years circling Decatur, Buckhead, Druid Hills and 5 Points. The dining is fine (Local Three pictured above) and the living is easy. Eric Brown’s Le Caveau is a cool wine store with the best wine selection in the city. The Brick Store in Decatur has a hundred thousand beers in their cellar.

Would you like to learn more?

Butt first… LA has a superb new restaurant in Faith and Flower one block from the Original Pantry on 9th Street in the ground floor of the Watermark Tower. FnFWEBVery cool vibe with murals by street artist Robert Vargas adorning the walls and tres hip style. Orel Hershiser eats oysters there…but not Donald Sterling. Mrs. tBoW had a birthday dinner to die for. Cockteles prepared by a mixologist with cred that shows in his beverages. Dinner begins at the bar. Once seated and having ordered, the food arrives in grand plates set in the table center so that the tres hip setting may convert to family style dining. Chef Micheal Hung spins out plate after plate of foods – spicy deviled eggs, oxtail agnolotti and seared branzino; each fixation complementing the one to follow. Wine service is cheerfully attentive. Our wine was decanted in a vintage Riedel vessel we had never seen. I mean… when have we ever been impressed with the decanter?! No need to wait for a trip to NoCal for a memorable dining experience. We shall return.

2007 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel $45 (at the winery): We brought it in. Stunning somm Bahara put it right into the stunning decanter. Took a couple hours to open up. TC wines need time as is often the case with certain great wines. Toasty, brawny, with elegantly refined Mourvedre character. 14.5%

Back to Atlanta. We hit several dining spots guided by the Senior Young’Un. Here is some of what we enjoyed… and learned. Would you like to learn more?

dornferlderCROPWEB2010 Dornfelder Dry Reichsrat von Buhl $14: Larchmont Village Wines in LA asks “Must we always be overwhelmed by a wine? Is power and concentration really all it’s cracked up to be? What if we just want elegance, refreshment, drinkability and a certain lightness-of-being?” This is the wine that answers the question. We had it with burgers. Fresh, fruity without being forward. An unusual hybrid only the Bosch could figure. Brilliant. U20 buy. 13%

fine-du-mondeWEBLA Fin Du Monde Belgian Ale $12: BEER! We tasted this and a couple other Belgian ales at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur GA. Beer awakening. Server and beer guide Lee suggested we get serious and abandon the lagers and stouts we were about to order. He seemed quite serious. He suggested a couple of Belgian ales. This was one and… where once we wuz iggerunt, now we understand. Here is more info from a very helpful website for the cognoscenti: Triple style golden ale, Floral bouquet, aromas of honey, spice, coriander, malt, and alcohol at 5.5%. He said these beers are “sour.” Yes. And refreshing, intriguing. More beer reviews to come.

Good as Atlanta is… Charleston is the bomb. Cool as Nawlins and more fun than Savannah. So sez the tBoW travel team! Here are a few dining and drinking highlights.

I-GrecoSavu-RosatoCROPWEBObstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island – sleepy teeny coastal town, one of four or five adjacent to Charleston. Wonderful beach town vibe. Something happening here cuisine-wise. Here is the scallop ceviche with jalapeno slices. jalapeno-scallop-cevicheWEBInspiring. We enjoyed a pink 2011 I Greco Savu Rosato from Calabria. The grape is Gaglioppo and we would not have it any other way. The entire wine list is southern Italy. Food and cocktails were superb but most memorable was the cool ocean breeze drifting through the window. Ding ding ding ding! A U20 winner at $19 and 12%!!

foggyridegseriousWEBOn a hot family tip we dined at Husk in downtown Charleston. The Obstinate Daughter is located across the Cooper River on Sullivan’s Island which was the site of the first victory in the Revolutionary War. This place is full of “firsts” like that. Some better than others. Another memorable meal which is a label we do not assign lightly. We have three in this post. While the food was wonderfully prepared and the service was once again friendly and careful, the somm – Matt – started us off with the right step – bubbly. We were poured a glass of Virginia Hard Cider from Foggy Ridge Serious Cider that he claimed would taste like a bone dry champagne. Big claim for apple juice. By now you have figured that he was correct. Remarkable. Where will we find this drink from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Dugspur VA? At 7% this tops any other Moscato or Vinho Verde that would be frequently served in the summertime. At $18 and 7% this is another U20 winner.