Tortured Wine and Fan Appreciation

The Sins of Wine and Truth in Tasting was never more apparent than recently when we pulled the corks on two big tickets and a super cheapie. Fall cellar purging is in full force as Dotoré realizes he is in danger of ending up in Wine Hell for his many sins. Here is the down low.

2000 Rochioli Riverblock Chardonnay $70: Back in the heyday of trophy wines and Napa/Sonoma hubris a First Growth/Gran Cru approach to California wines was often discussed. The highly coveted vineyards of Rochioli would definitely fall into the Gran Cru designation, especially the East and West Blocks, Allen and the Riverblock sites. If a chardonnay is Gran Cru like a Corton Charlemagne, for example, then it should age more than a decade. We recall popping a 1971 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet in the 1990s when it was still possible to stumble across such a tesoro 25 years ago in a handful of LA’s vintage restaurants with older wine lists [ed. mostly gone now]. At 20 plus years then the wine had transformed into a glass of butterscotch syrup that will always represent the tBoW standard for great aged Chardonnay wines. Should we expect anything less from an 11 year old “US Gran Cru”? We got much less. The wine was oxidized. Flavors of caramel and creme bruleé struggled to rise up but the legs were tired and the body was exhausted. Too bad. His Imminence sentenced Dotoré to make cork boards for holiday gifts as penance. 14.2%

1996 Vigneto Marcarini Barbaresco $60: Being from the fantabulous 1996 vintage in Piemonte we expected the best. What we got was a tight old wine very reluctant to give up its treasure. With a musty nose and dry rough flavors tBoW taster PT8Y proclaimed it dirty and unpleasant. Dotoré was more forgiving and tBoW drained his glass. Put it through the vinerator! Like Torquemada we combined all glasses into one and poured again through the vinous equivalent of the rack. And surprise. The fruit emerged then gave up the ghost. 13.5%

2010 Chariot Gypsy $5: Comeuppance for the Big Hitters and trophy hunters everywhere. The meek may not yet have inherited the earth but they are all over Trader Joes. Floor clerk and wine expert Jamie recommended tBoW grab this bottle as “when it is here it flies out the door.” Having known Jamie from Woodland Hills Wine Co his palate reputation could be relied upon so we grabbed. The low low price assured god speed. First of all PT8Y loved it. We can see why. Flavors are sweet without being cloying or treacly. Look em up. Middle weight makes it easy to swallow. This is no Five Buck Chuck either. There is some style here and mostly genuine approachability. Goes very nicely with the hard tangy cheeses. Would it be tBoW’s ready pour? Not likely but we met a bunch of retirees in the Algarve last summer that would scoop it up. Apparently, there are plenty around locally as well. This really is what TJ does best right now; put out a very good wine that is real easy to buy and just as easy to enjoy. We believe it would make an outstanding Sangria base so we hope to see the 2011 next summer. Jamie’s rep is intact! Super U10!! 13.5%

Writing of fan favorites like Jamie, the tBoW kitchen was treated to dinner by the lovely REL recently. The young lady with the cooking blog had us howling for more of her sporting concoctions. Check her out here for recipes and culinary treats that take it to the hoop!

2005 Tablas Creek Syrah $30: These wines are often pretty big and fruity on release. We have learned they really need some time to smooth out and become more palatable. The good news is we are learning they also improve quite nicely. Not that they were ever not a good drink of wine. This is a great example of how good are their wines. This is the entry level red that is 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. Paso Syrah is generally uber ripe and often a monster. Six years down the road the TC product is soft and silky smooth. Good flavors with some snap. Even creamy in the middle late palate. Rich red fruit. Good acid (the snap). Tablas Creek remains the class of Paso. 14.5%

2010 Cuveé Albert Denis Rosé Domaine de la Renaudie Touraine $15: A pank wine [ed. he means Rosé] from the Loire. Translucent red. Fairly powerful. Good acid. Guessed Grenache but it is Malbec which is nice since we do not see many of these. You can still drink pink wines even though the punishing LA Winter is almost upon us. 12.5%

Forthcoming posts will feature a Navarro horizontal tasting, German Mosels (been accumulating) and more cellar purging.


  1. Wavatar
    Krisses says:

    Not that I am a fan of over-the-top California chardonnay, but one must point out that white Burgs have lately not been aging well either:

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      Bacchus says:

      Kris-B: Thanks for the great link. Hoonoo? I noticed numerous highly regarded producers such as Bonneau du Martray known for producing a somewhat severe Corton Charlemagne. As you have probably noticed we do not review many white Burgs. This is because, first, we prefer red Burgs. Second we prefer acidic white wines from Italy and Spain which have the additional advantage of being C-H-E-A-P. Finally, we are willing to drink New World Chardonnays from California (Schetter’s Sanity is pretty nice) and Oregon.

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    Arielle says:

    Steve, you are amazing thank you. Do you have a blog button I can put on my page to give you some props?? :)

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    doctore says:

    Might we be apprised of the grapes used in Gypsy Chariot please? I think I may be suffering a disconnect.

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      Bacchus says:

      Gypsy Chariot doe snot specify the blend which can only mean Satanic vinification. You can see how the devil made me write “snot” instead of “does not”. Nevertheless, Agent PT8Y liked it so that is a good enough blessing enough for me. Save yourself brother. Reminds me of a beautiful song…Herman Cain was his name and he had primary pain.

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    doctore says:

    I becha the ’09 Anne Gros Cuvee Marine Blanc tastes just fine in 10 years.
    There are definitely three things I’d eliminate immediately from my cellar…California chards, Central Coast Pinots, and, er, uh,….oops.

  5. Wavatar
    Bacchus says:

    If you liked the CNBC debate you will love my next post which I wrote before the debate proving my assertion: this is NOT the GOP first string. They’re saving their best dogs to run in 2016.

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