Posts belonging to Category Spain



Tahoe 2018: World Class Fishin’ & Winein’

Lake Tahoe is a World Class Winter AND Summer Resort


Crystal clear view from Tahoe City on North Shore to Heavenly Valley Ski Resort on South Shore Eleven Miles Across the lake

Young people live and ski around the lake all Winter. When they are ready for babies they come for a couple weeks in the summer. When you are no longer crazy enough to race down a mountain for the pure thrill you come back in the summer. Sleeping in is the aim. The thrill comes when you can sleep again at 3:00 while enjoying the Alpine view.

For excitement tBoW gets up at 6:15 with the sun and drives down the Truckee River on the road to Reno. The trick is to catch some trout waiting for breakfast as the sun comes up. This rainbow fought like an Attorney General trying to stay in office. However, a few hours later he was helping feed the needy just rising at 8:30 [tBoW not Sessions].

Once the word got out tBoW caught a couple fish the early morning meditative moments were replaced with family ‘n friends time. No problem. Everybody wants to go fishin! The next day with PeeWee on the river with me a 15 foot rubber raft floated by on the opposite bank. It was Lewis & Clark in the 21st century. Three men in their 30s, two tossing fly lines in every 5 seconds, while one guy in the middle handled the fast flow and the large rocks with two oars and his scraggly beard. A 19th century mirage outfitted by Patagonia. Fantastic. Video posted below.

tBoW made sure dinner on the cabin deck or in one Tahoe’s fine restaurants was paired with wines worth attention.

We brought two bottles of Tablas Creek that had been in the cellar since release. TC is our first favorite vineyard winery in California. There is no question they have the vision and the dedication to execute that. For the record we would like to embarrass our favorite domestic winemaker – who sources all his juice – once again with this link. Back to TC and aging “big reds.” You may find the story to be familiar.

2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel: For many years the Esprit line was the winery’s top end red. This is the FIRST TC top-end red we have opened that was ready to drink. We have opened earlier vintages of Esprit before a decade had passed and found them to be “challenging.” Toffee flavors, soft, knitted well (wine snob speak). Delicious with Halibut and veggies on the deck. It was remarkable.

2007 Tablas Creek Panoplie: Two years older than the Esprit, one of the earliest Panoplie line that succeeded the Esprit [maybe Jason Haas will see this and tell us the thinking behind going one step higher]. Not so good. A bit firm, not well knitted (more wine snob speak), I did not finish my glass. I had risotto with veggies and some shellfish. Just not ready.

We opened the Panoplie at Garwoods in Carnelian Bay. This restaurant has long been known for having the best site for dining on the North Shore and the worst food. No longer. The birthday dinner and the company were outstanding. We addressed the Panoplie fail by ordering the Scharfenburger Rose sparkler. Perfect.

Why do wine-os wait so long to pull the corks on their most reputed – even cherished – wines? One reason is because the wines are not ready. The only way to know if a wine is ready is to take your best guess and pull that cork! Figure a wine built for aging should be ready after a decade but sometimes not! So we play with the region – Burgs (Pinot Noir) should not need as much time as Bordeaux (Cabernet). This is much to simple. We know our wines. There must be other factors. Bring out those bottles you are holding onto for emotional reasons. Take a stab at mystery.

Other wines and dines worth mentioning…

2008 Beronia Rioja: We ordered this off the list at one of two very good restaurants we visited. Soule Domaine is located where Kings Beach hits state line in a very quaint log cabin built by Charlie Chaplin [good story]. We brought our own red – following – however we did find this delightful Rioja on the list; the “last” bottle in the bin. The wine list had very interesting selections. At $53 this seemed like a good value. Sam the host knew the label and showed restrained excitement. The waiter encouraged us by offering to waive corkage if we order the Beronia off their list. Everyone was happy and the Slovenian cork was pulled next!

2015 Burja Reddo ~$35 Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa. The gal who “found” the wine in Slovenian thought it was the best offered. She could not describe even tho’ she tasted in Slovenia. Do you know where is Slovenia? OK. How about the Vipava Valley. Here is the winery website. Time for our local wine snob shop Woodland Hills Wine Company to host a regional tasting! This wine was very fruity with enough acid to keep the flab out. Very berry somewhere between cran- and boysen-. Buy it again? Not likely.

Watch these guys fling their fly lines lashing the river to give up her stubborn trout. Not bad for taking it from 60 yards away with a cell phone. Thanks to YoungUn PeeWee.

Politix Alert! tBoW Sees Red Wine Collusion

the Glass Jar takes a closer look at the “news cycle” and finds a deeply personal POV


As James Comey swept the news cycle with reflections on his encounters with President Trump and his termination from the FBI, he gave the world many images for our time. One of these images had Trump alone with the former FBI Director asking for loyalty which illustrated the “mob boss” style of leadership Comey has articulated. Another image depicted Comey staring at the news informing him of his firing and leaving him in shock.

Yet another image depicted by Comey may have deeper meaning than one may initially suspect and that involves him drinking red wine from a paper cup. We typically make the effort to ensure our wine remains in a clear wine glass although the glass itself will not likely affect the taste yet during such a low moment one may feel such trivial details do not matter in the larger scheme of things.

Comey’s description of himself drinking wine in a cup resembles a scene from the 2004 film Sideways [ed. the movie is a favored tBoW device for illustrating obtuse points, most recently the fact that Paul Giamatti and Paul Lato doppelgang each other].

In Sideways Miles helplessly watched his best friend get married while meeting his ex-wife’s new husband. Trying to maintain his cool when talking to the woman who broke his heart, she informs him of the baby she will soon have with her new husband. Suddenly, he realizes the woman who meant so much to him will start a family leaving him as insignificant to her as ever. Given his hectic and paranoid nature, Miles reaches a low moment where nothing seems to matter under a cloud of utter misery. After the wedding, he sits down at a fast-food restaurant and drinks his coveted 1961 Cheval Blanc in a paper cup just like the one Comey prefers! Miles frequently mentions this bottle throughout the film and how he’s saving it for a special moment. His despair sends the message that there’s no point in waiting for such a moment or even a wine glass.

The choice between a wine glass and a cup seems insignificant, especially when we are with loved ones. Who needs a wine glass? The moment feels comfortable and any worries about propriety stay out of the room. The wine glass is a symbol of a relaxed social endeavor. When we feel alone and are facing the currents of hopelessness, what’s the difference between wine in a glass or in a cup?

As a natural born New Englander who has never been known to my friends as an avid hugger, I am not one to say “hug a stranger” or any of that bullshit. Sometimes people just want some space and a hug feels like almost too much at once. I would say don’t give somebody a hug if you see them crying and do not give somebody a hug if they want to be alone. In fact, don’t hug strangers ever. I don’t know who came up with that phrase or what they were on. There is one exception.

Should you ever encounter somebody drinking wine from a cup, give them a hug. People cry and people feel down from time to time but a person drinking wine from a cup is telling the universe that he needs all the help he can get. Go give that person the biggest fu**ing hug you’ve ever given.

[ed. Glass Jar hits another high point in the culture of tasting wine. On a 100 point scale I would give this report a solid 99!]

Here are some wines we quickly tasted after reading the Glass Jar’s thoughtful message.

2015 Vena Cava Rose ~$20 if you buy it at the estate. We expected it would come in 2nd – a close second – to the Casa Magoni. But we were wrong. More acidic and darker red color made us recall the deep red rose wines from Sevilla. Lovely. Wish we had more. Avenatti would like this wine.

Casa Mongoni Rose ~$20 made by the most renowned winemaker in the Guadalupe Valley. More fleshy which means for tBoW more soft than he prefers. However, just about perfect for Mrs. tBoW. April Ryan – WH correspondent who is a sweetheart with a nasty bite if you cross her – would agree.

2005 Lopez de Herredia Bosconia $35 Call this one of the most dependable wines of breed and elegance out there. Rioja blend of Tempranillo, Tinto Fino, Tinta Roriz, Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo. 12.5% alcohol. At 14 years age (believe me an oversight) this is just perfect. Lopez does wait like eight years to release these wines so it was only forgotten in the cellar for a few years.

We are a bit past May 5 but better late than never for Cinco de Mayo!!

the Trouble with Rioja Wines

tBoW goes on curmudgeonly jag! Two blogs in a row rip into popular international wines!! What’s next? Napa?

Lettie Teague is the wine writer for the Wall Street Journal. She covers a wide range of wines from pricey (Burgundies) to cheapos to odd regions and the ones wine snobs like to read about. I would link to her columns BUT without a subscription the columns are out of reach in 24 hours (or so).

Teague’s Jan 13 column covered Rioja wines: “Pour on the Oak: Rioja’s Reliably Aged Reds.” Immediately I recalled a Rioja tasted this New Year’s Eve party…2007 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. Had the big reviews from Suckling and Parker PLUS the big scores in the high 90s [Lettie’s WSJ image adjacent…nice, no?]

A couple of prelim caveats: In the first, the 100 point range for scoring wines is (how can I say this without scrinching faces) frivolous. Find me a wine below 85 points and I will tell you where to buy the 2014 Cune Crianza which is a great bargain at $12. When scores less than 85 are not assigned then the scale is actually 15 points. In the second, avoid reviewers who are paid to sell wines and assign the scores. Better to find a local wine shop with staff that actually drink the stuff. Let him or her get to know what you like and your preferred price point so they can tell you what to buy. One more point…what is the difference between a 96 and 97 point wine? Better yet what could possibly be the difference.

The New Years lineup was brave with many fine bottles lining the bar. Unfortunately, only one bottle was up to the task of pleasing palates. Different wines fell short for different reasons. The 2009 Sweeney Canyon Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara was well made. Our palates have changed since. We (and I am speaking for the smarty pants tasters) no longer favor Central Coast syrupy (to us) beety flavored wines. The two recent vintage Bourgognes were soft and fruity without much stuffing. The winner was opened and placed before the lumpen before the cogoscenti arrived so its remains lay dying in the glasses of the “social tasters” [man, tBoW a real S-N-O-B].

2007 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, $50: The Handle Man brought this with high hopes shared all round. Plenty fruit. Beautiful robe (taster talk for color, weight, luminosity). And big and tannic even after trying again and again for a couple of hours. TOO MUCH OAK. As Teague points out Gran Reserva signifies the wine spent FIVE YEARS in barrel. So this wine was bottled no sooner than 2012 and may have spent even longer in barrel [ed. upon reading about it turns out the wine was bottled after 4 years].

What to make of this? All were disappointed with how the wines we brought by the cognoscenti showed. After ten years we really expected the La Rioja Alta would be more accessible. What’s the deal? TOO MUCH OAK. tBoW favors natural wines made without oak. Or at least wines stored (“aged”) in neutral oak barrels which have been used more than five years and have lost all the oak flavors imparted by new barrels.

Let’s be clear. We hate oaked wines. We are not even sure why the “aged in new oak” style began or where it came from. Spain has institutionalized aging wines in oak to the extent of rewarding wines aged longest in oak with the “highest” rating of Gran Reserva which translates roughly to Grand Poobah of Wines. What is truly worth pondering is how a nation elected to value the use and abuse of oak in making (finishing) wine over factors that are more highly valued elsewhere; e.g., not using oak, steel fermentation, and using natural yeasts or even w-a-i-t-i-n-g for fermentation to spontaneously erupt.

Is there something to be said about the culture? tBoW speculates in his darkest mind that this system was spawned by the fascista values of Generalissimo Franco. Prove me wrong.

The CVNE 2014 Crianza – Crianza means aged no more than two years in barrel which is about 18 mos too long. This particular bottle is a go-to tBoW value perfect for Thanksgiving when the food multiplex is the most challenging to match. And at $14 – we have bought for $10 – it is probably the perfect one-size-fits-all wine for Turkey Day.

tBoW and fam visited La Guardia and Alta Rioja way back before he owned a digital camera. The hilltop village of LA Guardia was a highlight. The yougn ‘uns got a thrill when the “bulls” ran thru the streets. Does this happen every weekend? I was able to find a video of the running of the COWS which captures the thrill we all shared. The streets are narrow and the risks are meager. This ain’t no Pamplona. This was a disco. The only where gouging might take place would be lunch or diner with wine. Although that did not occur.

the Trouble with White Burgundy

Happy New Year from Mauna Loa Volcano

2017 was good for tBoW. We started posting again. Having fun with it. Found a new webmaster who likes wine. Look for change in utility but not in tone. Sticking to the same POV when it comes to wine. We see no separation from life when it comes to wine. Life brings plenty of  interests and conondra. Like the plural of conondrum. Dictionary says go “s” for plural but this does not seem correct. Which brings us to white Burgundy.

tBoW is loving red burgs but they are getting pricey. Good thing snappy observers such as Lettie Teague of the Wall Street Journal offer guidance to V-A-L-U-E wines “in the space.” Unfortunately, not even Ms. Teague can persuade tBoW to buy another bottle white Burgundy, value or not. Our (royal “we”) problem with the genre is we have lost our flavor for chardonnay. There are dozens – docenes – of white wines we would rather taste and swallow. Here are just a few worth your searching out.

Etna Bianco from Tenuta delle Terre Nere is made from “white grapes… a mumbo-jumbo of local varieties: Carricante, Catarratto, Grecanico, Inzolia and Minnella. So that’s what my Etna Bianco was: a field blend of all the above, with Carricante dominating the blend with roughly 65%.” We paid $21 for the 2016. Simply espectaculo. Sicilia wines are hot in the marketplace; deservedly so. Good news for small vintners not from California or Bordeaux. Look for it and buy some.

Arneis is the white wine from the Barolo region (southern) of Piemonte. Keep in mind the northern region (Milano) known as Altopiemonte produces our favorite red wines. Bottles of Arneis can vary in quality. Price point is around $20 and up. A tBoW favorite is Bruno Giacosa.

Spain makes excellent white wines. We are most familiar with Verdejo and Albarino. There are other white wines from Spain however these two can seem most reliable. Check out the big tasting profile!! Ochechonya!!Verdejo is dry, charming like Robert Morely might have been. Albarino is acidic, zesty and full of picque. Like Terry Thomas; sneaks up on you. It is the nature of Spanish culture that there always be an abundance of choices and ways to enjoy life. Here is a brief and engaging overview of Spain’s white wine varietals to be challenging, distinctive, even if to a fault. If you get the culture you will get the point. Here is a brief description of Spanish varietals. Of course it is not simple!

Gruner Veltliner is the go-to Austrian wine. Notice we do not say Austrian white wine becuz that would be like introducing a German red wine. German and Austrian wines are known for white varietals especially Riesling. Supposedly climate change has resulted in the production of decent red wines from the Boch regions. Where Riesling runs racy and sweet (simplified, I know) Veltliner is racy and sleek. When it’s on it is really on.

Why chardonnay no longer? As a varietal I find it kind of monotone with a narrow flavor profile. Make it fat and it becomes tropical (think Rombauer). Make it lean and without oak and it gets better but stays foxy. I did have an aged Leflaive Chevalle that was so aged it tasted like butterscotch in the glass. That was exotic and certainly delicious.

That reference to Robert Morley made tBoW think of Terry Thomas. I was able to find this lovely brief of the wit of Englishmen like Morley and Thomas. If oyu find yourself with a couple minutes to spare you really should give it a look.

Happy New Year all.

Wine Travel Is So Easy!!

Argentina! Italy! Canada? Portugal and Spain?!

Knowing how to travel is simple. A great getaway is built on two pillars: castle and wine regions. If you want to save money yet still get the feeling of  what it is like to visit a wine region you can attend a well planned tasting. The local primo wine shop – Woodland Hills Wine Company – is really good at putting on tastings.

The November 15 2017 Las Joyas wine tasting featured seven winemakers from Spain and Portugal. Pause a moment. Imagine you are a winemaker from a little beach town in northern Portugal. You and your wife decide a national tour could be fun! You join a mini barnstorm tour and see the USA while chatting up strangers about the wine you make. Not a bad idea for a Fall activity. Like driving across country in a VW van with dogs and strangers.

Once WHWC decided it would become a tour stop they had to find a hosting restaurant. The Peasant Bistro is conveniently located two blocks from WHWC. The little food plates were ideal for the tintos and blancas…crab cakes, meatballs in red sauce, and other stuff I forgot already. All delicious without distracting from the wines. And the wines were good.

A Few Winemakers We Kept Pretty Good Notes About. Alberto Orte is the winemaker for La Antigua which produces ~2,200 cases annually. He is also a partner for Ole Imports which represents many of the wines at the tasting. In California production this small is almost a hobby. We bought the 2008 Clasico made from 40 to 80 year old vines. Head cut gnarly stumps. 60% Garnacha (tBoW’s favorite Spanish red grape. Tempranillo is fruity and fussy. Vines grown in limestone at 700 meters which is high for Rioja. Aged in neutral oak. No new oak and we could taste that. Organic and natural.

Leirana Finca Genoveva is in Galicia which is furthest west on the coast. Rodri and Ari are winemaking love birds. They showed three white wines: two albarinos, and one made from Meano Sanxenxo. One of the pleasures of wine travel and tasting is getting to try something unusual like wine made from the Meano Sanxenxo grape. Not sure I would learn anymore from being there than Albarino is not just that. Ari showed me fotos of the eight foot tall vines! The cordons start around seven feet. Their total production is…drum roll please…300 cases! Organic, natural wines aged in old oak – neutral. Thank goodness these two are sufficiently impoverished to not be able to afford new oak. We hate new oak.
There were more wines including those from the Azores [above foto of vines growing below volcanic Mt Pico]. All in all a lovely getaway from LA. Good job Daniel. Here’s an audio treat that goes with Alabarino from In Deep.

.