Posts belonging to Category Wine Styles



From Yasgur’s Farm to a Back Yard in Woodstock: Eyewitness Account of the 50th Anniversary That Fell Apart Like a Hand-Rolled Doobie

The 50th Anniversary of Woodstock did not get far. Reflections include the failure as being endemic of the Woodstock Generation. You know. Unable to foment nationwide revolution.
Jerry Image result for yippies surround pentagonRubin who helped start the Yippies (Youth International party) switched to the Venture Capitalist Party and hosted networking events on Wall Street. Wikipedia (where tBoW gets mucho research done quickly) says Rubin hosted Yippie Meets Yuppie “debates” with his fellow “rad” Abbie Hoffman. Both dead now. Those were the days. The greatest Yippie event was to surround the Pentagon with thousands of Yippies and levitate it. Great idea. Political theater. Today the reproduction would be in Yankee Stadium. Fox would disapprove and MSNBC would ask what Bernie thought about it.
The resurrection of Woodstock has mercifully passed away. tBoW DID NOT go. Nor did anyone else cuz it was cancelled.Altamont Magic

He did go to Altamont in 1970 where the Hells Angels beat a guy to death with pool cues while boring bands tried to play boring rock to hundreds of thousands. It has been said Altamont killed the 60s. So did Charlie Manson and his Family. Thank goodness we dwell on wine and other more sane cultural events like the Herbie Hancock show at the Hollywood Bowl with Thundercat guesting. Garden box. Chilled Rose’ and epoises cheese on a summery cool night in LA. Mayhaps Le Large will report.

By the bye tBoW has a reporter who lives in Woodstock. Her handle is “The Heavenly One or THO.” And she did celebrate the unseminal Woodstock affair. She has agreed to share her impressions. Here are her uncensored comments.

“Michael Lang [ed. original festival sponsor] is kind of a pig so I didn’t mind that his festival didn’t come off. We went to a Woodstock themed party on Saturday night and everybody was dressed predictably — Emily [ed. her lovely daughter] wore her Woodstock Elementary School tie-dyed tee shirt; the one they have to wear on field trips) and I thought she was the only authentic Woodstocker there, having been born and raised here!
The people were old but the music was great. The only acid I saw was the balsamic on the quinoa and heirloom-farmstand tomato salad. We group-hallucinated that we were still capable of dancing without straining anything. Most of the food was along the lines of hot dogs and hamburgers. There was some good cheese, however, and the aforementioned quinoa salad. I ‘sampled’ a rose’, which was perfectly fine, and my friend Jonathan (who is an organic wine nut — also writes about it) raved over the random bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the cooler.
This is only THO’s second wine blog post. Her other was about a wine-and-cheese pairing. “It was so much fun! Mostly my pieces are about internet fraud. Scary and boring at the same time.” I don’t know about you but this is all I need to know about Woodstock in 1969 and 2019. tBoW is very interested in having “friend-of-THO Jonathan” write a post for the best of wines.

 

We also like pink wines especially in the summertime. Here is one that satisfied immensely.
2017 Wagner Stempel Rose Gutswein: Imported by Rudi Wiest from the Rheinhessen (the wine not Rudi – good to remember Rudi’s name as he brings in super German wines; dependably). Bright acid. Lean but not mean. High tone fruit. Like drinking some kind of not quite ripe Lychee. Good thing Mrs. tBoW was not fond of it. The bottle was finished that evening under cool LA summertime skies. [ed. Little help here with the grape and price.]
The J Dilla moment: an interview with Thundercat and Lotus [Flying] chatting with Herbie Hancock and inform the Genius that J Dilla sampled one of his songs and Herbie DID NOT KNOW THAT.

 

Wine Talk with the Ultimate Cognoscentus: Mr. David Russell

 

We have an exclusive interview with David Russell who is the Senior Wine Advisor at Woodland Hills Wine Company which is tBoW’s home store. A truncated set of questions and answers follow [ed. that means there are others on the shelf]. Suffice it to say David has wasted most of his life chasing a wine dream. Something with which tBoW and readers are familiar. There are worse things to pursue like going into politics. He has worked at prestigious wine shops along the Coastal Premium Wine Shop Trail which runs from Seattle thru Portland then the Bay Area to Santa Barbara, LA and Orange County. In case he looks familiar his personal tracks cover the Bay Area and Santa Barbara, and now Woodland Hills. There are maybe a dozen or so premium wine shops where one can count on great wine for a fair price sold by folks who know their shit. And away we go.

David wears glasses and is often fighting a chill.

1. tBoW: You are from SB and almost the right age. Did you riot in IV? DR: I’m definitely the right age, however I was in Hong Kong dodging the draft serving a Mormon mission (seriously!) when the really heavy shit went down in about 1970. Also I went to UC Berkeley, not UCSB (although most of my friends did go to UCSB and did participate in, uh, acts of civil disobedience.

2. tBoW: Spumante or prosecco? DR: I can tolerate a decent Prosecco. 

3. tBoW: what was the last wine you drank – not tasted – that was higher than 15%? DR: Though it doesn’t taste like it’s 15%, the 2014 Passopisciaro from Etna is labeled as such, and I definitely enjoyed it.

4. tBoW: Compare these wines for relative quality: Rochioli and Williams Selyem (Burt years). DR: I haven’t had nearly the experience with either that many have, but the W-S during the Burt years that I have tasted were not only frighteningly Burgundian, but I’d go even further and say that some were even Jayer-like.

5. tBoW: What Burg region would you recommend TODAY for value? What is your personal fave Burg region? Producers: choose Leroy/DRC vs, Armand Rousseau?

the wine that inspired this post was sold to us by David Russell!

DR: Probably the Côte Chalonnaise. Or Marsannay and/or Fixin. I likely have more favorite producers in the Côte de Nuits than in the Côte de Beaune, simply because the former is so much bigger and has so many more growers. I’d give DRC the nod over Leroy (though we’re splitting hairs here), as I’ve had more older bottles that truly delivered (’62 La Tâche being a case in point). Remember: Domaine Leroy has only been existence since 1988. As much as I adore Rousseau, it’s only their top three wines that really perform at the level they ought to; the Charmes-Chambertin, Mazy-Chambertin, and Clos de la Roche routinely under-deliver. There also other producers among the very elite: Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, Mugneret-Gibourg, Mugnier; Lafon, Raveneau, and Roulot in white.

7. tBoW: How long have you known Marsanne is not south of Beaune? DR: But Marsanne is south of Beaune, unless you mean Marsannay.

8. tBoW: We support the Price/Quality ratio and NOT the 100 point system which is only 13 points. Is Shanken a prick? DR: He strikes me more a buffoon than a prick.

9. tBoW: Port or Sauternes? DR: Sauternes.

10. tBoW: Is Santa Barbara suitable for Pinot Noir? Didn’t Richard Sanford have it right (how to make SB Pinot) from the start? DR: Yes, although I think Santa Maria is undervalued and Sta. Rita Hills overrated. Richard Sanford may indeed have had it right, to a degree at least, but the most compelling SB pinots for me have come from Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat).

11. tBoW: Can Calif produce great wines? Does it? Who are SOME of the GREAT producers? DR: Yes. It does, at least it did…pre-Parker. Ridge Monte Bello is still great. But none of the Big Bucks Cult Cabs are even worthy of mention in the same sentence with ’68-’70 Heitz Martha’s, ’68 or ’70 BV Private Reserve, ’74 Conn Creek, etc.

12. tBoW: What is it about Lodi that makes it the most dependable and best growing region in CA. DR: Who says Lodi is the best growing region in CA? Certainly not I.

13. tBoW: What can u say about Riesling in less than 10 words? DR: Rivals pinot in its ability to express terroir.

Many many thanks to David for sharing some time with tBoW readers. When in Woodland Hills drop into Woodland Hills Wine Company. As you can see, if you love wine then you always end up at some point with Burgundy. Maus will tell you to hunt down white Rhones and KrisB will expound on Riesling values. IGTY will ask is this all you got? tBoW Jr wants to know what we are drinking tonight. We value winemakers like Jim Moore and wine retailers like David Russell. Christ. I’m getting moist eyes.

Here. Try some Ron Burgundy with your wine Burgundy…

Once Upon A Time In La Jolla…


He may not be your cup ‘o tea. Maybe the violence and r-u-d-e language offends you. The brutality of Reservoir Dogs. He worked in a video shop for years. It boiled his brain. He gave Travolta and Sam Jackson careers. Guess I should say he “helped” give them careers. Not that tBoW will see JT at a Scienctology Center or SJ on the golf course.

Tarantino…extends the legacies of DePalma, Cronenberg, Scorcese, Coppola. Throw in Leone, Kurosawa (the Kill Bills), and Peckinpah (Reservoir Dogs). tBoW knows there are others. He watches Noir Alley. He knows. However, these are the ones who make movies he considers “must watch” whenever one of these films is encountered while aimlessly trolling thru the cable channels. Why not use a flix vendor? Too much F&B. Besides tBoW can watch this multitude of films from the select few directors who know how to make a great movie…over and over and over.

Tarantino’s new film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will be in a move house July 26. Very strong chance tBoW will drag Mrs. tBoW along to see it in Cinemascope. She may decline. In fact, I predict she will decline. More corn for me.

We had a memorable 36 hours in La Jolla recently. Instead of Tarantino we had Brother Zev and Sister Katharine [soon-to-bees if ya get muh drift] directing the food consumables like masters. I learned the secret to cooking fish and meat and veggies. Make a bag of blended sauce and immerse food in the bag for hours. Also important to buy great stuff people like to consume over a fire pit or stove top. This includes funnel and esp king ‘shrooms. Hello Farmers Market.

While the meals were aww-sum the wines were outtasight [ed. “gonna hear that throwback often in Hollywood”? ya think?]!! Let’s get through this. Mr. and Mrs. tBoW brought a four pack of completely unrelated wines except that each was a W-I-N-N-E-R in its own genre. Does Tarantino have a genre? He may be a genre.


Y’Quem defines a genre: dessert wines from Bordeaux and everywhere else. The 1983 Y’Quem was one of the greatest from the tBoW cellar. It is the greatest of all Bordeaux dessert wines…throw in Hungarian multi putanyos.

Zev’s Stack O’ Spices

wine diamonds

Try this sometime. Drive two and half hours to a destination to stay with in-laws you really like. Open the wine of the year – a wine anyone who knows anything about wine knows this is the Tarantino masterpiece – anyway open that bottle within 10 minutes of arrival. That is how you get the party started. Did not slug it down. Coulda. Took a couple hours to finish it off. Had to break to recover from the “immensity” of being in the presence of the greatest [ed. I swear I would not be in awe of Tarantino if we were in the same space at the same time. Shit. I been in the same club with Nick Cage; twice in 30 years!].

That foto of the Y’Quem back shows the tartrate crystals the wine threw. Even this residue was delicate and perfectly balanced.

Here is what the cognos had to say: graham crackers, maple, charred honey. Medium light weight. You thought it might be thick and dense? Niuh. Leaner than the fat Rieussec with more weight than a slender Suidiraut.

Cognos on scene included Katharine and Zev, Broki and Marma. Don’t worry. We made sure there was enough to feed the many [ed. is that Biggie brah??].

Zev is a master chef. He L-O-V-E-S to prepare food. Apparently, Katharine only dates chefs. [ed. she owes me – as in all of US – a blog post]. Check out his travel stack o’ spices he brought from Brooklyn.

The plan was to pull the cork on the other wines before Zev and Katharine were ready to serve. Thinking the Big Cab might be tight we pulled that one next. Turns out Big Ed really is fond of Big Cabs from Napa. Once we pulled the cork Ed was short a hand. He could have used three. “I love a big napa cab.” Gotta say this one was pretty good. Ten years in the cellar. Of course tBoW didn’t buy it. Some of the spillover from wine blogging in Napa.

reliable dependable

After ten years in zee cooler the wine was tasty and mellowed. Still had power and flavor. Showing like Pacquiao at 40. Enough to win and put on a really good show. The wine never made it to the meal.

When the meal was ready to be served we turned to the most reliable wine we know; Uvaggio Radix. Of course, any of Jim Moore’s wines are beyond friendly. Uvaggio wines are always; like a pal you can always hang with or turn 18 holes with.

OK. Let’s get to the fun stuff. Which wines express the nature of which Tarantino films. The choices are Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill (1 or 2) and From Dusk til Dawn (he wrote and starred; tell me anyway stoopid).

1983 Y’Quem and Pulp Fiction. Will never get better than this. Fortunately we habba one more in da cellar so maybe Big Q has one in his, too. A spectacle with twists at every turn. Immensely entertaining. Unforgettable.

2009 Merus and Kill Bill 1. Surprising. Very nice. Tasting better than expected…of a genre (BigNapaCab) perfectly nailed. Can go back to it. For such a stylized copycat movie it just keeps getting better each time we sample.

2012 Uvaggio Radix and From Dusk Til Dawn. What’s not to like? So esay to watch. Sure we know every scene like we know Jim Moore will deliver easy to drink stylish wine with every label. tBoW can watch D2D anytime just to see Salma Hayak at her sexiest and Juliette Lewis at her unpredictably waif-iest.

Who else thinks of this shit? Hitchcock? Peckinpah?Tarantino.

 

Chilled Bubbly is Perfect for Summer…Let’s Drink Some Real Soon!!

THE DARK LORD FINDS HIMSELF IN A LIME-LIKE POOL; DUNHILL IN A TOOTHY DEATH GRIP

When Did the Rules Change For Sparkling Wines?!? Is this some New Wine Gonzo?

Normally a post touting summer chilled sparkling wine would feature Prosecco; that frothy sweet little wine with low alcohol [ed. under 10%], tastes like peaches and mixes with anything. Guzzle an ice-chilled bottle, height of summer seated at a restaurant courtyard in Sevilla getting ready to tour the cathedral with its impoverished tesoro room. Today? Champagne style cava. Pink sparklers from Bordeaux. And a U20 sweepstakes runner from Mendocino? Man…that’s the way you do it. Money for nothin’…bubbles for free.

Things seem to have changed. We tasted three sparkling wines recently that suggest a sparkler trend with which we are not familiar. We are hardly the first to say this BBBUUUTTT Cava sparklers have come a long way! In fact the old rules that governed the commission of sparkling wines have been upended; notice we MUST NOT say champagne as that it is a total winespeak faux pas. Try any of the following without fear.

Sharffenberger Brut Rose Excellence “Suggested retail $26” but can be found for half that at World Market. Non-vintage approximately half and half Chard and Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. Muscular. Top heavy. Very pleasing. Could suck this down all day at…maybe…a wedding? Great news! Buy it at World Market at half price!

Calvet Cremant de Bordeaux Brut Rose 2015 U20 at $17 or less, almost 100% Cab Franc. Come on. That’s impressive. I guess the old rules are officially thrown out. Balanced, Seductive. On the red side of pink. Tougher to find than a collusion conviction.

Raventos i Blanc Blanc de Blancs U20 at ~$20: YUMMY JUMMY NUMMY NUM NUMS! Cava sparkler perfectly balanced, good weight golden apples sez Mrs tBoW. We could say poor mans Krug but that would be quite a stretch. Or would it? Great backstory here worth reading how this Penedes winery stepped it up champagne style in 2012. Sold to tBoW by Katie of Desert Wine Shop [ed. now there’s a surprise.]

Hunter S. Thompson is an iconic symbol of the Baby Boomers. He blew his brains out.  People do that when facing mortality. Just sayin’ [ed. so did Anthony Bourdain]. Thompson (and Bourdain) was not old enough to do that. He did practice excessive habits which certainly contributed to his impulse control. And he loved guns. We have two videos about the Dark Lord. He merits that. Look at this embedded video about his unimaginable daily intake of substances. Then open the vid below in which “kindred” authors and film people reference Thompson’s works. Ask yourself this. Was this any way to live?

The Storied Tasting

Picture this…a cooler than normal day in late May.

Wine, cheese and ready tasters.

Bacchus and Mr. Story smiled.

Image result for Bacchus blows clouds

Eight tasters around the table outside the kitchen: Lou, Shag Man, David Mac, Large, tBoW hisself, Mr Story, Dotore and Broki. Five cognoscenti – Cognos and three Ignorami – Ignos. At least ten corks were pulled. The day’s goal was to edjicate Mr. Story about wine. And to chew on cheese.

When one is trying to “get it” about wine, the first lesson is to comprehend the many traps that must be avoided. Such as the 100 point rating scale. Total bullshit. Marketing to sell wines and magazines. When the lowest rating EVER is 87 then the scale is actually 13 points; not 100. Ignore the score.

That was an easy sell. The U20, U15 and U10 ratings defined by Le Large is far more useful [ed. wines that cost “Under” the dollar amount]. Wine is all about the price/quality ratio [ed. see tBoW discussion from waaaay baaaack].

The mission was to provide the Ignos with enough experience to get along on their own in the silly pompous scores-driven world of wine. Where to buy wine? What to buy? How to tell if a wine is good or bad? tBoW’s goal was to keep the table breeze from blowing too hard if ya gets me drift. Here is how it went.

tBoW dug some older wines from his cellar that were beyond their shelf life by about a decade each. These wines were tired and out of synch. The only hints and notes they had were wrong (hints) and flat (notes). Great starters. Dispensed with 15 years of “flawed wine” disgruntlement in 45 minutes.

After the parade of flat , unbalanced and otherwise FLOD wines, the first “best wine” was opened. It was classic, seven year old burgundy from a highly reputed producer and a decent vintage.

2012 Regis Bouvier Clos du Roy, $35 at buy. Lou almost spit it out [ed. she likes wine with fruit]. The rest of the Cognos cooed. The Ignos did not know what to think. This wine opened for at least an hour. Burgs come in two flavors: beets or cherries. This was beety. A discussion about noble grapes erupted and the conceit of the New World to compete with the Old World noble varietals; Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauv, Nebbiolo and Riesling. Why are these grapes “noble?” Because they are! Now stop asking stupid questions. Lou came round in 40 minutes.

Other “star wines” included an Alto Piemonte (north Piedmont) and a Barolo (south Piedmont). Nebbiolo is the noble grape. Conversation focused on how Neb is a single grape wine near Alba (south of Torino) yet is still blended with local grapes in the Alto Piemonte. (north of Milano). The Cognos are fans of the Alto style: lean, low alcohol, lightweight, and simply delicious bending fruit with a distinctive local flavor, i.e., Gattinara, Bramaterra, Choochoo Wassy, etc.

As the second hour arrived it was time to open the guaranteed winner bottle; a single vineyard vintge Oporto. Port is a sweet wine that cannot be tasted until at least a decade passes. This had 25 years on it. It is a desert wine with a charming back story rooted in one of the extended wars between England and Spain. The producer is Martinez. Alcohol is 20% which is typical of port. Transcendent as aged ports can become.

1994 Quinta da Eira Velba by Martinez $35 on futures. The color was rusty brown. The nose showed toffee, coffee and rum. The flavors were true. We should all age so wonderfully. One bottle left in tBoW’s cellar!

But wait! said David Mac. I brought that Alysian Vermouth (17%). Pop goes the cork. The chilled wine was so exotic it challenged description. Oily. Bittersweet. Sorgum and spice. Camphor?  flavors are balanced. Orange peel. Must be therapeutic because I am reminded of my last rubdown. One of the Ignos – Shag Man – said “reminds me of an Old Fashioned.” The real amazing fact was the vermouth is made in Healdsburg! That’s right. Sonoma County. New World.

To summarize, here are some Quick and Dirty lessons for enjoying wine.

#1 Avoid grocery store wines. Unless the store is Gelsons in LA, Draegers in Palo Alto, Flatiron in San Francisco, or AJs in Scottsdale AZ. Forget Trader Joes and Whole Foods although if it came down to those 2? Better shot is Whole Foods.

#2 Identify and shop at a local Wine Store. Here in our neighborhood that is Woodland Hills Wine. The only others are Wine House in West LA, Hi Time in Costa Mesa and Wine Exchange in Santa Ana. Hi Time is best in So Cal. Honorable mention goes to Desert Wine Shop on 111 in Palm Desert [Katie of DWS below].

Katie Desert Wine Shop

#3 Shop online for best prices. This can be tricky. To do this well one must be armed with label, producer and vintage knowledge. The best deals are online. The Cognos cited Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO), Fass Selections and Garagiste. Most of these operations ship 2x/year so when the stash arrives after the summer it is in cases! Easy to lose track of how much you bought! KrisB is an exclusive online shopper. Many Cognos shop online.

#4 Buy the importer. Labels can be confusing. It takes years to read them. Wineries especially in the USA invent terms to impress the Ignos, such as Reserve, Special Select, Single Vineyard and Special Reserve. These mean n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Wait. I take that back. These phrases mean you pay a couple more bucks for n-o-t-h-i-n-g. You can always buy with confidence any wine imported by Kermit Lynch, Neal Rosenthal, Charles Neal or Louis/Dressner.

#5 Old World over New World. Europe and the Continent before Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Canada and Napa.

There were at lest two Dependable Quaffers. Cognos always have a handful of DQs nearby. Pull those U20 corks today. The Chave Mon Couer from the Rhone is always a U20, always balanced and easy to suck down on its own or with cashews. The 2015 Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona from Thessaly is a recent find with teasing exotica. At $17 it is a real deal. We found it at Desert Wine Shop and Hi Time.

Things get wild at Desert Wine Shop! Jump to the 1 minute mark and watch thru the 4 minute mark.