Posts belonging to Category Dessert



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.

Weird Wine Conversation Has Legs!!

When the going gets weird the weird turn pro.
Hunter S. Thompson

Target wins top award for selling the most uninteresting wines at the most attractive prices.

Target selling wine is weird to tBoW. The “word” weird looks wierd to me. There is a new kind of weird convo taking place in wine. tBoW is serving notice: “weird wines” is a hot topic. National Wine Day – May 25 – has come and went. We guess this “holiday” celebration online piece officially kicks off the 10 month long holiday season. Dotore is eating his liver!

We have received solicitations to buy “weird wines” from vendors. Kermit Lynch features some weird wines in his current June newsletter. His staff presents articles on “The Bigfoot of Chateauneuf,” [a producer who favors the “M” in G-S-M]; the Vaucluse region of Provence [keeping it simple here] and the varietal Mourvedre from a Pic St Loup producer [tBoW KLWM hits a two bagger – region AND varietal – on the weird wines scorecard]. KLWM is also offering “20% Off “White Wines for the Curious Drinker.” KLWM is like Kaiser health. Where Kaiser goes the industry follows.

And while tBoW may not take credit for initiating this especially refreshing direction in discussing wine and wines, we reserve some credit for getting on this quickly so that our readers/viewers can get up to speed.

Talking about weird wines is good.

How many years have the tBoW writers suffered through formulaic wine writing [off blog] with these silly conventions: 100 point scores, market driven varietals, glamorous attachments to whatever kind of activity can be shopped through the pages of the Wine Speculator and other imitators.

Oh the glamour of the wine industry! I love wine! I could not live without wine!! It’s all so wholesome farm to bottle getting closer to nature working with the earth how do you like my overalls and my farm truck and my new custom crush winery labels?!

Break time. tBoW is getting dizzy.

Thank goodness tBoW contributors and wine freaks KrisB and Maus have non-conforming points of view and are willing to share them when it comes to wine. In last week’s post we featured their thoughts and comments. That was just the beginning. There is more to be shared! Great for us.

Maus – Finally read the rather fascinating article. As you know, I’ve been around the euro block, as KrisB obviously has. One place that was mentioned in that article blew me away. Gaillac. It’s in the Dordogne region. Years back we stayed there. I didn’t have memorable reds, but we were drinking white mainly, and they rocked. I remember a grape called Mauzac. However, the amazing offerings concerned dessert wines. I remember going into a damn grocery store and seeing about two dozen local choices. all for under $15! all very good. I had Negrette along the way, but wasn’t too impressed. Tannat is wonderful. quite tannic. Tannic Tannat. Grows near the Spanish border. And at this point of my life, that wine will outlive me.  Uruguay, of all places, grows it. [tBoW consumed an Uruguayan Tannat “years back”] – forgettable except for the varietal name and the state of origin – by the way Tablas Creek grows and produces Tannat. I picked up a dessert tannat (it’s red) once in Long Island on my way to a Glee concert, godhelpme. Wonderful! …cheers, having a Holloran Reisling tonight. Oregon.

KrisB – I have a weird Gaillac sweet white or two that I’ve been keeping with tBoW’s name on it (https://www.cellartracker.com/classic/wine.asp?iWine=1217606). Problem with these “weird” wines is that there doesn’t always seem to be an occasion to open them.

Maus – You’ll be in beerland before you get to Belgium…in the land of Kolschs! Although I prefer a good lager (Bitburg is also nearby for Bitburger)…man I love German beers. Are you just staying in the towns or will you make a trip to the Ahr?

[SCANDAL ALERT -NEXT COUPLE COMMENTS NSFWS]

KrisB – Love the peasant farmers, except when they make wines without sulfur and think they are all “BIO,” but really are just selling oxidized dreck. Ran into one of these a few weeks ago in Puglia who made wines that would be really beautiful, but they were undrinkable for us. And this guy is imported by Dressner!

The best story is when we visited a Beaujolais producer that we liked, Michel Guignier. He said he was all natural, no sulfur. He gave us a the first wine to try, a rose, and said this has been opened for 2-3 days, see how fresh it is!

Well, it was absolute shit, reminded me of canned dog food. Around the time we were trying not to gag on that first one, he mentioned that there is more than one Michel Guignier winemaker in the region and that’s when we knew we made a horrible mistake! We suffered through the rest of the tasting and got out as fast as we could. He did not have a nice atmospheric tasting room/cellar. I think we are going to a tasting of Slovenian wines this afternoon…

MAUS – Yeah, got a little sideways in Mosel 30 years ago. My best memory is Graach, where my wife who speaks fluent German interpreted a conversation with a typical small European winemaker, meaning he was a peasant farmer in overalls. [tBoW – I don’t care who you are that’s funny]

The Holloran reisling was delicious. Vibrant, pugnacious with a slash a pineapple! Sounds like you’ll be in a land [tBow – think he means Slovenia] where you can have the white wine that began this whole conversation [tBoW – the Himbrecht?]. It’s funny how those small time European wine operations can range from absolutely delightful to Frankenstein. I had bipolar experiences 2 years ago in Sud Tirol.  When the people are nice I always feel compelled to buy something, usually doesn’t cost more than $12  at any rate.

I was in Prague 10 years ago. I learned that Slovenia is Wine Country and Bohemia is beer land. I found a dessert Chardonnay that I accidentally froze and when it started to thaw out I had the most delicious snow cone ever. By the way my recent trip to Greece convinced me that the cradle of democracy has not enjoyed a wine Renaissance. Good lamb, though.

tBoW – Only way to top off this convo is with a video that provides a quick review of Hunter S. Thompson’s daily schedule as he ramped up for daily writing.

Taking Back the “M” Word in 2014

wine futures

wine futures

Hissy fit! Minerality is such an overused term we banned it from the tBoW wine lexicon. Like “it is what it is.” Not on this blog. However, upon consulting with cooler heads and more clear minds the “m” word is back in the game with the caveat that we will only use it to describe wines with high acid and stony character including sulfuric aromatics. High acid and strong citric flavors will not suffice to invoke “minerality.” It’s a new day and we have wines to review.

The Stupid Bore is over. With it the holidays have officially completed. We have a clear pathway to summertime which means Roses and bright summer white wines. It is also means severe drought conditions in California. At least the East and Midwest regions will dry out. Maybe one last crippling character building snowstorm in April. Hope not.

DomaineLA is a somewhat new wine shop on Melrose Avenue in WeHo. They have “more wine and less attitude.” We can say they have wines we are looking for and a highly informed floor person – Courtney – naked-wineWEBwho was able to answer nearly every question we had… about wines. We found the impossible-to-find-on-the-West-Coast Close de la Roillete Vendange Tardive at the shop at a very fair price discounted 10% with overall case purchase. We also found a very decent selection of “natural” wines [ed. new obsession alert!], Burgs and wines from other regions we like including Beaujolais and the Loire. She also had a nice group of Italian wines but not the Sagrantino which Alice Feiring writes about that we were looking for. tBoW also checked at WHWineCo. They have had these unusual wines – specific producers, read the book – but not for several vintages.

The Alice Feiring book “Naked Wine” is exceptionally informative. She covers the original winemakers pushing the “natural” wine movement. She describes their methods and provides a very helpful running discussion of the underlying philosophy and vine to wine values. Feiring is a thorough reporter as well making sure to describe the squishiness of this “movement” and how hard and fast opinions on actions such as using sulfur are actually quite malleable. Still digging it. Here are some wine reviews; not one with minerality.

roty_mars_082008 Roty Marsannay Les Ouzeloy $35: With this bottle and the recent Pataille tasting that featured his Marsannay wines we believe we have a sense of this undervalued and, for us, under-investigated region in the northern Cote d’Or. This wine took 2.5 hours to open. Over that period we saw more action than was taking place on the “most watched TV program ever.” This wine opened masculine and finished that way going from rough and brutish to firm and manageable. This is manly Pinot Noir, sinewy and powerful like the Olympic ice racers [ed. not the “dancers”] we will be watching very soon. Impressive. Roty is a premium producer. Bought from Eno Fine Wine. 13%

deforvill_neb_10WEB2010 De Forville Langhe Nebbiolo $18: Young vine Barbaresco, Rosenthal selection. We had the 2008 version and just purchased the 2011 at DomaineLA. This is a great intro wine to premium Piemonte at a very good price U20 price. Rich and full, middleweight, will take some age to reveal the Piemonte Neb character. We sucked this down after the Marsannay ran out. That helped us through the 4th quarter. We have found older vintages at Liquid Wine. 13.5%

scavino_96WEB1996 Silvio Grasso Barolo Ciabot Manzoni $80: Special meal wine shared by Dotoré. Classic aromas of tar and roses. Meaty yet light on its feet. Boxers – lightweights, welterweights, middleweights – often crowd our consciousness when tasting aged Baroli. This is a Carlos Monzon [ed. Argentine 70s] bottle. Exotic, hitting power, elegance. The wine kept its power and finesse for the entire evening. 14%

nav_gewurtz_2001WEB2001 Navarro Gewurtztraminer Late Harvest Cluster Select $24: Picked off the shelf at Liquid. It is always somewhat of a risk when payng for a dessert wine in a split from a producer not known for such. Weighing in favor of the buy was that Navarro is a very consistent winery and Gewurtz is one of their staple white wines. But could it last 12 years? Poured out dark brown and clear. Looked like root beer without the fizz. The flavors were completely exotic: caramel, coffee and cola. All in harmony and so tasty. A perfect dessert wine for the fresh Meyer lemon possit pudding it accompanied. Spectacular. 10%

The image at top was taken in our local Target [ed. “tar-zjay”] store. The marketing genius displayed… Think about Colonel Kurtz explaining to Capt Willard how… never mind. Will the next generation of these Modern House Wines labels will include “minerality mania” and “natural wonder.” I kid you not: Oprah Favorite.

Recommended reply to the use of “it is what it is”: fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. Try it. Fun.

On the topic of boxers…here is the commentary from the end of the 12th round from the 1962 Emile Griffith vs Benny Paret fight which Griffith won by knockout. Paret never got up. Televised boxing was suspended for a decade. Supposedly Paret had called Griffith “maricon” at the weigh in.

Burgundy Hoe Down in Old Topanga

Topanga Coast

Topanga Coast

Lucky ole tBoW and Dotoré got invited to a tasting of wines made by Sylvain Pataille. The setting was Old Topanga. There are many neighborhoods in our wonderful city with coolness that ebbs and flows. York Street in Highland Park is über groovy right now with storefronts that say “shop me,” at least one dining establishment [ed. Sonny’s Hideaway?] and a distinctive jeune frisson that appeals to young folks of all ages. York Street is the reawakened district. Old Topanga is the lost outpost. Neither locale is freeway friendly. Driving through unfamiliar zones is required. Forget your GPS. Bring your flashlight and snacks. And remember: when the invite is right we must take back the night. (more…)

2014 Kicks Off with New Winners

new Rose Bowl winners

new Rose Bowl winners

The Michigan State Spartans came to Pasadena and stuck it to the Stanford Cardinal. The substitute middle linebacker playing in place of the team captain resting in the dog house made the play of the game (above). Let me be Frank. Shirley there is a wine story here. (more…)