Posts belonging to Category Sparkling



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%

Xmas::NY Interweek & Xmas Tasting

do not judge them

do not judge them

DO NOT ADJUST YOUR CONTROLS. The foto is not in focus. The foreground grips control the horizontal and the vertical. Please ring the bell for service.

Main Street icon

Main Street icon

How was your holiday party? Ours was fab. Grab-bag wines, gag gifts and the popular and expanding re-gifting center charmed our guests. A Christmas party should be an open house with guests arriving at will. Lots off eats offset the preponderance of holiday cheer. We focused on wines and champagnes. There were no duds. Here is what we managed to keep track of.

Three Italian wines set the mark for winners bing bing bang. The first wine opened was the one in the center 2008 Cortones Brunello di Montalcino $45. It was quickly followed by the other two in sequence 2010 Tabarrini Montefalco Rosso $30, blending Sangiovese, Barbera and Sagrantino. 15 minutes later I was pulling the cork on the 2009 Viticoltori Migliozzi Casale Carinola Rampaniuci Falerno Massico $unk. While the sequence was accidental it was also perfect. The first two wines showed deep cherry flavors which encouraged the revelers to taste more wine! The third wine had the 3-winnersWEBmost body and the the most acid. It was the most serious and age worthy, forcing the madness to slow to a gentler pace. All three were just perfect for the holiday occasion where people who enjoy wine are involved. Each one was enjoyed by the throng in thongs. These wines proved the point that Italian wines are the most diverse with the greatest potential for giving gustatory satisfaction. Not one was over-ripe. Each was reasonably balanced, generally masculine. All three ably complemented the tamales, ham and lasagna.

BTF-zwickerWEB2013 Big Table Farm Wirtz Garden Edelzwicker $28 (winery only): Rare and unusual white wine blending “riesling, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and more;” all grown organically on the Big Table Farm estate. This wine shows what can be done in the New World with decidedly Old World sensibilities. Medium weight, oily with figgy quince flavors. Delightful. Serve chilled and let it warm in the glass. Big Table Farm is a label to keep tracking.

trouillard-champ-nvWEBNV Trouillard Extra Selection Brut $35 (Wine Expo): Plump strumpet champagne begging to hug your palate. Once this was tasted by a few it was quickly guzzled by the ambulatory throng in thongs. No wonder once you read about the careful handling in production, the first press juice only, and two years on the lees before bottling. Christ! This was too good for the guests!

As a wise man once said….keep the party hat on!! Happy New Year!!

This will help set the mood, no? It appears they’re having fun.

Cowabunga!! Labor Day, Monster Surf, Fine Wines

it's booming right now said the lifeguard

“it’s booming” said the lifeguard

The Summer of 2014 officially closed with significant doings in Southern California. The Coastal Commission is ready to impose a ban on further development of vineyards in the new Malibu AVA. Yup. You read it. Malibu is a new AVA. On Wednesday August 27 monster surf provided a once-in-a-decade spectacle when 15 to 20 foot waves crashed up and down the coast of North Los Angeles County. We tasted some monumental gnarly ass wines.

cadelbaio-2010WEB2010 Giulo Grasso Ca’ del Bao Langhe Nebbiolo $23 (Wallys): Langhe on the label usually signifies wine made from traditional Piemonte regions not in Barolo or Barbaresco. It can also signify younger vines. This bottle came from Liquid which is an outlaw itself in wine retail, and a tBoW secret wine spot. Researching this bottle turned up a lovely website with some down home family tidbits about the Grasso family, a cross-winemaking family marriage,and a book I have to check out. Organic growing methods, natural yeasts… all by tradition. This wine is a bit rugged, lean and muscular. iceman-strawmanWEBIt is too young to open unless you aerate mightily. All the good flavors we love in Nebbiolo are there: cherries, exotic earthy, high toned… but not ready. 13.5%

Iceman Angry Orchard Hard Cider $16 (Whole Wallet): 16 oz bottle from Quebec. That equates to a $30 wine. Sweeter than the yummy Virginia hard cider which we WILL BE ORDERING in about 45 days when the heat yields to Autumn in LA; i.e., the 80s. After visiting the website I am certain we would prefer the Strawman bottling. 10%

spungola-2011WEB2011 Spungola Bellaria Pignoletto Emilia Alberto Tedeschi $18: Pretty sure Dotoré picked this up at Domaine LA, his favorite secret wine store. White wine made by an obscure dude toling on his own with an indigenous obscure grape – Pignoletto – with a great name that sounds like a kind of pedicure. tBoW tasted oily, kind of lean. We like that but perhaps it was the atmosphere – adult party. Not impressive. However, you may disagree. We took this from a website.

Cathy Breton se naturel

Cathy Breton se naturel

We just did not get it. “Bronze colored in the glass, the bouquet is one of salt, apricot, and hazelnuts. It is a full wine with rich tannins and flavors of orange blossom, cantaloupe, and toasty coconut.” That reads pretty nice. Everything we like is on the page. I will bet in a small group with less pressure to “interact” this wine will taste much better. Needs another shot! 13%

NV Breton Vouvray Brut “La Dilettante” $20 (K&L says they have it): Sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire. Yeasty, sophisticated, grapefruit rind, acidic. dilettanteWEBLoved it. Big hit with those holding glasses. Made by natural wine organic gorgeous (in photo) winemaker Catherine Breton. Committed to the natural movement! At $19.99 a U20 buy. 12%

catch the twichen groove doods… COWABUNGA!!

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.

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.