Posts belonging to Category Sparkling



Forced and Unforced Wine Errors.

 

Making Sense of Chaos.

Lettie Teague recently wrote what she really loves about wine 7 Reasons We Love Wine. tBoW loves Lettie Teague…and wine. Much to love when it comes to wine. However, there is a lot of dopey stuff as well. And since tBoW does not write for a living (at least not about wine) we can poke fun at all the silliness involved.

Take Wallys Wine and Spirits. For more than four decades Wallys was the trendsetter in how to market fine wine. Steve Wallace and Gary Fishman [ed. call me Gary, Matt’s Dad wants to interview you] ran the best WINE shop on the Westside. The only competition was the Wine House which became the SUPER market for wines ’round the world. However, Wallys was the top dog with the Hollywood client list. Ran into Danny Kay there. Had him sign the birthday card I happened to be carrying with me. Now Wallys is a laff riot of misguided pretension. Glamour and importance. Cater your next awards season party. Affect your glamorous lifestyle. Forced error – misguided hubris.

The aging wine thing is D-U-M-B. Archaic. Silly. Producing wine to be aged is bull pucky; a fashion foisted on the innocenti who believe wine is better with age. The only thing better with age is adolescence. In fact aging wine is a gamble…a poor one. Odds are stacked against those who love wine when the wine needs to “lay down.” This is doublespeak for heavy oak and tannins more commonly found in wood sealers. Those phonies who would write a wine review suggesting “lay down this beauty for a decade” are lost in the “fog of wine.” Lettie Teague would never suggest laying down a wine. At least we believe that is true.

Ever freeze a bottle of wine? You now…put it in the freezer to cool and discover a few days later you actually put in the cooler to freeze? Unforced DUMB error.

tBoW recommends wines that can be opened and consumed right now. Sometimes it is necessary to lay the wine down in the cellar. This is usually the case when wine is shipped. Wait 2 weeks if you can stand it. Sometimes it is necessary to allow a wine to settle down if the bottle has been cooled in the freezer on a bed of ice…and forgotten. That wine should be defrosted at room temp before pulling the cork in another week…if the cork has not forced its own exit from the bottle. Barring unforced errors like freezing wine for good cause there is no excuse for buying wine that needs to be aged for a decade or more. There are two exceptions to this rule: ports and sauternes.

Here are two wine paragons that can please greatly when opened “before their time;” and one wine that missed its “open by” date.

2016 Boxler Gewurtztraminer $35: Floral nose, a flower bouquet, honey suckle. Flavors of hay and mint. Say what? Over the top AND balanced. Honey. A knockout. Can it age. Certainly. However, if we bought more it would be like trying to keep my hands off my baby granddaughter. Oh sure. Wait until she’s five years old and more ambulatory. Looks like this gewurtz baby is still available at Kermit Lynch, Flatiron and Vintage Wine Merchants in San Jose. Lucky buy! Thank you Kermit.

NV Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut 13.5% $39 at Costco. May seem pricey however for champagne of this pedigree it is the go-to choice for tBoW on Valentines Day. Fruity, marzipan like. Break out the nice flutes. Dependable selection for the special occasion. The right question is whether the tBoW reviewed Cava sparkler Ravenots at 40% the cost, is good enough? We would say not quite…but close.

2011 Domaine Joseph Roty Marsannay 13%. $40ish. Tough to find. Because it is old now. Generally the vineyard designations age longer and are more interesting than this village bottling. The pedigree – Roty – is top notch. The wine is exotic but on its way to the Assisted Living Facility. tBoW finds that Burgs are generally better when consumed “before their time.” We missed here by a couple years. Forced PEDIGREE error. Fuggedaboudid. It’s Burg Town..

Making the right choices when buying wines is important to our list of reasons to love wine. As Chuck D and Public Enemy put it don’t believe the hype. However we find Bob McNamara in all his confidence and technicalities the more appropos analogue when it comes to figuring out how to enjoy wine by accepting the Fog of Wine.

It’s Safe to Come Out Munchkins! The Next – I mean New – Year has Begun!

The holiday season can be taxing. But now that its O-V-E-R we can only say don’t let the door

hit you on the way OUT DUDE!

Image result for Santa wrecks sled

The celebration gauntlet was especially long in the tBoW household oin 2019 with endless events to attend and host. There were highlights marked by memories [ed. all good] and in some cases there were memorable wines.

The BIG EVENT was the Friday the 13th Holiday Wine Tasting at RiTA House hosted by “Stacie’s Wine Cellar.” Stacie’s collection is legendary. The lineup created a locust-like buzz (ed. cue Exorcist II locusts clip) given it was an all star, all desirable lineup of labels and vintages. The RiTA House venue is excellent – a 100 year old 3 story “townhouse” in mid Wilshire with no parking. Stacie hosts the “Share A Glass” wine tastings at RiTA House which are open to members.

The lineup included top labels from Burgundy, Chianti (early 90s Biondi Santi) and Bordeaux (1988 Pichon Lalande): “Classic Vintages and Magnums of Champagne, Barolo, Barbaresco, Burgundy, Bord

eaux, Tuscan, Napa, Paso Robles.” The evening became a lesson in the perils of holding on too long to our most precious bottles. Too many wines were tired and simply over the hill. tBoW covered this phenomenon from his own supply mid-year with his “How To Tell When a Wine is Bad” tasting. Of course that tasting included judgment errors! Stacie did hit the gong with several outstanding wines. Dotore – who attended – captured the holiday message succinctly. Be careful to not hold onto your favorite wines too long. Suivez vos conseils mon ami!

2000 Billecart Salmon Amreuil-sur-Ay. $?? Priceless. The R-A-R-E single vineyard triple mag was served chilled. Came off like a kiwi lemon fruit bowl on ice. With ~20 plus guests the bottle was finished…but it took a few hours! If we had to pick one wine for a second round it would clearly be the Billecart! tBoW probably stuck his glass in front Gianfranco the distracted somm at least 6 times. Speaking of sparkling wines…we ope

ned several between Christmas and New Years. Here is one we really loved that can be found and bought for a fair price.

Laghibellina Gavi Metodo Classico $28: “on the lees 24 months” with 13% alcohol. This was the sparkler of the holidays (excepting the Billecart of course). Easy quaffer. Full flavored fruity and tart. Th grape is Cortese di Gavi which tBoW would usually avoid. Not in this case!  Imported by Oliver McCrumm Wines [ed. who’s he? say Broon fans] which is also worth remembering. We will probably have a post coming that reviews the new importers – succeeding Kermit and Rosenthal and more who are reshaping the wine import industry with direct to seller – themselves.

The early 90s Biondi Santi [ed. apologies; failed to note vintage] had survived almost 3 decades with great panache. Pulled this cork just in time.

Finally, the 1994 Quinta de Eira Velha Noval Single Quinta [ed. quinta means single vineyard] Port was served last after many tasters were fatigado. Flavors of maple and chocolate. This was the last of a case tBoW acquired on futures way back when on release. F-U-T-U-R-E-S was a commercial scam dricen by the 1980s and 90s wine fever that excited middle-aged men who just had to have that vintage from that producer. Martinez and port wines generally are an interesting story for anyone who likes wine. A single vineyard is unusual and certainly an attempt to get with the hot sales tip that continues to thrive today.

Come Out! Come Out! Wherever you are!!

 

the Glass Jar Looks Back on 2019 and Foresees 2020: from Mindless to Winedless

The Glass Jar has returned to The Best of Wines bearing words of wisdom learned from the past while also casting an eye to 2020. For this we are grateful. Amen. Let us read..

ancient winemaker with fuzzy revus

modern winemaker seeking comeback

GJ: When is it a good time to take a break from the blog? This a trick question. People often live in states of uncertainty demonstrating little remains constant in life. Except the blog. For years now, the Glass Jar has considered the blog to be somewhat of a second tier Thanksgiving relative. Maybe I am not always in touch with the blog as much as I should be and perhaps I struggle to understand everything the blog says but I will always know the blog is there. I mean would you rather be talking about your life plans with some dull relative or would you rather be in the company of the greatest wine blog ever to exist? The choice is yours. So make it wisely and don’t look back. 

The Glass Jar has been making a lot of phone calls lately as he is spending this chapter of my life in a “sales type” role. [ed. he is selling stuff on cold calls]. My employer will not be named to protect its questionable reputation. The Director of Sales asked a co-worker why he wanted the job. He responded he was driven to leave a prior job of great intensity. He wanted to simplify his life by doing something mindless. He got the job. The Sales Director fired this go-getter. Last month the Sales Manager was fired.

I did make some friends, for example a man who taught me some basic archery. He got fired. My other friend has not been fired and is one of the better salesmen at the company. But he has kept a box under his desk for years for when the day comes.

Darwinism in cubicles? The Glass Jar walks in the building with no fear as he learned a tender lesson in his pizza employment [ed. read about giving back to the pizza here]. He has bounced back through unimaginable hardships.

So what is my word for 2020? You may have guessed: Mindlessness. The word captures giving time and energy towards an endeavor that doesn’t really mean anything. Those in search of mindlessness will likely find some form of it nearer than realized. Which leaves me wondering…is wine mindless? Is there no point regarding wines celebrated by blogs such as The Best of Wines? Or is there a truer meaning in wine which must be discovered?

I remember in my younger years, watching people sit around tables sipping wine and talking about the flavors. I remember wondering if there was really a point to this. It seemed pretty mindless but the drinkers enjoyed it. Maybe mindlessness is an excuse to enjoy life. Why else would salespeople putt golf balls on the rug? Is wine mindless or not? Why not be a little mindless? Word for 2020 – Winedless!!

bombast sells in politix!

tBoW: Oh my. The Glass Jar uncovers yet another corner of cognitive dissonance; an experience omnipresent in life. Mindlessness runs the gamut from the current President and his moronic cabinet, to the endless news cycle which runs the idiocy like a broken bicycle, to annual wine holiday catalogs for the oenologically challenged. Wallys Wine used to be a terrific wine shop in West Los Angeles. tBoW found purpose every time in the Westwood Boulevard store owned by Steve Wallace and managed by Gary Fishman. Steve had been buying great wines for so long his backroom was littered with bottles. Wallys backroom was like the storerooms with Euro antiquities purchased mindlessly by Charles Foster Kane [ed. cue Citizen Kane]. It was well known in the 40s that the controversial movie was inspired by the ultra wealthy protagonist newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane who was William Randolph Hearst. tBoW’s purpose was to locate and capture the fab bottles lost to time In Wally’s backroom. tBow even placed his own son as curator of Wally’s backroom.

Steve Wallace sold out at least a decade ago. Wally’s today is a mindless wine store that caters to mindless “wine collectors.” WINEDLESSNESS applies! The holiday catalog is a monument to mindlessness. tBoW was so appaled wth the tastelessness of the premier post sale catalog we featured it here.

Is the Glass Jar presaging the greatest events of 2020…the national and key state elections? Stay tuned. And pop a great Cava sparkler during the holidays…something like 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.]

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

 

Wine Dinner with the Krisses

What? Sounds boring? Hardly. Neither was the Krisses Tasting boring. In fact, it was splendid. KrisA is preggers again so no wine for her and more for us. KrisB, tBoW and Sam-the-Rioja-Man [ed. SRM?] were on hand to help out with the h-e-a-v-y lifting…if ya git mah drrriiiiffftttt. PT8Y handled child care with the very active 4 y.o. Everett. Mrs. tBoW assisted with light sipping esp when the desert wine cork was pulled. She’s like that.

Count on KrisB to pull corks on cool, unusual and top quality bottles. No wonder we like him. The West Coast Maus. After a grueling 90 minute ride to go 20 miles – LA baby – we were greeted with a glass of chilled 2006 Gaillez Lemaire Champagne Cuvee Jadis. Mostly Petite Meunier which the Krisses prefer in their champagne. Bracing acidity buttressed by the cool temp. Comes thru Fass Selections [ed. ~$46] which KrisB has seriously engaged as a purveyor! Here is some typical Fass prose and praise: “Gorgeous nose. Biscuits. Mineral. Brioche. Palate is opulent and deep but so elegant and wonderfully vivid. What a stunning wine. Huge and elegant.” Sooooo, we found the wine to be crisp, bright, richly flavored and bracing. Opulent? Why not. Only if Grace Jones is opulent. Alcohol on the lable estimated at 11% to 14%. Hey. Beats a 100 point rating scale when it comes to precision.

2007 Pricum Prieto Picude 13.5% $25. The grape is prieto picudo. The reviewer from Wine Enthusiast called out “tomato, red currant, raspberry and herbs” which he said are snappy. Excuseme fro being droll bbuuutttt if tBoWcalls out herbs he usually names which ones… e.g., Herbert Hoover (US prez), Herb Adderley (Green Bay Packers safety) or Herbert Lom (Inspector Dreyfus who oversaw the investigations of the bumbling idiot Inspector Clouseau). This bottle mollified SRM and pleased Mrs tBoW.

Glasses in hand KrisB agreed to show us his wine cellar. He was in the midst of unpacking nine [ed. nicht nein, jah nine!] Fass shipping boxes so thw space was a tad unruly. KrisB shared his sorting scheme: ready to drink now, will be ready soon, and not ready for a while. We immediately felt a wave of relief as if the 100 point rating scheme had been hurled into the Santa Maia volcano never to be seen again. 

tBoW brought a bottle of $14 2017 Gelsons Mayfair. Bottled by Margerum in Santa Barbara with a 13.5% rating. Medium weight blend of 50% Marsanne, 25% Grenache Blanc and the last quarter Viognier. This is a very pleasant drink that will suffice for any season.

Following grilled Japanese yams, salmon and scallops the final cork was removed from the neck of a svelte bottle. Yesitwas the 2007 Domaine des Bories Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. It was desert wine. KrisB did not disappoint with the perfectly chilled bottle. The wine comes from a region referred to as Madiran in Gascony in southwest France which is easier to “see” as northeast Spain. It is so off the beaten path in France that it is known more for surfing than for wine. I kid you not. Basque I tell you. This wine is also a Fass find and as it seems nearly every Fass wine…it is delicious and delightful. So are the Krisses.

As for the aforementioned bumbling idiot…I almost choked watching the following clip! Happy Thanksgiving all. Enjoy some wines especially bubbly and desert styles. Do not watch the following with food in your mouth…which the Inspector would surely pronounce “moooth.”

 

 

 

 

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…