New Lineup for 2010

TopangatakeoffWEB.jpgThe ocean of wine and the lineup in it keeps getting bigger. We choose wines like we would choose waves; certain size, as close to perfect conditions as we can presume. What wines will be in the tBoW lineup for 2010? [ed. the surfing lineup is all those people in the water here at Topanga point trying to catch the same wave] With seemingly limitless options we contemplate the wine lineup for the coming year. Keep it simple – good values, great and interesting wines, selecting carefully from the best of the best. Based on the first pours in January we can forecast that Winter through early Spring will feature French white wines and more Malibu discoveries. We can live with that. The local vintners of the Bu continue to defy expectations and definitely have our attention. Here then are several recent turns of the corkscrew.
MVPN05WEB.jpg2005 Malibu Vineyard Rambla Pacifico Pinot Noir $35: Another pretty darn good Pinot Noir from the coastal hills up Pacific Coast Highway on the way to the best surfing beaches in north LA county. The story is owner Michael McCarty (of the venerable dining establishment Michaels) planted Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the late 1980s with displeasing results. The vines were torn out and replaced with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wine in this bottle is a bit rustic with a sense of terroir which in tBow-speak means it does not taste like a fruit bomb from the Central Coast. That is good. It has ripe cherry flavors putting in the Volnay style class. No forest floor here. Solid middle weight viscosity and very drinkable. Price is fair and alcohol level is acceptable. Of course, we cannot help but compare it to the Malibu Sanity Hills wine. They are different; think Old World vs New World. Very good effort, worth seeking out and comparing over the years to come as each wine develops its personal style.
solstice04WEB.jpg2004 Solstice Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon $36: One of the earliest vintages from this well regarded vintner. The retailer said some bottles are bad so you can bring it back. But some are really good. This was a good one. Fruit is ripe but not jammy plump and all stuffed up. Raspberry flavors, light to middle weight. Has a quick finish. Reminds me of a New World Syrah. How did he keep the alcohol below 14? We would drink this again before trying one of the endless Napa Cabs at or near the same price now seeking shelter on 13.8%
A few words about the Dean of Malibu wine country, John Selman, who runs Malibu Village Wine Shop in the shopping bazaar off PCH across from Surfrider Beach. malibuvlgwineWEB.jpgThis shop is like walking into one of the homes on the Hoarders series. Cases on top of cases, tasting notes hanging like tinsel on my Xmas tree, and a decorative collection of vodkas in the far corner. MalibuWineShopJan10WEB.jpgJohn knows where everything is in the store and he knows even more about who is growing what and why in the hills of the Bu. Prices are very fair, selection is tops if you want to try the best Bu wines, and the conversation is stellar. Any visit to Malibu wine country should start and/or end at this shop.
2006 Chantemerle Chablis La Chantemerle
$20: Always been a Chablis fan. The style is generally steely, lean, fresh. When exaggerated these qualities come off foxy even feline; but not here. Hope to drink more French Chardonnays like this one in 2010. Because Chablis is generally under-valued, it is actually a good region to watch for great values. [ed. dreams of $25 Gran Crus danced through his head!] This is ordinary Chablis with a few years on it. Decent price. Nice and simple. Balanced, light to mid weight. Refined with pear flavors. Showing some tannins. It ain’t New World Chard. Is that all we care about? Well, not all we care about…but it counts. xx%
rochioliPN04.jpg2004 Rochioli Estate Pinot Noir $60: Accompanied the Saints-Vikings game. Can I compare the wine to Brett Favre? [ed. should you?] Over the top. Intense, Iron fist in a velvet glove stuff. Focused but not BIG. And ultimately, a miss more than a hit. “Too many notes.” The point is Rochioli wines do seem to over-reach for the heights in the most obvious and nearly bombastic style. Like Favre they are legendary and produce incredible hits. But they also make some very ill-timed boo-boos. This wine was big enough to overwhelm the cigar I smoked between games. It is muscular, supple, with solid flavors. Concentrated. I can taste the alcohol which is never good. And it tastes a lot like a California Syrah from the Central Coast. 14.8%

2006 Bret Brothers Pouilly-Fuisse Climat Le Clos Reyssie $34: Purchased at Woodland Hills Wine Co. Two French brothers named Bret (not Favre) began making their own wines in 2000. bretpussy06.jpgThey own a vineyard AND buy grapes. This wine has a sinewy feel. Lean. Green and chalky flavors. The vineyard source РLe Clos Reyssié Рis the most famous holding in the village of Chaintré which is one of the four villages producing Pouilly-Fuissé. [ed. tBoW lifted this from the Bret Bros website] This wine comes from a 60 year old plot on rather deep soil on a vein of very hard limestone. Makes me think this is what Cakebread wants to taste like but never will. And this is half that cost. We like it. We also noted the distributor Polaner Selections who reps several labels we also like including Clos de la Roilette and Didier Dagueneau. Keep an eye out for Polaner. Love the low alcohol level. 12.5%
Here is another example of what the Malibu Coastline can produce given very good conditions.

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