BEST of Weird Wines and Weirder Golf

Eighty degrees on a summer evening with a crowd of weird tasters and weird wines serving grilled food is a recipe for entertainment. Weird wines AND weird foods crosses the line. The extra WEIRD was delivered by the US Open golf tournament held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, hosted by the USGA. These regulatory sourpusses provided more than enough weirdness for a national audience. I will make this brief but it must be said. The USGA is beyond starchy. These guardians of the ancient game make it plain that shooting par is a good score to win the national open tournament. To put it in wine terms this is like Robert Parker saying wines should strive to taste the same. Wait. He does say that…big and fruity and alcoholic. Well, there is my point. The USGA is so starchy they make Robert Parker seem drip dry.

weird taster

We may not fuzzy up to Parker’s palate but at least he stands for something not squarely in the middle-of-the-road. The USGA would put Charlize Theron in a form fitting bodysuit and not give her a talking part. Insist Jackson Pollack paint inside the lines. Force Nicky Minaj to wear brown and navy business suits. The USGA took all the pleasure out of the national open golf tournament.

Fortunately, at tBoW’s table on a warm summer evening the Team Tasters responded to the call of the Weird with gusto and style. The theme was Summer Whites Wines and here is what showed up in the ice bucket. There were also REDs which we will be recounted next post.

2009 Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum VDP Ugni Blanc Colombard
$10: IGTY kicked things off with a nutty flavored almondine wine from the Languedoc. Light yellow color. Subtle with flavor. Light color. Ugni Blanc aka Trebbiano is one of the grapes used in Cognac and Armagnac. Colombard is the workhorse for inexpensive Central California white wines. This is Gascony Vin Des Pays so it is way down on the snobby wine ladder. But this one worked! 12%

2011 Tablas Creek Rosé $15: Rosé reviews should always begin with the color. A lovely deep salmon color. Blend of Mourvedre, Grenache and Counoise. Typical TC style, i.e., crisp, bright, lean with strawberry flavors. TC is always too severe for some but it is rarely OFF. This wine is ON. Nice job. 14.5%

2006 Blees Ferber Riesling Triettenheimer Apotheke Trocken Kabinett
$5: You saw it right. Kris-B picked this up on clearance at Pasadena’s most secret deal house, the Chronicle Wine Cellar where Gus Martin holds court. Gus has long time connections so he finds deals like this. He must have paid $2.50 to clear out whatever many odd cases the distributor had left. The wine shows peaches with chalky notes. Very good. Hooray for Gus and Kris-B. SUPER U10!! 7.5%

2010 Colline Lucchesi Fattoria di Fubbiano Vermentino
$20: Rich mouthful of grapefruit and orange flavors. Very good. Tasted the Uvaggio Vermentino next to it just for fun. 11%

2010 Uvaggio Vermentino $12: We have tasted this wine over several vintages on many occasions. It was great to taste it next to a really nice Italian bottle. The Uvaggio is brighter and more racy. The flavors are similar with grapefruit and citrus rind without the bitter. Two excellent bottles. 13%

NV Susucaru 3
$$NOT CHEAP: Gets the Gold Medal for height of weird. Height is an appropriate descriptor because this wine is grown on Mt. Etna in Sicily which peaks at 11,000 feet. The grapes are grown between 1500 and 5,000 feet. This wine is not for the patient. A few of the impulsive adjunct tasters actually tossed it out of their glasses (which is why everyone received small pours). The wine shows little fruit upon being poured. Pretty rosy pink color. It is slow to open before it shows some fruit. But it shows plenty of volcanic soil and ash. It is bitter tasting more like the rind than the pulp. Resin and Juniper. The winemaker is Frank Cornelissen, a believer in doing nothing to treat the wine. His Mt. Etna vineyard is on the north slope which has received little lava of late. Zev Rovine is the importer. Zev says, in his experience, the wine will be ready for drinking at the end of summer, like September. You know what that means. See you in September! Of course it is a Garagiste pick. 12%

FRV100 Rose Jean Paul Brun
$20: Pronounced “effervescent.” Tinkaboudid. It hardly seems fair to put a wine like this in a Summer lineup. It is the Steely Dan of summer wines. A crowd favorite AND sophisticated. Always selling out. And no wonder; it is so freaking delicious. Perfectly balanced with just enough spritz. Of course, Dotoré contributed. [ed. he knows his fizz.] This bottle is everything you want in pink wine – fresh strawberry flavors, tickly fizz, light alcohol. Super value because it is worth the price. 7.5%

chef and sommelier


  1. Wavatar
    AdriBarr says:

    Thanks for the Vermentino tasting notes! As you know, I am in need of tutoring in the wine department. Some of my fave food comes from the veritable Garden of Eden that is Italy’s Liguria – the Vermentino, too. The briny air imparts that certain je ne sais quoi to all that grows there, from olives to grapes to basil. Supply inquiry – where can I purchase the two Vermentini and the Susucaru? I MUST have the Suscaru; your description has piqued my curiosity. After all Palermo’s Festino di Santa Rosalia is right around the corner. The festival celebrates “la santuzza” – she cured the Black Plague. Well, her bones did – this is Sicily we are talking about. But it sounds as if la santuzza had not done the trick, this wine might have.

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    doctore says:

    This was a lively and informative tasting, with both wines and participants showing lots of personality–great Summer kick-off! The whites, almost all imported, reinforced,again, the principle of using indigenous grapes to make wine that is singularly representative of the locale in which they’re grown. German, French, Italian each reflected a very specific time and place. Not one was without character and not one was boring. (The reds–as you shall find out–were a completely different story).
    And I actually LIKED the Susucaru, first of all for its audacity. Second, to me it tasted like crushed rose petals–literally. Never tasted anything like it. I’d drink a wine like this any day over one that’s been “parkerized”.

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    AdriBarr says:

    Thank you for your response. I am on this Susucaru. I just read another reviewer who describes a most unpleasant experience having consume a Susucaru that despite being a “non-interventionist” wine tasted heavily of soap and surfactant, even fabric softener. Gotta try this one. But what would one serve with such a variable creature? Have you any ideas?

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      Bacchus says:

      Adri – I saw that review and chose not to link it. I spoke briefly with Zev Rozine who imports the SuSucaru and he will be able to ID the LA vendors. He is linked on the post. I like Dotore’s flavor profile…crushed rose petals. The wine is certainly distinctive. Wait til September to drink again says Zev!

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        AdriBarr says:

        Oops = the September comment belongs here. Thanks so much. I was surprised by the other reviewer’s description of the Susucaru. I look forward to tasting it. I think that everything in Sicily stands apart from all in Italy. Those folks are Sicilian first, Italians second. Perhaps the same goes for their wines. I am enjoying your site. As I have mentioned, I know so little about wine, it is good to have a dependable source for info. Thanks.

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    LeLarge says:

    Hmmm… what about a new review category — wines that skirt the lip.. and get you out of da bunker?

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    Kris-B says:

    One other thing about the Susucaru is that one should keep it cold, as in at all times. I suspect a lot of the variation you see in notes is from people who left it at room temperature and allowed all kinds of microbes to grow.

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