Monday, March 31, 2008

Some 2006 Austrian Rieslings and Gruner veltliners

Considered one of the best vintages in recent memory, 2006 in Austria apparently really delivered the goods, especially for Riesling and Gruner Veltliner. So far, I have really enjoyed many of these wines; at their best they are more pristine, mineral, vivid wines than '05 (which is no slouch on its own), and have more heft and flavor intensity than '04. And of course they are infinitely tastier than the '03's. My only gripe is that gruVe, even in as successful a vintage as 2006, just comes across the palate with too much spice, too much power for this particular imbiber. Some wines, some notes:

2006 Weingut Schmelz Gruner Veltliner Pichl Point Federspiel

Round and supple, yet retaining a tart apple crunchiness. Simple. Tasty.

2006 Summerer Gruner Veltliner Steinhaus
Very mineral, slightly creamy, with a delicate citrus and sorrel flavor. Quite enjoyable, a bit more so than the Schmelz.

2006 Nigl Gruner Veltliner Privat

From old vines, this is obviously a good deal weightier and spicier. Juicy pear and white pepper. Juicy, ripe, spicy. Long. Terrific wine that needs several years to come together.

2006 Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling Vom Urgestein

Juicy and so, so clean. This is a blend of younger vines from the grand cru Heilegestein and Gaisberg sites. Each produces great Riesling on their own, and here the combination of the two sites makes interesting wine indeed. Yellow stonefruit, mineral, acidity are really balanced and super tasty. I like it now, but 3 years from now would be when I would drink more. Can't say enough good things about the wines at Schloss Gobelsburg.

2006 Wenzel Furmint

Very aromatic in an autumnal, orchard sort of way. Squeaky clean, racy, and Pinot Blanc like. The vagueness in this note doesn't properly convey how much I really enjoyed this wine.

[Note: the following trio from Donabaum were tasted three days after they were first opened]
2006 Weingut Donabaum Wachauer Bergterrassen Riesling Federspiel
Ripe, yellow plum and hints of orange blossom on the nose. Very mineral, firm and nervy. Meyer lemons on the palate. Tasty, well-integrated acidity. Delicious federspiel.

2006 Weingut Donabaum Setzburg Riesling Smaragd

A red apple and banana nose leads to a creamy, fat, viscous palate with some ripe peach as well. A bit hot on the finish. I should note that I generally am tougher on the higher alcohol Smaragd wines - I usually prefer the Feds, at least at this early point in their development.

2006 Weingut Donabaum Johan Gruner Veltliner Federspiel Wacha
Spicy. Arugula and lemon flavors are a bit plodding and heavy. Slightly astringent on the finish.

[Note: these three from Weingut Gritsch were also tasted on day 3]

2006 Gritsch Kalmuck Gruner Veltliner Wachau
Really good weight, texture and spice on this guy, especially considering its retail of $12.99. Ripe melons on the nose leads to yellow stone fruits lentil and spice. Serious mid-weight white for cheap.

2006 Gritsch Gruner Veltliner Singerriedel Federspiel
While I liked the Kalmuck for its surprising weight and depth of flavor, I think the same attributes detracted from this Federspiel. It was a fat, no, an obese fed. No cut, no clean minerality. Unfocused and not very well balanced.

2006 Gritsch Singerriedel Gruner Veltliner Smaragd
Heavier, smokier nose than the above. Hot - the 14.5% alcohol unfortunately really shows on this gruVe.

Stuff that White Bloggers like #1 - A book deal

So the dude behind the ever popular stuff white people like blog recently was offered a $300,000 advance for a 'Stuff white people like' book deal with Random House. I read this in the Sunday NY Times, and cannot say that I am at all surprised. Clever concept, funny (if at times a bit mean-spirited) writing, and a potential to appeal to many white (and non-white) readers all add up to a risk that might be worth taking by a larger publisher.

It was particularly interesting to read about literary agents scouring blogs for potential talent. As a blogger in the growing blogosphere, specifically in the rapidly expanding wine blogging community, I wonder if anyone focusing on wine blogging might also get a book offer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And a few more Greek wines worth mentioning....

Coincidentally, my recent group tasting featuring Greek wines preceeded a tasting including a few Greek wines at work. 2005 Tsantali Rapsanis (xinomavro, krassato, stavroto) had a nose of blackberry and tar - again there is that nebbiolo similarity. Fresh, nervy, stylish, well-made wine. I like the cut of this wine's jib. And at under $20 it's a deal. Next up, a Peloponnesian sparkler. Tselepos makes a sparkling wine from Moschofilero named 'Amalia.' Though some, no, all, of the muscat-like floral qualities are inexplicably lost in this bottle, it is still undeniably fresh, chalky, appley methode- champ sparkling wine. It tastes good. Finally, a little something sweet courtesy of the most successful Greek co-op. Muscat of Samos was all bitter-sweet, orange marmalade with a pine resin quality to the finish. Not my cup. Though after a big meal and before an espresso, it could work.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Group meets again for a double blind tasting

A few weeks ago, Mario of the PMW tasting group selected a theme, told us nothing, and selected eight wines for us to run through and discuss. Unfortunately, I could not help but notice one of the wine's turquoise capsules poking out of the bag. Without so much as a sniff, I had a fairly strong hunch what we would be tasting. My first job in the business was selling wines imported from this country, and even though it has been four years since I have regularly tasted these wines, they have left their indelible mark on my palate and career trajectory in the wine business. So while I knew what the theme of the evening would be, and was feeling nostalgic for my years working for a fledgling import company, I of course kept my mouth shut. It would be fun, I thought, to see how many wines I could guess, as there is still a fairly small number of wines imported from this country into the states. Well, fellas, we were to be tasting the wines from Hellas (ok, that's Greece to us Americans).


Tselepos Moschofilero Mantinia 2006

I nailed this one. As well I should have - I used to rep the wine and it is very distinctive. Mantinia is an appellation situated on a moderately high plateau in the Peloponessos (southern Greece). In Tselepos' hands, the wine is simultaneously aromatic, floral, tense and nervy. White peach, tarragon-chervil notes on the nose lead to a crisp palate that lacks a bit in the middle, but is super clean and finishes well. It's like a Greek answer to the ubiquitous (and, I would say, fairly well done) Crios Torrontes, but less fruity, drier, and more mineral.

Moraiti Sillogi Moraiti Paros 2006

An interesting organic, Macedonian blend of the fleshy, Viognier like Malagousia and the more chalky, tensely structured Assyrtiko. I guessed that this was another Peloponnesian specialty, Roditis, given the mineral and citrus character. I was also thinking maybe Santorini, but it didn't have the explosive minerality.

Sigalas Santorini 2006

A top producer, though I still prefer Argyros, whose Santorini wines I find to be cleaner, more crystalline and simply better. Not to slight the Sigalas rendition, though, which is still chalky, fresh, and perhaps a bit more aromatically expressive and melon inflected. Maybe there is more Athiri and Aidani added to this wine, which adds some heft to the leaner Assyrtiko.

Kir-Yiann Petra 2006

Formerly known as Samaropetra. As a five syllable, white Greek field blend of Roditis, Gewurz and a few others, this wine surprisingly never sold well for me. Now the name has been shortened, and it consists of 100% chardonnay (??). Or so I was told. It was fresh and clean enough, with fleshy stone fruit and good persistence. Yeah, I suppose unoaked chard would make sense given how the wine tasted.


Tselepos Agiorghitiko Nemea 2005

As much as I liked his Mantinia, I did not much care for this 100% Agiorghitiko wine. It was a correct wine. Fruit was just dark enough, the French oak elevage just the right time to appeal to critics. A real boring wine though, and a shame, as I'd love to see what could be done with his grapes vinified and aged in concrete, or inox.

Chateau Halaftis Athanassiadi Nemea 2005

Now this one went to the other extreme. Our previous wine was reductive, oaky and contrived in a new school sort of way. This example of aghiortiko was a bit rancio, not at all fresh, thin and astringent on the finish.

Kir-Yianni Ramnista Naoussa 2003

Yes, a return to good wine! Though this was a bit more generous, ripe and fruity than usual (leading me to think that it was a xinomavro based blend with international varietals thrown in). The funky, red fruited nose, though, and pure red berry fruits on the palate, with dry finishing tannins, screams Naoussa. This is what they drink in the Macedonian region of Greece, with lamb. Think Nebbiolo, with a bit more rusticity but every bit as much character and very similar tannin structure.

Dalamaras Paliokalias Naoussa 2004

More of a dark fruited, black cherry nose led to darker fruits on the palate as well, with great acidity and very dry tannins. I like this one quite a bit - should be interesting to re-visit in five years. I later learned that this bottling is produced from 40-60 year old, organically farmed xinomavro vines. At $35 it's not cheap, but it shows the enormous potential of xinomavro based wines - which appear to only be getting better with each successive vintage.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dramatic Lemur

I couldn't resist. There is no denying this lemur's star power.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What's 1976 village Savigny les beaunes taste like?

Before I tackle the question above, I'd like to thank you all for patiently waiting a few days for a new post - I needed the rest. The Cold came back, except this time it progressed beyond my throat, and brought some fever along with it. I actually did try to post a few youtubes, but as sometimes is the case the site wasn't working. I guess it was not meant to be. Basically you missed a video of a lemur, and of John Medeski trading organ licks with a guitarist (forget his name) with an organ effects rig hooked up to his guitar.

Briefly, in other wine blog news I added a few links to the bottom of the page: Spume by Wolfgang Weber and Besotted Ramblings and other Drivel by Peter Liem. Many of you are probably familiar with their work both online and in Wine & Spirits magazine. Wolfgang's blog is wine focused, of course, but shows the wide array of other interests which I love in a blog. Peter's 'Besotted...' has already made me salivate by describing and posting photos of a hearty bowl of ramen in Tokyo, and has detailed tasting koshu, or aged sake, in Nigata. Very interesting and well-written. Check both of these blogs out, you'll be glad you did.

Now on to the '76 Chateau de Meursault Savigny les Beaune. It is a wine for which I had low expectations, but I bought it anyway because of the year (my brother's birth year). Though it was a good vintage in Burgundy (a hot one, though), and many of the better wines have apparently aged quite well, this is merely village wine from the cotes de beaune. From my understanding that is two strikes as far as extended bottle aging is concerned. I have limited experience with 30+ year old burgundy, though another wine from '76 was one of the most compelling, complete and satisfying wines I have ever tasted. This bottle tonight was not that. The color was light brick, with a touch of an amber glint towards the rim, in other words spot-on for mature burgundy. Black truffles, dark cocoa and berries on the nose preceeded a snappy palate of tangy cherries. At first the wine was a bit one-dimensional, but still obviously hanging in with fruit and some life yet. This humble, village savigny gained some intensity and heft as the meal went on, with the fruit turning a bit more assertive and darker. The pairing was with boneless leg of lamb (one day I'll venture outside of lamb for my mature burgundy food pairings) and herbed whole wheat orzo. It was fine, but the real pairing was the savigny and track 4 off Boredom's Vision Creation Newsun.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PRIMAL, TRIBAL NOISE IN THE ROUND: Boredoms at The Fillmore, Tuesday March 18th (a concert review in 4 parts)

Lacking background knowledge or experience listening to Boredoms, I headed to the legendary Fillmore to take in the bizarre sounds and sights of one of the more well respected experimental rock groups of the era. To be perfectly honest, the performance was not immediately enjoyable. I would venture to say that by saying so I am in the minority of the roughly 700 concert attendees. Where the show did succeed though was in its lasting impression, which I will lay out in the slightly unconventional review which follows:


As the lights in the ballroom dim, two voices, one male and one female can be heard chanting in harmony. A distant, shaken tambourine sounds in the background. Slowly, the group approaches the stage, set in the middle of the crowd as is de riguer in this renaissance of noise rock. A thin, mustachioed Japanese man, roughly forty years of age, with one rather thick dread falling down the middle of his back, a healthy sized dread that has comfortably outgrown its thinner, frayed, rag tag cohorts, begins to loudly recite something. It's not in English, but it may not be in Japanese, either. Tough to say, as the mind quickly is drawn to the aural and visual spectacle out on full display, in the round. Loudly amplified, crackling static, and distorted rock guitar struggle for supremacy with floor tom drums and large, crash cymbals. As he continues to loudly chant, no, he is shouting by now, the man rocks back and forth as he displays what appear to be votives set in amber glass holders, one in each of his outstretched arms. He holds one arm up high while the other hangs low, and while continuing the ritual, he welcomes his audience in moderately accented English, "Hellooo. Hello-hello-hello-hello. Hellooooooooo!"


Spread throughout the front half of the stage, in a pyramid formation, are three drummers. In the center is a thin, attractive young woman who occasionally abandons her drumkit to make noise on a keyboard. Yoshimi, I later discover. She also sings. Stage right is a slightly thinner and more androgynous looking type, hair parted in the middle, somehow keeping up with the furious rhythms of the other two drummers. This is no conventional band, and there is no conventional, steady backing beat which the drummers play. Rather, their rhythm is a collage of fill-ins, each making good use of their entire drum kit. Holding everything together is the drum leader, a bookish, slender guy dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and an adjustable black baseball cap. His assault on the drums is focused, methodical, and full of brute force. Together, the drummers set the tone - fractured, frenetic, insistent, loud.

Chapter 3: STRAT'S TOWER

Standing at about seven feet, on the back of the stage, an assemblage of seven, two tone purple and green Fender stratocaster style guitars, each joined to one another, their necks and fret boards facing in alternating, opposing directions. Frequently the dreaded man will bang on this shrine to the rock guitar, using thick, glowing pink drum sticks, or what appears to be a broom handle. Each guitar produces a single chord, the character of which depends on the man standing behind the tower, tuning and making adjustments after the dreaded man finishes his striking of the guitars. Sometimes micro-adjustments are made while the dreaded man continues playing. The bursts of distorted guitar serve merely to season the extended pieces, adding additional bombast when needed rather than adding structure.


Towards the end of the performance, I notice that one concert-goer, a twenty something year old man, with closely cropped brown hair and an intense demeanor, is walking laps around the stage. Repeatedly. He sets a brisk pace, occasionally clasping his hands together in varying formations, holding them out in front at eye level. Some others in the crowd patronizingly offer high-fives each time the man returns from his lap around the perimeter of the room. I wonder to myself, what could be the motivation for such odd behavior? Does the guy want attention, or does he have have some sort of behavioral issues? Maybe he is genuinely moved by the performance and this is how he chooses to express it?

After a brief rest, the band returns to the stage for an encore. The music is noticeably more mellow, more of a slowly churning, deliberate, peaceful reconciliation of the entire show which preceeded this particular piece. While the second encore continues in a similarly laid-back vein, the music slowly intensifies, increasing in volume and expanding texturally, building up to where everything was prior to the encores.


When the music ends and the band has been ushered off the stage and whisked away to the green room, I join others in checking out the stage, taking in the various effects pedals, samplers, synths, drum triggers, a hammond bass pedal console.

Not quite sure what to make of the show, I tell my brother that I was not impressed. That the show mimicked the effect of a five-year old continually tapping your shoulder, repeatedly asking the same question. Nonetheless, I must admit that there was something penetrating and meaningful about the spectacle I had witnessed. Creativity towards which to strive. Energy to be harnessed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Riesling 101: a guided tasting for Germanic Studies enthusiasts

(image courtesy of University of Maryland)

Last Sunday, my good friend and holder of an M.A. in German, David D., hosted an introductory tasting of German rieslings for a former German professor, grad school classmate and their respective spouses. Like myself, David D. is relatively new to wine geekdom, though his enthusiasm for all things wine is both genuine and contagious. With some hearty appetizers and a delicious, large, caterer's size pan of Kaesespaetzle (egg noodles, melted swiss cheese and onions), we tasted and discussed the following rieslings:

2006 Bassermann-Jordan Probus Riesling Trocken (Pfalz)

Personal Notes - Very clean on the nose. Direct, yellow stone fruits on the palate are at first simple and primary. Upon further review, some mouthfuls reveal themselves to be a bit leesy and savory in a very slightly woodsy way. This will probably be at its best in 2-3 years.
Official notes - "The vines for the Basserman-Jordan Riesling are planted on the slopes of the Haardt mountains, the hills that form the western brim of hte Rhine valley. The slopes are southeast facing and contain a lot of sandstone in the soil."

2005 Weingut Burgerspital Wurzburger Stein Riesling Trocken (Franken)
Personal Notes - Fruit cocktail and ripe tangerine scents leap out of the glass. Very clean and persistent on the palate, with a fuller and more mineral tactile impression. This wine is quite Ital to me. Ital meaning Italianate and similar to the Alto Adige, Collio or Isonzo (not 'Ital' as in the preferred vegan diet of Rastafarians).
Official notes - Quite possibly the oldest wine estate in all of Germany, founded in 1319, there is just a bit of tradition and knowledge floating around. This Franconian estate produces some of the best dry wines of this dry wine region -pure, firmly acidic, built for aging and showing the mineral elegance that Wurzburger, and in particular Stein, are known for.

2006 Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Klosterlay Kabinett (Rheingau)
Personal Notes - A bit shy and muted on the nose, the palate is uber fruity, a veritable fruit cocktail. Though it's a bit tutti fruity for my taste, the wine goes admirably well with the kaesespaetzle.
No official notes available....

1994 Hauth-Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese (Mosel)
Personal notes - My more Teutonically inclined readers may recall this wine from my Top 10 rieslings of 2007 post This one right here was the consensus WOTN. A nose of orange soda and peach, with much slate. On the palate there is an array of rich, complex, shifting flavors, of which tangy naval oranges and strong, but not overpowering, herbal aspects (marjoram?) started to assert themselves. One of my current favorites.
Official notes - This happens to be the cousin and neighbor of Martin Kerpen of Heribert Kerpen. This is an old style Mosel wine from a vintage not shy on acid.

2006 Schloss Saarstein Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Auslese (Saar)
Personal notes - Pure, crystalline nose. Spiced poached pear flavors, that are somehow intense and powerful while retaining clarity and delicacy.
Official notes - The Saarstein estate owns the oldest vineyards in the village of Serrig. At the beginning of the 19th century they were bought by an industrialist whose descendants built the imposing Schloss (castle) above the vineyards around 1900. Dieter Ebert purchased the estate in 1956 and established the foundation for its successful development. Thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of the husband-and-wife team, Schloss Saarstein now ranks among the leading producers of the Saar valley.

Thanks to everyone for attending and for indulging me and David, allowing each of us to get on our riesling soap boxes. Thanks to David for picking a great line-up and to Cecilia and David for hosting. It was fun and worthwhile for me, and hopefully for everyone else who learned what we in the business already know:


Now go buy some German rieslings, alright?

Coming Soon: Review of Boredoms at The Fillmore

I can say with much certainty that this was unlike any other concert I've attended (after all they should all be that way, right?) Highly unusual, avante noise rock. Innovative and enlightening, or self indulgent and overbearing? Stay tuned....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bass Culture: Mad Prof at Mighty

I love dub reggae. Its bass-heavy, sparse, echo-laden arrangements, with various musical and sound effect tracks weaving in and out, insinuate their way into your consciousness and move you in ways that very few other genres of music can. At least it does that to me, anyway.

Mad Professor is one of the true masters of dub production, right up there with Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Scientist, Dennis Bovell and Bullwackie. So you can imagine my excitement when a friend invited me to check him out live at Mighty in San Francisco. Big shout out to Chiara and Derek - thanks again for everything.

Mighty, located in Potrero Hill, is a medium sized gallery and club, which as partner Derek Hena mentioned to me, has invested seriously in its sound. And it shows. While I have seen and performed live music with some unbelievable sound systems, I have yet to experience a set of dub music run through such impressive, booming, chest vibrating, leg buzzing sound, all while maintaining great crispness, clarity and punchiness. If you are a musician or DJ and happen to be looking for a 500ish capacity venue in San Francisco that is serious about sound, then Mighty is definitely worth a look.

Back to the man that brought me to Mighty, Neil 'Mad Professor' Fraser. Best known for his 12 part 'Dub me Crazy' series of records, Mad Prof was in top form DJing live. Along with him was a toaster and hype man, who would occasionally stir up the crowd and throw in some toasting over the music. I would best describe Mad Professor's style as driving, mid to upper tempo and highly percussive, with some of the most unusual sound effects I have heard in dub thrown in for good measure. In between songs, or sometimes alternate versions of songs (the remix, by the way, is essentially a Jamaican concept derived from different artists' takes, or 'versions' of classic hits), Mad Professor would introduce a song with a brief anecdote, a quick check-up on the crowd, or a plug for his record label, Ariwa. All delivered in a heavily processed alien sounding voice. Awesome. My favorite aspect of the set was that Mad Professor was not just merely spinning records and punching effects buttons, but essentially mixing, dubbing and arranging on the spot, as he was able to isolate each channel and mix or add effects to the various instruments as he saw fit. It's an art that requires a high level of coordination, and above all a great ear.

I left Mighty feeling like I had satisfied my long lingering primal urge for taking in some top notch dub music, as conveyed by a legendary practitioner of the 1's and 2's.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Last night I went to check out Mad Prof, and the performance was very, very solid. Energy level high, the Professor in top form, and the bass, prodigious. I'll describe the show in more detail in an upcoming post.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Heather B. - All Glocks Down

Heather B!! Remember her on the real world, first season? Speaking of hip-hop luminaries, writer Kevin Powell was also a cast member.

Heather hard....

Two from Contino

Well, I promised a comprehensive CVNE, Vina Real, Contino post, but fate would not allow it as the notes are spread amongst two different tasting books, one of which is currently residing in Rockridge, where my tasting group recently met to taste through some wines, double blind (look for that post very soon). So, for now, two notes on some pretty amazing wines from the famed Rioja estate, Contino.

Contino Rioja Gran Reserva 1996

For the detail oriented, this cepaje is composed of 85% tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo, 10% Graciano. Fermented in stainless, with a 15-20 day maceration, followed by 2.5 years in a mixture of French and American oak barrels. After 2.5 years aging in bottle, the wine is released to market. Mineral, dried cherry, spice, and everything nice that you would want in a Gran Reserva Rioja of this caliber, from such a well regarded vintage. There is great acidity and structure in this wine, and though it's tasty now it should continue to develop for a number of years.

Contino Rioja Graciano 2001

While this is decidely more modern, aged in barrique (new American and, per the website, 'semi-nueva' French oak), the wine nonetheless is impresionante. Bright, bursting purple fruits show in this single vineyard Graciano. It's intenser than a muv, with great acidity and length. Tight, though, and has a lot more to show. I'd love to see the wine in a decade. Only 3,034 bottles were produced - for between $130-$150 a bottle (I'm guessing based off the wholesale price) this wine could be yours.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Husker Du - Pink Turns To Blue

I started listening to Husker Du five or so years after this performance, so around '92. As I recall I was reading an article about Sugar, which of course mentioned the importance of Husker Du in the development of alternative rock. Since I was then around 13 and had an older brother feeding me a steady stream of cool music, I was excited to have made my own little discovery. First I bought Warehouse: Songs and Stories, an oft dismissed, poppy major label effort that I still maintain is underrated. Then I got a Rhino Records re-release of the Everything Falls Apart EP, which also included a few assorted singles and B-sides. Then I finally bought Zen Arcade, which to this day sounds as fresh, innovative and inspired as it did when it was released 24 years ago. Pink Turns to Blue is one of the tracks on Zen Arcade, which ranks amongst my favorite all-time records.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cantina di Gallura Vermentino di Gallura 'Canayli' 2005

Last night I cooked up some linguini with olive oil, raw garlic, crushed red peppers, walnuts, chopped parsley and and toasted bread crumbs (no pecorino or parmeggiano because of the cold) and enjoyed a few glasses of this Vermentino to accompany the dish. The pasta was solid, but the Vermentino was smoking! Ripe, red appley nose, with a soft, fleshy palate of apples and melon. Some bitter melon and iodide on the finish. The extra year in bottle really fleshes this wine out; the flavors are simultaneously vibrant and minerally, while maintaining a slightly viscous texture. Vermentino di Gallura D.O.C.G. is located in the northern part of Sardegna, and this particular example is the Cantina di Gallura’s top-of-the line, from the granitic canayli vineyard. This is a really interesting Italian white for $15 and change.

Obligatory Wire Post

For the few people out there who still don't know - I'm from Baltimore (And no, I'm not just saying that to be cool, or for street cred, per the hilarious 'stuff white people like' posting from yesterday). I have been playing some serious Wire catch-up of late, since I have never had HBO, tend to not watch much TV with friends who do have HBO, and am relatively new to the rent or burn onto DVD an HBO series phenomenon. What a brilliant show, though! Not having grown up in the projects, I can still tell you that the dialogue is authentic and the details very much on point. Some examples would include the lake trout sandwich, Stringer's conversation with his DC guy in the second season ('I hate go–go music anyway,' - a hilarious example of the Baltimore-DC rift, as in Bmore club music is popular, whereas in DC it's all about go-go), and the depiction of Locust Point as a gentrifying extension of Federal Hill. Of course this won't make sense unless you have spent some time in Baltimore, but if you have then you know what I'm talking about.

'The Wire' boasts some unbelievable character development. Most folks' favorite character would probably be Omar, the very openly gay stick-up man. His penchant for attractive, light skinned African American guys, loyalty to the double barrel shotty, and ability to rile anyone and everyone, from pushers to sleazy criminal lawyers, makes for one complex, entertaining character. Oh, indeed!

Everyone from Terry Gross, to Thurton Moore, to wine blogging stalwart Lyle Fass have been fawning over this show. If you've been under a rock and want to find out more, here's some more info on The Wire.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Doing Battle against The Cold

For the past week or so, every third person I have interacted with regularly either has had a fresh or lingering cold. So it is no surprise that I finally have succombed to the germs myself and have been fighting the good fight since Saturday morning. Surely the bachelor party schedule in Tahoe - what with the days skiing, nights drinking and carousing, and sleeping minimally - has aided the attack of the germs. But on day 3 of the cold I seem to have, at least temporarily, stopped the advance of the cold from itchy-scratchy sore throat phase to nasal congestion and discomfort phase. At the risk of sounding cocky, I have pushed the enemy back and am advancing towards their turf. Who knows, maybe I'll be cold-free by Wednesday?

Here's the current anti-cold regiment:

- LOTS of water, throughout the day (constantly drinking water)
- Tea 2-3 times a day (pick your favorite. Just NO MILK. Brew with fresh ginger)
- 3000mg minimum vitamin C a day
- NO DAIRY. Minimal processed foods.
- Meals with vegetables and lots of raw garlic, including:
- CABBAGE. I think I have eaten half a head a day. Three variations:
Chinese cabbage (olive oil, soy sauce, serrano or jalapenos, 4 minced cloves raw
garlic, ground black pepper.
Thai cabbage (olive oil, lime juice, fish sauce, serrano or jalapenos, garlic,
chopped peanuts or cashews, salt, sugar, cilantro)
Mexican cabbage (olive oil, lemon or lime juice, garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin,
cayenne, salt)

Yes, it's some homeopathic, hippie type shit. But I think it's working. To celebrate, I opened a bottle of Jo Landron's excellent 2006 Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet 'Amphibolite.' I am happy to report that my tastebuds are working pretty well - the wine tastes just as pure, snappy and delicious as I remember. Probably should stick to just 2 glasses though....

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Back from Tahoe.

Slightly beaten down financially (bad cards) and physically (lots of attempted skiing down moguls), but no worse for the wear.

I apologize for a very light week of updates, and look forward to being back in the saddle this week. Look for some TN's for a bunch of CVNE, Dominio del Conte and Vina Real wines, some more of those good youtube clips, and who knows what else.

Happy Saturday night.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Todd Anderson's Ghost Horse

Last week, as I was tasting through a line-up of Napa Cabs, I came across a 2003 vintage of 2003 Anderson's Conn Valley Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a pure tasting, balanced, not at all over-the-top Napa wine that was showing well. At $50 it's not cheap, but relative to all the new Napa products (not wines as they lack in any discernible wine flavor, but 'products,' because they do not lack for branding, PR and marketing plans).

So imagine my surpise when a co-worker showed me a website for Todd Anderson's super luxury cult wine, Ghost Horse. Basically, the bottles cost anywhere between $500 - $5000 each. The website brings to mind a US Marines TV commercial. I'll leave it at that and let you check out the 'ghost horse world' if you so desire

- Is Todd Anderson for real, or is this a satire on the cult wine phenomenon?
- Is Zac de la Rocha (and anyone else who co-wrote) getting royalties for the use of their recording on the website?
- Would Ghost Horse take down Harlan, Screaming Eagle, and the other heavyweights of Napa Cab Cultland?

Guided By Voices - I Am A Scientist

I post this for a few reasons:

1.) Bee Thousand is one of the great pop albums of the past 20 years
2.) My man David D was talking up the pending 1990's revival at work
3.) Earlier this evening I was checking out Pitchforkmedia's list of the top 100 albums of the '90's. [Disclaimer: I'm not a regular pitchfork reader. The website was left up on my computer and this piece looked interesting.]

Hope you enjoy some pop on a Monday morning.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Marc Tempe: 'Spiritual Godson' to Leonard Humbrecht

A few weeks ago our local rep for Roy Cloud's Vintage '59 brought in some delicious Alsace wines from Marc Tempe, whom Humbrecht refers to as his spiritual godson in the region. Well, the wines lived up to Mr. Humbrecht's billing. All of these were impressive, at times very mineral and textured, at other times just incredibly lively and fruity, like chomping on a handful of fresh grapes, so vivid and pure was the expression of fruit. All of these are produced biodynamically, with a minimum of added sulpur, and are generally fermented for longer periods of time; accordingly they are held back a year or so longer than the typical Alsace releases.

Though I apparently was in very brief note taking mood, the wines were killer.

2004 Pinot Gris Zellenberg

Bottled with a minimum of SO2; as a result the fruitiness is appealing and there is a touch of pettilance (spritz, if you must).

2004 Gewurztraminer Zellenberg

Ripe red grapefruit on the nose leads to a crisp, TASTY palate of gewurz. Not overly spicy or hot, which for an Alsatian version of this varietal is about all I can ask. If more gewurz were this fresh, delicious and full of balanced character I'd consider drinking more of it.

2002 Riesling Grafenreben

Fermentation lasted two years for this wine and took place in used Olivier Leflaive barrels. This wine is so textured and delicious - it brings to mind a vinous version of not-too-sweet lemon icing.

The Marc Tempe field blend (name? '05 vintage?)

1/3 each Pinot Gris, Gewurz and Riesling. Super fresh, lively and persistent. Fun.

1999 Gewurztraminer Mambourg SGN

I'm not an SGN guy. But this was impressive and I was glad to taste it. Super spicy, botrytized gewurz - buckwheat honey, cardamom and over ripe citrus were all there. Great wine, just not my cup.