Sunday, September 28, 2008

A taste of MOB from '83

Here is the second on what will be three Mission of Burma posts (the third will be the concert review of their September 27th show at The Independent in San Francisco). The video below is from the companion DVD to the re-issued Vs. album. For those of you not familiar with their history, Boston's Mission of Burma recorded two records, the Signals, Calls and Marches EP (1981) and Vs. (1982), and then called it quits primarily due to guitarist and vocalist Roger Miller's tinnitus. They have clearly influenced dozens of bands, from contemporaries like Sonic Youth and Husker Du, to Fugazi, REM and Pearl Jam, who released their own record titled Vs as a tribute to Mission of Burma. Mission of Burma re-united in 2002 and have gone on to produce two solid, well received albums of new material. The clip below is the post-punk band showing their mid-tempo, melodic side.

Best $25 spent so far this year? Tickets to Mission of Burma

Last night I went to see Mission of Burma perform their seminal classic Vs. at The Independent, one of the better run, more intimate venues for live music in San Francisco. I hope to publish a full show review this week. Allow me to say though, that the show was phenomenal. Those guys really rocked it. Bass, drums, guitar, a few effects pedals, that's it. Oh yes, and the tape delay loop guy hidden offstage around the soundboard. Good shows entertain, great shows transport and lodge themselves in the memory. This show was great.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Royal Dessert Wine

Forget about Sauternes. SGN, no thanks. Eiswein, BA and TbA? Now we're getting closer, but not on my dime, thank you very much. Yesterday, I tasted through a terrific line-up of wines with Ben Howkins from the Royal Tokaji Wine Company. Let's just say that the Russian tsars and assorted other monarchs of the day, who bought tokaji by the cart-load, knew their stuff. The combination of naturally high acidity, high residual sugar and moderate alcohol makes for a finely balanced elixir to finish a meal. While I do have a sweet tooth, I am generally not much of a dessert wine fan, mainly due to the excess of alcohol and lack of acid balance in many of them. After tasting through much of the current Royal Tokaji Wine Company line-up, though, I was reminded of how delicious these wines are.

The Royal Tokaji Company is a collaboration between wine writer/living legend Hugh Johnson, author and port authority Ben Howkins and winemaker Peter Vinding-Diers. The wines (with the exception of the dry furmint) are a blend of late harvested, naturally botrytized Furmint, Harslevelu and Muscat.

Ben Howkins was on hand to guide customers and co-workers through the wines.

2006 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Furmint

A typically creamy peach and apricot Furmint nose leads to a fully dry wine, with yellow pitted fruit flavors, good richness and mouth-watering acidity. Nice soft texture as well. Persistent.

2003 Royal Tokaji Wine Company 5 Puttonyos

Orange and peach marmelade on the nose, with some honeyed botrytis notes. Candied orange flavors on the palate, more plush and lower acid than the terrific 2000 vintage of this wine (which I prefer slightly to this one) but the acidity is still apparent and remarkably in balance given the warm vintage conditions.

2000 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Betsek 6 Puttonyos

Now we are getting to the individual vineyard bottlings, which are site specific and contain higher amounts of residual sugar, due to the extra 'puttonyo,' or container of trampled, late harvested grapes. Betsek is the largest of their vineyards, located on a lower portion of the hills composed of a top layer of black volcanic soil. More creamy and complex aromas lead to a rich, sweeter and higher acidity wine (remember, while the higher number of puttonyos leads to more RS, the measurement of acidity often times goes up with these wines as well, so they don't necessarily seem a whole lot sweeter). The flavors bring to mind an intense, spicy reduced grapefruit syrup.

1999 Royal Tokaji Wine Company 'Nyulaszo'

One of my favorites of the line-up. According to Mr. Howkins, the nyulaszo vineyard contributes the most to the house style of the Royal Tokaji Wine Company. Another step up in aromatic intensity, with orange and toffee candy scents. Amazingly high acidity (I'd love to get the technical specs here, I'm going to guess at least 9g/liter) combined with ridiculous length and intensity. Apparently, this wine is often times a favorite amongst Burgundy fans. I can see why.

1999 Royal Tokaji Wine Company St Tomas

This wine is a return to a gentler and rounder profile. Historically, grapes from this vineyard have the highest amount of residual sugar compared to the company's other sites. Delicious, intense stone fruit jam with a bit less acidity on the palate.

1996 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Mezes Maly

There is a prominent reddish glint in this amber colored wine from what literally translates as the 'honey pot' vineyard. Wow, what a nose on this one! Hugely intense, volcanic spicy nose. Almost like horseradish. Hints of red fruits emerge as well. The palate is accordingly spicy, a bit cidery even. Hints of dried cranberry fruit. Extraordinarily well chiseled and defined. Amazing intensity, acidity and length. This is one of the most memorable wines I have ever tasted. Awesome.

1995 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Aszu Essencia

I was thinking that after the previous wine, it would take quite the wine to match the experience. Not that the aszu essencia was a downer, but man the Mezes Maly was a real game changer. The essencia is a blend of Nyulaszo and St Tomas fruit. 180g/l residual sugar. It surprisingly shows the most savory aromas, a blend of brown sugar sweetness and a good bit more maturity as well. Less of the orange/peach/apricot marmelade characteristics. On the palate the flavors are also extraordinarily concentrated with high acidity as well. The texture is butter soft and luxurious. Really compelling stuff, but tough to describe. Even tougher after the extraordinary mezes maly.

It was an incredible tasting, and a strong reminder of where my vinous sweet tooth resides: the hills of northeastern Hungary. Thanks to Mr. Ben Howkins, Wilson Daniels and our local distributor rep Greg Schuessler for sharing these amazing wines.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Old Chardonnay continues: Chalone vs…Chalone?

Things have really been heating up in the store closeout bin. As I mentioned earlier, we recently acquired two cellars. Anything of significant perceived market value goes on to the old and rare racks, which leaves some other stuff destined for the closeout bin. Yesterday I saw a large selection of Chalone Chardonnay from the 1980’s, and picked up a few bottles, as well as a bottle of 1988 Roger Lassserat 'Clos de France' Pouilly Fuisse, with a tag stating that it was shipped by Kermit Lynch and imported by – Chalone Inc. I will always have fond memories of Chalone, since the 1986 Chalone Pinot Blanc is the first quality wine I remember sipping as a youngin’, the first wine that left a detailed mark in my tasting memory bank.

So the comparison yesterday was between a 1985 Chalone Chardonnay and the aforementioned 1988 Lasserat Pouilly Fuisse. The former had something between an 18k and 24k gold color, a baked apple and werthers original nose and flavors that, while mature, still showed life, as well as its ripe, central coastal California ubringing. The Pouilly Fuisse smelled of wet clay and chalk (one co-worker likened the nose to Kraft Mac & Cheese, which was actually a good call) and showed lots of creamy minerality, though not much else on the mid-palate. Disjointed, weird acidity on the finish. Later on with dinner, the wine showed better, while the Chalone became tiresome to drink. Both wines weren’t without their merits, but for the most part this was more of an academic exercise rather than one in pleasure. I’ll consider this head to head, France vs US, Chalone the winery vs Chalone the importer/distributor battle, a draw.

The New New Yorker

An admission - I'm not a particularly literate person. There are times when I am not reading a book. My intellectual curiosity sometimes does not extend beyond my comfort zone of topics: music, food, wine, politics, language, travel, life in the Bay Area. If a co-worker mentions an article read in The New Yorker, I may be interested but chances are that I have not read said article. It's just one of those things, I have never religiously read The New Yorker. That may change though, based on what I have read so far from the September 22nd issue. It was lying on the coffee table, with its eye catching cover cartoon, an allegory of the everyman tortoise descending down the subway, while the financial exec hare hails a cab. In the issue, there appears to be some terrific Sarah P satire, a wonderful article on an influential independent Russian radio station, and an entertaining piece on Spike Lee (if a bit long-winded, meandering and superficial). All in all, though, some quality magazine reading. I'm into it.

Next up. more time reading novels and visiting museums, perhaps. Maybe it would help if I commit to the occasional literary or art post?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We apologize for the technical difficulties

Several of you have recently brought to my attention that this blog does not show up-to-date posts on google reader or the new 'follower' widget. While I have been trying to figure this out independently, I have had no luck. Admittedly I am not incredibly savvy on the interweb and do not know how to get a straight ahead answer on blogger's help board. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to comment. In the meantime, I'm sorry if you would prefer to read this blog via google reader or 'following' (what exactly does that mean, anyway?) and are currently unable to do so. At least if you want to read material from 2008. Thanks for your patience. I am sure that I will resolve this issue before several more large financial services companies go bankrupt or are bailed out by the US Treasury.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Old Californians: 1992 Mount Eden Pinot Noir Edna Valley, 1983 Scharffenberger Brut Mendocino

I continue to be surprised by the slow aging trajectory of California wines, or at least the ones from good producers made in or prior to the early 1990's. I'm not talking about Cabernet here, which of course has the capacity to age well for a few decades, but about Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and even Chardonnay. Incidentally, I had three bottles of Cronin Chardonnay a few weeks ago: an '85 Napa which was dead, an '85 Alex Valley (probably Stuhlmuller vineyard) which still had rich, tasty golden fruit and plenty of life, and an '84 Santa Cruz Mtn that also was lively and bright, with lovely acidity. Well in the past few days I have had some more old California wine, one which I expected a lot from and one of which I expected little, if anything, of interest.

Let's start with high expectations first. The '92 Mount Eden Edna Valley Pinot was part of a cellar recently purchased by K&L. Since it was not produced from the venerable estate's prized Santa Cruz Mountain fruit, we were retailing the wine for a modest $19.99. The color showed relatively young, with just a touch of bricking. Deep aromas of plum, dark cherries and spice carried over to the palate, but fruit was all there was. Ripe, bordering on sweet Edna Valley fruit. Definitely still there, but without any complexity or the amount of acidity I enjoy in Pinot Noir. A bit of heat on the finish (13.6% abv). It tasted better with sauteed chicken breasts, but still a bit of a disappointment. I guess that's what you get for expecting a lot from a Pinot Noir grown from grapes at a lattitude similar to that of Sevilla.

Now for the surprise showing. The 1983 Scharffenberger Brut was pretty good! I imagine the grapes came from the Anderson Valley. Some funky, impure, elmer's glue type aromas eventually blew off to reveal spicy apple pie notes, with some toffee and lemon curd as well. On the palate the wine had a soft bead, but still with enough effervescence to refresh. Decent attack, lacking a good bit in the mid-palate, but with a very cleansing, lemony, acidity on the finish. Simple but rather tasty. Well worth the $10 closeout bin price tag. Am I going crazy here or does moderately priced California sparkling wine from long ago actually age well?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mobb Deep - Temperature's Rising

What a classic track from the Infamous. I was trying to decide between this and the Q-tip produced re-mix. A tough choice, but ultimately this version won out. Somethin' to kick back and nod your head to.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Goodbye, Didier Dagueneau.

It is tough to eulogize someone whom you have never met. It is somewhat less tough to eulogize someone whom you have never met, but whose work you respect and admire. My very limited experience with Didier Dagueneau's work involves three wines: 2003 Pur Sang, 2004 Blanc Fume and 2005 Pur Sang. All three wines were deeply thought provoking, and I would say that two of the three were amongst the best expressions of Sauvignon Blanc I have ever tasted. I have not yet tasted Dagueneau's most famous achievement, Silex, though I look forward to drinking it one day and toasting the maestro.

Most of what the media said about Dagueneau was that he was a trailblazer, a man who took chances both in winemaking and in his personal life. A man with wild, unkempt hair, dressed in overalls, who some might call 'unpredictable.' In a field of wild personalities, Didier apparently stood right at the top in both his ability to impress with his wines and confound with his eccentricities. As much as we wine lovers will miss him, I think of all of the young vignerons with whom he shared knowledge and offered encouragement. Francois Chidaine, I am told, was particularly close with Didier, as I imagine were many other winemakers.

To the family of Mr. Dagueneau, his colleagues in the Loire valley and anyone else who has come to know and love the man, I'm deeply sorry for your loss. The wine world is losing one of its most passionate and talented vignerons all too early.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An AC Wednesday morning

Nothing like some shouting, terrific harmony and overall weirdness to get you through hump day.

Scroll down, I was up late posting a few new things last night, including notes from the Dressner tasting (probably need to edit for name and vintage accuracy for a few wines). If you were on here looking for new stuff since last Friday, thanks for dealing with the lack of activity over the past few days everyone.

2006 Thevenet Morgon Vieilles Vignes, or Bringin' some flavor to Palo Alto

I recently had the pleasure of breaking bread at the house of good friends of one of my co-workers. Not to go into too many details, the food was very good, the hosts really generous and incredibly hospitable (and not to mention outstanding cooks), and the wines very Napa-centric. This had everything to do with a popular wine blogger who had some samples to taste and decided to bring them out to share with company. After discussing the dinner with my co-worker Jeff, I fully expected a table full of big, jammy wine-like beverages, and so I thought a nice cru Beaujolais would both add contrast and provide something for me to drink with dinner. From the selection of steak (yes, it was a comparative steak tasting, true food geek stuff here) to the epoisse, marcellin, gran cru, and other cheeses, the Morgon worked terrifically. It's got the structure and density to work with beef, but the acidity, savor, dryness and finesse to beautifully go with even the stinkiest of ripe cheeses. Between a crowd of 11 drinkers, Thevenet's Morgon and a mag of '97 Labegorce Margaux (a delicious wine brought by Jeff) were the only reds to be emptied. Who knew that such good taste existed in Palo Alto?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Notes from Dressner Tasting last week

Mr. Joe Dressner (?)

Now this was my kind of trade tasting. Held in the kitchen of Dressner's west coast rep's Castro home, with a manageable amount of wines to taste through and a friendly group of like-minded wine people. Thanks to Mr. Dressner and Shawn Mead for putting this tasting together.

2007 Lemasson Gama Sutra VdT
100% tasty gamay. This Puzelat protege clearly knows what he's doing.

2007 Lemasson Cheville de Fer
Cot. Deeper and more intense nose. Tangy mixed berries over a very smooth, elegant texture. Less earthy than the wine above, and a bit more heft. Delicious young cot - tasty now but will surely gain complexity over time.

2007 Cascina Tavign Grignolino d'Asti
Excellent. Pure cherry essence with wonderful acidity and loads of freshness. Grignolino as good as this is way too easy to drink (not necessarily a bad thing).

2006 Noussan Torrette Val d'Aoste
Mixed berry and dark fruit skins. Good flavors and focus here. Reasonably bright for a Torrette, which can sometimes be a bit darker and slightly chewier.

2005 Gioia de Colle Primitivo
My notes read simply, "Berry. Dusty cocoa. Best primitivo I've had." Ceri Smith, proprietor of the terrific San Francisco Italian wine shop Biondivino, shared my sentiments, saying that it was primitivo she actually liked. Couldn't agree more.

2005 Gioia Antello del Murge
More intense and brambly. Interesting. A touch more earthy complexity as well.

Massa Vecchia VdT Rosso (vintage?)
I have heard a lot about this wine. Maybe I'm just not ready for it; perhaps it's too 'challenging.' Regardless, I found the aromas to be very heady and intense. Macerated cherries on the palate, a touch of CO2, and the sans soufre/minimal sulphur nutty aftertaste I seem to be picking up with increasing frequency in some natural wines.

2006 Malescondo Rosso di Montalcino
Very intense, earthy, tangy red fruit. Some tuscan savor as well. Quite good.

2005 Malescondo Chianti Classico
More intense flavors. Darker fruits and fruit skins. Slightly raisinated nose and more assertive tannins, but all balanced and truly delicious.

Back to the French wines...

2007 Puzelat Tesnieres (Pineau d'Aunis)

Classic white pepper and wild strawberry nose, leading to vivid blue and purple fruit flavors. A true original, and very fine.

2007 Tue Bouef Cheverny

Light, earthy gamay. Tasty and decidedly thirst quenching bistro style wine.

2006 Descombes Brouilly
This is serious cru beaujolais; don't let the Brouilly cru designation fool you. Intense raspberry and blackberry on the nose lead to a palate of of lively mixed fruit, with great intensity and unique savor.

2006 Descombes Morgon
Damn, this is good. A good bit more tightly wound than the Brouilly and in want of long decanting or opening a night before consumption. Even better, stash it away for several years. Very dense, explosive berries, but as I mentioned, decidedly stern. It's not showing close to everything it's got to offer.

2007 La Guillaume Monpertuis

'Poopy red berries,' on the nose, according to my notes. Light, dilute, and perhaps too sans soufre-y for my taste.

2006 Ca de Nocci Sottbosco Ca de Roci
Emilia Romagna sparkler. 50% lambrusco grasparossa, 30% lambrusco maestri, 20% malbo gentile. Dark. Tastes like a sparkling Loire cot might taste if they made such a wine (maybe someone out there does?) Nice gripping tannins on finish. This wine makes me hungry for hearty Italian cuisine, of the regionally authentic, homestyle variety that is probably best pursued in Italy (but of course).
Long time, no new content...THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE! So despite my strong dislike for writing long posts with a bunch of random tasting notes, here is one such entry below. Occasionally, unique wines do merit my putting down the most boring, gray area prone, self indulgent of all prose known to man, wine tasting notes. Hope you enjoy reading.

Massa Vecchia Bia
Another wine that I don't enjoy. If I've lost points with the geeky Italophiles out there, that's just too bad. I apparently don't think dig these Massa Vecchia wines that much. The red was more enjoyable than this one, which had a weird, Brett and wild yeast geuze style savor to it. The Cantillon geuze of sparkling wines. I'd give you more info but the Dressner website links to the Ca de Nocci above when I drag my mouse over the Massa Vecchia link.

OK, whew...this took a good while to get up here. Busy at work, tired at home, and thus the delay in getting these up. Good wines, though, take a while to learn how to make. And so it follows that their descriptions sometimes take a while to post. Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading, and that you might find something new and exciting to try if some of these are available in a shop near you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two very different days of tasting wine - USA and ARGENTINA; FRANCE and ITALY

On Tuesday, I tasted around 50 wines at work. I thought 10 of them tasted ok. Two of them I might buy with my own money. It was a day spent tasting mainly California wines, with about ten Argentinean wines as well, so I guess I'm not surprised that I disliked most of the wines. I've noticed that many of my colleagues who sell wine retail and in restaurants, especially the under 40 year-old set (though not by any means limited to these folks) overwhelmingly prefer European wines to Californian, Washington, Oregon and other new world regions. Furthermore, most wine drinkers I talk to who have been drinking wine for a while often tell me that they gradually have grown to prefer European wines to their new world counterparts. That does not bode particularly well for new world wine regions, don't you think? Especially if more people continue selling what they actually like and think is good, not what they think their customers will think is good.

Of the 50 wines I tasted, there were six by Paul Hobbs, each of them truly awful, and unimaginable with any sort of food. What's up with Americans' unsatiable thirst for these crappy wines? Subject for a future post, perhaps.

One of the two wines that I really liked was the 2006 Unti Petit Freres (90% Grenache, Syrah) which tasted of dark fruit, fully dry, and unmarred by overripeness or new oak. No surprises here given that, if memory serves, they ferment with indigenous yeast in tank, with aging in used oak foudres The other one was a Pinot Noir from Hirsch's Bohan Dillon vineyard in the Sonoma coast. While CA pinot is generally not my tipple of choice, this wine was bright and lively, crunchy red fruits with good acidity and even a touch of minerality.

Now on to a different day of tasting, the day before this one, on my day off. It was a small Dressner tasting, basically a line-up of wines that are not represented by our CA distributor and are available direct from Mr. Dressner in New York. Of the 19 wines, I really liked 14, a markedly higher percentage than the day of tasting mentioned above. Granted, Joe Dressner has a pretty mean palate and imports good stuff, but I think you can readily see the contrast between these two days of tasting. Chances are, if you are reading this then you know what I'm saying and find yourself feeling similarly inclined, but I welcome any and all contrarians to state their wine preferences.

More detailed notes to come on the Dressner wines.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

David Simon, creator of 'The Wire,' interviewed on Forum

Besides having some of the catchiest theme music in the talk show radio business, Michael Krasny's Forum has an amazing array of guests and diversity of topics discussed. Unfortunately, if a program interests me, I can usually only catch part of it before I head into work. Fortunately, I was interested enough in hearing this interview to check out it out online, and listen to it while I unwind, work on a wine entry for this blog, and ponder dinner options. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jamaica, Jamaica

This is not a post on Kymani Marley’s 2006 summer smash, ‘Jamrock,’ nor does it have anything to do with the tiny Carribean island or its popular cultural export, reggae. I would simply like to pay tribute to one of my favorite summertime drinks, the refreshing Mexican chilled hibiscus tea, Jamaica (prounced ‘ha-MY-kuh). K&L’s resident Michoacaner, Jorge Valencia, makes a terrific Jamaica and has been sure to keep our Fridge stocked for the past few weeks. Nothing like fresh, tangy hibiscus tea for a mid-afternoon pick me up. Thanks, Jorge.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The DFA Cool Kids Indie Disco Invasion, featuring Holy Ghost!

As far as what the young dudes and ladies are listening, I am usually woefully out of touch. However, as with many others I occasionally find myself on the proverbial nuts of DFA. I first heard this delicious Holy Ghost! track on CALX, UC Berkeley's radio station. It was the instrumental version, and I was moved. It made me think of electro/funk music from over 25 years ago, which I suppose is why I liked it so much.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bio Ritmo - La verdadera salsa

This Richmond, VA group is the real deal, playing salsa in the the golden age, late 70's style. The song structures, talent of the band, and spot on instrumentation all combine to make these guys great interpreters of This performance was a live one from a television show in PR. If you're in the mid-Atlantic or New York area and are looking for a fix of authentic salsa, you definitely ought to see these guys perform. Tight group, great live show. Here's a link (their site was apparently hacked, so this is actually their page on their booking agent's site)

George Breuer, Lil' Wayne and much, much more at Terroir

If the title alone did not entice you to read more, all I've got to say is - wow...tonight (or more precisely, last night) was supposed to be a mellow evening to share a bottle and meet with a fellow SF wine blogger and Wine & Spirits magazine correspondent, Wolfgang Weber, at the nation's #1 wine bar, Terroir in San Francisco. As has happened on several other occasions at Terroir, the evening went by lightning fast. We drank a few bottles of Breuer rieslings (dry and delicious) and listened several times to the popular Lil' Wayne banger and '08 single of the year candidate, 'A Milli' as well as lots of reggae. Several bottles were cracked open, a few tastes were poured from bottles previously opened for other customers, and before I realized what had happened it was 1:45am and I was closing up the establishment with Guillaume and his friend Pierre. Where does the time go at cool wine bars?

It was an enlightening evening. My first wine blogger meet-up, tonight was interesting in that I met someone who both blogs about wine and writes about it professionally. I encourage you to check both Wolfgang Weber's personal and professional writing as he writes well and knows his stuff. His recent SF Chronicle article on sulphur in the winemaking process was particularly insightful and potentially of interest to readers of this blog. On a more personal note, we had the opportunity to discuss with one of Terroir's owners, Luc, the matter of taste, honesty and passion as it relates to the wines selected for his bar's list. We spoke about how French and sulphur-free does not necessarily equal good wine; ditto for biodynamic and low carbon footprint. No surprises here, but I feel that this bears repeating in what can be an absolutist, dogmatic hobby/obsession. You know what I mean...check yourself the next time you make a sweeping generalization, positive or critical, of any single wine growing country or region, vintage or producer. Wine suprises. It will underwhelm, surprise, impress, and satisfy. Repeatedly.

To that end, there were several wines we had tonight, none of which disappointed, one of which fully delivered on my high expectations, and one southern Rhone wine which surprised me for its sheer likeability and liveliness, especially given my general dislike for wines from this particular part of France.

2006 Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Demi-Sec

The first vintage to be exported to the States, this winery has the benefit of some consultation from Huet's Noel Pinguet. A nose of dripping ripe melon, cantaloupe in particular, leads to a palate of intensely pure, melon like flavors, with a bit of the typical furmint orange blossom qualities as well. Pure, intense, gorgeously soft and textured. What more could you want from Hungary (or anywhere, for that matter?)

1996 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Le Coste

A youngin'. Shamefully, I did not give these 1.5 ounces their proper due. What I tasted was a dark fruited, traditional Barolo, young, and just beginning to offer up some secondary, meaty flavors. Rinaldi is about as natural as they come in Barolo: fermented with indigenous yeasts and minimal sulphur throughout the winemaking process, aging in old oak. I was reading on Italian Wine Merchant's site that Rinaldi's barolos are fermented Ripasso style, over Barbera skins, which used to be more usual practice in the Piedmont.

2007 Gramenon Cotes du Rhone

A (new?) Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone, this is grenache-based, surprisingly lively and appealing. As I mentioned earlier, be careful when you generalize. I had told Guillaume earlier this summer that I generally dislike grenache, except for a few Gigondas and the very occasional Chateauneuf du Pape. A few visits ago he poured me a grenache I couldn't stand, and this time he got me. Apparently these wines are all the rage in Paris right now.

2004 George Breuer Riesling Berg Schlossberg

13% alcohol, duly noted. Young, compact, not too expressive, and a bit heavy. Not bad, but compared to the first Breuer we drank, a merely pretty good effort (sorry, Luc)

2002 George Breuer Riesling Nonnenburg

Produced from a terrific German Riesling vintage (better for many in the Rheingau than '01), from Bruer's highest sloped vineyards, this wine is a KILLER. Complex on the nose, with quince, apricots, and what I imagine as peach marmelade fermented dry (of course this does not exist, it just brings to mind the intensity of the aromas). After some air, the intense minerality reveals itself on the nose as well. The flavors on the palate are tense and intense. Vibrant, chiseled stone fruit with a real saltiness on the mid-palate and finish of the wine. Very persistent as well. Yes! My WOTN, no question, no contest.

There was a Tavel Rose which was surprisingly natural, nuanced and non-Tavel like. Forget the producer name. Also an '07 Saumur-Champigny from Germain which was tasty and well-made.

On many levels, this was a most enjoyable, educational and rewarding visit to Terroir. Just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wine Lethargy

Maybe it's the heat, or the fact that there have been few wines I've tasted this week which have really stood out. Or that I'm just easing back into bloggerdom after the holiday weekend. Whatever the case, for the time being I got nothin' man.

Hopefully, after a day at the office and some time spent at Terroir tomorrow night, I'll be newly energized and ready to roll.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Well, Labor Day has passed by and, though some of the sunnier, warmer days are possibly still ahead of us in northern California, summer's come and gone. Here is a quick run-through of a few wines I've drunk over the past week, and then more in-depth stuff tomorrow and later in the week.

2007 Grange Tiphaine Bel Air Sec Touraine Amboise

60-70 year old Chenin Blanc vines produce the grapes that make this delicious, dry white. Great intensity and minerality.

2006 Goisset St. Bris

A solid sauvignon de st bris, this wine slowly opens up to show broad citrus flavors - think kafir lime - with a touch of herbaceous green notes and intense minerality. Rich, complex, and very Pouilly Fume-like. One to cellar for a few years.

2007 Nathalie & Christian Chossard 'You are so Nice' Cot - Gamay

Here is a most naturally made 'natural wine.' Organic farming, working towards biodynamic, natural fermentation, malolactic which begins and ends naturally, and a minimal amount of sulphur added only immediately prior to bottling. Lots of enticing cot aromas on the nose: violets, barnyard and dusty purple fruits. Not showing a whole lot on the palate, this wine really disappointed, my first Dressner imported Loire wine disappointment. Could just be travel sick, will try another one in a month.