Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nothing constricting about Boa.

Pictured is my friend, Kevin, sommelier at Boa Steakhouse in Santa Monica. I went by to see him this week and asked him for his recommendation, something NEW and EXCITING (see I really am changing!)
He recommended Baxter, a 2006 Carignan from Mendocino. Only 100 cases produced by a father and son team. Fun! Kevin says it has good acidity, a stepping stone for Pinot drinkers who aren't quite ready to graduate to Syrah or Cabernet. I asked him if it was steak wine, and he said, "Yes, but it also has a light freshness to it." If I heard Kevin correctly this wine is on the list for the low low price of $60.

The most amazing thing about Boa is the Sunday "Wine Lover's Night" where all wines by the bottle are 50% off. Did you hear me??? 50% off! That makes Baxter $30!!! Sweet Jesus, take me now.

What a great place to spend the check you just got from George Bush.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Recant and recount.

Ok, well, I was outed last night as wine republican. It's true. I admit it. I am reluctant to try new things. New grape varieties and new regions typically do not interest me. I've been let down by too many odd ball cheap wines in the past to continue to pursue them. If I had it my way I would drink the classics all the time! I may as well be George Bush. So sue me.

BUT I want to say, I was shamed by none other that my friend Bill, Billy, Mr. Fernandez, Mr. Try New Things.

We ate at Cobra and Matadors on Hollywood between Hillhurst and Vermont. We had some snacks and Bill recommended an organic wine, Terra Alta, Vinos Pinol, Sacra Natura, 2006, which I was sure I was going to hate because it was from somewhere I didn't really know (South of Priorat in Spain) and was a blend of 5 varieties, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo and Carignan. $13 a glass, $58 a bottle.

I leaned over to Cara and said, "$20 says I hate this wine!" Bill brought the wine to the table, poured it for us and something unusual happened. I liked it! It has a great backbone of acidity and really good tannin structure without being astringent. Lots of red and black berry fruit and cardamum and cinnamon spice too. I thought it was really delicious! Not that cloyingly oaky and fat Priorat style I was expecting.

So I want to say, I stand corrected. I will stop being such a doubter. I recant my position on odd ball wines. I will try new things and I will even attempt to LIKE them!

Just call me Mikey.

P.S. In other news - check out the black widow that's made a home in our backyard... Think it's dangerous??

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Savvy Saves and Pimping my favorite Peter.

I know. You hate me for posting more on Champagne - but I simply cannot help myself! I've got 2 for you today.

Pierre Peters is one of my all time favorite celebration wines because it's delicious and fairly inexpensive. I love the simplicity of the label because it corresponds to the elegant bubbles in the bottle. Bright citrus lemon notes and white flowers are the focus of this wine and it's truly ephemeral and taut and muscular at the same time. 100% Chardonnay, high acid and lots of minerality. Me Likey!!!!!! It's available at the Wine House for $39.99. That's about as cheap as it gets!

Next is a more broad, biscuity and meaty wine, Camille Saves. This is the Carte Blanche, from the appropriately named region of Bouzy.

You've been there right?? You can get the Carte Blanche for $52.99 at the Wine House or $44.99 at Wine Pavilion in the OC.

Your other bubbly options are, of course, Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Light, featured in the can in the background and available at your local Ralphs.

Party on Wayne.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Come see. Comme Ca.

I had a nice little lunch with friends at Comme Ca on Memorial Day. I want to point out that it was one of the only restaurants in the city that seemed to be open for lunch that day. And we were psyched about that!

Our server, Jeff, recommended his favorite wine on the list, Praxis, Pinot Noir, 2006 from Monterey County. It was a very dark pinot with lots of stewed black fruits, a really nice wine for $44 ($11 a glass). It was the complete opposite of the light, lean and red fruit driven 2004, Chambolle-Musigny, Clos de Fourches by Frederic Mugnier (you can get that at sister restaurant Sona). Jeff said the Mugnier tasted like Capri-Sun and I think he was on to something. It was like beautiful cherry juice.

Our service was the highlight of our meal, casual but very knowledgeable. It's worth noting that in my opinion Comme Ca has the best waiter / server uniforms in the city. They actually fit them nicely and make them look like real people.
And I like to think a cute uniform improves morale!! Just ask the brown shirts (you know who you are).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I love Mozza.

This comes as no surprise, I know, but I love the Pizzeria. It takes me off my beans and greens diet for a night, but it's well worth the stomach ache in the morning! We walked in on Memorial Day and got a table at 8pm for 3 people. That's like totally unheard of, and it made the experience that much better.

We drank an awesome little Soave Classico by Suavia. It's from the Veneto, made primarily from Garganega. This one is actually done really well, I say that because there are some cheapos out there that taste like cleaning fluid. The Suavia is really juicy, lots of pear fruit and fairly full bodied. The acidity is pretty good too! It's $9 for 250ml, about a glass and a half.

Pictured is the Prosecco di Valdobiaddene by Ruggeri, also from the Veneto and made from none other than Prosecco grapes. The staff elegantly pours from magnum table side. I have a love hate relationship with Prosecco, and this one is just on the verge of being too sweet for me, though it was still a refreshing quaffer to start with. It's $11 a glass, and the alcohol is low (11%), so you can start with this and move on to something with more complexity, like the Soave.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hats off to Hatfields.

We made last minute reservations at Hatfield's on Beverly last night. We had a great time, the food was spectacular and I love the ambiance, but my wallet hurt when we left. We both had appetizers, we split an entree and split a dessert and had 2 bottles of $50 wine. We spent $240 with tip, and I guess when I write it out we got out of there fairly cheap. The truth is good food is pricey, and the execution at Hatfield's is pretty flawless.

The bummer is I forgot to take a picture again. I am a total space cadet, but we had 2 good wines that I wanted to pass on.

The first was Weller-Lehnert, Piesporter Goldtropfchen, Riesling, Kabinett, 1998. This was a nice SIMPLE little wine. I was psyched that it was 10 years old, but it was definitely at the end of its life. It was very petroly - which I love - but totally lacking intensity of acid or fruit. However, what this wine lacked in complexity it made up for in price. They must have gotten it on a closeout. The wine was only $49. At that price and 9% alcohol, that meant we could venture into another bottle... (if you're thinking we are lushes, it was actually only a half bottle!)

You know we love Brunello, so we saw a 2001 (an outstanding vintage) from a producer we had never heard of, Canalicchio. The wine was really nice and had lots of that dusty cherry Brunello thing with the juiciness of 2001. Very easy to drink. Too easy to drink! It was $55 for a half bottle.

Looks like they sell it at Mission Wines in South Pasadena as well. Full bottles are $56.99, which is a deal for 2001 Brunello.

One thing I want to say about Brunello is that the alcohol is not low. At 14.5% it rivals the alcohol content of so many new world wines. I hear so many sommeliers and buyers complain about high alcohol levels in new world wines. But Chateauneuf-de-pape frequently comes in over 15% and like I said, Brunello is at 14.5%, Amarone? Forget it! It's like 16%! Just food for thought. What are we really complaining about anyway?

And, again, sorry about the photos my friends!! The blog just isn't the same without them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Recruit me sargent.

My friend, Bill, is sommelier at numerous restos in town (Cobras in Los feliz, on Beverly and 750ml in Pasadena.) I asked him to make a recommendation from Sgt. Recruiter, the new super cute Frenchy bar right next to Cobras on Hollywood.

He is recommending Bucklin, Old Hill Ranch, Zinfandel, 2005, $60 a bottle. I thought this was a good one because I never seem to recommend domestic wine! Bill says this wine is "desirable and inviting makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside" (loosely quoted :) Its so freaking cold! It's totally perfect for the bone chilling night.

Bucklin is a field blend, meaning they take whatever grapes are in the vineyard and throw them all in together. It is 80% Zinfandel, but has at least 10 different varieties in it including Petit Sirah, Grenche, Carignan, Tannat, Mourvedre. They have a crazy cool map on their website of the vineyard. Incidentally for you Zin fans, the grapes used to be sold to Ravenswood and now the family makes their own wine. Only 600 cases produced. At over 15% alcohol, don't forget to call a cab!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wave goodbye to winter.

Domaine Tempier you probably already know, but as I was browsing Du Vin Wine and Spirits today, I saw these half bottles in their big diverse bins of 375ml. ($26.99 in half bottle, $43.99 in full)

I love the 2005s, the entry level Bandol is 75% Mourvedre, with the remainder a mix of Grenache and Carignan. Deep and rich, with intense black fruits and it's waayyy less dirty and stinky than the last few vintages. This one actually tastes clean and pretty!

Because it was raining today it seemed like the perfect time to cuddle up at night and drink a toast to the last remnants of winter and spring!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Through rose colored glasses.

Henri Billiot NV, Brut Rose. This was the favorite at the wedding with our guests! Truly refreshing sparkling Pinot Noir. It's not a meaty rich rose, but rather has a lots of bright raspberry fruit. Still, it's serious wine. The estate is just a little over 11 acres, all Grand Cru. Super small production and family owned.

I couldn't actually find any full bottles to take a picture of!
You can get this at Wade's Wines (off the 101 in Westlake Village) for around $60.

Hey, btw, please send me pictures and tales of your favorite LA wine places. I would love to post someone's opinion other than my own!

Also, I forgot to take a picture, but had a really fun meal at Primitivo last night with friends. We drank 2004, Bruno Clair, Marsannay for $15 by the glass. A terrific end to our meal! Light and refreshing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm a woman and I guess that matters.

I've returned from the wedding and the honeymoon. Alas, it seems I have to go back to work again, which is totally beyond my comprehension. I keep thinking, REALLYYY???

The new focus is now on my MW studies. I am in a study group that gives each other essay topics to ponder every week and now I've got to write one of those annoying ones.

"In wine, women are more influential than men. Discuss."

It's likely that this question was written by a woman on the MW exam panel, no? And while I initially winced when I saw it (like, are we STILL talking about this?), I've been amused while doing the research. It feels so like my Women Studies class at Vanderbilt circa 1995.

Women certainly are not more influential than men, in fact I think the women vs. men thing is totally a non-issue. But still I have to answer the question. So where do women exert the most influence? It's the grocery store consumer, and the value segments of the wine industry. Women still do the majority of grocery shopping and make most of the wine purchasing decisions in the family (I think the figure in the US is about 70%).

In doing a little research on marketing wine to women I came across 2 hysterical blogs and just wanted to pass them on to my friends to read. The first one on Little Black Dress (click on link below) is about 2 years old, but I still think it's still relevant and funny. Every time I see the wine Little Black Dress, Bitch, Beringer's White Lies or even Babcock's Big Fat Pink Shiraz I feel like I was just hit in the head with a blond joke. It makes me want to take a shower. Don't you think this goes way beyond Wine for Dummies? It's a whole new marketing category called Wine for Dumb Women.

I want to be clear, I am not angry at all about this, I find it absolutely hysterical. Check out the piece about marketing to women in The Onion. The picture speaks volumes, "San Diego women empower themselves by eating dinner unaccompanied by men." Now, I would never go far. My new husband won't let me.

Anyway, beyond that I have a ton of wines to write about since taking my unannounced hiatus, and none of them are made by Fetzer, Beringer or Babcock. And I promise never to write on a "diet wine".

Here's a continuation of the seven Champagne I promised to write about but just didn't deliver... (Just like woman, huh?)

Ployez-Jacquemart, Brut, NV. Absolutely delicious!! This was probably my favorite of the wines at the Champagne bar. The total production of all the bubbly at Ployez-Jacqumart is 6000 cases. Super small considering they have about 8 different wines.

It's a blend of mostly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (60%) and Chardonnay (40%). It has a lot of depth and flavor (as it ages minimum of 3 years before it's released), but it's also got this incredible crisp acidity from the Chardonnay.

My adrenaline was so high the night of the wedding I was burning through this like a Humvee burns gasoline.

You can get this at 2 big retailers Wine House on Cotner and Wine Pavilion in the OC or you can pick it up on La Cienega at John and Pete's. Price ranges from $36.99 to $38.99. You absolutely cannot find Champagne that cheap anymore! So stock up.

Now if I only I had a little black dress to wear while I sipped it...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Et Tu Bruno?

Bruno Gobillard, Vieilles Vignes, NV.

I love this wine!! Another grower Champagne, it's a Becky Wasserman selection, sold by Sandy Garber (pictured below with the Valduero at the CheeseStore of Silverlake.)

It has that toasty biscuit thing that I love, but it still maintains incredible freshness and lively ripe pear fruit. Very complex.

There's even a bit of vanilla on the nose that makes me think of my childhood, drinking canned cream soda with my grandmother on her broken concrete porch in rural Kentucky. (It's the day before my wedding, I'm allowed to be sentimental.)

The worst part is, I don't think you can't actually get it right now, it seems to be sold out everywhere, as production is very limited. But check with your friendly neighborhood retailer to pick up a bottle next time it's released, they may be able to contact Sandy and make it happen. It should retail around $60. Sounds like a lot, but it's worth it!!!!! and this will be a good exercise in planning for your wine collection!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wedding Fever.

So for all 6 of you who read my blog, many apologies for the missed posts over the weekend. This wedding thing really does throw a wrench in the life of a blogger...

Anyhoo... it's Champagne Fever around here! There will be a Champagne bar at the wedding and I plan to feature one on the blog each day for the next 7 days! I know, you can hardly contain yourself!! Me too!!!

So here's the first. It is a Veritas wine, and one that I happen to adore. Leclaire-Gaspard, Blanc de Blancs, NV from Avise. 100% Chardonnay, 100% Grand Cru fruit. The vineyards and winery are family owned and operated (this is a grower Champagne) on just 4 hectares in Avise. It's crisp and clean with lots of creamy citrus fruit. Some light biscuity notes but it's not heavy at all. Refreshing and cheerful!

You can find it at Froma on Melrose, $45, and the Wine House. It's also on the wine list at Jiraffe in Santa Monica, Addison at the Grand del Mar in San Diego and the soon to open Palate Food and Wine in Glendale.

So toast to the beginning of my new life! "Say goodbye to singledom..." (quote by Susan Brink of Venokado) and let's drink Champagne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

More cheap(ish) old wine!

I think this wine is so much fun I might wet myself!

1998 Valduero, Ribera del Duero, Reserva. $31.99 at the CheeseStore of Silverlake. It's dusty and complex with dark dried fruits and an amazing coffee/toffee/lightly oaky finish. Muy delish!

Sandy Garber's beautiful smile is pictured with the wine! She distributes this little jewel. Some of you may know her from her own project, Topanga Vineyards, Black and White Cabernet and Celadon Greanche Blanc (both available at aoc by the glass).

Come on guys!! Trade up for the weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rosso Tasting!!!!

For all you organic and biodynamic freaks out there... come join us for a tasting at Rosso Wine Shop on Friday from 5 to 8pm. It's just off the 2 fwy. on Verdugo Road. This is your chance to actually drive out to Glendale like I've been telling you to do, stock up on some great affordable wines and meet a winemaker who speaks so little English that he can't be obnoxious. "Perfect!" you say?? Me thinks, yes it is.

P.S. It's only $10!!!! So no excuses.

The Line Up

2006 Domaine Olivier Pithon Cuvee Lais

A unique white wine made from Maccabeu, White and Grey Grenache. Named after his cow, Lais. There is all the freshness and vivacity of the North, married to the richness of the
Mediterranean. The vines are planted on shale hillsides. You can drink this wine in its youth for the vivacity of aromas and taste in the mouth or wait to be surprised by a very mineral evolution.

2005 Domaine Olivier Pithon LA D18
The top white cuvée made from White and Grey Grenache. These premiere grapes come from a selection of the best slopes. Since 2001 these vines have been producing a white with enough intensity to create this top bottling. We try to bring out the density of these beautiful grapes.

2006 Domaine Olivier Pithon La Coulee
The search for fruit could sum up this blend of Black Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. A selection of the youngest vines in the concave areas of the hillside, moderate extraction and short ageing in concrete tanks. This wine gives immediate pleasure, full of fruit and elegance.

2004 Domaine Olivier Pithon Saturne
Saturne was the surname of the Spaniard who settled in Estagel and planted the initial vines which constitute this cuvée. Produced from Black Grenache and Carignan, planted directly on the rock on the side of the shale slopes almost 60 years ago. On its lees for up to four weeks and aged in barrels or large casks for 4 to 18 months according to the vintage. This allows all the richness and the complexity of these concentrated grapes to come out.

Taste all four wines - one night only - for $10.00 per person. Pictured is the winemaker changing my tire. He yelled at me, "Is this what I have to do to sell wine in Los Angeles??" I said, "Yes, Olivier, and a little more too..."