Monday, June 30, 2008

Into the wild.

Substance, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 is sommelier extraordinaire Dana Farner's pick at Wolfgang's Cut and Sidebar. The wine is a joint venture from the winemakers at Gramercy and Waters. I love wines from Washington and I think Cabernet is particularly successful because it's like amped up Bordeaux and mild Napa Cabernet at the same time - falls right in the middle of the Old World / New World mix. Lots of dark blackberry and boysenberry fruits with graphite and mint flavors too. Eat a black currant off a #2 pencil and **VOILA** Washinton Cab! 

It's BTG for $14, cheap cheap cheap!!! Go on in, get yourself a big piece of meat and drink some Cab. 

I now feel like growling and putting a harpoon into something... I'm going to find my husband... he's the perfect target for a harpoon.  

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Like the Sopranos without guns.

This is my favorite wine on the list at aoc right now, but when I saw it at Blair's in Silverlake last week I had to blog about it because owner, Marshall Blair (pictured), said he just can't seem to sell it. I was baffled! I sell like 4 bottles of this stuff BTG on my one night a week at aoc. The bartender Rick said to me last week, "Is this the only thing you know how to sell??" And the answer is, "YES RICK. IT IS!" 

2005, Fattoria Laila from Rosso Piceno. Rosso Piceno is a sub-region of the Marches in East / Central Italy, made primarily from Sangiovese and Montepulciano. So it has the high acid and moderate tannins of Sangiovese with the dark dusty fruit and rusticity of Montepulciano. It's Italian like Tony. 

Get yourself over to Blair's because 
1) It's not as far as you think 
2) It's such a lovely place to eat - lunch and dinner.
3) They have plenty of my favorite value wine in stock!
4) The reservation you made at Mozza last Tuesday is still 3 weeks away. 

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Flava of Luv.

The truth is - I'm a bit of an air head sometimes (I know this surprises you) but I totally forgot to blog yesterday. Didn't realize this until I was out with my friend Jill of Domaine 547 last night (an encore Hungry Cat evening!)

Today, another selection from Larchmont Wine and Spirits. I saw this yummy little baby on the shelf and my mouthwatered. 2005, Artadi, Vinas de Gain, Rioja ($29.99) is a favorite around this household. Like fava beans at the farmers market, it only seems to be around for a short time each year. 

I'm a huge luva of Spain's Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. When I prefer something more traditional and dusty I like to drink Ribera. When I'm feelin' mo' modern and flashy I get myself some good Rioja. (Granted there's a lot of cheap fruit bomb Rioja out there too, so you have to be choosey.)

The Artadi is what I call peanut butter wine - as in stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth kind of texture. The finish lasts for minutes. It's chalky, dense and rich... it has many of the elements of great Italian wine without the high tannin and acidity. Coffee notes and those American Oak dill flavors are my fav flavas in this wine. 

As Flavor Flav would say, "WWOOOOWWWWW."

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I can't say that I've ever tasted Romorantin, the native white grape of Cour-Cheverny in the Loire Valley from which hails today's wine, a 2004 Pascal Belliet. 

I expected it to be a green and austere Sauvignon Blanc based wine ala its neighbor region, called just plain Cheverny. Instead, it leans toward Chenin Blanc. A little nutty due to what seems to be a slightly oxidized style but still, it's bright fresh and crisp. But that bruised red apple quality that Chenin Blanc gives me really comes through, especially if it sits open for a day. Believe it or not, we did not finish the bottle last night! 

This was $14.99 at the Cheese Store of Silverlake (our favorite cheese man, Chris P., is pictured!). 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eggs for din din?

Like Prince, my selection today has had a name change.  The wine formerly known as Puech Chaud, is now Puech Noble. 

Famed Cote-Rotie producer Rene Rostaing's Languedoc project, Puech Noble, 2005, is a wee stinky and reduced upon opening. Peter and I looked at each and thought - what's the deal with all these Southern French producers who can't figure out that syrah is naturally reductive and that maybe steps should be taken to ensure that it doesn't come out the bottle smelling like hard boiled eggs or just plain like ass?? (Apologies to the children or those with sensitive ears who may be reading this)

Anyhoo, the "stank" eventually blew off with decanting for a couple of hours and it turned out to be a really great little wine. Minerally with primary black fruits and light tannins. Good acidty too. You know I like me some acid. 

Peter loves the Rostaings. Rene's son Pierre worked at Stolpman in 2006, and Peter has been to the properties (both in Cote-Rotie and in the Coteaux de Languedoc). He says that the soils are amazing, just rocks, it's very desolate. So, the verdict is I really like this wine, just wish it had been $24.99 instead of $29.99. That damn Euro is killing us. Available at the Wine House

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cold as ice...

I know this sounds crazy, but I have started freezing wine if and when we don't the finish the bottle (umm... this is pretty rare) or if I have multiple bottles open and want to save them to drink for later. And it really works!! Just pop the bottle in the freezer, no other preparation needed! 

We started this wonderful little Sancerre Rouge last night, which I bought at Palate for $24. Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy, 2006, Terre de Maimbray. This is a tres cool wine because Sancerre Rouge is so difficult to find here. 100% Pinot Noir. It's highly acidic, like massive mouthwatering acid with tons of stony minerality and very light in color. The fruit is super primary, like fresh, slightly unripe strawberrys. We will finish this for lunch today with red bean gumbo!

We had frozen a bottle of 2004 Mugnier, Clos de Marechale (had just a cup or so left in the bottle) and tasted them side by side and you can see why Burgundy is Burgundy and why Sancerre Rouge is Sancerre Rouge. Granted it's not really fair to pit these wines next to each other, considering the drastically different quality levels, but I still feel like Burgundy, even on the Bourgogne Rouge level, has a rounder softer mouthfeel and the acidity (even in unripe vintages like 2004) isn't as austere. 

So, I have this new thing, where I am going to write an MW tasting note for every wine on this blog. It will part of my daily studies and for you people out there who care to look it over, I would appreciate feedback on my reasoning. Click here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Anything but chardonnay...NOT.

I wrote about Jules Harrison, Caroline Styne and Katherine Strange's Pinot, many posts back. This is their entry level wine, less expensive and very approachable, J & H, Napa Valley, 2006. It's a crisp, fresh, citrusy, no oak, simple everyday drinking Chardonnay. Like biting into a ripe green apple (not the tart granny smith kind). Good for backyards and picnics!

I found this at Larchmont Wine & Spirits for $17.99, which I love because Simon, the wine buyer there, is such a cool guy. I know a lot of you guys live close to there - so go show Simon some love!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Aside from Chateau Musar, which I hate, I haven't ever sought out another Lebanese wine. I figured, why bother? I have a lot of other crap to waste my money on (like the adorable new black dress I just bought at J. Crew)!

But Adam at Vinoteque recommended this to me, Chateau St. Thomas, 2005 from Bekka Valley, Mount Lebanon. When I tasted it I was shocked. It was like drinking a ripe vintage of Haut-Medoc. It is a Bordeaux blend, primarily cabernet, with loads of dark berry fruit, it has so much texture and good tannin structure. The mouthfeel is like WOW - big and round and rich. Nice!

It's $13 by the glass and $39 a bottle. Bang for your hard earned bucks!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Budget nebbiolo.

Peter and I have decided that when you feel REALLY poor you should go out and spend more money. I used to have a friend who firmly believed, "The more money I spend the more money I make. The money just seems to find me when I need it." And she meant it. I am taking on this approach. 

The mortgage payment is due, the second half of the month isn't nearly as fun as the first half, so last night we decided we'd have a very casual night out. I hate that horrid word budget... 

We thought, maybe grab ONE pizza with ONE glass of wine at the Pizzeria Mozza? Well, they were really full, even at 630pm. So we walked to the Osteria and David R. got us table really fast. 

And before you know it we have an $83 bottle of wine (that's cheap really!) and lamb and pasta and cheese and the whole shebang. Everything was crazy good.  Worth every penny. 

The wine was terrific, David's recommendation. He sold us on it when he said it's "splitting hairs" to tell the difference between this Roero and Barbaresco. Roero is just north of Alba and west of Barbaresco, minimum of 6 months in wood and 20 months total between wood and bottle before release. 

Malvira, Roero, "Trinita", 1999 is a great buy for $83 and ready to drink now. It doesn't have the intense lip smacking finish of Barolo or Barbaresco. Instead it has great subtlety for Nebbiolo. Very traditional and dusty, high acid with soft tannins. Delicioso!

Does anyone else notice that for a vegetarian I seem to be eating a lot of lamb lately?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pickles d'Alba.

Cascina Val de Prete, Serra de'Gatti, Barbera d'Alba, 2006. This is one of my "go-to" Barberas when I want to drink something fairly cheap but good. It's full of bright red berry fruit, tart cherry and rustic acidity. True pizza wine!

I found this for $22 at Froma on Melrose, the best little sandwich shop in LA! It's just west of Fairfax. You have to stay, eat a sammy and chow on some gerkins and a chocolate chip cookie. It's all homemade (except for the gerkins). 

The 2005 is delicious too, K&L has it for $17.99. 

By the way... check out the new MW study page. Feedback welcomed! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's not bland it just tastes that way.

This was a weird one. Guerila, Pinela, Vipava Valley, Slovenia, 2006. Pinela? Another grape I have no history with. 

My friend Daryl made a funny slip when she tasted it and said, "It's like Sauvignon Bland... I mean Blanc... no, it tastes like bright citrus, but meyers lemons not regular lemons... not tart and astringent." AND I totally agree. Peter said, "It has a lot of richness and flavor for being an Italian this oaked?? And 14.2% alcohol?" But everyone liked it even though we were baffled by it. These oddballs do that...

(I cut him slack on the Italian comment as we don't have a proper map of Slovenia at home. Northern Italy / Slovenia, same thing, right? Only separated by some mountains and a small sea...)

It was recommended to me by Matt, one of the guys down at Silverlake Wine. I opened it with friends while waiting in line to get into the cemetery on Saturday night... we killed it. (no pun intended.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pigeon wine.

Well, I gotta say, I sort of missed the Father's Day blog... I didn't even remember to call my dad until I sat down to write this!!

This one is for all you Whole Foods wine buying fiends (Marcel / Daryl). A Father's Day Special. Never too late to buy a bottle of wine for yourself for Father's Day, especially if you don't have children. 

Cave de Chante-Perdrix, St. Joseph, 2005. Classic lightly smoky, spicy syrah. It's like black stone fruits dipped in pepper... black and white pepper... Oh!! You know what that is?? It's Ebony and Ivory pepper living together in perfect harmony. 

In past vintages this wine has been leaner (2003 an exception), but in 2005 it's got great balance between minerality and round soft fruit. I dig it! $25.99 at the Whole Foods on Wilshire at 22nd in Santa Monica. 

Oh lord why don't we???

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hungry kitty.

Yum-o-rama! We ate at The Hungry Cat on Saturday and just had the best time. I started with a cocktail called the Echo Park something or other and it was so good. Filled with chunks of macerated mango, cucumber and mint and a dash of chili powder which made it spicy and delicious. It was like eating a spicy thai salad only you could drink it. I am dying to go back just for cocktail (Jill, tomorrow night? :)

However, it was tough to eat it with the food, it overpowered everything. So I switched up to Domaine de Tours, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, 2005. Same makers of Rayas and Fonsalette for those of you who care! It is straight forward Grenache from the Southern France - lots of those chemical / bugspray aromas and grapefruit rind underscored by strawberry jam that I really go bonkers for in the Rhone Valley. $9 a glass. 

This is our uber-friendly server Mack, you can ask for him by name!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Drinking in the cemetery.

Hollywood Forever's Saturday night movie extravaganzas are a regular event around our house. We cook all day, load up our food and wine, hopefully have a friend who's nice enough to be our designated driver and head off to the cemetery. Last night was My Man Godfrey, 1936, starring Carole Lombard. It was so good - it really was - but it was really cold and the four of us snuggled and fell dead asleep for most of it. Ce la Vie!

We drank a nice little Alsatian Pinot Noir, Heber-Bleger, 2005 (I wrote 
about the gewurztraminer a while ago). It was a wee bit dirty, like horse poo and leather, but it didn't bother me - I usually hate those aromas. It really started to blow off once it sat in the clunky water glass for a while. I like these wines that have lots of acid and tang. They my kind of drink. 

Oh, just a note... the color was brownish and a little weird, but it didn't taste oxidized. $18 at Cheese Store of Silverlake and Silverlake Wine.

Pictured is my friend, Dave Hale. Also photographer of what we wished was Alfred Hitchcock's grave!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Hi my blog reading peeps... in sad news, our house was broken into yesterday and both our laptops were stolen (and a pillowcase?) I have no way to post blogs with photos right now. Can only do this post from my iPhone and you can imagine how difficult this is... Hopefully I will have a new computer by tomorrow and will back up and running. In the meantime if you see a white MacBook with serial number 6666666666 at your local pawn shop, call me.

In good news, there was thousands of dollars worth of wine that went untouched. I don;t understand that. Why bother with the laptops when you can steal 1978 Camille Giroud, Chambolle-Musigny, 1er Cru?

In the meantime, I am starting the MW blog back up as a way to preserve my work, which is what this site was originally intended for. That way I won't lose every little bit of information next time!

It's been a long day and now I am going home to drink some wine that wasn't stolen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Calling all sinners.

My friend Marcel is a designer - graphics and such things. He likes to send me ideas for my blog and they are usually pretty bad. This one is no exception. Check out this article on some new wine glasses that are molded after the seven deadly sins... bad bad bad.

Also, Robert Schwan, owner of soon to open resto Pashko in Venice, has a brand spanking new 16 spout cruvinet system for sale. Turns out it takes up too much space and he's willing to sell it for half price. Contact me if you're interested and I will put you in touch with him!

Sorry no wine today, I have to pacify Marcel or he will beat me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An Odyssey.

Ammo is my favorite place to have brunch. I love eating here period. No standing in line waiting for overcooked eggs and bad service ala Dough Boys. Its way less sceney than Toast. AND I can have a nice little glass of wine at 1130am and no one judges me...

So here's what was on the wine menu last Sunday: Vinedos de Ithaca, Odysseus, Grenache Blanc, 2006 from Priorat (Spain). The winery was founded in 1999, the winemaker is young twenty-something Silvia Puig. Rumor has it she sleeps in the winery on the barrels during harvest. I love the oily texture and rich full body of this wine. Golden color and round mouthfeel with lots of apple and pear fruit - low acidity but I still really like it. It's $60 on the list by the bottle, and isn't the bartender cute???

In other news, I saw Sex and the City last night. OMG! LOVED! LOVED! LOVED IT! I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Salad Wine.

This little Portugese baby, Campolargo, Branco Arinto, 2005, was recommended to me by Dave at Mission Wine in South Pasadena.

The label says Madeira loud and clear, but it's a trick. It's not from Maderia, in this case Maderia means it was put into wood. It's way different. On first sip it was a bit like the Txakoli rose, I thought - what the hell is this?? And then it warmed up a little and really rounded out. It's got crazy acid though, like creamy lemon lime acid. It also has, appropriate to it's name, a very mild nutty oxidative quality. It's very very refreshing and lively - great salad wine... don't hear that too often, huh? Can't have too much of that lying around the house, right??

It's $23.99 and would go perfect with a hot rock and a cactus.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Never too early to drink.

So I have to be quick because Peter is forcing me out the door to the Cubs game (that's what he calls it - I say - umm - aren't the Dodgers KICKING THEIR ASS? So wouldn't you call that the Dodger's game?)

At any rate, we had a fantastic bottle of wine last night. Elio Grasso, Barolo, Ginestra "Vigna Casa Mate", 2001. I had the pleasure of meeting the winemaker, Gianluca Grosso, a couple months ago and unlike La Spinetta there's no rotofermenters, so the wines tend to be not as upfront with the fruit, but they are
extraordinarily complex. A great balance between traditional and modern. Very perfumed and the tar and dried herb flavors are so deep and enticing. It's not cheap, but considering the quality, it's not expensive either. Peter bought this at Woodland Hills Wine Co. for $54.99. The texture of this wine was so explosive - the tannins and acid were totally huge and rich and WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM. Delicious. We drank the bottle in about 35 minutes. Pathetic. We may have been a little premature opening it so early, as this wine has a long long time ahead of it. I need another bottle!

I'm sure, however, that the Barolo won't even come close to comparing to the warm flat $9 Rolling Rock in a plastic cup that's in my near future at Dodger's stadium... Go team.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mmm Mmm Good.

It's been such a crazy two days - I missed my post yesterday because I shot a Campbell's Soup commercial and was being tortured by 2 five year old boys all day. It was great! Not sure when it will be running, but keep an eye out, I'm the mom playing pirates with her two adorable blond boys. Can I be more WASPY? (don't answer that).

So... I love today's wine... La Spinetta, Barbera, Ca' di Pian, 2005. I look forward to the release every year and it seems that the span of time it's available is getting shorter and shorter. So my advice is to buy a few bottles and keep it around for a while. It's $24.99 at the Wine House and you can get it at Palate too, though I'm not sure of the price (Steve?). La Spinetta is one of the modernistas in Piedmont, and I love this Barbera because it shows really soft new oak without all the hardcore rustic elements that Barbera sometimes exhibits. (And the dark rich color leads me to believe maybe there is a little roto-fermentation going on??)

I've been using it as a door stop for about 2 months now and thought it was finally time to blog about it! It tastes great and the empty bottle does indeed hold a door open even in high winds.

Oh, and after eating about 16 bowls of Campbell's chicken noodle soup over a four hour period, I needed a real dinner last night. My hubby look me to the Langham in Pasadena (formerly the Ritz Carlton) for a serious 8 course meal. The chef came out to the table to talk to us about our likes and dislikes - totally unexpected and personal. Dinner was fantastic, the food is just so good. They have a live acoustic guitar player (which was very hip and romantic) and the service is young and fresh. Matt, the sommelier, and Robert, the big boss, hooked us up big time with an esoteric wine and beer with our courses (Retsina anyone??). Tre cool!!

So... if you still have that check from George Bush lying around, go out and treat yourself to some Mmm Mmm Good cooking at the Langham.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


My friend Jill from Domaine 547 had a brilliant idea this morning ala Wine Library's Gary Vanderchuck (sp?). He apparently gives away wrist bands that say something to the effect of "I'm a Wine Library Fanatic" if you buy his book. I don't have a book (yet) but I'm now inspired to brand myself...

...what about red terry cloth sweat bands for your head that say HELLOWINE...?? I think that would be just GREAT! (Jill's idea)

In other news, I discovered Comcast OnDemand TV last night. Did you know that you can just press a button and watch a movie? It's better than Netflix!

So speaking of sweat bands for your head, I watched Juno (OnDemand for $3.99) and polished off half a bottle of Michel Lafarge, 2003 Bourgogne Rouge. It was delicious! Lafarge is a top producer in Volnay and makes incredibly traditional wines that have a very forest floor dried herb sort of thing going on. You can get this wine at the retail store at Palate for around $28. It's elegant and ephemeral. Providence pours the 2004 by the glass, but be preapred the 04 is a little bit greener - but me still likey!

Now... to order your homemade head band please call....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Palate cleanser.

Today's wine:

Txakoli Gurrutxaga, Bizkaiko Txakolina, Spain, 2007.

Another rosado from Spain. (I emptied the bottle into my belly before I snapped the photo - so you can't tell it was once rose!) This was a super refreshing wine that took me a few sips to get adjusted before the full enjoyment effect kicked in.

It was a little spritzy at first, with lots of fresh strawberry fruit, tart cherry and mineral flavors. Not complex, just good everyday drinking rose. It's all done in stainless steel making this wine very bright, fresh and clean. It's the total opposite of the oak driven oxidative style of the 1997 Rosado I wrote about below. It's also only 10.5% alcohol, so it's perfect for mid-day Saturday drinking while planting your summer tomato garden. Yum!

Txakoli (pronounced Cha-co-lee) is from the Basque region in Spain. there are 3 D.O.s (Denomination of Origin) here. This one is from Bizkaiko. It's made from 100% Hondarrabi Beltza, a native red variety in the region.

This is $17.99 at Palate Food and Wine. If you haven't been to Palate in Glendale - you must go! It's brand new, Chef Octavio formerly of Patina and genius wine guy Steve Goldun, formerly of Woodland Hills, have opened an amazing space. There is both a restaurant and a retail store. This is going to be the next big restaurant in LA, mark my words!

And ready for this?? I challenge anyone out there to find a place that is offering the prices and the selections available at Palate. Two weeks ago, Peter and I drank a 2001 Talenti Brunello there for $68. We came home and saw it on wine-searcher for $75. It was on the list at the restaurant for less than retail price. I almost fainted. I can't stop talking about it. I'm an evangelical convert. This is the restaurant I have been waiting for my whole life!

And it's not like Steve is offering this one wine at that price because he got it on close-out (like the riesling at Hatfield's). The prices are outstanding for every single wine on the list, because he wants people to drink great wine. I love that!!!

And the food... well.. you just have to go and experience it yourself. Check out the free range (house dry aged) WHOLE lamb. Octavio is very proud to support his local farmers - and even though meat makes me queasy I think I will chow down on some lamb on my next visit!

Make a reservation there NOW. I command you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My favorite rose ever?

This is one of the best / most interesting roses / rosados I've possibly ever had. Lopez de Heredia, 1997, from Rioja.... $27.99 at CheeseStore of Silverlake.

I know, you're thinking, 1997 Rose? Really? And yes really. This wine is barrel aged for 4 and a half years before bottling. Then it's left in bottle until the winemaker deems it appropriate to release. It's just insanely complex and delicious. For those of you who swear by Domaine Tempier rose (which is now a whopping $39.99 at most small retail outlets) try this baby. It's got incredible depth, viscosity and concentration of flavor. It's not just a serious rose, it's a very serious wine.

And it's comforting, like mashed potatoes. Yes, that's it, it's the mashed potatoes of the rose world. A real treat for those of us who like to treat ourselves.

And Chris (pictured) will recommend a fantastic Spanish cheese to accompany this, and then you can die and go to heaven.

P.S. I'm not the only blogger out there who loves this wine... check this out...

Monday, June 2, 2008


My friend Adam just opened a very cool spot called Vinoteque in Culver City. They have live music every night and small plates with wine pairings. I was supposed to stop by on Friday night, but Peter's flight arrived really late. I can blame my lame Friday night circling the airport on United.

I stopped in to see him last week and asked him what he was loving on the list and he pulled out J.J. Christoffel, Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling, Kabinett from the Mosel. This is what Adam says, "The 2006 vintage is full-bodied with a little residual sugar, nice acidity and a lot of juicy fruit." It's $10 a glass, which is just a great price for a good glass of Riesling.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Not quite Chef-boy-r-de, but...

When I first started working at aoc we had Borie la Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches by the glass, one of my favorite wines to recommend to customers and one of the cheapest! It was delicious, but I haven't seen it around in awhile. It's from Saint Chinian in the Languedoc in Southern France, a blend of syrah, grenache and mourvedre.

I was at Silverlake Wine last week and saw it on the under twenty table. This wine is perfect for a stay at home spaghetti night because it is loaded with spicy oregano, earthy tomato and meaty flavors - which sounds weird - but is actually really good and savory and grounding. Om.

And you can see the price point. $15. Yum!