Saturday, August 30, 2008

The first video post!

A short video of the Doctor vineyard in the village of Bernkastel in the Mosel. We tasted a lot of wines that day, and loved them all. The ones from Dr. Thanisch, where the video was taken, are super rich and ripe and have intense sweetness and acidity.  

The vineyards are crazy, so steep you can't really walk on the soil without sliding down the hill and slipping on all the blue slate. I've seen pictures before, of course, and knew the vineyards were steep, but this was quite an experience. Until you're standing at the top of that hill with serious vertigo it doesn't really register just how insane it must to work the vines on these slopes. 

The wines from Selbach-Oster (far above) are not from this vineyard but instead come from vineyards in the villages of Zeltlinger and Graacher. They aren't as unctuous as the DR. Thanisch wines and they are easier to drink when young. I particularly thought their Red Fish and Green Fish wines were very good for the price. They retail between 10 and 13 dollars here in the states. The Red Fish is completely dry with 12.5% alcohol, while the Green Fish is lower alcohol (9.5%) with a smidge of residual sugar for those of you who dig that sort of thing. Perfect for daytime sipping. I know they export a ton into the states, I just can't seem to find out where they are sold at the moment, which is of no use to you! But when I find them I will let you know. 

So instead, check out their Kabinett, Riesling, 2007 (not pictured) for $21.99 at K&L.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Note. Its my fourth day in Germany and my teeth hurt. As in, its been very difficult to gnaw on the weiner schitzel. They ache at night. I wake up with dreams of Freddy rubbing a nail file on my molars. And then I wake up and realize its not really a dream except for the Freddy and the nail file part. 

So no wine today, just a short lesson in how acid absolutely ruins the enamel on your teeth. Read here. And here. And here

My favorite quote, "Wine itself will not rot your teeth, but since acid is present in alcohol, it will wear away the enamel on your teeth, exposing the softer dentine underneath..."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weiner my schnitzel.

Carl Schmitt-Wagner sounds like a night time soap opera thespian from the 1980s, but what it is actually is a really nice Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg, Kabinett, Riesling from the Mosel, vintage 2002.

As you read this I am sure I will be tossing and turning in Germany with moderate plus jet lag and severe constipation from way too much weiner schnitzel. Don't let me be lonely tonight, so go ahead and join me in my journey with this lightly sweet, 8% alcohol, light citrusy schatz (or baby as we say here in the states.)

$20 at the Wine House.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blind tasting gone awry. Again.

Givin' some love to my honey, he blind tasted me on the not yet released Stolpman, Estate Syrah, 2006. I thought it was St. Joseph with a little more umph of fruit and alcohol. 

My notes were, "Juicy fruity aromatics combined with lean minerality point to old world. Moderate plus alcohol and moderate plus tannin indicate warm climate. Grape variety (Syrah) indicates N. Rhone Valley... " well... no need to write more.... you can see that I went right off the deep end. 

But nevertheless what I wrote about the quality level is more important. I wrote "High quality." and then listed a bunch of reasons which would actually bore you more than what I wrote above (if that's possible). 

It retails for around $30 and you will definitely be able to get it at the Wine House on September 15th. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

82 rockin' points.

Now I'm not Alice Ferighwhatever, I don't mind the point system, but this wine kills it and 82 points seems a little, well, LAME. 

Peter and I were waxing poetic (sorry for the cliche) about the pure dramatical elegance of Tenuta di Valgiano, Palistorti, 2005. It really blew us away. It was chewy, with good acidity and beautiful floral aromas. Just downright good drinking. A blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah, what's not to like people?

You can get it for $37 at Domaine 547 from my friend Jill who has a self-acknowledged knack for loving low scoring wines.  

Yahoo!!!! Here's your very own chance to save the world from Parkerization!! (Or, actually, in this case from Wine Spectator.) 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Keep your leg to yourself.

The newest hottest spot in Venice is officially Gjelina. Now while I don't have a picture of the wine we drank, I did take a very clandestine picture of a randy date. This guy is so psyched right now. Little miss something is giving him the 'ole leg  over the lap trick. Notice his left hand. 

Ah! I remember the good old days when my leg had a life of its own. It was like Sammy David Junior Junior, having amorous times with whatever came its way. It would just throw itself on anything. When I got married I finally realized that it generally means you have to put out. And well, like I said, I'm married, so what's the point?

Wait, this is a wine blog, right? Right. 

I drank a Montepulciano and Peter drank an Aglianico and we liked both the wines at $12 and $13, respectively. Unfortunately I was so busy people watching I forgot to write the wines down. The outside patio is magical and dark and romantic. Just go and enjoy and drink what you want. Just go. 

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Not Gwyneth's baby.

I love this wine, and not just because I sell it. 

Jo Pithon, La Croix Picot, Savennieres, 2005. An awesome chenin blanc from the Loire Valley. (2 Loire wines in a  row!! You're killing me Larry!)

Sommeliers literally wet themselves over it and wanna be lovers with it. That is a weird thing to say, I know, but my point is its truly one of those remarkable values, a little geeky but simultaneously lip smacking good. 

Your lips will smack because the acidity if so bright and fresh, but it's balanced by these terrific notes of hazelnuts, bruised red apple and a tinge of new oak. 

Speaking of apples, you can get this at Bryan Ogden's new resto Apple located at 665 Robertson Blvd. for around $60 a bottle. Opening this weekend with Mark Hefter, sommelier extraordinaire from Las Vegas. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

Funny lookin' bottle.

I bought the J. Mourat, Fiefs Vendeens, Collection, Loire Valley, France, 2007 as a recommendation from Susan and Tracy at Venokado, but it also happened to match my penchant for funny lookin' bottles. I have an ear that goes a little funny, so I have a soft spot in my heart for the oddballs. 

The truth is, the wine in the bottle wasn't funny at all. It was sort of serious. I mean serious like Matthew McConaughey with his shirt off. Slightly fruity with good muscle and nice structure. It's a blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Negrette. 

$18 at Venokado. Tres Hollywood for tres cheap. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vegetarian lambrusco.

Medici Ermete, Concerto, Reggiano, Lambrusco, NV. 

Fruity, totally loaded with wild berries and cassis, but totally dry, I find this little bugger super interesting. Lambrusco is fascinating to me because its crazy deep ruby red and basically tastes like cold, sparkling, and in this case dry, red wine. Which I guess it is. Why that's "fascinating" I don't know. But I like it and you should give it a try.  

Also, I just found out this product is "vegetarian", meaning no animal by-products (like fish bladders) were used in the fining process. Click here for a funny read (FYI, ox blood was traditionally used as a fining agent in, but is illegal in just about every place in the world that produces commercial wine, but this paper makes some excellent points, particularly the diatribe on drinking at the bottom of the page.) 

As a side note in response to the paper, this wine should not make you commit suicide... I don't think... it's not like an Ozzy Osborne song or anything. 

You can get this at Froma on Melrose for $25. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bite me.

Monte Antico, Tuscany Italy 2004. 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cab Sav, 5% Merlot.

Today's guest blogger, Cara Bertone, former famous (or infamous?!) Watergrill Sommelier and now Veritas biatch, says "It's like vines that grow strawberry licorice. So real you feel the seeds stuck in your teeth! Don't forget to add that hint of grape leaf that happened to fall into your full mouth of fruit! At only 12.5% alcohol this thing rocks with some food! Preferably with Chicken Marsala inside a red sauce ( just so happened to be what was for dinner!). Tames down the herbs and brings out the well, you know, cherry tomato!"

Pictured is Kelly, who appears to have a bottle, not strawberry seeds stuck in her teeth. Anybody got some pliers?

$13.99 Whole Foods, Fairfax and Santa Monica.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The gold goes to gruner.

Doesn't this bottle just make you thristy?? Nikolaihof, Gruner Veltliner, Hefeabzug, 2007 from Wachau, Austria was the first biodynamic vineyard in all of Europe. Hefeabzug translates as "sur lie", meaning while it was aging in barrel or tank they left the wine in contact with dead yeast cells in order to make the flavor profile more round and complex.  

I have not traditionally been a huge gruner fan as I frequently find them dull and slightly bitter. But this one is fantastic. Really full and rich with excellent acidity and - the color is surprisingly gold (with green edges) and it's not vegetal at all. White pepper with fresh peaches.

It pairs nicely with the Women's javelin and uneven bar competitions. And BTW Nastia was ripped off!!!!!

It's available at The Wine Country in Orange County for $27.99, but you can also get it by the glass at aoc

Monday, August 18, 2008

Madam without the "e".

Madam Preston, Roussanne / Marsanne / Viognier, Dry Creek Valley... no vintage date, so I can only assume it's a blend of years. 

Another wine made from organic grapes that we poured at the Google party. Madam Preston has always impressed me with its packaging, but until last week I had never tasted the wine. It was very popular because of it's rich texture and those exotic floral accents that viognier adds to the flavor profile. Roussanne and Marsanne contribute nuttiness, and really strong red fruit qualities. Lots of strawberries and fresh pluots (the ubiquitous farmers market plum/apricot hybrid). Yes, it really does taste like a pluot, I didn't just throw that in so you'd think I was smart or, more likely, eccentric...

Also, check out Lou Preston's blog

It's available at Mr. Marcel at the Grove for around $30. And also, of course, it's on the list at Lucques for about $60.  

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Les Aphillanthes, Cotes-du-Rhone, 2005 was a nice fresh start to our red flight at the Google goes Green party. I asked our Google friend Rick what he thought about this wine and he said, "I like the lightness of it, but it still has a nice spicy quality... perfect for a summer evening." Drinking this wine is sort of like going camping, rustic and natural. Like the Ehlers it's also biodynamically farmed.

Aphillanthes also makes a higher end cuvee called Cuvée des Galets. I'd say check that one out too. It's a little less rustic.

You can get this wine at Lucques for around $30. It's available at Woodland Hills Wine Co. for $12.99. You can get the higher end wines for $18.99 at the Wine House

Friday, August 15, 2008

Google goes organic.

I worked a "green" Google party last night for aoc / lucques and met a bunch a bunch of great people who seemed to really like what we were pouring. All organic and / or biodynamic wines. 

Pictured is our friend Adam who really liked the Ehlers, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2005. The story goes that the owner is a cardiologist and that all the proceeds are donated to cardiac research, which on top of being a biodynamically farmed vineyard, is pretty darn cool. 
I asked Adam why he liked it and he coyly replied, "Because you recommended it to me." If I've ever heard a  better reason to drink a wine I certainly cannot remember it.  

I will tell you that the Ehlers, even though it's filled with densely packed ripe dark fruits, it has very soft tannins and is totally approachable and REFRESHING. A true marker of high quality for me! Given it's popularity last night, I'd say grab yourself a bottle soon before all the Google geniuses gobble it up. 

You can get this on the list at Lucques for around $60 and can buy it retail at K&L in Hollywood for $26.99. 

More Google surprises tomorrow!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Zin city.

Now those of you who know me, you know that Zinfandel isn't really my style especially it's from 1971. (umm... Julian) But my friend Tom Hunter from SF told recommended this Dashe Cellars, Zinfandel, Dry Creek, 2006. I've had their dessert wine but not the dry wines. 

Tom writes, "It has ripe California fruit, but also has finesse and great aromatics... reminds me of Rhone Grenache."

I found this for $19.99 at Lincoln Fine Wines on Lincoln in Venice. It was a very cool store. I thought they had oodles of good wine to drink! So stop in and check out the store. It's only been there for 6 months, but for you Venice residents, I think it's a great find. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hang over material. Part 2.

Well, it will come to no surprise to any of you that there was a second (and third) bottle resulting in my debauched state on Friday night. Manzone, La Gramolere, Barolo, 2001 was a wedding present from Susan, Tracy and Molly of Venokado (see below). 

I loved this wine, more than the Graillot actually. I thought it had really beautifully structured tannins and elegant layers of acid, that tar and rose thing that Barolo does so well and, of course, a small helping of that ever so Italian character of volatile acidity. It has a dense chalky texture that I found...well... seductive. How about that one? I was seduced and I paid the consequences of sin. 

Now, it ain't cheap, $69.99 at Wine Exchange in Orange, but again, you have options and there are hard choices to make in your life. You can't go out and have dinner for 2 people for less than $70 these days. So order a bottle of this and stay at home and cook for your honey.  You will thank me when the night turns... well... seductive. 

Also, very glad to see that our friends at Palate got their props in the LA Times today. 

Also, Also, check out today's hellomw post. The perfect Barolo blind tasting note. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hang over material.

Well, I'd be lying if I said I missed posts on Saturday and Sunday because I was busy. What I was busy doing was recovering from Friday where it seemed like a good idea to drink a lot. And you all know that mama, being no spring chicken, simply does not recover from these events easily. One of the culprits of my demise was the above wine. Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, La Guiraude, 2003. Peter bought this a couple years ago, but go for the 2005 regular Crozes (we served this at our wedding). It's better and cheaper. Available at John and Pete's on La Cienega for $34.99.  

This wine had tons of stewed fruit, just what you would expect from 2003 as the hottest and driest year on record in Europe since 1452. I get the feeling that the grapes were shriveled up like a kangaroo scrotum and then pressed, releasing intensely concentrated and raisiny juice. (This reference comes from Owen Bird in his really informative and fun book on Germany, which I am currently reading, called Rheingold. Since he is an Aussie, I assume he knows what that looks like.)

It's stewy and smokey and really delicious, but the alcohol must have been a little elevated as I had a headache that lasted well into the following night.  

Just an occupational hazard that I generally avoid. But I guess if I had to do it all over again, I'd still drink a lot of this wine.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hip to be square.

First of all, The Foundry on Melrose is WAAAYYY too hip for me and Peter. I mean, we are like so lame and just cannot roll with the Hollywood crowd. I have got to get some knee-high boots and hot pants, that's all there is to it.

However, we don't care that we don't fit in and we had a really good time there last week. They pour Genuine Risk BTG, which we like A LOT, and wanted to go by to send them some love. 

Peter drank Gruner and I drank this really pleasant Donnaluna, 2006, Aglianico. I expected it to be dirty, like those filthy little Italians can be, but it was very well made. Had good acidity and nice soft tannins, some new oak and plummy dark fruit. It was $13 a glass and highly recommended from this uber-unhip blogger.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Viva Venokado!

Villa Sparina, Gavi di Gavi, 2006. I like this wine because it refreshes me. Plain and simple. Like Anne of Green Gables in a bottles. 

It has light citrusicity (new word!), almondy and juicy pear just an all around pleasant drinking wine. More importantly I like the bottle shape. 

$18.50 at Venokado at 7714 Fountain - a brand new wine and gift store. It's soooooo cooool. You can buy organic soap, baby clothes, tons of gift stuff like awesome bookends, pillows, serving trays - all from cool designers and then you can grab yourself a great bottle of wine too. Absolutely the coolest! Go buy some gifts and wine. 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wine in cardboard.

Thank my friend Marcel again for this one. I haven't tasted the wine, why bother? It's from Macon, we all know what that tastes like for the most part, right?

Macon is interesting because it's like South Cote-de-Beaune adjacent (I tell people I live in South Hancock Park Adjacent, so I GET IT). Not as good as "real Burgundy." So this packaging totally makes sense. 

I like it. Peter and I drove to Lompoc tonight and listened to Krista Tippet's Speaking of Faith - and the topic was The Business of Doing Good. Corporate Social Responsibility. The guy from Ethos Water was on. It was interesting. Can a bottled water really purport to be doing good when its filling up landfills. Sure why not is my answer. At least they are giving it a go. 

I tried to engage Peter in a conversation about how we could be more environmentally friendly with our wines and I thought we could use something like that Aussie brand Arniston Bay's aluminum bag for Hocus Pocus. Not like anyone is holding on to that wine in their cellar. And I don't think it made sense to him. Peter is a 750ml glass bottle and natural cork kinda guy. I think if we used this packaging  we would sell more wine and that's the sort of corporate responsibility that I really like. 

Any thoughts? Anyone buy Three Thieves Tempranillo and like it? Or that Bandit wine in tetra-pak?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tres friends. Uno wine.

Tuesday night flights at Dominick's on Beverly is so much fun, I actually kept Peter out until midnight - that's 2 hours past his bedtime. A huge coup for me!

I loved the Pieropan, La Rocca, Soave, 2006. It's $18 a glass and about $74 a bottle.

These were our tasting notes. 
Amy: "Tropical, smooth and creamy."
Peter: "Parafin wax with orange and lemon peel."
Susan (the Somm at Doms): "HOLY CITRUS on the finish!" 

So there you have it. Three Amigos, One vino. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gabby Gauby.

Domaine Gauby, Cotes du Roussillon Villages, 2004. 

I actually blind tasted this wine for a very modern style Langhe Nebbiolo - can you believe it? It had a sort of incredible tannic intensity - but actually was too dark and inky for Nebbiolo. I should've known, but I just couldn't place it as a Grenache based wine. It also has Mourvedre and Carignan - which explains that pruney dark extracted character. 

We had a lot of wine this night with the Gauby being the last. We talked LATE into the night. So from now on I'm calling this wine Gabby Gauby... I bet this would work better than water boarding to get old George Bushy's detainees to finally rat about those weapons of mass destruction?

Domaine Gauby is being enjoyed by Chef Octavio at Palate. It's $44 on the wine list. That's a lot of wine for $44! 

Monday, August 4, 2008

No more little baskets.

A good Chianti is hard to find. A good CHEAP Chianti that isn't dirty and malodorous is especially hard to find. So here's one from our friend, Alberto Antonini in Tuscany. 

Poggiotondo, 2005, Chianti Superiore. $12.99 at the Wine House.

90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. 

Try not to judge the umm... how do you say it... Moulin Rouge-esque label? The juice on the inside has really good density and grip. Cherry and plum fruit, you know, easy drinking but with a little attitude. 

What else can I write? It's $12.99! 

I do wish, however, that Chianti still came in those little baskets as opposed to being dressed up like a Burlesque dancer (not that there's anything wrong with Burlesque dancers.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Something old.

I love new wine. I can't help it. BUT I love old wine too. Can't help that either. Last night we went to Lucques for dinner with the distributor for Holus Bolus and Piedrasassi in Colorado. We wanted to drink something special so Peter went by the Wine House and Jim hooked us up with a Lopez de Heredia , Rioja, 1976. (Remember the terrific 1997 Rose from the Cheese Store of SL not too long ago?)

It was a beautiful bottle. It had all those 'old wine' / mature characteristics, loads of savory dried herbs but still had some good sweet fruit. Great fill and really well preserved and stored. Jim (Wine House) recently bought a bunch of vintages and different wines direct from the estate. Peter said he's seen lower fills right off the bottling line. 

It was $120. Steep, yes, but for a wine of that age, it's really not that expensive. Kinda like me, at my age I'm not so bad for $120 either. (Any more than that and you're pushing your luck.)