Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sokol Blosser party.

The Sokol Blosser party was super fun! It's actually good to get out of the house and meet new people, something I don't do very often because I actually have an aversion to talking to people I don't know. Aversion or anxiety, I don't know. BUT my personality problems and neurosis aside (which I am working out with Dr. Carl Kugel in Santa Monica once a week) it was a great time!

I don't very often just give tasting notes, because it's SOOO boring. But maybe I feel like being boring today. So here they are:

Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, 2007. Green notes on the nose, light and elegant and even though the alcohol was a surprising 14%, it was well integrated. Very pleasant, easy to drink and only 600 cases made. 

Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, 2006. Sweet black cherry, sweet vanilla oak, light and refreshing with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Like eating a red hot. Lots of cinnamon. 6000 cases made, around $38 retail. 

Meditrina (the top pic) is a blend of syrah, zin, pinot noir and something else that I think I didn't write down. Sweeter fruit and more overt notes, not as elegant as the Dundee Hills, but this is the every day drinking wine. You can get it at Cost Plus!

Sokol Blosser is certified organic. I had a long talk with Allison Sokol Blosser (apologies if Alison is only one L) and she gave me the low down on their tres eco-chic vineyard operations. Biodiesel tractors. Solar panels that power 30% of the electricity they need for production. And as for the packaging - they use no foils because its a mined material. The paper for the labels is 100% post-consumer waste. They also believe in doing fewer shipments a year, but larger volumes when they do ship, in order to cut down on carbon emissions emitted during distribution. 

They were one of the first to be hit with phylloxera in Oregon in 1998 and have been replanting ever since. That's gotta be expensive?

We also tasted another little mildly sweet aromatic wine called Evolution. Muscat, gewurz, Chard and Sauv Blanc. Very floral, peachy and lightly sweet. Non-vintage. 

It really was a fun night - they served little bites with an Asian fusion spin to pair with each wine - and I shouldn't say little bites because we were stuffed when we left. 

What I like about Sokol Blosser is that it's hard to find good wine in grocery stores. And while they focus the high end wines (the 2 from Dundee) on restaurants, they need larger outlets for the 60,000 cases of the lower priced wines. They sell to Albertson's and Von's in Manhattan Beach and Long Beach, respectively, and to Cost Plus World Market. 

I asked how the recession had hit them and Allison told me that the restaurants were a little slow and she feels they are being hit the hardest, while her small retail accounts are doing very good. That's good to know. She's also doing more traveling, trying to keep her face out there, which is really all we can do in sales these days. 

Ok, well I'm off to a holiday party. Is that weird? It's Christmas in January.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tie me up. Tie me down.

Muller-Catoir, Riesling, 2006. 

We bought this in Chicago at a retail store called Sam's. We always look forward to going there whenever we are in town because they have a HUGE selection of so many wines that we don't seem to get in California. One of the categories they excel in is German Riesling. 

What's interesting about Sam's is that this time when we walked in the store it was bordering on empty. We asked a sales person why all the shelves were 1/4 full (and this store is a huge warehouse type which made it look REALLY empty) and he said they just weren't buying much right now. I smelled a rat. Or a recession. 

My first instinct was right. Something just didn't feel right. And what do you know? Last week I read about a scandal with Southern Wine and Spirits and Sam's in Chicago. Read here! Essentially Southern (and to be fair there were other wholesalers - 10 in all) has been paying off top level Sam's execs for prime shelf placement. I swear, they practically control like 90% of distribution in the US, do they really need to pay people off too??? It REALLY REALLY pisses me off. I mean, a $225,000 fine is a drop in the bucket to these guys and I'm sure there is way more illegal activity where this came from. 

I'm not naive, I understand that this stuff happens on many levels. I know a lot of retailers get "incentives" in the form of sports and concert tickets, dinners, free wine, special pricing, etc. But its interesting to look at the law and find out what is legal and what isn't legal. If the big guys really had to abide by the laws - like the ubiquitous tie-ins which are totally are illegal by federal law - would they really be able to move the quantities of wine that they move? 

For instance, small wholesalers have very little chance of getting a placement on a wine list in a large hotel chain restaurant. Admittedly, this could be for a number of reasons. First, distribution issues. With Veritas, I generally cannot guarantee next day delivery, and many large venues require that service.  Second, there's the supply issue. Many corporate style restaurants change their wine lists only a few times a year and so there needs to be ample inventory to supply them for 4-6 months. BUT THIRD, to get deals on liquor, or to get DRC or Cristal or whatever, accounts are required to purchase other less desirable wines. As a very small time buyer at the now defunct Vida in Los Feliz (back in 2002), I would keep Covey Run Chardonnay on by the glass because my sales person not only begged me, but always offered me great deals on liquor. Every week there'd be a new offer - like one free bottle of Citron with the purchase of a case of Absolut. And though it wasn't implicitly stated, I did my rep "favors" by ordering cases of wine I didn't like or need in order to keep my liquor costs down. That turned out to be irrelevant as the night time prep cooks drank all the liquor anyway and my costs were out of control. But that's another story for another day. Liquor costs are important and I understand that sommeliers have to think about that when making the wine list, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating for those of us who do not sell liquor and do not want to participate in tie-in offers.  

I know none of this comes as news to anybody in the wine business, but it was just on my mind today. 

Oh, and my main point is, the Riesling is delicious! So look out for it... because once again I have no idea where it's sold here in LA and I got nothing when I looked on wine-searcher. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

If you want to spend and not save.

Francois Raveneau, Chablis, Fortet, 1er Cru, 2005. 

Now, this isn't a wine for drinking everyday - but I say, if you're going to drink Chablis, only drink the best. I actually drank this on my recent trip to Burgundy - and I wasn't buying - which is why I was drinking Chablis and even enjoying it. 

Full of green apples, but with a slight lactic aroma, it reminded me of sniffing an empty milk carton. But in a good way - before it turns sour. No new oak influence, and very young, so the wine was fresh and vibrant and perfect with Salade Vert. 

This is close to impossible to find retail, but we do have some at aoc and I'm sure you can find it at places like Melisse and Providence. Hey big spender! You should expect to pay around $150. I think. If I remember correctly, but of course, I rarely do!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nice label. Good wine.

Cooralook, Mornington Peninsula, Australia, Pinot Noir, 2005.

$19.50 at Silverlake Wine

Aussie and NZ Pinot are really growing on me, mostly because I can't afford to drink real Pinot Noir (Burgundy) anymore. JUST KIDDING! Can't anyone take a joke around here??

Even though Oz exports to the US are down by 18% in 2008, I think that's an even better reason to look toward them for value and high quality. I always look for wines that are NOT from Barossa or Coonawarra, but instead from Tasmania, Mornington Peninsula or my new fav, Western Australia. They are the future of great wine from Australia. 

Anyhoo, this is a beautiful dark cherry fruit and that famous underlying minty quality that I find in so many Australian wines. Plus, I really like the simplicity of the label. I mean, it's no "flying man" label or man riding on the handle bars of a bicycle backwards, but not everyone can be THAT brilliant. 

Alrighty then mate??? (I love to think of Crocodile Dundee when I drink wines from Down Under.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

You're invited.

You know I love a party with good wine and I just got an invite from Sokol Blosser to a meet and greet tasting with Alison Sokol Blosser, on Monday, January 26 from 5:30–8:00 p.m. at the Makai Lounge ( in Santa Monica. I've really enjoyed the wines in the past but have to admit that I haven't had them in a long time. 

This is from the email I received - gives you all the info. I'm definitely going - anyone want to join me???? Julian? Jeff and Lisa? Jill? Andrew? Dave? Peter? Anybody else??? I hear there's a "goody bag" - SWAG baby!

Sokol Blosser Winery has a long history in Oregon (there were only five or six wineries in the Willamette Valley when they started in the early '70s!). Alison is part of a second-generation that is now leading the winery. She will be offering her perspective on organic and sustainable viticulture, Pinot Noir in Oregon , fun blends like Evolution and Meditrina. 

This is an informal gathering, but an RSVP is required by Tuesday, January 20.

To RSVP, contact Anna at or by calling (707) 251-9818.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Take a Clos LaChance.

Clos LaChance, Grenache, 2005. 

We drank this wine with friends who had been to the winery and bought it direct. I am a big fan of buying wine direct from the producer (of course!) when you can. Not to say that I'm not a fan of supporting your local retailer - that's good too. 

But anyway, we all thought this went really well with our Thanksgiving-esque dinner. It may seem late for Thanksgiving, no actually... it's never too late for Thanksgiving... This wine had lots of baking spices, which I would have called Christmas spice, but it is too late for Christmas, and juicy jammy ripe strawberry fruit. Perfect for all ya'll who LOVE California wine. According to recent statistics that's over 75% of you.

They have some cool videos on their site - so check it out!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The other Chave.

Yum! Yann Chave, Crozes-Hermitage, 2006. 

I wrote on the 2005 last year, and so you know how much I love this wine. It has unfortunately increased in cost over the years, seems we used to pay like $22 for it. Now it's $27.99, and I believe we bought this at our big Wine House shopping spree in November. 

Peppery for sure, minerally - yes and some real nice plummy fruit make this an excellent and balanced wine that even your friends who drink beer and strawberry flavored vodka will enjoy. (Let's hope you don't hang out with too many of those people.)

And how is he related to J.L. Chave? Well, I don't know. I asked Kimberly Jones last year and she didn't seem to think they were related at all. But come on! It's France. There must be incest.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Menetou-living room.

Domaine Pelle, Menetou-Salon, 2006. 

I drank this wine at Le Train Bleu, in the Gare de Lyon train station an hour or outside Paris. It was delicious. 

Cherry cola, black cherries, bing cherries, like a regular cherry festival. It was pretty light, but not as light as the one from the previous blog post. Super friendly and easy drinking like Cru Beaujolais, but without the candied cherry aspect. 

You can get this at Vin de Pays in Long Beach for $17.99. Highly recommended!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Menetou what?

Philippe Gilbert, Menetou-Salon, 2006.

Now when Peter poured this wine I tasted it as Alsatian Pinot Noir because it had like NO FRUIT. It is a mineral bomb. It didn't have the earthiness or mushroom quality of AC Bourgogne Rouge, and not the rusticity of Sancerre, I had no idea where to place it. I knew it was Old World cool climate Pinot and that's about it. 

Super fun because I can't remember when I've had a wine with less fruit. I can't say it enough. Acid was moderate, not overwhelming, tannins were non-existent... it was just minerals and I don't know what. So simple, and yet so elegant. We watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall (what a dirty movie!) and it was the cleanest thing about our night. 

K&L, $23.99. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A wine I've been waiting on.

I LOVED this wine. I bought it at Top Line Wines in Glendale, which is totally ghetto, but totally cheap. I went in to sell wine, of which I didn't sell a single bottle and ended up spending almost $400. Crazy, but I got some good stuff. 

Tignanello, 2003, IGT. 

Everyone knows this wine I know, and it seems almost passe to drink it. But it was soooo good. Like the quality ws engulfing my mouth and I thought it was so spectacular I did not want it to end! Just loads and loads of fruit and soft tannins and good acidity. It was explosive!

90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet... I bought it for $65, but I think it's up over $100 now... 


Sorry for the blurry picture again... but my candlesticks are in focus!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


My man sure can pour himself a glass of Champagne and look handsome doing it! Actually, this isn't Champagne, but a super good bottle of 1999 Domaine Carneros, La Reve. 

I had never had this wine before, so I looked up a little info on it. 

It's 100% Chardonnay as Blanc de blancs tend to be :)

It got 91 points from Wine Spectator for those of you who care and I quite agree with their assessment. "Bright and tangy, with a toasty, lemony quality that leaves the palate refreshed. The finish is long, with a distinct mineral edge. Elegant, graceful and harmonious."

Much different from Champagne though, much more fruity and lower acidity, at least according to my palate...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blurry pinot.

As you are reading this I am in Burgundy, working hard, tasting hard, freezing my ass off, but, as they say, someone has to do it.

The closest thing to Burgundy from the Loire is Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre Rouge, 2006.

I just love this wine. Light crisp cherry flavors, but also deeply textured with a lingering red cherry finish. Muy delicious. Not too tannic or astringent like so many Loire reds can be, especially in cool vintages.

We bought this in Chicago and drank for Christmas dinner. Keep an eye out for it around town, it's hard to find retail. It's on the list at aoc right now for around $70.

Monday, January 5, 2009

80 year old Chinon.

Domaine de la Noblaie, Les Chiens-Chiens, Chinon, 2005. 

This wine took a while to open up, I found it to be a little stinky and reduced at first, kinda rubbery, but then, viola, with a little air the stink bomb blew off and it became a lovely little Cabernet Franc enjoyed by the whole family (me and Peter) and 4 friends. It didn't last long, was gone in about 15 minutes I think, so I don't really have a proper description. 

$17.99 at Domaine 547

In my laziness, this Jill's write up from her website:

This version of the grape is classic Loire style, though made by a slightly rogue 24-year-old winemaker, Jerome Billard. This is a lighter bodied style wine but with aromas and flavors in spades. Lots of cloves and all-spice, and black raspberries and some smokiness to it. Jerome worked in California at Dominus and at Petrus in Bordeaux before heading to the Loire Valley, where he is making waves with his Chinon. This drinks great now but look out, it will age for some time as its filled with bright acidity. Oh, and did we mention that this comes from old vines Cab Franc? Some as old as 80 years. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Huge cork.

Le Vigne di Zamo, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Merlot, 2000.

We drank this at Susan's (ala Venokado's) Christmas Eve party and it was so delicious and well worth $130 - even though I only drank one glass due to my indulgence at Palate the night before. I should mention that this was a 3L bottle!! Look at that HUGE cork, that's always fun. 

It had great texture, stick to your mouth moderate tannins and good Old World black fruit. Like dusty blackberries. 

I bought this on recommendation at the Cheese Store of Silverlake

Friday, January 2, 2009

Rustic and yummy.

Valle Reale, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2004.

This was a wine we drank in Palm Springs, and it was great desert wine. High in acidity and very refreshing. Not a lot of fruit, but who wants fruit when it's really dry? Not me! It's rustic, but very pleasant and easy drinking. 

I picked this up at Rosso Wine Shop for $18.99, I highly recommend for those of you who love minerality and acidity.