Protected: Get into the DOC

17 Aug

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Pod on

7 Aug

Oh hi hey! If you want to hear my voice (I am theatre trained but I don’t know how valuable projection is on podcasts tho) the latest The Wine Situation is up here!

It’s ultra-Champagne focused. I nerd out with fellow WSET Diploma graduate Christopher Ruhland wrote a great book called “Press for Champagne” for people of all wine…levels? seriousness? Anyway it’s solid and entertaining information about Champagne and also made me wish I had a Champagne budget as I seriously have Champagne tastes.

Hey there’s time. I believe.

Take a listen, yes?

I also have more tasting goodness to tell of and you know, then text me (y’all have my number I’m a 3am answerer) or if you are scared (I get it) Instagram me and tell me what you think. Of the episode. Of me.

Of Champagne. The juice we all need more of.

Rosé Gold

20 Jul

I had a helluva time getting the shots for this. Beyond struggling with the dress in which sideboob is inevitable.

Beyond my lack of gold (jewelry or clothing) to bring in that element to the shoot.

Beyond the fact that dammit I couldn’t get my hair to behave–I was struggling to catch a vibe.

Then it occurred to me maybe I should be focusing on the pretty wine, not my pretty-adjacent self.

But nah fuck it. This wine is named with a color that defined millenials, a generation that made the selfies A Thing. Self indulgent selfies it was!

And how. I made eyes with this wine all night long and feel like we really were connecting before it occurred to me I should try it.

The wine I was courting was Rose Gold Côtes du Provence Rosé. I feel like this wine gives a party-forward attitude, but I also feel like it borders on being a Serious Rosé. As in it has body. It has complexity.

It is quite the blend: 42.5 % Grenache, 11.7% Syrah, 27.2% Cinsault, .8% Tibouren, 6.7% Mourvèdre, 6.8% Carignan, 1.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Rolle, .4% Ugni Blanc, and .3% Clairette. I hope all that adds up to 100%, I haven’t done the math.

It’s so super fresh! But also plush! There’s an element of lees aging that really boosts the body. And when I drink it and close my eyes I see ultramarine blue-green. I adore.

Coral in color. Sniffing it-wise on top of red and yellow AND white stone fruit (i.e. so much fun florals) I also got blood orange and SCADS of minerals. Yes to yellow and white peach and raspberry sea-salt nose. Dry but unctuous (as unctuous as rosés go) body.

Palate echoes nose with a…so some wines feel concise. Cutting. They make their impression. Not this one. This one invites expansion. You may not make new discoveries or you will, pending your attention span.

All over, would I hand this wine a rose (um The Bachelor (which I’ve never watched) reference) yeah I WOULD. Is it a rose-worthy rose?

YES!

So gold. so Rosé. So Super. And selfie worthy which for some wine writers may be the most important thing but for me it’s the icing on the cake. Or should I say the filter on the selfie. Which is which.

Calabrian Calibration

12 Jul

To the land let the grape (and training, and rootstock, and winemaking, and more) be suited. I recently got a tasting of an assortment of Calabrian wines made by Librandi, and from what I learned, this winery is a studious one, putting their glasses on, pulling their hair up, living in sensible dark sweaters and black skirts and combat boots–whoa my studious vision dream of this winery as a human became a goth librarian but you get where I’m going–they get deep into researching the native grapes and diving into micro-terroirs. Considering history. Considering land. As one does.

Their resulting wines, I do believe, reflect the studies. AKA they are balanced wines. This straight-laced goth librarian who maybe isn’t gonna rip her bun out and tear her sweater off and fishnets–more like she may get caught with her hair down, and she’s not going wild, but you see her brains are part of her beauty…holy shit have I watched too many rom-coms and is this metaphor even relevant?

Anyway.

The wines I tasted deserved a place at the table, which, given my experience with Calabria (putting it out there I was in the Veneto recently I would LOVE to make it to the south of Italy universe do you hear me) was a discovery.

Like, how had I not retained some memory of what comes out of Calabria? I honestly had so little experience with the region. I had surely read about it studying for my WSET Diploma…but it’s hard to retain all the details I cram in my brain-damaged brain for those exams. So I went to the small map of Italy on my wall where I’d annotated regions I hadn’t devoted an entire map of their own to.

I’ve been slacking. Calabria had no notes. Nor any single region maps of their own, whereas regions like Piemonte and the Veneto got annotated on the Italy map and with maps all their own. Shame.

Kiddos this is my review of Librandi. I can’t say yet that it stands for Calabria as a whole but it’s what I get from them. Of whom I’m overwhelmingly on the positive side of.

First, a few particulars .

Calabria is the toe and arch of the Italy if like pretty much anyone, Italy looks like a boot to you. It’s more of a 19th century boot than a goth boot or do the two overlap? It matters not. It’s southern Italy.

There are seas on either side Tyrrhenian and Ionian. Cirò is the main DOC.

It looks like it is giving Sicily the boot, which I would never do–I love Sicilian wine–but what do I know, maybe it is giving Sicily a love kick. I don’t judge landforms’ lifestyles.

There were grapes of the region I DO NOT know. Gaglioppo, Maglioppo, Mantonico and Greco Bianco. I must be honest I drank the bottle of Greco Bianco with a gentleman friend and we loved it so much we crushed it without me taking scholarly notes but I feel like the passion that courses through Italian wine would be okay with that. But I made sure to be scholarly with the next bottle made from a native grape!

Librandi Duca Sanfelice Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore DOC 2019 100% Gaglioppo, a grape whose acquaintance I would like to make more of. The aromatics barrel out of the glass ripe black raspberries, regular blackberries, a smidge of cola–or is that tea?–and also spice, like if cloves and chervil had a love-child. It is bright, with medium gently nubbly tannins and a smidge of roses and lilacs and friendly dirt to it. It finishes with fresh fruit and, oddly enough, a touch of leather. Quite a pleasant ride.

And then there were the fun fun times with “International” varieties I do know.

Librandi Critone Calabria Bianco IGT 2021 Yayyyy Chardonnay (90%)/Sauvignon Blanc (10%) blend. Grown on limestone and clay loam. Super lemony and wet stone-washed stone (is that a thing?) nose. On the palate still stony, still sunny, more of a Meyer lemon curd vibe–it’s got a richness while remaining chiffon pie lightness.

And lastly the wines that blended local with international. A boot to fit all feet. So to speak. I should stop pushing this boot metaphor. Combat or not.

Librandi Tenuta Arcidiaconano Gravello Calabria ICT 2019 The balance of it all. Toasty. Not super complex. But ripe and rich bueberry centric and still ripe not too much ripe. Honestly if blind-tasted I would think it was a well-behave red blend, Cabernet-based, perhaps from, I dunno, Washington? All black currant to the max, hints of herbs and cigar box and tobacco fun. But not overly. Fresh over all.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I’m excited. In particular by the Greco Bianco and Gaglioppo wines as I don’t know those grapes well. But the quality was high across the board with Librandi. I need to get to southern Italy and taste it, boots on the ground.

Oh that was unintentional boot referencing but my subconscious is strong. Goth on. Try Calabria.

Fly Free: West Sonoma Coast AVA

23 Jun

Looking at you, newly minted West Sonoma Coast AVA. You and your super cool cooler climate craveable gulp-able delights.

The West Sonoma Coast AVA is within the Sonoma Coast AVA. Which is within Sonoma County. So why the need to separate? Is this just the typical the-smaller-the-region-the-more-elite-we’ll-be strategy? Well I guess not seeing as after eleven (my favorite number!) long years it was decided that the western wines were in fact different and unique.

Environmental factors are the key to these fresh af gems. The wines aren’t just cool, it’s literally cooler there. Cooler days. There’s less of a drastic shift from days to also cool nights. Way more fog and sea breeze. The result being temperatures ten degrees cooler than the rest of the Sonoma Coast AVA. Grapes ripen slowly and hold on to that precious acidity that makes them so refreshing. As you maybe possibly would imagine, this cooler climate does well for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They grow a smidge of Syrah to boot.

Now, the AVA is new. So there are not West Sonoma Coast bottling yet, but I gave a taste to a couple of members of the West Sonoma Coast Vintners–can you guess who was leading the charge to getting the AVA approved? Is there a stylistic difference? Yes. Yay! I look forward to tasting these when the officially West Sonoma Coast AVA bottlings come out.

In the meantime, here’s my thoughts. So far. Wine is a living and breathing and evolving thing. Here’s this year’s far west findings!

32 Winds Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2019

Holy yes please. In a blind tasting I honestly might at least think this was an Oregon bottling, or maybe even Santa Rita Hills bottle. Aka the fruit is ripe but elegantly so. It smells of ripe black cherries, pomegranates, baking spices, and roses. The tannins are ever so well woven. On the palate you get all the aromatics plus a hint of dried earth, dried herbs and maybe even a touch of truffle and vanilla finish vibes. A quaffable wine–the alcohol is a modest 12.7%. But also a slow-sip-worthy one.

Raen Sonoma Coast Royal St. Robert Pinot Noir 2019

The name of the winery stands for “Research in Agriculture and Enology Naturally”. Terrifically between ethereal wafting sweet cherry aromas and grounded textured tannins. Um, they don’t say if there is oak at play but I think there has to be some. A touch of licorice, thyme, and…even a smidge of–is that menthol?–perhaps. Whatever it is I fucks with it.

The Heaven and Hell of Booze Showdowns and THE Best Rum

17 Jun
Pineapple Sesame Daiquiri

Not that I’m dramatic, but sure, I went dramatic with the name of this entry. Last Monday I was running around from 7:30am til 5-ish on 4-minus hours of sleep and still jet-lagged from a trip to Italy, pouring booze I most certainly was not allowed to drink…that could have been hell. But honestly I had a fantastic time as a helper at the LA Spirits Awards. Although I’m a goth masochist so take my pleasure with a grain of Carolina Reaper.

For all the wine adventures I’ve had, I have never judged a contest. Not with wine, and especially not with spirits. So I jumped at the chance to get in behind the scenes. Especially for this competition. It has THE most diverse set of judges around and incorporates the ever-growing categories of lo-no spirits for those who don’t imbibe, as well as ready to drink cocktails.

I spent the day polishing glasses, pouring flight after flight (after flight), delivering said flights, cleaning up when the judges were done (mmmm emptying spit buckets), and doing it all again, all day. This does not sound exhausting, but let me tell you, I got nearly all my 10,000 steps they (who are they?) say you should get in, by the end of the day. Seriously, it was like 15+ flights ranging between 2 and 9 spirits. I DO NOT know how the judges’ palates held up.

I could barely handle my recent experience with 50-ish Barolos. This crew consisted of utter pros who held it together all day although there were a couple of flights I suspected they wouldn’t loved based on what I smelled when pouring and sure enough, the judges were laughing in the way you do after something terrible but not actually tragic has happened, like attending a one-man show in Los Angeles or anywhere.

Honestly though, this panel of judges was the most diverse, the kindest, the most thoughtful (I enjoyed listening in to them as they debated how a spirit should rank) one could hope to find. Here’s how judging worked: each table of judges had a different set of booze they’d be judging. They had to come to a consensus for each. It either got nothing, or qualified as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. Everything that got a gold or platinum would then be tasted by ALL the judges the following day, before winners were declared.

Meanwhile, as helpers, we were not trying the spirits, so I sniffed the day away–and when I deemed a pour particularly good or bad based on nose alone, and the judges passed similar judgement, I felt quite validated. Not that I need validation from other humans to be happy except I do.

Actually, I might say working the contest was more like limbo, as my nostrils were apparently doing fine work, but my palate wasn’t getting in on the game. Heaven was regained as I was invited not just to supper with the judges, but also sample the Ten to One rum, whose white rum received a Gold and amber rum received a silver medal in the 2021 competition.

The dinner paired three cocktails featuring the rums, and we got samplers of them to boot and whooo-eeee lemme tell you, Ten to One makes complex and aromatic rums. They paired well with the dishes but also with the judges I was sitting with. I learned about everything from roller derby to what it takes to move cats from Argentina to Cambodia that night. Not your average cocktail chat.

Said dinner was held at Caravan Swim Club, the poolside restaurant at the Playa del Rey-ish Hotel June. The welcome cocktail (and the leading picture for this write-up) was a Pineapple Sesame Daiquiri, featuring the Ten to One white rum, pineapple, juice, lime juices and–this was the level-up move–each was dotted with a few drops of sesame oil. The drink did well by what I honestly think is the best chopped salad I’ve ever had. Normally I eat chopped salad and wish I had all the elements separately and in bigger pieces. But this one provided forkful after cartable forkful of satisfaction. I’m not exaggerating. I want this salad again. The Charred Elote salad featured chopped lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, cilantro, cotija, and chipotle dressing. It was savory and slightly spicy so was both complimented and the heat mitigated but the savory and sweet nature of the cocktail.

I missed out on the second course of Crudo, seeing as I’m vegetarian, but everyone else cleared their plates.

The next cocktail was a Blood Orange Daisy using (again) the Ten to One white rum, as well as martini fiero (an orange vermouth), habanero agave, and lime. I loved this. I also love blood oranges and spiciness–although I honestly think (and this is rare for me as I love the heat) the spiciness could have been dialed down just the teensiest to let the other flavors show through more. But as a cocktail making enthusiast it is rare that I taste a drink and have no notes. I promise you I’ll find a way to make any drink just a shade better. Although that Pineapple Sesame Daiquiri would give me a run for my money.

My vegetarian main paired with the Daisy was a Spicy Cauliflower Steak, featuring peppers, smoked paprika, cashew, cilantro, and cream sauce. I’m not sure, but seeing as I didn’t notice any actual cashews and as I think they were trying to make this vegan–is it possible the cream sauce was made of cashews? At any rate as I mentioned I have a love affair with spicy. And creamy. And cauliflower. And the whole thing was topped with a refreshing mix of micro greens that played nicely with the spicy cauliflowernsteak. I was very happy.

The dessert drink was a Rum Old-Fashioned, paired with an Horchata Panna Cotta which sadly, I had to forgo as panna cotta has gelatin in it. But I had zero problems finding a taker who wanted to eat mine seeing as a) they were petite and b) apparently fantabulous. Old-Fashioned ingredients were not listed but given the color, as well as brown-sugar notes, I’m thinking it was made with Ten to One amber rum. It was a delightful way to wind down the dinner, with the luxardo cherry garnish serving as my dessert.

The winners winners cauliflower steak dinners have not been announced yet, so stay tuned. I may need to do a round-up tasting of the best. I’m rooting for Ten to One for another medal or so…and that’s not just the rum talking.

Sex Love and Barolo–playing FMK with my favorites

9 May

Oh wow. I’m not sure how, but I got to stay/work-Barolo/Barbaresco-cation. For the Barolo Barbaresco World Opening 2022. And I got to rate the latest vintages. Perhaps it is fate. Like, I am madly in love with Barolo and Barbaresco. Both are Nebbiolo, but Barolo is a little more brash, in terms of tannins, and aged longer than Barbaresco. It only makes sense I’d get to spend three days with them. Me, Barolo and Barbaresco–there’s a threesome dream team.

Granted there are different tiers of love. Barolo is a lover, Barbaresco I’d marry. I don’t know that there is a B in the Piemonte I’d kill. If I were playing Fuck Marry Kill with the region. Certainly not Barbera d’Asti.

Playing FMK with wine. How did I get there? Enough about me.

I don’t have ONE wine that made me realize wine was magic, but a Damilano Lecinquevignes was the first wine that made me go bonkers for a Nebbiolo–like I DID NOT KNOW THAT WINE DID THAT. I also didn’t know what to expect from an orgasm until I had one. The problem with great wine and sex is now I have expectations.

Sex, love, and Barolo. You really can’t take them apart.

If you are not familiar, they are wines made in Piedmont, in northern Italy. They are 100% Nebbiolo. It’s a finicky grape. It is high in everything–acid, tannins, alcohol–and that is perhaps what makes it so intoxicating on so many levels.

The morning after the casual welcome soirée on the 73rd floor of the Intercontinental, we walked into a room with 204 bottles of the recently released vintages of Barolo (2018) and Barbaresco (2019), and four hours to make our way through, in whatever order we wanted (they had a crew of somms to bring us whichever wine on the list we pleased)as many or as few of the bottles as we wished, and ultimately rate the vintages. I made it through about 50 wines.

I’ve realized that the more wine I sample, even when spitting, the more pithy, asshole-ish, and absurd my notes become. Not that I’m necessarily liking wines tasted later less–I just am a little less buttoned up in how I describe them.

Interestingly…and I’m just saying…some of my favorites, like top three faves, were favored producers from prior tastings and (hello I’m brain damaged, I don’t remember every favorite Nebbiolo without going through old notes and yes I keep notes on nearly everything) surprise surprise were loved again. And they were ones that turned up on the other’s top picks.

I could go on about the rest of the press tour and maybe I should. There was a party at Universal Studios. There was a master class. There was Fontina cheese (and there always should be cheese). There was a big walk around tasting for the trade. And then there was the walk around for the public that me and my new wine besties played hooky from because we got invited to a Cote de Rosés party with models in Hollywood where we greedily sucked down rosé like the water it was, after three days of Nebbiolo.

I digress.

I’ll be real. Barolo and Barbaresco are nearly always great, particularly when they’ve had some time to grow into their tannic noses. But it’s those top…let’s just say top ten, just to be controversial (probably more), that are the wines that make you go hmmm…a happy hmmm. If I’m being real (which I think I just said I was) there is no Kill in Barolo/Barbaresco FMK. It’s more like Fuck Marry Kiss.

I’ll start with a producer I was excited about at the morning tasting, Ettore Germano, and it wasn’t until I talked to the winemaker himself at the walk-around the next day that I thought hmmmm, there’s something familiar in his face. I later realized I’d had dinner next to him at a sparkling wine event four years ago. That time, he was pouring a sparkling Nebbiolo rosé that knocked my socks off. So I was happy that his solid reds were solid. Beyond solid really. That man’s wines are art.

My next pick, according to my tasting cohorts, is supes controversh for building a VERY modern winery that looks like wine boxes stacked on each other in Barolo. I feel like Italians do art and fashion so well and so progressively, so it’s interesting they object to a lil’ fun architecture but whatever. L’Astemia Pentita is the name of the wine and her Barolo from the Cannubi vineyard comes in purple glass bottles which I’m guessing is also not so popular with the locals. And it is GOOD. In my top five. Energetic, bracing, and then there’s notes of pastilles. Great fun. And maybe it’s wrong but I do love a troublemaker so long as their product is delish.

And then we come to my old friend ( I wish) G.D. Vajra. I cherish their wine. The bottling I had was from Barolo Bricco delle Viole. My notes read “smells like white chocolate laced w/ flowers, much fresher palate, alert tannins but not annoying -fernet-laced. Complex, fascinating, heady. I do love them.

Go on and get yourself some Barolo. Grab yourself a Barbaresco. Have some nibbles on hand and have a ball. I did.

Comeback!

22 Aug

What the what. I haven’t written in nearly two years. Sorry about that. I was busy with work and finishing my WSET Diploma. Having the post-nominal of DipWSET is great.

But also sorta close to DipSHIT so I’m divided on how often I’ll use it.

Also kinda makes me think of Diplo so may DipWSET is in fact my dj name, where I’ll spin goth-y remixes to make Skrillex jealous cause clearly he hasn’t accomplished enough.

So yeah diploma, then you know, stuff like breakups, relationships, cartoon voiceovers, having seizures (slipped that in there) and getting more writing jobs has taken me away.

But hey, maybe I’ll try this writing “just for me” thing a bit.

Not just because I think I’m gonna start a Youtube channel but also I think I’m gonna start a Youtube channel and I want you in on the ground floor.

In the meantime, may I present a wine for your consideration? It’s friggin’ delicious and since while I didn’t taste it on a recent trip to the Languedoc I’m now so turned on by Languedoc wines that…

So I got my latest Garagiste shipment including a box of mystery rosés I put my faith in because they’ve never let me down. And surprise surprise after several days in the Languedoc my mystery box contained a LOT of it. Has Garagiste been stalking me?

Unlikely. I’ll get over it.

This wine is actually from the subregion of Minervois, m’loves. Which SOUNDS chic and like it spends its days take infrared saunas and other things Gwyneth Paltrow might do. But it maintains chic while being more achievable than Paltrow-adjacent shit.

Oh what is it? Right I quite forgot.

Château de Bagnoles Minervois Rosé 2020

It took me a minute to find the winery homepage but your girl exercised unusual computer patience and found that it is a grenache/Syrah/Cinsault blend.

Also the site recommends drinking within a year thank goodness I made the cut.

Be that what it may I am merely so happy to see these grapes in a rosé.

I feel like using the word “merely” instead of “just” or “simply” is sort of a power play, no? Like it means you are invested but, ya know, you have your own life to live so…

One thing I learned in the Languedoc is that they have FANTASTIC whites and rosés and yet mostly they push the reds. When I wish they’d peddle the others as hard as me on a bike late to scene study in college.

Wait, that’s “pedal”.

Moving on.

Lemme tell you about this delight. Tis neither dark as a Tavel nor as pale as modern Provence tastes take us.

Smells mineral unless that is it’s name leading me there but it think not.

It’s a slaker of thirst, the minerality maintaining the stronghold over the raspberry/strawberry-flavored kingdom.

But also? There is a touch of tannic structure. This rosé goes down easy but not without leaving a (pleasant) mark.

I almost get almond or—better yet a peach AND the peach pit.

This wine’s an vixen. A fruity, mineral, animal.

I’d wear it everyday.

Except when I want to be in black (which is most days) but I actually put the pink shirt on in its honor.

Also it’s like ten-ish bucks so go crazy.

Fin

The line

8 Dec

Oh hi hey! We all thought this was perhaps from the Macon in a blind tasting including me. And…I brought it. So I should have known it was it. So.

The chum you see in the picture is my friend Jiaqi. Also a wine nerd in my life. We are shameless selfie-ers but I’m the shameless insta-story and blogger.

This is surprising. All the Line 39 wines were. So good for 11 bucks a bottle!

I didn’t want to like it any more than I wanted to like the Line 39 Pinot Noir which has quite the savory kick to it.

But the Chardonnay tastes like southern Burg making a stab at tasting like expensive winemaking but it’s not expensive but it’s got some oak happening but isn’t too rich or ripe. Like a person who carries things that look great and look designer but hey! They just braved the Ross Dress for Less Lines.

And they look casually possibly pricy.

Wine fast fashion but it’s all good.

An American Girl and Three Germans Walk Into Portugal

12 Nov

Oh my I drank this and my head turned to Portugal. And then I drank another in anticipation:

I did not know what my dreams were until I was flanked by wicked awesome German women eating cheese in Vinho Verde.

Although those wines were from other areas of Portugal this wine entry is an attempt relive my time in there because it was an exquisite time I had there.

Whoa nelly do I now (mostly) love Portugal. Although they may hate me for asking for more water.

So thirsty all the time. They fill your glass like, a third full, then take the water pitcher away. According to one of my hosts it is better that way because your glass looks more elegant. This is easily solved by asking them to just actually fill my glass because I could give two shits if a full water glass looks less elegant. The glass is big. Fill it.

This only works for water. Wine needs room to breathe.

I went to explore Vinho Verde which is (surprise!) a REGION. Not a type of wine. I mean they make wine but many sorts.

The wines pictured above are not from Vinho Verde but worthy of attention.

Portugal felt like family I wanted.

Portugal was real hugs.

Portugal was welcoming winemakers and cheese and bread on the table at all times.

Here’s to reliving the good times with a great bottle stateside:

Prats & Symington 2017 “Post Scriptum de Chryseia

Looks purple. Smells of earth with a smack of frosh (not fresh frosh) earth Amd bits of vigor.

Palate: dry, medium minus acid, medium alcohol, medium plus bod. But then tannins are kicking fierce backing up some REAL ripe and also REAL tannic mc-tanninster tannins.

Anywho. By itself this wine whips you good and soothes you with fruit. Like a scale that has been tared this wine balances best with a foodstuff but is fine on its own. Much like the 1 1/2 pounds of butter you were about to knead into pastry.

AND NOW TO THE NEXT WINE!

Quinta de S. Francisco “Óbidos” 2010

It’s a mix of Castelão, Aragonez (aka Tempranillo) and Touring Nacional!

You smell deep fruits on the nose. Like deep colored and deep as in a bit raisinated and wise. Acid is on the lower side, tannins are medium, alcohol medium (13.5 %)and the tongue–full of dark prune fruit, hints of citrus and sweet and savory spice. If that makes sense.

More wine more cheese more butter.

More life! Cheers.