WINESLACKER..the lazy drinker's guide. Another 'slacker yammering on about drinking.

November 22, 2012

Thanks Giving.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dex Wineslacker @ 12:14 am

 

Driving up Vineyard to Tablas Creek

The Wineslacker is grateful for many things this year. The triumph of reason (if not compassion; maybe next time), the great job he has, reasonable health, food and drink a plenty, a healthy and happy relationship, terrific grand kids, good, interesting friends; many of long standing, his friend and brother. He knows the world is troubled; he sees the human and non-human tragedy, but, he does what he can while passing through. And, there is good wine to accompany and to comfort. Cheers.

February 5, 2012

Recent Bottles

Filed under: California,Cheep wine,pinot noir — Tags: , — Dex Wineslacker @ 4:38 pm

Once again the Wineslacker is checking in after a long absence.  But wine writing is not what feeds the stomach…the soul, but not, unfortunately, the body.   However, he has not been entirely idle.  Here are a few notations on the current available value wines.

Poppy Pinot Noir: Poppy’s been the subject of both ridicule and hype. It’s popular, because it’s cheap, has a great looking label, a snappy name and in all honesty, non-objectionable taste. For $12 it fits into a great price point and it looks great in your cute, little wrought iron wine bottle rack. Serious Pinot, it is not.  Which is not to say that one can’t get really pleasant and hold-your-head-up Pinot for that price or something close. While Poppy is not gonna impress your wine snob co-workers, it’s a fine every day drinker and dinner companion. Which brings us to a few other Pinots in that range.

Trader Joe’s continues to carry some of the nicest varieties of inexpensive Pinot Noir available. This week the Wineslacker picked up a Pinot by Buena Vista the local Trader has brought in. It’s a 2008 vintage from Carneros and, best guess is, it was excess wine getting to the age where BV just didn’t want to see it start to deteriorate.  It’s in a screw-top bottle and is under the BV name (look for Buena Vista Carneros) so the ‘slacker figured it’s gonna taste, at the very least, OK.  And for the happy price of $9.99; it’s very OK.  Get there quick, because this is real Pinot, with reasonable fruit, nice structure and that unmistakeable bacon-y finish, and it won’t stay on the shelves long.  BTW, they are still carrying the nice little Caretaker Pinot (a little fruity for the ‘slacker, but tasty), San Simeon Pinot, MacMurray Ranch Pinot, and La Crema Pinot; priced at between $10 and $21, quite a nice way to serve Pinot Noir without scouring the bank account (nooooo, Trader Joe does NOT pay the Wineslacker, or even give him a frigging discount).

Just a nod also to a great little Zin blend from the small but notable Vines on the Marycrest, introduced to the Wineslacker by Wineshark Mark and Sommelier Sam. My Generation is; 58% Zin, 21%Syrah,14% Mourvedre and 7% Petite Sirah (2007) – another Rhone inspired red blend from the Paso Robles area. About $26 on their website, less if you find it at your local wine specialist. Chin Chin.

September 18, 2011

Naked Wine(s)….continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dex Wineslacker @ 5:55 pm

La Republique Francaise

On with the show. Late in August, the Wineslacker and Sophisticated Companion attended the tasting party at Domain LA in Hollywood, California, for Alice Feiring and her new book, Naked Wine, letting grapes do what comes naturally. OK, old news. But his patient readers were promised an accounting of the wines tasted, all being mentioned in the aforementioned book.  And as mentioned earlier…ok I’ll stop. Anyway, all the wines were organically grown and made. Now, as the intelligent reader is aware, these terms, “organic”, “natural”, and such, are not as straight forward as they seem and much of the book discusses these terms and just what they have to do with grapes, wine and wine making.

If one is not familiar with wines organic, natural, or biodynamic; the Wineslacker directs you to the writings of Ms. Feiring and others, but you can basically assume that “organic”  and “natural”  as related to the wines tasted on this occasion were made with the least amount of human intervention, especially chemical intervention, possible. Some of these winemakers adhere to the teachings of Rudolph Steiner, a philosopher of the late 19th, early 20th century who advocated a number of farming techniques, let us say, unfamiliar to modern farmers and perhaps even, ah, on the meta-physical side. Some are simply convinced that the best wines are those allowed to ferment with as little intervention as possible. Two of the represented winemakers, Vignerons, such as Theirry Puzelat of Touraine and Olivier Cousin, of the Loire Valley, are well known as characters in the movement and characters in their own right. Olivier Cousin is known for plowing his vineyards with a plow drawn by a horse, for cryin’ out loud. But in the era of wines fussed with, cuddled, fertilized, groomed, massaged, thinned,  then de-stemmed, crushed, yeasted, sulphered, bubbled, centrifuged, reverse-osmosized, flavored, watered, oak chipped, generally pumped up, and god knows what else…one does wonder, what does un-adjusted wine taste like? What did it taste like back in the Belle Epoch, when wine really came into it’s own and in the ancient days those monks at the abbey were getting their feet purple; like when your great, great grandad was making wine in the cellar for the San Frabrizzio festival?

We started off with the 2009 Theirry Puzelat Tesniere Blanc, a bio-dynamic wine from Touraine and Cheverny (France).  This is a white Pineau d’Aunis, slightly almond flavored with a long, minerally finish. This is a wine most Americans will have to take some time with, a wine you know immediately as French, being very dry with the taste of wet stone or gravel in the finish. This is a wine that will, as it was meant to, go with sea food; oysters, mussels, white fish, monk fish; light fish with delicate flavors. This wine will compliment, not overwhelm them. It runs about $23.

Second came a 2006 Phillippe Bornard Chassagnes Savagnin (not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc). From a lesser known region in France, the Côtes de Jura, this is a wine closer to the American palate,  a white with a nutty slightly floral fruit, much less mineral in the finish, light and flavorful. The Savagnin is made with “native yeast”, that is, no artificially added yeast, only the naturally occurring yeast that is brought in from the field. The wine is slightly oxidized (but naturally) for the light, slightly caramel toast in the wine. Delicious, and the most expensive wine the ‘slacker tasted that day, at about $38.

Third, we had a California wine, from Glenn Ellen, near Sonoma, from Coturri Winery, a 2009 Rose of Merlot. This is a slightly clouded wine (its OK that its clouded, really) with a lot of fruit in the nose and just a hint of vegetable. It’s very light, dry with the taste of dried strawberries. Very much a Merlot for the warm evenings of California summers. About $22.

The fourth wine of the afternoon was a Gamay, from the Morgon region of Beaujolais, known as a Cru-Beaujolais, the best quality gamay wines of the region. Morgon is typically a lighter red wine with a lot of fruit, in this case, berries. It has a clear garnet color and a somewhat short finish. This was a lovely young wine, with a bit of asparagus on the nose. The Wineslacker would decant this for an hour before passing it out to the guests. 2009 Chamonard Morgon, about $32.

Fifth came the surprise of the evening, at least for the Wineslacker. 2010 Les Vins Contes Lemasson Poivre et Sel Pineau d’Aunis. This pleasant and striking little wine from the Loire Valley came on with a strongly herbal nose (that may come from the traveling it must have recently done, but decant first), but in the mouth, the name came suddenly alive. This wine tastes just like pepper and salt (poivre et sel). OK, it tastes like red wine with pepper and a little salt. While some might think…”ew!” it’s really very charming and would be a great conversation starter for your next wine party. Imagine you, seen as an original thinker!  The Wineslacker recommends it to you if you can find it, and you really should try Domaine LA first. About $20; a steal.

Number six was the well-known (among vignerons) Olivier Cousin’s 2010 Grolleau, from the Loire Valley. Grolleau is a grape usually used in blends, frequently used to make rosé and rather dismissively treated by Monsieur Parker as worthy only of digging up to make way for more profitable grapes. Still this is a lovely red wine with medium fruit and some spiciness. It’s berry flavors and medium structure is quite likeable and, after all is the personal product of a true individualist, who still plows with a horse. Monsieur Cousin’s Grolleau is only about $22, all the way from France.

 An important part of the ideals of these individualistic wine makers is the preservation of ancient and less well known grapes. The ‘slacker has read that soon, some of these varietals won’t be allowed to be included in the French AOC system; they’ll be forced to use the designation, “Vin de Table” or simply table wine. This will preclude them from dating the vintage as well. 

La Clarine Farm’s Home Vineyard blend is from a team of hard core winemakers from California. Hank Beckmeyer and Caroline Hoel in the Sierra Foothills. Their vines are not irrigated, un-weeded, except by their squad of goats and otherwise un-tampered with. Hank writes that they have even discarded Rudolph Steiner’s methods as too interventionist and become adherents of a Japanese farmer by the name of Masanobu Fukuoka.  Their output is minimal, but if you buy early, they will happily share their unusual and really handcrafted wines. 2009’s Vineyard Blend is a red with sharp fruit at the front, the flavor of rubarb and dark berrys and a lot of structure; almost never seen in a California wine anymore.  Chances are you’ll only get this wine by mail, so the ‘slacker suggests you let it sit for 10 days or so before opening. The Wineslacker has had their Voignier “Orange” from 2009 and can say that it is a memorable white wine, with a rich taste built from the wine, not the addition of oak. The Vineyard Blend is one of two that the Wineslacker brought home with him from his afternoon at Domaine LA.

Last, but far from least, Eric Texier’s 2009 St Julien-en-St Alban Cotes du Rhone opens with a rich, slightly bacony nose and is full of dried fruit and spice. It’s a red, and a tannic wine by California standards, with a medium long finish.  Texier apparently came across this smallish vineyard on the West bank of the Rhone planted with Vielle Serine Syrah sometime around the end of World War Two.  “Serine” indicates an un-cloned Syrah, characterized by loose bunches and often olive shaped fruit.  Texier himself recommends some time yet in the bottle for this unusual, possibly unique, wine (about $35).

If you have an interest in purist wines and haven’t read Ms. Feiring before, the Wineslacker highly recommends to his loyal readers this passionate, honest book about her personal journey into a relatively unsung corner of the world of wine making. It’s a world where the ancient art is practiced and honored, where hard work is the coin of the realm and is not always rewarded.

 All of the above wines were available at Jill Bernheimer’s Domaine LA, 6801 Melrose Avenue, L.A (Hollywood), California, 90038, at the time this was written.

 

 

August 29, 2011

NAKED WINES! Now that I have your attention…

Filed under: Buy o' the Month,Cheep wine,wine blogs — Dex Wineslacker @ 12:43 am

The Wineslacker and Patient Companion enjoyed an afternoon of unusual wines and gracious gab with wine critic and activist Alice Feiring today, at the small but elegant wine shop, Domaine LA, in Hollyweird, CA. Ms. Feiring was in sunny L.A., instead of storm-lashed New York, talking about her newest book, the just released Naked Wine, Letting Grapes do What Comes Naturally. Her book describes her recent venture into the wine making world in the spirit of wine made the old fashioned way; without chemicals, flavors, designer yeasts…just grapes and the yeast that came in on them.

The shop had eight of the wines mentioned in the book and soon, very soon patient readers, the Wineslacker will divulge his notes and descriptions of each (who knew there was a wine that actually tastes like salt and pepper!). He would add that these wines were hand crafted, all out of the norm…not available in large supermarkets or Big Lots; yet none were more than $38, and there was only one of them. Several were $20 or less. Therefore the Wineslacker adds to this post the tag, Cheep Wine. 

June 17, 2011

Total Wine, now in Torrance, CA

Hopefully, you ‘slackers and ‘slackettes will be more encouraged to contribute comments now that the Wineslacker has ponied up for some outside gunslingers to waylay them pesky Robo-spammers.

The ol’ Wineslacker visited the new mega-store in town this past weekend and reports that Total Wine does, indeed, have a bunch a wine. He was encouraged that you need not sign away any privacy to get a discount card. Their prices are what they are. Whataconcept. They also provide a soft-bound catalog of what they have in stock and that is free and you can take that home for more leisurely perusing. He likes that. He also appreciates that the high priced vino is afforded a temperature controlled rack. Makes ya more comfortable about buying that $100 bottle, a little more confident that it has not been sitting upright in a hot warehouse shelf in the back of the store.

They have on-going tastings in the middle of the store; which means that you’re gonna be standing around in the midst of staring shoppers, slurping down your freebee, as the shopping carts go clattering by. OK. They seem to have a lot of help that are at least somewhat educated and actually may have tasted the wine they’re talking about at some point.

They make a point of putting their faces on recommendations of wine that you may never have heard of….and they seem to have a lot of that. Which may not be a bad thing, but will take time and experience (and cash) to judge.

The Wineslacker picked up the Rose de Provence they were recommending, Domaine Fontanyl, 2009, their recommended $10 Pinot Noir, Montoya Monterey County, 2009, a very well priced bottle of Silver Oak, 2006 Alexander Valley Cab ($54.99) and a big, friendly bottle of Bombay Sapphire, 1.75 liters, for the best price he’s seen in a long while, $27.99.

He can report that the Rose did live up to their description as “lively” very; and fragrant…the strawberry literally floats out of the bottle when the cork is pulled. The flavors move through several levels and leave with a dry, dry minerality that some might find takes getting used to. Quite a wine for $12.99. Likewise, the Montoya Pinot is one of the best $10 Pinots around and tests out at the level of a much more expensive wine. Montoya has had a good name as a value wine for a while, and this is a slightly smoky, medium weight, fruity Pinot of the cool climate variety. The Silver Oak, will go into storage for a while, as being only 5 years old, it’s got some growing up to do, but could not resist the price and the 92 rating.

They also carry an excellent selection of Ridge Zins, the royalty of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Lytton Springs (see the ‘slacker’s post on Ridge from last year).

So. If you’ve got one close by, drop in and see what you think. The Wineslacker is generally not in favor of giant stores for anything and he would not be happy to see Total Wine drop a store in the neighborhood of a small, established place like Hi Time or Wine Country or your local stop and chat wine merchant. But.. that’s a fight that will go on, and ‘slackers everywhere will have to choose between price and home town service. For the stalkers of the perfect wine buy, well, we hope for both.

May 9, 2011

Remember $10 Wines? They’re Back…

Filed under: $10 wines,Buy o' the Month,Cabernet Sauvignon,California,Justin Winery — Dex Wineslacker @ 2:07 am

OK, let’s see if the Wineslacker remembers how to do this now. Oh, yeah. Got it.  Spring is sprug…or sprung. Ah, faithful reader, there lay many, only slightly hidden treasures in the wine sections of the retail world to be had. Yes, there are still $10 wines worth buying out there. The greatest deal the ‘slacker has found in the neighborhood is Beringer (yes, what, the oldest winery in California, or close, 1876, they claim.). For whatever reason, probably a huge over stock, Trader Joes has pulled off one of their majorly slick deals and landed Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium, 2007, which they are turning over for a spectacular $9.99. And friends, it’s worth it. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot; very Bordeaux-like, with real structure, something often processed out of California Reds.  OK, there are better Bordeaux blends out there, if you must spend $35 or $40 bucks, but BABY, $10! Stock up while they got it.

And while you’re there, try some Hogue Genesis Meritage, 2007 (again. That magic year!). A lot of T.J.s have it for an absurd $7.99. Despite the grandiose name, this is garage sale gold. Its another red blend, all Washington State Columbia Valley fruit; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and just a touch of Cabernet Franc. Now, this wine is great right out of the bottle, but don’t plan on sipping it over the next week, ’cause by tomorrow, this baby is flab city. Forgetsville. But remember, you just paid $8 for it. Don’t be greedy.

T.J.s still has a great selection of inexpensive Pinot Noirs. Been hankering for that La Crema Pinot? Less than $20 at the Traders. While the ‘slacker hasn’t tasted Picket Fence Pinot, other wine bloggers have and give it high marks.

Wineslacker’s been back to BevMo, lately. They had the good sense to build one much closer to the ‘slacker’s H.Q. He picked up a a little red just for the nostalgia of the name; Ventana (window) Rubystone, a Grenache/Syrah blend from Arroyo Seco, 2007 (are ya getting the hint?).  It too was a paltry $9.99.  This needs a bit o’ air, but once opened up it springs right atcha with spice and a complex little trunk of flavors.  We like it and this one has been hanging around the crowded Wineslacker kitchen for several days while a number of other wines were tested. After all that time, it stays surprisingly drinkable. “Kitchen Survivors” is what Andrea Robinson calls ’em.

Don’t forget to check Von’s wine sections. They are just coming off one of their big wine sales and the ‘slacker spied Justin (Paso Robles) Cab, usually $27-28 bucks for the 2008, at an affordable $20 with the magic Von’s plastic card. Justin Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular Cabs served in California restaurants and deservedly so. Take an occasional peek, especially in their upgraded stores, for their 30% off premium label wines sales. There’s a deeper discount for case buys as well. Vons also carries a good selection of solid wine at the $10 level. Ya gotta have their discount card, though.

There. Drink some wine. More later…

February 2, 2011

Quaffing Peaceful Forgetfulness…Nepenthe

Filed under: California,pinot noir,Restaurants,Uncategorized — Dex Wineslacker @ 12:08 am

The story goes that Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles found the cabin in 1943, during a drive through Big Sur on the recently completed two lane road, Highway 1. So charmed were they by the cabin, the views and the wild romantic coastline that they bought it on the spot, basically with the cash they had in their pockets, a little over 165 dollars, as a down payment. Apparently, they never spent an entire night in the cabin. Considering the rest of their lives, they could have used a little more time at the cabin and less time in Hollyweird.

View From Nepenthe

In 1947, what had been a love nest for Rita and Orson and originally a stop over for the Trail Club of Jolon, became the home of Lolly and Bill Fassett and their five children. The Fassetts had the idea to use the land and it’s unique, spectacular views for a restaurant, bar and rest stop for the tourists drawn to Big Sur for its beauty and drama. Access to the previously remote Big Sur was facilitated by the new Highway 1, the first road built all the way through the rough, cliff strewn, mountainous coastal area. The Fassetts say it took over two years to get the deed signed over by Welles and Hayworth, because both of their signatures were needed and by 1947 they were separated and far from each other.

The designer of the restaurant, working with Lolly and Bill Fassett, was Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Maiden, son of a wealthy real estate businessman, trained at Taliesin, the home and architecture school of Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1939. While at Taliesen, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, Maiden met Germaine Schneider, who was the daughter of Wrights’ gardener and the companion of Wright’s daughter, Lovanna. Apparently, it was a past-time of Wright’s wife at the time (and last wife, Olgavanna) to play at cupid, making matches among Wrights’ students at Taliesin. In the nineteen forties, Maiden and Germaine, by then married, were living in Monterey, California. Maiden, who was killed in an accident in 1957, never became as famous as his creation at Big Sur, however he did go on to design many beautiful single family houses, particularly in the Bay area, often featured in magazines and highly prized by their owners.

DSC00568

One can see, by the enduring quality, simple and yet effective design of Nepenthe, Maiden’s great talent. The materials were culled from the local area, including redwood beams, glass,  and adobe bricks, hand made by Lolly Fassett, and probably her young children. The body of the restaurant is effectively hidden, while the views of the magnificent hillsides and drops to the wild ocean below, the stands of fir and coastal redwood, the emerald pastures and constantly soaring raptors and occasional Condor, are laid before the diners in the interior and casual visitors to the decks. There’s a large patio at the entrance of the restaurant, the center piece of which is a large, welcoming fire pit.  One can see a reproduced Nepenthe interior, filmed on a sound stage  in the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton vehicle, The Sandpiper, from 1965. The film also features real-life scenes of the area.

Nepenthe takes pride and full advantage of their place in the side pocket of one of the World’s great wine growing and vinting areas. The restaurant has an amazing number and selection of fine local wines by the glass, 1/2 bottles, standard 750 ml bottles and larger bottles, and the great, curved redwood bar. The Elegant Companion and her ‘slacker ordered up a 1/2 bottle of Navarro’s lovely cool climate Pinot, Methode Anciene, and relaxed into the best seats at the ocean side counter. They ate and drank and pointed out birds, watched for whale spouts and quietly remembered nights, friends and lovers, misty mornings and  music, in that may we say, magical, quiet and fragrant place.

The place was completed in 1948, the year the ‘slacker was born, and he has been there many times, beginning when he was just a child and continuing, although not often enough, into late middle age. Nepenthe, still open and welcoming to the famous, the creative, the curious, the casual visitor; the sojourner, the pilgrim, the hungry and thirsty, is still owned and operated by the Fassett family. Still quietly serving Ambrosia Burgers with a side of Nepenthe.

Originally published by the Wineslacker, in similar form, on Open Salon.

September 6, 2010

Sippin’ Our Way Into Fall…

Filed under: California,Cheep wine,pinot noir,Port,Summer Bubblies — Dex Wineslacker @ 5:12 pm

Veggies on da Barbie

Summer is waning fast and Labor Day marks the psychological start of Fall.  Here in the Golden State, how-some-ever, we play on. The Pinot season keeps rolling out, with new, inexpensive bottlings showing up on everybody’s shelves.  Couple of worthwhile mentions go out to Caretaker Pinot, 2009, from the Santa Maria Valley, $9.99 at Trader Joes, Carmel Road Pinot, 2008, from Monterey, at Vons, the fabulous Melville Pinot, Estate – Verna’s, 2007, about $27 at BevMo, if you can still find it, and Steven Bannus Pinot Noir, 2008, from the Russian River Valley, $13.99 with the BevMo card at BevMo.  This beauty is rated a 91 by BevMo’s in house wine critic, Wilfred Wong, and the Wineslacker thinks he’s right on.

One wine we did not mention in our last blog on bubblies is one ‘slackers should not overlook. Sparkling Moscato from Italy.  For a sweet change of pace, nothing beats this on a torrid September day.  The Moscato we like is Oltrepo Pavese, Moscato Dulce, available at Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck, as some cynics might sneer) for an affordable $11.99.  Get several bottles, ’cause this is a light (about 8% alcohol), creamy, slightly sweet quaffer that everyone will want more of.

Looking toward the cooler realms of fall and winter, it’s not too early to think about stocking up on dessert wines that will go well next to the fire on those windswept nights in the mountains or on the coastal bluffs. We were recently turned on (by slackerette Susan) to Ficklin Tawny Port; California Port from Southern Madera County. Ficklin is a family owned vineyard that ‘s been making serious Port for the last sixty-some years. This is a hand made fortified wine, made with Portuguese methods, from people dedicated to their art for generations. While their Tawny Port may seem expensive at $28 a bottle, when you think about what goes into it, it’s a real bargain.  This wine is aged for ten years in small oak casks and that fact in itself means an investment and a vision toward the future, rather than a quick turn around profit. Ficklin Vineyards grows and uses only Portuguese varietals, originally purchased from U.C. Davis in 1946. Click on the link to their website and find out more about this under the radar California gem.

Moscato in the Back Yard

June 27, 2010

Tired of All That Champagne?

Filed under: Cheep wine,pinot noir,Summer Bubblies,summer wine — Dex Wineslacker @ 6:42 pm

Three Summer Bubblies That Aren't French

Tired of all that old Champagne?  Lost everything in the crash?  Your bank failed? You can still enjoy bubbles in the swingin’ summertime.  Here are three inexpensive sparklers that not only don’t hurtcha in the hip pocket, but give you something different and interesting.

First in line is the illustrious  Prosecco Balbinot (NV) (about $17 at Wine Expo in Santa Monica) the frizzante, the basic wine of a distinguished winemaker from San Pietro di Feletto, it’s soft, creamy, fully delightful; if you typically buy middle brow California sparklers like Piper-Sonoma, Gloria Ferrar Brut, etc., try this for a change of pace. Second, an organic sparkling Chardonnay from Argentina, no less. Vida organica, 2007, from Familia Zucccardi at Whole Foods is a more substantial wine, with a unique character, clean and round. The ‘Slacker likes it and it stands up to a garlicy roast chicken or grilled salmon just fine. Last but far from least is the familiar (to TJ’s fans) Zonin Prosecco Brut, a lovely, everyday bubbly at about $6 a bottle. Fruity, but dry and soft, it’s just the thing at the end of a warm summer evening on the patio.

2007-2008 are the Pinot Years!  Great Pinot Noir is comin’ out our ears, here in California.  For as little as $8.99 you can enjoy a  casual little Pinot from the Central Coast or the Russian River Valley. The Trader called Joe is currently keeping a very respectable stock of Pinot Noir, including the very tasty Lane Tanner, Block 4 at 19.99, MacMurray Ranch 2007 Pinot at $13.99, but also the well regarded Castle Rock Pinot and two low end, but excellent buys, Inslay Peak, 2007,($9.99) from Edna Valley Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County, and Hamilton-Steven’s, 2008, ($8.99)from the Russian River Valley.  In the bargain arena this week at Von’s, the ‘Slacker picked up Lockwood Vineyard, Block 7, Monterey County Pinot, rated a respectable 87 by WineSpectator for 2007, for $13.39.  BTW, Lockwood’s winemaker, Larry Gomez makes an interesting statement on their website as follows, “We’re backing away from oak and un-masking the grapes to really show off this vineyard and the unique terroir.” Maybe a trend???

May 24, 2010

Spring is bustin’ out!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dex Wineslacker @ 1:17 am

Almost the end of May and the Wineslacker is tardy with updates again.  Alas, disappointing, he knows. As men everywhere and always; late and heavy with excuses.  Still, some new and pleasant sipping has been accomplished.  A happy chance purchase a year ago was “Claudia” Grenache, California grown on the hills of Camarillo. Grown by the Alonso Family Vineyards in 2007, and bottled by Rolling Hills Vineyards. $12 yet bursting with rich berry flavors, not over-extracted, light in color and texture, just a happy, happy wine.  Also, an old favorite, Louis M. Martini, Sonoma County Cabernet, 2007, about $16 and a really fine cab for what now is very little money.  We opened an inexpensive Bordeaux that had been sitting shyly in the back of the rack for several years, 2003 Chateau Les Grands Maréchaux, Premières Côtes De Blaye, a survivor from one of the great vintages in France, just as it was about to begin it’s inevitable slide into ruin…delicious still, rich and layered and long in the finishing.  Finally, during a visit from his younger sibling and spouse, he opened a real delight from the Santa Ynez Valley, Qupé’s 2004 Los Olivos Cuvée, a masterful blend by Bob Lindquist, one of the first of the “Rhone Rangers” of Central California, a steal in 2007 when it was $22.  Of the four, only the the “Claudia” Grenache is likely to be hard to find because it was so small a production.  The Bordeaux was a recommendation from the very experienced folks at Hi Time Wine Cellars, Costa Mesa, California, hitimewine.net.  If you’re in the Costa Mesa area, drop by Hi Time.  They’re the real deal.

Summer is coming.

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