Tried these 3 sparklers last weekend with friends. We’ve been looking for a nice crisp, not too sweet, with lots of bubbles base for making sparkling aperitifs. Out of this round the Atmospheres was my pick. Guests seemed to really like the German Gilabert, its nose was off putting to me but I agreed it was tasty. The Cava Bien was lovely, but too sweet for our purpose. All delicious and all from a fave local shop: Domaine LA.
Despite all the wine and liquor We enjoy each week, my recycling bin has virtually no glass in it. I’m not a bad, anti-green citizen: all plastic gets recycled (tonic water, various juices, and other plastic encased mixers are regular visitors to the bin). And all fruit and vegetable waste gets composted. (Limes are of particular popularity in the compost pile.) The lack of glass is because We don’t recycle empty bottles…We plant them upside down in my back yard. Slowly a beautiful, Gaudi-esque border for the plants and pathways is emerging in what was a big dirt patch.
If there is a particular bottle of wine We especially enjoyed We’ll hold back the empty, as a reminder to write about it on Swirl. Needless to say, as Our posts have slowed the last couple of months but our consumption has not, there are quite a few empties littering my kitchen, waiting for their time to shine as “Wines of Note…” Here are four to mention before they get the burial treatment:
White X, North Coast, XWinery 2009 (sample, winery sells for $14.99):
An interesting blend (49% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Albarino, 20% Muscat Blanc, 6% Chardonnay) that offers both refreshing acidity, with limey, grassy notes but also a very lush, tropical palate. He enjoyed its richness (likely from the Muscat Blanc and Chardonnay), favoring wines that are not overly acidic. I found it a little unrefined, but highly enjoyable and food friendly. Ripe apricots, tropical flowers, and zing of citrus. We both agreed the price was right and it was a great match for the salmon roasted with veggies We made for dinner. Despite the fact We think their label design is a bit meh (nice type, but the mosaic is hokey), We’re endeared to XWinery. They are doing cool things philanthropically, practice sustainability in the vineyard and winery, and seem like overall good corporate citizen and folks. These things matter.
Beaujolais Blanc, Jean-Paul Brun 2009 ($16.99 at domaineLA)
If you’re friends with Us on Facebook you no doubt have seen a few pictures of His very new, very mod, very awesome Vespa. Suddenly quick trips to the store are so much fun…and He’s always volunteering to pick something up on the way over. The other day He showed up with a bottle of white from a favorite local wine shop, domaineLA. After a tough day of riding around in the sun with a buddy (who happens to have a matching bike–so cute), He was ready for a glass of wine. We popped it open and wow, it was great. The chardonnay is unoaked but there is an almondy toastiness on the nose with peaches and fragrant blossoms. Nice structure (no flabbiness here) with that licking-a-wet-stone minerality I really enjoy. A delightful, complex wine, making $17 a great price. (It’s worth noting that over the years winemaker Jean-Paul Brun has gotten all kinds of flak from the French government for making wine the way he wants to. We say: eff The Man, keep on doing what you do.) A bonus: Jill at domaineLA made Him customer-of-the-day. Vespa/wine/helmet hair glamor shot here.
Riesling, Helfrich 2008 (sample, retails for about $12)
An enjoyable dry Riesling (and the end to his Riesling phobia?). Fragrant, grapey and somewhat musty nose leading to ripe pear, peach, golden delicious apple ––late summer/early fall fruit flavors that is aromatic and full without being overwhelming. A backbone of minerals keeps the fruit from becoming overly cloying and gives the wine a nice long finish. Hints of spice and ginger add some complexity, but overall the wine is on the easy drinking simple side. Enjoy it, don’t ramble on about it (so I won’t). Priced right at $12.
Grüner Veltliner, “Lois,” Fred Loimer 2009 (sample, retails for about $12)
We drank a lot of Grüner over the hot summer months–it’s perfect quencher on a scorcher day, generally inexpensive but of good quality, great with oysters and seafood (which We eat a lot of), and when at a restaurant/bar with a sketchy wine list, usually a sure thing. But why is it a restaurant/bar with a sketchy wine list? Is Grüner going through its Pinot Grigio phase wherein as the popularity of the wine grows, the quality suffers? Our non-scientific poll says: Yes. Increasingly We’ve been tasting Grüners that lack freshness and structure. The Lois bucks the trend, remaining affordable and highly drinkable. It is sprtizy, limey, minerally, “fun” wine. Lots of grapefruit, some unripe pear, and a fresh, clean finish. Twelve bucks is the right price.
Red Bordeaux (or shall We be fancy Français about it and say Bordeaux Rouge) is the topic of our upcoming Swirl Smell Slurp Sunday Salon. This time around We’re asking our guests to bring a bottle of the Frenchy stuff, keeping the cost at $20 or under. (We provide everything else: meet-and-greet bubbly to start the afternoon off right, glassware, informative notes, a tasting notebook, and light snacks.)
It occurred to Us that We should try and find and drink a few Bordeaux before next weekend’s Salon, to whet our palate… and also to make sure that finding one under twenty bucks that doesn’t suck is possible. Turns out We had found one already. The blog is becoming a great reference for Us to keep track of what We tasted when and what We thought about it. (Beats all those misc. notebooks, cocktail napkins, and back of receipt reviews We used to try to keep track of.). Clicking the Bordeaux Reds category under Tasted brings up a very favorable review of an $8.99 Bordeaux We bought at the local corner liquor store. Oh, how we love Big Mac’s.
While we encourage our guests to go to their local, independent wine shop to buy wine, We found that a few of our guests at the last Salon were intimidated by wine shops. “No, no,” We told them, but the snobby reputation of wine, is just that, a reputation. But it is tough for some people to brush aside this perception. We’re doing our part to persuade such folks that this is simply not so. And if they encounter such a place, hell yeah, never go back and tell all your friends to do the same.
If there is not a local wine shop in our fellow Salon-er’s neighborhood or they simple decide to buy their wine the last minute, We recommend these shops that are on the way to SSS headquarters (depending on what direction they’re coming from) to purchase the day’s theme wine: DomaineLA, Silverlake Wine, City Sip, Palate, and Rosso Wine Shop. And if wine shops are really just not their thing, well, there is always Big Mac’s.
The place We do not recommend our friends stop at before the upcoming Salon to pick-up a red Bordeaux is our neighborhood Gelson’s. Here’s why: they only have one Bordeaux under $20 and it is very meh. Our review:
Montagne Saint-Emilion, Château Forlouis, 2006 (François Janouerx, $15.99)
She said: Deep garnet in color, cloudy/muddy/opaque. In the nose are barnyard and dirt aromas with a background of plums and misc. red fruit. Very sharp in the mouth. Tannins are ripe and very vocal: there is very little fruit or any other flavors to distinguish. Finish is sour. The wine may benefit from some oxidation. Tasted it immediately after popping the cork and an hour later, but there was little change. Perhaps leaving it open overnight (tomorrow’s breakfast wine?) will help dissipate the harshness. Would not consider the wine a bargain, even priced at $15.99, because it lacks fruit and balance.
He said: Well, actually He took a quick sip and said: “Gross.” And then He went back to His architecting. He’s too busy to write a real review, but the drawings He’s working on sure look good. She guesses His rating would be the same as Her’s (if He knows what’s good for Him).
I wouldn’t say that I’m the more serious wine taster; more often than not He says, “Should we take our Tasting Notebooks?” when we head out. And this is even if we’re just going to the grocery store or someplace like that–you never know when a wine tasting opportunity will pop up. I like this kind of thinking.
But…last night He was a little less serious about the tasting part. Or rather, he was less serious about the taking notes and concentrating part; there was plenty of tasting.
As He said in his post: “Sometimes you get a little tipsy and decide to go to Cha Cha, and then forget to review the wine or the shop.”
Yes, all of these things did happen (the chicks totally kicked ass at foos ball at Cha Cha, by the way) but, I still took notes on the terrific Muscadet we tasted from the equally terrific wine shop domaineLA.
Hands down this is the best wine that I’ve tasted that’s been reviewed here. Seek it out.
Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Domaine de la Pepiere, 2007 ($15.99)
She said: The wine is very pale with very little color, just a hint of yellow. On the nose it is fresh and clean with strong notes of grapefruit, lime, and lots of mineral. One sip fills the entire palate. The flavors again are citrusy, especially grapefruit. Also detected oyster shells, wet stones, and a chalkiness. It has a bright, almost abrasive acidity. A bit taut here, but I like that quality in a Muscadet and in whites in general. The long, floral finish reminds me of a flowering almond tree. Truly delicious and quenching. I can imagine all kinds of foods to pair it with: shellfish, of course, but also spicy stuff like bbq or Thai, and wouldn’t sushi be perfect. It’s also a great value for the price.
Facts: The winemaker, Marc Ollivier, is highly regarded by both wine drinkers and fellow wine makers. The wines come from about 40 year old vineyards which overlook the river Sèvre. Ollivier is the only grower in the Muscadet who does not have a single clonal selection in his vineyards; they are all from original stock. What also sets Ollivier and his wines apart is his insistence on hand harvesting, a rarity in the region, and using only natural yeasts. He doesn’t inoculate the wine with additives or yeasts to speed up fermentation, rather he waits for the wine to finish naturally.
Postscript: And if you still aren’t convinced that you should seek out and try wines by this wonderful maker, just look at this face. How can you not smile and resist a wine made by this man?
(Photo from Wine Anorak.)
Sometimes you have a wine blog. Sometimes you take that blog very seriously. Sometimes you visit a great new wineshop, and buy a great bottle of Muscadet. Sometimes you have every intention of reviewing the shop and the wine. Sometimes you get a little tipsy and decide to go to Cha Cha, and then forget to review the wine or the shop.
He Said: The wine shop is awesome, you should all go. The bottle of Muscadet that we bought was also awesome, we will buy another bottle and review it. But sometimes it is better to just be social, enjoy the wine, but not take it too seriously.
Sometimes life is just good that way.
(and, duh, the image of the bottle isn’t Muscadet. We just liked the editorial comments on the chalkboard. The wine we drank was Muscadet, Sévre et Maine sur Lie, Domaine de la Pepiére 2007)
domaine LA, a new store in Hollywood that has good design and wine, definitely in concert with our approach.
Will Blog for Blag.
McSweeney’s has a wine column, err, sort of.
The Future of wine writing: no we don’t want your job. Umm, but out of curiosity, how much does it pay?
Happy Chianti: Visual comparison of wine education in Italy and the US.
But do we get to kill anyone and steal their car? Another new wine video game.