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January 6, 2017 / WineinTamiTime

We greet 2017 with zee Riesling

Like any somm worth her salt, I love sparkling wine. Whether it is grower Champagne, cava, pet-nat or sekt, opening a bottle makes a normal day a little more special. While we tend to reserve bubbles for special occasions here in the States, Germans open it daily. I am convinced that is why they make so many great, affordable bottlings. It helps that the cool grape growing climate in Germany produces high acid whites that are so delicious when crafted into bubbly.

Sekt is the German word for sparkling wine. There are a few ways to make sparkling wine, but the most labor intensive, expensive way is traditional method, also referred to as méthode Champenoise. The base blend of still wine is bottled with yeast and sugar, then crown capped so the yeast and sugar can do its magic and make those lovely bubbles. The bottles are turned, or riddled, formerly by hand, but in most larger production, with a machine called a gyropalette so all the spent yeast cells move down into the cap. Then the cap is removed, this is called dégorgement, the yeast is released, the wine is topped off and corked. This is the shortest possible explanation for the process. I share this with you so you can understand why Champagne from Champagne is expensive and why it is so awesome when we can score traditional method sparkling wine under $25.

The Barth (pronounced Bart) family has been farming in the Rheingau since 1948 and has been dedicated to wine grapes, mostly Riesling and Pinot Noir, since 1973. They were certified organic in 2013 and practice sustainable winemaking. They are founding members of the Charta association which advances the idea of site specific classification of dry Rieslings. They are also one of the most respected traditional producers of sekt.

On to the wine! I have enjoyed Barth’s sekt made from Pinot Blanc many times. It is sparkly, yellow apple deliciousness. Damon from Truly Fine Wines sent me home with this Brut Riesling this time and I am still dreaming of it. I opened it on New Year’s Eve for our toast. The nose, oh the nose… apple, lime and stones jumping into my face, like Riesling on steroids. On the palate, the body was full and round with fresh crisp acidity and the longest, mineral driven finish. And it is indeed a dry wine!

For more information on this wine and to experience it for yourself, click here:

Barth Riesling Sekt – Get Some!!

March 3, 2013 / WineinTamiTime

My Reward for Heeding My Budget, and a Short Rant

  I visited the Albertson’s by my mom’s house in Carlsbad tonight. As usual, I checked out their wine selection, just to see what they had and more importantly, how much was charged. I have been accused of being snobbish about grocery store wine, but I know it serves a purpose. These are the every day wines that are accessible. I know that the last thing I want at the end of my day is to make multiple stops for dinner and wine. I get it. I just believe that as the Wine Director of a restaurant, it’s my job to provide wine that makes a visit an experience. Many of us don’t get to go out every day, and when we do, we want something special, something better than we can make at home. Special, small production, hand made wines will never reach the economy of scale necessary to be featured in a grocery store. Wine that is outside the every day, that runs out at the end of the vintage and whose price fluctuates based on the whims of Mother Nature. Wine that takes lucky wine directors and sommeliers many of our waking hours, months, years to unearth. So forgive me. And drink what I offer.

Enough of the soapbox! On to the business, I mean bottle at hand.

The point is that I did not purchase a bottle at said Albertson’s because I didn’t want to spend the money when I could open something I had at home. Three months of unemployment took a toll on the cellar. I’m getting to a critical level, where I need to stock up with some everyday wine so I can back away from the nice stuff. Today I opened the bottle I most fear. I purchased it at the wine shop at The Orleans in Las Vegas, must have been 3 years ago. I intended to spring it on my blind tasting group, but since it isn’t on the Fair Game list, I thought better of it. I haven’t come across the right time to open it. I hoped it would not taste good so I wouldn’t be tempted to polish it off.

The Grid:

Sight; bright, clear, no gas or particles, ruby core out to a clear rim, color is of medium concentration, medium viscosity, no tear staining

Nose: clean initially, hints of nail polish remover late, medium intensity, youthful-ish, strawberry, raspberry, overripe vegetables in a plastic bag, cinnamon, clove, tar, hot on the nose, grape flavored crayon

Palate: off dry, very few of the elements on the nose make it to the palate; medium minus body, high acidity, low complexity and finish, unbalanced, of low quality.

Knowing that this is a non-vintage Pahrump Valley Winery American appellated Burgundy, I could not hazard a guess as to its varietal, origin or vintage. The label told me everything, the grid told me nothing! 

And no, I can’t finish the glass. I will buy some Sprite tomorrow and make spritzers!

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January 15, 2013 / WineinTamiTime

2010 Pinot Noir, I take it all back(Kinda) or, Gary Farrell(Or Whoever actually makes this wine) I love you

I arrive after most, ten minutes before seven and walk into a flight of 2010 Pinot Noirs, just like I had panned in my prior post for being purple opaque monsters. Not varietally correct. This time they were all ruby, medium concentration, no tear staining, medium to medium plus viscosity. The acidity hit just the right spot for me. In short, they looked, smelled, and tasted like pinot noir. This was a lovely flight. You win this time, Cali Pinot!!

  • Gary Farrell Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley – while only medium intensity on the nose, there was plenty happening; raspberry, cranberry and unripe cherry with rose petals, star anise, damp pine forest floor and root beer! On the palate the fruits and spices seemed darker, with quinine and a cherry syrup viscosity.
  • Gary Farrell Hallberg Vineyard Russian River Valley – the aromatics were more intense on the nose. Riper cherry and raspberry, still with star anise and root beer, but the flowers were of a more dried quality and the earth was more clay.
  • Gary Farrell “Russian River Selection” Russian River Valley – This one was all over the place in a good way. Blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, orange peel, beet, tarragon, violets, wet stones, baking spices. Definitely some new oak.  It didn’t end up my #1 because everything was in the nose, not all these notes made their way to my palate.

I tasted these wines on January 8th, 2013. For the rest of the flight  http://www.calgrapevine.com

January 2, 2013 / WineinTamiTime

My deal with Pinot

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I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not the biggest fan of Pinot Noir. The Sideways fever never infected me. What I did take from the movie, from the scene where Miles and Maya discussed the beauty of pinot on the porch, was that it is a hard grape to grow and get in a bottle. Since then, I’ve felt like pinot should be expensive. Add to that a propensity for syrah and Spanish wine, which are generally more accessible on a server’s budget and it comes out to me never developing an appreciation for it’s charms. Which is weird considering that I’ve always loved Beaujolais, but that’s another story altogether. When it comes to Burgundy, it’s been hit or miss for me, but my studies tell me that that is the nature of Burgundy. If I don’t know what I’m doing in terms of vintage or producer, it’s most likely just going to be okay. As a buyer and a student, I have had the chance to taste and gain some familiarity, but I have only scratched the surface. I do have an expectation of a ruby red wine of medium concentration, typically with red fruit character and the earth up front, at least holding hands with the fruit.

Fast forward to June 2012 when I get to attend Oregon Pinot Camp. NOW I get it! It’s pretty, floral, expressive, and sometimes dirty in a barnyard, earthy, funky kind of deliciousness. Minerality is present. It can pair with almost anything. The tannins don’t rip my face off. It doesn’t weigh down my palate. I Love Pinot Noir! Now I’m paying attention. I’m even bringing it home for dinner.

I started tasting with the Grapevine in August. I get to taste all kinds of pinot, but they’re all from California, nearly all 2010 so far. Sonoma, Anderson Valley, Santa Barbara, you name it. I am taken aback with the purple, opaque, tear staining, black fruit, no earth booziness. Mind you, I am making a generalization. I’m not saying this is all Cali pinot, but it’s common and it makes me mad.  And I know why it’s common. It’s because that is what the customer wants, they want a big bold pinot. It tastes like syrah, which really makes me mad because it’s hard to sell the most lovely of syrahs.

Accept the things you cannot change, right? After the last flight of these big goopy pinots, I came to the realization that maybe that is just what California Pinot Noir is. That is how they distinguish themselves from the rest of the world. I need to just roll with it, find the ones I think display the best balance and complexity and make the people happy. Because there is still plenty of Burgundy and Oregon Pinot out there for me.

December 11, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

Golden Floral Peaches

Tuesday December 4th, we tasted six Viogniers at the Grapevine. My top three most represented how I expect Viognier to taste. I’ve tasted other, more lean, minerally styles that I like, but don’t seem so essentially viognier. Maybe I just like the obvious ones because they are much easier to pick out blind.

I just finished Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein MS and Joyce Goldstein, and I was intrigued that he uses this varietal in as many pairings as he does. Warrants some exploration here at home.

Here are my top three, all are from the 2011 vintage. For the others visit www.calgrapevine.com.

Eberle “Mill Road Vineyard” Paso Robles – this wine is what I think of when I think of viognier, all ripe yellow apple, peach, and apricot with lush white flowers and vanilla. Hints of asparagus and a touch of bitter on the palate to provide balance.

Melville “Estate – Verna’s” Santa Barbara County – at 15.8% alcohol, this was hot on the nose, but I enjoyed how rich and round it was on the palate. Was it the fruit or the booze that drove the finish? Either way, it was nice. I see lots of ladies digging this one.

Peachy Canyon “Concrete Blanc” Paso Robles – I voted this as my #3 because it had a longer richer finish than the Curtis from Santa Barbara, even though the Curtis had more happening in terms of fruit, spices and a stone minerality.

December 11, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

Still Pinot Noir from Champagne!

Still Pinot Noir from Champagne!

My friend TJ brought this home for me about a year ago from Champagne. I had no idea when the right time would be to open it, but being thirsty and in for the night made tonight the night.
The cork stumped me for just a second. I figured I ought to go about as I would a proper bubbly, and it worked.

CCPN cork
Until a year ago, I didn’t even realize that the Champenois bottled still pinot, but with as light and acidic as it is, I’m not surprised it’s not more popular. I enjoy the lightness almost as much as the novelty, but most would not. It does have a beautiful dark cherry nose that is opening up more smoky, cedar incense-like.

December 3, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

2010 Pinot Noir

At the Grapevine tonight, we tasted 12 Pinot Noirs. These are my top three. If you’d like to see what else we tasted http://www.calgrapevine.com.

Turns out I have a thing for Anderson Valley.

Williams Selyem “Burt Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch” Anderson Valley. This was the lightest bodied of the group, falling into how pinot noir ought to feel. Medium plus intensity on the nose with red fruits: strawberry, cranberry, cherry, pomegranate, with forest floor, rose petal, violet, pine, clove. This tastes like pinot noir ought to with medium body, tannins, alcohol  and medium plus acidity. This was the lightest and most Pinot Noir of the group.

My #2 is the Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Russian River Valley. While it was purple with medium plus concentration and viscosity, I loved how expressive the woodsy cedar notes were on the nose. Red plum, black berry, damp earth. Dark but not syrah dark.

#3 in the lineup is the DuMol “Aidan” Russian River Valley. Love the medium + intensity on the nose of flowers, talcum, nag champa, red and black fruit, eucalyptus and menthol. Love the earth dominance on nose, but with tart red fruit on the palate. Woody but balanced.