Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ronco Del Gelso vs. My Shitty Mood

My husband is waxing geektacular over the new Ronco Del Gelso releases. Had I not thrashed my tummy over the weekend, I might be able to enjoy an entire glass, but as it is, I'm actually spitting. I'm at home, too! After work! Unbelievable.
I'm in the crappiest mood tonight, not just because of my stomach, but because I'm supposed to be writing about 'guilt' right now; a topic my therapist thinks I need to address. Apparently, I've got guilt issues with my mother I'm just not tackling properly. I have no fucking desire to mess with that. I have no desire to mess with anything. I'm in one of my little funks, and all my energy today was spent making agreeable faces while people yicky-yacked at me. Know what I mean? Too bad, too, because these wines are really pretty, and trying them now is like trying to rally for sex when you're just not into it. But I'll try.

2003 Ronco Del Gelso Tocai Fruilano
Hot nose with flowers and citrus peel. The mouthfeel is sooo silky. Soft pear under powerful lemon peel and minerals with a long mineral finish.

2003 Ronco Del Gelso Pinot Grigio Sot Lis Rivis
This PG is rested on its lees, which gives it a rich creaminess that turns into something like an herbed cream sauce. Finishes with lime peel and minerals. Excellent.

2003 Ronco Del Gelso Sauvignon Blanc
Keerist, that's stanky! My husband thinks it smells like heaven, but it doesn't work for me. Just this side of that gooseberry/catpiss thing, the nose has a green organic reek; like rotting vegetables and body odor. The mouthfeel, like the others, has an uncannily soft, dense, vaseline-like quality with subtle orange peel, petroleum and minerals. The acidity is solid and makes for a long finish. Never have been a Sauv Blanc fan, and this one isn't going to change that, but it is a very impressive wine.

As beautiful as these wines are, they have not ameliorated my shitty mood. No wine could do that right now. I need a cig and a bath. But first, I'm off to explore my guilty inner child. At least until I throw the laptop across the room.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

2002 Magellan 'Ponant' Rouge

Keeerist, what a day, busy as hell. Buy a case of wine, get 20% off is too hard to resist, and not even the boys and I could. I bought a whole bunch of bottles I'd been wanting, some higher end stuff I have no biz buying but have had my eye on (I'd tell you about the big aussie shiraz but I might lose my street cred).

I am all about fielding "dumb" questions, but this

"Yes, I'm allergic to alcohol, but a friend told me to try organic wines because they don't have sulfites in them. Is that true?"

Okay. This rivals "How can I tell if the wine in this bottle is red or white?" for the stoopidest Q in wine history. I mean, there are naiive questions, and then there are lazy ass questions that betray a clear lack in listening and reasoning skills. Lord, have mercy.

The vino I'm quaffing after such a krazy day: I felt like an idiot when I read the varietals, because I was so sure it was some grenache blend. But not a drop: Cab, Merlot, and Syrah. Guess I've got a lot to teach my tongue.
Speaking of tongues, this bottle is a 'vin de pays des cotes de Thongue'. "Cotes de Thongue". Hee hee hee hee.

But the wine really doesn't, so much. But it's not bad. It has that nice river rock minerality that I like, with smooth dark fruit. Good food wine. Needed a little time to open up. But I think it'll go nicely with the 'Austin-Style' steak I'm about to tear into.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

News hits close to home

No wine just now, being that it's 10 am, but plenty to say about Terry Schiavo on my earthlink blog.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Pairing wine and cigarettes

I needed the cigarette more than I needed the wine after yesterday's work. My last nerve had been yanked out and tied in a knot around my neck, and not really by anything too extreme, just having to get up close to some disturbing members of the teeming public. There was the woman who, after I volunteered praise for the bottle she'd picked out, gave me a high-pitched ass-chewing for the demise of our South African wine selection. There was the guy who was outraged that we were offering wine tastings, saying it was "crazy to hand out booze in a store," (yes, truly the end of civilized society, I'm sure), and the homeless man, who comes in all the time to buy a six pack of the one cheap beer we carry. He was drunk and sporting a fresh black eye, shaking, but trying hard to put on a polite, non-threatening demeanor while I dashed his hopes that we had that one cheap beer in stock today. I thought he was going to cry. No idea whatsoever what the deal was with the shiner, but instinctively I wanted to find the person responsible and crack a bottle over their head.

I got home, and the hub had prepared dinner (a lovely linguine with proscuitto and arugula), which I couldn't touch until I came down from the day. He suggested that I pop one of two bottles he'd brought home, light a cig, and chill out.

Bottle one:

Moris 2003 Morellina di Scansano

The hub is a picky man. He loves Italian juice, and doesn't give a damn about any other wine. While it's tough to get him to indulge in whatever country I'm currently in love with, I do have the benefit of access to some of the most gorgeous Tuscan and Piedmontese wines you could ask for.

Morellino is Sangiovese Grosso from Southern Tuscany. It's Humphrey Bogart in a bottle. The nose is full of profound, brooding dark fruit, smoke and leather, revealing a new dominant scent with each agitation. Super soft mouthfeel; baby's ass smooth, but very spicy. Big, muscular black pepper over tobacco, blackberry and plum...something like menthol on the finish.

When I took a drag of my cigarette later, I realized that it tasted fantastic with the wine. I realized: holy shit, the match I've been searching for!

Bottle Two

1996 Livernano IGT

I couldn't wait to find out if the second wine would also pair well with a cigarette, so after dinner, we popped this one and lit up.

Wow. This wine fits into the "Super Tuscan" category, being Sangio 50%, Cab Sauv 25%, Merlot 25%. Probably Slovenian oak, not sure. Macerated blueberry, smoke and licorice on the nose, palate full of muted blue/blackberry, anise, and ample tannins, and just enough smokiness to make my cigarette taste rich and mellow.

So there it is. Two wines that make your well deserved, after-work cigarette taste like a dream. Of course, neither wine worked with the Haagen Daas I tore into after dinner, but it didn't seem to matter at the time.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

2001 'Le Clos du Caillou' unfiltered Cotes du Rhone

I just got off work. It's St. Patty's day; my husband is out with whatever male companionship he's gathered, and I'm on my own, thank god; after all day in a retail megastore, all I want is near silence, a nice bottle, and my laptop. Maybe a young Asian masseuse, all hairless and lithe, too. And maybe a joint.
In lieu of the latter two, I'll settle for the company of my cats, as a married woman should, and settle in for a nice blog.

The Clos du Caillou was suggested to me...oh, wait...hold on, I'll get to this one in a minute. Dear God, I'm so far behind! At the risk of sounding like a total lush, I have to run down the ten wines I managed to experience over my four day weekend. Let's see if I can remember them now...

1) Oh shit, it was a Cote du Rhone, about ten dollars...Kermit Lynch...crap. I'll look it up. It was light, pretty cherry and river rock stony...just the perfect bottle to share with my husband after the marriage of his cousin out in Weatherford. And by the way, the reception to this wedding was dry. Dry! Not a drop of even the shittiest Chardonnay. I don't get this. Why have a dry reception? Ever since the first human found himself loopy on fermented berries, we've known that moderate amounts of alchohol at weddings makes for a better time. People who might normally park themselves in a corner can be found gleefully chatting with other guests. People laugh and dance more, amuse others with rediculous but heartfelt toasts, and find the courage to make amends with long estranged relatives. What's so wrong with that?
Sigh. Damned Southern Baptists.

2) 'Santola' Rose
The blushing sister of everyone's favorite Vinho Verde was a lovely apertif for my girlfriends and I while we nibbled cheese before dinner. Frizzante, light and dry, and it retails for six bucks. And with dinner....

3) 2001 Two Hands 'Gnarly Dudes' Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Ooooh, menu was rack of lamb with black raspberry/rosemary reduction, roasted blue fingerling potatoes and haricots verts with sunburst squashlets. The fat, mouthfilling dark berry attack of this shiraz was a knockout with it. Beautiful structure held up the big fruit like a steel frame. A little bit of spice....oh, man. Long, classy, cool finish. Such personality! This is not some mindless fruit bomb, and I am a new devotee, to be sure. If you are into shiraz, please check out this or any of the Two Hands offerings. Gorgeous stuff. Whew. Hand me a towel.

4) 2003 Hoya de Cadenas Tempranillo
As is proper, the lesser wine after the greater, but at ten bucks, nothing to dismiss. I used this wine in my berry reduction, and we polished it off after dinner. Smooth, bright red fruit, great for quaffing. While quaffing this wine, we listened to a voice mail left by a misdirected male friend of Carmie's, and laughed our asses off.

5)Forgettable Domestic Pinot Grigio

6) 2002 Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache
After the forgrettable Pinot Grigio, I struck up a conversation with the bartender about wine, and he pulled this out of the 'off the list' corner. Thank God, I was about to have to resort to a Bass Ale. It was just lovely. Big, dense, spicy, kinda smoky. Very nice. I was suprised, because their low end shiraz is for shite.

7) 2002 El Chapparal Old Vines Grenache, Navarra
Caught this one at a wine bar in Dallas called 'The Wine Therapist'. He was showing a flight of Spanish, and this is the one I liked the best. Sucker for Grenache, what can I say? This was much less dense then the Grenache from Aussieland, with bright red fruit and black pepper spice. A touch of licorice on the finish. Tasty.

8)2001 La Crema Pinot Noir
After a long lovely day of touring the Dallas Blooms garden and flirting with bartenders and wine merchants, we were in the mood for great big hunks of animal flesh. Of to Tejas De Brazil Chiarascuria, where our waiter turned out to be the thick-accented sommelier. For our first round, he brought us a 375 of this one, and it did not fight with any of the salads, cheeses or soups we tried before the meat came. Nice black cherry fruit, decent structure, a little smoke on the nose.

The problem with having tasted so many wines in one day is, of course, lack of judgement, and also a sense that one has an unlimited budget, and that, because one is on a 'vacation', one is entitled to spend at will. And so we have:

9)1998 Poggio Salvi Brunello Di Montalcino
Okay. I was a little lightheaded. I can't even blame it on the sommelier; he wanted to show us a Chianti Classico. But noooo, I had to be Little Mrs. Bigspender, didn't I?
But I was not disappointed.
Oh, jeez...after twenty minutes in the decanter (I had him pour only half the bottle) this Brunello is already rich with promise. Deep black pepper over layer upon layer of roasted fruit. Made the meat on my plate beg for mercy, saying: "Please, let us bask in the seductive waves of gorgeous flavor before you swallow!"
Okay, that's over the top. But I haven't even gotten to the desert wine...

10)1999 Far Niente Dolce
When reason has left the building, and one is too full for mischief, the time is right for the wine they call 'Liquid Gold'. Oh, sweet Botrytis. So ugly, yet so divine. It seems pointless to sit here and write 'apricots, honey, white flowers...' You just have to try it yourself. If the Lord Above said, "Damn, I'm really in the mood for something sweet," this is what the cherubim would scramble for.

So there you are, a four day binge's worth of wine.

Oh, yeah, the Cotes Du Rhone I'm drinking now. It's very good. The man who vinted it died recently in a car crash, this was his last vintage, and those "in the know", I'm told, are trying to get a hold of a bottle.

Life is short. Drink only good wine.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Discriminating Tastelessness

People who get all caught up in the pretense of high end wine are such bores. They're the worst kind of dullards, throwing down heavy cash to make up for missing personality and class. I can't say how many times I've been at a gathering of the supposed 'wine-savvy' and had to endure rediculous displays of posturing over who has had the very best bottle lately, or who has met what vintner from Napa or Italy. Some lay in wait to correct you should you mispronounce 'Corbieres' or mention the wrong blending varietal, and do so with a slimy satisfaction.

Here's a news alert, posers of all levels of society: Y'all full of shit. You have forgotten what ingredients make up a classy, savvy person. Things like social grace, listening and conversation skills, and an adventurous, open-minded approach to the lovely things in the world of food and wine. Having 'discriminating taste' is a matter of exploring wine, appreciating the journey of finding well-crafted bottles, each a fine example of its own category, whether it's a rich but friendly barbera or a two hundred dollar bordeaux with a symphonic palate.

A slender brunette in her early forties came into the wine department a couple of days ago and walked up and down the domestic Cab aisle, looking down her nose at the bottles. I asked her if I could help her with the wine, she said no thanks. After having attended to another customer, I returned to see this woman peering into the locked wine cabinet. Without looking at me she said, "Do you have a list of the contents of your cabinet?" I told her no, but that I'd be glad to open it to let her browse, and asked if she was looking for something in particular. "Well," she said, "I'm just hoping to find something better than the stuff you have out here." I glanced over at the Cabs, particularly the 2001 Caymus Special Select, which is certainly not swill, and wondered which Cabs were so much more exquisite that she could so summarily dismiss our collection as being sub-par.
After pulling out a few bottles with icy contempt, she said, "Do you realize that your North location is far superior? You haven't got a damn thing worth having in here." When my coworker offered to order her anything she was looking for, he got: "Well that does me no good, does it? I can just go to the North location, where they have what I want." She then turned on her heel and flipped open her phone, and started talking to someone about having to make another stop for the David Bruce Cab, because "they don't have a damn thing here."

Our store has over three thousand bottles from all over the world, and roughly two hundred domestic Cabs.

If, in three thousand bottles of wine, two hundred of which are your style of choice (no doubt the only style this woman believed drinkable), you can't find a bottle "good enough" for you, you might want to check yourself.

I find it ironic, that when people finally have the means to live well, they are still not satisfied unless they also have the power to get exactly what they want, exactly when they want it, and if it is not delivered to them, to be shitty about it. It's never enough. And that's especially sad to me when it comes to wine. I mean, has this woman ever drunk anything else but domestic Cab? Is she one of these people that think Cal Cab is the end-all juice in the world? Because that's just sad.

The man before her was quite the opposite. Willing to pay a pretty penny, he and I looked over the Pinot Noir. I was excited, not because his budget was unlimited (it's not like I get a comission) but because he was open-minded and wanted to hear what I thought of this bottle of Woodenhead or that bottle of Siduri. When we came to a bottle I didn't know, he patiently let me look up reviews on it, and never tried to condescend to me or make me feel incompetent. He was a happy man, and he was having fun shopping and talking to me. That's the kind of person I respect. And that's the kind of person who clearly has class and discriminating taste, both in wine and in social life.

And then there's the Cab woman. Demanding, condescending, rude. There was no need for her to be so ostentatiously dissatisfied and insulting, except that it made her feel powerful and important. I wondered if she thinks herself a strong, go-getter woman. Someone who works hard and deserves the finest things. Because I'm pretty sure she's just a twat with too much money.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

First Post: 2001 Trimbach Gewurtztraminer

It is impossible to know everything there is to know about wine. Thousands of years, thousands of varietals, the unpredictable nature of the juice itself. My knowledge of it has grown from having been a server and bartender for fifteen some-odd years, and, of course, drinking it. I've recently changed "careers" and I'm now on the retail end of the wine biz. I was hired because I know more about wine then the average Austinite. But my meager knowledge might be compared to having just entered junior high. I know enough about winemaking, varietal styles around the world, and food pairing to guide a lost soul away from the Yellow Tail into the Italian Barbera section and make them happy enough to mention it on the next visit. But I have definitely become addicted to The Beautiful Juice. I'll try not to geek out on anyone; it wouldn't be seemly, especially since I'm a Texas girl and possess no tolerance for assholes who take fermented grape juice too seriously. But I might occassionally wax poetic over a juice that really moved me. Like this one:

2001 Trimbach Gewurtztraminer

I hate to start with a white wine; I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. I didn't start appriciating sweeter wines until I began working for CM. I told the other stewards (aka 'my boys'; I'm the only woman) that I didn't like sweet wine, and they promptly introduced my palate to some of the most gorgeously racy, salty-sweet German Reislings and I saw the light.

Last night, my husband and I met up at the new Wink Wine bar, the offshoot of the small and popular restaurant. You can spend a pretty penny there, to be sure, so we had planned only to have a couple of glasses at the new wine bar, then head off for cheaper fare. But once we'd finished off a tasty glass of Spanish Rose Cava (the name escapes me), paired with Wink's crunchy homeade potato chips (don't laugh, this combo is great!), we couldn't resist.

Our culinary experience there was a little disappointing, but I don't want this to turn into a restaurant review, so let me skip to the wine. I ordered a glass of the Trimbach because it's something we carry at the store that I haven't tried, and I thought it would pair well with the thai green curry mussels we'd ordered ( I had expected them to be spicier...).

The nose on this juice was divine. I could almost smell it while it sat on the table, once it warmed up a bit. I got big, fragrant white roses, apricots, ripe apples. The palate likewise was bursting with these flavors. My husband caught me pressing my glass to my cheek, eyes closed, smiling, and told me to cut it out. The finish was suprisingly clean, making it an absolutely perfect pairing...for something other than my mussels, which themselves were oddly sweet. This is definitely the glass for super spicy Asian food; I'm thinking red pepper based. I had been told that Alsace Gewurtz was the best, and this one definitely defended the claim.

I made a beeline for the bottle in the Alsacian section the next day. It's price--about $18--was over the usual mark for those who come in looking for 'sweet' wine, but I was determined to sell this bottle to someone who was headed in the direction of some dull, cloying California Reisling. I thought, man, if I can turn someone on to a gorgeous bottle like this, I'll have done my part in converting the masses.

I did it, too. A young couple had written down the name of a bottle of a domestic Gewurtz they'd had at a restaurant. "It was so delicious, not too sweet, and smooth," the woman said. The bottle they wanted retailed for just over ten bucks, but I asked them if they'd be willing to go out on a limb. They were.

Yeah, maybe they'll get home and not be transported to a field of white flowers, fruits and fairies like I was, but at least they'll get that there's a wine out there for every taste, and smooth, sweet wine doesn't have to taste like simple syrup.