Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thank you Wine Importers!

Haven't had it yet, but I'm planning to pop the 2002 Agrapart "Mineral" Blanc de Blancs to celebrate New Years Eve. Agrapart is an estate that is close to my heart since I visited the place and the winemaker on my honeymoon only 2 years ago. In particular this bottle is special as it was given to me by the importer Michael Sullivan - so generous - the very person that set up the Agrapart visit for us when we visited Champagne. Thank you, thank you!

It is wonderful to drink a wine and think of where it came from and who made it, and to know that one has been there and shook the hand of the winemaker and drank the juice from which the wine is made.

There's just nothing better.

And scheduled to eat with it are king crab legs, which I plan to steam in some wine.

I received a special bottle for Christmas this year from Rudi Wiest, the importer for whom I work, a bottle of 1971 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Beerenauslese. Pretty awesome! Thank you Rudi! 1971 is my birthyear, and that's the significance of the gift. Fortunate for me, 1971 was a very good vintage in Germany, and there are great wines floating around of that vintage.
Karthauserhof, an estate in the Ruwer valley, is also a place I have visited and it is very romantic, secluded, and cold, as I recall (even in September). I can't imagine how freezing cold it will be in February...

I won't be popping this wine tonight, but save it for maybe January or later...

I feel very fortunately to have received these gifts of wine. And fortunate to know these importers. For without them, we would not be able to drink these wines here, and we would not be able to relive these fond memories of these great vineyards and estates in Europe.

Thank you cool importers! :)

Happy New Year everyone, and may 2009 bring you health, happiness, prosperity, and the best wines in all the world.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What I learned at The Wine Country

My last day at The Wine Country, ie. my day working in the retail wine business (for now, not saying I won't do it again, there is charm in working in a specialty wine shop) was December 24, 2008. It was my 4th Christmas there, or my 3.5th since I was only part time this year. It concluded 3 years of service for the beloved shop.

Though I won't physically be there (except to visit and sell wine to them), it will remain a place close to my heart. And a place I will refer people to, in person and here on line.

I decided to make a list of 10 things I learned working there. Of course, I learned all I know about wine working there, so there are probably closer to 1,357 things, but I wanted to brew it down to 10 things, maybe with some quirkiness and humor if I can muster it.

1. The box cutter is a very useful and safe tool.

2. Wines sell faster in a case stack than they do on a rack.

3. Wines (and probably many other things) sell at different rates depending on where in the store you put them.

4. Nothing sells wine like personal passion, excitement, and love for particular wines. ie. All wines need love. :)

5. Many people like sweet wines. Of these people, only a small percentage actually want to know they are sweet wines. The majority (90%) do not want to be associated with drinking sweet wine (even though they like sweet wine). Got that?

6. Acidity in a wine is good. (Who knew? I didn't. I never liked a squeeze of lemon on my fish. And I thought a wine that made my face pucker up was not really good. Who knew acidity was good? I do now.)

7. There are a lot of great white wines, and they are not all Chardonnay-like. White wines are pleasure-giving, as much as red wines.

8. Nothing sells wines like personal relationships. Personal relationships with ones customers, and personal relationships with ones suppliers. Without this, the bottles are just units on a shelf with different scores and prices.

9. Writing about wine and the places wine comes from and the people that make the wine from real vines that grow from the earth can bring great pleasure.

10. A love of wine is about a love for the good life: good people, good conversation, good food, and the flow of all these things for the long haul.

Foiled Christmas Plans

"The best laid plans of mice and men...." I thought Hemmingway said that, but no, it was Robert Burns, way back in 1786, who actually wrote: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft a-gley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promised joy."

I think he meant - sometimes plans don't go as planned. Deep, huh? I like Robbie Burns. I do tend to confuse him with another poet Robert Frost, who wrote the famous lines: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." Great stuff huh? I like that one.

But I digress. What I'm meaning to say here is that I had plans to travel to Canada for Christmas, and they went awry, due to the worst weather Canada has experienced in 30 years.

30 years!

A white Christmas all across the nation, and believe or not, that is a rarity - no, Canada is not normally blanketed in snow in December in its entirety, especially not on the mild west coast from where I hail (pun not intended).

As a result, I missed Christmas with the family, meeting my sister's fiance's family at a dinner party, and my former teacher's memorial service. Not to mention seeing a couple fo friends and spending some quality time with nieces, siblings and parents. Sigh.

I was grounded in sunny Southern California for the holiday season, whether I liked it or not.

So I decided to make the best of it by hibernating. Yep, movies, food, that sort of thing.

Yes, some wine was opened. The most notable of which was the 2000 Camille Saves Brut, a deliciously rich Champagne full of Pinot Noir fruit (but not entirely Pinot Noir). This Champagne made The Wine Country's Champagne of the Year and the Wine of the Year as well if I recall correctly - a small grower Champagne from Bouzy that has such richness and complexity and character that one wishes one could drink it daily. This is a Champagne for drinking by itself or having with almost any kind of food one desires, be it Alaskan King Crab legs or massive sea scallops or fried calamari or a roasted leg of ham (the last one there is one of my favorite Champage foods).

Unfortunately, I have to confess that when we opened this wine, it was Christmas day, I was a little stuffed up and under the weather, and maybe just a tad sad that I didn't make it up to Canada, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have, but I did enjoy it nevertheless, but I think my husband got to enjoy it more and enjoy more of it - lucky him. Fortunately though, when I bought this wine, I splurged and bought 2 bottles, so there is another one lurking in my wine cupboard and when I get to opening that one, it will not be on a particularly special day so much as a day when I am fully healthy in body and in mind to be open enough to enjoy the wine in all its light golden glory.

Ah yes...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thai Food and Riesling Post-Retail Therapy

So my friend and manager Samantha from The Wine Country recently wrote on her blog about her form of Retail Therapy and that was drinking the finest grower Champagnes on the market in the month of December as a reward for working hard. Reading that of course made my mouth water and crave Champagne, but in actual practice, I am hoarding Champagne and saving it for a special occasion, a time when we can really enjoy it...... in the meantime I am enjoying Thai food with Spatlese!

The food: chicken curry in a coconut cream, laced with lemon grass and all sorts of fun aromatic herbs, over fragrant white rice. The wine: 2005 Bert Simon Serrig Wurtzgarten Riesling Spatlese. I wonder if Bert Simon knows how much his wines are enjoyed with food of the Asian persuasion!

Pure bliss!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2005 Bordeaux with Standing Rib Roast; 2005 Heger Pinot with Sunday dinner at Lucques

Just a quick post to say I enjoyed a couple of nice meals with nice wines last evening and the evening before.

Sunday was girls night out and one of the ladies suggested Sunday dinner at Lucques. So there we went. I saw my 2004 Kunstler Riesling by the glass there, as well as 2007 Pfeffingen Dry Riesling and 2005 Heger Pinot Noir. Fantastic! I was charged with ordering the wine so I went for the 2005 Heger Pinot Noir and everyone liked it! It went well for sipping before dinner and also went well with the 2 entree choices - lamb and a striped bass with a pomegranite sauce. Everyone was happy!

Monday night I made Sunday dinner with my husband and I - a small standing rib roast I bought from How's Market, a meat and grocery place that a coworker turned me on to - this was not a prime rib but a choice rib, but good enough! Seasoned it, popped it in the oven with an oven thermometer, and opened a $15 bottle of 2005 Chateau Semonlon Haut-Medoc that was at The Wine Country in Ronnie's section - he assured me it was a good wine - and it was! Everything that I'd want in a mid-week Bordeaux -good fruit, weight, acidity to cut the fat in the meat, not too big of a wine, and very light on the pocketbook! All great things for me.

I'm going to be stocking up on inexpensive 2005 Bordeaux. They are fun to drink, as fun as Cotes du Rhone, and offer something different on the palate. And great bang for the buck!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Partied Out

It's been a few days and 2 work parties, and work parties for me means wine parties with excellent food and wine people geeking out on great wines.

I am immensely lucky, treated super well, lavished with the best wines on the planet, and all that good stuff. It is fun to be in the wine business. The first party had tons of great Champagnes followed by French wines of the still variety. The second party had tons of great German wine including some half bottles of Goldkapsels and Beerenauslese that always seem to get my attention.

Having said that, I'm very tired!

I hope all of you out there are also enjoying some fun and festive holiday parties.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The beauty of Bert Simon

Now, Bert Simon is not a name I know well, though I have met the man. He is a winemaker up in the Saar region of Germany. Maybe I have a picture of him. Let me go check. Then I will insert it here and then continue my story about his beauty.

Okay, I have a picture of him loaded. Here he is. We are not at his estate, but at Zilliken, at the home of the famous Hanno Zilliken of Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken in the Saar.

Mr. Bert Simon did not make an impression on me when I visited Germany, because he was quiet, and reminded me of Bert Selbach of Dr. F. Weins-Prum. I tasted his wines, but there were so many wines that day tasted at Zilliken; first the Zilliken wines, then the Von Hovel wines (also from the Saar), then the Bert Simon wines, which we heard he was not making anymore, since he just sold the estate.

The reason he sold the estate was that he had no heirs to take over the winery. He actually did have children, but none of them could work in the winemaking business. Allergies or some such thing. I don't know the details, but all I heard was that Bert Simon was no longer making wine, but he had some back vintages to sell and here they were.

The other reason I am not familiar with the wines is that my mentor Randy Kemner of The Wine Country never really carried them, as far as I know.

So today, at a staff meeting down in the Carlsbad area, we had some wines to taste, and among them were these lovely Bert Simon wines. Fabulous older vintages including some Kabinetts, Spatleses, Ausleses and Goldkapsel Ausleses that just sang a beautiful tune. A relatively simple 2004 Bert Simon Serriger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett that had some succulent light fruit and great backbone of acid, fantastic. An impressive 2005 Bert Simon Serriger Wurtzberg Riesling Spatlese that had richness, a mouthfeel that was unctuous and clean all at the same time. Then from the 10 years ago collection, a 1998 Bert Simon Serriger Wurtzberg Riesling Kabinett - a 10-year old Kabinett for God's sake! - delicious pleasant herbal qualities with balancing delicate fruit still there after all these years, and an amazing 1998 Bert Simon Serriger Wurtzberg Riesling GKA - this wine was all about clean eiswein. What does that mean? Rudi Wiest explained that 1998 was an eiswein vintage, and basically the top end stuff went into being bottle for Eiswein which sold at auction, while the second tiered eiswein got sold as regular eiswein, and the rest - put it in the GKA - pure razor-edged nectar without much botrytis at all. A contrast to a GKA from the same producer and vineyard I tasted which was a 1999 that was botrytized, darker in color and more honeyed in flavor.

Wine is so fun.

Thank goodness there is beauty like this in wine. Because it makes the driving in traffic and the begging and cajoling just a little more tolerable.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Aged German Riesling Steals Show, I mean... What I Did for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner was fantastic. It was a gourmet feast with foodies that enjoyed their food and wine and their political talk, although it was all one-sided with much Obama love going around. In other words, a very pleasant evening indeed.

It all started around 2:30 pm when Johan and I arrived - a sunny afternoon it was, and the hosts and other guests were already out back on the patio, enjoying a glass of sparkling wine in the dappled sun. The sparkling wine was being poured out of a magnum - non-vintage Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, a refreshing and fruit-driven sparkler that hit the spot with the amuse-bouches being passed around - house-smoked salmon with a delicious home-made relish, along with some Fuju persimmons doused with lime.

At some point, I went to check on the 1993 Wegeler Kaseler Nieschen Riesling Auslese that I brought, which was in the magnum - I wanted to make sure the wine was sound. The reason - my back-up wine, which ended up not being the 2007 Mosel River Riesling as originally planned, but instead, a bottle of non-vintage Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs was being asked for by Johan, ie. "You want to open the Champagne now??" I wanted to open the Champagne, but not before I tested the Riesling, just in case it was bad, then I would have to serve the Champagne with the soup course...

Fortunately, the aged Riesling was perfect. I mean, really perfect! Aged, rich, full, lovely. I set it aside to breath, then popped open the Pierre Peters to share, as the Gloria Ferrer was drained.

The Pierre Peters was lovely, with bright zippy fruit and a fine, candied aspect and hint of yeastiness that was delicious. Everyone enjoyed it and it was gone in minutes.

Next, we convened inside at the dinner table, which was gorgeously set. The first course was a rich, creamy corn soup with chunks of bacon, corn, and other veggies. I poured the old Riesling for everyone out of that tall and statuesque magnum bottle and everyone loved it! It was a fun and geeky wine, and met all of my expectations. Actually it exceeded my expectations because it was so rich and complex. It was almost a bit rich for the soup! But that was okay, no one complained too much! Everyone seemed to geek out on the wine, and of course, I was happy about that!

The next course was a crab salad, which meant that it was full of king crab chunks, and dressed with an Asian dressing. The crab had been steamed in beer, which gave it a lot of flavor. The wine pairing here was a couple of bottles of 1999 Billiot Champagne Brut, another fantastic Champagne. Yum, yum, rich, but I think it was somewhat obscured by the Asian dressing on the crab salad. Sesame oil is powerful! Let's just say that I thought the crab salad was excellent and so was the Champagne but I might not have them together again, because it didn't do such justice to the Champagne. A crab salad with a blander mayonnaise-type dressing would have been less exciting, but better for the Champagne, me thinks! I have eaten in Champagne before and their food is rich but not spiced, fat and salt seem to be the main spices there! At any rate, everything still got consumed; it was not like anyone was going to turn down the Billiot or the crab, let's put it that way!

It is interesting - food pairings with wine. Sometimes, the wine can overpower the food (like my Riesling seemed almost to do) and sometimes the food can overpower the wine (like the Asian dressed crab did to the Billiot). The food and wines were still excellent, of course, and if I were offered them again, I wouldn't refuse them! Though I would probably pair a Riesling with the crab dressed with Asian seasonings, and just have the Billiot on its own before dinner!

There was another course slipped in here and it was dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in proscuitto. Boy it was rich and sweet! The pairing here was a full bottle of 2003 Chateau d'Arche Grand Cru Classe Sauternes which was surprisingly good, surprisingly since I don't usually like Sauternes, but this was a nice pairing, a sweet pairing but the richness of the wine matched the richness of the food, though it was a mouthful and very filling.

Finally, there was the main course - turkey, stuffing, jello moulds in the shape of fall leaves, gravy, yams. With the main course were 4 red wines. I managed to taste a couple of them - Pinot Noir from California and Cabernet Sauvignon - there was also a couple of Malbecs. I was really so-so about the wines, and found myself really questioning whether I liked red wines at all. I think all the white wines (Champagne, sparkling wine, and Riesling) really stole the show that night, and the reds didn't get to shine. Also, turkey doesn't lend itself to many reds, especially heavier ones like Cab and Malbec. Perhaps if we were having prime rib, then these reds would have tasted better.

We followed with something like 3 desserts - pecan pie, an ice cream cake shaped like a turkey, and pumpkin creme brulee. It was a lot! I don't think I even could touch the pecan pie.....

Coffee was the pairing here, which was perfect. After all this food and wine, we eventually rolled ourselves out the front door.

In other words, Thanksgiving was all that it should have been. Very thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I'll be Drinking Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is the big turkey day, and after working a 5-hour shift, I'll be cruising down the 405 freeway with Johan to our friends' Thanksgiving day celebration. I have been charged with bringing the wine to pair with the soup - the first course - "The Wort Hotel’s Famous Corn Chowder, which has a smoky bacon base and notes of dill and thyme," I am told.

Now, I have never heard of the Wort Hotel, but it sounds fancy, and intriguing, so much so that I might go google it later...

So here's what I think I will pair with it - I know you will be shocked - I think I'll bring German Riesling. I know, I never suggest German Riesling, do I???? One track minded much?

Seriously though, a Riesling would work here, I think.

So would a Champagne, maybe, but I think someone is bringing a Champagne to go with one of the other courses: a rich, crab-infused salad. And I think Champagne would go better with a crab salad than with a sweet-ish corn and bacon soup.

So the Riesling I am thinking of bringing is the following: a magnum of 1993 Wegeler Kaseler Nieschen Riesling Auslese. Pretty bizarre, huh? First off, I don't know the vineyard, though I found out it is in the Mosel. Second, it is one of two bottles that have been stashed at The Wine Country for a while, awaiting its owner to pick it up - he didn't.

So here are these two orphan magnums of 15-year old German Riesling, and they haven't moved for months, and I've been wanting to try one.

It's a risky move, but I'm going to do it. And my plan is to buy two bottles of back-up inexpensive Riesling, the Wine of the Month, in fact, the 2007 Mosel River Riesling which is the Rudi Wiest negotiant bottling from the Mosel, made at Robert Eymael's Monchhof winery. I'll chill those also, and bring them to the dinner JUST IN CASE the wine or the cork or whatever is faulty. One never knows what has happened in the last 15 years!

For example, in my life, the last 15 years have been:

1993 - graduated from university

1994 - moved to Edmonton to do dietetics internship

1995 - moved back to Vancouver

1996 - visited China and Hong Kong

1997 - moved to Los Angeles - got job as a dietitian

2005 - got into the wine biz

2006 - got married

2007 - went to Germany

2008 - went to Austria

2008 - got deeper into the wine biz

Well, that was more than you needed to know, but suffice it to say, 15 years is a long time, and that's how long ago those grapes were harvested for that wine I will (hopefully) enjoy tomorrow with hubby and friends. So wish me luck. I'll let you know what happens and hopefully have some half-decent tasting notes. Also, on the other wines consumed. And whether we needed to break into those two Mosel River Rieslings. But if the Mosel River Riesling stelvin closures don't have to be breached, I'll just leave them for the hosts to enjoy another time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

T'was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, when all through the house......

Had an awesome Sunday and I just had to report!

Worked an 8-hour shift at the wine shop along with coworker Megan and bosses Randy & Dale. Incredible vibe, all the customers super nice, regular customers with their smiles and their "Hi Nancy!" and new customers, mostly finding us for the first time online. Pretty cool.

Sold tons of German Rieslings to go with turkey, and also some Alsacian Pinot Gris and Vouvray Beaujolais and all sorts of great stuff. Just a great energy all around.

Then I was scheduled to go to a twin birthday party - friend (whom I met at The Wine Country) has twin brothers turning 40 years old so she threw a nice party - I got them each a bottle of Chimay Belgian Trappist Beer - always good drinking, and for the BYO part of the program, a bottle of consistently good sparkler J. Laurens Brut (NV) from Limoux, France, a cremant blanc de blancs that is dry and refreshing, though of course not as fine as Champagne, but hey, perfect for your cocktail party situation. And at $12.99, no one is going to balk at the price.

I also brought a bottle of next month's wine of the month, an Italian red with a hard-to-remember name: 2003 Cantele Riserva Salice Salento from Puglia and that got sucked down so fast I didn't get a taste even, but Johan did and liked it a lot - I have a feeling I could have brought 6 bottles to this very crowded and happening party and there wouldn't have been any leftovers! I feel happy because I had a vote in choosing it for Wine of the Month next month (as did almost all of my coworkers!)

After leaving the party, Johan and I headed to our favorite sushi joint in town, Yen in Belmont Shore, where we indulged in some fantastic sushi, our favorite of the night being the sea urchin - oh my God! Now I know something like sea urchin sushi may not be not a thing for many people, but for us last night it was heavenly. Gentle, tender folds of soft tissue, rich in the taste of creamy sea-scented cashew butter or some such thing. Here I am with tasting notes of the sushi. Enough said! I'm sure others have better descriptors for this most unusual of meats, but suffice it to say it was the star of the show last evening for me. Followed closely by some yellowtail and yellowtail belly. All very delish!

So there you have it - it is possible to have a great day even when you are working on Sunday! Especially during the very exciting holiday season. At least I seem to be having my bells on today. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Impromptu Fire Pit Party

Well, it was impromptu for us, anyway. I had just finished a short day but a long week of being on the road in the field, and Johan had just finished a day of working from home, being on phone meetings, and we had trekked over to the Yard House for some happy hour treats. When we returned home, we started to take out some wine that were the day's spoils (not spoiled spoils, but wines left over from sampling over the week that wouldn't last the weekend) and pondered a light dinner, when suddenly, Johan returned from getting the mail and said, "They're having a fire pit inauguration party upstairs by the pool!"

Now, we live in a condo overlooking the ocean, with a bunch of neighbors we don't really know. We had noticed an incoming firepit a few days ago, but I guess last night was the night they decided to fire it up for the first time. According to Johan, a group had convened with drinks and appetizers around the roaring fire. Should we join them? Sure! I was a bit tempted.

So we put in our hands a couple of wine glasses (Riedel vinum Bordeaux) and a just opened, barely sampled 2006 Becker Estate Pinot Noir and an opened-for-two-days 2007 Becker Limestone Pinot Blanc. And we headed up to the party.

Indeed a group had formed, and introductions were made all around, and I found myself amongst a group of true party animals. Bottles of wine, martini shakers, cheese platters, sausages, and even grilled white and green asparagus, and a pretty fire in the middle of a marble/granite fire pit. Right on the ocean. Why even leave the building?

I tasted my favorite little German Pinot Noir, and immediately I felt - this tastes bland. I wondered why. It was not the tasty little Pinot Noir I remembered from Becker, the one I hand sold a number of. It wasn't off or horrible, just terribly lackluster. I think it was either an off bottle or an off-batch - maybe this batch was made with lackluster fruit? Or maybe it was just that it got cooked a little in my car? It wasn't in the icebox the whole time with all the white wines - perhaps the Pinot Noir's delicate nature was startled by car heat? I hope that was what the problem was.

Then I tasted the Limestone Pinot Noir. A world of difference. A gorgeous, rich white wine without a stitch of oak, just citrus, white peach, white flowers on the nose, followed by an oppulent palate of stone fruit and limestone. Loved it!!! I wanted more.

The Becker Pinot Noir's underperformance still nagged at me, but I was impressed by the Pinot Blanc, and it is not usual for me to be impressed with Pinot Blanc. That was a bit of a wine epiphany for me right there.

Aside from the wine, I really enjoyed myself conversing with various folks I hadn't really met before. I found out that one of The Wine Country's neighbors, a friend of Randy's, lives in my building; also a prominent medical administrator, a woman who is a pilot and now works for a leer jet company that is located just down the street from The Wine Country, and a really nice man whose family came from Tuscany. Oh yes, there was also a lot of wine talk.

All in all, not a bad night. I decided, wine and fire pits bring people together.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Old Germans

"You have amongst the most German wine knowledgeable clientele of any store I know and at the tasting I attended there seemed to be serious interest in older wines."

This is what one of our very great customers said about us, The Wine Country, and so, entrusted us with selling some of his cellared Riesling gems, including some awesome 1990s from Kerpen in the Mosel, and some Fritz Haag, Willi Schaefer, Von Buhl, and Robert Weil.

How cool is that?

Not only that, I got to valuate these wines, ie. figure out what their market values are, and market them to our customers!

Now that was fun!

Yesterday I got the privilege of visiting a real sourpuss that I used to work with, who, when greeting me, and not buying my wines, said, when I said that I work in the niche market "Well you shoulda known that going in." Um yeah, I did know that going in, thankyouverymuch you miserable grumpy old man (he is the same age as me).

I knew what I was getting into, and that was full on head on German wines all the way!!! Yes, it is true that it is not for everyone, but hey, the road less travelled by and all that. It is not easy only selling German wine, but who said I was looking for the easy way? I love to geek out and obsess about German wines only, and working on this superb collection of older vintage German wines was really like that. Awesome!

And here they are in all their glory:

1997 Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Spätlese $61.99 - 6 bottles

1990 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese $39.99 - 3 bottles

2001 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett $29.99 - 6 bottles

1996 Donnhoff Oberhäuser Brucke Riesling Spätlese $49.99 - 6 bottles

1997 Fritz Haag Brauneberg Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett $39.99 - 10 bottles

1996 Von Buhl Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Auslese $89.99 - 12 bottles

1990 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese*** $99.99 - 3 bottles

1990 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Beerenauslese $99.99 - 2 half-bottles (375 ml)

1990 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Eiswein $119.99 - 2 half-bottles (375 ml)

Want some? If you do, click the link above for German wines and it will take you to our site....... then click on Older Vintage German Wines. You'll find it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wines I love to take out and show and taste people on

So by now, dear reader, you probably know that I work for Rudi Wiest Selections, an exclusively German wine importer. My day consists of calling up restaurants and occasionally stores and making appointments with them to bring them things to taste. Many restaurants say "no thank you" or try not to talk to me, but the occasional good ones say "Okay, why don't you come in Wednesday at 3pm?" Those places I like!

Anyway, I do get into a number of good doors. Perseverence really does pay off, like founder Rudi Wiest says. He is a big fan of perseverence and I get where he is coming from in this regard. Show you are committed and in it for the long haul, and people will come around and get to trusting you. Someday.

So when I finally get that all-important tasting meeting, what is that like? Well, it is great. I get to show wines that I really like, and this reminds me of my experience in the wine store The Wine Country, where I get to see people's faces light up when they taste a great German Riesling for the first time. And they get hooked. And they buy that wine forever and ever. Awesome.

This is similar to what happens with a buyer, especially a buyer who has tasted a few wines in his or her day. Generally, the more experienced the buyer, the more likely he or she has an appreciation for German Riesling and other German wines.

Now, back to the premise of this post: wine I like to take out. These are the wines I personally love and I personally like to show to my customers:

2006 Becker Pinot Noir This wine used to be called 2006 Becker Spatburgunder, but a quick change to the English language (or rather, the French language that the American public can get with) on the label has changed this to Becker Pinot Noir. But same great fox on the label, love that. This wine is food friendly AND appeals to the American taste and desire for fruit, so for me this is a winner. There's actually some subtle earth and dirt in this wine which makes it appealing also for me. And not a stitch of oak.

2007 Von Hovel Balduin Estate Riesling I think this is a perfect Estate Riesling. Less residual sugar and more acid than the other favorite Estate Riesling from Monchhof. The wine is just perfect for the fruity style without being too sweet. I think every restaurant should have this for their wine by the glass Riesling. Just my opinion.

2007 Monchhof Anything Anything from Monchhof Estate sells for me, be it the basic Estate Riesling, or the Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett or Spatlese, or the Monchhof Mosel Slate. This estate has great marketing with their awesome pictures of their estate and hillside vineyards. And the wines are so easy to drink, even if they do have a bit more residual sugar in them then others in their class. Great minerality is what we're talking about here.

2007 Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett Sweet and full, this is a perfect Riesling for those who are not afraid of residual sugar, especially when it is well-balanced. This is a great wine for Asian styled meals.

2007 Gunderloch Jean Baptiste Kabinett This is a fabulous wine. Medium-dry if anything, but round and full and delicious. I had this in Vegas at Lotus of Siam and enjoyed it fully with my dinner companions. This is a great food wine and is a must-have at any restaurant!

That's it. From this list you can tell I like to take out Kabinetts more than any other Pradikat level of Riesling. I also like to take out a Pinot Noir so I don't hear from people "Does Germany only make white wine?" Ideally I should take out more than just Riesling, like Pinot Blanc, for instance, but for me, Riesling from Germany is it. Pinot Blanc is interesting, but usually more expensive, and Riesling is just where it is at.

I'd like to sell more dry Riesling, and I will, but for now, the above list are my winners. Not too obscure, and not too edgy, but hey, most of my customers.... aren't. And in this economy, they really shouldn't be. We need to be as mainstream as we can get!

Hanzell Chardonnay and a nice dinner at Catalina Restaurant

So, I was thinking tonight, I shouldn't be such a bah-humbug about not writing about wine. After all, I am still drinking it, still thinking it, still working in the wine biz, just haven't been that inspired, I guess, to write in the ol' blog. But now, here I am.

Truth be told, I am still inspired by wine. Many things the last 2 months have gotten in the way of that, of course, not the least of which is the ECONOMY, the big news of the year; and before that, there was the election (very exciting), and then my whole job change thing. But today, I feel upbeat enough to share with you all about the fact that I still like/love wine.

Two nights ago, and this was a Sunday, my husband and I got together with our equally restaurant-loving friends for a nice meal out. This was the first time we got together with them since they had their baby only 7 weeks earlier. Prior to the baby, we had enjoyed fine meals together at a number of restaurants, including the Wilshire, Zazou, Cafe Pierre, and a few places up in Sonoma, where we spent a weekend together. They are fans of Chowhounds and consult there for good places to eat around the world.

Anyway, we convened at Catalina Restaurant in Redondo Beach, a small, family owned restaurant in Redondo Beach. I just recently opened this account last week! Nice, nice owners I was dealing with. Anyway, a relatively new restaurant, opened less than a year. When I had the owner, Reuben, taste my wines, he called out his chef, Art to taste along. Very cool! And when I saw the menu at that time, I decided that we had to come eat here.

So that day came on Sunday evening, and since our friends live in the south bay, it was the perfect meeting place. When we arrived there at 6pm, the place was quiet. Yes, six was early, but this was more a sign of the economy. So sad. Anyway, we got a nice table, and I took out the wine that I brought: 2005 Hanzell Chardonnay. I brought this specifically because the friends liked this wine - we went to this winery together about 2 years ago when we visited Sonoma. We had a great tour of the vineyards, the caves, and the tasting room, where the winemaker, Michael, opened for us a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir to enjoy. We were hooked.

The Chardonnay on Sunday night was as good as we remembered it (though a different vintage): the style, like a white Burgundy - definitely oak on the nose and palate, but not overdone, more like a French oak spice, but no butter on the palate, just clean Chardonnay fruit and pie spice. An enjoyable wine, not overly alcoholic, and as elegant as a Chardonnay outside of Champagne can get.

The wine was a nice treat and got everyone in the mood for a nice dinner.

As for the food, we were presented with a fun amuse-bouche: mini-grilled cheese sandwiches which were actually tiny blini-like pancakes with truffle butter and cheese - very savory and delicious. Then we ordered appetizers: for Johan, the frog legs, which were sauteed and served with a pesto; for me, the rabbit pot pie - interesting, and tasted like chicken; for our friends, the flatbread with a balsamic dressing.

For the entrees, the others all got fish dishes, which looked really good, while I enjoyed lamb done two ways - a little mini-rack and lamb cheeks. I have to say that I enjoyed my lamb cheeks even more than the rack! I just like cheeks (veal cheeks, pork cheeks, lamb cheeks, even fish cheeks if they are big enough fish!)

At this point, we did order a red from the list, a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir under screwcap, which I found drinkable but not much more than that. I should have gotten a glass of 2007 Monchhof Estate Riesling which is now prominantly featured on their list! Monchhof rules, but honestly, I drink too much of it (dregs from my samples kit).

Finally, for dessert, each coupled shared something - I was way too full but did enjoy a few bits of beignets (Ben-YAYS!).

A great evening of stimulating conversation, jokes, and foodie fun was had by all. Catalina Restaurant is on my list of good places to eat in the South Bay, and I will definitely be back. And kudos to them for knowing a good Riesling when they taste it!!! Thank you Reuben!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wine of the Year judging at The Wine Country

I'm a little writer-blocked, but I still wanted to say a few words about last evening's judging for Wine of the Year at The Wine Country. This is an annual event to honor what we feel are the best wines of the year.

**** was the White Wine of the Year, a rich, complex ****, the **** he ever made.

**** made Red Wine of the Year, though my personal favorite was the **** Barolo, which I found more elegant.

The Champagne of the Year was a **** which was rich with Pinot Noir and absolutely divine. The runner up was the almost equally amazing but so different ****. These two wines would make an amazing Champagne dinner, one after the other (the **** first).

Finally, there was a Rose of the year, the **** made from Pinot Noir. Simply delicious.

The Wine of the Year, chosen from the above, was the ****. **** won!

Edited - I didn't know I was supposed to keep this under wraps until it gets officially published. I leaked it! So you two readers that saw - don't tell!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sucking the romance out of wine

Okay, so I realized my last post had nothing to do with wine.

Then next, I realized, I wrote it because it was what I felt, something real, and it has been so long since I felt anything real about wine.

I, along with the prevailing economic situation, have sucked all romance out of wine.

What is there left in wine if there is no romance?

Not much. Just another commodity item, one whose price tag is $10 vs the harder to sell one that is $50, and then the really hard to sell one that is close to $100. Great.

What is it, when restaurants tell you they are hanging on by a thread, worried, anxious, not seeing any changes, hoping things will get better? It is something, but it is not about wine.

There was a time that the mere mention of Agrapart Non-vintage 7 cru would bring tears to my eyes because I've actually been to the estate and saw how this delicious beverage was made, tasted the grape juice that it came from, saw the men around the hand-press actually press down with their muscles and their backs until all the juice ran down... tasted the base wine, saw the vineyards, the horse that plows ("Venus"), tasted the bubbles and the vintage stuff that the proprietor only opens for special guests.

Wow, that time is today.

Fall has finally fallen

For the first time, I'm waking up in the morning NOT to find blasting yellow hot sunshine streaming in through the windows. What a relief.

It has been non-stop sunny here in sunny California, a condition that many people love but I have come to loathe. Hot, dry heat, months and months without precipitation - all this has turned into a curse for me.

Today, at last, darkness and gloominess outside. A hint of wetness on the sidewalk. Ah.

A good sleep with tons of dreams. A dream where I owned two properties, little cute places, old, not big, places I decided to buy with the little money I had. One place on a hill somewhere. Another, I'm not sure where.

Then there was another dream where I had a little boy, who was riding with me in the car. He was good. He enjoyed riding along with me.

The third dream had to do with riding up a hillside again, and then later discussing this with my dad, and he knew that hill, where on one side was a beautiful golf course, and on the other side, some gorgeous homes.

I am daydreaming about being in Vancouver and walking around Granville Island on a misty, almost wet morning. Cup of coffee in hand. Warm sweater plus light coat. Then afterwards going to see my nieces and their grandparents (my parents). Then afterward retiring to our condo back near Granville Island again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A new respect for Dolcetto

I went out this evening with a friend to a new wine bar in town called La Vineria Italiana. Cool place, very modern, very European, with a great Italian wine list. I had a glass of Dolcetto, and I don't know the producer, but I really liked it! I believe it was an 07 vintage too. Real delicious and practically the best glass of red wine I have had in a restaurant recently.

I haven't had that much Dolcetto, but now I think I should! A not-too-expensive old world red that I can enjoy. Now that's something to be happy about!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Everyone should be drinking something good on Tuesday evening....

I'll be at Arnie Morton's enjoying happy hour with a friend after I meet with the wine director (hopefully I get the account too!)

Everyone should stock up this weekend on something fabulous (Champagne, a high end red, an old Riesling, something) to enjoy while tuning in to find out who will become the next president.

Something to cheer with or cry into. Duzzent matter!

Or be at a bar or restaurant where they're showing the thing on a big screen so you can be among others crying or cheering into their drink - why not?

My hubby, in classic Canadian fashion, will be at a hockey game, avoiding the whole scene. F'ing EH!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Holy Scheurebe, Batman!

Okay, it has been a while since I have been inspired to write about a wine, a wine that surprises me with its goodness.

The wine: 2007 Pfeffingen Scheurebe Spatlese. Okay, I wish I were writing this wine up so I could sell more of it, but the fact is that it is almost sold out, ie. there are about 2 cases left of it and for some reason, we cannot get more of it from the winery.

Probably because there just isn't that much Scheurebe planted.

Pfeffingen is an estate in the Pfalz that is owned and operated by Doris Eymael and her son Jan Eymael. Doris is the ex-sister-in-law of Monchhof's Robert Eymael in the Mosel. Above is a pic of me with Doris and Jan. Jan is a talented winemaker who finished top of his class at Geisenheim, the German equivalent of U.C. Davis.
Anyhoo... the wine: aromatic grapefruit and starfrut on the nose, followed by a mouthful of exotic citrus - mandarin orange, pink grapefruit, and tangerine, bright piquant acidity that gives it that special something that Gewurztraminer doesn't have. What a fun wine!!!
That's it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If I had to be a Wine Spectator writer, I would be Bruce Sanderson, no contest!

I mean, I would have the following wine regions: Champagne, Burgundy, and Germany. What could be better? I mean really???? You can have your Bordeaux, your Napa Valley, your Tuscany and Piedmont. I would be perfectly happy seeing what was going on in the awesome places tucked away in Germany, Champagne, and Burgundy, thankyouverymuch!

I'll post some of his tasting notes on German wines tomorrow, just because!

Haven't been blogging!

So I noticed that I haven't been blogging much. Here are some reasons:

1. No time.

2. When I do have time, I feel more like reading other people's blogs, or renting a video and escaping than writing about my wine experiences.

3. Overall stress due to the economy and my own trying to get a grip on sales while the economy tanks.

4. Because I'm selling wine now instead of buying wine, I'm being exposed to much fewer wines, so what to write about?

But I should write sometime and contribute to the Bloggosphere! Hee hee!

Let's see:

This week has been much better than previous, in spite of the economy. I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of Selling Wine. I'm freaking out less over problems, and staying calm more. I think that's step one! I'm meeting a lot of great people and finding out that the wine community is so nice and tight and small! The same folks go round and round and do a ton of things. There is connection and history, and I like that. Also, my reputation precedes me, which is a lot of fun. People go "I know you - you write for The Wine Country newsletter! You write their German wine stuff!" Now, how cool is that?

Also cool is that they know Randy, owner of The Wine Country, many people know Samantha, who has been at The Wine Country and has history there, and many people know Bennett, because he posts on e-bob and is a part of a few wine tasting groups that have some So-Cal renown.

So yeah, that's a ton of fun! Meeting people who are wine people in restaurants but also have a wine project somewhere up north (up the coast in California, for example), seeing wine stores that used to be art galleries, going into restaurants that have their Michelin star awards proudly posted, finding restaurants in the Zagat guide I've never heard of and visiting them and finding out that they are absolutely beautiful, and it is because the owners behind them call it their baby.... it makes me feel pretty happy to be part of the hospitality business.

And when these same folks that I feel admiration for, because they have the guts to own their own business and share with the world a piece of themselves, when these same folks take the time to taste my wines (well, not MY wines, but the wines of Robert Eymael, Fritz Hasselbach, Oliver Haag, and others), and then go and get their chef to taste the wines, and then proclaim that these indeed are the best Rieslings they have had in recent memory - well that just makes everything worthwhile.

Now, if I can just get the hang and make money doing this, then all will be well in the world! Isn't that the truth for everyone in the wine industry!!!???!!!

Cheers, everyone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Okay I'm taking the bait finally - I'm going to write about our political and economic climate

Okay, I resisted doing this, because who the hell wants to read about what I think about the political and economic situation we are in right now? The title of the blog is Nancy on Wine. When people want to read about wine, they want to forget about the crap going on in the news. They sure as hell don't want to read about my political slants and what I think of the economy and my whinings.

Do they?

Well, I dunno! I think they don't. But what do I know? I seem to like to read about other bloggers take on the situation, and I even want to know what others in the wine biz think about the situation.

So maybe people do want to know! Who knows?

But I decided to write this rambly post because..... I feel like it. It's my blog and it actually doesn't matter to me if no one reads it because I like to write. It is cathartic and releasing and it gives me a record of some of the things I have done.

But I don't want it to be diary. I want it to be about wine.

Okay - so what? Get to the point.

Okay, my point of the day is: why is it such a shock that we are in a recession?

My feeling is that the people in the wine business saw this last year - a year ago, when, in October 2007, the stock market hit a new high. My boss was in Europe and I remember feeling bad because the Euro was at an all time new high against the dollar and we were all feeling pessimisstic about that because (a) we love to travel to Europe and we don't want it to get more expensive than it already is and (b) we are hooked on European wine - read: Champagne, all French wine, all German wine, all Italian wine et. al. We were already WORRIED in October 2007, about a possibly lackluster Christmas season, our low dollar, how to make it through.

Now, a full year later, the news keeps saying "We are at a high risk of recession." What? We were in a recession for the past year or more! Keep up, people! Stop being shocked by "Oh my God, factory production is down, consumer spending is down, unemployment is up...... Wow." No wow, this stuff has been happening well before the stock market grabbed its bear market and took everyone down with it!

Look ahead. Do not look behind. The recession is a result of what has been happening in the past 5 years. Look at what we are doing now. New president coming. Government finally helping banks. Our dollar is up against the Euro. Oil and gas prices are down. These are great indicators. The market is not responding yet. It is still in a hole from the crap that went down in the past. But look ahead. The market WILL respond. And when the tide turns, and the poor consumer finally gets his/her break, he/she will be ready to buy and go out to eat and travel and fulfill all those pent-up desires.

That time will come. Look up and look ahead. Things will be good, very good, in the near future - that is my prediction.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Wine & Food Lover's Post Race Dinner

Several weeks ago, as the Long Beach Marathon and Half Marathon loomed ever near, my running partner and friend Linda asked, "Why don't you and Johan come over for dinner after the race?" I accepted the invitation for us, and we were in for a real treat!

Linda's hubby Bennett is a fellow The Wine Country wine specialist. He is also a fantastic cook and a half marathoner!

Before dinner, we traded stories about our race experience over a bottle of rose Champagne. Later, some awesome wines:

1982 Mouton Rothschilds

A legendary wine from the vintage that made Robert Parker Jr. famous. This wine has great acidity and backbone, some smoky flavors, along with still fresh red and black fruits. Words don't do it justice - this is a special wine that I believe has a market price tag of between $750 and $1200 a bottle. An honor to enjoy with friends on this historic day (historic as it was a personal record for at least a couple of us!)
1978 Stag's Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Probably wrong for me to say, but this wine impressed me more than the Mouton! First off, it was older, a full 30 years old. I'm not sure I have anything that is 30 years old! That attests to the patience that goes into cellaring a wine. Delayed gratification is an understatement here!
A wine like this one explains to me why California's Napa Valley is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a gorgeous aged beauty, with plenty of fruit, a bit softer in acidity compared to the Bordeaux, but fuller in mouthfeel, and with all the grace of a Bordeaux. A fantastic and delicious wine, and I can't believe it is 30 years old!!
My thanks go out to Linda and Bennett. Thank you for making our evening a great one. Yay food and wine!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

He Did It! Hubby finishes first marathon in 4:20

The pleasure and pain of running a marathon was his today! What an achievement!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beauty in unexpected places

During my travels through the southland in my new job as a wine rep, perhaps the most stunning vistas was what I encountered yesterday. Of all places, in the valley. Specifically, this was the Simi Valley off the 118 freeway way, way, way north of where I live. I never go up to this area, but yesterday I designated it Valley Day and visiting a number of accounts up that way - I was literally stunned by the mountain vistas lit up by the fall sunlight.

I was so stunned because usually I am an ocean person and love the look of the ocean water and generally shun the desert. But this was no ordinary desert up in these hills - it was primary rock jutting out of the ground in the most majestic way. Kind of took me aback.

And among these gorgeous rock formations lie some communities such as Westlake Village and Chatsworth, which harbor some pretty neat little wine bars and wine stores. One such that I discovered is called Bellavino - a wine bar tucked in a strip mall in Westlake Village that looked like such a fun place to be that I might drive up the 40 miles from my home on my day off just to partake in the restaurants wine and food offerings.

Another find was Liquid Wine and Spirits, a wine store up in Chatworth where the co-owner and employee both tasted the wine and cracked me up with their hilarious banter and jokes. They were a well-spring of laughs and I appreciated them for their gut-splitting humor.

And at a time like this, when the stock market tanks for 7 days straight and people lose money left right and center, who doesn't need a belly of laughter and a eyeful of natural beauty? Everyone needs these things - laughter in spite of difficulty, an appreciation of the enduring grace of natural things that don't change for millions of years, even if our man-made chaos changes by the second.

This past week, I have enjoyed my short runs by the ocean even more than usual. Enjoying the tiny bit of crisp coolness that the fall brings to the early morning enlivens me more than anything that money can buy.

And finally, at the end of the day, I am enjoying the "feet" end of my wine samples, and you know what? They are still good. Ah.... it's the simple things in life... Thank you!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Benley Dinner a Success... This Evening, a Tasting at Whole Foods Torrance!

They packed the house and everyone was happy that the dinner started at 8pm after the VP candidates' debate.

Everyone was in great sprits, the restaurant was loud in a warm and cheerful way, the wines showed beautifully, and exploded with the food.

There's nothing like German Riesling and Asian food, I don't know why, but I just cannot drink dry wines with this type of food, and that bit of RS (residual sugar for those of you who don't use the jargon) and some great balancing acidity just does the trick.

I'll save my dry wines for the European influenced meals!

Okay, this evening, I'm off to Whole Foods, where friend Yvonne, the buyer and I will be hosting a German wine tasting. Super fun! We'll have a bunch of Rieslings from dry to sweet (of course), and a Gewurztraminer too!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Whatever! .... and a great wine dinner tonight coming up!

This day gets a giant "Whatever!" from me. Started off just fine, as this week was starting to seem kind of fun compared to last, but after a few incidents today (including, but not limited to, a B.S. parking ticket for $75), you just gotta wonder if the stars are not quite aligned. Of course, I'm not alone in this - the whole country and the whole world seems to be suffering a bit right now...... the only decent entertainment and escape seems to be making fun of Sarah Palin...

Anyway, chin up, gotta be at a wine dinner in a couple of hours. Part Two at Benley Restaurant. Part One was last week and ended up quite successful, with many happy diners enjoying the pure pleasure of pairing German wines with Vietnamese-French food. Gotta love that fusion.

I expect more of the same tonight, so I'm pretty relaxed about it - the food will be excellent, the wines will be excellent, and the guests will be happy. I know the wines like the back of my hand, so there is no stress there.

Wines to be served tonight:

2007 Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett - always a winner. Medium-dry with a great body, a perfect apertif or food wine, goes with almost everything! Here, it is going with a light dish of mini rice crepes topped with shrimp flakes and scallions.

2003 Milz "180" Neumagener Nusswingert Riesling Kabinett - A Kabinett from a warm vintage, this wine shows some smoky brown sugar/candy qualities along with a slightly aged Riesling profile. Actually pairs quite nicely with the second course, which is braised duck on shaved white cabbage salad with citrus-ginger dressing.

2002 Milz Trittenheimer Felsenkopf Riesling Spatlese - Rich and balanced Spatlese from the Mosel, great acidity off-setting the sweetness - pairs awesomely with the deep-fried soft-shell crab nestled on rice vermicelli.

2006 Becker Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) - My favorite little German Pinot Noir, nice and fruit-forward without being overbearing, to be paired with the diced filet mignon on celery root puree & potato cream, all dressed with a red wine reduction.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Report on Vegas from Vegas - including the Lotus of Siam report!

Ah Vegas. The lights, the sounds, the smoke-filled rooms, the hustle and bustle that greets you from the early hours to the.... early hours the next day... the conventioneers, the body builders, the hustlers, the scorching heat, the big payouts, the chips flying.... what is there not to love? There's no place like it!

I have been to Las Vegas about 10 times in my life, and I don't feel a stranger to the place. The first time I was here - this brings back memories - was when I was a kid not old enough to gamble. I remember being here with my family, my grandmother in particular, who was impressed and awed by the glitz and glitter, the big hotel we were staying at on the strip (the Flamingo, if I recall).... it was a great time, even though I was a kid not old enough to gamble. Later on, when it could, it just got better. There's no other place in the world to play these awesome games.

Anyway, back to the current time. I'm here with my hubby and two of his guy friends - initially, there were other women coming but they couldn't make it. We've been having an awesome time - I'm blending in enough to get into the guy talk which is totally hilarious. And the gambling - freaking awesome! I'm up 200 bucks and lovin' it!

Now to the food -

I don't think Vegas has really great food. I wouldn't really come here for the food - I would go to Europe or Asia for that, or even cities like San Francisco, New York, Vancouver. But all this talk about Lotus of Siam that I have heard in recent years have really gotten my juices flowing.

We went last evening and it met all of my expectations! No, scratch that, it EXCEEDED my expectations! Great little almost divey place in a strip mall, with the lights basically OFF on their sign on Sahara Blvd, practically telling the world "Don't come here, we don't really need your business, unless you REALLY REALLY are committed to it."

The food menu was so huge and overwhelming with authentic Northern Thai cuisine that I let my 3 male dining companions deal with it while I attacked the wine list. And what a wine list! Here's how this neat and tidy binder looked like: the first page has on its heading German Riesling by the Glass, then lists about 7 German Rieslings followed by Try a flight of German Rieslings which gives you an option of trying three German wines by the glass! Wow! Amazing.

The next few pages list other wines by the glass, giving the reader almost an impression that this was it for German wines. But behold! A bottle list which starts off with a listing of German Wines. The first page has the subheading Dry and Off-Dry Rieslings with about 14 wines to choose from, followed by another heading Qualitatswein Rieslings, which then breaks out Rieslings from the Rheingau, Mosel, Nahe and a few other regions. Next is 2 pages of Kabinett Rieslings, followed by 3 pages of Spatlese, and then 3 pages of Auslese! After the pages of Auslese, the book goes into Other Wines and starts to list Californian wines, French wines and some others.

I have never seen this before outside of Germany. I don't even think I have really seen this within Germany, but I might have! Freaking amazing. And this is an Asian restaurant! Most Asian restaurants I have experienced have either no wine list, or a wine list that shows complete lack of comprehension about wine. I practically had my ass thrown out of the last Asian restaurant I approached with the idea of German wine because they were way too happy with their bottom of the barrel Southern Wine and Spirits Merlots and other grocery store level wines.

And don't get me started about wine lists in restaurant where they believe they know tons of wines (read: European or Californian restaurnats) where German wines are relegated to a squishy little portion of the wine list after 5 pages of Californian wine, 3 pages of French wine, 3 pages of New World wines from various places such as Aussieland and Chile and Argentina........ then you see 3 crappy German wines on there that are probably advertising bottles that have sat there for 5 years not moving because no one cares about them..... ARGG.

Ranting aside, we ended up ordering 2 very delicious appetizers and then 4 even more outstanding mains, which we all shared. I got to say hi to Lotus of Siam sommelier Bank who took very good care of us and recommended 2 of the mains we enjoyed, including a sea bass on noodles dish, which was my favorite, and a crispy duck skins dish, which was okay but still great..... or other dishes included a pork dish in a coconut curry sauce called Kow Soi, and a northern Thai spicy sausage.... we also had some pork larb and some crispy rice...... the food was excellent and I would go there just for that in a heartbeat!

The wines - I ordered two bottles for the table, the 2007 Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett, which was one of the wines in the Benley wine dinner I just helped to host the previous evening, the 2005 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spatlese. Unfortunately, they were out of the Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese, so Bank recommended the 2004 Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese, which totally fit the bill (even though my favorite vineyard that Donnhoff makes wine from is Oberhauser Brucke, based on the very little that I know and have experienced).

Both wines were awesome, of course, but what made me really light up was having Johan's friend say "Hmmm maybe I should give German Rieslings another look!" This is coming from a wine enthusiast who has been coming to tastings at The Wine Country and avoiding all German wines and basically not wanting anything to do with so-called sweet wines. Well, honestly, who wants sweet stickies???? I don't! But these Rieslings are a totally different animal, and I got the chance to do my sales pitch mid-meal. That Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste is a completely off-dry number, with awesome, peachy-clean fruit and the driest finish. Fantastically refreshing as an aperatif wine that we could sip on before the food hit the table, and pairing so well with the mildly seasoned appetizers.

The Spatlese, though with some bottle age on it, still reflected a significant amount of residual sugar, which made said friend seem to question whether he would really like it. Friend #2 already was raving about it, how it was totally different from the Gunderloch, and that he liked it more - I put words into his mouth to describe that it was weightier and had more depth and concentration (as well as more sweetness).

Later, with the main dishes, of course the wine sang. Everyone was a happy camper, stuffing our faces and washing the food down with some pretty fabulous and fairly priced German Rieslings.

The pricing on this list was completely fair and it made me feel that there is no reason ever to bring one's own wine to this restaurant. The list is comprehensive, has some excellent producers, and even some older vintages to enjoy. I didn't really order anything too aged, but maybe next time.

What an awesome experience! I'm so happy I finally got to go to Lotus of Siam. This place really sets the standard for what a restaurant can do.

I'll aim to turn a few places into a Lotus of Siam-type place in the near future!!!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Serenity Now!

Yes! Why, yes I am!

I'm just a hamster, trying to get a corm!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I am now a resident! of Chateau Petrogasm

Check this out. The new blog I have added to the left - Chateau Petrogasm.

Just found this blog tonight and I'm totally impressed. Using imagery to describe a wine, instead of words. I should use imagery more often. To express what I am trying to say. I typically rely on words. But images are much more fun and potentially more powerful.

I reviewed my first wine!

Sipping on Silvaner

Well, another long day!

Good thing I have some Silvaner left in my bag that I won't be using tomorrow. Mmm mmm - delicious 2006 Hans Wirsching Estate Silvaner Dry - I can't believe why this wine isn't more popular - it is fantastic and delicious and beats Sauvignon Blanc (for me) and certainly Chardonnay. It has some great weight that would appeal to Chardonnay drinkers, without the oak, and tons of citrus and orange blossom and yellow grapefruit - makes me crave a slab of the best raw yellowtail sashimi... ahhh.

Another winner that I took out with me today was the 2006 Becker Pinot Noir. This wine knocks it out of the ball park - a German Spatburgunder that is enough new world in style that it appeals to even those who like California Pinot Noir. Imagine! Something that Californian Pinot lovers can dig that isn't 14.5% alcohol and full of wood! Seriously, an elegant fruit-forward Pinot Noir with some earthiness and forest floor there to make it interesting. A great fall wine with all those roast chicken and roast turkey-type dishes.

Well, like I mentioned above, it was a long and tiring day, but now that I'm enjoying my wine by the computer, the place all quiet because the hubby is out at a hockey thing where they pick their hockey tickets that they want from a shared season's pass group thing, I'm thinking, damn, it was a pretty successful day. I got 2 of my wines at Lucques and one of my wines at AOC, and 2 of my wines at the SkyRoom in Long Beach, and soon, I'll have some wines at Walt's Wharf. Not bad!

World domination is soon to be mine! :P

Ah, if only it were so easy.......

Monday, September 22, 2008

Looking forward to the Mecca in the Desert: Lotus of Siam

As I said in my previous post, it has been a rough week. Every day last week was spent working, either at my new job, selling wine on the street, to restaurants, wine stores, grocery stores, you name it, or at my old job, selling wine in the beloved retail store. Every day was busy in its own way. And today, Monday, I start again.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Yes, yes, there is the light that I will learn the new job better and everything will flow easier and smoother, but an even brighter light, from a future not so far away is that I'll be in Vegas this coming weekend. Yes! Leaving Thursday evening at 9:30 pm, after I do a wine dinner at Long Beach's premier Vietnamese fusion restaurant, Benley, I will be whisked away by my hubby and his friend and we will make the 5 hour drive through the dark valley and into the dessert of many sins.

And in this dessert sits a cult restaurant whose name is so known among the wine-loving and foodie world, that it is abbreviated to simply LOS. Lotus of Siam - a bastian of authentic, mouth-searing, flavor-exploding Thai cuisine paired with fine wines, many of them German Rieslings.

I first heard about this restaurant when I was working and hosting my first wine dinner more than 2 years ago at a great Long Beach sushi restaurant called Yen. A few customers walked in and started telling me about Lotus of Siam and even gave me a business card for the place. Raved about how great it was, and since I didn't know of it, I didn't think much of it - after all, the name is much like any other Thai restaurant - sounds just like King of Siam, The Lotus Restaurant, etc. The customers did regail me of stories of how the walls of the restaurant were adorned with the sommelier's pictures that he had taken with various famous German winemakers.

Later, Rudi Wiest, who was at this wine dinner, saw the card on my table and asked me if I had been there - I told him no - and he said this was a must-go-to place. Later, more evidence - some archived newsletters from The Wine Country told the story of a former employee who had gone to Germany with Lotus of Siam's sommelier, Bank. The story grew in my head.

Slowly, more evidence of this LOS' special aura - talks of it on many of bulletin board, with members talking about making special trips there. A coworker even attended a huge dinner there with fellow parker board members, and posted a video of it on You-Tube.

I met Bank this year, in Vienna of all places. He was quiet, humble. I expected him to be extroverted, exuberant, jubilant. His reputation preceded him, and was bigger than him. To be so famous and yet in real life so quiet. Wow! We exchanged a few words and he was very kind. But after the short conversation, I didn't see him again. Many wine folks on the trip I was on knew him, and commented also that they saw Bank once and not again. He was certainly a celebrity who eluded us.

Who knows if when I am there this Friday if he will remember me. He probably will, since he seems a smart guy. I look forward to tasting his restaurant's fine dishes and pairing them with some great stuff off his wine list. Hopefully, I'll have enough to tell that I can write a decent post about that here.

The moral of this story is that when a restaurant does really well with wines of some obscurity, and by that I mean wines not sold by Southern Wine and Spirits or Youngs Market, the tales of this restaurant travel far and wide. Another one that comes to mind is The Slanted Door in San Francisco. Another restaurant with an Asian focus, tons of great wines (German Rieslings, Austrian Gruner Veltliner, French wines from the Loire) and another restaurant I have yet to visit, but have heard so many great things about.

May Benley of Long Beach become a restaurant like that, that will plough through palettes of German Riesling, Austrian Gruner Veltliner, and Loire whites. And become a destination for wine geeks and foodies alike.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rough week.... sorry sorry haven't posted!

Just checking in here - came up for a breath! Just a quick one!

First off, haven't been able to get online hardly at all because the computer was down. Not good for business if you are a salesperson! People like email! Stressful.

On a positive note, I have a new driving companion for when I am working. Hee! She's great! It's the GPS lady. She tells you where to go. You just sit back and do what she says and she'll get you there. Love it. Even tells you which side of the road the freeway entrance will be on. Yes, the freeway entrance the direction you want to go. Sweet! Love the GPS!

I have been visiting many accounts. All sorts of places. Here are some conclusions:

1. The parking in downtown is highway robbery.

2. Everyone is shopping at Whole Foods!

3. The 51st floor of a building is not that comfy actually. Ears pop.

That's about it. There are some other stories, but I won't tell them to protect the innocent!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's true what they say..... you taste the most wine in the retail biz

So, yeah, it's true what they say - if you are a retail wine buyer, or maybe a wine director at a restaurant, you taste the most wine. Heck I still think retail buyers taste more wine.

So now that I'm not a retail buyer anymore, though I work some retail, about 2 days a week now on the weekend, I won't have that many tasting notes.

What you'll see here more is probably places I've been that have interesting wine.

Take yesterday for instance. During the day, probably my most interesting meeting was with the wine director at Sona. This is a restaurant I have heard much about and I know there was at least at one time tons of attention on this restaurant. Now that I've been through the kitchen (I entered through the back) and met with the wine director, I feel that this is a place I wish to dine and experience the tasting menu. Yep, just by walking through the place and seeing what wines they ordered makes me want to come back! Yum!

In the evening, I experienced a neighborhood I don't know a lot about - the area around Westchester, Culver City and Playa Vista. Is it ever booming! Among some other places, my friend and I ended up at a coffee-house-turned-wine-bar called Vinoteque which has a massive wine list and lots of stuff by the glass. A sommelier teaches wine classes here. I see my competing portfolio has already made inroads here, so I'll have to get myself in front of the sommelier and see what I can do!

At Vinoteque, I enjoyed a delicious glass of 2007 Hugl Gruner Veltliner - refreshing, green, melony, and drinkable. We used to have this wine at The Wine Country - I'll have to see if we can get it back because it is an excellent value that comes in a liter bottle. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Had a Perfect Sales Day Yesterday!

Incredible but true, I had almost an idea sales day yesterday! Met with a bunch of cool, nice folks all over town, and had great parking karma too!

The day started off meeting the new wine director at the Jonathan Club in downtown LA. Never been there before, and enjoyed my experience there, everything from the valet parking (comped!), tasting down in the cellar, and chatting about the business with the wine director.

Next up, I went over to Larchmont Village Wine, which was bustling with customers buying sandwiches left, right, and center - met the wine buyer who tasted through my wines, liked them. And oh, did I mention, both wine people at the Jonathan Club and at Larchmont Village had heard of me before - said my name looked familiar - my face too - ah! The Wine Country newsletter! Wow - it pays to be published! Thanks Randy!

Then it was over to the west side. Yes, I'm all over the place. I was headed to Playa del Rey where there is a small wine shop called The Vintage Shoppe. Met with one of the owners who tasted through everything and placed an order! Score!

Next up, I was headed back to Long Beach to meet with the wine director at 555 East, a steakhouse in the downtown area. Had a chance to say hi to the general manager, who said they used to do very well with the Rudi Wiest portfolio. The wine director tasted and placed an order! Bam!

After this, I spent some time stopping in a variety of places, including Parker's Lighthouse, the Queen Mary..... these will be places to follow up on in the future.

My second to last appointment was at Benley, a Vietnamese restaurant I will be doing a wine dinner at very soon. The wine dinner is totally sold out, so discussed with the owner about doing a second one a week later - he agreed! He also filled out the forms for being a new customer, so he is my first new account! BAM! I love this place too!

Finally, my last appointment was with a Sushi place on Second Street called Yen. Did a wine dinner here almost 2 years ago, but they never caught on as a Rudi Wiest customer. Yesterday, they decided to put one of the basic Rieslings by the glass and on the list. Hurray!

In the evening, Johan and I decided to check out the SkyRoom for some drinks. We had never been and I had been trying to get through to the manager there, without success. The place is very lovely! Awesome views, of course, as it is 13 to 14 stories high, 2 great bars, including a rooftop bar that has been remodelled. I had a Riesling which I think any item in our portfolio could easily trump. Later on in the evening, met the manager I had been trying to get a hold of, found out when they make appointments and when they usually taste - BAM!

Like I said, great sales day, and I hope to have another good one like that today! And tomorrow too. This is fun!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

If you have to drink wine at 10 am, make it a German Riesling, please

It's Saturday, and I'm having my post-10-mile run meal and a couple small tastes of Rieslings that are left in my fridge from my week of work. Oh, and I should mention this is my pre-work meal also, since 11 am is when I start my shift at The Wine Country.....

If you have to taste wine or drink something this early in the morning (though it feels late since I was up at 6am), make it a Riesling. Better yet, a fruity Mosel 2007 Riesling. I'm drinking 2007 Mosel River Riesling, a negotiant wine made by Rudi Wiest Selections/Cellars International. Awesome. Fresh, bright, citrusy, floral, and apply, all in one. The wine I tasted before that was the 2006 Von Buhl Jazz Riesling which I liked less, but others like it, those that prefer a drier palate. But for me, bring on the fruit and don't hold back, especially when it comes to fruit from Germany 2007, because it's clean, fresh, and zippy.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Some pics from the Okanagan!

I kept calling this place "Lakeview Terrace" because all the vineyards are lake-facing and almost all of them are hillside. A very scenic place indeed!
The first 2 pics above are from Mission Hill. Note they have an arch like the Mondavi arch.

Here is Gray Monk.

Tasting rooms with a view:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Updates from British Columbi'a Wine Country - The Okanagan

Happy Labor Day everybody (Labour Day in Canada). It's been a while since I have posted, and I thought I should take these few minutes in the early hours of Labor Day to say hi from the Coast Hotel in Kelowna, BC, right in the heart of the Okanagan.

I'm up here with my parents and my husband. My parents' good friend's daughter was getting married this weekend, and since I am in the midst of changing jobs, I felt it a good idea to fly up here and spend a long weekend with them, in preparation for not being able to take any time off between now and the end of the year.

We didn't arrive until late Thursday evening, as there was an important Rudi Wiest tasting Thursday around noon - the famous Dry Tour - this is a tasting of German dry wines. We tasted 55 dry German wines presented by 7 winegrowers who flew in from Germany - Sebatian Furst of Furst, Fritz Becker Jr. or Becker, Rainer Schnaittman of Schnaittman, Christoph Graf of Von Buhl, Hansjorg Rebholz of Rebholz, a last-minute substitute for Felix Buerklin with Gunter Kunstler's step-daughter whose name I cannot remember - of Kunstler, Uwe ___ of Hans Wirsching, and a few other dry winemakers.

It was also my opportunity to meet some folks who would be my clients - a wine director from Wolfgang Puck's Cut, and another wine director at the Regency Club. There were others - a lot of meeting and greeting and gathering of business cards for folks I need to follow up with when I get back to Los Angeles.

Now back to my little vacation. Got to visit briefly with my siblings before they took off in various directions for their Labor Day weekend jaunts. Then, Saturday morning, my parents, my husband and I packed ourselves into the car to make the drive into the Okanagan Valley.

It has been over a decade since I have been to this part of the province. When I was a kid, we would take vacations here, a region rich with peach and apple trees. In recent years, the area, probably like similar places in the state of Washington and Oregon, has been transformed away from orchard land into vineyard land.

One of my goals for this trip was to observe the changes that have taken place, and taste the wines that people all over Canada rave about, but people outside of Canada have not had a chance to experience. This is due to the small quantities produced here, and the tendency to sell most of it within the province (80%), while "exporting" the rest of it to the other provinces (eg. Ontario).

The drive was difficult. Lots of mountain passes, often hitting patches of rain with poor visibility. In August! It reminded me of trying to get over the Voges range in France to get from Lorraine into Alsace. Difficult!

Finally, we arrived into Kelowna, a pretty town on the lakeside. The lake that dominates this valley is called Lake Okanagan.

Now, about the wineries: We managed to visit 5 of them: Mission Hill, Quail's Gate, Summerhill, Gray Monk, and St. Hubertus. All were beautiful and scenic, located on a hill of some sort overlooking the massive blue lake. Many had restaurants with great views, featuring the local fresh ingredients and wines. All were quite busy entertaining visitors and tasters coming to enjoy the location, the wines, and the shopping.

These are my observations and impressions:

1. The Pinot Noir here does not impress me. I have heard many great things about B.C. Pinot Noirs and how great they are, being cool climate and all. I find them generally lacking. It could be that I haven't tasted any premium ones, or I didn't hit the right ones, but I have tasted them before in Vancouver restaurants and now at these cellar doors, and they just don't do it for me! Please still give me a Burgundy, thanks!

2. I like the dry whites. I was impressed by the 2007 Quail's Gate Dry Riesling and we bought a bottle to bring home. I also liked a 2007 St. Hubertus Pinot Blanc but we didn't get that one, as Johan preferred the 2007 St. Hubertus Chalassas (Swiss variety, we were told). I preferred the dry whites to the sweet or off-dry whites I tried. There weren't any sweet whites that I particularly liked, though I didn't try any ice wines. I think icewines are more rare here anyway - the dessert wines are mostly late harvest here (maybe it really doesn't freeze that much out here compared to in Niagara in Ontario).

4. Johan liked the Marechal Foch. Everything I have read about this French hybrid has been negative, ie. it is terrible and it has practically been ripped out of most vineyards, especially in Ontario. But it appears that the Okanagan has been a champion of this variety, giving it almost a cult status. I compare it to Dornfelder - it is dark in color, so it looks like it will taste like a ton, but on the palate, it is gentle, has virtually no tannin, and tastes like an earthy red when done well, like a foxy, skunky red when done not so nicely. We tasted three of these from three different estates: Quail's Gate (where it tasted funky), Summerhill (where it tasted quite pleasant), and St. Hubertus (where it was also good, but not as tasty as the Summerhill's). The grape is also early ripening - at St. Hubertus, they had put nets over their already ripened Foch vines (it is Labor Day weekend, so these hybrids are ripening possibly a month or month and a half before other grapes!)

In all, this is a very youthful and vibrant wine region, a region I would imagine to be similar to those in Washington State and Oregon. The new world that wants somewhat to be the next Napa/Sonoma/Santa Ynez, and has the clientele to the support it. A farming community that used to grow apples, pears, peaches and other stone fruits, but now supports enotourism. Why not? My parents asked me how this is different from the wine regions of Europe - I was at a loss to describe how it was truly different other than the ones in Europe being much older. And the food is different. But generally, I see them as similar. It's the wines that are different. The wines in the new world are good, fine, drinkable, enjoyable. The old world wines, for me, are out of this world. And the regions are historic.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back from my first day!

Yep, it's exhausting, but it's not bad! People are actually pretty nice overall, they love Riesling, and they don't mind ordering some. What do you know?!?

Things I have learned:

1. Sometimes offices are on the second floor.

2. It is hard to walk up stairs with heels on, carrying a bag of 6 bottles of wine.

3. It's not impossible, it's just scary to think about it after the fact, and it makes me seriously consider sticking to flats (flat shoes).

That's all my mental energy will allow me to put out right now. I hit over 13 places today, 5 of them appointments. The rest were just to pop in and say hi. Oh, yeah:

4. There are a lot of places (restaurants and retail).

I'll have my work cut out for me! No shortage of clients out there in the big wide world. Woohoo!

PS I had lunch at Wahoo's taco joint. It was good. Brought back memories. I used to live near that one up on Wilshire Blvd. Ah, back to the old stompin' grounds.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

T'is the day before going out on the road...

The fridge is all stocked with samples before my first appointments to clients in the wide world. Monday should prove an interesting day of driving around in Los Angeles meeting with wine buyers.

Last evening, I had the pleasure of having dinner with great friends and drinking a fantabulous old Riesling - not too old but just old enough: 1994 Wegeler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese. What a beauty! Absolutely balanced, with plenty of fruit for a 14 year old, soft mature Riesling flavors of baked apple, pear cider, pie spice, and dried apricot. Sweet but definitely not too. A wine that wows and never fails to impress. A stunner at only $37.99. I'm going to plan on drinking this wine a lot more often.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rollercoaster Transition Week but Not Without Great Wine!

So it's my last week full time at The Wine Country as I transition to working for Rudi Wiest Selections selling exclusively fine German wines. I'll be back working at The Wine Country part time on the weekends so I can see my friends, have fun in the store, and hand sell wines from all corners of the world.

So when there's change, even when good, there's a bit more stress and anticipation, but all is good. I'm so happy to be in the wine business, you cannot imagine. It's just a lot of fun, it's my dream job, and if I had to create an ideal life, well, I have it, so that makes me infinitely happy.

Much of this has to do with the people, and I cannot emphasize how important that is. If you know the folks at The Wine Country, then you know what I am talking about when I say this is a genuine bunch of great people through and through. This sort of thing starts at the top, with great leaders who choose good people to work for them. I'm getting all sorts of warm fuzzies just thinking about it!

This week, being my transition week, I've had coworkers cook for me, drink Champagne with me, crack open magnums with me, drink 10 year old wines with me, share German wines and tapas with me in a gorgeous outdoor patio restaurant, buy me and my husband dinner... let me just say that in my former life in the health care business, there were good folks also - there are anywhere and everywhere - but the wine business is unlike any other business other than maybe show business? ... but with much, much better wine and food!

But it would all lose its luster without people to eat, drink and laugh with. This is the truth.

Meanwhile, my next step in the wine business awaits. This means excitement and intrigue. New territories and potentials for spreading great German wine. The wines that refresh and enliven the palate. Great stuff.

In the meantime, here are a few of my personal notes on some fantastic wines I enjoyed this week. Life is good.

Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Non-vintage Champagne

Out of the magnum at coworker Amy's house. One of the best Blanc de Blancs ever. Grower stuff, meaning they don't buy grapes, they grow their own and make their own estate grown Champagne. 100% Chardonnay. Crisp, a touch yeasty, crunchy apple, the most refreshing stuff ever. Very easy to drink too much of it! A serious go-to Champagne for anyone that loves Blanc de Blancs! Comes in 750 ml bottles too of course, and if you want to go all out, get the vintage ones (1999 for example).

2004 Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang

Out of the magnum bottle, this is our wedding gift from Sam & Carl a couple of years ago, and as one of our customers comments, what goes around comes around! Shared also at Amy's house served with some rockin' homemade coq au vin done in white wine (Touraine, also a Sauvignon blanc). The wine was developed, with pie spices and autumn fruits on the nose, while on the palate, mellow, rich, a touch of celery seed. I commented that it seems like white wines such as this and white Burgundy and Riesling all converge on this one taste profile after some years and years in the bottle - Sam agreed and said it is a white wine oxidizing thing. Not to say it is completely oxidized or anywhere near but it does develop this developed white wine thing. Tasty, interesting, different!

1998 Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Gewurztraminer

Alright, I had to check out Samantha's Blog (Samantha Sans Dosage, see blogroll) to get the right name of the single vineyard for this wine as I'm not very well versed with Alsacian vineyards. This wine was fabulous!! I love sweet wines, but this was not ordinary sweet wine - 10 years old and fresh as a daisy! Lovely botrytis flavors (noble rot, which gives wines that luscious honeyed aroma and flavor), minerally salinity, dried apricot and pears. Not too much of that typical lychee tropical fruit thing - this is one heck of an elegant Gewurztraminer, a wine I couldn't put down, and wish I could have a whole evening with. Arguable, this was my wine of the night, even next to awesome grower blanc de blancs and Dagueneau!

Thank you for sharing this Sam! And a signed bottle too, by owner when he was at The Wine Country almost a decade ago.

2006 Kunstler Pinot Noir

Brought this to dinner with coworker Ronnie and his lovely wife Madeline at one of their local neighborhood restaurants Black Sheep Bistro. Love this place because it reminds me of The Wine Country - proprietor-run, unique, quirky, and full of quality. I love the wines of Kunstler, especially their Rieslings as they are full of mineral and complexity, not to mention some of the best fruit around. But this is their Spatburgunder, now labeled for the American market "Pinot Noir" - this is a very Burgundian, light-colored Pinot Noir that hits your palate on the light side but then as the night progresses, the wine builds power somehow! There's a lot going on and in summary, it's a pretty red wine that goes well with food, especially something full of different flavors, like a plate of 12 different tapas. In other words, this is a versatile red that sings with food.

2006 Von Buhl Forster Jesuitgarten Riesling Spatlese

Von Buhl is an estate in the Pfalz that hit it out of the ballpark in 2006 with their fantastic Rieslings in a very difficult vintage. While many estates, including theirs, experienced a difficult harvest where a lot of fruit was lost to rot (due to rain and warm weather during those critical harvest weeks), Von Buhl had the manpower and the expertise to select, select, select the best grapes out of their top notch vineyards and made the most beautiful wines ever. Their 2006 Armand Kabinett is one such wine, and we have sold about 35 cases of that wine this past year. This Forster Jesuitgarten Spatlese sold a lot less, probably because the price point is higher, but this is a top-notch vineyard is a special one. Okay, the wine: gorgeous, weighty without being too heavy, fabulous fruit without too much sweetness. In fact, its degree of discernable sweetness was such that one would guess it was a Kabinett, but its concentration and complexity tells you its a Spatlese. Drinking lovely, this wine paired well with the tapas and main dishes that followed, giving another thumbs up for white wine with meat (I had lamb chops).

So that's it for now, a week with great wine, lots of excitement, lots of love from great people - I love it!

Hope you all had a good wine week too!