Sunday, May 8, 2016

What we're drinking.

Not that much, actually.  Sometimes life requires you to show up.  Fortunately, I found my way through this cast of characters.  Not all at one sitting. And lots of it was exactly great.

While at Whole Foods recently, I was looking to see if there were a juice box version of wine.  Well, I was looking to see one could enjoy a glass of wine the way one can enjoy a beer. 

Look at Sake, single servings.  BEAUTIFUL. Simple glass, classic lines, great design, great labels, artwork - everything about it beautiful.

Wine? UGH. Or UGHly. Most likely plasticware.  Most likely less than par wine. One of those single serve sake's up there is almost $300, the others between $13 and $20. 

This? A four-pack is around $10.  The wine must be GREAT.

But I would pay $8 for one decent wine in a well-designed container.  Maybe $10.

Thus, beer it often is.

Over the course of one weekend, both of these went down. Of course the Yeti Imperial Stout is a big bit of deliciousness, but Alchemist Brewery's Heady Topper was a revelation.  Partial to stouts, this IPA (difficult to get, only available in Vermont, I'm well-connected, thank you David) was too darn GOOD.  I don't know enough about beer or hops or anything, really, when you get down to it.  But this stuff was good above and beyond the idea of beer.  It transcended beerness.  That's how good it was. 

I picked this stuff up at Glendale's own Topline, home of the world's worst website.  Why do they have a website at all?  Just GO there and when you walk in, Michael the Younger will put something in your hands with emphatic confidence that you will love it.  I was really impressed by this while enjoying this because he's always been right.  He knows my price range. If I've selected something on my own he'll send me to a better wine at the same price. He often says, If you want to spend a few dollars more try this one, it's so much better (which I've done, he's so emphatically convincing). I have no idea what this stuff is. Michael handed it to me, it was within my budget, and it was good.

Then one of those The Cave moments, maybe, I'm not sure, I didn't see anything.

That Thomas Hardy Ale?  1987!  All these kids who've "discovered" microbrews?  Some guy put this in his locker before they were born.  BOOM!

It was, you know, really sublime. An ale that acquired depth and weight, like it was aged in an old bourbon barrel. Zero fizz. 

The Old Crustacean, also zero fizz, also a barley wine, 1995 and brewed in Oregon, fell open for comparison sake. Science. Completely opposite the Thomas Hardy. Still bright and fruity.  A really interesting study of one idea with two results.

 Which brings us to this weekend.  Around Wednesday, I declared, out loud, THERE WILL BE WINE THIS WEEKEND.  Then Friday, the gentleman said to me, Are you up for and experiment?  He went on to say there was a 60% chance this wine, a 2004, would be spent.  I countered that I'm so ignorant to these sorts of things I wouldn't know the difference. 

When I first started working here, the same gentleman pulled two identical bottles from his locker, one given to me.  I thought it was terrible, over, undrinkable.  He thought it was great.  Sine then I've never trusted my understanding of any thing wine. Over the years I've two or three times had a wine that was similar, and been forced to confess my ignorance in sophistication and palate to the most generous donor. 

So, what do I know about wine and these matter?  (Nothing.)  The first night this wine was good, alive and intact but there was a sweetness to it that was separate from everything else and also dominant.  The second night this had integrated.  We spent six, chill, slow hours together, and the wine just got better and better, gentler, more elegant as it went along. Gorgeous.

I'm sure I've mentioned this more than once, Max and I one day talking about the few things in life, the necessary things in life, that restore us to ourselves.  It is a clearly defined moment, having spent a week with my family a few years ago, and thinking towards the end there, I really just want a good glass of wine.  The necessary thing that can restore a sense of civility while navigating the sometimes rocky terrain.

Minus the one plonk, these were all donations to the cause.  As always, what a curious and generous Cave I inhabit.  Cheers.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The mother, the son, The Silver Room.

There are the stories that you find. 

Fifty-seven years lapsed between the opening of The Hotel Glendale and the opening of The Cave. We know most of The Hotel's story, its momentary peak and long, steady decline.  But there is little information on the story of our beloved basement quarters.  How long did the restaurant that is now the Napa Room serve  food?  Was the Social Room that is now the Bordeaux Room always hopping?  Information is scarce. 

Then I stumbled onto something (I'm afraid I didn't bookmark) referring to The Silver Room in the basement of the Hotel Glendale.  A little further digging gave me this story.

This is Beryl Deane Harrell, and this photo of her is from the website Hillbilly Music. There you can read the story of Beryl and her steel guitar. 

In the 'thirties and 'forties she was in a series of bands with names like the Hula Bluettes, Sweethearts of the Air, the Saddle Dusters.  But it would be Eva Harpster and her Four Co-Eds Orchestra that would play a "record breaking engagement of 26 weeks in the Silver Room of the Glendale Hotel in Glendale, California."

Poking around various steel guitar forums, there are two recordings, "Goofus" and "Dragging the Steel." Sadly, both have been removed from Youtube for copyright infringement.  

Ms. Harrell's story is mostly via her son, Don Triolo. He was born in Glendale.  He is her legacy and tells her story with affectionate and vivid memory.  It is that affection, and a deep and enduring sadness, that resounds when you read his annual remembrances posted on her Find-a-Grave site.   

Beryl ended her own life in 1977.  It was in researching this, though, that I see her son Don also recently died unexpectedly.   About a year ago this was the last message posted on Beryl's wall:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

When you know these are the days.

Jay takes care of us all. 

Jay works for the AC company that has serviced The Cave for a very long time.  I call, they answer.  They answer very early in the day.  Yesterday Jay got here at 6:30 am.  He left around 1:30, giving me just enough time to take a shower so I could be back here until after 7 pm.  Many, many hours at The Cave, I hope I like it here.

Oh, right, I do.  After all these years, still.  The key is to remember what "here" is, and then to pay homage to that sometimes.  Some people's "here," sadly, is a drab office that was once a drabber office.  Mine is a Cave that was once maybe a speakeasy during Prohibition.  Good gig!

Before Jay left yesterday, this was on my desk.  Maybe there is an occasional trade amongst us, my memory is faulty. 

 For today I'd coordinated two guys to come in, one who seemed to need a smaller locker and one who definitely needed a larger locker.  Today was The Great Locker Swap.  Then, to add to the fun, R. came in.  A keen and seasoned troglodyte, this was instantly recognized as That Cave Moment, and then this happened, I think, I don't remember.  I'm sure if I tried it I'd have thought it seriously and unusually delicious.  Big grapefruit stuff, acidic and bright, like a sour but actually drinkable.  (Sorry, sour lovers, and that's everyone but me.)

While this was or was not happening, I did a bit of poking around on the stuff and it turns out to be an absolutely appropriate homage to the rumor that is us (hopheads aside).

 A lovely and lively afternoon here at The Cave.  These are the good days, and everyone left with a better resolution to their evolving habits.

 Homage is swell stuff. 


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Great Cave Flood of 2016

Today, The Cave is completely dry. 

It's been two weeks since I could say that.  A series of broken pipes affected over 30 lockers, though not before taking out a few apartments in magnificent style and also affecting three store fronts.

Any/Every wine storage has potential for events that could ultimately affect your product, natural (earthquake) or accidental (plumbing, etc).  Here are some ways to minimize the effects of these events.
Water.  Most-not-all lockers have a false floor, a piece of wood laid across the bottom, resting on 2x2's.  Almost all the potential water damage was via water on the floor seeping under lockers.  Every locker that had wood across the bottom was unaffected.  Every locker that did not have wood, where the boxes or crates were sitting directly on the floor, were affected. Those lockers were emptied, boxes replaced, wet bottles dried, and wood laid down.  The lockers that were affected from above:  again, what was in boxes became wet boxes and no wine was lost.  Lockers that had individual bottles at the very top with no protection had damaged labels.  Lockers have steel mesh on top to allow for air circulation.  If you are apt to break your bottles out for a quick grab-n-go, you may want to consider rotating the bottles so the label is facing at least sideways, and also laying some cardboard across them as an added layer of protection.  As long as the corks remain unhindered, you can even lay plastic across the bottles. 

Earthquake.  Many people opt for a series of smaller lockers over a walk-in precisely to keep their wine safe in case of earthquake. The lesser lockers allow you to pack boxes into a snug fit.  If you have a walk-in that has floor space, the potential exists that all your wine can tumble into the middle of that space.

Air Conditioning. One of the great benefits to having your wine underground is what can happen to it if the AC goes out: very little.  Though The Cave does not have a back up system, repairs are within 24 - (absolute worst-case) 36 hours. Ambient temperature fluctuation during this period is in the 5 - 7 degree range.  By the time your wine reacts, the AC is repaired.

Insure your product.  The Cave lease is a standard California Self-Storage lease, and bears no burden of insurance for damaged product.  It is up to you to insure your own wine. Some people do this through existing homeowners insurance and some get specific wine insurance.  Others opt to not insure at all.  I have no definitive suggestion on this.  I have heard that insurance is no guarantee you will recoup total losses; you need receipts, proofs of value, etc.  Be sure to ask about that when shopping.

Let's look at your locker!  Just so you know, the persons belonging to every locker in the water zone was notified and every necessary step was taken to rectify vulnerabilities. Let's keep doing that. On a visit, soon, when you have the time to do so, come in and we'll look at your locker to see if and how we might adjust it to better protect your product.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Holiday libations.

It's always been curious to me that New Years produces a surprising lack of foot traffic.  One suggestion offered was it could depend on which day of the week a particular holiday falls.  Another suggested that when people come in for their Christmas wine, they also tend to their New Years plans.  Now that you mention it, Christmas is also pretty low-key.   A possible illusion, the frenzy that is the combination  Shipping Season/Thanksgiving could warp the perspective.

This year the trend changed and all holidays were rather lively around here.  The Wednesday before New Year six people were here at once, with ten the first hour.  In wine storage time, these are hopping numbers. It was very exciting!

One stunning wine and one Champagne were enjoyed over the holiday, both contributions way more generous than even the season invites.  One day I'll need to get many, many people here free psychiatric evaluations.  In the meantime:
1998 Joseph Phelps Napa valley Cabernet
When this was handed to me, the gentleman said, "This is probably dead. Just pour it down the sink."  I looked at it and thought, no way, it's probably drinking amazingly.  It was.  It could have hung out for a few more years but what made it so good now was how intact the fruit was.  Most of the older California Cabs, the early 'nineties, the fruit is way more faded.  Still good, mind you, it's just that it was really pleasant to have such a showing of fruit with the other benefits of aging, is all.   This was really good.

Pierre Peters "Cuvee de Reserves" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne.
Okay, so, here it is:  I don't really get Champagne, or its necessity on earth.  I know, I'm sorry, and there are so many people here who love the stuff. I do happen to recall one Champagne I had that I really liked though I don't know what it was.  I read once that most people don't like it because their first Champagne experience is at a wedding where it is paired with wedding cake, a grande culinary faux pas that has the power to turn you off to the stuff forever!  It is best paired with salty foods, which is why, in The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe claimed Champagne and potato chips "crazy!"  ("Good!")

Of course this Champagne is Good! because the guy who gave it to me doesn't have anything less than. I mean I knew I was drinking good Champagne but it was still Champagne.  It was pleasant, I enjoyed it.   Then I decided to try it, it turns out, as god intended it to be enjoyed.  It was P-E-R-F-E-C-T. I've never had any food - wine combo where the one folded into the other so seamlessly.  Which of course winos do all the time, it's the whole point and what separates the genteel from the troglodyte. I'm not sure I'm a newly-hatched Champagne person, but the experience of wine-done-right was a revelation.

The holidays are over and now we all get to hibernate for the winter. If the Joseph Phelps cab or the Pierre Peters Champagne are any indication, that's a pretty good way to spend it.  Cheers

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cheers, The Cave.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through The Cave
Not a creature was stirring but for That Knave.
The wines have been chosen by their owners with care
Mindful of the feast with which they will pair.

And tho’ The Cave is run by a Troll,
It stays open normal hours ‘cause that’s how we roll.
Traffic is bad, people run late,
(Or maybe they just procrastinate).

They’ll all have some wine before Santa’s Sleigh
They’ll all have some wine by the end of the day.
And when on their lawns there arises a clatter
They’ll think it’s the wine that’s really the matter.

Well, maybe it wasn’t the first bottle of wine,
Maybe it was really only glass number nine.
Glass eight is the sugarplums that dance in their heads
Glass seven was the desire to seek out their beds.

In their dreamy haze and the moon this night full,
Though wrapped in the warmth of their blankets wool
The persistent cacophony draws them to rouse
And then wonder why they’re seeing eight odd-shaped cows.

And a sleigh filled with toys and a guy dressed in red
And forget it, no way, then they’ll go back to bed.
They’ll sleep through the rest of it soundly with glee
And greet Christmas day with a lovely of Chablis.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Let's watch the guy with the big truck try to get out of here.

 PS. If a car is coming down the driveway while a car is going up, who has the right of way? The prevailing thought is though it's difficult to back down the driveway, it's less feasible to back into traffic. Cheers.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Day After Thanksgiving.

That plan where I was going to post this the day before Thanksgiving was never going to happen. The last person left half an hour after close.  Here are the numbers:

The number of people who came in the day before Thanksgiving this year: 11, exceeding all previous years.  This doesn't include the two or three friends-per-person that joined them, nor the dog.  At one point there were a Cave-Whopping nine people and one dog.  BUT WAIT.  The number of people who came in this past week: 43.  FORTY THREE.  Shipping Season meets Thanksgiving, what a fun week!  It's like old home week, you get to see people your rarely otherwise see.  It's lively and fun and noisy, a huge difference from my favorite August sport: harvesting lichen in monkish silence.

Today, crickets.  Everyone is paralyzed from overeating, or they're slogging their abused bodies through malls.

The best What-are-you-doing-for-Thanksgiving answer:  The story goes, loosely, that the extended family is huge and every year the Aunt does it.  This year, one of the cousins wants to do it, but so does the Aunt, so they're BOTH doing it and making the entire extended family choose which house to go.  And what is the story teller choosing?  "We're going to Aruba for the weekend."  Awesome.

Two beautiful wines came my way this week.  Facing a similar Sophie's Choice for their demise, a more equitable solution was had.

On the left, from Antica Terra in Oregon, a pinot noir rose called "erratica."  Nice art work, lovely wine,  I opened this last weekend while it was still hot in LA and I was eating curried chicken tacos with radish greens and feta.

Wednesday night, much cooler weather, I opened the 2014 Kermit Lynch Beaujolais.  It was bright and lively and delicious, and went well with the autumnal soup that was on the menu: collard greens, butternut squash, white beans in a curried lemon broth with persimmon-radish chutney and yogurt.

I am a fortunate and grateful troglodyte. Thank you, everyone.  Happy Day After Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Happy Holidays from Rudy Kurniawan, courtesy the U.S Marshals Service.

Yesterday the U.S Marshals Service announced that on November 24 almost 5,000 bottles of Rudy Kurniawan's wine will go to auction. The wines were "deemed authentic," hopefully not by a certain Koch brother.

Just in time for the holidays, you can score a deemed authentic lot of Romanee-Conti, two 1963 and one 1969, with an opening bid around $12,750.

If you don't like your Aunt Sally that extensively, you can always go for lot 7372, two 1987 Georges Faively Hospices de Nuit, etc., and one 1983 Chateau Haut Plantey St. Emillion, opening at only $50.

Here is the full list, a sure-to-be fascinating perusal - if not oddly voyeuristic - the vestiges of appetite, ego, temptation and hope - everything that makes The Bible fun.  Still, before we go too hard on Rudy, and in regards to a certain Koch brother-et-al, just consider: in this particular passion play, who played Frankenstein and who played Frankenstein's Monster?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Bond. Cave Bond.

Sometimes The Cave and I need to spend a little quality time together, just the two of us, to keep the spark alive. Yesterday was that day.

The Cave AC is quarterly serviced, and the guy who is really taking care of us all by doing this usually likes to get started around six or seven a.m.  Troglodytes usually like to get started around noon. Suffering dawn builds character (not really) so for the love of all things The Cave, six a.m. it is. When Jay said NINE AM Thursday I was very happy.  I woke up at five-thirty a.m. and then around seven was afraid if I ever really did fall back asleep, I'd suffer nine, so I stayed up.  Then there was an AC emergency elsewhere and Jay had to cancel.

Friday, yesterday, we tried it again.  And again, I woke up around five-thirty a.m. Around seven I decided I'd suffer nine if I ever really did fall back asleep, so I stayed up and Jay didn't cancel.

There was a small necessity, we needed to let something dry and Jay ran out of things to do, so I suggested we go get beer and come back.  I'll not see Jay again until next year, and it seems a shame that a holiday will pass minus his having received a little love from The Cave. So I took Jay Christmas shopping at Mission on Glendale and Maple.

I can't quite divulge what happened there, but it was entirely awesome.  I asked The Amazing Garo for his help, Jay and The Amazing Garo were discussing preferences, YaddaYaddaYadda, and Jay got a super secret, hot off the press, not even OUT yet six-pack.  It was a total classy Amazing Garo moment.

We came back, everything was dry and good to go, and we finished.  I ran upstairs, had brekkie and a shower, and came down to work.

It's a lot like autumn. This means it's shipping season, and after a long and sleepy summer things are beginning to percolate around here.  Early in, two guys crossed paths who had both just come back from Italy, it turns out, and I got to do one of my favorite things: listen to two guys who know what they are talking about talk about wine.  And, in this case, the food, the towns, even the restaurants both had been to.  This was a very cool conversation to be privy to, and a real pleasure of the job.

If you've been following along at all, and I find that hard to believe, or otherwise pity you, you know I try to keep the bar for cleanliness reasonably set so as not to set false expectations.  The cellars were in need of a good sweep, but I wanted to wait until after Jay's visit because he adds to the need. Because of deliveries and other realities, this event did not happen during business hours. After work, I got one room done, but Amazing Race is on at eight so....

After the Amazing Race I came back down to do the other room. OK, this is how that went down. Vodka, iPod, hoodie sweatshirt. (FYI, me in a hoodie looks a lot like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein.) Onward!

The Bordeaux Room  is eternally mysterious and with many labyrinths which night time only amplifies.  It's the best way to bond with The Cave, it's the best way to enter into this story that is The Cave, and seven years here it still gets me.  For the next hour I swept through it listening to Madonna, Donovan, Sex Pistols, Florence and the Machine, Peter Gabriel, The Mommas and The Pappas.  It was, really, just awesome.

At ten-thirty I was done and happy and sated and happy some more and finally slept very well after one of the better Cave days ever.

What's not to love about this place? 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Beer-O-Rama weekend.

Not quite an O-Rama, there were only two beers, I'm working on my clickbait technique.

October closed with a 90-plus-degree Halloween, and then the month was declared the hottest October on record.  It was also the hottest summer on record for EARTHThe Blob Meets Godzilla El Nino, my new favorite horror movie, is having a swell time of it.  Stay tuned for the next installment, "When Natural Disasters Collide."  Floods, mud slides.  It's going to be riveting.

Until then, I opted the weekend wine take the form of beer, because David wanders in with random beer and a blazing mid-autumn weekend seemed like a good time to try them.

 Friday I tried this, Saison Dupont Vielle Provision Belgian Farmhouse Ale.  Good rating!  It was clove-y.

Saturday, I opened this, Everett Robust American Porter. Wow, great rating!  It was sweet.

Then it occurred to me I may have the least complicated palate ever, and it's a good thing I'm not Robert Parker because with this palate he'd be working in a cave right now.  Also, it occurs to me The Great Cave Generosity is wasted on me and maybe there are worthier troglodytes for this sort of thing, but of course they then most likely wouldn't be troglodytes.

Of course, I do have one advantage: as the weather shift becomes the new normal,  storing your product underground becomes increasingly more reasonable. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This week's farmers market science experiment.

This week at the Atwater Village Farmers Market, the woman on the front left had, still in their shell, raw peanuts. Elsewhere fuyu persimmons are starting to show up and I thought, you know, if you shelled those peanuts and fried them in brown butter with sage and the persimmons, it'd be really good

What I did was, I shelled the peanuts and fried them in brown butter, with a little canola oil, and salt, red pepper flakes, a little curry, and because I don't have sage I threw in some thyme and rosemary.  And the persimmons. What it was was, really good.  (But I still want to try it with sage, which they sell at the farmers market.  Don't ask.) Also, next time, do the peanuts for a while before adding the persimmon.  And add another persimmon. But really good. 

You could probably roast it in the oven, but this would require you to turn on the oven.

 Savory fruity things is a nice way to go. All summer I've been putting grapefruit in my salad.  With a lemon/mustard dressing, with red onions and feta, it's a really nice balance of flavors.  Persimmons are good the same way. 

Lastly, shelling raw peanuts is not nearly as easy as shelling roasted peanuts.  Some time and patience required. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Winos past.

Mr. M came in yesterday, a lovely gentleman who hasn't stored wine here since 2012.  Last year he came in around this time of year to ask me to order for him a very special product, unavailable in California, and that I once shared with him.  Which I was more than happy to do.  So what if he's not a customer anymore; he's even better, someone who will always be part of The Cave. How many decent human beings, anyway, are there?  I can count about a quick dozen, and most of them are in The Cave. (Not right now, it's just me and the crickets today, who are also lovely.  They cricket here, not just anywhere. Special Cave Crickets.)

If you are drinking GOOD wine, chances are you are drinking good other things.  Whiskey is popular amongst the Cave dwellers.  Scotch seems next.  Beer, of course, and then the rest trickles along.  So that there are many conversations here about the many pleasures of food, coffee, and alcohol with all sorts of contributions about what is worth trying. 

Mr. M did not want me to order anything for him, he only came in to say hi, and he brought something for me to try.  The one that wasn't in liquid form was a new experience: Basturma by Eureka Sausage. On their website they say, "You owe it to yourself to taste this at least once in your life."

I did and they're right!  I've never tasted anything like it.

"dried, cured, and coated... the entire process from start to finish lasts 45-50 days....The fenugreek in the coating gives basturma its distinct aroma and taste."  Distinct indeed, and it pairs crazy-perfectly with that other thing he brought.

I wonder sometimes what happens to people after they leave here.  It's for any number of reasons: a once vigorous habit wanes, priorities change.  Mostly people move away or finally build that home cellar.  I'm always sorry to see them go, especially the guys who've been here so long, that are a real part of this story.  When someone like Jacques leaves earth, and you realize he's been here since 1992, that's not just a customer, that's our story.

Yes, it was very nice to see Mr. M yesterday.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wine Sunday

I wrote about Jacques only once, in 2011:

"Wednesday, Jacques came in to move his wine. He didn't like his locker. Half an hour later he decided he liked his locker after all and didn't move his wine. Then he handed this to me. I was like, 'Jacques, all I did was stand here and watch you not move your locker, it's not like I did anything.'"

Jacques gave me a bottle of wine every visit.  Easy on the swank, his habit was to pick up a case of something from Costco, $10 - $20 range Californians.  Still, it made me crazy.  I don't want people giving me wine, or I don't want people thinking they HAVE TO give me wine.  No one has to give me anything, I'll still take really good care of your wine.  

Or he'd come to stock up for the latest camping trip.  Once he came in after having come from Super King.  He had with him a bag of almonds in their shells.  He kept making me take almonds. We sat and shelled and chatted and ate almonds for about half an hour. We talked about where he goes camping, and other places he vacations. He traveled well.

It's a perfect wine weekend.  I was lying in bed 3:30 this morning listening to the rain, and later had breakfast with a beautiful gray sky.  Friday, for the weekend, I opened this, a 2006 BV Cab.  It is from Jacques locker.  His sister and a friend insisted I take it, over a misery of protests.

Thank you, Jacques.  The pleasure remains mine. Cheers.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wine Saturday

Last weekend Vic walked in and then Vic made me open this port.  Trust me, if you want to try anything that is big and sweet and decadent, you want to try it with Vic.  He's like a two-yr-old trying his first Port.

Because this stuff is: decadent.  Sweet and boozy and scrumptious.  It said to me, I need some pears and cheese, please.  I don't know what it said to Vic.  It didn't matter, he was just happy to try it.

After close, this was going on, the Super moon-slash-eclipse.  This is a photo of it on the other side of the eclipse, actual size, no zoom, it was THAT BIG!

Nice night.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Wine Friday.

If Southern California insists on being 100 degrees every day forever, we're just going to have to learn to drink wine when it's too hot to do so.  I think my personal adjustment is coming along fine.

Recently, by way of the gods, saints, and  patrons of wine and generosity, this came my way.  It's a 2012 Le Piane Boca Maggiorina. It's Italian. Max said it was a "field blend."  

Dr. Vinny explains the field blend as "more than one grape variety planted together in the same vineyard. Field blends happen all over the world, though they're now rare. In the past, before folks fretted about varietals or clones, they just planted different grapes in their vineyard as an inexpensive (yet limiting) way to blend wines. All the grapes are harvested at the same time and fermented together—a true field blend doesn't separate by varietals at harvest; the 'blend' is whatever Nature gives that vintage."

Sooo my style.  No intervention, let nature take its course. The wine is all you really want out of a wine, easy and good.  Also it was the first wine I've ever tasted that was vegetal.  Like you could taste the green stems or something, but not at the expense of anything else, it was just there as another very agreeable component.  Green label, unrestrained fields, 12.5% ABV - a very lovely, summer friendly wine.     

 Look: CHUNKS!  Dessert!

Also sampled was this 2010 Abyss.   Though I've had this before, T. was curious how this 2010 was drinking now.  I was like, well, YOU could open it and find out.  But noooooo.  So I opened it one recent weekend and it was drinking deliciously.  It poured still alive, it was beautifully resolved, there was nothing that could be said against it.

Also, the label doesn't really have bats on it, I added those, it seemed like it needed them.  And the first three notes of Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor.

 There is this thing that may happen Sunday, and that's   r   a   i   n, with a 20 degree temperature difference between tomorrow and Sunday.  If it's real, it will only last two days, and then it's back into eternal sunshine and warm temps.  With glee I am thinking about what wine to open tonight.  What a pleasurable action, to open a locker, to see what's there, what you forgot you had, the events the food the weather of the weekend in your head meeting in that moment with just the right bottle to pair with it.  Happy Friday.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sipping summer.

It was only a hundred degrees today, dig out the hats and gloves.

I had a brilliant epiphany thanks to Justin.  Justin-the-person, not Justin-the-wine. Justin stores here and in a heat-induced, sure-to-be near coma, he came in this week not to retrieve product, only to bear gifts.  A word, in the form of a small aside:  gifts are neither required nor necessary.  While I want to acknowledge there is in the species great generosity, it's not to, by any means, to suggest this be a necessary act.  It is only an acknowledged act. 

One of the things Justin handed to me was this coffee. He got it from the Saturday farmer's market in La Canada.  This one is from Nicaragua.  The tasting notes denote lemon, marshmallow and caramel with a  baker’s chocolate finish.  This coffee, when Justin handed it to me, smelled heavenly.  

It was whole bean, and I've not a grinder.  After a few phone calls to some big shot coffee places, it was Urartu on Maryland that was happy to grind it for me.  That night I cold brewed it.  

Which gave me 12 hours to ponder the nature of coffee. This coffee was not as dark a roast as my usual fare. And while I usually douse it with a good bit of cream, I thought this lighter roast, plus it being Central American - which produces coffees with lighter bodies - might be overwhelmed by that habit.  Which got me to thinking about my coffee habit.  Isn't coffee like wine ... or beer, or food?  White and rose in the summer, IPA's and salads, why am I not adjusting my coffee habit to season, and better still, why hasn't some genius, like a troglodyte or something, wandered through every coffee on earth and offered a comprehensive brand/seasonal/food pairing guide to coffee? 

So that just like, say, Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, 2014, works well with a delicate white fish, what brand coffee and what blend or varietal of theirs would best accompany what?  

I've been looking at coffee like a wine guy who, after tasting the world's greatest wine, spends the rest of his life sourcing only wine within a 1% margin of error of that.  And I get this - of course, why not?  Who wants to spend a nanosecond of precious life attempting to swallow some seasonal merit of Charles Shaw after you've experienced an '82 Bordeaux?  NOOOOOO, there IS bad wine, there IS bad coffee.  This is not about that.  It's about how legitimate, good coffee can be as seasonal and diverse as the rest of it.  

And this coffee is a lovely bit of that.  Black, it is light, delicate and citrusy, an easy summer quaff.   

Oh, right, the French Alain guy.  After getting the red out of my system last weekend, and with hope that offering a final gasp of white to the weather gods would put me in good favor, this wine was the weekend fare, a most generous contribution to the cause.  I opened it Friday and admit I am warming up to the idea of the screw cap, especially around day four.  Of M. Graillot, one customer exclaimed, "He's the man!"  

Indeed.  This wine was really just GOOD.  It was astute, tight, and bright, no flabbiness in sight.  L'homme indeed!

I inhabit a cave of great generosity.  How fortunate I am to inhabit this cave.  Cheers.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Suffer the endless summer.

Why, just last weekend,  I posted about taking advantage of a lull in the otherwise dry hot furnace that is Southern California by opening a young but lovely Kermit Lynch red blend.  RED: living dangerously! After a nice weekend I opened up Wednesday afternoon, (AKA,Monday morning), to an unusually lively bit of bustle!  It was Wednesday, it was afternoon, it was 105 degrees outside, and one of the first things declared was, "I can't take it anymore, I need red wine!"  Awesome.

Right, because while wine is seasonal, California is not. Everything but the thermometer is pointing towards Autumn:  circadian calendars, the actual calendar, the butternut squash at the farmer's market...and The New York Times.

Still, Wednesday was a good bit of fun.  I learned about Winston Churchill's dedicated love of alcohol.  He supposedly drank 42,000 bottles of Pol Roger champagne in his life time. "Churchill also drank six or seven whiskey and sodas a day, as well as three daily brandies."

I counter-offered with Andre the Giant's feat of 119 beers in six hours.

We also covered Jade Helm 15, birth wines, hoarding, 1966 Chateau Figeac, and Dollar Tree.  All this in hour one. 

And died.  For the rest of the week.  Like every one managed to rally a minimally necessary energy to hoard their way to the first snow...or something less than 95 degrees...and then burrowed deep under ground to wait.  Because it's much cooler deep under ground, every one knows it. 

Better still:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Wine and wine gadget weekend @ The Cave.

I confess, I've never understood the lure of alcohol while lolling under the sun.  This is my prevailing thought while, say, strolling down Venice Walk on a relentless summer's day and observing all the many people at cafes doing just that in the middle of the afternoon.  With my DNA, adding alcohol to the hot burning sun would only exacerbate the misery.  I am jealous of other people's DNA's for many reasons.

Which is the long way of declaring I've not opened a bottle of wine for a good while.  But Los Angeles this week was granted a fortunate reprieve, temperatures less than 90 degrees, and my first goal of celebration was to open a bottle of wine.

I meandered down to Topline (home the the world's worst website) and though Michael suggested a different option, when he wasn't looking I grabbed this. Because you had me at Kermit Lynch.

Yep, I read his book and dig his philosophy on wine, but I've never had anything he's imported.  So when I saw this, at only $999, I couldn't not.

When I got home there was a package in my mailbox from David.  David and I dated in high school, and after many years of regretting not marrying him, I hunted him down and now he and I are FB friends.  Also, he's married.  That might have been the wise choice on his part, now that I think of it.

Inside the envelope was this gadget. It was via an investment firm, so I assumed it both a giveaway and nothing too salacious, but WHAT?

There is a small opening on the bottom that pulls a suction of air through the device when pumped.  A de-zitter? 

 So I emailed David and said, I give up.  He responded that he associated me with wine.  Good association.

Ohhhhhhh, it's a wine stopper/de-airer.  C L E V E R.

 What fun at The Cave today.  Some nice intersections, a lovely bit of conversation and other naughty things. Afterwards, T. was still here and we talked about the idea of removing air to extend the shelf life of the open bottle. I understand this is what civilized people do; I on the other hand, no matter the wine, stick the cork back in and leave it at cellar temperature over three or four days. What I like about this is I get to follow the story of the wine minus intervention.  It's like buying an album versus downloading a song.

T. added that he'd read this past week about how suctioning the air can also possibly remove some of the essence in the wine. That's a curious one.

This wine might be the best young wine I've had.  It's primarily Grenache, with Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre.  For its age and its value, it's got some nice earthiness to it, and also a surprising show of what you usually get in older wine, some subtle leathery/tobacco notes.  Nicely played, Kermit.

Happy Labor Day, you have all tomorrow to enjoy the fruit of your labor.  (Do so at breakfast, it's going to heat up again this week.)