Sunday, April 13, 2014

Friday's Reward.

What would a troglodyte ever do with "apps?"  Or X Box 360, which I had to Google just to be sure I was referencing something from this century?  Okay, Google Glass could be kind of cool, but The Cave ecosystem is fueled by something even better. 

Accidental Intersections. 

A gentleman once declared to me in his several here years he's never seen another person.  It can go like that, but so can the opposite.  When that happens I look for opportunities, shared passions I might know, and then introductions will occur.  Other times I realize if I introduce The Accidental Intersection it will be a much worse accident.  A good troglodyte pays attention and knows these things. 

After a day with no activity and a week that would soon wrap up,  a most lovely intersection today, one of different cultures and generations but of similar manner, and introductions were a pleasure. A most lovely way to end the week, one that reminds you your good fortune.  AGAIN. Cheers.

(PS, yes, we're a bit over run with boxes.  During shipping season they are like bunnies.  We keep them so people can use them. Soon they will be gone.)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Trader Joe's Free Wine Tasting.

I left The Cave recently and wandered into the Trader Joe's on Third and Fairfax, across from the Farmer's Market.  It opened mid-May, 2012.  It's the first time I've been there.

Quiz: pretend you are a professional troglodyte or otherwise oenophilically obsessed.  You walk into a large space you've never previously been.  What's the first thing that catches your eye?

That's right!

In the interest of science and all things troglodyte it was my duty to further explore.  Here's what I learned:

Trader Joe's now has 40 stores with free wine tasting, including this one at 3rd and Fairfax.  It is within a designated area, a mini saloon about the size of my apartment in NYC, or perhaps a corner news stand.  While in there I was getting cozy with three other sets of elbows.  You enter through the swinging doors, show your ID, and get a free plastic Robitussin cup of wine to sample. There are three wines daily, and you are welcome to sample all three, once, and then you must leave, hopefully with a bottle of something you just sampled.  The woman next to me walked away with two bottles of the three. It is "open" 12 - 8 daily, and during this eight hours only one person pours to assure no double-dipping. There is also free cheese to cleanse your palette between swirls.

On this day I sampled only one of the options,the middle one, the Cotes-du-Rhone red.  It was: inoffensive, simple, clean, unmemorable; a fair enough daily dinner wine.  I did not walk away with a bottle.  The gentleman pouring that day was very kind and answered all my questions.

It would be that week that Gil stopped in.  After sousing me good, he raided his locker.  Now, lore has it when Trader Joe's began in 1958, it had a pretty good wine department.  Also, original TJ's had secondary buildings on the property that were wine storage.  The Eagle Rock store recently tore theirs down when it renovated.  When Gil came out with his wines, this was in the mix, a 1982 Chateau Croix de Bertinat St. Emilion. For it he paid $3.49.

There is a bottle of this being auctioned off on superior French e-bay. (American e-bay doesn't allow for wine sales unless pre-approved). 20,00 euros is being asked.  That's like $28.00 US. If you adjust for inflation - the bottle would now be around $7, not horribly dissimilar from what you can get now.  Maybe it was before 1982 that Trader Joe's was known for its wine. Still, I'd be curious to know how this one drank. 

Chances are if you are buying wine at a Trader Joe's you're not bringing it to dinner with William Koch.  Still, TJ's customers might have greater peace of mind about their purchases.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I saw this on The Tweety today and learned a new word: Frankenpastry

I'm blaming all this on McDonald's McGriddle, but the cronut and the duffin are probably only part of a forever trend just hitting its stride. 

Where will it end?

This article was also on The Tweety, Angel City Brewery's (DTLA) new Mexican Cola beer. The article also references something called a "diesel," a mix of Coke and Pilsner beer. 

Which got me to thinking about our Kalimotxo tasting, a Basque fave with equal parts wine + cola or 7-Up. Recently, Wine for the Win was partying in Buenos Aires and posted about their predilection for Champagne and Red Bull.

Wine for the Win also posted this one about Red Robin's newest menu item, the 'Mango Moscato Wine Shake.'  It's made with vanilla soft serve, moscato-flavored vodka, and moscato wine.  While that sounds questionable, the Guinness ice cream float sounds fantastic.

Prisoners already have the Pruno market cornered, where we seem to be heading,  Act Now!, early investments are wise investments. Until then, The Scuffin.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rainy days and Mondays.

In Cave time, Wednesday equals the world's Monday and 2 p.m. equals the world's 8 a.m.  I would say 9 a.m., it seems the world was once a 9-5 sort of idea, but everyone I know seems to start at 8.  The leaf blowers across the street start around 6: 30.  A.m.  Awesome, but I digress.  So that when your resident troglodyte comes to work Wednesday @ 2 p.m., that is equivalent to much of the world beginning their workweek Monday at 8 a.m.  Monday at 8 a.m. gathers a workforce in commiserate fraternity: the weekend is over, now gather we to our shared drudgery. 

Wednesday at 2 p.m. has no such fraternity.  It has a world in full swing, both in week and day, chomping at the bit.  There are no sympathies and there is no easing into it. There is only gamble: everyone will descend, someone will descend, no one will descend.

Around 4 a.m, just before I finally called it a "night," clearly the gamble had been made:  no one will descend. 

In the best of ways I was very wrong. 

Very soon after opening today, look who graces us with a visit.  Gil! Gil (along with Mr. Day) built The Cave.  Gil has wine here still ... minus one.  It turns out Gil is a very bad influence. 

By 2:30 this place was bustling, and I got to introduce Gil to quite a few people.  "This is Gil.  He built The Cave."  What a privilege to be able to say that.

The wine gone missing was a 1993 Raymond Reserve Napa Valley Cab. Gil was here a few hours looking for it.  I helped.    The early California cabs - well made, sturdy, they hold up over time and drink well.

Tough job, this drudgery, but someone has to do it and that privilege is mine.  Cheers, Gil.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wine springs eternal.

While the east coast had its coldest winter ever, California had its warmest.  Thus, to speak of spring here is relative, a mere matter of degrees.  We celebrate it nonetheless this weekend with this stuff,  2002 Sea Smoke Gratis Chardonnay.

From K&L website, "The Sea Smoke 'Gratis' Chardonnay is grown exclusively on Sea Smoke’s Estate Vineyard and receives the same care and attention as this highly esteemed Pinot Noir. Gratis Chardonnay is Sea Smoke's way of telling their direct customers 'thank you for your support!' This wine is only distributed as a gift by Sea Smoke Cellars, and it was not available for purchase."

It was, indeed, gratis, the definition that is "given for nothing." It was an all too kind donation to the cause. Clearly spring brings out the insane in people.

This really good.  I love this wine. This this must be what they mean when they talk about the minerality of Burgundies.  I've never sat around sucking flint or other rocks, but I have had rust in my tap water, so, you know. Also, nice acidity action.  Awesome.

The previous two weeks I had two wines I've previously commented on, clearly "previous" is the theme here, an Oberschulte Syrah, 2014 this time, and a 1999 J. Hofstätter Pinot Nero Alto Adige - Südtirol "Barthenau" Vigna S Urbano.  Two very differnet wines, the first one is big and fat, the second light and easy.  Both were enjoyable. 

2009 Domaine de la Janasse Côtes du Rhône catches us up.  I neglected to take a picture of the label, this is from CellarTracker. It was from the infamous Zachy's order, and I must say there have now been three in a row I've enjoyed, including this one.  (The other two were the 2009 Rocca di Frassinello Le Sughere Maremma Toscana IGT SuperTuscan Blend and 2009 Chateau la Vieille Cure Fronsac.)

This one: Cherry, dusty plum, light tobacco, very nice.  

I don't want to be too foolhardy, but I think this crazy wine thing just might catch on.  What next, Bitcoins?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Where in Glendale to get your cheap wine on.

This looks hopeful.  It was in front of Pierre Garden. It's on the corner of Wilson and Maryland. It carries a French-Mediterranean menu...and features Chateau Shaw du Charles, perhaps?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

No, I'm not drunk.

A quick bit of sentimentality, (ugh!), from The Cave.

It's Sunday after 7 p.m. and that means The Cave is now closed.  Sunday in Cave time is Friday in terra-firma time. TGIS.

This Sunday began at 11 a.m.  Who in their right mind does anything at 11 a.m. on a Sunday that doesn't involve a newspaper - the papery/oily kind - coffee, and a whole lot of laziness? I had to set my alarm to be here at 11 a.m., that's who!  While stumbling through the bright light of mid-morning another text came in for early entrance today.  Nice timing! Three people were here by noon, all very busy-busy-busy. 

After moving to Napa two years ago, Tim is finally transferring his wine there (,*sniff*). David was here seven hours trying to figure out his "system." Ed came in from Palmdale to spend time organizing his locker.  Christopher came in later for a few hours to do the same, plus the usual others.  Today was a huge amount of Cave energy, Cave activity, and boxes spent.

What a great way to end the week.  The Cave is busier these days.  The Cave bustles.  But what The Cave really does is continually surprise me with its generosity.  What a rare and wonderful Cave I inhabit!  I am a  very fortunate troglodyte.  I am the most fortunate of them all.

See you next week. For this one, thank you, and Cheers.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wine infographics

If you are on The Tweety, you can follow The Cave @CaveWineStorage. WARNING: DON'T FOLLOW THE CAVE ON TWITTER!  Though the world's greatest The Cave (in Glendale), a storage facility is not an action packed endeavor. The only thing here less active than your resident troglodyte is the wine.  I at least go to the bathroom sometimes.  Riveting stuff!  Tweet-worthy?  Not so much. 

Twitter has benefits. You curate your own daily newspaper by whom you choose to follow. The Cave follows 48 people as a way of staying current with various local interests and businesses, food and wine, and my niece who is getting her masters in Marketing at Northwestern.  Smart kid. 

Some people I follow on Twitter baffle me.  I don't know who they are but they are ubiquitous and well-followed.  I know who Robert Parker, Jr. is.  He has over 59 thousand followers.  The Cave has 19.

One person I follow has about 9,500 followers.  I have no idea who she is but clearly she's somebody. Recently she posted this picture.  It's a learning device.  Wine is complicated and I am stupid and this is meant to simplify my efforts. I have no idea what it means.  If I read the source, I have every idea what it means, but then why don't I just read the source and skip the picture?

This is actually a nice photo, clean and simple.  The same person posts many Wine Infographics, and they are each more confusing than the last.  


(click on images to enlarge)                                     What The?



Trader Joe's was the first wine infographic I saw.  Quick, clean, I know what it's telling me and with only minor flaws: the wine is from Trader Joe's.  Also, the three "Meals" represented are Pizza, Stir Fry, and Sushi. Random and funny.  Unless they extensively researched their shoppers and discovered it's neither of those. The Trader Joe's Wine Guide is also simple and well presented. 

Still, if you insist, all those posters are available for purchase and suitable for framing.  I'm pretty sure at least one of them can double as a subway map in most cities.  If you get on the blue line and go seven stops you'll be in "Lively."  But watch out for the purple line: it goes from flabby and spineless to harsh and bitter.  Lousy vacation! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Case of the Akadama Port Wine poster, 1922.

(*click on images to enlarge*)
Google has this cool thing where you can run a search on something by uploading an image.  I sometimes upload random things to see what it spits out.  Maybe nothing on your image, but it will give you a handful of what it deems similar images, equally interesting/entertaining.

I used it recently to find out more about this image, something I saw recently while perusing the interwebs.  Assuming it an ad, I was curious about the copy.

Certainly not definitive, here are a few things about it as far as I can tell.  

This is an ad for Akadama Port Wine.  It is Japan's first nude advertisement and, utilizing new technology, first photographic advertisement.  It was published in 1922. 

The woman in the poster is Matsushima Emiko. This essay refers to her as being an opera singer, and this book refers to her singing in/for something called the "Akadama Review."

In a country not legendary for its wine, Akadama Port wine was a concocted blend of grape juice, alcohol, flavorings and sugar

I think the poster merely reads, "Akadama Port Wine."

Pages 334 - 344 (and footnotes) of this book by Jaqueline Berndt fleshes out the story of this poster.

With Google Translate, I am not certain but think this is a photo of Ms. Emiko with her poster.  I think she is in her nineties, here, but no longer on earth.

Akadama newspaper ad, January 11, 1920, via David LeFrank.

via eBay, another vintage Akadama label, era unstated.


                                      Current Akadama.   

If interested:
Some of Japan's beer ads, 1894 - 1954
More vintage Japanese ads.

This is the screenshot of what Google deemed visually similar to the Akadama Port Wine poster.

I drew this.

Google thinks it looks mostly like this fan belt.

 But these also qualified.  Borderline genius.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2009 Rocca di Frassinello Le Sughere Maremma Toscana IGT SuperTuscan Blend

I cheated, I cut and paste the title.  There is such a thing as too many words. Not mine, of course.

Last night, loveliness came in twos, both unexpected which only adds to their charms.  After an unusually busy Wednesday-Thursday, The Cave settled into a quiet weekend. Towards the end of Saturday, Crystal came in clutching this mass of weed.  "You like Nasturtium, don't you?"  Like Twinkies to meth, I declare!  It grows wild in her yard.  If you are fortunate enough to have Nasturtium growing anywhere near you, EAT IT.


Also, I opened this Friday night, a 2009 Rocca di Frassinello Le Sughere Maremma Toscana IGT SuperTuscan Blend.  I'm cleaning out my Italian wines because they've been so fickle and this too was only okay.  Last night, however, it was really just lovely, like a different wine entirely, deep and rich and inky. Really pleasant.

You know that thing where you spend the day at the beach and even after a shower, dinner, and hanging out you can still smell sun and beach on you?  I swear to gods I was lying in bed in the middle of the night smelling Nasturtium.  Nice night.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Glendale Vineyards.

(click on images to enlarge) I was waiting for the light to turn green on Wilson at Central, maybe Pacific, when I noticed this sign attached to the pole, Glendale Vineyard.

In April 2011, Katherine Yamada, history writer for the Glendale News Press, introduced us to George Le Mesnager, vintner and distiller extraordinaire.  His land holdings started with 1,300 acres  and would later become Sparr Heights. 

In September 2011, Ms. Yamada follows up with George and his family's life in wine in what would eventually become Deukmejian Wilderness Park.

November 2013, Ms. Yamada mentions the existence of vineyards again when writing about Kenneth Village, stating that "Vineyards, citrus orchards and commercial gardens covered most of the land."


The sign I saw was south of all these areas. I was curious to what it referred. 

I emailed Brittany Levine, knowledger of all things Glendale AND all things wine. Brittany blogs Wine for the Win.  She emailed this map to me which was an eye opener.  Adams Hill, Sparr Heights...but who know Glendale had so many neighborhoods?  Certainly not this troglodyte.  Half of The Hotel Glendale, home of THE Cave, sits in City Center, and half sits in Citrus Grove.  So how did all this come about?

Next email: the City of Glendale.  Since the link Ms. Levine provided had a Glendale city address, maybe they'd have more information in places I wasn't finding any.  The answer received back from poor-emailer-who-has-to-deal-all day-with-fools-like-me Tamar Hadjimanoukian entirely exceeded my expectations.  There was time spent on this email, and all that follows is from that. 

From a 36-page document seeking historical status for a house on Doran between Cantral and Pacific, in the Vineyards neighborhood,  page 12 reads, 

(Small aside: to peruse what was being built during this era, here is a fascinating link to the pre-fab  houses sold by the likes of Sears and Montgomery Wards.  In 1923 Sears offered a model called The Glendale.  If you look at the lower right hand corner, it states "This house has been built at East Chicago, Ind., Monroe, Mich...." and other cities in NY, NJ, Pennsylvania, but no mention of one built in Glendale. Also, there are many Glendales. Curious after which one this model was named.)

The second link Tamar provided was a 20-page document entitled "Come Home to Glendale."  After providing some useful resources and reasons why Glendale is such a swell town, we get a historical synopsis of each of Glendale's neighborhoods.  This is from that document.

(FYI, not only did Tamar send me these links, but all the stuff I screen captured Tamar typed out.  Crazy, right? AND a city worker, what's wrong with this person?)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2009 Chateau la Vieille Cure Fronsac.

I've more than once quoted this tidbit from Matt Kramer: "If you love wine and you’re buying anything decent—let’s say any wine that costs $20 or more—you need to know that the odds are extremely good that the wine you’re buying today will taste better, and be more rewarding to you, if you stick it in a cool space for a year or even five or 10 years."

This is about two very simple things: affordable wine and wine storage, which, it turns out, is also very affordable.  You can store 144 bottles of wine for only $162/year at The Cave,  so you buy a $20 bottle of wine and for the price of one Charles Shaw it'll be a markedly better experience.  This is the most ridiculously underutilized culinary feat I can think of.

Late 2012 I bought a case of wine from the east coast. It was a case dedicated to the wisdom of Mr. Kramer, a mixed case of affordable mostly Bordeaux wines.  These were all selected based on the provided descriptions, ratings and price, each around $20.

Sadly, when it was shipped to California it became trapped in a delivery/customer service vortex that lasted 19 days and two heat waves.  While I know cooked wine isn't a good thing, my palate isn't sophisticated enough to detect all of wines potential problems.  It tastes like wine, it doesn't, I like it, I don't; that about covers it.  What I do know is I've not been WOWED by any of my selections, and I consider this a product of my ignorance rather than the sun's blistering abuse.

I've dedicated 2014 to drinking the wine from this purchase. I figure finish the thought, cut the losses of my ignorance, and move on. Towards that end I opened this weekend a 2009 Chateau la Vieille Cure.

I declare, it was delicious! How did that happen?

It had a bit of a watery beginning but then came some nice spicy things with a big, jammy finish.

I don't know why the watery beginning, someone who knows things would.  In wine ignorance is not bliss, it's expensive and frustrating.  There are moments, though, when it allows you to take something on its own terms minus imposition that also matters.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It was a day like any other.

The Cave is a random endeavor and then, suddenly, a whole lot of randomness occurs all at the same time.   These are our best moments, accidental intersections that tumble and bloom and become. 

And then someone came in to get wine.  So far, unremarkable. It happens a few times a week, at least.  Then someone else came in to get some stuff.  Then they started talking, and by the time that was done they and their wives were going to get together for dinner.  The first person left.  A third person came in.  I realized the third and second person needed to meet, and introduced them.  I realized this because sometimes I actually remember what people talk about and I think, oh, this person should know that person.  This was one of those times. 

And then this happened.  Then everyone went home.  Pi is fun, but to watch these moments become is a privilege.