Two months to the day I have been out and about in Los Angeles. I’d like to say I’ve had work the entire time, but it would be a lie. Yet, I’ve been writing; the writing has been doing me good. I may not be making a financial gain, but the words our pouring out like MD 20/20 into the toilet––as quickly as possible.
My money is not gone. Not yet. I had made my way south, through the city of sin and charged past hell itself (read: the Mojave desert), established residence and still have some credits left. The lack of a job has given me the time to eat and drink well; grand, nightly, meals cooked at home; and lonely, homesick nights left glazed over by a two glasses of wine. It’s been an expensive, rotten deal thus far. It would be unfair to say it has all been in vain. Characters are built this way, both for myself and on the page.
I had made far too good a living back home, apparently. The pay was fair and the hours commendable. Yet the pay was too exorbitant for what I had generally been doing for a living: stuff. Lifting stuff, sorting stuff, odd-ball stuff, whatever was barked at me kind-of-stuff. It worked out for me. It got me though college and assured my petite wooden frame was fully stocked with frugal wines. But because of my wage back home, there is a great deal of reluctance to hire me for less money here. I’d take any amount they would wish to give me––which they never seem to believe. I only need the bare coinage to live until my writing can speak to someone. I am aware this may never happen. Fantasies are fantasies for a reason.
This has made for some interesting discoveries, vinously that is. Each bottle seemed to fit the mood of the particular evening I choose to open them. For instance, on a night that was riddled with some literary angst and a truly awful (Spielberg!) film during this selection…
2012 Mirassou Vineyards Pinot Noir California – $8
Thin, flabby and too sweet. No sense of mouth feel. Overall, pretty disappointing and not at all what a pinot should be. I could not help but be recalled, while drinking, of insipid muscato. There’s far better inexpensive (read: cheap) pinots out there for the price.
There were several days where the writing came slow. The mind would only allow for a few spurts of words here or there. A sentence came together during the best of it. It may have had something to do with being shunned being hired by a grocery store and a doughnut shop. A bad doughnut shop.
When you think the wine will help, make sure it is a good wine. A bad wine can only let you down. It will never alleviate you. The feeling of alcohol is only as good as the mood you invest in it.
2011 Rosemount Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $9
Not appalling, but hardly worth a shout out. Some fig and nectarine. Otherwise, very flat and having a factory-laden tinge overall. A good bottle when it’s on sale. But it does not sing, and it can’t help but be weighty in all the wrong places. It’s a brat in Nepal without a guidebook.
In desperation, gambles are often taken. My gamble was paying an ungodly sum to attend a so-called “Pitch Fest.” This is a hotel ballroom that hopeful screenwriters are horded like cattle into and sent to meet one uninterested party after another.
Producers, agents and managers do a good job of putting on a smile; they’re nodding along to what your saying is all rather well rehearsed. I did a fine job pitching my tales, something I thought would be a lost cause. Yet, in the end I saw the festival for what it was: an excuse for the ones already in the business to nosh on some free food.
I was one of the myriad of entertaining faces, like a particularly express owl monkey. The parade lasted two days, each of which was ten or so hours on the feet. After, experiencing that, you feel tired and empty, the kind of empty you feel when spending too long in town when there’s a good hill you know of that could be trekked well and alone and entire. Your mind is far too gone, far too hopeful, to think of food. But opening a good bottle you know will be worth it by its region alone is never out of the question.
2011 Red Diamond Malbec Mendoza – $8
The nose, taste and linger are all very cursory. The Black Diamond malbec hits all the right notes to be a labeled as a brooding wine, but doesn’t quite hit any other interesting cymbal. Take it as it is: a fun little romp down a Spanish hill that you come running off of and say to yourself “Yeah, that was alright. Where’s the next hill?” It’s lucky it knows well enough to have a zest.
A good friend of mine who had moved back to L.A. some years back found out I was moving down and bought me the next selection. And, by the way of the topic at hand, wine is the best gift to give someone during or after the weary of their travels. I would venture as far as to say it’s a gift of transcendence: it says much, at great volume, very personally. It did not hurt that the wine felt like a little piece of home, a wine I knew by name, a wine that is famous for being featured (by origin, at least) in a great film, and an even better book.
2009 Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Pinot Noir – $17
A strong, musty nose; game and flowers. This pinot had back bone; being very young but not very bright. I was reminded more of a flashy cabernet sauvignon more than a pinot. There was no lighter distinction between sips, no evolution. All the flavors limped along, however it was tasty and refreshing despite the tannins and pale suggestions of stone and loam. This wine may calm down in a few years. Though, I would not count on it. Take it as it is: a pinot like Zoro, strong, but a little too normal when the masks off.
There was a pleasant Sunday where we explored the Toponga beach up towards Malibu. It was a quiet walk. The beach turns into nothing but conglomerates up North, but if you catch the tide low, it’s walkable enough. Although my feet were never meant for bare trekking so sores came soon nonetheless. This did not spoil the mood. It’s hard to be displeased at the beach, especially when there is little talk; because to only talking you want to partake in at the beach is always of the calmest, easy sort. When waiting for the evening’s bread and wine, it’s best to spend your time looking at the horizon, where time melts. A good four hours in to our time there, the bread was surely raised enough from it’s twenty hour proofing carried on from the night before.
2010 Silver Palms Cabernet Sauvignon, Redwood Valley – $15
A cool breeze kind of nose, very floral with hints of cinnamon and other holiday spices. Really very nice. On the palate, not a great deal of heaviness, although it filled out nicely. The peach / cinnamon dichotomy prevailed. A very tasty wine that didn’t blow me over in the end, but it’s an extremely pleasant quaff.
Being in Los Angeles, I’ve been wondering where all the wine enthusiasts were. I have not seen many outside the K & L wine store up near Hollywood and Highland. In the grocery store, there was a striking woman who was studying the labels of the selection most curiously. She might have been one of the Bacchus worshipers I was looking for. I had asked her what she looked for in a wine and only got an odd look. You don’t talk to anyone in L.A., I noted to myself. But she gave a kind shrug and pulled the next selection out for me. “This tastes alright.”
2011 Callaway Vineyard Select Merlot – $8
A sweet, manufactured oak nose. A stale was the redolent undercurrent with some pepper. In the mouth it was stretched and trying to be more than it was with the sweetness. It didn’t know it could be a merlot. There’s better merlots for the price, surprisingly. Yet, it was drinkable as long as you finish the bottle during the night it’s open. It does not do well the next day.
We had hauled with us a few wines from our last homestead, which is the following selection. It was the last wine we had from home, and it was bitter sweet. I don’t get emotional, so the wine had to be emotional for me. It was clean, fresh, and ultimately assuaging.
2010 Mas Ques Volques Volcae X Rhône Red Blend – $20
Cedar and wet loam on the nose, a lot like a dark forest with pangs of menthol. On the palate is a crisp, but heavy and wide wine. There was a good deal of blackberry and cocoa. It’s stone-like heavy tannins in the back made the wine a little abrasive after its second glass, not very becoming, and rough around the edges. But it has a certain high-octane appeal.
Apologies for the longer, letter-esque post. It’s one of those times in life, the time you are drinking more and neglecting the smaller aspects of ones life like writing a wine blog when I should be continuing to write my scripts. C’est La Vie. Even if some of the wines featured here were not all good and well, they were still appreciated.
But I feel this is ending on an extremely bitter and somber note. That’s not life. To correct this I’m going to present one of the best wines we’ve ever had under twenty dollars, something mind bending and transformative. It was in the “last call” bin, so I suspect it’s a dying breed just about anywhere. I advise you to pick it up. The wine set my mood straight for a week as I found myself laughing again at the most trivial of things, like a old woman who was blasting Tupac (and singing along!) down the Coastal Highway 1. Now, I’m normally a Frank Vignola kind of man, but Tupac hit the right chords with me that day. The connection between the two will never leave my mind. More woman past seventy should listen to rap, most notably, The Roots or Beastie Boys.
2010 Delas Féres Crozes-Hermitage Les Launes, Syrah – $19
Like the must of farmland concentrated into a barber shop, the nose will throw you. It’s not an all together pleasing wine to sniff, but the surprise comes in the taste. On the palate was a distinct vivacity, a very sumptuous, velvety texture that was delicious without being fruit heavy. A very smooth drink with a peppery, light, tannic base in the back. It’s a fun wine that fills the mouth without being overpowering in any sort of capacity. This is really a stand out wine for the price.
Off again into the world of frugal colonics.