Working The Bottle To The Bitter End

Highlighting one wine this time: The Château de la Charriére Beaune 1er Cru Clos Des Vignes Franches. A 2011. It’s one of these rare wines that comes across my way that doesn’t drain my soul. Meaning it’s relatively inexpensive. And delicious from end to end –– this is something we will touch upon in a moment.

For, I have a problem with my frugality. What’s the problem? If I spend over thirty dollars a bottle, my knees shake and I feel much too woozy, like a diabetic running a Cookmarathon. I wish I could say I was exaggerating. I’ll blame my parents for indoctrinating me with the simple equation I’ve come to know well: Money Spent = Sin/Devastation/Sadism/Masochism/Deviancy. Oh, and I won’t even go into my state of mind when I buy organic food (!).

And organic wine? Are you mad? I can hear my mother fainting from two states away. And there. What’s that sound? Why yes, that is the cry of my grandmother in her grave craggily imploring me to “stop that right this very instant! Do you know what you can be doing with that money? Do you?”

A personal psychoanalysis aside, there are some lip-smacking, bright and simply gorgeous wines to be had at terrific tariffs. The ’11 Charriére carried its weight well, being scrumptious from beginning to end.

Now, many (okay, all) wines evolve as the night unfolds. Some start off quite happy only to turn dark and brooding after a few hours. Others are harsh, exhibiting an acidic rush, only to loose it all and feel hallow and sugar-laden thereafter.

Eric Asimov is at it again –– showing everyone up in the wine writing world, causing us to question why we even try to begin with. He’s crafted a wine drinking course, of sorts, that he hopes many will participate via a thread on the New York Times website. The idea is everyone will buy one or more of his recommendations and then log in to elucidate on just how they experience said wine.

Sure, it’s a great idea; after all, there’s never been a discussion online where disagreements end poorly, or with verbose hatred clearly defined in ALL CAPS. I suspect everyone’s opinions about how they experience wine will be treated with declaration and the utmost respect.

What’s intriguing to me about wine is that it evolves. Mr. Asimov points this out well enough. The most keen of us pick up on it. Others don’t give two hoots in hell. But if you choose to ignore, I’d argue, you are missing half of the fun. Wine is a very temporal experience. It’s all over the place, a very tumultuous fire child; it’s what The Animals were really signing about with their cult-ish and youthful lust cull, “Wild Thing.” (Challenge me if you will on that assumption).

With the grand majority of the wines we purchase, most open life a fire bomb and fizzle out just as quickly. It’s the new thang of the wine world, am I right? You open, say a Shiraz, and it has this way of screaming in your face. You are enraptured by it at first, but then find out you’re too old too keep up with it and you leave it by the wayside. They’re damn exhausting.

A good wine works when you open it. It works when you’ve come to the middle of it. And it works at the end of it. A good wine makes you want to open another. A good wine dares you to miss it. Greater wines do the same, but challenge your intellect in the process. A wine with god-like muscularity does all of the bellow, but seems utterly bonded to its dichotomies. Great things push and pull you. They should never bore you. Rather, they engage you. We seek out these wines for the same reason we seek out anything else in our lives.

God. I’m a wino.

This would also send my grandmother flopping around her grave.With respect, of course.

2011 Château de la Charrière Beaune 1er Cru Vignes Franches – $27
A solid, grounded sort of nose. Firm, lovely. And long draw of elegance.
Silky-smooth butter over the tongue. A good tannic base with a balanced mild fruit. Lip smacking and inviting. Very enjoyable. A terrific pinot that begs you to keep going.
Worthy. Very Worthy.



2011 Ravens Wood Teldeschi Zinfandel

\Hello again,

A quick review of our last bottle we opened last Sunday. Ravens Wood has some nostalgic flair for us; an ’09 Zin of theirs was one of our first bottles we opened, of which we took especial notes on paper for “serious study.” That ’09 gripped our nostrils, captivated our minds, and made us true fans of Zinfandel.

Such young palates.

I’m kidding, I’m sure it was great.

How does their 2011 Teldeschi Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley stand against our utterly infallible memories?


2011 Ravens Wood Teldeschi Zinfandel – $23
Taking a whiff, it all but confirmed that this wine had some head. Alcohol and plum on the nose. The rest of what could have been detectable was drowned out.
Juicy, tannic and overbearing. There’s a lot of bombast present here, which sadly hides what the Zinfandel grape can offer. It’s a great glass, but anything beyond that sends your senses reeling. Upon tasting the next day, the alcohol became more timid and the berries seemed to express themselves more. Decant for a day, and you’ll find some pleasing nuances. But, I’d have to say, skip this one.

Italian Erotics (Italian Tasting)

March the 2nd. K & L Wines, Los Angeles California. Yes, 2014. The Italian tastings. I’ve gone through a fair share of Italian wines. Many have come to me saying Italian offerings are “fair,” merely worth some mention. Some mention? Such derision never quite added up to my experiences. I’ve never pressed my wallet when it came to Italian wines of any ilk. And it never hampered my fun in the least bit.

Even the flattest of bottles had some redemptive qualities. I’ve found all but, perhaps, a handful, to be quite dashing. The bottles always had this up-front personality that was more debonair that skittish. Tuscany? Chianti? My response was always more “yes, please,” and less “I’ll save the rest for tomorrow evening.” But why was there a lack of confidence in the consumers I had talked with? It certainly was never exhibited in the wines themselves. And hasn’t Sangiovese been well-regarded as of late? Surely, it’s a great comeback story, like Sean Connery in the nineties masquerading in action flicks or like marijuana after the film Half Baked?

One must investigate such pressing matters. Someones liver needs to take this hit. It may as well be mine. Luckily, an opportunity was presented by K & L Wine merchants. I drank a liter of water, feigned a migraine (so my co-workers would not think less of me) in order to leave work just in time, and proceeded to Italian Bliss (Which sounds like onItalian Eroticse hell of a worthy erotic novella title).

2007 Cantina Sociale Copertino Riserva – $15
95% Negroamaro, 5% Malvasia Nera A game/oak nose. Lively. A sweetish must linger on the tongue. And easy drink, milky-silky quality. Light with hints of Cherry. Pretty Fun.Worthy.

2011 Rocca Di Montegrossi Chianti Classico – $20
90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino A very bright nose. Some Strawberry, hay, black-forrest jam. Tobacco and forest woods presence. A dry finish. An acidic bite. A rough and young wine, but fun. I do believe, worthy.

2010 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico – $18
90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo, ” ” Colorinio A smell of mold and a Sunday afternoon bubblegum. Candy and Fizz dominates the palate – a sweet that was left over from the nineties. A little dark, and abrasive. They missed the mark here. Eh, sé la vie. Skip it.

2011 Poggiarellino Rosso di Montalcino – $17
100% Sangiovese A heated, alcoholic (think, your grandfather) smell. A blustering mango, cherry redolence. Tastes young,  sharp attack on your mid palate and leaving a zing-like linger as it descends down you throat. Inviting, and would accentuate a spicy dish. Some medicinal funk, like Walgreens brand Nyquil. This one is on the border. Skip It.

2011 Sesta di Sopta Rosso di Montalcino – $23
100% Sangiovese A fatty, gristle campfire smell with a fermented quality, like Kukicha tea, Most unfortunately, and quite deceptive on the nose’s part, a sweet kind of mess. “They went too far.” They had no hope for their wine so they juiced it up like Captain America (something too weak always tries to compensate). Skip it.

2008 La Velona Brunello di Montalcino – $33
100% Sangiovese A light peck of lemon grass in the nose. Very delicate and lovely. A race-y grass and saline funk. Slightly sweet. A class act with a cape and a mustache. This is a good deal of fun. This is funk done right. Some real harmony is showing through the glass. A whole bottle would be interesting to investigate. Worthy.

2008 Poggiarellino Brunello di Montalcino – $30
100% Sangiovese Smells like Mt. Doom (on a good day, less dead bodies, more volcanic activity). Fire, coal and stone nose. A smooth elegance. Graceful. Everything seems to creep across the mouth like a kid reaching for a cookie while his mother sleeps near by. There’s a real balance between the acid and fruit. Forward, yet reclusive. Some smoke integration. They really got something here. Worthy.

2008 Sesta di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino – $45
100% Sangiovese A fresh, buttery and eclectic nose. Hot sweet, somehow feathering out over the tongue. This really is a tight affair, really having its shit together. This is like The Beatles during the Abbey Road sessions; pulling, pushing, working it out and coming out with something great despite all the tension. Hell of a wine. Worthy.

(vintage?) Bruna Grimaldi “Camilla” Barolo – $30
100% Nebbiolo An octane filled nose with fresh, and wet, cedar plank. Hints of nutmeg. A certain holiday comes to mind. High in acid, a little too much of a bite. A dark slice of sweet, blood-red grape. Not a lot of fun to drink, considering the price. It would have been right at, say, $14. Skip it.

2009 Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia – $70
100% Nebbiolo A bright strawberry full of a myriad of lovely layered sheets of wow. This is a Fruit Roll-Up all grown up. You could lose yourself in this kind of nose. Spectacular. A sweet that’s wholly embraceable. Some level of utter flavorful bombast. Hot and slick. Strawberry fruits and tar. Exhausting and refreshing. This wine is full of serendipitous dichotomies. My kind of wine. It’s bound to be most people’s kind of wine. There’s a finesse here that should not be missed. This wine restores my faith in wine drinking. Worthy. (I’d buy several if I could afford it.) Aging potential (8-12 years).