Monday, July 21, 2014

Wowzer Pinot Noir from Toretti's Family Vineyard

During a short vacation up north we visited several Costcos along the way.  I spied the object of today's review at their Santa Maria location and thought about buying it but passed. After we left, even though I'd never heard of Toretti's Family Vineyard, I kept thinking I should have bought it because it seemed interesting.  Don't ask me why some wines look more interesting than others; they just do.

Well, I was redeemed with a second chance at the Goleta Costco.  That same wine was sitting there in the bin. There was another bottle that looked interesting too. Being that I had already bought some bottles earlier, I decided I would just get one.  I asked the guy in charge of the wine department which one he would recommend, saying I was looking for a more Burgundian style.

Without hesitation he pointed to the Toretti bottle, telling me it was a good one. Not one of those overblown fruit bombs. So without hesitation I purchased it.  This was back in May.

The other day I popped it open.  Good recommendation!  This is one mighty fine Pinot Noir that has plenty of varietal character. I guess I ought to specifically identify it - the Toretti's Family Vineyard Pinot Noir Inocencio Pinot Noir, 2009, Santa Barbara County (there's a picture of the label below).

I sensed it was going to be good when I saw the color - very light, somewhat translucent, like a Pinot Noir ought to look, rather than those opaque things that California likes to produce. The aromas - like the title of this post says, wowzers. It had that barnyard funk but very well integrated with strawberries and other red berries and an earthy character.  I just loved swirling the glass and waving it under my nose.

The promise of the color and the aromas followed through to the palate.  Nicely concentrated flavor, great backing acidity and a long, sort of peach pit minerally aftertaste made this all in all one really nice wine. The good thing is I am writing this after only consuming the first 1/4 of the bottle so I have my three 187 ml shares left to enjoy.  Of course the wine could just fade away over the next three days but I doubt it. I got so excited about how good of a Pinot Noir this was that I had to write about it right away.

The good part: it was $18.99 at Costco, a total bargain for a Pinot Noir of this quality.  I don't know if they have any left.  It is still available from the winery but there it is $44.00.  Is it worth $44.00?  Given what wines of this quality and character cost these days, especially from smaller producers, my answer is yes, it is. The Costco price was just a very fortunate bargain for me but this wine is worth what the Toretti family is pricing it for on their site.

This is a darn good wine and it has the acidity and balance to last longer but it sure is good now.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


In my last post I mentioned how some of the wine-related links on my blog were out of date. Just now I went and cleaned them up so what you saw in this blog yesterday ain't what you are seeing now.

Over half of the links were deleted. A couple of them changed URL's so I updated those. I am glad to see that El Jefe of Twisted Oak is still writing his twisted blog posts albeit at a different web address and also with less frequency before.  I hope he isn't untwisting himself.

Some of the sites still exist but haven't been updated in a long time.  I was sad to see Dr. Debs Good Wines Under $20 site hasn't been updated since 2012 (almost as sad as my not even realizing this until just now since I haven't been keeping up with reading wine blogs), since that was always good reading.

Wine marches on, though. There's a whole slew of blogs out there that are waiting to be discovered and I need to get back into things.  Every day is so busy I barely have time to write this one, though, much less visit other sites but then that's probably a sign that I need to get my priorities straight!

Quick wine review - just finished the Kirkland 2012 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, and it's a very nice bottle especially for a very reasonable $12.99.  No point in holding it, this is ready to drink now.  I noticed that over my normal four tastings that the aromas seemed to subside a bit and the oak got a little more prominent, but overall everything remained in balance.

Aromas of ripe tropical fruit and blossoms were pleasing to me, and they carried through to the palate. The fruit, oak and zippy acidity balanced each other and it was just a nice, tasty wine to sip.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

more conscientious

As I have said before, and those of you who visit this blog regularly know, I tend to post sporadically. In bursts.
 In the beginning I was on fire, posting left and right but then I ran out of ideas and got stale. Then I slacked off and didn't post for long periods of time, even over a year.

 Just recently after another prolonged bout of apathy I started posting again and I'm gonna give it the old college try and be more regular about it going forward.

I was looking at the "wine related links" on the left side of the page just now. They've been sitting there unchanged for who knows how long, and who knows if they are all still valid? I confess that in general, I haven't been keeping up with other wine blogs and that's another thing I need to be more regular about.

One thing I do know - that sizable vertical banner featuring Budo Kun, courtesy of Domaine547, still works. I visited the site the other day and wow, has that wine shop grown since the day I put the banner on this blog. I don't know if Budo Kun is even around anymore, but Jill has got some truly great wines in stock that are well worth seeking out. I wish her all the best because she's a really nice person who has succeeded in a difficult business.

I also visited wannabee wino's site and she has truly achieved winodom! Sonadora's another super nice person who would be my model for how to faithfully keep up a wine blog.

I'm going to have to clean up the rest of the links and just leave whatever still exists. Meanwhile, y'all come back now, hear?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

coffee filters for wine?

With my standard practice of splitting a 750 ml bottle of wine into four equal parts to drink on four successive days or evenings, I never take the time to decant anything. Some bottles throw a sediment, which I carefully try not to make a part of the liquid I pour into the three 187 ml bottles for later, or the wine glass for the day.

I've wondered what the effect would be of using a coffee filter to weed out the sediment as I pour.  Would the filter affect the wine?  Googling this question results in various pages on which people have wondered the same thing, but I figure nothing beats first-hand observation, right?

Recently I purchased these filters from Amazon.

They were chosen after reading several reviews in which people praised them for not adulterating the taste of their coffee like bleached filters did.  These were the most "natural" I could find.

My "testing" was done with filtered water poured from a Camelbak pitcher.  The steps were:
  1. Rinse a clean glass with the pitcher water.
  2. Pour a sample of pitcher water in the glass.  Smell it and taste it. 
  3. Pour out the remaining sample and rinse the glass again with pitcher water.
  4. Pour pitcher water into the glass but through one of the coffee filters.
  5. Smell the water and taste it.
  6. Repeat until satisfied I could make a valid conclusion.
What did I find?  The pitcher water had no aroma and no taste other than the taste of plain water. When I poured it through the coffee filter, there was definitely an aroma. Not strong but noticeable, like the filter paper. The water still tasted neutral, however, and the aroma dissipated quickly.  It wasn't a matter of my nose getting used to it as after I let it sit and came back to it, there was still no smell. 

My conclusion: the filter did add odor to the water but it blew off quickly.  If it does the same thing with wine then I should be okay.  I haven't tried it with wine yet.  I'll do that and report on it next time.

Now, how did the coffee filter do with filtering out particles?  I used another filter and poured some finely ground spices into it, then poured water through the filter into the glass. 

Visibly I could see no spice particles at all in the water in the glass but the aroma of the spices was very strong. They didn't go away, either.  The coffee filter seems to prevent the particles from entering the glass but my guess is microscopic particles from the spices are washed off by the water and permeate the coffee filter. They are too small to detect with the eye, but the nose isn't fooled. 

Not a truly rigorous scientific experiment, but nonetheless enough for me to conclude that perhaps it would be safe to use a coffee filter to prevent sediment from entering the glass.  Like I said, I will do this with some wine and find out what happens.  I used water first since its taste is neutral and any filter effects should have been more evident. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

some short stemware

Actually the title of this blog post is misleading but don't sue me.  It's really not stemware.  It's short, but there's no stem - which is the main reason why it is short.

Normally I don't like to drink wine out of a glass that has no stem.  This latest trend towards stemless glasses is not popular with me.

Nevertheless, I ended up buying a couple of stemless glasses recently.  I couldn't resist. They had a nice shape and they cost only $1.50 each. I found them at Daiso, which is sort of the Japanese equivalent of the 99 Cents Only Store that is so familiar to us. Unlike the 99 Cent store, however, there are items of various prices although most are $1.50 and all are pretty cheap.

Here's the glasses (click the pictures for the full version, then click outside the picture to return here):

The shapes initially attracted me and when I saw the little insert that said it was "European Thin Glass" and even better, "Ultra Thin Glass," I couldn't help but inspect them.

Indeed, these both had thin glass and the ultra thin was thinner than the thin.  Here's a view from the top so you can compare the thickness:

No Libby's soda bottle bottom thickness glasses here!  These are thin and light. Being that they cost only $1.50, I don't have to be paranoid when washing them, either.

I plan on using them when (if) the weather gets cold. So far this summer has been so hot I expect it to only trail off slowly in the winter before getting hot again.  It's ridiculous!

I'm a sucker for a nice wine glass.  And a nice glass of wine.