• Life has been odd lately. I think I’m heading in one direction and then the earth heaves beneath my feet tossing me in another direction altogether. I thought for a short while that wine would be pushed to the back seat for the time being, and then out of the blue plans changed. I moved from Los Angeles to the North Bay and then just moments later the Earth shifted and I found myself rolling back down the Pinball machine smack dab in the same city that I left… in the same area no less. It was a strange and unexpected turn of events. Even more so is the fact that I could very well be working as a sommelier for a new restaurant in Beverly Hills that has a wine list so extensive that even if I tasted one wine a minute for 24 hours I wouldn’t be able to finish tasting through the list.

    So, I am suddenly pulled back into this madness. Just before I went out for the sommelier job I was asked by a friend (who is living in Berlin and opening his own restaurant) to write a book on restaurant experiences and how to properly train the front of the house staff when opening a restaurant. Sometimes life is bizarre and in those instances of weirdness I try to take a step back and see where the path will lead me. In this particular segment of time I see lots and lots of wine in my future. I’ve been a wine director and a sommelier off and on for a decade. I have also been a wine buyer for a grocery store for a few years, and a wine writer for over four years. Since I am well versed in this occupation, when I was asked if I wanted the job I said will I be tasting wine? There are several reasons for asking this question. The biggest reason is that a sommelier who doesn’t taste his wines is unable to provide the emotional component needed to enamor the guest. You could fake it like in When Harry Met Sally, but it’s not the same and you have to base your feedback on the experience of someone else. Another reason would be because I enjoy wine, and I would like to assist in the selection of said wine. Imagine how many wines your average wine drinker will taste in their lifetime.

    If the median life expectancy is 84.3 minus 21 for the age you are allowed to drink (at least in California) then that’s 63.3 years of drinking. Multiply that figure by 365 days a year and you get 23,104.50 days of drinking. If your average wine drinker tries one wine a day that’s a lot of wine. I tried at least that many wines in just four years when I was the wine buyer for the grocery store. Each wine is unique with a story to tell, and I like collecting stories.


    mission wine


    Speaking of wine tastings, I went to a few recently with friends that had some killer wines. One of the wine tastings was at Mission Wines in South Pasadena. The first wine that Chris (the proprieter) poured us was a Txakolina from producer Amestoi located in the Basque region of Spain.

    2013 Amestoi Txakolina (around $20)

    Hondarribi Zurri and Hondarribi Beltza are the two ridiculously named wines that found their way into this wine. At first sip your mouth screams and then puckers up as if you had just sucked on a lemon wedge because of the obscene acidity present. Afterward however, the wine starts to grow on you. It has a light spritz that is characteristic of the region’s style. On the palate was some grapefruit and lemon that hung around long after each sip was gone. It’s an odd wine, but we all enjoyed it.

    The second wine we tried was an Austrian Riesling that rivaled the Txakolina in acidity. It was a Riesling produced by Gobelsburger.

    2013 Gobelsburger Riesling Kamptal Austria (around $15)

    Winemaker’s Notes:

    This primary rock Riesling comes mostly from vineyards less than 15 years old on the Gaisberg and Heiligenstein slopes.Young vines tend to yield more grapes and are not so deeply rooted that they can represent the clear character of the soil. Therefore, the varietal character stands out more here; less so the character of the vineyard. Beguiling bouquet à la vineyard peach and Gravenstein. Streamlined and playful. Quite powerful on the palate with generous extract and balance, and completed by crisp acidity. Very good length. This deserves a special accolade as an optimal light­style Riesling.

    We tried three more wines, but the last two were icky so I’ll spare you from those (yes, icky is the technical term for poor quality wines). The former however was delightful. It was a Schiava from Trentino­-Alto Adige a wine region in Italy.




    2013 Kalterersee Keil Schiava Alto Adige, Italy (around $20)

    This grape varietal has long been one of my favorites. It’s so light in style that it resembles a Beaujolais Nouveau. I tout it as a red wine for wine drinkers that don’t want a commitment. It would have been even more delicious had it been about ten degrees cooler, but regardless it was a fine specimen. Light in color the Schiava had a palate of red cherry and plum, light tannin and body with good acidity and a medium finish.

    It was a delightful tasting on a lovely afternoon. I guess what you can take away from this post, aside from wine knowledge, is that if the Earth rolls your feet out from under you and you feel like the last running citizen of Pompeii just before being immortalized in liquid magma only to be rediscovered a thousand or so years later by archaeologists who may or may not give you your own spot in a museum, and that look of terror on your face that is possibly made of obsidian would reflect flash after flash from the cameras of thousands of tourists or maybe just locals that like museums or they could even be from a fashion show that uses the museum as a backdrop… either way if you feel like that then buy one of the aforementioned wines, crack it open (or use a corkscrew), put your feet up and relax with a glass of goodness.

    Author’s note: the above run-on sentence was intentional. In fact, it was meant to be said aloud in one breath so you would sound completely exhausted by the time you are done. If you are reading it in your head subvocally it should be read in one thought process until your brain is exhausted.

    Editor’s note: the author is a nutter.