Y’know those Miller High Life commercials where the delivery man walks into some high-falootin’ gathering or another and takes back all the beer, basically because the prevailing class dynamic isn’t plebeian enough? That’s what I like to call “keeping it real.” The Winos employ a similar technique whenever we’re asked by our friends to lend our presence and expertise to an event they’re throwing: we make sure that the assembled guests get the full Wino experience. We don’t allow anyone to just drink the wine… we insist that they interact with the wine. We keep it real.
Dylan’s friend Debbie recently asked if a couple Winos could come pour some wine and talk about the organization at her swanky partay, which was to be held at the Beverly Hills Country Club. Andrew and I happily made the trip, as we figured this would be a great opportunity to shake some hill-dwellers out of their vinous complacency. We brought along a pair of excellent Burgundy-styled bottles in order to ensure that the conversations we’d be forcing people to have would be stimulating ones.
The white that made the trip was the 2006 Talley “Oliver’s Vineyard” Chardonnay (Edna Valley), which boasted a classic California chard bouquet — albeit one that skewed towards the lighter, more “lemony” side. Notes of vanilla cake and flower shop also made appearances, as did a certain “baked goods” character. Andrew has a nose for oak, and he picked up a lot of it here, but he thought it was nicely-integrated.
On the palate, the Talley really showed its woodiness, and Andrew found himself a bit overwhelmed. “A little too much oak for my taste,” he said, although he complimented the “lemon cake” notes. I didn’t have any problem with the oak — but, then, I like a nice woody Chardonnay. I also found that there was definitely enough crispness present to really balance the oak out nicely. Submitting the wine to a little extra cooling really made that vibrancy shine, and Andrew agreed it was tastier after a soak in the ice trough. The Talley is a Chardonnay for lovers of all things Californian — and, as for those oak-o-phobes in your group, just tell them to put a chill on it.
Representing the red side was the 2005 Tudor Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands), the current vintage of which had been a favorite at the Santa Lucia Highlands tasting earlier that month. An extra year in the bottle really gave the ’05 an opportunity to settle into itself, and it showed on the nose, which was replete with brambles, spice, cranberry and cinnamon. “It’s like one of those scented candles,” observed Andrew, “but in a subtle kind of way.”
The palate offered a lot of the same characteristics. Dried fruit, baking spice, and even a touch of woodsy autumn leaves were all perceivable to the attentive tongue. I also picked up a touch of that bitter root character, which I always love, so props to the ’05 for being nuanced. Andrew, for his part, appreciated the combination of the relatively light body with all of the intriguing dark flavor notes. I agreed — it’s always a pleasure to find a Central Coast Pinot that not only nails that classic Burgundian recipe (light body, earthy flavors) while simultaneously offering up some “new world” fruit, but also manages to keep it all in balance. The Tudor’s crisp finish went on and on, and the wine was a big hit with the assemblage.
Admittedly, a few of the guests were a bit surprised (if not quite annoyed) to find themselves being talked to about the wine. It’s a sad fact that some people have grown used to simply consuming nice things without really thinking about them, and I found myself unable to keep insinuations about “old dogs” and “new tricks” from floating through my head. No worries, though — a new generation is on the way. It’s an inquisitive generation, too, a generation that’s been raised on information and curiosity, a generation with a clear understanding that wine is something meant to be discussed as its inebriating agents start pumping through one’s veins. Young Winos here and elsewhere are going to be keeping it real for years to come.
The Young Winos of LA — edutoxicating Los Angeles since 2005.