Wine Makers

Wines to Pair with the NBA Finals: 2018 Edition

NBA Finals Oakland. One of my favorite versions of the bustling metropolis, the ever-evolving, the rapidly extravagant city that (as of now) hosts the 5 time Champion Golden State Warriors. Even Ice Cube was at the Lake Chalet in Oakland this morning, signaling that everyone wants a piece of this amazing city and that Today will in fact, be a Good Day. Now without further ado…

Wines to Pair with the 2018 NBA Finals.

China Klay

I’ve heard it said, the most dependable, possibly the best player on the Warriors squad is “China Klay.” After letting it all hang out over his two week stint China this summer, Klay Thompson taught the world what it’s like to ‘do you’, and absolutely slay. And while I hope Klay refrains from the Dim Sum over the next few weeks, I feel perfectly comfortable watching the Finals with a batch of soup dumplings and a bottle of Celler La Salada ‘Roig Boig.’ Roig Boig is a hodge podge of indigenous, nearly extinct varieties from the Penedès region of Spain. Farmed and vinified organically, made in the Petillant style and so delicious with dumplings I’m surprised China Klay wasn’t spraying it all over the Rockets Locker room.

The Steph Shimmy

I named our sherry flight at Bellota after Steph Curry, so it only makes sense to drink the sherry while we watch our boy do the shimmy. For a delicious bottle of briny Manzanilla, look to Alexander Jules ‘8/41.’ Alexander Russan is an importer, a winemaker and an extremely proficient sherry barrel selector. He scours the Sherry Triangle for exceptional sherry barrels, buys them from the sherry house solera and bottles them for my (and your) consumption. (Should any of these words confuse you, reread my previous Sherry blog.) We have this wine by the glass at Bellota so be sure to quaff some down bar-side before a game.

The Hamptons 5

I have high hopes for Iguadala’s return, so when the Hampton’s Five takes the court this Finals, let’s all get fancy. I myself have never been to the Hamptons, but were I to go to this popular seaside celeb hangout, I’d take a delicious bottle of Envínate ‘Palo Blanco.’ The Palo Blanco is made from 100 year old vine Listan Blanco, grown of the steep hillsides of Tenerife, Las Canarias. It’s a relatively rare wine, more thoughtful than most celebrity types and such a great example of terruño you may not even notice Kanye West walking past you. Rumor has it, it may even be the wine they drank when seducing Durant into playing with us. We may never know.

The LeBron Show

Fine fine, LeBron James is kind of an anomaly. And after four finals and a number of Christmases together, he knows how to show off for the Warriors. When its time to sit back and watch him get crazy, I’ll be sipping on a grippy, muscular glass of 2013 Clos Martinet from the Priorat. Dark fruit, tobacco and slate to answer back LeBron’s uncanny ability to put up so many points. Hopefully my dad will have grilled up a steak and my dog will have readied her earmuffs.

The Big Win

Whether LeBron gets crazy or not, I’ve got to count on another Oakland win. For this year’s festivities, I’m drinking a bottle of Clos Lentiscus ‘Xarel.lo Xpressió.’ Winemaker, Manel Avinyó adds rosemary honey from the estate’s Bee Farm to start the secondary fermentation- giving the wine a creamy, bees-waxy flavor and texture. White flowers, jasmine, rocky terruño, herbs and a delicious nuttiness make up the flavor components of this champagne style sparkler. Last year I was in Spain when we won, silently crying and yelling from my wonderful accommodations with my friends at Succés Vinícola. This year, I plan on popping the top off this sucker right here in Oakland- just as soon as I see Steph kissing that Larry O’Brien Trophy. GO DUBS!!!

 

PS- All of these wines are on the wine list at Bellota, which is where I work now, which I swear we’ll talk about as soon as I get time. I’ve missed you.

 

Blogged At: Bellota SF

Soundtrack: (Spotify Radio)- Flow with it (You Got Me Feeling Like)

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Wanderlust, Galicia

I’ve mentioned before that Galicia is one of my favorite places on the planet, and hands down one of my favorite wine regions in the world. Often overlooked for San Sebastián or Barcelona, this autonomous community in northwest Spain is lined with beaches, inundated with rivers, packed with green hills and mountains and stocked with some of the best seafood in the world. You could spend weeks here hiking, beaching and eating your weight in pulpo, but here are my personal tips (in no particular order) for experiencing one of the best vacations Spain has to offer. (more…)

Fazenda Agrícola Augalevada and My Life as a Professional Translator

Galicia is one of my favorite places on the planet. The beaches, the green hillsides, the mountains, the rivers, the pulpo(!) and, above all, the wine all come together to create one of the most beautiful experiences you can find in Spain. Right in the middle of Galicia, a stones throw from Portugal, where four different rivers meet, lies the region of Ribeiro. In this relatively small wine region sits a tiny plot of the only biodynamically farmed vineyards in the Ribeiro and the wines of Fazenda Augalevada. (more…)

Matías i Torres. Island Time.

Matías i Torres is a tiny operation set in the small town of Fuencaliente, on the island of La Palma. La Palma is one of the 7 Spanish-owned Canary Islands, a collection of mountainous, volcanic islands formed by the Mid Oceanic Ridge** that sit about 70 miles off the coast of Africa. La Palma is relatively small in size, and its topography is all over the place. Lush, green forests sit just up the hill from black, possibly active volcanoes. Banana plants, a major export, line the edges of the island. Vines sit directly on top of the soil here, and the bright green and yellow branches pop against the porous, black volcanic rock. The water surrounding the island is an indescribable color of bright blue, also amplified by the charcoal volcanoes and the black sand beaches that line the shore. It is an incredible place, and for now, less inundated by tourists than its fellow Canary Islands. (more…)

Celler Frisach- Drink, Drink, Drink

Bodega Celler Frisach is in Corbera d’Ebra, a small town in the region of Terra Alta about two hours southwest of Barcelona. Corbera is your typical 1,000 person community. Everyone knows each other, everyone says hi to one another and at some point throughout the day everyone occupies a seat at one the two cafes on the town’s main drag. There are even a couple cool bars in Corbera, one of which I’m particularly fond in that it reminds me of a dive bar in Missoula Montana, Al’s and Vicks, for which I hold a number of heart-twisting feelings. (more…)

Clos Lentiscus, Wild Thoughts

Last week’s Catalonian travels took me to Penedès, the land of Cava for a vineyard tour, an aura reading and a tasting at Clos Lentiscus. Clos Lentiscus is a biodynamic operation run by brothers Manel and Joan Aviño. They produce both still and sparkling wines made from an assortment of indigenous varietals.

The Bodega and vineyards of Clos Lentiscus are historic, wild and energetic. They sit in the Protected Parc Natural of the Garraf Massif- a coastal mountain range south of Barcelona, between the towns of Castelldefels and Sitges*. The vineyards are surrounded by forest and planted around the 1,000 year old Mastic tree (Pistacia Lentiscus) that has become their trademark. Coastal marine wind is a major component in the freshness of the wines here. It blows through the vines, combats the summer heat and regulates temperature and acidity. They are Bio-D to the fullest extent. Poop cones, moon cycles, quartz crystals and dowsing rods are just a few tools that are used to find minerals, water and energy in the vineyards. The vineyards are trimmed as needed by local sheep and the Bodega’s horse, Ringo (a favorite Beatle of mine.) They farm their own colony of honey bees, both to pollinate the vineyards and to make honey for dosage in some of their wines. Fennel and wildflowers grow throughout the vineyards. Water basins are left out for the wild boars, a calculated solution to prevent them from eating the grapes. The wines are natural- no herbicides or pesticides, no chemicals, no added sulfur- and every one of them is on point.

Winemaker, Manel Aviño drove me through the vineyards and the nature park, taking me to high elevations to experience the wind that blows up from the Mediterranean and to look over the various landscapes of the Penedès. The Bodega itself is lined with amazing antiques- shelves of old stemware, an armoire for which my mom would murder, a tiny room full of ancient amphorae. The wine cellar is dark and capacious, a place for the wines to hibernate before they are hit with dosage and smacked back to life again. Before tasting the wines, Manel even used the dowsing rods to check my aura, something I’ve never had done. I was thoroughly frightened for the public inner beast reveal, but he simply told me I read “strong woman”- so we’ll leave it at that.

The wines benefit from radiant aura of their own. From the still xarel.lo to the vintage dated sparkling samsó (cariñena) they are lively and enthusiastic. A couple favorites were the Greco de Suber Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature- a método tradicional sparkler made from malvasia de sitges, the local variety of malvasia. Dry, refreshing and focused with a hint of fruit and white flower. Also the Sumoll Reserva Familia, a sparkling monovarietal Blanc de Noir made from the indigenous sumoll grape. A little more savor, a little more pensiveness, still knows how to party. Whichever bottle of Clos Lentiscus draws you in, grab your crystals, get your boots on and pop a flower in your hair. You are about to have a wild good time.

 

*Pro Tip: Sitges has a pretty fly beach. It’s a little touristy, but there’s a bar that serves a nice Aperol Spritz and manages not to interfere with the overall atmosphere. The train will take you right there, but I parked easily in the surrounding neighborhood. Great for swimming and chilling the F out.

Blogged at: Miriam’s flat, Gràcia, Barcelona

Soundtrack: DJ Khaled, Rihanna- Wild Thoughts (possibly on repeat)

 

Succés Vinícola and the Power of Positive Energy

There is a lot of emotion that goes into making bottle of wine. You feel it when you watch someone drive through their vineyards the morning after a hail storm, when you watch someone trimming vines at 7am and continue to work until they are wrapping up cases at midnight, when you see a winemaker smiling after hours of talking about and pouring her/his wines at a tasting. We’ve all got our shit, but good, passionate winemaking emits a vibe that gets passed along from the vineyard, to the winery to the glass. As a somm, this enthusiasm is transferable on my end, as well. The more I believe in a bottle of wine, the more I smile and sing along to Beyoncé while I’m pouring someone a glass, the more people genuinely dig it. It’s a powerful energy, my fellow humans, and along with a little abv it can really make ya warm on the inside. (more…)