EACH COPY OF WINE. ALL THE TIME. COMES COMPLETE WITH
Milan Nestarec 'Forks & Knives' White
Varietal: Grüner Veltliner
Region: Czech Republic
Importer: Jenny & François Selections
The real reason I write about wine is because it has always been an escape for me. And not in the emotional, alcohol dependency way. But in the transportive way. I've always loved wine and writing about it because I can be somewhere, for even just a moment.
And the Milan Nestarec 'Forks & Knives' White takes me to one of my favorite scenes in the world: This photo of the Kaufmann House by Slim Aarons. I asked for this huge poster of it years ago, before I even had a wall to put it on. It sat unrolled and unframed for years, waiting for the moment I had a place to put it. Everyone asked why I would ask for a five foot poster of something I had nowhere to hang, and it was because I knew the next place I lived would have the perfect place to hang it. It was aspirational, and it still is.
I look at this picture every day, but the 'Forks & Knives' White is one of the few wines that tastes like that photo makes me feel. Like it's the Magic Hour on a perfect 81 degree Palm Springs afternoon. It has the fruitiness and acidity of an optimistic, tiki-inspired cocktail, something you would very much be drinking poolside in the early 1970's. The kind of drink that is so delicious and juicy, that you drink a few too many of, and consider becoming a swinger for a second because you're a bunch of rich people at the Kaufmann House in 1970 being photographed by Slim Aarons while listening to Henry Mancini and JESUS CHRIST, WHY NOT.
It's sophisticated, but mischievous.
Like all good hosts should be.
Tasting Notes: Looks like cloudy sunshine. I know that makes zero sense but just imagine a glass of cloudy sunshine please. FIIINE, IT'S LIKE STRAW GOLD AND CLOUDY. JESUS LET ME HAVE MY METAPHORS. Smells like Le Labo Jasmine Perfume and apples. Goes down so easy, but has a nice weight to it. Tastes like pineapple Martinellis with honeydew, a twist of lime and a hint of juniper.
Ross Test: "WAIT, IT'S GONE?!?!?!?!!" good. Watch for sediment, babe.
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FROM YOUR PREFERRED BOOK SELLER NOW
Wine. All The Time. the book is happening. Like really truly happening, no going back now, HOLY SHIT I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT ON JUNE 27TH 2017! really truly happening. It still hasn't quite hit me, even as I write this. This time two years ago, this book was barely a glimmer of a thought of a possibility. By June of 2015, I had spent everything I had emotionally and financially selling it. I had naively thought that would be the hardest part, but as it turns out, writing a book is really fucking hard. Quite frankly, I do not know how I am even alive right now considering how little I slept and how much I stressed in 2016. I probably shaved a few years off my life, but it was worth it. I'm really proud of this book, and am so excited to share it with you guys.
I've been getting a lot of questions about what the book is exactly. No, it is not a picture book (although, bless your sweet hearts for thinking I could sell a book of photos of me chugging wine) and no, it's not a memoir (also, very sweet to think anyone would read that lol).
Wine. All The Time. the book is my guide to wine, from how wine is made to how to taste wine to how to buy wine to how to drink with your boss and not get fired. It is me giving you everything you need to be a confident wine drinker, and a smarter wine buyer, without any of the heady shit. Of course, I hope the book inspires you to get into the heady shit too, but this is the book I wish had been around when I first started getting into wine. Obviously it is told in my voice, so there's lots of humor and personal anecdotes, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as you learn from it.
And! An audio version of the book will be available as well! And I'm reading it! AHH!
Also, it's so exciting to finally release the cover! Penguin and photographer Andy J. Scott did an excellent job translating my vibe, and I'm so happy with it. For those of you who have been following my writing since Tangents & the Times, you know this is totally my color scheme. Originally, I did not want to be on the cover (odd considering how vain I am, I know). I wanted it to look like an old, vintage cocktail book, but it only took like three super flattering emails from my editor and publisher to change my mind. I was nervous, but all the great friends (wines) I got to have in the shot with me really helped boost my confidence. And yes, those are the shorts. The same men's Levi's cut-off shorts I have worn for everything I've ever done for the last eight years, and while part of me believes they need to be retired, part of me is now convinced I'm actually a Never Nude.
So, there it is! My first book!
PLEASE PRE-ORDER IT! Because you love wine! Because you want to be a confident wine drinker that picks out notes of raspberry pop rocks and takes no shit and doesn't even care that you can't pronounce terroir correctly (although I will teach you how to do that too)! And because you love me? Maybe? 😁
Photography by Andy J. Scott, Hair & Makeup by Sydney Costley, featuring wines from Brendan Tracey, Vini Rabasco, Partida Creus, Michael Cruse, Scribe, Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Jean-Claude Lapalu.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post was a draft I accidentally published. While it is technically unfinished, I'd left it up for days without realizing it, so I am against taking it down. Plus I drank all the damn wine so I couldn't finish it right now if I wanted to. Though I don't wax as poetic as I would have liked, the bones are here and they are good. Delicious bones. Licked 'em clean. Anyway, my apologies for the brevity, and I hope you try the Rue de la Soif for yourself very soon. xo MAR
The Rue de la Soif reminds me of when you pull a load of laundry fresh out of the dryer and then fold it ten minutes later. It's soft, warm, and welcoming, even more so than when you first pull it out of the Whirlpool hot as hell. It's fragrant but not overwhelming, and you want to dive into it.
Tasting Notes: A cloudy, yellow sapphire on the eyes. It smells like leftovers of my grandmother's (and now my sister's) apple pie reheated the next day, still cool in the center. Tastes like fresh laundry and bruised pears, with a sturdy and sustaining lemonade style acidity.
Ross Test: Good, but has a bit of a soapy quality, making it preferable out of a glass.
Bichi "Gran Listan"
Region: Tecate, Baja, Mexico
Retailer: Domaine LA
Importer: Farm Wine Imports
It's a new year but I'm still up to my old tricks. I'm starting 2017 off with this light bodied red despite one of my resolutions being to drink more white wine. Partly because I've been saving this bottle for months to write about because I love the font work so much, and partly because the New Year doesn't really start until the first business day of the year. And mostly because I do not give a shit. The proverbial New Year means nothing to me. I don't detox, and I have the same resolutions every damn morning: drink more water and make motherfuckers rue the day.
I'll get to more white wine when it gets hot again in like two weeks.
In the mean time,
MORE RED WINE.
Baja has been blowing up as a wine region over the last couple years, but Bichi is the only natural winery there. In fact, it's the only natural winery in all of Mexico. Headed up by one of my favorite Chilean winemakers, Louis-Antoine Luyt, and chef Jair Téllez of MeroToro, Bichi is bringing little known varietals like Misión into bottles. Named for the California Missions it was historically grown on, the Misión grape is very Gamay-like and subsequently (predictably), I fucking love it.
I popped the Gran Listan and couldn't help but belting out the first line of Marty Robbins' "El Paso" over and over, much to the annoyance of everyone in my house. Literally just the "Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl" part. So, very annoying.
It was love at first sip!
Energetic and poppy but so satiny and balanced, the Gran Listan reminds me of an amazingly untrained dancer. They can't formally salsa, tap, waltz or twerk, but god damn can they cut a rug. They are having the most fun out of anyone on the floor, and their moves are so fucking smooth. Like how did they take Dad-style double-gun shooting and segue it into sexy shoulder shimmying? I thought hips only moved like that in old Skinamax movies? And were they just crip-walking? A little? But it wasn't like try hard, it was just like, really great footwork? It's magnetic and delicious, and you can't help be drawn to it.
It's the wine you wish would be at the bar on a Saturday night, and the wine you want to hang out with on a Tuesday: casual, but always a good time.
Tasting Notes: Vibrant, gauzy purple-red on the eyes. Smells like a horse running down a dusty road of sour Skittles powder and crushed roses. Tastes like cold-pressed sour raspberries, dusty roses and a touch of eucalyptus on the back. A little dirty, but oh so delightful and smooth.
Ross Test: Yes. YES. YESSSSS!
Vin de California "Sans" Zinfandel
Region: Arroyo Grande, California
Retailer: COMING SOON
I have a boss. You may know him. His name is Adam Rapoport, otherwise known as Rapo. Or as I like to call him, Rapo Dad, because I always need his approval, from pitches to projects to personally just wanting him to like me and my work because he's Adam Fucking Rapoport.
A few days ago while discussing an upcoming trip the BA team is taking out to the best coast, I was saying we needed to drink wine and he agreed with the caveat, "But we're not gonna be sitting around on your sofa with our socks sipping chard and zin..." to which I exclaimed a big "PFFFFFT!!!" [hair toss]
And now here I am, with a brand new pair of knitted socks I bought at the army surplus store after a pet-nat rosé fueled brunch and whaddddaaayyyaaaknooowww, A ZINFANDEL. Dads, man. Sometimes they do know best.
The last few years have seen an increase in usage of "juice." In the wine world, this is a noun synonymous with "wine," and used for casual conversation, describing a wine that is super gluggy, or just being a cool guy? I don't know, I don't know anyone who would be like, "YO PASS ME THAT JUICE!" but it sounds like some shit we will be hearing on the next season of Fuck That's Delicious.
But the Vin de California "Sans" Zinfandel is LEGIT JUICE. Like some serious fruit that goes down easier than a Capri Sun with two straws. Forget about 16% ABV bullshit that tastes like hot Smuckers and makes you feel like you tried a vodka soaked tampon for the first time. That is not this Zinfandel (thank god). The "Sans" Zinfandel tastes like Zinfandel is having the best Sunday of its god damn life. It's youthful and sunny, but also chill, and oh shit! It just came back from a brunch with a serious buzz and everything is possible/hilarious. It's unfussy, delicious, and you want to drink it up.
And while it is delightful to sit on my sofa and sip, what I love about the Sans is it makes me want to not do that. It makes me wish I was sipping it on a faraway grassy and fantastical afternoon with friends at the Silverlake Meadow, a place I've only been to once but haven't nearly gotten arrested there for drinking Tecates on a Monday like I have at Echo Park so I feel like it's a safer bet for chugging wine out of the bottle.
Tasting Notes: Smells like a bag of melted cherry Starbursts on a leather backseat. Tastes like a blend of pure cherry and plum juice, with hints of raspberry and Red Vines. Lightly jammy, but in the best way possible. Like great jam that you want to AND CAN jam on. It's very fine lines with jam, trust I get it. But trust me. Natural with carbonic maceration and hints of BOMB-OLEEOOO.
Ross Test: It tastes like it was made to be drank this way, as you can see by the ease and pleasure I take in slugging this shit back. Fuck glassware, drink VDS.
Total side note, but I tore a page out of my homie Charles Ford's book of drinking wine in the shower and took a glass of Sans chilled in with me this afternoon. Of all the varietals in all the world, Zin would not be the first I would think of to sip on in between shaving my left and right leg, but god damn was it satisfying. After, I put on my new socks and curled up on the couch with the bottle to write about it, and felt equally charmed, and I've been here ever since.
Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc
Region: Santa Cruz, California
Retailer: Methode Sauvage
I've had my eyes on the Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc for awhile now. And like any good crush, it was relatively unobtainable. No one would shut up about how great it was, but I couldn't find it retail and it was sold out on the website. The last six months I'd been hoping we'd casually run into each other, with bated breath and bite marks along my lips. And so when it finally happened at a tasting at Lou with Adam Vourvoulis, I tried to play it cool, but I definitely caught some feelings. Just a few sips, and I was all heart-eyes and butterflies.
Needless to say, I am very pleased that it finally came home with me.
The Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc is like having that first date and coming home and knowing FOR SURE you're destined to be together forever. Of course, nothing lasts forever, especially when it comes to bomb-ass wine, but that feeling. Also maybe the boning, but maybe not, whatever. Doesn't matter. It's still mmmmm, so good. It has this prominent, welcoming, warm black fruit that makes you feel right at home while then surprising you with a little spice, and a little levity. It's like they're wearing a very cozy wool sweater that begs for you to snuggle up into their shoulder, but they also have a great sense of humor and have you doubling over all night. There are no seams, only moments of forest and jalapeño effortlessly segueing into someone popping a fresh berry into your mouth, your tongue lingering on their salty fingertips (in a very attractive, non-awkward way I could only do in my dreams).
It's the kind of wine that makes you want to smile coyly, and bring a tuft of freshly shampooed hair to your nose while making eyes. It's the kind of wine that makes you want to drag my heels along the couch, knees knocking, thighs grazing. It's the kind of wine you can't wait to get under the mistletoe for an excuse to act on your instincts and put your mouth all over it.
Because this is the best California Cabernet Franc.
Today, and quite possible ever.
And while it may seem like a silly crush now, I am certain the Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc will be the one you spend the rest of your life thinking of.
Tasting Notes: Dark-night plum in color, with a bouquet of spicy pine, raspberry, and your favorite pair of heavy denim Levi's freshly laundered. As for the taste, I'm floored. How it is possible for briny blackberries, dehydrated green bell pepper, with hints of toasted blueberries and big flakes of black pepper to come together smoother than lube is beyond me.
Ross Test: Sensual AF
There are a number reasons I'm effectively "over" Los Angeles. It's mostly that I grew up forty-five minutes away and have only managed to ever get this far, and the constant grind of the ever-present "industry" has finally worn me down. But if there's one reason I love Los Angeles, and am hesitant to leave, it is because of the amazing wine and food community that is here. Not only because of how delicious it all is, but because of how complimentary they are and how they work together, even when the status quo says "NAH."
Night + Market has been one of the most innovative and important restaurants in Los Angeles not only for its incredible Thai street food, but for its integration of natural wines. Thai food by all 1990's Robert Parker standards was deemed notoriously "unpairable" with wine, and yeah, that makes sense. Big-ass Cabernets do not pair with much outside of big-ass steaks. But we don't eat that way anymore. Food is not governed by French classics, but by freshness and a certain litheness that emphasizes flavor without forcefulness. And Chef Kris Yenbamroong's graceful and creative yet commanding cuisine at Night + Market embodies all of that. But more importantly for our current subject, is that he recognized how well those same qualities in natural wines work with his food. His wine list is jam-packed full of natural wine fan favorites and straight up unicorns I've legit peed my pants a little over, each working with the entire span of a meal from Party Wings to Burmese curry to the Pad Thai you ordered for the sheltered one in the group (but it's so fucking good you can't believe you're about to say you love Pad Thai).
And the rest is a bit of history. No one questions whether wine pairs with Thai food anymore-- you order the spiciest thing on Night + Market Song's hot pink menu with a Clos Roche Blanche and you're in heaven. Or at least I am, as I am lucky enough to live walking distance (but far enough not to be too embarrassed to Postmates) from Night + Market Song.
So when Jill Bernheimer of Domaine LA told me that she and Kris Yenbamroong came together on a release with winemakers Thierry Puzelat and Pierre-O Bonhomme it made perfect sense. Because for me, great wine and great food have always gone hand in hand, but in a way, so do Jill and Kris. Each of them is a Los Angeles purveyor of the best god damn shit the worlds of wine and food have to offer, and it's not like you don't see them reveling in each other's respected work. It is not uncommon to find Kris at Domaine or Jill at Night + Market Song. It's the law of attraction: like attracts like. And I really, really like their release, "Golden Salope."
Essentially Night + Market's house wine, this Loire Pet-Nat is exclusively poured at the Night + Markets and sold exclusively by Domaine LA and is exclusively the Pet-Nat of all my Crispy Rice Salad dreams. No shit, I crave Night + Market's Crispy Rice Salad on the regular, and I can't think of anything that I would rather enjoy with it (or any of N+M's dishes) than this sparkling Chenin Blanc.
"Golden Salope" has a bouquet candied ginger, the glitzy sugared ones, dipped in honey with a side of basil and vased peonies across the table. Breezy but so damn classy, it is reminiscent of wafting, rich, and numbered perfume drifting on the wake into the sunset. It smells like I imagine it feels like to be hitting the high seas with Rihanna, like you're not entirely sure if you're qualified to be there and keep looking around for someone to tell you to fuck on outta here, but she keeps passing you blunts and complementing you on your bikini, and you've never felt more at home.
For how good it smells, it tastes that much better, like an aspirational best friend. Bubbly but not overwhelming, this Pet-Nat is the perfect tag-teamer whether you're crushing Thai food or breaking hearts. Bright and stunning acidity with plenty of green apples, savory pears and Sour Patch Kids powder, it's impossible not to drink the entire thing. It's as intoxicating as new friends named Rihanna, and Night + Market's food. You only want more.
But it hits another note. It's so fun, but it is also a grand gesture. This wine is a gift. While it is rousing in many ways, what I mostly take away from it is its ability to bring everything together. It is the outstretched arms welcoming you to the table of Kris Yenbamroong, but also the love of those around you. My obsession with wine comes partly from its ability to bring people together, and this is a wine you and those you love can congregate around. It is so versatile and delicious, and warm and infectious. I want dinner to last four more hours with this wine. It makes me miss the old times, and clamor for new ones. Clean but hearty, it is all that I want and all that I have, all at once.
This wine makes me feel golden and grateful, for life, love, and Los Angeles.
Tasting Notes: Please see above
Ross Test: PASS. BEST BUBBLES ROSS TEST IN RECENT MEMORY. LITERALLY DRANK EVERY DROP.
So much has happened since my last post, it would be impossible for me to know where to begin; not only because of how much has happened, but also in part because my brain is still mush from being up for thirty-six straight hours last week.
It was by far one of the dumbest things I've ever done. Strung out on caffeine, Les Capriades, and obsession, I worked for twenty-five hours straight before turning in my revised manuscript, poorly packing a suitcase on the verge of mental collapse, and then jumping in an Uber to LAX, almost puking out the window in terminal traffic from the strongest air freshener of all time and horrific, pulsating Russian club music. "I'll sleep on the plane," I thought to myself, something I would never think because I never can, but I was banking on my body forcibly shutting down and the comforts of first class we got a deal on. But then I got a great email from my editor, and started to watch Frozen for the first time (it really is that good!) and an LED light strip from the flight attendant's tiny prep kitchen area was beaming directly into my eyes, and first class on American for domestic flights apparently don't come with eye masks (or anything, I was very disappointed). So no, I did not sleep until that evening, thirty-six hours later, because life is cruel even when you're working your ass off and are in first class and trust me me when I say, I know what an asshole this whole thing makes me. Quite frankly, I don't care. I don't want to live a life in which working myself damn near insane doesn't land me in first class half dead in a fur coat.
Aside from my poor personal choices, many other things have happened. We have a flaxen-haired Chia Pet for a president-elect, and I am still suffering from some severe post-election depression. Most of us have been disowned or at the very least been harassed and unfriended by family members, and are pretty damn positive the world is going to end. Just like our grandparents and parents before us. The world has always and will always be ending. All we can do is the best we can before it actually does.
And to that I say, protest the bullshit, never accept hatred as "normal," donate to causes you care about, and drink more natural wine.
Franco Terpin "Quinto Quarto"
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Region: Delle Venezie, Italy
Retailer: Domaine LA
(Thanks for picking it out for me, Courtney Walsh!)
Importer: Critical Mass Selections
Californians complaining about the weather has to be one of the most obnoxious things about us to other Americans. But I'm going to do it anyway. It's been fucking hot for a really fucking long time, and I'm going a little nuts. Even though today was supposed to be 71, it's still too hot to wear a big fuzzy sweater and it's too sunny to even pretend it's anything but perpetual summer; something I naively wished for in my youth so, sorry guys. This is my fault.
As much as I love light bodied wines, come "fall", I long for big bodied wines that make me feel like my insides are wearing wool pull-overs while being serenaded by Tom Waits' crunchy leaf-ed voice. I want to curl up in everything, transcend into hibernation, and cross my fingers to awake in four to six months a brand new bear.
That isn't happening.
I'm bra-less in a paper thin shirt and light sweatpants and feel like I need to turn the AC on. So, it's depressingly not anything near hibernation is what I'm saying.
But Terpin's "Quinto Quarto" is comforting me in the best way possible. Chill on the outside but warm on the inside, this skin-contact Pinot Grigio is refreshing to my lips but sweater weather to my gut. It has immediately transported me to some waspy-exotic east coast dreamtown with weather-worn brick buildings, cool breezes, and piles of leaves that children dressed better than I ever have spend their afternoons jumping into. There's also golden retrievers. Because.
Usually Italian wines take me back to Italy, especially Veneto wines, but not this one. This one gives me houndstooth and hounds and Stars Hollow. Part of me wants to say, "It's because that's what I want." Maybe that's true, but also I drink plenty of wines all year that don't necessarily transport me to Gilmore Girls, a show I have only seen eight episodes of.
It's crisp but cozy, orange and fuzzy. It's a fall wine, and I think it will take you where ever you close your eyes and imagine J.Crew photoshoots of camel colored trench coats taking place.
This is one of those thinking wines, that you can ruminate on but can also ruin if you think too hard. The bouquet is off-putting if I give it more than a genuine sniff before diving into drinking, and honestly, I think it needs to be enjoyed alongside a meal. It has me craving some sort of light pasta dish, or some roasted tomatoes slathered onto some focaccia. Alone it is a little dense and overwhelming, but alas, all I have is sharp cheddar cheese, and despite its savory charcuterie aromas, I can tell you from experience that it does not pair well with sharp cheddar cheese.
But it does pair well with daydreaming of cinematic seasons, and that is most important for today.
Tasting Notes: It smells like sweaty prosciutto and soppressata, with warm orange pith and tangelo zest. Medium-light body, with a satin texture. Tastes like almost-over-ripe ruby grapefruits, stalky green herbs and hints of malty beer.
Ross Test: Do-able, but bitter. Better in a glass.