Showing posts with label Wally's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wally's. Show all posts

Monday, October 10, 2011


Maier Family Meritage

Richard Maier always shows up at the big tent sale at Wally’s in Los Angeles to personally sell his wine.  He’s there by the stack of cases - pouring, talking, autographing bottles, talking, pouring some more - all in an effort to let another city full of wine buyers know not only how good his wine is, but what a great deal it is.

The Maier Family Meritage produced at St Helena Road Winery is a Bordeaux blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot, “grown high in the Sonoma County mountains,” according to the back label.  This single vineyard beauty was produced in a quantity of only 43 barrels, and is aged for 20 months in that French oak.  Its retail price was $34 earlier this year, and I bought it at Wally’s tent sale for the screaming deal of $23.

After unscrewing the cap and pouring a glassful, the juicy aromas immediately come forward.

Currant, blackberry, a beautiful herbal underlay all jump right into the nostrils and start shifting the olfactory gears.  The aromas are mesmerizing.  The very dark fruit blends seamlessly with that herbal element.

Big tannins and graphite are set off by a strong minerality.  There’s a greenness on the palate,too, which matches that on the nose.

The wine is probably a bit young yet.  The tannins are quite forceful, and don’t really settle down as a couple of hours pass.  Perhaps due to the tightly sealed screw cap, the second night showed much the same aggressiveness.  On the third night I enjoyed this Meritage, I got sneaky and unscrewed the cap the night before.  Now, a note of tar appears on the nose and the tannins are more manageable, but still quite firm.  The green, herbal quality on the palate now takes a back seat to the driving force of the big, juicy, dark fruit.  On the finish, notes of chocolate remain.

Do yourself a favor and decant this wine for quite a while before drinking it.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Monday, March 14, 2011


Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre

The tent sale at one of my local wine shops - Wally's, in Los Angeles - is an event to which I am always drawn as if by magnetic power.  They could have the sale in the store, but it just wouldn't be the same even if the prices were.

Something about the carnival atmosphere produced simply by throwing up a big tent over a parking lot holds large sway over me.  I'm sure others feel attracted to tent sales, too, or there wouldn't be so many of them.  For me, though, it's only the one at Wally's where I find myself under the big top twice a year.

I see some of the same people there on each visit.  It's always nice to stop by Richard Maier's stack of wine cases, on top of which he is always pouring tastes of his rich Maier Family wines from the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain.  A guy named Anthony is usually pouring some Argentine delight or another.  And I swear the shoppers I see cruising the tented aisles - whose names I don't know - are as familiar as my neighbors, maybe more so.

The big thrill of the event is discovering new wines, of course.  One such thrill is the Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre.

Produced in the town of Fumane, near Verona, this big red is the first of my most recent finds I've tried, and it made the trip worthwhile.  This wine utilizes Corvina and Rondinella grapes.  A majority of them are vinified right after harvest, but some are sent to the drying room, Amarone-style, before being vinified in January.  Then the wines are blended and aged in oak barrels.  This estate-bottled wine has 13.5% abv, and lists for $22.  I picked it up for $16.

This Italian beauty is inky black in the glass.  The raisiny character promised on the label certainly comes through on the nose.  A huge element of dried fruit greets the nostrils, not smelling sweet at all, but very fruity nonetheless.  There is also a tar aroma.  The wine is very dry on the palate, with a full, hearty mouthfeel that’s more like a beef stew than a beverage.  That dried fruit plays on the palate, too, with a raspberry angle.  After a bit of breathing time, the tannins are silky smooth and the acidity is bright.

Go ahead and keep your in-store sales and online deals.  Finding wines like this makes me keep my eyes open for tents.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Cimarone 3CV Syrah

The “tent sale” that Wally's Wine and Spirits throws every now and zin on Westwood Boulevard is a huge attraction for me.  I just love the whole “circus of wine” atmosphere that big tent over the parking lot produces.  And, as I have mentioned before, I love a bargain.

The biggest bargains at the tent sale are usually found on the highest-priced products.  50% off an $800 wine still leaves it a bit out of my neighborhood.  But even if I'm only saving $3 on a $20 wine, that gives me something else to feel good about.

Not that I needed much more to feel good about with Cimarone's 3CV Syrah.  This estate-grown, Santa Ynez Valley wine is a joy from start to glorious finish.

3CV stands for Three Creek Vineyard, which is where the fruit is grown.  Syrah clones 877, 383 and Noir are gathered for this limited release.  The fruit is certified organic.  My bottle is marked as “0514 of 6900.”

Roger and Priscilla Higgins, owners of Cimarone, hired the right man for the winemaking job.  Esteemed juiceman Doug Margerum made a name for himself when his family bought Santa Barbara's Wine Cask, then formed his own company, Margerum Wine Company.  He also makes wine for Barrack Wines and Cent'anne, in addition to Cimarone.  He's a busy guy.

The fruit is from the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County.  3CV Syrah is aged ten months in neutral oak and has 14.5 abv.  The 3CV label is Cimarone's outlet for younger, affordable, early drinking wines.

The nose of anise, pepper and plums is quite enjoyable.  It's a dark purple that's difficult to see through.  The taste of black fruit and earth is lush, and it's compounded by the smoothness of the wine.  The tannins are like silk, but it has a great acidity and is nice and dry.  This wine drinks great immediately, and it takes on a bit of a tar component if left open for two or three days.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Urraca Chardonnay (2007)

I tasted a fantastic wine at Wally's tent sale Friday.  It's from the Mendoza region in Argentina, Urraca Chardonnay 2008.  It might not have even been made if the grower had sold the grapes, as was planned.  At the last minute, he decided to make wine with them instead.  He said to his General Manager, "the worst that can happen is we drink the wine."  From my standpoint, the best thing that can happen is we drink the wine.

It smells and tastes like Champagne without the bubbles.  Toasty nose, toast and citrus on the palate, the wine saw oak for 6 months.  It's a thing of beauty.

Wally's Wine and Spirits in Los Angeles can special order it, according to Urraca's General Manager, Jean-Pierre Bieri.  He poured the wine for me to taste.  Bieri will be at the Wally's event throughout the weekend with his Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, but ask him if he has any of that great Chardonnay hidden away.

If you'd like to contact Wally's about a special order, the store is at 2107 Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles.  Call them at 310.475.0606.  Maybe if they get enough calls, they'll put it on their shelves, where it belongs!

Ed. - Please excuse the incorrect vintage depicted in the image.  I rushed off to something else without getting a shot of the 2008 bottle.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Deep Canyon Cellars Rosé

Deep Canyon Cellars  is a house label sold by Los Angeles wine shop Wally's.  According to Wally's website , "the group who produces it for us also makes one of the most expensive wines in the world, but that's all we can reveal!"  Very coy.  They do reveal that Au Bon Climat produces their Chaparral Chardonnay, so it's hard to dispute the quality of the name behind the label, whatever it is.  The grapes are from Santa Barbara County and, if memory serves, the price tag was about $12 for this rose.  It's made from Sangiovese.  I had this wine a couple of summers back, and it was delicious.
The nose shows a lot of fruit coming out of the glass, strawberry mostly.  I also detect a bit of a raspberry note.  The mouthfeel is a little heavier than most rosés.  If you don't mind that, and I certainly don't, you have a very refreshing drink that sips almost like a red with good acidity and a nice finish.  It's better chilled than not, so I would think it's well suited to summertime quaffing.  I find it gains a bit of complexity after it's been open a few days.