March 23, 2006

In Vino Veritas


Yes indeedy, it's Funky Llama Wines. The ad copy pretty much says it all:

Meant to be fun and not complicated, Funky Llama is rich in fruit, low in price but not lacking in complexity. These wines are amazingly well-made, and they will hold their own as your new house wines no matter which flavor you end up liking the most. So just have fun! Get a little funky! And don’t make wine such a big deal. Remember, wine isn’t worth any hype at all, if someone isn’t enjoying it!

That's us Llamas: Weird but cheap. Let's party!

Yips! to Chef Mojo.

Posted by Robert at March 23, 2006 01:27 PM | TrackBack

Llama Wine -- easy enough to get them in the grape press, but a bitch to filter out all that wool after fermentation.

That being said, pretty neat that they make a Malbec. You don't see that every day.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 23, 2006 01:36 PM

Yes, but the fact that they refer to it as a "flavor" makes me deeply suspicious.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at March 23, 2006 01:40 PM

There are a few Oregon wineries growing Malbec, mostly in the Umpqua appelation. Abacela Vineyards is one, and I know from having their other varietals, including Tempranillo, that they make good wine.

Posted by: Brian B at March 23, 2006 02:11 PM

I bought a bottle of Malbec recently from a Sonoma Valley winemaker. I don't have my notes with me, so I can't tell you off the top of my head which one, but I'm doing posts on my recent wine excursions over at my place. I'll post it when I find it.

Sonoma and Napa are like wine heaven. The Mrs. and I bought bottles of everything from Sauvignon Blanc to Shiraz Port while we were there including Malbecs, Tannats, Cab Francs, a Moscato Frizzante, and more fine red Zins than I'd believe were possible. We went to about 15 wineries in 3 days -- from tiny craft ones to huge, industrial ones (Korbel). Great places if you have time and love wine.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 23, 2006 03:02 PM

I don't have the time or money to go to California, but there's plenty of great wine being made right here in Oregon, and there are some wonderful wineries within an hour of where I live. Mostly it's Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but you'll also find Pinot Gris, Gamay Noir, Baco Noir, Malbec, Syrah, Marechal Foch, Pinot Blanc, Tempranillo, and some wonderful blends.

We don't produce the VOLUMES of wine that Napa and Sonoma do, but I'd match our best wineries against theirs in terms of quality any day. We're on the 45th parallel, and have the right climate, soil composition, and terrain for excellent wine making.

Posted by: Brian B at March 23, 2006 03:27 PM

Never been to Oregon, but I believe you.

I'm also fond of some of the wineries in upstate NY. Mostly whites; some very good Chardonnay and Rieslings from there.

Their winters are fairly severe; they have had Cornell genetically engineer some of the major varieties of grapes to survive the climate. They've been pretty successful.

I'm considering getting some for my backyard.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 23, 2006 04:32 PM

You really should visit. We do well with Riesling and Gewurtztraminer too.

This conversation inspired me to post, but the Mu.Nu trackbacks don't like me.

Posted by: Brian B at March 23, 2006 04:41 PM

Woohoo! I have recieved "Yips!" And it only took me a bottle of wine to get them! Just goes to show what the Llama Lifestyle can do for YOU!

Posted by: Chef Mojo at March 23, 2006 04:56 PM

I'm frightened by any wine that comes in "flavors."

Posted by: bobgirrl at March 23, 2006 09:30 PM

All the complimentary comments about CA and OR. wine - ssssshhhhh!! Hasn't anybody had a REAL wine, like a 20 to 30 year old Bordeaux from a great year? There is no comparison to New World wines, even though the words used to describe it might be the same.

Posted by: O.F. at March 24, 2006 12:11 PM


I had a French Bordeaux last night. I was unimpressed. No, it wasn't 20 or 30 years old, but then, I'm not rich.

As for the crack about "real" wine, you revealed yourself as a pretentious snob who is either unwilling or unable to consider the possibility that anyone other than a cheese-eating surrender monkey could create good wine. This despite the fact that wines from Oregon (and California) have been winning international awards for some time now.

Sure, a 20 or 30 year old bottle of a quality wine is going to be fantastic. But not everyone can afford to purchase such a bottle. and when it comes to every day wine for every day enjoyment, the good wineries here in the states are very much capable of producing wines that are as drinkable and enjoyable as anything in Europe.

People with that attitude are the very reason I stayed away from wine for so long. thank God a European-born wine maker with an excellent reputation gave me the wisest piece of advice I've ever had about wine: "The best wine is the one you like".

Posted by: Brian B at March 24, 2006 12:23 PM

As for the comment "Even though the words used to describe it might be the same", I'm not quite sure what you mean. If you mean the varietal in question, a pinot noir vine is a pinot noir vine -- the kind of soils and climate conditions, and the kind of handling it takes, for it to produce a good wine, is true of that grape no matter where in the world you grow it. If you mean the words used to describe its bouquet and flavor, well, if the shoe fits....

Posted by: Brian B at March 24, 2006 12:46 PM

( I knew this would provoke an instant response!)
Well, Brian, the Bordeaux you had last night was probably less than 5 or 6 years old.
The fact that West Coast wines have been winning awards is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is that in today's world, everybody needs to be a winner and also, it is good PR to sell the wine to the Boomers. Someday, Wine Spectator might have the courage to compare a 25 year old Bordeaux with a similar aged CA wine.
In paragraph 3, you are quite correct in that the New World can produce an "every day wine for every day enjoyment" as good or better than the Europeans. If you want a wine to drink tonight, get a good Californian, NOT a 3 year old Chateau LaTour, which would taste awful. However, if you want a taste of REAL, classic wine that will melt your socks, put the LaTour in a cellar for 30 years and then drink!
At that point, no other discussion would be necessary.
Finally, in your last paragraph, you didn't complete the quotation of your European wine maker. What he said was "The best wine is the one you like and hopefully, you will have enough experience tasting the best wines, properly aged, to form a knowledgeable opinion."

Posted by: O.F. at March 24, 2006 01:30 PM


Again, since I am neither old enough to have bought any wine legally 30 years ago, and since I am not wealthby enough to purchase 30 year old wines more often than perhaps my birthday or anniversary, my main concern is precisely with the wine I can afford to drink every day. Sorry, I guess I'm jes' po' folk who don't deserve to sit at the table with the likes of you. But given what I know of Oregon winemakers, I'm sure there are several who'd be happy to take up your challenge.

And finally, no, that is not what Phillipe said. My quote was his entire comment. Period.

Posted by: Brian B at March 24, 2006 01:39 PM

I'm also curious as to which Oregon wines you've tried -- which wineries, which varietals from those wineries, which year t he bottle was -- on which to base your comparison of wines.

Posted by: Brian B at March 24, 2006 01:40 PM

Don't be so humble - it's unbecoming to you.
You deserve to sit at any table you desire, including mine, if you behave! Just temper your opinions a little bit until you have enough data.
I have tried a number of wines from Oregon (?25+) over the years, mainly Pinot Noirs. Most were very nice for young wines but don't try to compare them to 20 year old D.O.C. Burgundies from great years. The fact is that the vinification methods used by most non-European (and even many European) wineries are not meant to produce wines that require any significant aging. Their market is the "tonight" market and we are really mixing apples and oranges in comparing "classic" wines with modern wines -i.e aging vs. drink tonight. In fact, probably 95+ % of ALL wines do not require ANY aging. I'm only pointing out that there is another universe out there that must be recognized when discussing wines and I hope you have the opportunity to experience it.

Posted by: O.F. at March 24, 2006 02:15 PM

Congratulations. That represents MAYBE 1% of the wines being made in Oregon, and while the majority are being made for the ready-to-drink market, that is not the whole story regarding wine in this state.

I'm fully aware of the difference in the markets. It was you who seemed to ignore that difference in completely dismissing CA and OR wines. Or perhaps you missed the fact that we were discussing "apples" and you were the one to bring up "oranges".

I find it ironic that someone who started the discussion by implying that any wine that isn't a fine, aged wine is not a "real" wine would be instructing others to "temper their opinions". Considering the level of elitism that comment alone belied, I'm not sure I'd care to sit at your table, regardless of how welcome you'd make me feel "if I behaved". Good day to you.

Posted by: Brian B at March 24, 2006 02:33 PM

My goodness! You've misbehaved already. Cancel the invitation.

Posted by: O.F. at March 24, 2006 02:45 PM

WAY ahead of you on that.

Posted by: Brian B at March 24, 2006 02:50 PM

Kids, do I have to put you in a time out?

Posted by: Robbo the LB at March 24, 2006 03:23 PM

I'll behave, just don't send in the Scottish Dwarf!

Posted by: Brian B at March 24, 2006 03:55 PM

I can see where OF is coming from, but he and Brian B are talking past each other. I've got 20 years experience with wine and food at the professional level. I got into food through experience with wine. I managed a Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list containing some of the finest vintages of the the latter half of the 20th century. I decanted a '28 Pomerol in '88 (you want to know what tension is?)for a very wealthy client who found a secret cellar in his mansion during renovations. You want to know what an amazing wine is, OF? Try a perfectly preserved '28 Pomerol that only stayed that way because of a thick layer of ancient mold between the cork and the capsule; the cork was practically spongelike. The wine itself was the color of old leather, had no tannins to speak of, had a wonderful floral nose and was pure silk on the tongue. Flavor of ripe plum and boysenberry with some faint tobacco action. A finish so long and beautiful I can remember it to this day. Of 22 cases of wine in that cellar, only 8 bottles of the Pomerol survived. Needless to say, I recorked them.

I cracked open a 1er Cru '60 Cheval Blanc back over the holidays and it did not suck. Not by a long shot.

But, you know? I love Oregon wines very, very much. I was carrying Adelsheim on my lists before most people out east knew who they were. And damned if I won't stack Oregon, California, or Virginia for that matter, against French wines. It's all about what you like.

Frankly, I think most French wines, with very few exceptions, are being outclassed by others around the world. I sincerely believe that the French glory days are long over. From what I've tasted lately, I don't think their best recent vintages are going to do all that in aging. Why? Because they're changing their styles to suit their markets. Fewer people are supporting the long term vintages. Americans are kind of soured on French wines, and we're the ones they used to make the money on. I listen to wine reps all the time bemoaning their French portfolios. American, Italian, Spanish and Ausie portfolios? Going like gangbusters. That doesn't mean French isn't selling. There market share has eroded significantly. And if the people buying the wines don't know what they're missing in a 30 year old Latour, oh well. It's no skin off their noses.

Posted by: Chef Mojo at March 24, 2006 07:03 PM

Chef Mojo
I basically agree with you. I think the French, for the most part, are on a downward spiral. The only real market they have left is the high end, aging market of classified growths. The "tonight" market has been taken over by the rest of the world which produces some very fine, drinkable wines, particularly the West Coast USA.
I was lucky to become interested in wines
40++ years ago when you could still by a Ch. LaFite for $2.50 per bottle. I spent what little money I had at the time on the grape but drank "cheap" while the good stuff aged in my cellar.
Now, I have over 2000 bottles, the youngest of which is 1982 and I haven't bought a bottle of French wine since!! Needless to say, I'm "drinking pretty good." Obviously, that greatly influences my tastes and opinions.

Posted by: O.F. at March 25, 2006 09:18 AM

Chef Mojo,

Oh, I see where OF is coming from, and I acknowledge that when it comes to wine for wine's sake, nothing can compare to a well-aged fine wine. Sadly, I don't have the years of wine drinking and buying behind me, OR the budget, to be able to avail myself of aged wines except for very special occasions. I'm exactly the kind of drinker who has driven the newer wine market. I'd drink fine aged wines more often if I could, but....

But I enjoy drinking a quality newer wine on a pretty regular basis. And until my income level improves, that's what I'll have to be happy with.

What I objected to was the cavalier dismissal of those wines as not being "real" wine. That's like saying my family station wagon isn't a "real" car just because it isn't an Enzo. There's no arguing the automotive superiority of the Ferrari, but I'm not going to haul the kid and groceries around in it. There's an important distinction between telling me I'm not experiencing the best that wine drinking has to offer and telling me I'm not drinking "Real wine".

I actually believe that the emergence of the "Right Now" wine market is a good thing for wine in general, including the market for fine aged wines. Bear with me for a moment.

I only started drinking wine in my mid-20's, barely more than a decade ago. Hell, back then, I couldn't have appreciated the differences between a 1-year old bottle and a 30-year old bottle. All I knew was dry vs. sweet, and I liked sweet. It's taken me this long to just START to appreciate the depth and complexity of good wine.

And I'm sure the same is true of MOST wine drinkers of my generation. Give us time and we'll be buying the well-aged wine as often as we possibly can. But in the meantime, it's the accessibility of the newer wines that has made us wine drinkers at all.

Posted by: Brian B at March 27, 2006 11:03 AM