Celebrity Wine FAQ – Tim DeKay

Tim DeKay, courtesy NBC Universal

Have we mentioned that we think White Collar is one of the best written shows currently on television? And it features a fair amount of wine drinking.

The show, about charming con man and art thief Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) who works for the FBI, thanks to the agent who finally caught him, airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on USA Network and just recently started a new season.

So we thought we’d feature Tim DeKay, who plays Special Agent Peter Burke on the show. DeKay didn’t really have a question about wine.

“I grew up with my dad, who was very involved with wine. He sold wine and liquor in New York as a salesman. So he was very knowledgeable with wine,” DeKay said.

Of course, that means he often ends up being the go-to guy when it’s time to choose wine for the table. Even so, he describes his wine knowledge as merely decent. A lot of that has to do with how many wines there are available these days.

“It’s amazing how many different types of wines there are today,” he said. “And the varietals are amazing. Whenever I’m in a restaurant and I’ll open a wine book and I realize that I don’t know three quarters of these wines. I always end up looking at the sommelier and asking what’s your smoothest, most buttery wine. That’s what I love. Like a really good, rich cab or something like that.”

Which is definitely a good way to handle it when the wine list is running longer than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

DeKay loves a really good cabernet sauvignon, but that doesn’t mean he’s not open to exploring.

“I love doing tastings and going to those kinds of events where they ask celebrities to go to tastings. I love it,” he said.

Oh, and he showed off his latest find – a chianti – that he was able to track with an app on his smart phone. Yep. He likes a good wine.

Nine Wines Nine! Library Tasting Notes

Last Friday, we were again asked to help out at the Altadena Public Library’s Art Salon – part of the library’s fabulous Art on Millionaire’s Road annual art show.

If you were at last spring’s fundraising wine and cheese event, then you’ll probably recognized most of the whites. We did have leftovers from that event and wanted to use these delicious wines up. When you add the four reds we found, we poured a total of nine wines for a truly expansive experience.

Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserve NV

Type: Dry sparkling white wine
What Makes It Special: It’s a Cava – Spain’s version of Champagne
Plays well with: Almost anything – it’s a bubbly!

The nose was clean without yeast, toast or chalk. But there was a hint of fresh apples. The taste was very dry and crisp with acidity. The cava dissolved into bubbles at the back of the mouth like the better sparklers do. A classic taste and an excellent value.

Villa Alfieri Pinot Grigio 2008

Type: Dry white
What Makes It Special: Made in Italy
Plays well with: Salad, cheese plates, seafood

The nose was slightly spicy and the color was very clear and clean. The weight in the mouth was medium in weight. The dryness went all through the palate to the back of the mouth.

This has the typical Pinot Grigio subtlety, which means it’s good with food.

Cantarutti 2008 Friuli

Type: Dry white

What Makes It Special: Italian wine made from local grapes including friulano or pinot blanco

Plays Well With: Salad, seafood, sharp cheeses

The clean light color of this wine opened to some nice florals on the nose with a hint of lime and these flavors carried through the taste as well. The mouthfeel was somewhat lush – meaning full in the mouth with some very bracing acids. An excellent palate cleanser between bites of seafood ceviche or shrimp cocktail – hold the cocktail sauce.

Chateau de la Roche 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

Type: Dry white
What Makes It Special: Good and citrusy, typical of sauv blancs.
Plays well with: Salads, seafood, light cream sauces. Also a good sipper by itself.

The color was light and crystal clear. The nose had hints of grapefruit and none of the catbox aroma common to some sauv blancs. The citrus profile extended from the front to the midpalate and had a lemon twist at the back of the mouth. The texture was medium weight and the juicy acidity added a cleansing effect to the mouth. The wine was bone dry.

PKNT Chardonnay, 2009

Type: Dry white

What Makes It Special: Grown and made in Chile

Plays Well With: Light fish and cheese and crackers.

There’s just a touch of oak on the nose of this one, maybe a little toast, as well. But that hint of oak played nicely into the flavor, in which Michael also caught some apple and tropical fruit notes. Anne just caught a nice, light wine that stands pretty well on its own, making it great for parties. But it would also be nice with a fish dinner, say, sole or red snapper.

Sonoma Landing 2008 Pinot Noir

Type: Dry red
What makes it special: Good pinot for the dollar spent

Plays well with: Prime rib, steak, pork, lamb

A nice ruby color leads to a nose of rose petals and high toned red fruit like cherries. The mouthfeel is light and approachable. There are good acids to alert the taste buds and the cherry and berry nose continues into the creamy finish.  Very nice by itself but great with food, with a nice low alcohol of 12.5 percent.

Xplorador 2008 Carmenere

Type: Dry red
What makes it special: Carmenere grapes
Plays well with: Tomato sauces, soft and hard cheeses, BBQ

Carmenere is the sixth grape of Bordeaux that vanished from France after the phlox killed the vineyards in the 1860s. It reappeared in Chile and has been making quite an impression on those people who have tried it.
The nose is dark fruits like plums and some smoke. The feel in the mouth is medium bodied and the balance of acids to tannins is very nice. The finish is good.

Beauzeaux Red Wine Blend

Type: Dry red
What makes it special: Unknown blend that tastes good.
Plays well with: Steak, asparagus, good sipper

This non-dated blend from the Beaulieu family of wines is indeed pronounced Bozo, like the clown.
The nose is alive with sweet fruits like raspberry and berry patch. The mouthfeel is substantial that gives some time to savor the fruits and acids. A slight bit of sweetness all through the palate leads to a good finish. It tasted great with asparagus, a typically hard food to match with wine.

Novella 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Type: Dry red

What makes it special: Cabernet from Paso Robles

Plays well with: Grilled meats, stews, a good pizza

The nose is a little closed – not very fruity. The acids are balanced against the tannins which makes for a nice mouthfeel. There is no noticeable sweetness to get in the way of whatever flavors you are enjoying. But think of this cab as the special last minute addition to the dish that fills in the hole that you didn’t know about. Not a big wine but still a team player.

We Found a Hot Deal!

Every now and then we run across an exceptionally hot deal and we figure it’s only fair to share. It’s the Sonoma Landing 2008 Pinot Noir.

The current super-deal is at BevMo, home of the 5 Cent Sale, currently on now. You buy a featured wine at the regular price and the second matching bottle for a nickel. The stock will probably differ from store to store, depending on sell-outs and if the wine came from a smaller winery, or any of thousand reasons why your local BevMo may not have it.

Our local BevMo is selling this bottle for $14.99 plus the second bottle for 5 cents, and given the fact that when Anne did a Google search on Sonoma Landing Pinot Noir, the BevMo link came up at the top, we’re guessing that we’re not the only ones who think this is a terrific deal.

Don’t expect a super-silky texture or transendental sense of place. This is  a very food-friendly glass with balanced raspberry and cherry flavors, good acids, lighter mouthfeel, a good finish and very little overt oak influence. The alcohol is only 12.5 percent, which means two people can enjoy a bottle over dinner (like we did) and not feel it too badly.

The shocker? Apparently, Sonoma Landing is one of the Bronco Wine Company labels – which makes sense since the company also has a Napa Landing and a Santa Barbara Landing. Bronco also makes the infamous Charles Shaw wines, better known as Two-Buck Chuck, because Trader Joe’s sells them for $1.99.

We’ve often said that if you didn’t know you were drinking Two-Buck Chuck, you’d probably like it. Or at least like it a lot more than you would think. Some of the varietals are pretty awful. But the chardonnay is pretty darned good (that’s the one that gets all the medals), and the cabernet sauvignon is pretty consistently decent, too.

Which is the long way of saying that just because Bronco made the o8 Sonoma Landing Pinot is no reason to scoff at it. It’s a darned tasty wine at an even nicer price when you pick it up during the BevMo sale. If you can get there fast enough.

Flying Goat 2007 Pinot Noir Salisbury Vineyard

Type: Dry red
What makes it special: A pinot noir that’s not from the Santa Rita Hills.
Plays well with: pork, lamb, salmon, cheese.

The 2007 Flying Goat Pinot Wine comes from San Luis Obispo, a little farther up the California coast from where Norman Yost makes his wines in Lompoc.

The nose has a spicebox aroma – think asian five spice powder ingredients such as licorice and cardamon. The color is the same gorgeous ruby red of a certain pair of shoes made in Oz (or more accurately the MGM costume shop).
But just check out the mouth feel and flavor: a medium density filling the mouth with cranberry, strawberry and raspberry without the cloying sweetness those flavors sometimes bring to the party.
The acids present quench the thirst and clear the palate for the next bite of something tasty.  Don’t drink this one alone. Share it with a good meat dish. You could drink it by yourself, but we don’t that would make you too popular.

Longoria 2009 Pinot Grigio

Type: Dry white
What makes it special: Italian grape finding a great home in Santa Barbara county.

Plays well with:
Salads, seafood, creamy sauces.
We are celebrating this humble, but lovely treat of a wine for a couple reasons.
First up, we do want to make note of the TAPAS Grand Tasting in San Francisco this weekend, one of the wineries pouring is winemaker Richard Longoria, who made this pinot grigio – even though it’s not one of the wines featured by the Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society. TAPAS is, of course, about the Spanish grapes – tempranillo, garnacha albariño.
Longoria is going to be one of 44 wineries showing their wares to upwards of 1500 consumers. Address, ticket prices (there are still some left) and more information can be gotten at the TAPAS site, tapasociety.org.
The other reason is that we love pinot grigio. In the same way that sangiovese got a bad rap after years of cheap bottlings in straw baskets, pinot grigio got tagged with being a largely blah, insipid tasteless product produced cheaply for export from its native Italy.
Now, we ask you – is that any way to treat a perfectly nice, inoffensive little grape? We don’t think so and, fortunately, neither does Mr. Longoria and a bunch of other growers in Santa Barbara county, near the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Ynez regions.
Thanks to them, pinot grigio is making a comeback, finding a new soul and a backbone.

The Longoria 2009 Pinot Grigio is clean looking and smells fresh without being too fruity. But there’s plenty of crisp fruit in the taste, including peaches and honeydew melon. It’s light in the mouth, and there are plenty of thirst-quenching acids to help cleanse the palate between bites of something tasty on a lazy afternoon.

There’s also a great feel of minerality to the wine similar to the added minerals in your bottled water. Consider it a feature of the terroir of the Santa Barbara region, which is finally getting some attention these days and not just for the abundance of chardonnay in the area.

This isn’t the cheapest wine on the market, but it is perfect for that special summer picnic. Just don’t try holding onto it for long. Pinot grigio – even the best of them – won’t age and should be as transitory as that lazy summer afternoon.

Scott Bakula – Celebrity Wine FAQ

Scott Bakula in Men of a Certain Age, courtesy Turner

We’ve been big fans of Scott Bakula ever since Quantum Leap – one of those shows underrated in its time, but now a cult fave.  And we loved Bakula as Stephen Bartowski, Chuck’s ingenious father, on Chuck, alas, another show we think is highly underrated.

That being said, it looks like Bakula has hit his stride and then some with Men of a Certain Age, playing bachelor and former actor Terry. The show is back with all-new episodes at 10 p.m. on TNT, starting Wednesday, June 1.

He also told us he’s more of a tequila man that a wine guy.

I’m not a big wine drinker,” he said. “I enjoy good wine.”

And while he likes what he’s been drinking lately, he did learn the hard way that the price of a bottle doesn’t always reflect what’s inside.

“My thing was always I’d just buy the most expensive,” he said. “Because this $50 bottle has to be better than this $23 bottle. Not true. I’ve spent a lot of money, wasting over the years.”

His big wine question is all about pleasing lots of different people with the same wine.

“When I go into a wine store…, how can you satisfy everybody’s wine tastes?” he said.  “My wife likes a certain thing. She doesn’t want too many tannins, she doesn’t want it to be too big. And I’m kinda like, I like the big wines.”

Bakula kind of answered his own question with his own solution to his dilemma – he asks the person working at the wine store and his friend.

“Usually, [wine store staff are] helpful because they also want you to come back, you know?” he said. “But I learn more and I usually try to call my friends who I know know wine. Like I have a big Christmas party every year and I call my friend Dave Fuller, and I say, Dave, what should I get? And he’ll say get the Camria, the 2006. It’s gonna go good with what you’re eating and blah, blah, blah.”

And, Mr. Bakula, if Mr. Fuller isn’t around, you can always email us here at info@oddballgrape.com. We do parties, too.