| Tim Snyder
Internet Sales Manager
Tim started his career in the restaurant industry in 1997, and quickly realized his passion was in the beverage portion of the biz. He started a small private bartending company in 1999, moving to Sunset Boulevard in 2000. After pouring and tasting fine wines from around the world, he realized his next move by transitioning from bartender to wine sales. Tim joined WHWC in 2005, beginning in the warehouse and pouring at the wine bar. Under the tutelage of our more experienced staff, he's moved up the learning curve quickly and with the advent of our new website has taken over the role of Internet Sales Manager. Recently Tim took his first trip to Europe, visiting Champagne and Burgundy in France and traveling throughout Italy. His philosophy is: "You can't take it with you, so open it and enjoy it with good friends and good company."
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My GF and I recently attended the 6th annual Calabasas-Malibu Food and Wine Festival. Arriving a bit early, we decided to hit up Justin, one of our favorite Paso Robles winery’s. There we tasted the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, light straw in color. On the palate was bright citrus flavor with peach and green apple balanced out with nice bright grapefruit. Next, the 2010 Cabernet in its sexy new packaging. Deep ruby in color with a rich dense cherry, blackberry & a bit of spice. It drinks great right out of the bottle. And finally, the highly touted ’09 Isosceles. Darker in color and richer in flavor with a great alluring mix of spice box, lush currants, cherry and a nice hint of vanilla laced with mint. Let me tell you, these wines never disappoint.
Next we stopped by Gladstone’s booth, said hi to Tony the GM, gulped some AMAZING yellow gazpacho with watermelon and then a refreshing seafood ceviche that rocked. (Next time you’re in the area stop in and say hi to Tony, he’s a great guy). Feeling the heat, we headed to the Patron booth to grab a fresh ice cold margarita and a chilled shot. Taking some time to enjoy our drinks we wandered around taking in the fun-filled atmosphere and came across a booth called Wild About Trial. There we meet Allison, the creator of this ground breaking app who was down to earth and super friendly. (if you want the most recent and up to date trial cases, this app is a must). With so many booths to see, we decided to hit it hard and fast. Off to the beer booth we go! Stella Artois for me and Hoegaarden for the GF. Next, we made moves to Tony’s New York Pizza, Normandie Bakery, Mastro’s Steakhouse, and about 10 others. On the move, we grabbed some water, and some delicious Hard Cider from Crispin. They had about 5 available to taste but my favorite was the Honey Crisp Reserve. This pale fizzy cider was crisp, refreshing and smooth with nice hints of honey that wasn’t overpowering or too sweet, just what the Dr. ordered.
Looking around I realized that we hadn’t yet had any of the bubbly, so like bloodhounds we were off, zigging and zagging through the crowd we came across Moreno BHLV a CA sparkling wine whose label is studded with Swarovski Crystals. This fresh, out of the ice bucket Brut Silver was refreshing and a nice change of pace. Nearing the end of the day, it was time to grab a goody bag, fill it up and head out. Making several stops we filled my GF’s bag and said goodbye to a few friends and were off. This was our first time attending this event and will be back next year guaranteed.
Last month my GF and I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, and while there we decided to hit-up Maker’s Mark for a little Bourbon tasting. Located in Loretto just about an 1hr 20min outside of Louisville, Makers Mark has been producing some of the world’s finest Bourbons since 1954, when original owner T. William Samuel Sr., purchased the distillery known as “Burk’s Distillery”. Although the first bottle of Maker’s wasn’t released until 1958, the vision of amazing hand crafted Bourbon & hand dipped bottles was already apparent, and is now trademarked. Touring the grounds a few days prior to the Derby, we were amazed at the rich history this place held. On the property we walked through one of Kentucky’s few remaining covered bridges that are still in use today as well as one of the oldest liquor sales buildings in the United States. As we took our tour and sipped some of Maker’s signature pre-blended (dipped in green wax) Mint Julep, we were taken into the mash house and saw how the mash was fermented in open top tanks, prior to being piped into the still were it is distilled, refined and sent to barrel. Getting the opportunity to see this grueling process first hand was mind blowing. From the extremely large warehouses where thousands of Bourbon barrels age, to seeing the bottling line were each and every bottle is hand dipped, which is just amazing considering the volume of production. Once the tour was done, it was time to get down to business and taste some Bourbon, after all that’s why we made the trip! First up was the Mint Julep to cool us down as the humidity and heat was taking its toll. The Julep has a great mouth feel, not too hot (from alcohol) but well balanced with the amazing mint taste which didn’t over power the rich Bourbon. Next was the original, brilliant amber/caramel in color (although none added as its illegal in Kentucky) spicy vanilla, buttery, with a subtle nuance of maple, and corn. Now the Maker’s 46 which is the original finished product that has 10 staves of seasoned & cooked New French Oak added into the center of the barrel. The barrel is then recapped and aged an additional 3 months. This is a bit darker and richer, carrying some of the same flavors but a bit dryer with more fine oak that gives off nice butterscotchy flavors and richer spices. These fine, hand crafted Bourbons are amazing. The standard to which they are held is to the highest, just check out the LEGAL requirements, to be considered Bourbon. With our tasting coming to an end, we were delighted to have the chance to dip our own bottles. As they say, all Bourbon is Whisky but not all Whisky is Bourbon. Saying our good buys, it was time to hit the road, grab some lunch and get back to Louisville in preparation for a riverboat dinner on the Ohio!
If your an avid beer drinker like I am then you’ve probably heard of The Blue Dog Beer Tavern in Sherman Oaks, CA. But just in case you haven’t let me tell you, it is a must for all beer enthusiasts and foodies alike serving up some of the best burgers, wings, fries, mac & cheese, & salads around (not into burgers, try the veggie patty). Last week I rounded up my GF and a friend from out of town and headed there to grab a frosty beer and some grub. Now I’ve been here several times before and knew what I was getting into, so we grabbed a town car and headed out. When we arrived it was apparent to my GF and buddy why they call this place Blue Dog. The walls of this converted house-turned-tavern are covered with photos of people’s dogs. Now I use the term walls loosely as there are no real walls in this place just Studs were you can see through to every room.
To start, I ordered an Old Speckled Hen. Old Speckled Hen is an English pub Ale that has a rich malty and fruity aroma that translates to a mouth-watering palate. The full body of this beer lingers on and on and finishes with hints of caramel and a slight bitterness that is refreshing. For my GF, a Affligem Blonde which is very light straw in color and has tiny bubbles that dance on the palate, showing subtle hints of bitterness that don’t overpower the rich flowery hops. If I had ordered this, it would have been calling for my bacon mac & cheese. Now, my buddy ordered a Pale Ale I had not seen before, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale ,in the 16oz. can. This Pale Ale is America’s first hand-canned craft beer. It has ample hops that give way to a smooth balanced malt, not overwhelming but you certainly get the hoppy perfume from the moment it hits your glass all the way through its powerful finish.
While toasting and looking over the menu, my attention was immediately drawn to The Fire Starter, an amazing burger topped with deep-fried jalapenos, crispy onion strings and a slice of Pepper Jack Cheese, served with a mouthwatering side of BACON Mac & Cheese!! (That sealed the deal for me). As for my GF and buddy it was The Athens Salad and the Black ‘N Blue Burger. Now don’t fool yourself, this salad was no joke, baby spinach (a ton of it), black olives, crumbled Feta, cucumbers, red onion, & tomatoes topped with chicken. The Black ’N Blue was topped with blue cheese, applewood smoked bacon and BBQ sauce (I might also point out that they grind all of the meat in house). We all got down to business on the mouth watering burgers & salad. As my mouth began to heat up it was time for another round. Taking a look over the Beer Menu I noticed a Canned IPA that I had not tried, Point the Way IPA from Golden Road Brewing Co. Now I’m always skeptical about a canned beer but this flag ship IPA of Golden Road, lower in alcohol than your average IPA still gave all the HOP flavors I have come to expect in a good old American Craft Brew. I call this the little IPA that could as it really surprised me. Sitting around, taking in the lively atmosphere and throwing back a few more we all decided that our thirst was sufficiently quenched and that our bellies were full. What a wonderful place to hang with good friends! The long and short of it is, if you find yourself in Sherman Oaks hungry & thirsty this is the place to be, nice helpful staff, great food, & a awesome beer selection. I don’t always drink beer but when I do i drink a lot of it…stay thirsty my friends!!
I arrived in Haro, La Rioja, for appointments at two of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in the region Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia & Muga. Haro, population 12,261, is located in the northwest of Rioja. Arriving by train from Barcelona (a 5 hour ride), we got off at the tiny station on the outskirts of town. Stepping off the train was like going back in time. Brick buildings & walls surrounded the town which sat atop a hill. Right out the front door of the train station are 4 or 5 brick Bodegas (wineries). On our way to Hotel Los Agustinos (which was once a prison, a convent, & a hospital) we passed Muga, Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, La Rioja Alta, Cune, and a few others. We wandered into bars and enjoyed glasses of local wine out of small casks. In my broken Spanish I asked the name of each wine but was told only that is was made locally, no producer or particular vineyard. For all I know the owner of the bar could have made it himself: he mentioned owning several hectares around town. After some revelry we were headed (finally) to the hotel but were sidetracked by enormous birds’ nests on top of nearby buildings. These nests were at least 12 feet around. Apparently they are made by gigantic Storks. Amazing.
7 am came around and we rolled out of bed, showered, headed out. Walking into Lopez de Heredia you immediately notice the lack of machinery. One of the oldest and most traditional wineries in Haro, they don’t use any machinery - every thing is done by hand. And when I say every thing I mean everything. They make 100% of their own barrels, employing coopers to take care of everyday maintenance. Each barrel is initialed by the cooper so if it ever needs fixing they know who to call. The winery is absolutely gorgeous and completely authentic, from the ancient hand-dug caves, to the mold growing all over the walls. There is so much history here and the wine, well let’s just say AMAZING!
After our tour we went for a tasting/lesson on why they age all their wines so much longer than any other Bodega in the area with a bit of family history in the mix. Next we were on our way to Muga when I suddenly felt like my pocket was on fire. Weird. Reaching my hand in my pocket I burned my finger tips, and almost a hole in my pants. What the…? I reached back in quickly and pulled out the contents. A word to the wise: putting AA batteries and euros in the same pocket is a good way to create heat. It took about 20 mins for both to cool down.
Every one in the Muga tasting room got a good laugh at my expense especially me yelling “I have a fire in my pants!” After the “hot pocket” shenanigans came to an end we met with our guide and headed off for our private tour. Right away you could see the differences between Muga and Lopez de Heredia. Muga is modern with machines aplenty, remodeled warehouses, forklifts, and pumps to fill barrels. Walking through the large facility we noticed a buzzing hustle of workers filling barrels, racking wine, bottling the 2010 Rose & filling cases for export. After Muga you really start to wonder how Lopez de Heredia does all this manually. We were then escorted into Muga’s private kitchen where a fabulous meal awaited us. We started out with Muga Cava, paired with white asparagus, and moved to a white bean salad paired with their 2009 Rioja Blanco. As we finished up this course, our guide popped another 5 bottles to sample with the enormous lamb dish that came next. I don’t think I’ve ever had such delicious lamb in my life – cooked to perfection and falling off the bone like it had taken hours. What a special way to end a fun-filled and educational day…now off to get tattoos!
After a long, uncomfortable plane ride I arrived in Barcelona. From there we drove another 2 hours to Cambrils, the seafront community of about 33,000 where we were staying for EspaiPriorat, an intensive trade tasting being held in a few tiny villages in Priorat. The purpose of this event is to bring awareness of the region to international buyers, food & wine writers, wine critics, & a few select retail shops.
After checking into the hotel and meeting some new friends, we were off to the races. We started with a buffet style lunch with plenty of wine to pass around, Torres Priorat Salmos 2009, Mas Blanc Pinord Priorat +7 2006, Ferrer Bobet Priorat VV 2008 and a long list of others that I didn’t take notes on. I mean let’s be honest – a long, cramped flight, 3 Estrella Damms at the airport, then a 2 hour drive, I’m lucky to have taken any notes at all. After chatting and eating with a few distributors, food writers, & importers, I decided to grab a few friends and take a walk along the beach. We stopped along the way to enjoy the local beverages, sangria, ice cold beer and the likes.
5-6 drinks later, a large group of us were hanging out on the hotel patio and suddenly realized that dinner was only 45 minutes away. We scattered and scrambled into showers and nice clothes. Dinner was held in a amazing restaurant, Club Nàutic in Cambrils, where we were served a spread of food prepared by four of the region’s finest chefs: Diego Campos (El Rincon de Diego), Joan Bosch, (Can Bosch), Manel Morell (casa Gallau) and Joan Pedrell (Joan Gatell). Diego Campos and Joan Pedrell each boast one Michelin star. To start, we all had a glass of local Cava and a ton of Priorat wines to pass around. As dinner came to a close, everyone looked ready for a good night’s sleep.
The morning brought a huge breakfast buffet followed by an hour and a half long bus ride into Torroja del Priorat. The event at the Cal Compete was an enormous walk around tasting featuring at least 95 wines – a daunting task for even the most experienced taster. We spent most of the day tasting & talking about these wines, which were all new to me. I hadn’t seen many of them in the US. Dinner at El Balcó del Priorat in Morera de Montsant followed. The long drive up the mountain gave way to breathtaking views.
After dinner we were dead tired and ready to sleep till noon. Unfortunately we had to be up at 7 AM to get the day started. After another great breakfast we were on our way to Scala Dei where the last tasting of the event was held. At this tasting were some wineries from the previous day as well a several others that had just joined. 12 rows of 6 foot tables lined the room from end to end, 6 deep. That’s a lot of wine . After tasting through about 25–30, I was ready for a cold beer. Sitting back, watching the sea of tasters, I relaxed till it was time for our final lunch which again featured fresh local products. There were different gazpachos, fresh fish dishes, artisanal cheeses, and a montage of meats. After the closing ceremony we were all off to either the hotel, vineyards for visits, or the airport. As for me I headed to Barcelona for the next leg of my journey…
In preparation for my first trip to Spain I decided to revisit some of my favorite Priorat & Rioja wines. Knowing that I would be spending time in Priorat at the first annual EspaiPriorat followed by a few winery (Bodega) visits in Rioja , I decided to get together a line up and taste through them with a few friends. In the first round we decided on Priorat. The traditional grape variety grown in El Priorat is the red Garnacha Tinta . Also authorized are the following red varieties: Garnacha Peluda , Cariñena , Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot and Syrah . Four white varieties are also authorized: Garnacha Blanca , Macabeo , Pedro Ximénez and Chenin .
The first wine in the lineup was Pasanau Ceps Nous Priorat 2007: made up of 58% Garnacha, 19% Mazuelo , 10% Syrah, 7% Cab, & 6% Merlot. This wine stood out as a cocktail wine to me (easy drinking, not needing food). On the nose: jammy, spicy, with hints of dried fruits. Hitting the palate it was full of fleshy powerful fruit with a nice finish of toasty vanilla and a hint of sweetness, but not overpowering. Next we moved onto a declassified wine from Mas Doix “Salanques” Priorat 2006. This wine is made by barrel declassification: 65% Garnacha, 15% Cariñena, and the balance Syrah, Merlot, and Cab. This wine proved over the (Priorat) tasting to be one of my top picks. On the nose, elegant cedar, anise, dark cherry and a hint of black currant. Hitting the palate with dense rich flavors that linger for what seems days. A killer wine to crack with your special lady for a date night at home on a school night. Moving on to Ripoll Sans Closa Battle Gratallops Priorat 2005 (a mouthful to say the least) 65% Cariñena, 22% Garnacha, finishing with Cab, Merlot, and Syrah. While a young wine (needing a few years of a aging or a v igorous decant) it showed a great nose of, cedar, dried flowers, dark fruit and a bit of cookie spice. On the pallet, light tannin full flavors and a silky finish. Last up in the Priorat tasting was my other top pick (bang for your buck) Cellar Cal Pla Black Slate Porrera Vi de La Vila Priorat 2008 60% Garnacha and 40% Cariñena. This wine comes out swinging, great nose of smoky dark fruits, dried flowers that lend a certain elegance. On the palate, bitter sweet chocolate, bold dense raspberry and a touch of vanilla.
Fast forward to a week later and on to our Rioja tasting. In Rioja the most commonly used Tintos (red grape varieties) are Tempranillo , Garnacha Tinta, Graciano , Mazuelo , Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The most common Blanca (white grape varietals) are Viura (also known as Macabeo) Malvasía , Garnacha Blanca.
We started the night with a 2010 Muga Rioja Rosado composed of 60% Garnacha, 30% Viura and 10% Tempranillo. Showing an elegant salmon color the wine bounces flavors of light cantaloupe, pears, and surprisingly, star fruit. It’s full rich mouth feel but still dry, a great start to the night. The first Tinto of the night was Allende Rioja 2005. This wine has a great color and is even silky on the palate. Flavors of spicy smoke, dried cherries and a bit of orange zest and licorice. Great finish and a definite group favorite. Next up was the 2007 Cune Rioja Vina Real Crianza, made up of 90% Tempranillo, the rest a blend of Garnacha, Graciano & Mazuelo. In the glass the wine gives off glimpses of ruby, leading to a palate of spicy red berry compote not overpowering but firm, lively and long on the finish. Last but not least we decimated the 2004 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Cubillo Crianza, 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha & 5 each Graciano and Mazuelo. Deep red in color with aromas of macerated cherry, raspberry and baking spices. After taking my first sip it was clear that we had a new front runner in the tasting. Reaching for another taste I realized that the entire bottle had been taken down by my “tasting panel.”
Yeah right more like the thirsty sailor panel.
A couple weeks back a few friends and I saddled up for a night out at Animal Restaurant on Fairfax in Hollywood. For those of you not from the LA area, here’s a quick background on Animal. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo opened Animal in spring of ’08 after skyrocketing to the top of the rough and ramped Beverly Hills catering scene. Their outlaw-style cooking caught the attention of The Food Network, which then gave them their own docudrama series “Two Dudes Catering.” These “two dudes” also earned the prestigious Food & Wine Best New Chefs award of ’09. The restaurant specializes in meat (obviously).
Looking over the menu online beforehand (which can be dangerous), we decided to bring some wine. We kicked it off with a 2001 Le Montrachet from Moret-Nomine. The sommelier’s eyes popped. Even though this wine is still an infant, it showed good density, subtle sweetness, richness, and was very powerful and chewy. It was killer with the veal brains, vadouvan, apple sauce & carrot dish, and the rabbit legs, sugar snap peas & black trumpet starters.
After that killer hit, we opened (and finished) a magnum of 1996 Rocche Dei Manzoni Barolo Vigna D’la Roul and a 1995 Chateau Margaux Pavillon Rouge of Chateau Margaux. At this point, our entire table was covered with wine bottles, food and tons of plates. If you’ve eaten at Animal, you know the entire dining room only seats about 45-50 people. Being a party of four, we only had a small four-top making space scarce. This made for an interesting time juggling plates since we ordered almost the entire menu. The Vigna Roul showed exceptionally well with hints of ripe plum, good spiciness and a bit of cocoa. The Margaux had a bit of mint, chocolate and vanilla. Both wines went well with Buffalo style pig tails, flat-iron steak, balsamic pork ribs, poutine with oxtail gravy, and the other four dishes we ordered.
To finish the night, we took all four desserts. My favorite was the bacon chocolate crunch. We accompanied it with a 1973 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Spätlese from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer QmP appellation. I was surprised how damn good it was since ’73 was one of the largest crops on record. This wine was also made for early consumption, but it showed really well nearly 40 years later. It still had a wonderfully light petroleum nose, some citrus and caramel, dried flowers and a bit of sweetness, while still showing enough fruit.
All in all, the night went off without a hitch.