Monday, April 25, 2016

For Sale

BMW 1100RT '96 - $4200

Colorado? California? Canada? Alaska?
This "oilhead boxer" is ready to go. Make this the summer you've always dreamed of. I'm the 2nd owner. Purchased a couple years ago for trips that work schedule prevented from happening. Lots of extras. The motorized adjustable Cee Bailey extended windscreen makes this feel like the motorcycle version of the Starship Enterprise Command deck. (Like-new stock windscreen also included) Headlight protection screen. Always garage-stored but comes with custom BMW cover. Garmin motorcycle GPS with bluetooth. Adjustable seat height. Bar set-backs. Large lockable, easily removable, stock luggage. In addition, an enormous wraparound canvas fitted bag. Great for tents, sleeping bags, etc. Not traveling? Take off the top bag and you have a great around-town bike. Remove the saddlebags and you've got a wicked fast sport bike. Extra oil filters, filter wrench.
I'm sure I'm forgetting something, come see it. Not a show bike, normal wear, nicks, minor cosmetic flaws, scuffs, etc. But it's hard not to love it on sight.

Great review by a Brit here
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Feria de Albacete

Just awoke from siesta after an 11, yes, 11 course lunch at las Rejas ( a Michelin star restaurant ). The street below my balcony has filled with people and the parade kicking off the opening of Feria de Albacete is just beginning. I have a prime 3rd floor viewing location
There. It's started. Bands, floats, folkloric groups. The village well seems to be a recurring motif. Kooky kars and motorcycles but no horses. Our friend Della would have tsked a parade without horses. How odd here where women answer nature's call in a room marked "señoras" but men visit the "caballeros." The street is packed and I'm told the parade will last hours and the throngs will celebrate until 4am.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Old vines

I stood in a pre-phylloxera vineyard today for the first time in my life. 130 year old vines growing on the roots evolution gave them. They are protected from the root louse by 6 feet of sand and gravel, an inhospitable medium for the louse larvae.
Marcus Eguren is standing among the oenological equivalent of a herd of unicorns.
The other vine shown is an old Garnacha that has died so now the American Vitus Labrusca rootstock it was grafted onto has sent up shoots and some concord grapes. Very weird.

Quick pix

It is taking all my will power not to post an endless stream of food pictures. Each of the wineries want us to taste the best that their region has to offer and they spare no effort nor expense. Google Joselito jamón. I'm almost embarrassed to even talk about it.

The Bus

Wake at 6:30. On the bus by 7:30. An hour (or four) later, step off the motor coach onto the bone-dry, dusty red soil of a vineyard filled with 40, 60, 100 year old vines. Back on the bus, a short trip to the winery for the tour and tasting, followed by a sumptuous lunch. Full and sleepy from the jamón, rich soup, whole crab, lamb and leche frita as well as the two or three glasses of wine we get back on the bus. An hour or two through the dry, unchanging landscape of stony hills, vines, olives, abandoned sheep cotes and shattered 12th century fortresses to the next vineyard to see the vines, the tanks, the barrels, and taste the wines. By now, it is 9-9:30 so the wine maker leads us to the long table, four wine glasses at each setting and the feast begins. Around 1 AM we say goodnight to our too-generous host and and drive the hour to the hotel. A small group of us gather at the bar for a beer, to debrief, to talk about the wines. Then bed for most to catch 3 hours of sleep before the cycle starts again. But for me, I'm in a village or city I may never see again so I walk or go for an hour's run at 2:30 or 3 AM. Back to the hotel, check email and sleep fast for two hours, knowing I can grab an hour here or there on the bus. Repeat for 10 days.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gandalf and the Beginning of the Ending of the Third Age

I had a glass of wine Wednesday evening with Craig Gandalf, the National Sales Director of Jorge
Ordonez´s amazing line of Spanish wines. He has generously sent me here to Spain to taste and learn about these wines from the families who make them. (That, by the way, is the caveat that I´m on a junket paid for by the supplier. It is a great trip so far, but I work for my wine customers and for John´s Grocery so I´m pretty sure I can talk about the wines I´ll be tasting with proper objectivity.) Little did I know that Gandalf was ushering me into the beginnings of yet another sea change in the wine business.
  In the early and mid 1970's I used to buy wine in the basement of Sam's in Chicago. I found 10 year old second and  first growth Bordeaux there for $16-35 a bottle. In the 1990's, some of you will remember, we had a locked case with good, old (20-30 years) Bordeaux at John´s. ´78 Cos dÉstournel was $45. Alas, the Shadow of Wall Streeet bonuses arose in the east and the good people of middle earth could no longer buy Bordeaux, much as like what happened in the Elder Age to the Wines of Burgundy.
 We arrived Friday morning, August 31st and immediately drove north to Rioja. The wheat covered hills north of Madrid quickly give way to dry mountains. Patches of vines appear in ground unsuitable for other cultivation. But closer to Rioja grapes become ubiquitous, covering every likely acre. For a century, Rioja has ruled here as a good and kindly King. Delicious and more complex that most would guess but always reasonable and available to his people (even if occassionally beset by scandal.) Now though, Great Towers and Engines of Industry have arisen in the land. Riscal´s gaudy Geary makes no attempt to fit naturally into the cere, ancient landscape and each neighboring winery seems intent upon outdoing the other in the trappings of status. At two tastings on Friday we sampled exquisite wines made in both the traditional and international styles. Sadly, many of these wines are priced like those of Lafite and Latour. Beautiful pure wines, great expressions of single vineyard sites that only the wealthiest in the world will ever drink. Few of us will ever spend $200-$300 for one bottle of wine. Fewer of us still will spend the money on several, taste one and wait decades to enjoy the remaining bottles  when they are ready. We returned late to the hotel and I walked throu the silent, narrow streets within the city walls of Laguardia and lemented that once again the best had past beyond the ken of mere mortals and was destined only for the likes of evil trolls like Donald Trump. As good as the wines were I couldn´t bear to write a post about things no one could have.
 Fortunately, the sun also rises. (you knew I couldn´t pass that one up) Today we visited two wineries owned by the Eguren family of $7.99 Protocolo fame, including Sierra Cantabria, very near to the village of Laguardia. Our host, Owner/Wine maker Marcos Eguren, along with both his father and his son led us through a tasting of their wonderful, delicious wines. At each one we were pleased to find they were comparable to the exquisite offerings of the previous day  and shocked to find the prices ranging from $12-$50 dollars for all but one of their wines. Fruit of the Gods that mortals can afford. Perhaps the trolls won´t win after all. Some photos and tasting notes when I return from our evening tasting, late tonight. Stay thirsty, my friends.