The First of Many…

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First of what you might ask?  Well it’s holiday party season, and depending on how you view such things, it’s either your favorite sets of weekends, with parties line up not just Friday-Sunday but all the stuff during the week; or you show up and cant wait to leave, or rather avoid it altogether.

I for one would get addicted (and in a way I still am) in going to as many parties as possible. It’s not the most logical or reasonable way to be, because are you ever truly ever enjoying yourself in one place versus the other?  You’re always thinking of what if, instead of being where you are.  This is a major problem for me, and I imagine some of you.   This just doesn’t apply to the holidays but all the days.

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Which brings me to this past Saturday.  A good friend invited me to her place before we went to the opening night of Miracle on 34th Street.  Yes, kind of like that 34th street!

And one of the many great things about this party is it was the only place I wanted to be, thought about to be, or intended to be.   And this is not something to be commended for.  Being where you are, and enjoying each moment singularly for what it is, is so magical, so beautiful, and is so uplifting that words will never do it justice.  It’s just awesome.

Wait where is this going?  Where is the wine, where is the talk of food and all that jazz?

Ok here goes…

As customary before any party, I’ve got to go to the nearby wine shoppe and grab a bottle. It’s the right thing to do to bring something to the table, no matter what it is.   And for my friend to be close enough to what’s still the measuring stick (in my humble opinion) of wine suppliers, The Wine Source, it was setting the stage for a charming and endearing night to come.

Just the way they have their wines set up makes me happy. It’s a welcoming experience with their wines, their cheeses, and everything else readily made available and accessible.

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Speaking of welcoming, one of the wines on display had the most friendly of faces on the label.  If you know me by now, I love what’s in the wine, but I love all the fun parts of vino, that includes a label that stirs up emotions and feelings of happiness.

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You know what else make happy?  A bottle on sale.  And the 2015 Trifula is a Red Blend that’s just as good as any to bring to this, or any fun party, with down-to-earth and welcoming people.   The wine lists anywhere from $10-$13 and that’s reasonable for what you’re getting.

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It’s a darker color if you notice from the photos.  That’s the first thing that stands out.  Well you might see I’m drinking out of a champagne flute.  Hey, wine glasses were at a premium, and why be a beggar or a chooser?  I’m grateful to be invited, that’s all that matters.

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But this wine has a lot going for it.  There’s the dark berries, the light to medium tannings and slight tastes of oak.  But this has a lot of structure to it.  And usually when you see wines with labels like this, let alone ones with comic strips on the back (I love it), might be seen as a red flag.  The fact I’m expounding on it shows I had questions myself.  Not for long.   This was fun and so was this party.

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I didn’t even get a chance to drink much of it myself as the the bottle was decimated in minutes.  That makes me feel good, not because I made the wine,  but because I brought it.  It’s just a nice feeling that you carved your niche into the evening.  What a great night and I have yet to talk about the food or anything else.

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The host got provided such comforting foods such as a couple of soups, meats, cheese, fruit, pastries, and these olives that to call them habit-forming would be an understatement.

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Most of all was the people.  It was a great gathering of old friends, and I made some new ones as well.   That shouldn’t just be reserved for holiday parties, but with as many interactions as possible.  It was a great night all around.

I don’t need to explain the lights on 34th Street.  If you’ve been you know how charming it is.  If you haven’t, you’ve got another month of this.  It’s one of those things to cross off your list.

That’s one of many lists to talk about this holiday season.  We got our Christmas lists with gifts, cards, parties, and all the other stuff that’ll keep us busy, but hopefully include a lot of fun this holiday.

For more on this wine, Touchstone Wines is the distributor.  And for more on The Wine Source, click here.

The season is off to a great start, and I look forward to where we go from here.  But for now, it’s time to savor the moment.  One includes a beautiful new display straight out of New Orleans!

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Reunion

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, I got together with a couple of dear friends that have added so much delight and inspiration to the this blog.  A relocation and a few life changes for all of us have separated us for the time being.   Just recently we got back together for a reunion, and I’m so grateful it was before and not after the frenetic pace of the holidays.

Well, it’s already headed in that direction anyways.  People’s schedules are already starting to fill up, calendar space is starting to come at a premium, and all the while we still need to take care of ourselves, in our daily lives, yet help whenever we can.

After a later start than usual, per elements of the universe factoring in, I brought a Malbec as requested, and I went with another audible.  I went with a wine I’ve never seen or noticed before.  It wasn’t so much the label or anything.  And the label is alright too.. Well it did have the word ‘Club’ in it, so maybe I was paying homage to our dinner club I’ so thankful to be a part of.

The 2016 Asado Club Malbec is a simple and approachable kind of wine, that is not going to take the world over, but it was an enjoyable wine that once again, didn’t have a chance.   I just love saying that.

This is exactly the medium to full bodied wine you would expect from a Malbec.   It’s got the dark berries and tasted more earthy to me than I would have expected.  But that’s it for the expert analysis.  It’s a wine that seems elusive and aloof, for the fact I’ve never seen it before.  I will give credit where it’s due in that regard.

Maybe it’s a wine that’s meant to be hidden in plain sight, and not found out right away.  For that, I had to look hard to find a link to where you might be able to find this wine near you.  At an average price of $10, it’s not going to hurt your bank account, or hurt anyone’s feelings.  It’s a good wine that does it’s job.

I think my peers liked it more than I did.  And I’m easy to please.

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But what was even more pleasing was the meal my friends prepared.   Seasoned and sauteed chicken, an incredible salad with sunflower seeds that really put it over the top, and squash slices with pomegranate seeds.   And these guys have had some lavish meals in the past, with always awesome groups of people, which means plenty of wine and other libations have been brought, shared, and I will say decimated! Woohoo!

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But this simple meal was just what everyone needed.   I could have pieces of the squash till the end of time, and that salad is on my mind as I write this during breakfast.   The chicken was great, but if even if you subtract that, it’s a vegetarian’s dream meal.  This was yummy!

And in a way the wine paired with this perfectly.

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Things are going to get crazy, whether or not we choose to allow it or see it. Some of us are better equipped (not sure about me) of handling the excitement, the stress, the errands, the impending shopping, the parties, and all of that other commotion.  Yes, lots of commotion!

But many situations and events are also about peace and calm.  Last night was exactly about that, peace and calm.  Oh and plenty of wine drinking…

This was not the only bottle we had, so you can see we were enjoying ourselves, responsibly of course, knowing that we had some beautiful moments, and while the next month is going to be crazy, we will always be thankful for the quiet times, the crazy times, and all of the times.

I wish you and yours a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

Peace be with you…

Ideen

 

 

Happy Beaujolais Day!

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You know the week before Thanksgiving has become a thing.   And if you want to call it another excuse to party, another excuse to eat, drink, and participate in merriment, I’m all for it.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2017 officially kicked off this past Thursday.  To me, it’s the precursor to all that’s great about the holidays.  And this is meant as the highest compliment.  It could just be another marketing gimmick, or another way to make a dollar, but who really cares?  Any reason to get together with the people you love, to drink some simple and affordable wines, eat a whole bunch of yummy food, and just hang out is better than any reason not to.

And if there’s more, and as long as it’s not overkill, I’m all for more genuine celebrations as long as it’s in a healthy, safe, and heartwarming manner.

This event truly warms my heart.

I was talking with a close friend over the week about getting some of our favorite people together for this truly special day. And with a few schedule adjustments we were able to do this to perfection.

Speaking of schedules, 2017 was a strange year in France for as it had one of the smallest amounts of harvesting and production in quite some time.   In spite of all that, the hosts f the party and myself each brought a bottle to share and try with friends.

And they provided this spread for the ages.  I mean what else needs to be said?

Well we should talk about the wine, right?

First up is the hosts’ choice, the 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau from Bouchard Aîné & Fils.

This is what makes this event so fun.  It’s exactly what you would expect from a Beaujolais Nouveau,  It’s light on the nose and when you sip.  The grapes tastes as young as you would expect. There’s no thrills, no life changing feelings (well that all depends on the person drinking), and this isn’t likely to win any awards.  But it might just win you over.

There’s some cherries, hints of other fruits (all depends on your interpretation and imagination), and a little to no tannins. It’s exactly what you would expect.  It’s exactly what I expected.  And sometimes that’s all you want.   At the average price of $10-12, there’s no complaints.  It tastes like a bottle under $10.  I would say the couple extra dollars is an upcharge to join the celebration!   And people to love the label.

Next, was the bottle I brought.  The 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau from Joseph Drouhin, almost leans towards the medium side.  This is the opposite of our first bottle, and seems a little more serious and sophisticated.  It might take itself a little too seriously.  The violet color is the antithesis of our first bottle.  The berries, cherries, and other fruits taste a little darker and a little smokier.  I believe this was the favorite of the group.   There’s a little more structure to this.  If you didn’t tell me this was a nouveau, I wouldn’t know the difference.  This tastes more like a regular Beaujolais.

At $15 this borders on closer to bottle service or vip access to the party.

After all this analysis, none of this matters.  We went back-and-forth in sipping each bottle, that any insight and commentary was rendered meaningless.

What’s most important now, this time of year, and forever, is who you choose to spend these celebratory occasions with.   The small gatherings where you can discuss the wine, the food, and anything else that might be on your mind, or makes you feel good, is more important than discussing all the complexities and intricacies of these bottles, or anything.

Having a good time is of bigger importance than taking these things too seriously.   And I take what I say oh so seriously.  Haha.

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After a while, other wine was drank, the amazing food was continually noshed on, and the conversations went from light hearted to serious, and back to light hearted.  But it was all in good fun and out of love.   This is what life is really all about.  This applies to now, the holidays, and for the duration of our existence in this amazing thing called life.

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This was incredible.  I don’t know what else to say.  I’m grateful to be welcomed into a friend’s house where things are happy, beautiful, holiday like, and represents all the other good that’s in the world.  This is what makes this life so grande.  It’s the intimate gatherings with close friends and family that help us as grow as people, and as souls.

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This warmed my soul.

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These bottles are easy to find, and I would suggest drinking them before the year is over. It’s not meant to wait.  These grapes average six to eight weeks old, so the time is now. Here’s a list of other suggested Beaujolais Nouveau bottles to try.

Here are my posts on this beautiful occasion.

My blog is now three years old, and I’m honored to have this as my third anniversary post.  I wasn’t aware of this detail until this morning.  I felt an additional post for the week was essential to commemorate.  I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe in the awesome.

I think this is going to be a great holiday season.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

I’m Feeling Thankful

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I tell you, life can be so good if you allow it to be.    Yesterday, I allowed that to be.

I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland and I’m here at least several times a month visiting friends and family.  There may have been a time or two where I visited Sugarloaf Mountain, went on a trail, and that was it.  And it’s sadly possible I never did that.  This goes back to grade school.   Otherwise I haven’t been in this vicinity in over two decades.

But something told me yesterday it was time to make a return.  Maybe not necessarily the mountain, but a serendipitous situation led me to Sugarloaf  Mountain Vineyard.

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There are situations that have come up in my life that have motivated to actually stop and smell the roses, or in this instance, taste the wine.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not stopped to relax, do something new, and experience something that well, maybe at the time wasn’t meant to be.  Now those situations may come up again but life is all about doing the most with what you have, and doing the most that makes you feel good.

As we approach Thanksgiving, those feeling are amplified.

The holidays are a beautiful time for us, a rough time for many others, and a mix of emotions for everyone in between.  I would say I’m a combination of all of the above.

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One of many blessings is the fact that the vineyard is open seven days a week from 12-6 daily.  Many vineyards have limited hours, some that are restricted to weekends.  When I looked up the hours my day was made.  And subconsciously I may have been trying to talk myself out of visiting, and just decide to back to the comforts of my own home, or my home town.  No, none of that today…

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I got there literally at opening, and was greeted by Michelle and Charlie immediately.  They were my wine pourers for the day.  And what I thought would be a few minutes tuned into a beautiful afternoon…

Of course I came for the tasting, but what really caught my eye is the Melisseus.  More on that in a little while.

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There were eight for sampling, and I want to thank Michelle for holding the wines for me so I could grab as many pictures as I could.  I did inform them of my blog and what I was hoping to do for the day.  They kindly obliged.  And I’m so thankful.  It made the tasting and the rest of my visit, that much better.

While I had all eight wines, and instead of reviewing and dissecting every wine that’s listed, I will just share my thoughts on my favorites.SugarloafSiren

I really liked the 2016 Siren.  The synopsis even mentions flavors and scents of childhood candies.  It reminds me of my Middle Eastern candies I’ve shared with family and friends, not only growing up, but even in present time.   And while it’s not a wine I’ll actively seek out, when it’s around, I’m happy to sip.

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The 2016 Rosé is perfect for Thanksgiving.  And I especially mean this Rosé.  Some are perfect for warmer climates, but the tint and body on this one goes well with a lavish holiday meal, or two, or three, ha.  This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is first class all the way. The tannins are low so you can truly appreciate  anything and everything about this one.  The aromas of cinnamon, spices, and everything nice under the sun will win even non wine lovers over. I tasted strawberry.  And while I would have purchased this wine (In hindsight I wish I did), I went with the my old reliable.

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And old reliable, is meant with the highest praise.  As much as my palate has evolved and expanded to appreciate different grapes, scents, tastes, and all the other intricacies of fine wines such as these, I went with the 2015 Cabernet Franc.  This was $26 (most of their wines are in the $20+ range), and I wanted to treat myself.

As a dear friend told me, this is my kind of wine.  The taste of peppers and cranberries is what makes this medium bodied wine an absolute gem.  I’ve had many Cabernet Francs and they’re all somewhat similar in taste, but this just a little more pep (ha) in its step.  I can’t say it’s the best Cab Franc I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair comparison to all the others, and to this.   The notes mention black cherries and grape tannins.  This is everything I want in a wine.  There’s so many things that we discover in wine, that makes the combinations of flavors and scents unlimited.  But this is is unpretentious, welcoming, and makes me want to open this bottle now, then saving for later.

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But I’ll save it for later.

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However, the Melissius is for now.  This is what I came for.  And while they only usually serve it on weekends (I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble for this), Charlie made me up of this warm holiday tasting masterpiece, and my day just got made.

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This is the hot, honey spiced wine made with an Unoaked Chardonnay and all the spices that make this time of year so great, and makes this life so fun sometimes.

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The Melissius will be served every weekend from now until April, so there’s plenty of time for you to have a glass.  It’s worth the drive alone.

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Even if you’re not a wine drinker, you’re going to love this one.  My new friends in the tasting room suggested the most perfect snacks to go with my drink.   I don’t need to explain them, the pictures speak for themselves.

And this is where I officially found peace for the next hour or so.  I took my pictures and then just sat and admired these views of fall and the scenery that I’ve come to love once again these past couple of months.  But when it’s right in your face the feelings were different this time.

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While time just flies by and it’ll be 2018 before you know it, it was important to be where I was and understand time, feelings, and emotions can be fleeting, fickle, and yet so wonderful.

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I forgot where I was at times, while I sipped my Melissius.  Maybe I  was transported to a place in time of Greek Mythology, like its namesake.  But like I say, I think I was somewhere bigger than I even realize, or can fully explain.

I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  And what a feeling that is.

When I came down from that euphoria, I met a friendly couple outside, and I explained to them what I was doing, even though they had already figured it out.   They had a lovely dog with them too.    I can’t help but be overly sentimental and nostalgic of an event that took place less than 24 hours ago.

I need to come back, and I won’t ever take this long again.

As I grow up, (and I have much growing up to), the yearning for genuine peace, genuine conversation, with some great food and wine to boot, is all I need in this lifetime.  Oh and some great company too.

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This was something, and I wish I could go on forever, but I can’t.   All I can do is be thankful for the time I had here, and let everyone know that I look forward to the next time.   The next story of this chapter will be written, and I look forward to that day.

For more on Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard click here for their story, their wine list, where to find their wines in Maryland, info on the tasting room and visiting, their calendar of events, to join their wine club, and contact info.

P.S. I’m so grateful for the industry discount Sugarloaf  Mountain Vineyard bestowed upon me.  It was an early Thanksgiving and Christmas present I will never forget and it’s one of many things I shall be thankful for, not just this holiday season, but forever.

I’ll leave you with plenty of pictures from my stay.   I look forward to next time.

Happy Early Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Exceptional Occasion

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This past Saturday was one of those great events that makes me pinch myself, and I thank all my lucky stars, the constellations, and all the other great stuff in the universe.

Sometimes life is good to you, and you meet some exceptional people that introduce you to other folks that are amazing.  And if you’re a good person, you end up being surrounded by good people, and in turn you will attract more wonderful people into your life.

This past Saturday was a night I look forward to each day of the year, and I mark it on my calendar and make arrangements quite early for the CASAblanca Gala presented by the briliant folks of Anne Arundel County, CASA.

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It’s become more than a night.  It’s become a weekend to celebrate what’s good about this organization, what’s good about the Annapolis area, and a great weekend celebrating with family and friends.  And I’m honored to call people close to the organization, family.

My dear friend Rebecca is the Executive Director (and acted as Conductor, more on this shortly…) who works tirelessly to put together not just this event, but so many others I’ve been honored to be a part of.

Yes this is a wine blog, and I will incorporate wine into this.

Before the event begun itself, I met up earlier in the afternoon with friends who were staying at the Westin Hotel, where the event was being held, and a pre event beverage seemed appropriate, and also has become tradition.  I love a good tradition.

I bought a bottle, not necessarily with the intent that I was going to write about it,  but just one to share.  And as I noticed the label, I thought how perfect.  The wine is the 2012 Conductor from The Whitman Express.

We enjoyed our wine with some cheese, crackers, and all the essentials that my pals were so generous and thoughtful enough to bring.  So bringing a bottle is the least I could do.

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There’s a lot going on with this red blend.  And it wouldn’t be right to list them all (Merlot, Zinfandel, Barbera among others), because at the time, my friends and I were just enjoying the moment for what it us.  We were drinking a red table wine in a hotel room, sharing an experience that we only do ever so often.

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That in itself made this wine that much better.  The anticipation and the buildup of the amazing night that was to come.  Yes I’ve done it three times now, so I kind of know what to expect, but the joy in hanging out with good people for a beautiful cause, and hanging out in a divine location, will always be something to look forward to and something I’m so honored to be a part of.   I can’t ever show enough appreciation.

And speaking of thoughtful, this organization is loaded with some of the kindest and most thoughtful people imaginable.

Funny that I grab a wine called the Conductor.

The event itself was a symphony of love, happiness, hope, healing, and all the other good stuff in the world.

I prefer to let your mind visualize all the good stories, speeches, and stories of joy that were shared throughout this night.  Yes there was plenty of amazing food, drinks and enjoying time with friends, old and new.  And in this instance I consider several of the folks involved and in attendance as family.

I mean what else need to be said?  Five hours goes by in a flash.  The whole weekend goes by in flash.   Thankfully I have memories through this blog, through pictures, and through the domino effect of making some amazing connections.  Yes some of these guys you only see once a year but that’s what makes this so beautiful.  You see them, then you don’t, they come back into your life, and you pick up right where you left off.

And then there’s others you start seeing more often because you share the same interests, the same support for an amazing cause, and are connected by some of the same amazing people.

A beautiful symphony indeed.

Here is a post related to CASA I made nearly a year ago.   And my preview of this exceptional event from last week.

For more on this wine, the site is user friendly to find all the information you need.

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But most importantly, for more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is their About Us section, information on volunteering, other ways to get involved, and their donation page.

This is the event that gets me excited for the holidays and it’s placement in the first Saturday of November makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

See you at their next event, and of course I look forward to next year.

Happy Holidays and Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

…From This Exceptional Place

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There’s a full moon coming this Saturday (November 4th), and if you’re superstitious like me, you look for signs of the crazies leading up to the full moon.  Maybe the day before or the day before that bookend the day the moon is at its fullest each month is where you might things seem out of sorts.  And before I start pointing fingers, I also look at myself.  Have I been acting goofy?  Have I not been myself?   I can attribute it to the moon, the starts, the universe, and everything that’s beyond my control.

Some things are beyond our comprehension.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on who you talk to) we also just take things at face value, and not seeing that their might be something bigger than us.  This is how I go about drinking wine and writing about it.  This is also how I go about a lot of things.

This whole week and these past couple of months have seen majors changes in me, my life, my peers, but overall the life around me is evolving.  It’s a new normal which just becomes normal after a while.  It’s fight or flight, or go into hiding.

Well I’m not ready to go into hiding.  There’s plenty of great wine to be had and it’s November, the official start of holiday month, which actually lasts two months.  It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year and a great time to be alive.  The wine is going to hopefully match the sentiments of the time of year and the gathering that are to come.

But first, I need one for me and and only me.  And this goes for all of us, the best time to appreciate wine is any time and way you want.

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I received a most intriguing Christmas gift last year, in the form of the 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir from Valley Of The Moon Winery of the Sonoma Valley.

It was sitting in the most beautiful of decorative bags all these months just waiting to be opened.  Well it was worth the wait.  It had the look and feel of a bottle over $20.  And I don’t just mean the label.  I had a sense that this isn’t an everyday wine to just crack open for no good reason.

Well today I did just crack it open, and the reasons are whatever I want them to be.

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I absolutely adore this wine.  It has a presence and energy that just begs to be awesome.  And it’s so awesome.   I love a good Pinot Noir and this to me has more of a medium bodied feel than the lighter ones we’re used to.  The oak along with hints of fall make it feel a little bolder than what a Pinot Noir may traditionally be.

And a huge thanks to my pals for this most charming of wine glasses.

When I say hints of fall, it could be the fact that the temperatures continue to drop and the days are getting shorter.

Along with the full moon, daylight savings time ends this weekend.  That could be a double dose of chaos, or it could just be nothing.   But in researching their 2014 Pinot that is available for purcahse, the notes mention toasted oak and cinnamon sticks.  Yes, this is fall ladies and gentlemen!

The 2012 Notes mention aromas of cherry, honeysuckle, and currant.   Cherry is easy to recognize, along with cranberry but the the additions of ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla confirm everything.  This is the perfect wine for this time of year.  I’m enjoying my bottle slowly as I write this to you.  Yes I took plenty of time to appreciate this without photos and without writing,  and will do so upon completion.   It’s too good not to take your sweet time with.

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I want to thank another dear friend for providing me the yummy food that is featured with my vino.  The meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cabbage is a hearty meal that pairs perfectly.  And this is a wine that can be had with just about anything.  It’s that versatile.

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This is why sometimes it pays to go outside of the $10 range of wines and splurge a little bit.  This is a gem and I’m so grateful to receive it as a gift and the timing to share it with everyone sounds about right.

Funny thing is I’ve never seen this wine in stores.  Since I received this gift I still have yet to see it in nearly a year.  I wonder with this celebration of my first Valley Of The Moon wine, will I start seeing it in wine shoppes somewhere along the way.

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I can only hope.

For more on Valley Of The Moon, here is their story, their list of wines, and options for purchase online.

Happy Full Moon and End Of Daylight Savings Time to you this weekend.  I guess that’s something to celebrate, I think.  But there’s no question this is a wine to be celebrated and appreciated.

I appreciate and celebrate this one so much.

Ideen