What Can I Say…

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…I’m an animal lover.

But that doesn’t equate to expert wine analysis, but that’s not the point of this post, or many of my stories.  The intent is to give a lighthearted perspective with a bit of knowledge thrown in here and there.

I’m always learning, and when it comes to wine, it’s an going journey with a destination that hopefully never ends.  There was a dopey cliche somewhere in there, but it’s true.

The sun is finally out, and it took a lot longer, but good things come to those… Yeah another cliche.  But good things come to those who deserve it or don’t think about it.  It just comes, and it comes to them.

So it came to us and with a vengeance in some ways…  We’ve been bad and I guess we’ve finally been good and been rewarded with sun, life, daylight, and all the good things that Spring traditionally brings.

With that bring us Rosé season.   I know for many, it’s their favorite.  Folks that don’t fully embrace wine will drink Rosé for it’s simplistic qualities, for the color, the symbolism of Spring (and what’s to come), and all the good things in life.

Some take Rosé a bit more seriously when it comes to wine drinking.  It’s treated just like any other, like a peer, and like any wine that can be paired with a good meal or savored alone, or with dear friends.

Ironically the Syrah Rosé from Spy Pig (I get a laugh just typing that out and saying it out loud) is a lot more serious than on first viewing and initial sipping.  This is a solid wine at a reasonable price.  You should be able to find this for $10 and under at a retailer near you.  Here’s where to buy,  and more on their wines.

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When a label is that endearing, you might think that it’s covering up deficiencies with the wine itself.  This isn’t the case here.   And for something so affordable, you know what you’re getting it and depending on your palate, it’s either a pleasant surprise or meets expectations.

I’m not even the biggest Rosé fan, and I found this enjoyable.   Life changing it’s not, but it’ll make your day for sure.  And that’s an important of life.

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On a warm day like today, the color even looks more lively, and with red berries on the nose, and on the palate, it’s a simple, welcoming, and heartwarming wine that will make anyone feel good.

After an extended winter that has truncated Spring, this has been long overdue.  But like I said good things come, good things come in all kinds of packages and labels, and any chance to symbolically appreciate our animal friends, no matter how eccentric or enigmatic it might be, I’m all for it.

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To say that my snacks (think you may recognize ’em) were subconsciously paired with my wine, could be an understatement.   In many instances, things just work out like that.

It’s those stories that might linger and feel memorable over time, as I look back and read memoirs from the past, or it could be a footnote.  I certainly doubt the latter.  Everything has a bigger meaning than just what’s right in front of you.  Sometimes what’s in front of you is all you have, and sometimes you don’t know what you have until after the fact.

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Where I’m going with this, I’m not quite sure.   This wine was simply fun, and I get the feeling this only the beginning with the Rosé wine discussion.

Only time will tell what’s next, and what will be discussed next week.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

My Love of Ducks

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Any reason for me to use my love for wine and my love for animals in the same breath I’m going to do.  As a matter of fact any excuse for me to profess my love for our divine and endearing creatures, I’m going to come up with one.  For me its actually second nature and I’ll never shy away from that.

In past posts I’ve sung the praises of dogs, cats, horses, and quite a few other spiritually magnificent beings.   This week I’m professing my love for ducks.   And I love them so much.  They may be small in stature but their spirits are so big.

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With all this said this week I went with a familiar face.  I’ve had Decoy Wines in the past and loved every sip of every bottle I ever tried.   If I’m sounding biased because of you know what on the label then you’re exactly right.

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But what does stand out about these wines, aside from the gorgeous artwork, is the simplicity of the vintages and the tasting notes that accompany them.  For anyone new to wine or, even someone who is a seasoned veteran, it’s always comforting to know that many of us just want to enjoy wine without any of the analysis and then over-analysis that some wineries get into.  I’m all for expounding as long as it’s done in an inviting in approachable manner.

After the letdown from last week (which also featured an animal friend by the way), I promised to move on from the oak barrel Chardonnay’s to the stainless steel that I and many of my constituents prefer.

I had a few bottles in mind but at my local wine shoppe yesterday I scoured the aisles for any and all grapes, all varieties, and all charming labels.   It didn’t have to be Chardonnay but that was at the top of the list.

Without any panic or fear of finding nothing I spent a good amount of time canvasing and perusing the store until finally I found a familiar face, an old friend, and a trusty confidante.    This was the 2014 Sonoma County Chardonnay with that stunning artwork (more on the artist Michael Allard can be found here) of the most charming of waterfowl friends.

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At $20 this was on the higher end of what I would usually buy but trust me it’s worth every penny and even a little more.  And with those simplistic notes you can’t go wrong. For myself and many others you’ll taste a simple yet balanced and delightful (look at me using wino terms) vino that can be paired with all kinds of food or with nothing at all. The specs mention layers of apple, pear, and lemon which all work well for summer but for most of the year if you think about it.   Since those are mainly year round fruits you can equate this to being a year round wine.  Simple and effective.

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And even though the website lists this vintage as sold out, I’m convinced that their more recent varietals are just as relatable and heartwarming as this one.  And there’s a good chance you may find it at your local wine distributor.  Just a hunch.  This is a label I’ve seen all over the place.

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I enjoyed my wine with some pita chips and lemon flavored hummus, that I purchased without any idea that this wine would carry hints of lemon.  There’s one sign.  More on signs in a little bit…

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But I can’t get enough of the ducks.  If this wine had a standard label and was maybe in the $10 and under range I may be singing a different tune.  But I would still say this is a tremendous wine at this price.  It’s the power of suggestion, the power of art, and the pulling of mine (and many others) heartstrings.  Oh I love this creature.

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I love dogs and cats because they’re so affectionate.  I love ducks because they are those darlings, and they also seem so loyal to one another, like many animals are.   Usually I receive signs to try a wine or try anything.  Because the universe works like that.  I would’ve said earlier in the week I saw ducks in a pond or logos for ducks, or something to tell me in my subconscious get a wine that would match what is being presented to me.

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This time things were rearranged and reversed.  Just hours ago as I’m headed home, I take a more scenic route home and as I’m approaching this lovely farm that I was knew up the road, I see a family of ducks slowly walking across the street.  They took their time too and I wanted them to go on forever.  They’re pedestrians too, and deserve the courtesy of making it across the street as safely as possible.  I mean that sincerely.  I stopped to talk a picture and watched in awe and then said ‘aww’ as they walked by.

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I’d like to think it was their way of saying thank you.  Well I thank them and I love them so much.  I’m grateful to have made some new friends and hope to see them again soon.

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And this will not be the last time I explore Decoy Wines.  I had too much fun with this. This all came together in less than 24 hours, and those tend to be the best of experiences.

Here is their list of wines for sale online,  their history, and best of all, where you can find their wines near you.

I love Decoy Wines and I love ducks so much.  If and when I make it to Sonoma County I’m visiting this winery.  I’m visualizing how awesome it will be.  But for now I’m admiring the ducks.

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Did I mention I love them.

I love them.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Goodness, Gracious, Great Bears Of…

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…or something like that.

I’m a sucker, I’m a nerd, and then I’m a sucker again.  Whenever I see an animal on a wine label, I’m automatically drawn to it.  And if the price is reasonable enough, say in the under $20 range (and hopefully under $10-$15), I’m likely going to purchase it.

This one I bought for $13, but you can easily find it (along with their other wines) for $10 or less.  And that is how much you should pay for it.

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Yes, regardless of the grape, the varietal, and without any research whatsoever, I’m going to buy it.  Because if someone had the wherewithal and the foresight to post a positive depiction of our animal friends, you have to believe there’s a heart and a soul behind the operation. Whether or not the wine is good is another story.

That’s a segue if there ever was one.

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The 2015 Chardonnay from Toasted Head is the perfect example of why purchasing just based on the label.  And you know, I didn’t even notice my new friend breathing fire until after uncorking.  I thought it was bear standing peacefully in solitude.  How nerdy o of me.

Until last year, I had an aversion to white wines that were fermented in oak barrels.  To me it just didn’t taste right and undermined all the flavors and aromas that the wine would have to offer.

That changed recently.

I’ve been to many tastings this year where the oaky whites were a pleasant and welcoming surprise.  But maybe that was based on how I was feeling, how many wines I’ve already sampled, and the company that was with me.   I mean I was in good company upon uncorking this wine, but based on my reaction, I don’t think anyone else wanted to share in my dismay.

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The butterscotch or buttery aroma is what stands out the most.  And it didn’t work for me.  And upon reading the notes, I see the flavors of creamy toast peachy caramelized custard.  I’ll take that at face value and yet proceed with caution.  That awkward taste for me might have been that custard they referenced.  It also could be a lot of things.  But I think that oak wasn’t the main culprit.

I like Chardonnay.  It was never a wine I sought out, but lately it’s been a refreshing white wine as we’re celebrating these gorgeous and glorious sunny days of Summer.  I just wish this bottle would join the list of the many wines I’ve tried because of this blog of mine.   They’re not all going to be winners.  I was just taken aback by how rough it was and how difficult it was to finish.

I left the bottle for my friends hoping for some feedback.  So far (as of this writing) I’ve heard nothing.   Take that for what it’s worth.   Yet I think some people are going to love it.   That’s what makes this so fun.  We all aren’t going to like the same things, the same wines, the same grapes, and the same anything.  It would be boring if we did.

However, there’s always positives.  Even with a wine you don’t enjoy, there’s always silver linings and the glass being half full.

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I’m grateful just to have the opportunity to be invited to a friends house and be in a position to bring this bottle of wine to share.  I’m grateful for the fantastic pizza that paired with this wine, and I’m grateful to share my story with you.  There’s a lot to be grateful and thankful for, even if not everything was like I hoped.

There will always be another wine to try, another meal to pair it with, and hopefully some great company to share the experience with,

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I’m grateful to share this experience with you.

For more on Toasted Head, click here for their story, their wines (in which I would love to try another grape), and finally where to find their wines.

If the opportunity presents itself, I would love to try another.

I’ll be looking to write about a Chardonnay made in stainless steel, and expecting harmonious results. Maybe as soon as next week.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

Dance Party!

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No, not really.  Well, unless you incorporate laying around as much as possible as some form of interpretive dance.

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I’ll cut right to the dance and step in where I can, this dance party was brought to us by our friends from Trader Joe’s.  The 2014 Cotillion Pinot Noir is an exclusive to TJ’s and I wouldn’t expect it any other way.

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I can’t fully explain into words but there’s certain stores you walk into, and you can just tell the food, the drink, or what have you is synonymous with that store.  If I saw this bottle somewhere at a friends house,  I would sense this can only come from one place. That’s a testament to the bottle and the energy of this store.

The fact that I’m expounding on this so long on this may come off as an indictment of the wine itself than a love for the label.  Well there is a love for the label.  How do you not like animals dancing the Cotillion.

My one issue is the price.  I think in general they’ve steadily raised their prices $1-$2 (and sometimes more) for most of their exclusive wines.  The same wines I used to see for $3-4, yes you read that right, are now in the $5-7+ range.

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This wine goes for $10 and it’s ok for that price.  The tasting notes have been provided for you, and Trader Joe’s is so good with making that accessible and easy for anyone to understand.  The berries are easy to detect as with many California wines, but the vanilla spice is the stand out here. Maybe in colder temperatures I’ll appreciate this even more.

It screams fall and it screams a cozy situation where doing nothing as much as possible is ideal. That’s more projecting and a personal observation than anything else.

Since it’s a Pinot Noir, it can be paired with anything and nothing all at the same time. After a few minutes of letting it breathe, it improved in taste.  Initially I was weary.  But that’s why you know never judge a wine on first sip, immediately upon opening.  And you never judge a wine by its label, unless it’s as charming as this one.  In that case, judge away, as long as it’s positive. Animal friends always deserve to be happy.

And we should be happy with whatever wine we’re drinking.

I would be happier if this was a few dollars less.  And I may have been spoiled since I’ve had many great wines at $7.00 or less from Trader Joe’s.

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As seasons change so does our eating habits.   Some dear friends supplied a wonderful spread of cheese, crackers, and finger foods to complement the vino.  It’s a team effort! For even more on this group collective, go here.

And the team at the Trader Joe’s in Alexandria, VA has always been accessible.    Since my first time visiting I’ve always had a good feeling about this store.  It’s been one of my go-to wine shoppes for the past few years.  And when I make my way to the vicinity I make it a priority to stop by.

Even though prices for certain vintages have gone up, there’s still bargains that are second-to-none, that you can’t find everywhere.  Being a national chain is part of why they can lower their prices.

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Lower prices doesn’t always mean lower quality.  Just as a cheap bottle can lead to cheap wine. So have fun and do some research.   Before you know it the holidays will be here and if you live near a TJ’s that sells wine consider yourself fortunate and find some great deals.

Here’s a sampling of my Trader Joe’s posts from the past.

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We’re just getting started and more sweet deals are hopefully to come.

Cheers,

Ideen

 

For The Pups

This will end up being one of my favorite posts and favorite wines to talk about.  As some of you may know, I am a huge animal lover.  I’ll support anything that benefits our four-legged friends.  If it helps, supports, and facilitates a dog, cat, or any other animal friends happiness, I am all for it.

It was inevitable that I was going to write about Chateau Law Paws and the timing could not be more perfect.  Over the course of last week, I celebrated my birthday with two wonderful dinners, with two wonderful sets of friends, and with two of their wonderful wines!

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I needed to grab a wine for the first celebration, earlier in the week, and I randomly found their Red Wine Blend at a very obscure shop.  And what a gem and joy it was to drink.  And at only $9.00, it was a colossal bargain! ChateauBlendOpened

The synopsis mentions various fruits on the nose and when tasting, with a hint of sage. I might have caught some of that, but more importantly, I found a wine that was easy and enjoyable to drink.  And to know I was championing a wonderful cause like the North Shore Animal League, makes it taste even a million times better.

It’s a placebo that makes me feel good and hopefully does the same for our pups and purring pals!

We enjoyed our glass with a succulent and decadent meat sauce pizza!

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For dinner number two, we had more of a barbecue style feast with burgers, sausage, corn, and other fun foods. I was told not to bring anything, but coming to a dinner party, even if you are the recipient of the dinner, is bad etiquette. And once again, I find a quite beer & and wine shop, and their Pinot Noir! ChateauPinotChateauPinotFeast

As we know, Pinot’s are one of the easiest and lightest wines to drink.  It can go well with just about anything or nothing at all. But I’m glad I brought it for this dinner with friends. Once again, a lot of aromas and flavors are mentioned.  This time, along with some fruits, coconut and creme caramel are included.  I wish I could have found those. Next time I won’t try as hard.

And even the winemaker, Marty Spate, says just to enjoy it.   I can’t argue with that.  It went down so easy and so effortlessly. What a treat this was! ChateauPinotOpened

What a wonderful week this was, supporting this great wine and amazing cause.   I could go on and on about this. And their community section is so charming.

This is what life is all about, enjoying a glass of wine and helping some of the greatest creatures ever to set foot on this Earth. I haven’t had a chance to complete the trifecta and have a glass of their Chardonnay.  But that gives me another reason (not that helping animals isn’t enough) to write about them again this Summer!

If you’re interested in knowing where to find their heartwarming bottles in your area, click here.

And the link to donate is here. Their story makes me feel good and I am happy to have written about it.

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen