Captivating Is Right…

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That’s what Pine Ridge Vineyard describes their white blend of Chenin Blanc & Viognier.  Which happen to me to grapes I’ve grown to love (not that I ever thought otherwise) over the past few years, simply by varietals finding me.

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For me, Chenin Blanc & Viognier have always carried an aura about them that feels larger than life.  They’re just different than many of the whites that are readily available at your local wine shoppe.   These grapes primarily found in France can be made into stellar creations on its own, but to have them together is a risk.  But life is about taking risks.  And if it were too fail, then so be it?  That’s what life and experiences are all about. They’re not going to be winners and perfect all the time.

And then there’s the 2016 Blend from Pine Ridge that I wouldn’t say tastes like nothing I’ve had before, because I don’t know what that nothing or something is.  It’s just a great wine at an affordable price.  And that’s important.  What also is wonderful is a blend like this can succeed and stand out among all the wines that are available for purchase.  Yet I’ve seen this listed for anywhere from $11-$15, and that’s more than reasonable.

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The notes are listed on the page, but while I can pretend I could smell, detect, or taste peaches, pineapple, and citrus, none of that is the case.  What I did taste is a wonderful white wine that makes me feel good and appreciate that something so well could be crafted and provided to us at such an affordable price.

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No, it’s not the best wine I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair thing to say.  What has happened it has added to my ever increasing love for white wines.   I would say appreciate but that sounds like I’m not really a fan, and a cop out.

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What I find charming is Pine Ridge has its own website devoted to this blend.  I like the touch and it shows how serious and passionate they are about this wine.

And the good news?  This is one you will likely find at a store near you.  If not, it’s also available for purchase online.

Which leads me to think, how good are there other wines, including the reds? Well if this is any indication, I have much to look forward too.  As we’re still in season and it’s warm and oh so summer out, the reds will wait.  The whites and rosé well… We shall see!

But get this wine, even if you don’t love it, at least it was something different, and it may lead to insightful and inspirational conversations, just like many wines can do.  Great wine, great food, and great conversation is what makes this life so great.

While the weather is still this kind, I hope to discuss more of the lighter and medium wines, because this life and time just keeps going.  It’s funny how cyclical things are, but that’s just what it is.  It’s great when a wine like this comes along to shake things up and breaks the cycle.  To write about something life this regularly might take away from that luster, so we’ll see where go to next…

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My hunch tells me more of the best and brightest.

Peace be with you.

Love,

Ideen

Home Away From Home

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This is more than just about a wine.  And honestly most of these stories are more than just about the wine.  It’s also about the journeys we go on, the people we share it with, and of course any life changing tidbits along the way.  Not everything is going to be memorable or resonate.

Sometimes it’s not the wine but it’s the wonderful company you shared it with, or maybe you had a moment of peace and solitude.  And you may have said to yourself that life is pretty good, and at least for even a few surrealistic seconds, it was as pretty close to complete peace that there is.

You ever get that feeling?  I bet it happens more than you and I realize.

I’ve had that happen to me multiple times recently.  Maybe the universe is telling me to appreciate life all I can, because those moment are everywhere if you let them.

Well this happened to me twice in the same weekend at nearly the same place.  Now how I ended up in Northern Virginia twice in three days is something I hadn’t planned out.  It just worked out that way.  And I’m grateful it did because it brought me back to visit an old familiar friend, Balducci’s.

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Now we’ve all been to markets with their selections of natural foods, organic foods, salad bars, hot food bars, delis, cheese markets, and everything else you can come up with. But Balducci’s has been doing this for over 100 years.

Now with locations exclusively to Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia, it’s not going to be readily accessible to everyone.  And in a way these locations are mostly in pricier parts of their respective cities, which means higher end food and higher end prices.  That also means higher quality, yet you can still find deals.

I’ll make this part brief. my first and many visits after was to the Bethesda location near where i grew up.  Now that area is not quite my cup of tea but going back to my younger days when it was under a different name, I do have fond memories, maybe simply because it was a simpler time, and there were less things to worry about.

Even if the prices seemed out of reach at the time, what did stand out is how I hadn’t seen a store like this, of its kind, maybe ever.  And even with changes, the heart of the store remains the same.  And now they’ve added wine.

But two recent visits to the older part of McLean, VA brought me to another one of Balducci’s location.  And this location has more of a presence and easier to find than its Bethesda counterpart, simply because the McLean location is almost in an island unto itself, with little to no competition or hardly any neighbors to speak of.

Before I continue to digress, I’ll just say that what makes Virginia even stand out more is wine is easily accessible in grocery, convenient, and drug stores, while in Mayland you need a special permit, which the Bethesda location has.  But it makes coming to Virginia to buy one that much easier.

Yet I wasn’t looking for it.  But in McLean I felt so happy.  It was near where I was born, near things that made me happy (what those things are I’m really not quite sure, but I felt warm and fuzz), and overall had a welcoming energy I hadn’t always felt from its Bethesda counterpart.  If it sounds like I’m sort of picking on Bethesda, I don’t mean to.

There’s a lot to appreciate because in addition to everything that’s cool, their main headquarters is in Maryland.

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With all that said, I perused the wine section and noticed how so many bottles were in the $20-$30+ range.  That wasn’t a priority for me and it hardly ever is.  Thankfully, Balducci’s does have their own label of wines that were mostly under $15.00.  One in particular, the Chenin Blanc was only $10.  Without hesitation I decided this is what I was going to get, and this is what I’m going to write about.

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I was introduced to Chenin Blanc last summer, and enjoyed it for its simplicity yet somewhat sweet but still dry flavors, that make it a white that fans of mostly red wines can also enjoy.  If you were willing to give it a shot.  I did and I’ve had a few I’ve truly sipped again.

This 2016 Balducci’s Chenin Blanc tasted like a wine that is worth $10, nothing more, maybe less.  And with the understanding now it was one of the few bottles at $10 or less at Balducci’s, I get that quality is much higher here, and a lot of Chenin Blanc was produced.  More than what they know what to do with.  That’s just an observation and speculation.

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I tasted some fruits, and while it was semi sweet and dry, it was missing that wow factor. It felt like an everyday wine and I don’t think you should expect much more.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it.   It was a decent wine for the price.

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And it pairs well with spicy foods, salads (among so much more) or nothing at all.  I had mine with some Asian style chicken and vegetables.  And it was simple complement of wine and food.   That’s sometimes all you want and/or need.

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Here is a link to the importer of their wines, Kysela Pere et Fils if you’re curious to know more.

Maybe I had lofty goals because the Balducci’s of McLean had a positive energy and vibe that I can’t fully explain.  Maybe the grass is always greener, maybe it’s because I was born not too far away (that is a huge part of it),  or maybe I don’t come around enough to grasp what’s fully going on.   No need to over-analyze too much.

However, I do know this is just the beginning.  There’s more of this location and I’d like to explore and definitely a visit to the place where I was born in Alexandria, VA.

Yes so this will be done again sooner rather than later, and definitely before the year is out.   It’ll be a thoroughly enjoyable adventure.  I hope you’ll be able to join me.

For more on Balducci’s, click here.   And many of their items such as coffee, sweets and snacks,  spices, and many other giftsgifts are available for purchase online.

Here’s their list of locations again, which also includes one for my local friends in Baltimore.

And finally, here is their contact information.

Thank you so much and look forward to doing this all again soon.

Ideen

The Journey Is The…

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I called another audible this week.   Plans are meant to change, otherwise this life can be stagnant and even though things are going according to plan, it might feel like we’re going through the motions.

Happy 4th of July by the way.  I did have something wine and food related in find the festivities, but it once again didn’t feel right and didn’t fit with how I’m feeling and thinking at the time.    It doesn’t fit with how I’m feeling currently either.

Gratitude is something I feel I don’t express enough.  And the people we love the most we may not see enough.  It’s life.  We get busy, we busier, and then the unfortunate truth is if the friendship isn’t fully nourished, it can lead to out of sight and out of mind.  We’ve been on both sides of the equation, whether or not we realize or notice it.  I’m observant and I see it, but probably don’t see it all.

Thankfully these friends I’ve kept in touch with and see frequently, so when we get to wining and dining, it feels like old times and it feels like we’ve been doing this for years. We have been doing this for years.

My goodness where is the time going.  This blog is past two-and-a-half years.  Sometimes it feels, no.. It feels just right.

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So when my dear friends are making a spectacular dinner,  I’m going to ask what wine to bring.  And I don’t ask what they’re making.  It keeps it fresh, exciting, and suspenseful. So when the suggestion is Sauvignon Blanc, I’m intrigued.   And my friend could have said just about any grape and I might have said the same thing.  So two sentences ago was more for dramatic affect.

First. the meal.

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The meal included a delicious salad with some savory lettuce and the freshest carrots I’ve had in some time.  It tasted fresh out of the farm.  As a matter of fact I believe it was.

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The main course was this whole grain pasta with vegetables and this most succulent of shrimp.  I’m writing this so late into the night and I’m craving some right now, or maybe I’m just delirious with happiness.

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So I’ve talked about everything but the wine.   And that’s not on purpose.  It’s how this story worked out.  I think the Sauvignon Blanc from Ponga Planet is refreshing, light, charming, and endearing.  And it fit the realm of this entire meal.

The notes mention flavor of nectarine, lime, and grapefruit.  And whether or not you or I taste or even catch a glimpse of any of those flavors doesn’t truly matter.   Floral finishes and aftertastes are cool to discuss, but this wine was simple easy to drink.  And at the same time, roughly around $10 retail value.  And I feel like that’s a slight bargain.

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I feel like the dinner went by rather quickly.  And that may be representative of how things are going in our lives.  We’re occupied with so much and taking time to make a meal (which I don’t do often enough), sit down, have meaningful (or light-hearted) conversations, and actually listen to each other is a sadly missing art.  And it shouldn’t be.  It’s one of the most beautiful things.

But you know what else is beautiful?  Us.  That we have the opportunity to have a meal, a glass, a chat with the people we care about.  It’s these endearing and heartening experiences that I think about periodically and when I do they make me smile.  I think that’s what many of us want out of life, to keep it simple.

And Ponga keeps it simple.  The Sauvignon Blanc is their one wine.  How much more accessible can you get?

Their story is beautiful.   In the middle is this inspirational story about the Ponga Fern, which is the inspiration for this wine.  I love this so much.

To find the Ponga Planet Sauvignon Blanc near you, this link is accessible just like everything else surrounding this wine.   And finally here is their contact information.

I love this wine that much more, as I reminisce and get all nostalgic.  That’s when you know something is special.  If it hits a nerve and resonates with you in a way that happens organically you know you were a part of something special.  The great food, and more importantly the even greater company helps.

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Here’s to many more lifetime memories and experiences that bring us all joy.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

Not One But…

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Two Oceans from South Africa is likely one of many wines I gloss over at my nearby wine shoppes and never think to purchase.   Actually I know it is because I can’t recall ever having any of their wines. This is not meant as a negative.  It’s just the reality of things.  There is so much wine in the world that there will never be enough time to consume it all.  I can come close but what would be the fun in that?  It’s something about a journey.

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Just like last week I’m following these newly created wine celebration days, and intend to honor these days just like they were the big holidays of the year.  Ok, maybe not that overly sentimental and dopey, but I think you know what I’m saying.  With that being said, National Sauvignon Blanc Day took place (as of this posting) two days ago, on the 24th.

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I have some friends, men and women, close to me who find Sauvignon Blanc to be their favorite wine and drink it exclusively.  Well I don’t know how believable that is but I’ll take them at their word.  It’s not one of my favorites but I’ve had some varietals that were pleasing to the palate, easy to drink, and went down smoothly.  I basically used the similar terms in three different fashions.  Yeah.

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So the 2015 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc can be classified as one of those aforementioned descriptions.   It started off slow mainly because I wanted to sip immediately.  That’s me being a little too excited.  I had the company of a friend who reminded me to let it breathe.  For the initial first few sips gave me a headache.  And that’s not how you want to judge a wine, especially for such a monumental occasion.

After a few minutes things did open up nicely.   My friend agreed that the wine went down easy, and this was without having any food to pair with.   I would say this leans more towards the medium bodied Blancs that may require some finger foods or a meal.

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Well the suggestions the bottle reads were unavailable to us but thankfully we had some hummus and carrots to help ease our appetite.  It wasn’t the warmest or sunniest of days but as the weather improves the lighter and healthier choices will hopefully take precedent.  Easier said that done, maybe.   But this wine, with a little conversation and good times, got better after each sip and after each glass.

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One of the joys of sharing wine with someone is it takes on a life of its own.  After a while the setting becomes just as, if not more important than the wine itself.  And if the time is enjoyable than the wine itself becomes the same.  And sometimes a wine tastes that much better than it has any reason to be.  I’m not sure how to categorize this one other than it was a grower.   And at $10 or less in most shoppes, it’s a good value and an easy-drinking wine that can he had immediately and for any occasion.

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It’s not the best I’ve ever had but it did its job nevertheless.  And the images on the label do remind one of the warmer weather months.  And that’s always a good thing.

If it wasn’t for wine I wouldn’t know what Gooseberry is.  I may or may not have had it in other whites but the taste has been hard to detect for me.   Tropical fruits and a smooth finish make this wine what it is.  I would love to try similar wines with similar fruits and berries to see if certain ones stand out.    With the weather getting brighter this is a strong possibility.

So far I think this is a good starting point.

For more on Two Oceans Wines click here.  And here is their contact information.

When presented the opportunity I would be delighted to sample more of their wines and hope I get to do just that.

I hope you had a Happy Sauvignon Blanc Day, which like any other wine day, doesn’t need a specific day to celebrate.  But I think it does add to the fun.

More fun days to come.

Ideen