…Is All That I’ve Ever Known

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What am I talking about here?   Wait what…

I know what I like and while it evolves, I still know what I like.  While palates change, tastes change, and life changes, your gut is still your guide.  And your gut will never let you down.  It didn’t let me down and I still went against it.  So you can imagine the results.

The first wine was already opened by my friends at a friendly neighborhood bar/restaurant and it was stellar.

The 2016 Black’s Station Yolo County Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Matchbook Wines is one of the lighter variations of this wine I’ve had in a while.  If I did a blind test I wouldn’t know most wines from the other.  Well maybe I would.  No, not everything, but enough.  After drinking enough wine you’re going to pick up some things.  It’s what makes this so fun.  It’s not something to force upon yourself or anyone else.   Am I talking about wine, or anything in general?  That’s up to you and me to decide.  But it’s all relative.

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This wine is great and at around $12, it’s worth it’s weight in so much.  It just felt like the right wine for a transition into the season.  It hurts me to say that but that’s where we are.  It just felt right and while I tasted some spices, and the berries, and maybe some other indescribable hidden gems.

Most of all, it tasted good.  And being in a place that felt safe, felt comfortable, yet a bit of an unknown enhanced that experience.  No food, no loud noises, no shouting over anyone to be heard was necessary.  It was where I was and where I was supposed to be that matter.   I wish I could’ve ended it like that.  And I still might try too…

Things went a little south here.  I wish I could say otherwise.  The Red Blend from Rhiannon just felt like it was there. It was a label I’ve had before, and while I wasn’t sure, the fact that I vaguely remember should have immediately given me a warning sign.

Just because something isn’t so memorable doesn’t mean it’s not great, profound, or heck even memorable.   Sometimes it goes deep into our subconscious for later discussion, or never again.

Well I wouldn’t want to say never again.  I’m not sure what else there is to say.  I think I recall purchasing this bottle for under $10 so I can’t complain there.  And having these bottles at half price on a weekday night is something to be grateful for.   The glass is more than half full on this one.  There just wasn’t much that stood out about the wine.  Like I’ve said before, if a wine is terrible, or if anything is terrible, there might more to talk about.  This makes me sad to say but this is as mediocre as it gets.

I’ll keep the focus on and end with the Black’s Station Cabernet, as it was beautiful.  I’ve never seen it in stores, and now that I’ve discovered I hope to.  I hope you can find it too!  For it’s a treasure alright.  While there’s plenty of amazing wines and even the best ones are never found out, or get lost in the shuffle, this is one worth going after.

That’s all I know…. For now…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

The Golden Elite

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This is not the kind of completion of a trilogy I envisioned.   But after the past two stories (here and then here) from the same night, why not have a third bottle.  And we had at least three.  Some may never be written about.  I don’t remember.  And not so much because of the wine consumption.  It’s because right now I don’t remember.  Maybe I do, and maybe I’ll tap into that subconscious later.

This was once again a Christmas gift that I decided to share with the folks who presented it to me in the first place!   How perfect!  And 2015 Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon from Canoe Ridge Vineyard (here is their wine list, more about their winery, and online purchasing information) is perfect in so many ways.

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I wrote about a similar experience and similar gift from this incredible winery over a year ago, and you can read that here.

This has black currant or red currant, or both, depending on who’s talking and who’s reviewing.  But currant to me is one of those additions to a wine that can make a wine, make a great wine better, or just put it over the top.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled but I can’t recall the last time I had a bad wine with currant playing a principle part.  It makes a wine smokier, gives it such structure, character, depth, and charm that I can’t fully put into words.  It just has a taste that feels and heals so familiar.

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I love tea and currant in (black) tea are sometimes synonymous with one another.  But I think the familiarity comes from someone else.  It comes from family.  It comes from growing up, it comes from childhood, and it just comes from somewhere safe.  I know where it comes from.  Exchange currant for anything else, and you may have a feeling that’s similar.

That smokiness also comes from the flavors of plum, and maybe berries in the background.  Maybe just plum though.  And the lingering finish just stays with you. This wine just stays with you.  I feel like this wine was meant to find me.  And I feel the only way I should be drinking this is via a present or gift from beyond.

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This is is a night that I’ll never forget.  It’s been over a month and I’m grateful some dear friends were there for me in the most vulnerable position one can be in.

I had the company of amazing people, amazing animal friends (3 Labrador Retrievers that I love so much), and the most incredible weather I can remember.

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The wine is a bonus, it could’ve been the worst vino on earth and I’d find a way to find something good about it.  But I don’t need to.  This is my kind of wine and one of my favorite wines.  I loved everything about it.  I loved everything about this evening.  I don’t know what else there is to say.

I look forward to the next time I get together with my friends, under more joyous and celebratory circumstances, but in a way this was a celebration.  It’s a celebration of life, of happiness, that life is short, and that life is meant to be enjoyed.

I’m grateful to have such wonderful and kind people in my life, and I feel validated that myself and my family has done something right..  I feel touched and blessed by everything.

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I’m grateful.

Love,

Ideen

It’s Such A Clear Day…

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I had something all planned (I don’t like plans, or the word ‘plans’ honestly) all laid out for this week, but something didn’t feel right.   I’m all for keeping it simple and fortunately I have so many wines and stories I can talk about, that I’m going to save some of these other adventures for later in the Spring.

Oh yes Spring is coming!  Hooray!

The pictures here tell of skies that look grey, murky, gloomy, and throw in some other big words that’ll make you and I look good.  But skies and weather like this make for the clearest and brightest pictures.

So this may end up being a two part story, or I may scatter the second post.  I’ll see how I feel.

Being on vacation, yet being close to home, has its privileges.  Actually I’m just grateful to be able to type that last sentence out to you.  And I’m grateful I have dear friends who have trust in me to watch over their house and watch over their pups.  I love dogs in case you haven’t heard me say it before, or noticed.

This means different settings for food and wine pictures, and a different energy then being in my own home, a bar, or a restaurant.  It leads to more strategy or less thinking, a relaxed atmosphere where I can take my time, and all the time to sit and think (or maybe not think so much) and just be one with me, my animal friends, and the universe.

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I treated myself.  I got a simple cheese and meat spread, and some crackers to share with the 2016 (I think, more on that in a second) Blass Reserve Release Cabernet Sauvignon from Wolf Blass Wines.

This is one of the more unique Cabernet Sauvignon’s I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had a lot, but then again I haven’t.

The synopsis on their site is different than what’s on the back of the label shown here (the notes).  And upon further investigating the labels are slightly different.  But I’ll go with what I got and what I can.

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The darker fruits may be there, depending on which wine I actually drank.  But it’s safe to assume that plums and berries are involved.  Smoky cedar or oak? Maybe both.  Maybe nothing at all.  Maybe it’s all a figment of mine and your imagination.

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What does stand out is the blackcurrant.   If you drink a lot of black tea, then you know that flavor, that aroma, and that undeniable and distinguished taste.

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Despite all of this, the wine didn’t do it for me.  And with all the appeal of the label, the components of the wine itself, and an aura about it that I may have created in my own mind, it just never got going.

I gave it time to breathe or air out if you will, and nothing.   Like I said, I sat and relaxed for a while.  After taking some pictures, the phone and camera were silenced, and I just decided to be.

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Usually that means the wine or anything is going to be that much better.  But not everyone is going to be a winner.  Maybe in a different light, I may think differently.  Maybe blackcurrant is an acquired taste that needs time.   And perhaps, this is not the wine for me.

That doesn’t necessarily mean this wine wouldn’t be for you.  And at the price range of $10-$13, it’s not going to hurt you to try.

And this won’t prevent me for giving another of one of their wines, or a wine with this fantastic taste and flavor again.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this day, and sat in a charming backyard with nothing but myself, nature, my animal friends, and all the worries and cares seemed to dissipate instantaneously.   That’s the stuff that makes me feel good and make me happy.

Part two next week.  Maybe…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Pairs Well With Ice Cream Cones

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The hosts get all the credit for the title.  Yes there were ice cream cones, but no pictures of those sweet treats were taken.   So I could easily be lying, but there’s no fun in that.

But before dessert, there was plenty of greasy comfort food to be shared on a freezing yet glorious and inspired Sunday evening.   All of this came together rather suddenly which is how my most favorite of things and events usually turn out.  MenageLabel1

With all this did come some wine, in the form of Ménage à Trois.  Maybe you’ve heard of them

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The bottle we shared was the 2014 California Red Wine which is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

To be honest, at the time of drinking this I didn’t think or care what was in this wine.  All I cared about was sharing a bottle in impromptu fashion, and eat some carry out food till my heart and stomach couldn’t take it anymore.  Actually that’s an exaggeration.  Remember there was also ice cream later.

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I’m just grateful to be in the company of good friends that I don’t see enough, in a different setting outside of the norm.  And when I mean outside of the norm, the house and location is spectacular.   It was so calming and peaceful at a time where many of us need that calm and peace.  There can never be enough.

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The conversation was all over the place.  There was catching up to do, serious business to attend do (maybe or not really), and those deep conversations I’ve been known to partake in from time to time.  I’m not good with this whole small talk thing.

When it comes to the wine, I may have tasted the blackberries and raspberries in the notes, but I wasn’t seeking out anything like that.  I was seeking out peace and great company of friends, and some peace within myself.   A standard label wine such as this is just what everyone can use.

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Complex, bold, and loads of structure have its place.  But when you’re pairing this wine with crab dip, chicken cheesteak, and chicken nachos with all kinds of stuff thrown on top, do you really need fancy and pricey?

You can find their wines quite likely at a store near you. It’s one of those most accessible labels there is.  I know people that don’t like wine that will purchase these bottles as gifts or to try if they’ve never had wine in general, but feel compelled to every once in a while.

What’s funny is that while I’ve had many a glass and bottle, I’ve rarely actually had Ménage à Trois.  It could be because my palate has expanded that I know what I want, yet willing to try anything unique and unfamiliar.

What it also could be is that I may take the fact that Ménage à Trois is everywhere for granted.  And I don’t meant to over-analyze but that’s something I would like to cut out of my life, the over-analyzing and the taking things for granted.  Could be easier done than said.  Yes I did just say that in reverse, deliberately.

There’s nothing truly mind blowing about this wine, nor does it need to be.  It’s a wine that’s simple, easy to drink, enjoyable, and does its job.  What more do you need?

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And on an evening like this nothing was taken for granted.  I’m grateful to be invited into a home of dear friend’s and the warm and cozy feeling remained throughout the course of the night.  It’ll be a wonderful memory I now attach to Ménage à Trois, and I couldn’t be more thrilled, and yes, grateful.

To find their wines near you, click here; for their story, click here; their food & wine pairing suggestions can be found here; some things to love, and their contact info.

I would like to revisit a wine from Ménage à Trois much sooner than later.  Timing and the universe will present a situation where this will come together effortlessly.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll share some more ice cream cones.

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Only In Olney

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Yes I’m now officially part of this exclusive club.  I got my first ‘Get Stained’sticker from the fine folks at Olney Winery.  And it only took my fourth visit to the Maryland Wine Festival to get there.  Funny how I built something up so significantly for years, and it was all about a sticker.  If you understand the sarcasm, you realize that anyone who wanted a sticker, got one.  But it’s fun to pretend that this is an exclusive group of wine drinkers and lovers of life, that it’s the ultimate badge of honor, and no less than that.  And maybe it is.

So here we go again.  Last year I did three recaps of some of my favorite booth visits at this most exciting of fiestas.  These posts can be found here, here, and finally this gem.

I had no set plan.  I never do.  I could have written two months worth of material from the event but certain scenarios, wine and dinner parties, and holidays steered course.  I love that.  Once again I have material to last me a couple of months but I don’t see it happening on consecutive weeks.  We shall see.  It’s what makes this blog fun.   So before I go on another tangent, I will go with the very first tent I stopped by, the aforementioned, Olney.

olneycabwinefestAt the event itself they only had two wines I had interest in trying, their For Your Eyes Only Cabernet Sauvignon and their X Brothers Pinot Noir.  The former I’ve had before and on a very first taste at their tasting room (more on that shortly) I was floored.  I bought a bottle immediately.  I may have had other wines but this was the standard bearer at the time.

Since then I’ve purchased this same wine at various retailers with mixed results.  Maybe it was a bad batch, bad cork, waiting too long, or the universe telling me not to try it again, but it’s not the wine I remember.   But on this day the recipe seemed different (as every vintage should be) but my palate was rejoicing once again.  This is the Cab I remembered. I see more tannins were added, that oak I remember, and my favorite inclusion of all, pepper was back and with a vengeance.  Oh how I love thee.

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But just when I thought it could’t get any better, the X Brothers Pinot Noir really wowed me.  I almost thing it’s truly difficult to butcher Pinot.  And most are simple, easy to drink, and get the job done.  But this is on another level.   It’s still warm enough outside to have something light yet slightly cooler to appreciate this same bottle all the same. This is a wine for right now, in this moment.  The teases of fruit and spice are a nice segue into fall.  If you like fall.  I have mixed feelings but will make the most of the season where I can.

I would say that we’re done and this was a great first stop at the festival.  I got my sticker and went about my merry way.  Yet I had an inspired thought.  If the opportunity presented itself I would stop by the tasting room, which is near where I grew up and only about an hour away from me now.  I wanted to enhance this post and say thanks in person.

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My one and only (Olney?!) visit was a couple of years ago by pure happenstance, or maybe it wasn’t.  Maybe all roads led to this.

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Funny because Olney has changed so much since I was a kid.  You can still see the original footprints of a town that has now evolved.  Mom and pops are now chains, more chains are moving in, and the quaintness is there but not like before.  But the tasting room puts gives this town something bold, unique, and inspiring.  Not many places can say they have a winery within a shopping district.  Pretty cool I know.

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So what  do you know?  One scenario into another brought me here, and just in the nick of time to put this post up.

A major thank you goes to Bryan who helped conduct the tasting and gave me a few extra pours for free.

olneypinotAnd instead of recapping every wine I had I will expound on another one that blew me away as well.  Yes I was all set to get the Pinot Noir but then the Tuscan Sunset Sangiovese had to rear its beautiful head.  Oh my goodness.  The no-so-subtle hints of strawberry and white pepper were more than enough to make which bottle to purchase a much more agonizing decision than it really needed to be.  But they’re both equal in quality and superiority.

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So what did any irrational and indecisive person do? I went with both.  This is one of those times I decided to treat myself.  We need to treat ourselves more, within reason of course.

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The Pinot at $19.95 and the Sangiovese at $17.95 will likely be the most expensive bottles I’ll buy this year and for a while.   I’ve always said around $20.00 is where my cut off will be, unless I’m feeling really ambitious.  And the wine has to be immaculate.  Both of these fall under that category at a reasonable price.  As an unexpected bonus, my $7.00 tasting fee was waived.  I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble for mentioning that.

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Honorable mention goes to the Olney Mill White Chenin Blanc, which tasted like the tropics with some apple thrown in.

With a couple of exceptions, every wine I sipped went from good to magnificent.  And again, it’s all based on your palate and what you like.  It looks like mine is resuming back to my preference for the dry reds, even if the two I purchased were on the lighter end.  As we progress through the year, the full bodies is the likely scenario.

Bryan also gave me a tour of the winery and showed me the fermentation process up close. There’s a strong possibility that this will be revisited in a post late this year/early next year.  I won’t hint at much more than that.  But I may be taking part in something special.

This is a not your typical winery. There’s no vines or even an outside.  Everything is done in-house and it’s a concept that I could see becoming much more popular as time goes on. Yet many of of us, including myself, like tradition.  We like seeing grapes grown and an inspirational patio/backyard set up when we go to a tasting.    I like both, there’s room for both, and there’s room for everyone.  Here’s more information on their concept, their mission, and a brief synopsis of their history.

Here’s their contact info and the team of winemakers themselves.  And most important of all, where to find their wine.

Pictures of the various wines and the tasting room itself are all over this post.  Enjoy!

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Until next time and there will be a next time here…

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Ideen

Sunrise Sunset

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When I got the opportunity to meet Fred Wilson of Elk Run Winery, I knew I was in for a laid back and relaxed tasting experience.  I suspect when I explained to the volunteer that I wrote about wine that she thought I was more serious then I actually let on.  She introduced me to Fred and we had a nice rapport right away.  I didn’t have anything too over-the-top or high brow to ask. We’re at a wine festival.  And the weather is beautiful. Life isn’t that serious.  And that leads me to my final post from Great Grapes.

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At this point in the afternoon it was rapid-fire.  I wanted to sample as much as I could while still being objective and appreciating what I was sipping.  Without further adieu I got to try two of of Elk Run’s wines, despite all the bottled in that photo above, as the area was packed elbow-to-elbow.  And I’m not exaggerating here.  Room was at a premium.

In many ways, the two I got to try could not be more opposite and makes this all come full circle.

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First, was the Cabernet Franc.  I don’t see it listed under their reds on their site, so I’m glad I was able to get a snapshot at the tasting table itself.  This is lighter than similar wine with the same grape that I’m used to.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t like it and with the weather being what it was, and us being outdoors I h ad no problem getting a more medium bodied helping for this day.  It wasn’t one of my favorites.  And at almost $30, that may be a bit steep for me budget.

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However, the Annapolis Sunset is what this festival and what this season is all about.  First impressions can be misleading, but how can you not fall in love with that label?   I was certain that this wine was automatically based on this artwork and the feeling associated with the wine. I’ve repeatedly stated in my writing and with friends how much I love Annapolis.  This one really hits home.

Funny how I’ve sung the praises of this wine without even getting a taste.   This is as simple and approachable a wine as I’ve tasted.  It’s what I would be raving about when I started to segue from the sweeter wines and an evolving into the more dryer wines.  This is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio, according to the tasting sheet.  At $16 this seems like a reasonable buy.

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Yet if you look on the site it lists the aforementioned Cab and Viognier.  The funny thing is I hope it’s the latter, or do I?  I’ve had a hard time adjusting to Pinot Gris.  I prefer Viognier for the fuller bodied wines that come from the grape.  That’s not to knock the Pinot Grigio. It’s just never clicked with me.  So if it’s the former, then my palates have expanded some more.   And that makes this journey takes some twists and tuns I hadn’t planned for.  And that’s the point of this thing.

I wanted to thank Fred for taking a few minutes to chat with me.  I promised him I’d be as nice as possible, and I hope I’ve succeeded.

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As I’ve intimated in the past, Elk Run is another winery I’d love to visit in person, to get a more up-close-and-personal feel that you may not always get a festival.

If you’re interested in purchasing bottles you can go here, for where to buy locally you can click here.

Their list of events look exciting too!  I’m digging everything about this place and I’ve yet to even set foot at the winery itself.

For all of my recent and posts from the Great Grapes Festival, click here.

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More to come this Summer!  Enjoy all the sunrises and sunsets you can. We’re in the midst of some of the longest days of the year. I intend to make the most of ’em.

All The Best,

Ideen

Remember The Alamos

AlamosMeal2Man I’ve been waiting a long time to write that title.  And I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to write about Alamos.  This post also coincides with the upcoming Malbec World Day which takes place this Sunday, April 17th.

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There’s plenty of Malbec’s I’ve written about, but this is the originator.  This is the one I’m most sentimental too.  If it wasn’t more some dear friends introducing me to Malbec and this bottle in particular, my passion for wine and everything that goes with it, may be null and void.  Yes, for as long as I can recall, this is the very first Malbec I ever had.

It’s been the most approachable and accommodating of bottles.  And I may be understating that just a bit.  I’ve seen this wine at nearly every wine retailer I’ve ever walked into.  The same can be said for restaurants.

More than any other wine the Alamos Malbec is a fixture at fine dining establishments, sports bars, dive bars, and everything in between.  This speaks to how accessible this wine is along with the aforementioned a’s earlier in this paragraph.  I do this alliteration bit a lot. See?

Through the years it’s also been consistent.  The flavors of blackberry and dark cherry permeate through every bottle and every glass I’ve enjoyed either alone, with family, or with friends.  My palates  have changed but this wine keeps tasting better to me.

I mention the various places Alamos Malbec can be found.  And I’ve enjoyed them in many of those situations and more.    I’m sipping on the 2014 as I write this and it’s brilliant.

It’s a wine worthy of having over a conversation but equally this wine is worth having a conversation about.

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I’m having a dialogue with you while I also finish my meal I paired it with.  I wish I could say it was my creation but I wouldn’t be true to myself or the audience.  It’s a homemade meal but from someone else’s home.  The chicken marsala with green beans and mixed vegetable was decent yet it paired ideally with my wine.   Can you see the animal friend in the background?

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This is a wine you can have with anything.  This is what makes wine fun.  It doesn’t have to be overpriced or pretentious.  I’ve seen this bottle listed anywhere from $7-$10 and it drinks at about that price.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  As a matter of fact it’s everything that’s right about wine.

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Red Blend And Cabernet Sauvignon are good ones too but the Malbec is like that great friend that will always be their for you.  Alamos has been loyal to me over the years and I will not take that for granted.  I will not take or granted that some wonderful friends introduced me to this wine.

I am forever grateful.

Have a Happy Malbec World Day.

Best,

Ideen