Behold The Rain, Which Descends From…

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The title is the beginning of a famous quote from the great Benjamin Franklin.  The entire quotation can be found here.   But it has to do with wine, and it’s a beautiful thing alright.

It’s one of those lines that makes me feel good about drinking wine, appreciating all the nuances of wine, and simply just being one with vino.

So it brings me such joy to discuss The Federalist wine collection, which I only recently discovered in the last week.

How does this label go unnoticed by me, for so long?  Has it not been not out that long?  Important questions, but what’s important is that I found it now, I got to try it now, and I can tell you with great confidence, that I adore this wine.   This is the 2015 Federalist Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon.

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There’s not much to this wine, yet there’s so much.  You’ve got your usual dark berries, and the description reads a touch of cinnamon spice.   A wine this full of body, structure, and life is perfect for this time of year, the holidays, and any time that feels cold and you want to relax in the luxury of your home or a friends home.  Isn’t it funny that I say the word ‘luxury’ when The Federalist collection prides themselves on being called Luxury Wine.  That’s word association my friends.  They got me!

At around $15-$17, and maybe listed a bit higher in some retailers, it’s worth it’s weight in dare I say, Benjamins.  I did just say that.   No but it’s worth spending more than the usual $10-$15 I prefer to find in my vintages.

And enjoy this at a friends house I did, as we watched something called the Olympics.  Maybe you’ve heard about them.

This post is also a special for the city of Philadelphia.  They’re celebrating something special and this is my tip of the cap and homage to the city of Brotherly Love and a city that is so fun to visit.  In that spiritual essence, for me to grab the Benjamin Franklin label bottle doesn’t seem like a coincidence.

I don’t believe in such things.

But I do believe in this wine and what is represents.  It’s a simple Cabernet Sauvignon, yet those are often the best kinds.  The tannins, the depth, the structure, and the finish that lasts and lasts is what makes this wine truly a winner.   I think enjoying it with good company, watching an event we only see ever so often, makes the wine and experience all that much better.

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Oh yes there was some pizza as well.  For more on this amazing slice, click here!

This wine and experience was worth it.  I always question what takes me so long to discover such charming labels and even more charming wine.  But that’s always the joy of this lifelong journey.  We’re not meant to have every wine, and every mine is not meant to find us.   It’s definitely a great ride when you’re sipping one after the other, at a tasting, or with friends.  But the best bottles are always the ones savored, appreciated, and shared with good company.

That’s what life is all about.  That and a celebration of great events that only come ever-so-often, a celebration of American heroes, and a celebration of ourselves.  We’re pretty awesome too!

I would love to try another Federalist Wine down the line, and I’m confident the experience will be just as breathtaking.   I’m in full Olympics mode so my words may mirror some of the enchanting (there we go..) performances I’ve seen thus far.

For more on The Federalist; here is their wine list (with other magnificent historical figures by the way), their story, where you can find their wines near you, and of course their contact information.

I can’t wait to see where this ongoing wine party takes me next.

Take good care and peace be with you.

Ideen

Happy Beaujolais Day!

BeaujolaisNouveau2017

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

 

 

 

 

…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.

ValleyOfTheMoonPinotNoir

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

 

 

 

Happy Birthday To Ya!

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I’ve had Gnarly Head wines a few times in my lifetime.  I’m willing to bed that if you’re reading this, many of you have as well.

And if you’ve had their wines, you realize how affordable they are.  Which mean an accessibility and affordability that is always welcome and should be never taken for granted.  And speaking of never taking things for granted…

I was honored to be invited to a fantastic gathering this past weekend for a dear friends birthday.  The crowd was intimate, the food was spectacular, the booze was plentiful, and the weather could not have been better.

As much as I love summer, I’m getting more of an appreciation for fall.  In the summer, people leave town and then they leave town.   So there’s that disconnect.  Plans can be unpredictable but then can be predictable just like that.  I don’t think there’s a right or wrong with either.  I like a good vacation myself.

But this is the time of year, and days and weekends of the year where there’s so much to look forward to.  It’s a great time for festivals, birthdays, concerts, events, and still plenty of time to be outdoors and spend time with great friends.

With great friends means great party hosts.

And in tradition, you know not to come empty handed right?

I’m surprised I haven’t written about Gnarly Head until now.  At under $10, there’s no reason not to give these wines a shot.

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When me and the most stopped to pick up some beverages and handle some other errands, the Gnarly Head display at one of the local wine shoppes was spooky but also welcoming all the same.  And at $9 here, you can’t go wrong.

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I went with the Harvest Red for no reason in particular.  Well the red label deemed approachable, and the red blends tend to make everyone happy.  A bunch of grapes in one almost makes you think you’re drinking a few wines in one.  And in many instances that is a recipe for success.

And a success is what this was.  The blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Barbera is about as smooth and likable as you’re going to find.   This was an easy wine to drink, free of complexities and complications.  The mix of berries, spice, and other fruits on the nose and after you sip gives me those warm and fuzzies, that fit perfectly with the month of October and all kinds of comforting foods.

And speaking of that.  The food spread was as incredible as you’re ever going to see.  I don’t need to reel off everything that you see here.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking throughout this post.

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I will mention that one of the huge stands outs was bacon wrapped potatoes.  Yes, you usually would think scallops.  But in this instance the bacon and baby potatoes complemented each other in a way that only you will have to taste and see to believe.  It was beautiful.

Eggplant

As was this eggplant.  I mean everything was amazing.   I need to trust myself with my cooking to present something to a party like this, but there was enough outstanding food that there’s always next time.

You can imagine, that the food never had a chance.  How can you not just appreciate the work, soul, and craftsmanship put into such deliciousness.   I’ve said it before, its sometimes too beautiful to eat, but also way too pretty to go to waste.

I’m certain that none of this went to waste.

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My wine never had a chance either.  I was lucky to have a cup-and-a-half, and that’s just fine.  There was plenty of adult beverages to go around.  And that’s the point of these parties, to share, to care, to spread love, and too appreciate all the great people around you.

I appreciate the fact that I was a part of something so beautiful, something so joyful, and something so peaceful.   What’s not to love?

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It’s only October, and I can only hope that I get to be a part of more parties such as this one.  I’m eternally grateful.

To find Gnarly Head Wines near you, this link will show you the way.

Thank you so much.  Happy October, Happy Fall, Happy Everything!

And Happy Birthday to ya…

Ideen

Salud

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This is a celebration of close friends, a celebration of this life, and all the good that exists within that.

I want to congratulate some good friends who recently got engaged.

And when pals get engaged, you want to celebrate immediately, savor every moment, and enjoy it with some good libations.  And some good vibrations.  We had plenty of those, and then we had plenty of those.

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I’m so grateful I was included in the engagement celebration.  It was impromptu and organic as all the best experiences are.  For that, I’m so appreciative to be a part of something so beautiful.

This calls for a bit more elegant and pricier bottle of wine don’t you think?  It calls for the more sparking kind as well.  And the weather is now cooperative enough that going with a sparkling, white, or lighter red is going to work.   That does pain me to say but it’s mid September and at least much more wines are agreeable to the climate.

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I went with the necessary and always effective sparkling white.  If anything, it’s going to look good when you pour, in a glass, and of course in pictures.    And sometimes the label will draw you in too.

The Herbauges Luminescence Brut (for more on the wine and distributor click here) is exactly the kind of sparkling wine that fit this party perfectly.

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But what’s most important is the setting itself.  This is a fun group of people, and that is going to make any wine, any piece of food, and any moment you’re in that much better.

I spent $22 on this bottle.  And it never had a chance.  Actually nothing anybody brought had a chance.  I was lucky to get a glass and a half myself.  And I drank from a charming wine glass that fits where my friends with and fit entertaining mood in general.

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Was it worth spending $20+ on?  That can be debated.  For me, it tasted (for the small sample that I had) in between $10-$20, and that’s not based on any expert analysis.  It’s more of a feeling and instinct than anything else.

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The tasting notes can be found here. And the most endearing thing I read is “great looking bubbles’.  Those are the kinds of details and notes I can appreciate.  And anyone not into all the nuances of wine (and I’m one of them) can appreciate the inviting information.  Yes you might get hints of flowers, fruits, and as the synopsis reads ‘pastry’, the bubbles is what stands out.  And I was a fan of that before reading anything.

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Now about those pastries.  I love me some pastry, but to find hits of this takes a certain talent, or it’s once again a scent that hits a nerve or either resonates with you, or it’s one of those scents that had been a part of your day or significant memory that is lingering throughout the day.  I think I may have just made two of the same descriptions using different variations of words.  Whoops!

What is resonating is how fun this day was.  There was a great group of folks hanging out at a lovely house, with a beautiful set up of beverages and snacks, and since the weather was so glorious the party went outside for some outdoor activities.   We still have plenty of time in the season and in this life for organic, genuine, and positive experiences.

This is definitely one of the more positive ones someone can be a part of.

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As for the wine, I’ll always associate with this party.  Just like you have a certain food, drink, or memento that you associate with a certain place and time, the wine, among a few other things will always correlate with the fun day that everyone had.

Congratulations friends.

Salud,

Ideen

 

 

 

Celebrate We Will…

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There’s certain weeks and certain posts when writing  about wine is easy.  It’s so easy the words flow and minutes later I’m done.  And in other instances I hope I don’t start sounding like a reviewer giving critiques where and opinions that may not always come from the heart.  I’m willing to bet many of us have moments like this.  And I just don’t meant blog posts, articles, writings and reports we did in school and at work, but more so just everyday life.

I had something prepared for this week that after reading it, re-reading it, and editing it still didn’t sound like it came from a place of sincerity or something genuine.  It will have to wait.  If I sound like I’m taking myself and this too seriously, maybe.  But wine is something I care about, but in a spiritual sense, in a harmonious sense, and one where I want to find joy in sharing experiences with others, and sometimes myself.

What I’m going to write about this week is not meant to be a substitute or a filler.  This wine and this experience was going to be written about eventually.

I was going to wait until the Summer, but wait, and voila here we are.

To say I’m grateful to have good people in my life is an understatement.   But I’m still surprised when people get in touch with me to want to hang out.  If it sounds like I’m being hard on myself and self deprecating that’s not my intent.  It still just surprises me. Maybe I’m doing something right.

But people wanted to hang out, it was a gorgeous day, outside restaurants are doing outside seating and dining type of things, and people want to hang out.  Hanging out is fun!

Almost a month later this was one of the charming and cozy celebrations for my birthday.  And on a weekday, and on an impromptu set of circumstances I’m grateful my friends wanted to hang out.  Any good reason is a reason to celebrate.  And in many instances you need no reason at all.

So there were multiple wines had.  This group loves their wine.  I love my wine.  And I may get into a couple of others that were shared in future posts.  But for now,  I will hone in on one.

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The 2015 Pinot Grigio delle venezie from Lagaria was and is one of those perfect wines to celebrate the summer, life, and all that is good in the world.

And I recall this was on a Wednesday and our bottle was half-priced.  And for a bottle that retails around $10, and with the restaurant markup and then made half-priced, it was almost identical to the aforementioned $10.   That’s going to make any wine taste better.

But this wine didn’t need any bonuses, promos, or discounts to taste good.  It tastes good. It sips well. And it got better with time.

LagariaNotes

The notes (which can also be found here) mention the straw yellow color and the floral aromas with apple, apricot, and fruit.  I would be lying if I said I could identify all that and it’s not always our jobs to do so, but it’s fun to speculate and guess on what we might be sipping.  It tastes like summer, and it was easier to go sip than the medium bodied wine that its described to be.  When it’s warmer medium to fuller bodied whites may feel lighter than usual.

The notes also mention this pairs well with fish and seafood.  I wholeheartedly agree. That just adds to the good vibrations of summer.  I believe we had some tasty eats with our vinos, but I was too busy enjoying myself that not a lot of pictures were taken. Sometimes less is more, and some memories are meant to be just memories.  But there will be a next time.

Temperatures, the atmosphere, and so many other factors affect how grapes are grown and cultivated, wine is produced, and all those other intangibles that we could talk about until the end of time.  The same applies to how we react to certain wines and the settings, temperatures, the food we eat, the mood we’re in, and the company we’re keeping at the time.   It’s all so simple and yet so exciting at once.

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However, with all the questions and guesses we may have, we just want to drink a good wine that’s affordable, approachable, and inviting.  This would be it.

And I’ve seen this gorgeous label in many a wine shoppe, so it can’t be too hard to find.

If this wine is not available LagariaPinotGrigio2at a store near you, maybe this link can help.

Here is more information on the distributor, Empson & Co.

Thanks to Lee’s Pints & Shell for all their hospitality for the evening.

 

Lastly, we all have great friends, great stories, and the great wines that pair well with those friends and stories.  I’m maybe a bit too sentimental for my own good, but it’s good to be acknowledged and appreciated.  It’s still always a pleasant surprise when it happens.   I’m grateful and I’m grateful that this wine will forever remind me of a great night.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

Graduation

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By this time all it’s likely someone close to you has either graduated or is about to graduate.  It’s a beautiful thing in so many respects.  It’s the beginning, the end, and culmination of everything.  You worked hard for this, your family worked hard for this, friends, and everyone in between.  Now it’s time to celebrate!

This is a congratulations to my cousin on graduating.  And I don’t mean just graduating. It’s of the highest level possible.  What that entails is important but it’s one of those things that’s still so personal, so beautiful, and warms the heart that it’s just too remarkable to expound correctly.

But I’m going to do my best when it comes to the celebration and to the party.

You may find that a momentous and monumental celebration might lead you to overthink what to bring to a party, whether it’s wine, food, or a dessert.

Now I’ve been to parties that my family has either held or attended and they always do it nice.  They go above and beyond, spare no expense, and want to make everyone invited feel like family in the process.  That’s what life is all about. So that may add to the pressure.

I didn’t know it ahead of time but the masterful and incredible food spread may have had a hand in what I brought.

Luckily, there were options for wine, red and white, and other alcoholic beverages that if myself or any other guest may have made a misstep, it wouldn’t have been noticed.

Regardless of that, you still want to bring a wine that everyone will enjoy, that others will sip, so you get that sense of validation and satisfaction when your bottle is completed. It’s a glorious feeling and a little ego boost.

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How my wine turned out I truly don’t know.  And for big picture reasons, it really doesn’t matter.  But the 2015 Lion Hound Red from Ridgeback Wines, of South Africa (for more on the winery click here) is a grower.  For more on these wines you can also find more information from the importer Cape Starz Wine.

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The unique flavors are hard to describe.  And once again, none of that is truly important when you’re in a celebration to remember.

I brought it as a gift, with no intention (well, maybe) in the back of my mind that this was going to make this blog.  And I mean that with all the respect in the world.  I was just as well let this marinate with all the other wines and have the hosts open it in their own time.

Well it felt like time.

I’m a huge animal lover and the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a dog I see everyday.  But it’s one I’ve had a few encounters with and thought they were the most beautiful of creatures.  That has no bearing on why I bought this bottle.  Cute or artistic depictions of animals on a label would never draw anyone in.  Not your truly either.  No, never.   ‘Hehe’.

The $9 price tag didn’t hurt either.

But this truly hard to describe.  It’s a mix of so many grapes and 10 months of aging in French Oak which leads to a blend that I can only explain and sweet, spicy, dry, and impression lasting.  I kind of invented that last term.

The synopsis of the 2013 vintage mentions dark cherries, plum, licorice, with hints of cigar box and wood spice.   Yes you read that correctly.  Your palates and guesses are as good as mine.

This is a full bodied wine that may taste like a medium wine to some but this one has got some potency to it.   There’s lots of grapes to love (Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier) which make this so intense and full of life.  Literally full of life.

I left before the wine was kicked.  So I can’t tell you other people’s impressions or thoughts, but there was a lot of wine, a lot of food, and a lot of excitement that I’m more than grateful just to have been a part of this awesome coronation and event based on love and of celebrating the end of a journey, but the creation and continuation of others.

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Beautiful.

More importantly, so was this party.  There was and is so much to be grateful for.  Not only is a celebration of family success, but it’s also a celebration of family.  Any chance to hang out with family, needs to excuse or explanation.  Sometimes the best reason is no reason, but sometimes the best reason is also of celebration.

I love my family and I’m so grateful to have been a part of this.  And I’m so grateful that I’ve already spent time with family since this celebration last weekend.

It’s a beautiful near conclusion to Spring and a hopeful and inspirational sign of things to come for the summer and beyond.

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I’ll leave with just an image or two of the amazing food spread but not much.  Some memories are meant to be kept internal.

Pastries

This is one to be cherished forever.

Love,

Ideen