We’re Starting Up A Brand New Day…

ProspectorChardonnayWineGlassFood

I would like to think that I go into most experiences with the best of intentions.  I believe that many of you would say the same as well. When it comes to the wine drinking experience, a meal, a gathering of any sort, or anything, we want it to be the best.  Well not everything is going to be the best, but we hope it’s a great experience, and some to remember by.

Then there’s those other occasions where the wine is just not up the par, and a weak bottle is sometimes necessary to reset things and put things back into that perspective, or whatever melodramatic, romantic, or wishy washy term you want to use.

For the bulk of the next couple of months, or for however many weeks or time, there’s going to be a lot of white and Rosé talk, with maybe a red thrown in.  I feel like I’ve said this before.  But I guess we have to start somewhere, and this could be one of those reset buttons, as sometimes it’s needed.

ProspectorChardonnay

This was an off week, but the 2014 Prospector Chardonnay from Pioneer Wine Co. (which I had a difficult time finding a link for) leaves a lot to be desired.

Not every week or story needs to have a theme, or anything inspirational to go with it.  Sometimes it’s really just a glass or bottle of wine, and then you go on about your day.  Well that’s how I felt about this wine.   The information is presented to you on the back of the label, but this was flat.

ProspectorChardonnayInfo

I didn’t overthink about a bottle to buy or what to do.  I saw something and I grabbed it.  At about $12, give or take, it’s not the end of the world.   I didn’t expect oak or bursting flavors, or anything that would be considered life changing.  I sensed something was off.  But as friends of mine have told me, feelings are fickle, and for the most part (if not all) we create our own happiness, our surroundings, and how we feel over the course of the day, and in our lives.

Wine is sometimes a game of chance.  If you don’t know what to buy, what to try, and you feel a certain way then you’ll attract chance, you test fate, and sometime that’s a good thing.  The element of surprise if your friend.  And even when its lackluster, those feelings are well, fickle.

ProspectorChardonnayWineGlassFlower

Life is meant to be enjoyed and this wine was a chore.   For a medium-bodied Chardonnay it was about as middle of the road as it gets.  Medium to be me, in this instance, feels like it’s just there.

This is a wine I uncorked, allow some time to breathe, poured it into my glass, enjoyed my salmon dinner, and put my glass in the sink.  That’s how I felt about the wine.  If you can read between the lines or notes, then you get what I’m saying.

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You don’t need to be an expert to know this wine is missing something.  It never got even into first gear.

Well you’ve got to start somewhere, and sometimes that means starting over. or just allowing the universe to reset itself.

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There’s always a positive and a way to look at this glass half full.

Something tells me we get it back going again soon.

Peace as always Be With You.

Ideen

 

I’m Glad I Waited…

GreatFrogsMeritage

The amount of times I had planned to write about my visit to Great Frogs back in January, is almost embarrassing to talk about.

I’ve written about them previously in different settings (you can read about that here) with the hope that one day I would get to visit their winery.    And it finally happened.

Good things come to those who wait, and before I discuss this exquisite visit, here is their FAQ, more about this wonderful winery, visitor information, info on purchasing their wines/shipping info, and where you can find their wines near you.

If you don’t live or aren’t planning to visiting the Annapolis area, your only chance is to have their wines shipped to you.   These wines are on the pricier side, and are outside of my price range.  But every once in a while, I feel it’s right to treat myself.  It’s right to treat yourself, as much as you want, for as much as you want.

It’s my life, it’s your life, and we only get one of those, as who we are in this lifetime.

A few years back when I first about this winery, I had these images of exclusivity, and this place being a secret club that only the highest of society are welcome or dare try to visit.  There’s this thing about assuming that you shouldn’t always do.

However, on a random day I had dropped someone off not realizing their house was literally on the other side of this immaculate looking green and shrubbery, which was Great Frogs.  I was in awe.  I put this place on even more of a pedestal.  Sometimes assuming or presuming adds to the excitement and adds to the mystique.

Needless to say, the winery wasn’t open that day and I thought maybe someday.

After attending wine festivals and having a glass at various restaurants around town, I was enamored.  Maybe it’s an Annapolis thing (my increasing list of my affinity for Annapolis can be found here) but I love their wine and I love everything about this place.

Tastings are by reservation only, and on a limited time frame Fridays and Saturdays only.  At $35 a person that may put some people off.  You can get three bottles in most places for that much.  But this is not that kind of place.  I love this place.

When I drove up, I noticed the amazing vines, the greens, the farmland, and then the barn which hosts the tastings,  I was looking for the adorable pups (Scout & Bruno) who protect the crops and vines from the outside world (wildlife), but not on this day.  That just means I’ll have to be back.  And that’s a given.

GreatFrogsVines

I won’t talk about every wine that was tried.  I don’t want to bore you.  This is not what this blog is about.  It’s about enjoying the wines, enjoying the company your worth, and enjoying your surroundings.

This was well worth the investment.  And in hindsight $35 is not that much for an experience that’s more than just a tasting.  You get 6 wines, you get snacks (which they will replenish for you), and the most incredible ambiance I can ever recall at a winery.  Being away from Downtown Annapolis and being in your own universe a few miles away added another element of wonder and fascination to this visit.  Man I loved all of this.

GreatFrogsTasting

I neglected to mention this tasting also includes a glass of your choice upon completion.  Does it get any better?  This tasting room decor is incredible.   I want to thank Ben who helped with the tasting, and could not have been friendlier.

This is family affair as I also got to meet the owners, Nathathanael & Andrea, who could not have been friendlier.

GreatFrogsMeritage

The wines that stood out to me were the 2015 Estate Meritage, the 2015 Cold Blooded (their newest release at the time), and the Chardonnay.    I went with the former as my glass mainly because the spices, the cedar taste, the berries, and the chocolate made this perfect for the winter time.   Full bodied wines are what’s going to work here, and this worked alright.    This is a $50 bottle, and if you’re feeling ambitious, go for it.   This is a tremendous wine, as most of their wines are.

GreatFrogsColdBlooded

The Cold Blooded is a blend with every grape under the sun, and at $55, this was heavily pushed for a celebration they had the day after Thanksgiving, that was originally to be my first visit.  That didn’t happen for reasons I can’t remember, other than it wasn’t meant to be.

GreatFrogsSign

This visit was meant to be.   This was more than a wine tasting, this was art.  It’s Great Frogs, it’s Annapolis, it’s happiness, this is living.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

To Be Continued…

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnay

I wasn’t sure how I was going to write about Old Westminster Winery, so I’m going to shoot from the hip and right from the heart.  I feel like I’ve said this before.  And before that.

But first, here is tasting room info, where you can find their wines, which you can purchase online, their philosophy, and more about this awesome family operation.

OldWestminsterWineryMenu

On a random weekend day some time ago, I felt like doing my own thing.  I had asked a few people if they wanted to take the long (actually short) drive from Baltimore to Westminster, and the interest was little to none.  And like many other things, I was meant to do this on my own.

And for my first visit, I’m glad it was just me…

There’s always that excitement and anticipation of going somewhere new, and taking that unfamiliar drive on a stretch of road that didn’t exist to you moments before.   These things just don’t happen everyday, and I wish they did.

In this world that’s so big, yet to small, the amount of wineries and places in general I haven’t visited, but want to so badly, is going to continuously and instantaneously grow.  But what matters is what I do visit and do experience.

And that’s what I did on this day.

OldWestminsterWinerySign

Upon arrival, and seeing the winery sign, I felt like a kid at his first day of school.  And then I felt like a kid at the first day of school.  See what I’m saying?

Especially going somewhere on your own, can be uneasy for some.  Sometimes I still feel uncomfortable, but more times than not I enjoy my own company.  If you can’t enjoy your own company, how can anyone else be expected to enjoy yours either?   So without thinking I go to restaurants, cinemas, and sometimes travel on my own.   Who knows who or what may be waiting on the other side.

A winery is no different.

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How about that scenery?

OldWestminsterWineryTastingRoom

On this particular weekend day, I had a sense the tasting room would be packed.  They’re only open for tastings on Friday through Sunday, and with the aura surrounding the place, I suspected it would be packed to near capacity.  This particular sunny, yet windy afternoon, it was pretty close to full.

OldWestminsterWineryBottles

I had a few minutes wait before I could do a tasting, and there was no rush.  The room itself is immaculate, fantastic, and feels like a place to be.  Maybe even the place to be.  In this Carroll County gem, it’s a place I definitely want to be, and be back at again.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnayTastingRoom2

Before I sound like I’m signing off, I won’t speak of every wine, because I’ll save that for another time.  But I will talk about one.  And it’s the one that stood out to me the most, the 2016 Home Vineyard Chardonnay.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnayTastingRoom

I’ll let the synopsis tell you one story, and I’ll tell you mine.   Wow that sounded way too profound, and that wasn’t the full intent.  However, I do like Chardonnay’s with a little more oak than this, but this one hit a different spot and nerve.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnay

Since there was nowhere to sit inside, I took a seat in the outdoor patio, which wasn’t full set-up for seating.  It was windy, a little chilly, and not conducive to anything I was doing.

But again, like I said, it felt like the first day of school.  It was a bit awkward, out of sorts, and I wasn’t one to fake it till I make it.  Not yet at least.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnay2

But I did take some cool pictures.  The one outside, and one actually from the bathroom.  I may get in trouble for saying that.  But the flowers looked pretty cool.

I did socialize a bit inside, and a crowd at a winery can be much different than one at a standard bar or pub.  We’re all there for the same reasons, and the reasons might be a bit more authentic and genuine versus just going to the same ole’ place.  And there’s always room to change it up and do something real.

This is not how I thought this post would go, but like I said, this is only the beginning.

I’ll be back again.

To be continued…

Ideen

 

 

 

My Love of Ducks

DecoyWIne11

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.

DecoyWine

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.

DecoyWineNotes

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.

DecoyWine2

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.

DecoyWIne4

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.

DecoyWine3

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.

Ducks

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.

DecoyWineGlass

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.

BearWine2

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.

BearWineLabel

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.

BearWinePizza

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

 

 

 

We’ll Be Seeing Ya

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Life should be filled with as many  random, exciting, jubilant, and inspirational moment as possible.  You can throw in all the superlatives, synonyms, and dangling participles you can.  It’s supposed to be fun.  It’s short, it’s long, and everything in between.  This one is about all of that and so much more

A chance encounter with a long-time friend lead us to meet in glorious and historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

I was born in Alexandria and that adds to my sentiment.   We don’t choose where we’re born but it does choose us.  And each time I wander around this town I’m more and more grateful that I was one of those chosen ones.

This town fits me.  I appreciate it more as times goes by and I get older.  The cobblestone streets, the small shops, the walking paths, the mom and pop restaurants, the museums, the water, and everything else gives me that feeling of peace.  There’s plenty of beautiful towns in this country and world, and I’d love to explore more.  But this one is mine.

How I ended up here on this day I’ll chalk up to the universe. And the universe can be so kind. I’ve wanted to meet my friend several times over the past year or so, but circumstances and timing prevented it.  It all lead to this one.  And thank goodness, because this will likely be the last one for a while.

He suggested a tea shoppe but that sadly closed unceremoniously.  There’s the downside to local business.  Rent may be too high to justify attempting a new venture.

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However, there’s a plethora of wine bars in the area and we walked into the first one we saw. That would be Sonoma Cellar on King Street, the heart of everything.

We walked in a few minutes early but the staff didn’t seem to mind.  We literally had no sense of time or direction which makes sense in context.   The wine literally took us where we were meant to go.

After some careful deliberation, we took a seat outside in their wine garden.

The menu is loaded with all kinds of fun and excitement.  And with that comes some pricier options.  Fortunately, we were only coming in for a glass and a small bite to eat.  I understand the location and prices, but some did look a bit steep for my taste.  Thankfully this was happy hour and there’s affordable options to be had as well.

I love that the majority of the wines are from California.  Makes sense of course.

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My choice was the 2012 Chardonnay from Bluewing Vineyards.  My pal went with the 2015 Rose of Sangiovese from Barnard Griffin. Yes this is one of those rare posts where I talk about two separate wines from two separate wineries.  Very exciting I know.

I’ll let the menu do the talking on the descriptions.

sonomachardonnay

The Chardonnay was good but I didn’t find it particularly memorable.   But I could tell right away that it was aged in stainless steel.  I dig that.  I couldn’t tell that it was finished in oak but it’s all case by case.   I may not always want my whites to be too oaky   That’s a matter of taste more than anything else.

Lemon meringue on the nose?  Hmm, I don’t know.  Apple and lime blossom flavors? The former I could taste.  The latter?  Well, maybe next time.

sonomarose

I was grateful to get a sip of the Rose of Sangiovese and this was the winner.  That color stood out immediately.  It looked even rosier than your typical rose.   I was happy to taste the cranberry and pomegranate before I even looked at the synopsis.  That made me happy. This is a wine you can drink all the time.  The weather encourages it even more so now.

Great wine means great food.  A cheese and charcuterie plate was the perfect second to our glasses.   It’s contradictory to say that the food never had a chance.  Wine and small plates are meant to be savored.  But I suppose we were hungry.   The rosemary focaccia bread was a brilliant touch.

Speaking of brilliant.  I love this place.  Our server was kind of enough to allow me to take pictures where I could.

There’s an aura and energy of a pricier experience, but I would love to come back.   Money shouldn’t always be an issue.    If you’re with good company, having a good conversation, and enjoying yourself you forget about finances.  And you can’t put a price on great experiences.

Life is short, it’s long too, but it’s also very short.   I’m grateful to have spent a little bit of time with a friend I may not see for some time.  It’s not a goodbye, more of a…

We’ll be seeing ya,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Opening Ceremonies Party!

PerlitaMeal4

I love spending time with family.  I don’t do it enough.  I have spoken of my semi-regular gatherings with them, in particular on Thanksgiving, that post can be found here.  We don’t get together enough with the ones we love. A lot of verbiage may sound rehashed and regurgitated but when focusing on the positives, I don’t see it as an issue.

Admittedly, we become so wrapped up in life, we want to keep in touch more, but things happen.  Life happens.  I’ve usually been solid at keeping in touch with close family and dear friends.  Even the ones I’m not too close with I’d give a call or send a message. But I’ve been occupied so much too.  This blog is a part of that but I love it.  It keeps me focused. But I miss the ones I love, so any opportunity to meet up with them, I’m there.

This brings us to last Friday.  It was a mini reunion of sorts.  My cousin wanted to bring a bunch of us together to see some family that was visiting from overseas.  As an added bonus, this was the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

We snacked, we dined, ate some more, drank a little, and were glued to the tv. Well some of us were.  At times, I was engaged in necessary and long overdue conversations with people I care about.

To mark this occasion, I needed to bring a wine that would somehow symbolize the Olympic spirit as well as the joy of family.  That sounds like a lot of added pressure.  It’s almost as if I’m an Olympic athlete or competitor myself. All hyperbole aside, it wasn’t a challenge at all.

Brazilian wines are not the easiest to find in Maryland.  At least that’s been my experience.  It would have been the perfect bottle to find and write about.  I didn’t give myself enough time to track one down but neighboring Argentina always comes through. Their wines have proven to be simple, easy-to-drink, and often affordable.  Take out Argentina and you can put just about any country or region in there.  That’s the true spirit of the Olympics, our world, and our universe.  It shows how even though we’re unique, we’re also all the same. Ah well, enough of my dramatics.

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The winery is not unfamiliar to me but their take on this grape sure is.  The 2013 Perlita Chardonnay from Diamandes Winery is a winner.  Yes I said winner.  I’ll give it any medal you like.  Upon uncorking I could sense it.  You just know sometimes.   And as a close friend pointed out in the past, the label looks like a flag.  The colors may even seem familiar to you. What else needs to be said? But I’ll say some more.

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That golden color is just what I was looking for.   Actually I wasn’t looking for it, more so you can say it gravitated towards me. Of course it would be gold. You can’t plan this stuff if you tried.

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The crispness and apple taste immediately stood out.  This was refreshing, tasty, and throw in other adjectives as you’d like.  The tasting notes tell you everything you need to know.   Lots of summer fruits dominate this vintage.

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I’m not even a Chardonnay fan, but I’d gladly have another glass right now.  Speaking of which, I was lucky to have one.  The bottle was finished in minutes.

For more on this wine you can go to Diamandes’ website right here.   More on their Chardonnay here.  And I gave a hint earlier as to having a wine of theirs before, I will get to that soon.  I will have many good things to say about their Malbec-Syrah as well. Actually I’m suggesting you get both if you can.

DM Vineyards is the domestic distributor here in the states and if you’re looking on where to find their wines, click here.  It’s a label I’ve seen at many wine shoppes in Maryland, so hopefully you won’t have a problem finding it.   And I hope that expands across the nation and across the globe.  It’ll be worth the search.

The price range is $10-$13. That’s worth it’s weight in… I’m here all night ladies and gentlemen, watching the Olympics.

When you have a big family and many that love wine that’s to be expected.  It was gone but not before I got my photos in.  You’ll see a plate of some amazing food my family cooked. I’m of Iranian descent, yet born here. I fully embraced the mix of foods from my family’s homeland and a little bit mixed in from everywhere else. Sound familiar?  Sound dare I say, Olympic like? I may be reaching but this gathering, this meal, and this wine was perfect.   And the gathering by itself was perfect enough.

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I hope we get to do it again soon.

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Like what you see above?  I’ll get to that sometime.

Take good care and enjoy the Olympics.

 

Ideen