Bordeleau’s Brightest

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Nearly one year to the day when I first wrote about Bordelau Winery, it’s with great honor that I get to write about them again.  And as an added bonus I helped volunteer to pour wine at their booth at the most recent Great Grapes Festival.   This was a joy.

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I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tom at various festivals, including this very one, a year ago. He’s always been so laid back and easy to dialogue with on all matters vino.   Through mutual people and a little assertiveness, I got in touch with his wife Lisa, and after a few light-hearted  e-mail (and other electronic means) exchanges I find myself on the other side of the tables on that Sunday.

It’s a different animal but one I’ve fully embraced.  On many occasions I’ve been a patron and taken advantage of all the tastings and samples I could get my hands on.  It’s a slippery slope. And after a while the appreciation of what I’m drinking goes out the window.  All the crackers and water to cleanse your palate either fall by the wayside, or we forget to even partake in that necessary ritual.  Both of these scenarios are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

What I failed to see is the supposedly not so glamorous side of these festivals.   Nothing could be further from the truth.

This felt genuine, sincere, and I could be more myself.   I like to talk to folks and see what makes them feel good.  The wine is the catalyst but it also become the backdrop.  While I got the occasional pretentious question, most folks just  want to sample and have a pleasant conversation.  Nearly 100% was the latter.  That’s a good number.

Another full circle and serendipitous moment came to light.  I wrote about their reds last year, and even made mentioned of how I never got around to the whites.  So what table did I end up stationed at?  Well I’ll be…

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I’ll get the ones I didn’t love out of the way.   The Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Pinot Grigio, and the Wicomico Blush are still not my speed.  They’re not as dry as I’d like.  The latter is nowhere  near on my radar of wines I’d prefer.   I’ve included links to all three for your edification. Many of the attendees loves these three and that’s what makes these events great.  If we liked all the same wines that would significantly take the fun out of this event.

The journey is about seeing what we like and appreciating how our palates evolve over time.  I can see it first hand with me.   And speaking of which…

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I never loved Chardonnay but that’s the progression.  The 4 Chardonnay Barrel Fermented was the winner for me.  I may have shown just a little more enthusiasm while pouring this one versus the others.  Yes the vanilla and apple on the back end is a bonus but that oak.  Oh my goodness I could drink bottles of this.  Well not while volunteering and obviously not too much or the savoring goes out the window.  But I think you get the gist.  At $15.00 this is a steal.

One thing I learned is that this Chardonnay is not meant to be too cold or it will lose the flavors and the nose that we deserve to observer.   That’s an art I would like to perfect with time.  So there were times I took this bottle off of the ice.  Temperature is everything.

The rain came down and and we had to move things around rather swiftly, to protect everything from the storm.  I noticed as we were packing this bottle was placed on ice for a while.  And I just had to try it again.  Something was lost.  Maybe it was the elements of the outside world, maybe it was the colder than appropriate temperature, or maybe the universe threw everything off kilter.  It could be everything or nothing.   But yes, temperature is so key when it comes to wine.

Man this was fun.  I will be doing this again.

For more on Bordelau, here is some info on their winery, where you can find their wines in Maryland, contact, and online shopping info.   I think I’ve dissected their website enough.

The next time I talk up this fantastic winery will hopefully be on location.  I referenced this a year ago and I have to own this one.   I can’t plan this too much.  I just have to get there.

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More from Great Grapes very soon.

Best,

Ideen

 

 

Home Is Where The Wine Is

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I know this title is cheesy but from me that’s to be expected.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  And I didn’t realize until later, but how fitting to do this specific post on National Wine Day. I love when something unplanned comes to fruition and fits together perfectly. This is destiny.

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For the first time or in the longest time I can remember, I volunteered at a wine festival. And the setting was meant to be.   The location, Merriweather Post Pavilion this past Sunday for Wine in the Woods.   And it’s only fitting that my indoctrination into the other side of the tent would be the namesake of where I live, Harford Vineyard & Winery.

Now I contacted a multitude of wineries, they were one of only a few to get back to me. And they were the first.

My one and only visit to this fiesta prior to this past Sunday was back in 2009.  I didn’t fully appreciate it.  I wanted to sample and drink everything in sight.  The tastings are unlimited so I treated this like a race (or a buffet) and not a marathon. I did not fully appreciate what I was a part of.  Oh and the hangover the next day was a tragedy.  I did seem to have fun, from what I remember.

Time flies and with time we hope to grow, and grow up.  This is not some full circle dramatic message here.   I just got to see it from the other side and loved every second of it.

I said hello to the owners and staff, and after a couple minutes of slip ups and nervousness, I was left on my own.

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What was available for sampling were these dry whites:  Chardonnay, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc.

The semi-sweets were the Blush and Sweet Harmony.

The sweets were the Peach Kissed and Piedmont Pleasure.  The Pain The Town Red was sold out before I even started my volunteer shift.  And somewhere along the way the Piedmont Pleasure was sold out as well.

The only dry red was the Malbec, and that was an extra $1.00 for a premium pour.  For obvious reasons that was my favorite.  As much as I’ve had a sweet tooth lately, the sweet wines are not for me.  However, an exception, and a close second would be the Traminette, as I gave this to a dear relative as a birthday present a couple of years back.  This is purely based on sentimental reasons.

All the wines I mentioned are listed here.

Now that’s out of the way, I want to get to the essence of why this event was so fun.

Most of the people in attendance have very little care about the type of grapes, the region where they’re from, whether it’s aged in steel or oak, the notes, the hints, or even the vintage.  They just wanted a wine that that tasted good, made them feel good, and something they could identify with.

If you see some of the names of the wines, you’ll understand why so many folks were drawn and sold on certain bottles.   This was a down-to-earth and vino friendly crowd. These wines were user-friendly as many of the wineries intended to be.

The weather was appalling but that didn’t deter people from passing through in mass quantities to taste.  I can only imagine how busy it would be if the rain held off.  Sunday has always been known as the more laid back day, with more families than the frenetically paced Saturday.  I chose Sunday to volunteer for that reason alone.  But now I’m comfortable.

Approximately 100% of the attendees I poured for were grateful and happy to sample.  The reviews for the most part seemed positive.  Even if they didn’t care for certain wines, they were appreciative to get to try.  Many of these visitors were trying something new for the first time.  And that’s what makes this event so awesome.  You get a cheat sheet or CliffsNotes (remember those?) version of some of the best that Maryland has to offer.

I think in the two hours I poured wine, my knowledge grew and memories of some of the wines I’ve had myself, returned.  For the few attendees that asked more specific questions about the wine itself, I either asked one of the winemakers or has the base knowledge to help them.  This is not a fake it till you make it scenario.  I want to make it and then make it some more.

It’s ok not to know everything.  If I do, then I’ve done something wrong.  The wine experience is one where I’ll forever be thirsty for knowledge.   To me this will be everlasting, eternal, and enduring.  Here I go with my notorious alliteration again.

Most importantly, I’m happy I got to do to this.  I felt shaky at first but gained confidence by the minute.  I like to think I’m good to people.  I’m more of a listener than a talker.  So I enjoyed meeting some great folks, some friendships might have been formed, and even if there’s some people I’ll never see again, I may see them in the next life, or the next wine festival.

This is a great community.  The majority of us are here for the same reason, to share our passion and joy for wine.  It’s really that simple.  It’s a genuine comradery you just don’t find anywhere.  I was on my own but did run into a few friends.  But for the most part it was easy to engage with anyone because the setting and energy was authentic.

And Columbia, MD has always given me the warm and fuzzies.  I have some idea but can’t point my finger exactly as to why.

Here is more information on the winery , where to buy their wines, and a link to my previous reviews of their wines.

Finally, I want to give a huge thank you to the Mooney family.  I would be honored to do this again.  The whole point of this was to have fun and  met and exceeded all my expectations.

I did have time to enjoy the festival before and after, so more is coming….

Best,

Ideen

I Believe In Magic

I had no idea Alchemy Elements even existed.  Nor that it opened minutes away from me in Bel Air.  That’s magical in and of itself.     This will be quite the introduction as I’ve yet to partake in dining at their Hampden location, appropriately titled Alchemy, go figure.

This falls along the lines of unplanned and serendipitous.  I’ve heard from multiple sources how splendid and amazing this restaurant was.   I was eager to find out about it myself.  I thought I would have a set date and time I would be going.   Thankfully I went with a friend on a random lunch.  And what a lunch it was.

I mentioned magic in the title.    When reading about them, that’s how I found out about their concept.  If you’ve been to either location, I guess you know what this magic is.  I was told molecular fusion is how they prepare their food and their cocktails.  I think that’s marvelous.  It’s something different and in a world where restaurants claim to be this or that, which basically is over-the-top words to cover up for how ordinary they are, this felt different.

As long as the food, the atmosphere, the energy, and the company are magical than everything else will fall into place.

This is a wine blog and I will get to that.

Per the friendly waiter’s advisement, I ordered the Quinoa Spinach Salad with chicken breast.  It was divine.

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The black tea egg, the spinach, the quinoa, the walnuts, the goat cheese, and everything else in between was from another dimension.  Holy moly this was good.  This salad was good for 3 people.  I made sure it was only for one.  Before I knew it, the whole thing had been decimated.

The Canyon Road Chardonnay paired well with the salad.  As per suggested, it went perfectly with the grilled chicken.  It’s just not a wine I would go out of my way to have again.

I’ve never been a big fan of Chardonnay in general, so this wasn’t a surprise.  I also won’t let a grape I’m resistant to cloud my judgement.  I will always give a new wine a chance and will try anything once.  This was a serviceable medium-bodied white that tasted citrusy with some fruits that complemented many of the ingredients of the salad.

So the recommendation was spot on.  It’s just not a wine I was crazy about.

Believe me, with everything else clicking so perfectly, this will hopefully be a place I visit regularly.  And I look forward to being amazed and dazzled by the city location as well.

For where you can track down Canyon Road Wines in your area, click here.

All The Best,

Ideen

 

Dogs Are The Best

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There’s no other way to put it.  Dogs are one of the greatest entities this universe has ever created. The fact that they’re on this planet and they want to love us for the sake of just wanting to love us is a remarkable gift.

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And when you can combine the love of dogs, create beautiful labels, and place them on wine bottles, well that’s just icing on the top.  Little Ashby of Easton, MD has merged both into one of the most memorable tasting experiences I’ve ever had.

The setting is back at The Maryland Wine Festival and this was one of the wineries I was looking forward to visit the most. I’ve never had the privilege of sampling their bottles until now.  I’ve been to a multitude of festivals and events, and either never got a chance or they were not in attendance. This was well worth the wait.

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Because the visuals of happy dogs are all ubiquitous, I was hoping these wines would taste better than usual. At worst, I was hoping they would at least taste good. They succeeded and then some.

For me, at least, when I’m in a happy place, beverages tend to go down smoother and food tastes that much better.  This was arguably the happiest I was at the festival. So how were the wines?

In short but sweet fashion, I got to taste 4. And with all the commotion of the festival, it’s plausible that was the perfect amount for any of the visiting wineries.

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I’ll go in order of the descriptions.

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The 2013 Chardonnay was so easy to drink. It was very light and deceptively going down to quickly.  I had to be careful as this event was a marathon, not a sprint. It was a beautiful day so drinking this was even that much smoother. And at $15, that’s a more than reasonable price for this bottle.  I wouldn’t actively seek it out, but then again look at that label!

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The 2011 Ashby Red was something special.  I have sung the praises of Cab Franc.  And I’ll continue to do so until the end of the time.  You merge that with Merlot and you have something very special.  The synopsis describes this was earthy.   That actually does apply here.  For me, earthy has usually tasted like pine trees or green grass.  I did get some of that here.

Maybe I let my imagination run wild.  It’s a flavor many don’t care for but I love it.  A fantastic finish to a fantastic wine.

I would pay $22 for this. Licorice?  Didn’t catch that. Oh and how about that adorable looking pup on the front? Yay!

Merlot is becoming more and more apart of my regular wine tastings and at home.  A year or so ago I would avoid this grape like the plague.  Now I appreciate it and it’s grown on me.  This one definitely had the scents and flavors of berries and chocolate.

This will be perfect for the fall and as we approach those holidays that are too soon to talk about.  $20 seems justified for this selection.

This 2011 bottle and the Ashby Red are definitely special occasion wines.  And the label had a labrador retriever on it.  How can you go wrong with that? They’re my favorite breed of dog!

I went crazy and spent an extra $1 for the Super Talbot.   This is a homegrown Maryland special.  This one had some power to it, for a medium-bodied wine.

I tend to overreact when I find a wine I love. I make this cheesy look  and I tend to sway. I may fall forward too. But I also get this grin on my face, feeling my day has been made. I could say that about this wine, along with the Merlot and Ashby Red.

Maybe it’s the sentimentality of seeing mans best bud on the front.  How can you go wrong?

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They’re the first licensed winery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and production began in the year 2000. So they’re relatively new but doing everything right.

The staff was so nice and so attentive.  The only thing left is to make a visit, which is by appointment only.

I was in Easton around December of last year and completely snoozed on visiting them.  This is just extra motivation.

They don’t have a website or any way to be contacted via social media, which is actually adding to the intrigue and mystique.  I like it.

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More from the MD Wine Festival is coming, but this visit along with last weeks post are going to be hard to top.

For more awesome dogs click here.  And for more on Eastern Shore wines, you can check this link out.

More to come!

Best,

Ideen

Frog Splash

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The Maryland Wine Festival took place this past weekend and there was no way I was missing this.   I have months worth of material to write about and I will attempt to space it out accordingly.   It’s also possible I’ll just give you a half-dozen posts in a row of the best and worst that Maryland Wineries have to offer!  This post will be about the former.

The site was the visually stunning Carroll County Farm Museum.  And for many this is the one time a year they visit Westminster.

In addition, this is the one time a year I get to meet up with certain friends, either because our schedules are conflicting, friends are busy raising a new family, or the near distance of an hour is too much for some.  I love the drive and find myself in the area at least several times a year.

I got to the festival at opening time so I can could beat some of the crowd and get all the tasting and note-taking in that I could.Fortunately, it was never a struggle to do a tasting any time of the day and the weather was dazzling and awe-inspiring.

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I got in, grabbed my tasting glass, and if I’m going to attempt to go by chronological order, got to my first winery, Great Frogs of Annapolis, MD.

I’ll give a brief back story on this place.  A little over a year ago, I dropped someone off in a remote and beautiful part of our state capital.   I didn’t know these homes and this area existed but, the houses looked like they were in the millions and right next door to where I sat, was Great Frogs Winery with perfectly cut grass and bushes.  I had never heard or seen of them until this day.  It looked so intimidating.  I almost felt like I didn’t belong in the area and that someone would ask me to leave momentarily.

The signs read that the visits were by appointment only.  I was intimidated but that was all my creation.   If i had only known now what I had known the, there would be pictures and I could show you what a thing of beauty this was, from the outside looking in.

I had been hoping that one day I would get to try their wines, as the enigma I created intrigued me.

And the universe looked out for me.

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The staff and volunteers pouring the wine were all so friendly and were happy to ask any questions I may have had. They also loved that I was taking so many photos.  I think I explained to a few wineries that I write about this beautiful subject.

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The wines itself and the labels are very charming.   They range in price from $15 to $40 so some of these can get a bit pricey and not within many people’s budget. That’s the fun of these festivals and tastings. We can at least get to try some new wines and even if we’re not in a position to buy today.  We now have a lasting memory and can always purchase at a later time.

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My favorites were the 2012 Watermen and the 2012 Meritage.  Yes, off the top I went with the dry reds and they were the perfect start to a warm and beautiful Summer event.  The descriptions are listed in the links above but to me they both represent the greatness of Maryland wines.

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The former contains Cabernet Franc, along with Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Cab Franc is really what makes this awesome.  Call it local sentimentality or just what I like.  But this was fantastic, albeit a little pricey for me now.  I would love to grab this and hold onto it for a very special event or party down the line.   Lots of oak and different fruits were detected to make this my kind of wine.  There was a summer into fall feel to this one.

The Meritage is Half-Merlot and Half-Cab Sauv and just as awesome.  I could taste a mix of chocolate, vanilla, and some more oak. Once again, not at my price point, just yet, but still wonderful nevertheless.

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The Lollipop Red was a huge favorite to many, but that wasn’t for me on this day.  I thought it was ok, but I wasn’t in the mood for anything too sweet.

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I also got to try 2013 Chardonnay and White Squall. These were both a joy and so easy to drink.  I could enjoy either with a meal or with nothing.    One marvelous detail to both of these is that they were both 100% grown on the estate.  So you’re getting the full local experience at the palm of your hands.

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I didn’t get the opportunity to try the $1.00 premium samples.  All the more reason to make a visit!

I’m pretty sure I tried others but there were so many throughout the day to get into all. I’ll try to be as concise and approachable as I could with these experiences, and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead.

And speaking of approachable, this is exactly what this winery was on this day.   I am so compelled to make a visit.  And any reason to get back to Annapolis is a great one!

They have a dog here too! Yes!  For more on the winemakers you can click here.  And here’s their FAQ.  Their online store can be found here.  And for our pals local to the area, here are stores that carry it and restaurants that serve it.

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Finally, a little more on the vineyard itself.

I cannot wait to make a visit!

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen

Back To Boordy

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This past Friday, Boordy once again held their quarterly Landmark Club party.  I am proud to say that I’m a member.

The wines you see above are a beautiful sight aren’t they?  I am a three-bottle member.  Per the synopsis you can have up to 6 to 12 (2 of each or 3 of each respectively), if you really want to add to your collection.

I did a recap of several of these wines earlier this year, and you can read about that here.

Events like this are more about a thank you and a time to enjoy the season.  With this being Summer, the event moved outdoors, which was what I was expecting and grateful about.

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Many of the pictures will reflect that.  And the weather couldn’t be any more perfect.

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When it’s been chillier, the party has been indoors in their second floor lounge area.

So how were the three bottles this time around?   Well for one, I have written about their Landmark Reserve previously and loved it.  I’m still holding onto that for something special.

I found the 2014 Pinot Grigio to be very easy to drink. They’re traditionally light to medium-bodied and this one fits the mold. I have really been into whites while the weather has been cooperative.  I may open this within the next month.  I found it refreshing and it’s fitting for a great for an evening involving a healthy meal of proteins and veggies.

Then we get to the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.   I am thankful this was in the package.  This wasn’t even available to be tasted by the time I arrived.  I was informed they have so few cases left, that they are going to be holding off on it for now. Luckily, a friend of mine had a bottle for me to try some.  This was also in the package back in February.  So I have two bottles sitting and aging gracefully.  It may be a while before I open either one.   And you can see on their list of Landmark Wines, it’s nowhere to be found.

And speaking of nowhere to be found, their 2012 Cabernet Franc, (which I have raved about many versions of in the past) will soon be joining that list.  As of Friday night, there were only 28 bottles left per a conversation with the staff.  I knocked that down to 27.    This was also part of the package in the Winter.   I will be holding onto the two I have for a while.

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I know wine is meant to be enjoyed, for the moment as well, but sometimes the sentimentality and realizing certain wines are scarce or now near non-existent, and you have a bottle of it or two in your possession, is an exciting feeling.  There’s something to be said for that.

And speaking of that, the Chardonnay Reserve for 2013 is now sold out.  I will be holding onto that from January as well.  But the 2014 version in the first picture, had such an amazing finish, that the aftertaste really resonated with me.  It’s a wine I will look to purchase in the future, as long as it doesn’t go fast.  I suspect it will.   It had so much more power than the Chardonnay to its left.

The 2014 Dry Rose was part of the package in the Spring, and I noticed it wasn’t for sale at this past event.  Rose’s have also grown on me while the weather has been warm, even though they were never my favorite.   The same goes for the 2012 Merlot Reserve.

As far as wine goes, I’ve never loved Merlot, but the blogging and experimenting has led me to appreciate them more.   They were a part of the Winter and Spring package.  When the time is right I will open those up two.  In a sea of wonderful wines, by default they’re still near the bottom on my favorites list.

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And looking to the future… Here is a teaser of some young wines, straight from the barrel.  These will include the 2014 Landmark Reserve and 2014 Cab Francs, which I am so excited for.

I am happy to support local and support Mayland Wine.

For more on joining their Landmark Reserve Club, click here.

I will depart with some fun photos from the event.

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For more on this pizza, click here!

Have a good one!

Best,

Ideen

For The Pups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take good care.

Best,

Ideen