Love It If We…

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Zinfandel is not one I talk about a lot.  And I have no explanation for it.   I mean I could make up one, and let the words try to validate what I’m trying to justify (oh boy…), or I could say when I get around to it.

So I got around to it.

I’m so grateful to be invited into friends’ homes and know that most of all, we are friends and that we care for each other, and that the conversations never get old. And at times, we can enjoy silence without it ever being awkward.

This dinner was full of beautiful conversation, all entertainment, and there’ll never be enough time to get it all in.  Then again, there’s always room for next time, and room for everybody.

I had brought a bottle of the same grape, and it turned out to be a flop.  I won’t get into specifics.  You might be able to see the label in picture, so maybe you know to avoid it if you’re out shopping for Zin.  But don’t take my word for it.  To each their…

Thankfully and fortunately, the hosts opened up one of their favorite wines, the 2015 Zinfandel from Carnivor Wines.  A name like that carries a lot of weight, no puns my friends.

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The price is anything but that, ranging from $10-$12, you’re getting a bargain.

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Without reading the label and getting a couple of sips, I tasted that oak and oak is you’re friend when it comes to reds, and some whites.  That’s just my opinion, but it’s based on experience.  The info also mentions blackberry and hints of caramel.  I really dig that if that’s what I tasted.   It just felt different but most importantly of all it tasted like a wine many would enjoy.

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And when you’re with fantastic company everything is going to taste better.  Food tastes that much more palatable (more than already might be), water is even that more refreshing, the air feels dryer and cooler (well that’s literally where we’re headed), and at least for me, my breaths feel for natural.   I know right.

This bottle, like most great ones, never had a chance.  It lasted a while but then it didn’t.  A few hours of a great evening always goes by rather quickly.   You don’t always want it to end, but does it really?  It’s just on hold for the next time.

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The food choices were plentiful: chips, hummus, olives, cheese are the perfect appetizer for any dinner or party of your liking.  It’s those little things that are the biggest things.  I’ve said it before with knowing some parts of better left unsaid and to just be.

The dinner itself was one of a more heartier and comforting variety, which is fitting to pair with a wine named Carnivor (here’s where to buy near you!).  As no pictures were taken I just made my point from earlier, sometimes there’s no need for explanations and facts.   You can take out most food and wines and substitute them for something else, and the story, while different, has the same constant of joy, love, happiness, and all those other good things.

I love all those good things.

I’m so grateful to have shared another evening with great friends, and I welcome and embrace the next time.

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

I’m Glad I Waited…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

I’d Like A Number One With A Side Of…

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That title may seem to indicate I’m making light of what is a likable wine.  That’s exactly what the Uno Malbec is from Antigal Winery & Estates.

For more on the winery itself, here is their story, and how they make their wine.

I’ve had this bottle once or twice in the past and completely forgot about it.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  It’s hard to keep up with everything.

You can call this your impromptu holiday special, as this was an unexpected yet once again serendipitous gathering.  The better ones happen with little to no planning.  As my list of wines I want to write about continues to grow, it’s always important to leave as many in the arsenal as possible, as long as the stories yet to be told can age well, as stand the test of time.

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I’d like to say the same for this 2013 vintage of the Uno Malbec.

Technical information for the 2014, can be found here. their wine list, and contact information.

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For the 2013 (notes here), I wasn’t looking to analyze or over analyze.  It was later in the day, and that can alter how one is feeling, what one is thinking, and who knows what has been eaten or drank already that can change ones palate many times over.

That’s what happened here.  So plenty of water needed to be had for hydration and then rehydration purposes.

The wine itself has so much depth and so much to offer.  There’s spices all over the place, and if I told you I knew them all, well you know…

But this had a darker element to it.  The wine had a more violet tint to it which I can appreciate.  It’s possible I tasted coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, and more of what would be better suited for the fall or winter, but here we are in Spring and the weather still feels like the aforementioned seasons.  Yep.

This is not quite ‘my’ kind of wine, even though it’s been aged in oak for many months.  As much I wanted to love it, that didn’t happen.

It’s a good wine, but at the listing of $14-$16, I would say it’s not quite on that level.  It tastes closer to $10-$12 for me, and while that may sound like I’m nitpicking, it’s my observation and opinion.

It’s medium bodied and not full of the tannins that maybe one would expect.  It has character but maybe it’s just missing that one thing to put it over.  Funny how I said ‘one thing’, but it’s so close to being great.

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This was paired with carry-out cheese pizza, and then some holiday themed cookies, and chocolates.   This may come off as an unconventional pairing, but that’s what makes this so great.   These make for some of the more endearing and long lasting stories.  This wine carries some weight, and while it may be necessary to pair it with a different kind of dish, it doesn’t truly matter.

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The pizza, chocolates, and cookies are comfort foods in times where comfort is welcome and comfort is good.   And while that may imply one should get out of their comfort zone, for this time it was beautiful.  It didn’t last as long as the previous gathering (which you can read about here), but there will be more.

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Each get together creates and tells a different story.   The people with whom you spend it with will hopefully enhance that story.  If not, then there’s no point to any of this.   It makes the wine, the food, and then all those details you can’t see, mean that much more.

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And no, not every wine, and not every experience is going to be life changing.  If that was the case, then those events that are truly magnificent are going to feel betrayed.  I think that makes sense.   Some of the best times are the ones where it’s not that anything deep or profound was said, or done, but it was just simply being.

And this was one of those.  I’m overly sentimental I know that.

While this one was fast, it just means more to come.  And it’s good to just be.

Have a blessed holiday weekend…

Ideen

 

I’m Feeling Thankful

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I tell you, life can be so good if you allow it to be.    Yesterday, I allowed that to be.

I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland and I’m here at least several times a month visiting friends and family.  There may have been a time or two where I visited Sugarloaf Mountain, went on a trail, and that was it.  And it’s sadly possible I never did that.  This goes back to grade school.   Otherwise I haven’t been in this vicinity in over two decades.

But something told me yesterday it was time to make a return.  Maybe not necessarily the mountain, but a serendipitous situation led me to Sugarloaf  Mountain Vineyard.

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There are situations that have come up in my life that have motivated to actually stop and smell the roses, or in this instance, taste the wine.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not stopped to relax, do something new, and experience something that well, maybe at the time wasn’t meant to be.  Now those situations may come up again but life is all about doing the most with what you have, and doing the most that makes you feel good.

As we approach Thanksgiving, those feeling are amplified.

The holidays are a beautiful time for us, a rough time for many others, and a mix of emotions for everyone in between.  I would say I’m a combination of all of the above.

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One of many blessings is the fact that the vineyard is open seven days a week from 12-6 daily.  Many vineyards have limited hours, some that are restricted to weekends.  When I looked up the hours my day was made.  And subconsciously I may have been trying to talk myself out of visiting, and just decide to back to the comforts of my own home, or my home town.  No, none of that today…

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I got there literally at opening, and was greeted by Michelle and Charlie immediately.  They were my wine pourers for the day.  And what I thought would be a few minutes tuned into a beautiful afternoon…

Of course I came for the tasting, but what really caught my eye is the Melisseus.  More on that in a little while.

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There were eight for sampling, and I want to thank Michelle for holding the wines for me so I could grab as many pictures as I could.  I did inform them of my blog and what I was hoping to do for the day.  They kindly obliged.  And I’m so thankful.  It made the tasting and the rest of my visit, that much better.

While I had all eight wines, and instead of reviewing and dissecting every wine that’s listed, I will just share my thoughts on my favorites.SugarloafSiren

I really liked the 2016 Siren.  The synopsis even mentions flavors and scents of childhood candies.  It reminds me of my Middle Eastern candies I’ve shared with family and friends, not only growing up, but even in present time.   And while it’s not a wine I’ll actively seek out, when it’s around, I’m happy to sip.

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The 2016 Rosé is perfect for Thanksgiving.  And I especially mean this Rosé.  Some are perfect for warmer climates, but the tint and body on this one goes well with a lavish holiday meal, or two, or three, ha.  This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is first class all the way. The tannins are low so you can truly appreciate  anything and everything about this one.  The aromas of cinnamon, spices, and everything nice under the sun will win even non wine lovers over. I tasted strawberry.  And while I would have purchased this wine (In hindsight I wish I did), I went with the my old reliable.

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And old reliable, is meant with the highest praise.  As much as my palate has evolved and expanded to appreciate different grapes, scents, tastes, and all the other intricacies of fine wines such as these, I went with the 2015 Cabernet Franc.  This was $26 (most of their wines are in the $20+ range), and I wanted to treat myself.

As a dear friend told me, this is my kind of wine.  The taste of peppers and cranberries is what makes this medium bodied wine an absolute gem.  I’ve had many Cabernet Francs and they’re all somewhat similar in taste, but this just a little more pep (ha) in its step.  I can’t say it’s the best Cab Franc I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair comparison to all the others, and to this.   The notes mention black cherries and grape tannins.  This is everything I want in a wine.  There’s so many things that we discover in wine, that makes the combinations of flavors and scents unlimited.  But this is is unpretentious, welcoming, and makes me want to open this bottle now, then saving for later.

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But I’ll save it for later.

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However, the Melissius is for now.  This is what I came for.  And while they only usually serve it on weekends (I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble for this), Charlie made me up of this warm holiday tasting masterpiece, and my day just got made.

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This is the hot, honey spiced wine made with an Unoaked Chardonnay and all the spices that make this time of year so great, and makes this life so fun sometimes.

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The Melissius will be served every weekend from now until April, so there’s plenty of time for you to have a glass.  It’s worth the drive alone.

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Even if you’re not a wine drinker, you’re going to love this one.  My new friends in the tasting room suggested the most perfect snacks to go with my drink.   I don’t need to explain them, the pictures speak for themselves.

And this is where I officially found peace for the next hour or so.  I took my pictures and then just sat and admired these views of fall and the scenery that I’ve come to love once again these past couple of months.  But when it’s right in your face the feelings were different this time.

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While time just flies by and it’ll be 2018 before you know it, it was important to be where I was and understand time, feelings, and emotions can be fleeting, fickle, and yet so wonderful.

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I forgot where I was at times, while I sipped my Melissius.  Maybe I  was transported to a place in time of Greek Mythology, like its namesake.  But like I say, I think I was somewhere bigger than I even realize, or can fully explain.

I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  And what a feeling that is.

When I came down from that euphoria, I met a friendly couple outside, and I explained to them what I was doing, even though they had already figured it out.   They had a lovely dog with them too.    I can’t help but be overly sentimental and nostalgic of an event that took place less than 24 hours ago.

I need to come back, and I won’t ever take this long again.

As I grow up, (and I have much growing up to), the yearning for genuine peace, genuine conversation, with some great food and wine to boot, is all I need in this lifetime.  Oh and some great company too.

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This was something, and I wish I could go on forever, but I can’t.   All I can do is be thankful for the time I had here, and let everyone know that I look forward to the next time.   The next story of this chapter will be written, and I look forward to that day.

For more on Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard click here for their story, their wine list, where to find their wines in Maryland, info on the tasting room and visiting, their calendar of events, to join their wine club, and contact info.

P.S. I’m so grateful for the industry discount Sugarloaf  Mountain Vineyard bestowed upon me.  It was an early Thanksgiving and Christmas present I will never forget and it’s one of many things I shall be thankful for, not just this holiday season, but forever.

I’ll leave you with plenty of pictures from my stay.   I look forward to next time.

Happy Early Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

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.

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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