Keep That Momentum..

13.5Wine&Food

I can count the times on one, maybe two hands that I’ve been to 13.5% Wine Bar in the always enjoyable Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore.

13.5WineBar

That number just went up and is going to continue to go up if each visit is like the last one.   Every time I’ve been here I’ve always felt comfortable sitting at the bar outside, whether it’s with people or by myself.  The first time I visited was over six years ago, and I came here purposely alone.  I loved everything about it, and while company is great, so can be solitude.

This time I had a friend join me, but not before our bartender Mackenzie (big thanks to her for her hospitality and kindness) had me try three wines on the spot.  An impromptu tasting will always make me happy.  Maybe I made a wish to the universe and three bottles magically showed up.

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Here are the three : The 2017 Pato Frio “Cashmere” Rosé; the 2016 Chalk Hill “Wits End” Vermentino, which is a new varietal and grape for me out of Australia, and my favorite the 2016 Three Brooms Riesling.

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They’re all good to great with the Riesling having the most character, boldness, and structure.  To me it tastes more like a Sauvignon Blanc, and the tasting notes would say the same.  I don’t usually appreciate Riesling’s, but this was so good that a few 3 oz. pours would say I truly loved this wine.

Yes, 3 oz. pours make it easier to try multiple wines at even more reasonable prices.   I stuck with my Riesling, and kept that momentum going.  Even per other recommendations, I wanted to stick with what made me happy.

I haven’t seen these wines sold anywhere near me, so this seems to be the place to have them, for now…

I appreciate the honesty and transparency of what these wines would cost at retail.  I don’t recall if I’ve seen menus like this anywhere else.  It’s welcome to see.  This is new to me, but it’s a detail that’ll keep me coming back.

13.5Food

My friend and I had a good time catching up, talking about important things, talking about absurd things, and then nothing at all.  The small plates were great, and in a way symbolizes that the little things are the big things, and that’s what matters.

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Something about 13.5 has always brought joy to me.  It’s a getaway within a city.  If I want to be around people I don’t know, or don’t always see it’s perfect.  I like the anonymity and a different part of the city that while I do explore, I don’t explore enough.

The weather was perfect and ideal for sitting outside, but then the chances of a tasting and who knows what else may not have happened.  It’s all about location and timing, and I think, no I know, the decisions were made right.

You can’t force these things.  You can’t force good times and you can’t force your hand.  Being in the right place, at the right time, with a little divine faith is all you need.  And the universe will do the rest.

The universe looked out for us here.  This was tremendous in all areas.

Rosé and whites have slowly been done, with so many more to try.  There’s still the reds. There’s still plenty of time to try them all, but that journey will be done slowly, surely, and effortlessly.  Well maybe not too slow.

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This is to be continued, as we keep that momentum…

Salud.

Ideen

See You Next Time…

AlbarinoFood1

Have I had an Albariño (Alvarinho) I didn’t like?   I can’t say for sure, as my experience is minimal, and I’ve only written about it once before.

However, I’ve been in a mood.  I’ve been in many moods.  But all moods point to wine.  That sounded worse than I intended it to be.  I wasn’t in the mood to drink copious amounts, no no.  The weather is our friend and that means new grapes, new varietals, and new everything is our friend.  New experiences are always our friend.  I’m grateful they’re a friend to me.

Familiar places are a friend as well.  And as some are just there to exist and be out of convenience,  V-NO (past stories can be found right here hooray!) has been a staple of Fells Point, a staple to wine lovers, and a staple to people who enjoy celebrating life.  Sitting outside when the weather is cooperative doesn’t hurt either.

Me and a pal decided to stop in recently and randomly, and those always make the best stories.

And I was in the mood for Albariño…

What makes this wine great is it can be light or full bodied, and have characteristics of fruits of the season (pear, pineapple, apricot among others come to mind), high acidity content, and has an aura and energy that maybe you can’t put into words.

You can tell it comes from somewhere far away.  And I might once again mean something bigger than us, but Spain will do.  Spanish wines have always won me over, red or white, and the one I’m going to talk about is no exception.

The 2017 Bodegas Aquitania Bernon Albarino is fantastic.  And what makes it that is it feels unpretentious, welcoming, and just a great wine and a great price ($11-$13), but until today I haven’t seen it or noticed anywhere.   Maybe I wasn’t supposed to.

There isn’t much else to say, except the outside was packed, which is a great thing to see.  When we see local business  thriving and people enjoying themselves with whatever their supporting, sipping, or enjoying it’s a wonderful thing to see.

No matter what your preference, a wine like this can be enjoyed inside, outside, with all types of food, and all types of company that will make you feel good and raise your spirits.

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We got a couple of small plates that just added to the authenticity of everything.  The almond and cashews topped with all these incredible seasonings (thyme, sage, rosemary, and a dash of a maple syrup), and the Mediterranean plate of grape leaves (which was the highlight for me), hummus, pita bread,and olives made this not only satisfying but never full.  But still satisfying.

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This was not the day to get full, fat, and happy.  The goal was to eat light, sip light (one glass was all I needed), and to appreciate the day and my surroundings.  That isn’t a stated or explained goal everyday, but my intent is to have that stay with me as long as I can, for as long as I can.

Impromptu is always the best to me, and I enjoyed myself.   V-NO is a place where you will enjoy yourself too.  If you’re in the area or are visiting, I give you my highest recommendation.

Good wines, good times, and good food is what you’ll find here.  Their wine list for purchase (which you can drink right here or purchase to go) is exceptional and there’s something for everybody to enjoy.

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I hope you enjoyed…

See you next time…

Love,

Ideen

We’re Starting Up A Brand New Day…

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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

 

A Peaceful Day In Annapolis

PerrinReserveRose&Hummus2

How often do you got a second to yourself?   If you allow it, I bet we have more time to all the things we want, then we realize.  It’s an ongoing thing, this thing of ours.  No not that kind of thing of ours, but life.   Life is good, and going to the places that make you feel good is what this life is all about.

Annapolis makes me feel good.  Actually it’s the mood I’m in that decides whether or not a place is going to make you happy.   But the setting helps.

For my past history with wine in Annapolis, go here.

49westfront

I’ve been to 49 West (here is more about them, their menu, live music calendar, and contact information) several times, and  wrote about it once, in a different universe. and without going back and rereading it, I’m sure many of the same sentiments will appear.

It’s easy to explain this place but then it’s not.   It’s coffee, wine, food, community, live music, and everything in between.  I haven’t had the privilege of seeing any bands or solo artists play live, but I look forward to it, and I imagine the setting makes it all the more intimate than it already is.

I also haven’t gotten to appreciate all the food and drink that’s at our disposal.

When the weather gets to be where it is (and I’m not complaining, I’m embracing) the food preferences will change, and the lighter the more necessary.  I think that makes sense…

PerrinReserveRose&Hummus

I’m in the mood for hummus and pita bread.  I’m always in the mood for that.  And the presentation was beautiful.  It’s hard to mess up hummus.  This was good, and by no means can I compare it to anywhere else.  It’s hummus and it’s good, it’s satisfying, and I like to tell myself I’m eating healthy.   The carrots and celery told me so.

PerrinReserveRose

There was a sign outside saying it’s Rosé time.  You may have heard.

I wanted to make this as uncomplicated as possible and I’m thankful the Rosé by the glass is the Famille Perrin Reserve, and it’s about as standard and basic as it gets.

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I’ve written highly about their Rhone in the past, and how it’s one help make me love wine the way I do.  This however is nothing special.  Yes this is a glass that’s just ‘there’.

In many ways that’s all I wanted.  I’m sometimes in no place to revel and talk about how amazing a wine is.  Sometimes you want average, you want standard, and you want simple. Not that they make the best stories, but sometimes they make the best stories.

It’s the quietest I’ve ever seen the place, but it was mid afternoon, and that’s just how I liked it. A few quick pictures later and then I just sat there.  And I was happy. This isn’t just about people watching…

There’s art watching, display watching, and watching nothingness.  That’s meant in a good way.  I wasn’t bored, I was peaceful.  I don’t get that enough.

This town brings me peace that I know I can find within myself.  We all have it.  These days where I’m exhausted and spiritually drained, I keep coming back here and appreciating all the gems of this town.  I don’t know a lot of people, but then I start recognizing everyone.  There’s so much comfort in that.

I’m going to enjoy everything I can because this is what Annapolis does for me and so many others.  It’s a place of happiness, peace, love, community, and support of local.

I’ll have more to say on 49 West soon.

Bless you Annapolis, thanks for ongoing memories that have brought me peace.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

The Golden Elite

Expedition5

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

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

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

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

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

Expedition2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m grateful.

Love,

Ideen

Where You Lead…

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I recently told a story about sharing a gift I was given with by the gifters.  That would make me the giftee.

On that same night (more on that night here as well) I brought plenty of holiday gifts to share with the presenters, because it only feels right.

Even if you don’t drink wine, or sip it infrequently, you’ve likely heard of Robert Mondavi, and seen their wines at a store or restaurant near you.

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When the time is right, I’ll discuss my thoughts on some of those wines.  But my gift was on a different level, one that carries some prestige and cache that you will feel on the first impression.  I know I did.  The 2014 Private Selection Pinot Noir has all the makings of a classic, and matches the intensity and feelings that the label might evoke.

MondaviInfo

The aromas of spice, tobacco, and oak is my kind of wine.  For a Pinot Noir this is a little more medium bodied than what you might be accustomed to.  With the weather breaking and settling into more seasonable and higher temperatures, this might push the limits of what you would like to drink this season.  But I love it.

And the cherries and strawberries are the taste that can fit any season, any time of year, and any mood your in.    Of course, the bourbon barrel taste is why you get this wine, and what a draw it is.  Incredible taste and incredible quality.

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At a price averaging under $15, and if you’re savvy you’ll it closer to $10, this is a bargain.  This is a tremendous wine.  And when sipping in the moment, and in a good mood, or even a lousy one, it’s going to lift your spirits, get you thinking, and get you talking.  This is a wine that will resonate with you.

It’s resonating with me now, nearly a month later.   It was a good night, and I was surrounded by great friends, great animal friends, nature, shared some snacks, conversations, laughs, and all the good (and sometimes not so good) moments in life and in time.

The fact that I’ve made several posts, and might make more, is something I don’t take lightly.  I’m overly sentimental, and then I’m overly sentimental.  I appreciate the good things in life, or at least I try to.  Sometimes I forget, and have let certain memories and situations disappear without realizing.

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This is what a wine, a meal, a deep (or sometimes silly) conversation will do to a person.  It means so much at the time and might even old more significance later.   It’s been less than a month and the importance has already grown exponentially.

I love this wine, and I love the night we had this on.  I loved the company I shared this with, and there’s not much else to say.   This is one of my shorter posts, and I can drag this out, but there’s no point.  Sometimes less is more.   The little things are the well, you know the rest…

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I must revisit the Mondavi Private Selection, but I won’t force the issue.  I’ll know when it’s right.  This was meant to sipped when it was, and I couldn’t imagine a better time for it.

Here’s more on their Bourbon Barrel Aged Wines, their wine list, more about them, and where to find their wines near you.

We’ll do this again soon.  Thanks so much, and….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen