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

On The Mend

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There’s something about the Remington neighborhood in Baltimore that is so charming to me.   And I may not even be talking about the whole neighborhood, but a tiny block or even half a block area has become another in a line of safe places to be that are away from everyone, yet in plain sight of those same everyone’s.

What strikes me is how just a couple of years ago, this was a neighborhood that had all the telltale signs of expansion but looked fine in before pictures, and looks similar in after, with a few masterful additions.

While one place has become a source of necessary health and healing, another is more of the same on a different level.  R. House (I wrote about it once before) has been a source of new food, new experiences, and just a place for rebirth, rejuvenation, and welcome solitude.

On several occasions I’ve been here with friends, but recently it’s always been me and just me.  And this is a place where it’s ok to be just you.  Actually most places can fit that fold if you see fit and makes you feel good if that resonates within your heart and soul.  But something about R. House just feels so comforting, so familiar, and so divine.   It’s as if I’ve been here before in a previous life, but can’t connect all the dots just yet.  Not that I’m supposed to nor ever will, but it’s fun to romanticize.

And this place is worthy of all the romanticizing.   There’s a dozen or so food choices that didn’t exist just a few years ago.  And it just has this welcoming aura from the outside and from the open you open those double doors.  Yes it’s those simple things that really get me, move me, and fill my spirit whole.

Then nestled right in the middle is the r.bar…

I’ve always love the r.bar from afar, yet I was right there.  In all previous visits it only consisted of getting food to go or dining in. And to me dining in some ways has been a life changing experience.  Sometimes a couple hours sitting in complete and utter nothingness have gone by, without realizing.   To call it cathartic would be a statement.  And it would be the right one…

The r. bar is just the same.  I don’t know anyone that regularly hangs out here.  There’s friends that have their places to go, just like I do. Some are not always my favorite, but they’re safe, cozy, familiar, and there’s the path of least resistance factor.

Keep in mind, it’s only a bar but it symbolizes a lot.  Sometimes going to different places means going at it alone.  I’ve been going at it alone for 39 years and change, that I’m used to it in many ways by now.

Luckily, there’s a familiar face behind the bar who’ll make you feel good and welcome.  I always feel welcome here even if I don’t know where the love is coming from, or it’s not actually ‘there’.

So coming from one place of healing to another means simply a glass of wine, nothing more nothing less.   To me I don’t sense this is a place for rowdiness, it’s a place of peace, a place for folks to work, conduct business, enjoy a few friends, and in my case, enjoy solitude.

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With that, the mutual recommendation was the 2015 Carménère from Falernia Winery  (contact information here) was poured to perfection.

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It’s getting colder out there, and while it may not be full bodied wine season, it was on this day.  And I took my time sipping this thing, because I appreciated everything around me, which was a little noise, great ambiance, my friend behind the bar, but then it was just me.  I take my few pictures and then that’s that.

This is a wine that will be a crowd pleaser at any party, whether it’s one that you’ll be attending in a couple of months or next week.  I want to be careful with my language because to me it’s way too early to think about all the festivities in the next month or so, as fall is a season for letting go, grieving, and healing  And to me, and I’m sure many others, it’s more important now than ever before.

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Yes the tannins are big and bold, as a wine like this would be.  The synopsis mentions there’s chocolate and vanilla on the nose, which I actually didn’t notice.  But in hindsight I get it.  It fits a wine like this.  But most importantly, is it a wine you want?  I loved it and I think in this instance almost anything would have worked.  But I’m glad I had it at this moment in time, and nowhere else.  Life is great like that.

I love R. House as the home away from home that it’s become for me.  It’s convenient but there’s something much bigger going on here, and words don’t always need to apply or can apply.  It’s just larger-than-life.  That’s all I got right now.

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It’s a glorious place that is meant to be shared with and embraced by everyone.

How it is in this incarnation is a masterpiece, and I can’t wait to see how it expands and evolves, even if doesn’t really need to.

Hopefully this will be revisited before the year is out.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

…Is All That I’ve Ever Known

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What am I talking about here?   Wait what…

I know what I like and while it evolves, I still know what I like.  While palates change, tastes change, and life changes, your gut is still your guide.  And your gut will never let you down.  It didn’t let me down and I still went against it.  So you can imagine the results.

The first wine was already opened by my friends at a friendly neighborhood bar/restaurant and it was stellar.

The 2016 Black’s Station Yolo County Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Matchbook Wines is one of the lighter variations of this wine I’ve had in a while.  If I did a blind test I wouldn’t know most wines from the other.  Well maybe I would.  No, not everything, but enough.  After drinking enough wine you’re going to pick up some things.  It’s what makes this so fun.  It’s not something to force upon yourself or anyone else.   Am I talking about wine, or anything in general?  That’s up to you and me to decide.  But it’s all relative.

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This wine is great and at around $12, it’s worth it’s weight in so much.  It just felt like the right wine for a transition into the season.  It hurts me to say that but that’s where we are.  It just felt right and while I tasted some spices, and the berries, and maybe some other indescribable hidden gems.

Most of all, it tasted good.  And being in a place that felt safe, felt comfortable, yet a bit of an unknown enhanced that experience.  No food, no loud noises, no shouting over anyone to be heard was necessary.  It was where I was and where I was supposed to be that matter.   I wish I could’ve ended it like that.  And I still might try too…

Things went a little south here.  I wish I could say otherwise.  The Red Blend from Rhiannon just felt like it was there. It was a label I’ve had before, and while I wasn’t sure, the fact that I vaguely remember should have immediately given me a warning sign.

Just because something isn’t so memorable doesn’t mean it’s not great, profound, or heck even memorable.   Sometimes it goes deep into our subconscious for later discussion, or never again.

Well I wouldn’t want to say never again.  I’m not sure what else there is to say.  I think I recall purchasing this bottle for under $10 so I can’t complain there.  And having these bottles at half price on a weekday night is something to be grateful for.   The glass is more than half full on this one.  There just wasn’t much that stood out about the wine.  Like I’ve said before, if a wine is terrible, or if anything is terrible, there might more to talk about.  This makes me sad to say but this is as mediocre as it gets.

I’ll keep the focus on and end with the Black’s Station Cabernet, as it was beautiful.  I’ve never seen it in stores, and now that I’ve discovered I hope to.  I hope you can find it too!  For it’s a treasure alright.  While there’s plenty of amazing wines and even the best ones are never found out, or get lost in the shuffle, this is one worth going after.

That’s all I know…. For now…

Peace 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.

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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

 

Be Yourself Or Be…

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Yeah I don’t know… Well after reading the notes for the 2015 Josh Merlot from Josh Cellars, this easily could have been a Father’s Day Special.  That either means I’ll be revisiting this in several weeks, or something else is to come.  Maybe both.   I love how I’m already talking about Summer when we’ve barely got teases of Spring.  I know right?

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Josh is one of those wines that my friends I have seen, shared on and off, and appreciated for the better part of the last 10 years.   It’s affordable (average price around $13), approachable, and has an aura about it that doesn’t need much of an explanation.

For more on Josh Cellars, here is their story, their contact info, and where you can find their wines near you.

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Maybe its in the name itself.   Josh just sounds right, everything about it seems right, and here we are.

In this instance, a Merlot was the perfect choice.  The rain was coming down yesterday.  It’s coming down as I write this.   Merlot, to me, that has an energy about it, that it should be drank during grayer skies, murkier weather, and under perhaps conflicting conditions.

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That’s not to say Merlot should only be had under these circumstances.   No no, there’s a time and a place for any grape, at any time, and at your leisure.   There’s always exceptions to rules, and it’s wine, you follow your path, do your thing, and well, be yourself.

However, this Merlot, with its darker violet color and taste that it’s indescribable, yet I’m going to try anyways, is a hit.  It’s fantastic.  And for the mood and setting I was in, this wine found me, and I found them.  Even though my pals and I discovered Josh nearly a decade ago.  It felt like new times even though it’s a familiar face, or a familiar friend if you will.

Plums, cherries, and blackberries are part of the flavors you’ll find on the palate, and a soft tannin finish that is once again, approachable, and will draw you back in for more.  I had a couple glasses myself, and it got better by the minute.  This is one you’re going to definitely want to let breathe for a while.

The finish is what counts.  I can get all dopey on you and say, ‘it’s not how you start but how you’.., or some facsimile, but no thanks.   But how something ends will make everything leading up to it all that more vital in hindsight.

The understated levels of toasted oak are another complement to this wine that’s worthy of all the compliments.   You know its there but its not overpowering anything else.  I love oak, and for me, there can never be enough, but this is wondrous.

The 2015 Josh Merlot is a reminder of why I started loving wine in the first place, and confirms my love for the simple things in life, and further proof that great wine doesn’t have to be expensive, overpriced, or pretentious.   This is as down-to-earth and genuine as it gets.

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Speaking of the Earth, you can see my glass was shared with Mother Nature itself.  The rain on my glass is perhaps symbolic of a cleansing that was necessary.   We’re starting to see more green, more flowers blooming, and the bright colors finally emanating, and bringing us signs of joy, hope, optimism, and all the other reasons to feel happy about being alive.

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Planting season is here and that segues into more time to be outdoors, doing all the great activities the universe wants us to do.

Josh Cellars has given us wines that the universe wants us to share, in any setting that makes you feel good.

Why it took me so long to write about them is just another of those questions.  All I can say is  more to come….

And be yourself, or be….

Love,

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

 

 

 

Mead (And Wine) & Merriment Part 2

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After a year off, my pals and I made our triumphant return to the Maryland Renaissance Festival a couple of weeks back.   Here is my inaugural post from October of 2015.

The event has gotten so big that if you don’t get there early, or by your tickets in advance, you’re going to be shut out.    Nevertheless, social media and all kinds of media have made this event so big.  But more importantly, this event is just that great.  If you’ve been I don’t need to explain why.

And even if you’ve been a multitude of times before, it never gets old and never gets tiring.  Well a lot of walking and that merriment (booze!) can get you tired fast.  It’s a big day drinking, unhealthy food noshing, and celebration of all that is and was awesome from yesteryear, and today.

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In my previous recap of this celebration of coolness, I spoke about the actual mead was being served.  It’s not an easy one to drink, and like I stated, it’s an acquired taste, it’s a grower (or not), and it’s not for everyone.

This year, while my friends enjoyed a few lagers, brewskis, cold ones, spirits, or whatever you fancy yourself to calling the, I discovered a gem of wines.

I don’t particularly seek out beer myself, but I actually was all set to have some, until mixed in with all the beers and all the taps, was the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ravage Wines.

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If you look at the label, it’s one that belongs at an event such as this.  That horse, that darkness, that imagery is fitting of everything that was going on around us.  And maybe I’m just reading too much into this, and perhaps the demand for wine has led them to supply more vino along with all the other libations.  No matter the reason, it’s my kind of wine.

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And I’m so grateful to my friends who have said that this is the kind of wine I like.  One of my dearest friends had a sip, and even mentioned it to me there.  She said to me, that it’s ‘your kind of wine’, that made me feel good.

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So what is exactly a ‘me’, kind of wine?  Well it’s also one you might enjoy too.  The synopsis says it all, with dark berries, dark fruits, vanilla, mocha, and toasted in French Oak.  With your fuller bodied reds, the right kind of oak can make all the difference between a great wine and one you rather forget.  But I’m going to be aware if vanilla and mocha are a common theme in some of my favorite wines going forward.  Dark cherries and berries have always been synonymous with the wines I love.  And this wine is no exception.  This is exactly what I needed and what I’ve been missing for a while.

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While the weather has been warm, a wine like this might only work with a healthy dinner indoors.    In the hotter climates it may be a chore to sip, and might take you away from all the great whites, rosés, and lighter reds that work perfectly in the Summer months.

We’re into October and it might have even been too soon to have this wine, but the heck with it.  This is a world class bottle, that tastes like a $20+ wine, that is around the $11-$13 mark.  Another reason to adore this bottle and seek it out if you get the opportunity.

The notes mention having a lot of structure and depth. That might sound like fluff to many, but think about it, (or not haha), this Cabernet Sauvignon embodies all that’s good about vino.   Wines with lots of structure, character, that challenge your palate, and are on a level like this is why I adore wine.  My goodness do I adore this wine.

What makes this all the more amazing is my first experience having this was at the Renaissance Festival.  This makes me so happy, more than I even realized at the time, and I’m not quite sure I can convey into words.  Well I’m writing about it here so I’m doing alright…

And it’s pretty much available at every bar there with a cheesy name.  Aren’t they all cheesy?  That’s what makes it so great…

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I upgraded my goblet, chalice, mug, or whatever you call it to one that fits more with the festival.  It made this experience all the more merrier.  Having good friends (and some sugary mixed nuts helps too) to share this experience makes it that much more special.

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My pals and I have been doing this for a number of years.  It’s a tradition I’m grateful to be a part of.  I’m grateful for my friends, the beautiful weather, this incredible yearly gathering, and now this wine.

Each year tells a different story.  I love that I got to share this one with you.

To find Ravage Wines near you click here,  for more about them click here,  here’s info on the Dark Red Blend (which I would love to try as well), and their contact info.

As of this post, the final weekend of the Renaissance Festival of Maryland (10/21-1022) is approaching.  And it’s always the most festive, exciting, bittersweet, and so many other emotions.

If you plan on going, advanced tickets are highly recommended, and here is all the other information you need.

I’m so happy that this happened.  I don’t know what else there it to say.  I loved everything about this day, and if you go this weekend I hope you get to say the same.

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Have a ye olde good time!

Ideen