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.

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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.

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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…

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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

Rosé In The…

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You can fill in the blank here.  There’s all kinds of shirts, slogans, gimmicks, and what have you to sell you on something that doesn’t need much selling.   People like their Rosé, and while it’s becoming more of a thing to do and sip, it’s funny how people are jumping on this bandwagon.   Maybe I’ve missed the boat and this has been going on for longer than I remember?

For many of us, we just want to enjoy our wine, and not worry about all the analysis that sometimes comes with it.  Many of my friends who like to drink Rosé just want the wine to taste good, and have it a part of their outdoor celebrations, whether at a bar, restaurant, a party, or in solitude.

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I wish I could recommend the Les Pierres AOC Languedoc Rosé from Domaine de Nizas (Grapes : 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache noir, 20% Mourvèdre), but it just didn’t win me or my friends over.

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Here’s more about them, their contact info, and where to find their wines near YOU.

Old Bridge Cellars is the North American distributor, and can hopefully be of assistance.

However, as I referred to, it depends on t he setting.  We were at a restaurant but something just felt off from the get go.  And a lot of these vibes and energies are based on how we’re feeling and what we attract.   It’s quite possible that in different circumstances this bottle may taste a lot better.

But I have to go with my first impression.  It was rough to drink and that’s not what you want from a Rosé.  It shouldn’t be difficult, this should be fun.

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I’m not going to throw the restaurant we were at under the bus.  This isn’t the point of that.  I will say our service was lackluster, and our cheese plate was missing something.  As you will see from one picture to another, we had to ask, and wait, and ask again for a little extra, which should’ve been part of our array anyways.

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I can’t blame a wine for missing the mark on all the other factors, but sometimes when it rains…

The sun was shining and shining as bright as you’re every going to see, so I’ll really just chalk this up to an experience.   I’ve had so many a glass and bottle of Rosé (In The USA, ha…) where it went down like water, like juice, and like it was the easiest thing to drink in the world.

None of this happened here.  I shared this with fellow wine lovers who all agreed something was wrong.   Drinking this felt like work and felt like a chore.   Good wine and good times can’t be forced.

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With all that being said, I would give this wine another go and would gladly try another one of their wines if given the opportunity.

For a price range of $12-$15, it’s not going to break the bank nor break your heart.  It didn’t break ours, but it left us with more questions and head scratching than anything else.   I’m all for giving wines another go, as first impressions can change as does our palates.   And just because I didn’t love it, doesn’t mean you won’t.

We’ve got plenty of summer, plenty of the year, and plenty more of life and wine to celebrate and talk about.  But for now…

Peace Be With You…

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.

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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

 

Stop The Clocks

Nonni

When you get spoiled and exposed to wines that are delightful, yet affordable, it’s easy to run into wines that are going to bring you down the earth.   Not everything is going to be highly rated.  Life doesn’t work out that way.  I wish it did.  I wish every wine would be four stars and up.

If that were the case, the vintages that are actually on that level lose so much of their shine and luster.

I purchased the 2016 Nonni Malbec with all the intentions of bringing it to someone, somewhere.  I honestly don’t recall.  Maybe I was going to bring it to a dinner party, maybe I was going to well, I don’t know.

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Without even opening the bottle, that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.  However, at only $12 (technical info can be found here) and under retail price, and a charming label as well, what can go wrong? It’s a Malbec, and based on my experience those are usually the more reliable wines.

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Reliable is exactly the word you would use.  It’s there, it’s nothing special, and it’s about as average a wine you’re going to find.

My friends seemed to enjoy it a little more than I did, but more or less we were on the same page.  When a night spent hanging in involves lots of food, drink, and all kinds of other fun things, not everything is going to be perfect.

The perfect days or nights usually involve little to no planning, what usually stands out is something you would never expect.  This wine is good enough to talk about, but more in the lines of the entire night itself.   Which means this is going to be ongoing.  How ongoing? Well…

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I can’t describe this wine, other than there’s dark fruits and it’s easy to drink, along the lines of a Pinot Noir.  But taking out all the pseudo expert analysis, this was a fine that was simply, just there.

‘There’ isn’t always a bad thing, it’s just well, there.

It’s a talking point I look forward to, and can sometimes go into a passive aggressive direction, if framed a certain way.   Oh wait…

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This goes back to a night in May. where I got together with pals and some animal friends I don’t see enough.  There’s plenty of people in our lives we can say that about. How often have you said to the people you care about the most, ‘We need to see each other more often’, or ‘Let’s get together soon, it’s been too long’.  Then the next time you see them, that conversation may come up again.

It’s either because you don’t see them enough, or no matter how many good times you’ve had with them in succession, it’ll never be enough.

This applies to so many loved ones I think about on a regular basis.  And likely people are thinking that way about you.   That’s the good kind of being ‘there’.

This particular evening went hours on end.  A lot of laughs were shared, stories were recanted, and a lot of food and drink were imbibed.

What stood out wasn’t one thing in particular, but a collection of things.  Well maybe one or two things, but you get what I’m saying…

The other day the memories were a little more clear, but now it’s a it hazy.   And that’s the place I’m in.   Ask me tomorrow, I might have a few other things to say.

What matters is that there’s never enough great times to spend with the people you love and care about the most.

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This is to be continued…

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

This Was Meant To Be Found

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Leave it to a wine that I didn’t bring to a party, and leave it to a wine that might seem out of place at the same party, on first impression, to end up being one of the better wines I’ve had in quite some time.

As we approach the Summer, you know it’s going to be out the whites, the lighter reds (if possible), and the rosé’s of course.  It wouldn’t be right otherwise.  So after a few weeks of the latter, we take it back to a red that had no business being here, if you believe that.

I believe otherwise.

The 2014 de Landiras Rouge, Graves is a wine that should never be lost in the shuffle, or caught in the mix of anything.  That analogy can be applied to daily life as well.

For outdoor parties, of course lighter fare, more sweeter varietals and cocktails are going to be the drink of choice.  That’s the point.  It’s your drink of choice.  I sound like a public service announcement, but it’s whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as it makes you feel good and the good vibrations are around you and all your pals.

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This more than standard Bordeaux with a classic blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like the first wine I ever had.  If that doesn’t make sense (or it does), it just tastes like a wine drinkers wine.  No matter what your level of expertise, or your palate, it just has that look and feel of an old world and old school wine.

My kind of wine.

Dark berries and cassis is what you might find on the nose, (well that’s what one synopsis says), but the blackberry and currant is what you taste (the palate) and it’s the best combination of the two that I can remember.

I love currant because it’s so common in some of my favorite teas, so to find it go well in certain wines makes me so happy.  And it’s a throwback, and old school taste that reminds me of drinking wine and sipping tea with family and friends.   And that’s so important.

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This is a wine that was shared, appreciated, and spoken in awe of family and friends.  I want to know who brought this wine, so I can personally thank them.  You should always say thank you when someone brings something to a party.

At a value of ranging from $12-18, I feel this would be worth over $20.  I believe I saw the price tag on this particular bottle say $22.  I’d pay that much for it, but of course I rather pay less.  Who wouldn’t?

I’ve never seen this wine before (that I know of), and have no idea where to find it.  I almost get the sense that it’s something I’m not supposed to ever see again, or not until the next time it randomly shows up in my life.   Sometimes life works out like that, and in a way, I’m ok with that.  Those make for the best stories.

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I still enjoyed this with some great party foods, snacks, and with plenty of great people to share the day with.  This was a party I was honored to have been invited to, and honored to discover this amazing wine, surrounded by amazing friends.  Even if only a few of us enjoyed this wine.

I would say back to your regularly scheduled whites or rosé next week, but you never know…

Peace Be With You..

Ideen

 

Happy Early Mother’s Day!

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As we approach Mother’s Day, I notice the sentimentality grows with my peers.  Mom’s of all kinds (of pets as well as kid! yay!) should be celebrated as much as possible.  Having a special day to commemorate everyone, everything, and all the good in between is what makes the world go round.

There’s so many ways to go about it, but as long as the intent is good and to make others happy, then I’m all for it.

Previous Mother’s Day stories can be found here.

It doesn’t take an expert of any kind to know that Mother’s Day and Rosé are synonymous with each other.  Any kind of sweet beverage and sweet treat can and should be used for this and many other festive occasions.

Seeing all the Rosé display cases in the local wine shoppes is one of those thing I now look forward to, and you can see them as early as before that other holiday in February.  I like to think of it as one of those post Christmas things that represents the days getting longer, the outdoor festivities and invitations picking up, and that means more chilled wines.  That’s exactly right.

Part of the fun, and sometimes part of the angst, is picking the right wine.  There is no right or wrong, unless you do something catastrophic.  And using that word is a stretch, but you know what I mean.

Most of our peers are just grateful that wine is available, at reasonable prices, and with so many wines, grapes, varietals, whatever to choose from.  It’s the kid in a candy store, the kid at Christmas, and the kid in (fill in the blank).  But for this one, it’s for mom.

 

The 2017 L’Oliveto Rosé of Pinot Noir from Brack Mountain Wine Company is along the lines of any solid Rosé that you could sip now, with mama, or whenever.  There’s nothing pretentious about it.

It’s a colorful wine with hints of fruit on the nose and on your palate.  But more importantly, at under $15, it’s not going to hurt you in the money department, and even feels like a bit of a splurge.

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Just like a Pinot Noir, it’s easy to drink, easy to share, and has the right amount of acidity that it will go down smoothly.

That’s all that most folks ask for.  The day itself might be stressful enough.  If you want a wine that’ll make it easy on your mind, heart, and soul, this is just as good as any.

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I say this realizing that Rosé is still not a wine I can compare with others.  I just can’t always tell you what’s good, great, or lackluster.  As I’ve stated in the past, so many factors go into how a wine is going to feel to you…

Were you in the right frame of mind? Was the present company spiritually and harmoniously making you feel good? Were you feeling good?

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How about the food?  Good food makes mama, and everyone else happy too!  This plate of fish, and healthy veggies pairs perfectly with this Rosé.

I’m asking the same questions with different wording, but it all connects.  You can have the same wine, the same food, and the same anything under different circumstances, and if one thing gets thrown off, then you may lose your center.

Part of my statements are projecting, as I’ve encountered this many times, lately.   No experience is ever the same.  I’ve had the same wine many times and it doesn’t exactly the same.  I find that so fascinating.  And it’s more than just your palate changing, it’s just symbolic of life and the experiences we go through in this journey.

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The journey is to be enjoyed.  So whatever wine you share with mom, family, friends, and anyone else, always know that it’s meant to be fun, and you want to feel good as much as possible.

It’s not always easier said than one. Sometimes it just is.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen