A Familiar Image…

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I had to take a step back from a few things.  I write out more than just this blog (or in the other two universes I find myself orbiting, which you can find here and here), and I love writing.  At times you get burnt out. I know I have.  I was going at it at such a massive clip, that two plus years of consistent posts a week was going to lead to some sort of exhaustion.   I’m tired as I write this out now…

This is a wine blog, but when we write we also tend to get a bit personal.  That’s what we do.  The subject matter hits home with us to varying degrees, and we hope that the reader feels the same.  If not, then it becomes even more transparent and hollow.  And especially for the former, not in a good way.  You always want to be able to cast a shadow.

I like what’s familiar but then I like to feel uncomfortable.  I like to try things that are out of the norm, and may not be easily accessible at your local wine shoppe or any shoppe to begin with.

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What drew me to Seaside Cellars Vinho Verde was the image of the lighthouse.  For I’ve seen plenty of those in images presented to me by family, by virtue of art galleries, picture frames, and from living in Maryland.  There’s sentiment on top of sentiment.  To say it hit a nerve and shed a tear would be an understatement.   With that being said, I hope the wine is great too.

Vinho Verde, which is literally means green wine, is a gift from Portugal.  It’s out barely months after being harvested, so it tastes young and ready to drink almost immediately.  And at around $10, the Seaside Cellars is kind to you in that regard as well.

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This isn’t close to the best wine I’ve ever sipped but that’s not the intent here.  At least that’s what I think.  I just think this is meant for right now, like many things.  It’s about living in the present, enjoying the present, and being the present.  It’s important to just be.  Simple right?  Just like this wine.

Nothing should be taken too seriously.  It’s about having fun and I had fun with this wine enjoying the views off of my friends’ rooftop deck and appreciating the beauty of the day, and the beauty of life.

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I had nature all around me in the forms of plants, flowers, and the shape of many other things to come.  It’s beautiful to see things start from a few seeds and become the beautiful entities they were always destined to be.   I saw these plants from the beginning and they look glorious now.   And the timeframe was similar to the bottling of this wine, a good 3-6 months.  I love the parallel’s.  I wouldn’t call this a coincidence in any circumstance.

I didn’t intend for this post to be a reset of things, but in fact I did.  If I implied it or said it, means that somewhere along the way I thought about it, I contemplated it, and I well, am living it.

It’s still September and it might be time for a few for seasonal wines before we transition into….

Not yet… I’m celebrating a rebirth, a rejuvenation, and a bit of healing.  The healing will be constant and ongoing.    It’s good to have a constant  I’m grateful for this wine, for this experience, and for everything.

As always, peace be with you…

 

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

 

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

 

A Divine Connection

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You know how you go to a certain establishment, whether it be a restaurant, a bar, a grocery store, a library, a church, a winery, or anything for that matter; sometimes you feel an energy that seems familiar.  You know it from somewhere but you can’t quite place it.   The joke might be that if you’ve been there before but just don’t remember, it might not feel so spiritually enlightening upon further investigation.

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But something about Red Red Wine Bar feels like it’s a place that I’ve been to not just last year, or a random visit when I’m in Annapolis.  But somewhere else.  Whether it’s a previous lifetime, or something bigger than any of us, I don’t know.  But there’s a vibe in there that I can’t put into words, I don’t need to put into words, but I’m going to to my best anyways.

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Red Red Wine Bar once again made the transformation into the Jingle Bell Bar for another year, and from the outside to the interior, it looks spectacular.

And just like last year (post can be found here) there was another fantastic holiday event promoted in conjunction with Anne Arundel County County Appointed Special Advocates (CASA for short).

The non-profit is something I’ve been a supporter of now for a couple of years and I’m grateful to call the Executive Director a dear friend, and even more so, family.  And thankfully, I’m grateful to have made further friends involved with this great organization along the way.   All that feeling of love and friendship is heightened during the holidays, and this event symbolized that.  But like I was saying, so does this bar.  It’s the perfect match, of now just what is great about Annapolis, or the holidays, but this journey of life in and of itself.

And just like last year we had a guest bartender who took good care of us, along with the great staff.

Something else awesome happened on this night.  Just when I thought things couldn’t get more surreal, serendipitous, and spectacular (I did that on purpose, yes..) I checked out the wines that they had on tap, and saw they were serving Annapolis’ own Great Frogs Winery, and I am huge fan (evidence of that can be found here), and it just made this night all that more special.  It’s those little things, that are the big things to me.   How apropos to be having a hometown wine in a neighboring bar.  Beautiful.

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Great Frogs’ 2015 Capital Red Blend was the wine of choice, and since it wasn’t on tap, I can’t show you a picture of the bottle nor can I find it on their site.  But that’s ok, the notes tell you all you need to know.  And when there’s Cabernet Franc, that will usually make myself and many others quite happy.   Mixing Cab Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot can yield all types of results depending on the quality of the wine, your palate, and your mood.

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I was in a great mood, my palate loves all these grapes, and Great Frogs is no slouch.  They are well respected in Maryland and I’m willing to bed in many parts of the country as well.  That segues into their wines being able to be shipped in a plethora of states across the nation.

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This blend is perfect for the colder weather, the holidays, and maybe everything before and after that, if that makes any sense.  It’s fruit forward but not too sweet.  And when you have you tannins as smooth as this, with the Cab Franc, it’s going to be a winner.  And this is all on tap!  This was tremendous.  This is tremendous.

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For more on the pizza, click here.

The Capital Red Blend is not listed, which is a bummer, but I’m sure there’s a wine or two that might cater to ones liking.   The price points may be a tad higher for some, and I totally get that, and I would be lying if I’ve ever purchased a bottle of there’s myself.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t in time, for a special occasion or for any reason to share with friends.

And this is where we are, this was a night of friendship, love, goodwill, and helping out an incredible cause.   I was going to go into detail about the other two wines, but it doesn’t feel right.   This may have to happen another time.

Which leads me to another story.  I had intentions of visiting Great Frogs the day after Thanksgiving.   They held a festive event for the day after, which many places did, since people are off and many are out shopping that day.   Circumstances and life prevented me from attending, which tells me it wasn’t my time just yet.   And I know it will be soon.  Other than that, I know visits to Great Frogs are by reservation only.  It’s only a matter of time.

Several years ago, I actually was at a residence not realizing that the winery was footsteps away surrounded by the most incredible shrubbery.   The images you might be having in your head are as picturesque as being there in person.  Too bad I’ve only been in, around, and in the vicinity of the winery, and had the pleasure of tasting their wines at wine festivals in the area.

It’s only a matter of time…

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But what’s most important is to appreciate the present, and all the good things we’ve done this holiday season.  We’ve hopefully gone to some great parties, spent it with some fantastic people, of course eaten some delicious food, and embraced all the little quirks and joys that this holiday can bring.   And of course that music, some great, and some that can drive you crazy.  I think the staff at Red Red Wine Bar/Jingle Bell Bar can attest to that.

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But this is all the stuff (and so much more) that makes the holidays what they are.  And that’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of.

As I first said, I have a connection with this place, that’s within a town I love so much, and to spend it with people I love and adore so much, is something that will resonate with me forever.

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For more on Red Red Wine Bar, everything you need can be found here.

Information on Great Frogs, including their story, wine list, and contact information can be found here.

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For more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is more about them, how to volunteer, ways to get involed, and donation information.

This was fun, and this year was just as delightful as last.  Every year, every event, every situation can tell a different and compelling story.  This is one that has a great beginning, middle, and end, yet it’s still to be continued…

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Peace Be With You…

Ideen

 

Pagoda Party

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There are moments in time and in life where everything just feels right.  No forced plans or arbitrary feelings of having to show up take place. You want to be with people, you want to do something fun, and you want to do something that’s real.

This is what happened with the Pagoda Lighting a couple of Sundays ago, (December 3rd to be exact) in Patterson Park, a part of Baltimore I adore.

A conversation with some friends to meet up for it happened the night before.  And you know how that goes, sometimes you get inspired when talking about future plans, and when you’re in the moment, it feels amazing, feels like a guarantee, and feels like nothing else matters in the world.  It’s a natural high that sounds preposterous as I write this out, but it just feels so real and so good in that moment.

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It’s great to have things to look forward to, and that’s amplified during the holidays.  No one wants to be alone on the holidays.  Sometimes it’s a choice, sometimes things just can’t be helped.

Thankfully the two friends I was to meet up with (based on the aforementioned conversation two paragraphs ago) came  to fruition, and life was good.  Life is good, and this event was amazing.

With a tree (or in this instance an actual pagoda) lighting, that means plenty of festivities beforehand.  There were free treats, snacks, hot cocoa, among other things that were available for enjoyment.   Of course the food trucks you’re likely now accustomed to were in attendance, but folks got to eat!

And folks go to drink wine!  But we were smart.  We brought our own wine, our own cheese, meats, crackers, and all of that good stuff.   Our cost to us was minimal but the experience was invaluable, and you can’t put a price tag on memories.

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The wine I brought to our charming picnic was the 2015 Boatman from Brack Mountain Wine Company.

Tech notes can be found here.

I’ll be honest, and one of my friends concurred, this wine was nothing special.    It was about $13 at one of my local wine shoppes, so it wasn’t a major splurge, but it wasn’t a major anything.

One thing that does stand out is how purple this wine is in comparison to other red wines you would have.  It’s a red blend (46% Alicante Bouschet  and 54% Malbec) so anything can happen.  Alicante Bouschet is a new one for me, as far as I know.  I’ll have to explore this some more.

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There’s lots of dark fruits, and cherries, but the notes mention violets and charcuterie, that’s interesting.   Rhubarb, blackberry, and crushed peppercorns on the nose?  I’m fascinated.  I got none of this, but this is not an expert analysis on wine.    It’s not the crowd pleaser I had hoped.  It wasn’t the easy to drink wine you want at an event like this, or when you want something that agrees with everyone’s palate.

Quite simply, did I enjoy this wine?  No, but it was fine enough to drink, and when it comes to most, if not all situations, that’s all that matters.  It wasn’t a chore or a struggle, and when you’re with good people it’s never a struggle.

When the energy is good, everything still tastes better.  The conversations are heightened, the air tends to feel fresher, and ones overall state of being is going to rub off on everyone else.  That’s what I got from this night out.

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I’m grateful I took a before and after picture of the Pagoda itself.  It captures how beautiful this event, this lighting, and how amazing Christmas and the  holidays can truly be.  And when you spend celebrations with kind-hearted and genuine people, that’s a recipe for a winning holiday season.  It’s a recipe for any season and anything period.

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about another one of Brack Mountain’s Wines, and it was fantastic.  You can click on this entire paragraph to read it.  And I bet the setting had much to do with that as well.

The wine may not have been the best, but it really doesn’t matter.  They’re not all going to be winners, but this night was a winner for sure.

I’ve done this all three years and it’s a tradition I hope to be a part of for many to come.

Happy Holidays and May Peace Be Always With You.

Ideen