Happy Beaujolais Day!

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You know the week before Thanksgiving has become a thing.   And if you want to call it another excuse to party, another excuse to eat, drink, and participate in merriment, I’m all for it.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2017 officially kicked off this past Thursday.  To me, it’s the precursor to all that’s great about the holidays.  And this is meant as the highest compliment.  It could just be another marketing gimmick, or another way to make a dollar, but who really cares?  Any reason to get together with the people you love, to drink some simple and affordable wines, eat a whole bunch of yummy food, and just hang out is better than any reason not to.

And if there’s more, and as long as it’s not overkill, I’m all for more genuine celebrations as long as it’s in a healthy, safe, and heartwarming manner.

This event truly warms my heart.

I was talking with a close friend over the week about getting some of our favorite people together for this truly special day. And with a few schedule adjustments we were able to do this to perfection.

Speaking of schedules, 2017 was a strange year in France for as it had one of the smallest amounts of harvesting and production in quite some time.   In spite of all that, the hosts f the party and myself each brought a bottle to share and try with friends.

And they provided this spread for the ages.  I mean what else needs to be said?

Well we should talk about the wine, right?

First up is the hosts’ choice, the 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau from Bouchard Aîné & Fils.

This is what makes this event so fun.  It’s exactly what you would expect from a Beaujolais Nouveau,  It’s light on the nose and when you sip.  The grapes tastes as young as you would expect. There’s no thrills, no life changing feelings (well that all depends on the person drinking), and this isn’t likely to win any awards.  But it might just win you over.

There’s some cherries, hints of other fruits (all depends on your interpretation and imagination), and a little to no tannins. It’s exactly what you would expect.  It’s exactly what I expected.  And sometimes that’s all you want.   At the average price of $10-12, there’s no complaints.  It tastes like a bottle under $10.  I would say the couple extra dollars is an upcharge to join the celebration!   And people to love the label.

Next, was the bottle I brought.  The 2017 Beaujolais Nouveau from Joseph Drouhin, almost leans towards the medium side.  This is the opposite of our first bottle, and seems a little more serious and sophisticated.  It might take itself a little too seriously.  The violet color is the antithesis of our first bottle.  The berries, cherries, and other fruits taste a little darker and a little smokier.  I believe this was the favorite of the group.   There’s a little more structure to this.  If you didn’t tell me this was a nouveau, I wouldn’t know the difference.  This tastes more like a regular Beaujolais.

At $15 this borders on closer to bottle service or vip access to the party.

After all this analysis, none of this matters.  We went back-and-forth in sipping each bottle, that any insight and commentary was rendered meaningless.

What’s most important now, this time of year, and forever, is who you choose to spend these celebratory occasions with.   The small gatherings where you can discuss the wine, the food, and anything else that might be on your mind, or makes you feel good, is more important than discussing all the complexities and intricacies of these bottles, or anything.

Having a good time is of bigger importance than taking these things too seriously.   And I take what I say oh so seriously.  Haha.

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After a while, other wine was drank, the amazing food was continually noshed on, and the conversations went from light hearted to serious, and back to light hearted.  But it was all in good fun and out of love.   This is what life is really all about.  This applies to now, the holidays, and for the duration of our existence in this amazing thing called life.

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This was incredible.  I don’t know what else to say.  I’m grateful to be welcomed into a friend’s house where things are happy, beautiful, holiday like, and represents all the other good that’s in the world.  This is what makes this life so grande.  It’s the intimate gatherings with close friends and family that help us as grow as people, and as souls.

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This warmed my soul.

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These bottles are easy to find, and I would suggest drinking them before the year is over. It’s not meant to wait.  These grapes average six to eight weeks old, so the time is now. Here’s a list of other suggested Beaujolais Nouveau bottles to try.

Here are my posts on this beautiful occasion.

My blog is now three years old, and I’m honored to have this as my third anniversary post.  I wasn’t aware of this detail until this morning.  I felt an additional post for the week was essential to commemorate.  I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe in the awesome.

I think this is going to be a great holiday season.

Peace be with you.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

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I’m Feeling Thankful

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

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

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

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

As we approach Thanksgiving, those feeling are amplified.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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But I’ll save it for later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Early Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

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An Exceptional Occasion

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This past Saturday was one of those great events that makes me pinch myself, and I thank all my lucky stars, the constellations, and all the other great stuff in the universe.

Sometimes life is good to you, and you meet some exceptional people that introduce you to other folks that are amazing.  And if you’re a good person, you end up being surrounded by good people, and in turn you will attract more wonderful people into your life.

This past Saturday was a night I look forward to each day of the year, and I mark it on my calendar and make arrangements quite early for the CASAblanca Gala presented by the briliant folks of Anne Arundel County, CASA.

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It’s become more than a night.  It’s become a weekend to celebrate what’s good about this organization, what’s good about the Annapolis area, and a great weekend celebrating with family and friends.  And I’m honored to call people close to the organization, family.

My dear friend Rebecca is the Executive Director (and acted as Conductor, more on this shortly…) who works tirelessly to put together not just this event, but so many others I’ve been honored to be a part of.

Yes this is a wine blog, and I will incorporate wine into this.

Before the event begun itself, I met up earlier in the afternoon with friends who were staying at the Westin Hotel, where the event was being held, and a pre event beverage seemed appropriate, and also has become tradition.  I love a good tradition.

I bought a bottle, not necessarily with the intent that I was going to write about it,  but just one to share.  And as I noticed the label, I thought how perfect.  The wine is the 2012 Conductor from The Whitman Express.

We enjoyed our wine with some cheese, crackers, and all the essentials that my pals were so generous and thoughtful enough to bring.  So bringing a bottle is the least I could do.

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There’s a lot going on with this red blend.  And it wouldn’t be right to list them all (Merlot, Zinfandel, Barbera among others), because at the time, my friends and I were just enjoying the moment for what it us.  We were drinking a red table wine in a hotel room, sharing an experience that we only do ever so often.

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That in itself made this wine that much better.  The anticipation and the buildup of the amazing night that was to come.  Yes I’ve done it three times now, so I kind of know what to expect, but the joy in hanging out with good people for a beautiful cause, and hanging out in a divine location, will always be something to look forward to and something I’m so honored to be a part of.   I can’t ever show enough appreciation.

And speaking of thoughtful, this organization is loaded with some of the kindest and most thoughtful people imaginable.

Funny that I grab a wine called the Conductor.

The event itself was a symphony of love, happiness, hope, healing, and all the other good stuff in the world.

I prefer to let your mind visualize all the good stories, speeches, and stories of joy that were shared throughout this night.  Yes there was plenty of amazing food, drinks and enjoying time with friends, old and new.  And in this instance I consider several of the folks involved and in attendance as family.

I mean what else need to be said?  Five hours goes by in a flash.  The whole weekend goes by in flash.   Thankfully I have memories through this blog, through pictures, and through the domino effect of making some amazing connections.  Yes some of these guys you only see once a year but that’s what makes this so beautiful.  You see them, then you don’t, they come back into your life, and you pick up right where you left off.

And then there’s others you start seeing more often because you share the same interests, the same support for an amazing cause, and are connected by some of the same amazing people.

A beautiful symphony indeed.

Here is a post related to CASA I made nearly a year ago.   And my preview of this exceptional event from last week.

For more on this wine, the site is user friendly to find all the information you need.

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But most importantly, for more on Anne Arundel County CASA, here is their About Us section, information on volunteering, other ways to get involved, and their donation page.

This is the event that gets me excited for the holidays and it’s placement in the first Saturday of November makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

See you at their next event, and of course I look forward to next year.

Happy Holidays and Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Halloween Special

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I don’t expect to find many wines made exclusively for Halloween.  It’s just not a holiday I associate with lots of wine drinking and finding a nice meal to pair it with.

But a so much has changed.  Any excuse to incorporate alcohol and food into a holiday, celebration, event, festival, you name it, will involve those aforementioned entities.  And that usually is a good thing, as long as it’s done responsibility and with civility.   Well, Halloween is not often associated with civility, but with more people enjoying wine and all its nuances, it’s to be expected that winemakers are going to jump on board anything that makes them stand out and be noticed.  Be unique or be ignored.

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Fat Bastard Wines did everything to stand out and not make people want to see what their Bloody Red Blend is all about.   And they made it look effortless.   While I did have something planned to write about for tonight, those plans changed when I walked into my local wine shoppe and saw a Halloween display in the front of the store, with several wines with Halloween themes and charming labels.

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The Bloody Red Blend is not even featured on their website, unless you go into the tech sheets (and you can find that here), because for timing reasons, it’s limited edition, and I can see this disappearing rather quickly, as in November.

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Until today (as of this writing) I had no idea this wine existed, and I’m so grateful to have found it.  One of the main reasons I love wine, is for those winemakers that don’t take themselves too seriously.  With a company named Fat Bastard, and their ever so charming labels, and affordable prices (I always see their wines at $10 or less at retailers), and accessible information, it’s what makes you want to come back more and stay away from the pretentious.  And their wines taste like they’re under $10, so they’re taking ownership in all areas.

The Bloody Red Blend is a mix Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot.  And when you think French wines, you think lots of Grenache.  And that’s what you taste here.  But if you’re looking for any serious information after that, you need to look elsewhere.  Their synopsis on the winemaking process is one of the most hilariously brilliant things I’ve read on the back of a wine label (and in these notes).  This is art and I’m in love with this wine before I even twist off the cap.

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I’ve had plenty of their wines for all different types of occasions. It’s a everyday wine for everyday things.  You want it with nothing, with food, with friends, with nobody,  then these are just the wines you want.

And the Bloody Red Blend continues that tradition.  If you’re going to be celebrating Halloween this weekend and next week, this is a welcome addition to any party.  Just for the randomness and uniqueness about it is going to draw eyes to this bottle.  It tastes like a blend, and it’s easy to sip.  And as we begin to talk about the holidays more and more, these are the wines you’re going to want.  These are not the best wines you will ever drink, nor do the claim to me, and I would sense they don’t need to be.

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This is a fun wine in the tradition of how Fat Bastard presents itself.  I get a kick out of typing that out by the way…

Some of the suggest food pairings are burgers, fried chicken, and pumpkin pie.  I wish I paired this with pumpkin pie, but something tells me we’re just being made fun of.  And I like it this way.

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I paired with what turned out to be a much spookier looking meal than I intended.  Perhaps it’s fitting, but I had some chunks of sauteed pork with every vegetable known to man.   I purposely got this meal because after Halloween I suspect the meals will start to get heartier and much more unhealthy.  As much as I love the name, I don’t want to be a fat bastard myself.

But if you’re into something humorous and doesn’t take itself too seriously, the Bloody Red Blend just might be what you’re looking for…

My wine glass adds some more charm just when you couldn’t think get any more.

Fat Bastard is one of the more standard labels which are easy to find all over the place, so it shouldn’t be hard.   Here is the link to find their wines are a store near you.

Here is their lovely list of wines and story, and their contact info.

I wish you a safe and Happy Halloween.

Ideen

 

 

The Great Expedition

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The Expedition Merlot from Canoe Ridge Vineyard was a given to me nearly three months to the day, as a Christmas present.

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I wanted to find the perfect time to uncork it and enjoy it in all its glory, and in all its majesty.

Before even opening the wine, I was in awe of the label.  Yes I know it’s not all about the label.  But this one is such a strong selling point, I think it would be a huge injustice if I don’t profess how beautiful, yet understated this label is.  Because this was a gift, the sentiment and my love for this wine is at an even more spiritual and affectionate level.

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Wait, so how was the wine?  I’ll get to that I promise.

From one holiday to another, we have St. Patrick’s Day this Friday.  And I had in the back of my mind to pair a tradition Irish dish (or as close to it as possible), with a wine.  Because we all know that wine and St. Patrick’s Day go hand in hand.

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Corn beef and cabbage is a dish I enjoy but don’t have too often.  Maybe once or twice a year to be exact.  So when I thought about the proper wine to pair it with, I thought about a a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, among others,  but realized I hadn’t written about the former in quite some time.  Then the realization came to me that the Expedition was the ideal wine to complement this meal.  I was truly hoping this would work.  If not, then I would chalk it up to experience.

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This wine, let me tell you, oh my goodness.  This is my kind of wine.  This is my kind of Merlot.  And I’ve never truly loved Merlot, until now.  This is is just so over-the-top awesome that I’m not sure I will be able to do this justice.

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The aromas upon uncorking were heavy and they were powerful.  I assume there were cherries, maybe blackberries (which some reviews say blueberries, so maybe those as well), among who knows what else.  But it’s the tasting that matters.

I found something strangely familiar within the first few sips that I felt that a few minutes, if not more, of letting the wine air out, to let it breathe, and to let it open up was important.  Something about a wine this special needs a little more time.   Like any expedition hopefully there is plenty of time.

No timer was set or anything of the sort, but after several minutes I noticed more differences but again something was familiar.  At first I thought it was plums, or even prunes, but no. I was getting warmer.  Then it kind of it me.  If you like tea, and especially black tea, like I do then you’re familiar with blackcurrant.    I’m not going to pretend like I knew this right away.  I did some research of various descriptions of this wine which confirmed by beliefs.  I was thrilled to be onto something and happy to then see it verified elsewhere. That’s a great feeling.

What’s really a great feeling is how amazing this wine is.   And I’ve seen it mainly around the $15 range which is a deal and steal for what you’re getting.   Trust me, you’re getting a lot.

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But to me, this is more than an everyday wine.  This is a bottle that can be used for special occasions as as well as with winner.  And that dinner should be hearty and full of life, just like this wine is.  My meal was pretty good but the wine put it over-the-top.  You can’t ask for much more.  But this wine was fantastic in every possible away. It’s inspiring me to go on an expedition of my own, or maybe for now, try another of their massive list of wines, whichever comes first.  If it’s the latter I hope to be giving another stellar review.

For more information on the winery itself, click here.

Some of their Expedition Wines are available to purchase online, click here for more information.

Luckily for us, I’ve now seen this label in many a wine shoppe so I think it will be easy to find.  But at this point, at least for the Merlot, I’ve seen more of the 2015 Vintages than the one I just reviewed.  But I’m confident the quality is on the level of this most incredible wine I’ve shared with you today.

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For me, this will forever be the wine that put my appreciation, and now love for Merlot, over-the-top.  I’m so grateful my dear friends thought to get me such a wonderful gift.  I will always appreciate this.

I look forward to doing this again, whether it’s a expedition, vacation, or some other fascinating journey.  I hope it’s a good one.  And best wishes to you on your Expedition, whether it’s the wine or in a literal sense.

Maybe both.

Ideen

 

Best of Both…

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Happy New Year everyone.  There’s so many posts that I let linger too long that they no longer become relevant. It could be because seasons have changed, too much time has passed, or the time of year would become compromised.

If I let the wines I tried from Red Red Wine Bar of Annapolis, MD remain uncorked and without the proper review, then I would ruin Christmas and the holidays forever.  That was a joke by the way.

I was of course going to write about my experience a few weeks back, in conjunction with the fabulous pizzas we had, but all of the holiday everything took over.  That might be me making excuses but it also gave me time to reflect a little more on this experience, and see if these wines I tasted resonated with me into the new year.  And has it aged well with me.

A great wine ages well but so does an organically awesome experience.

And I always attempt to write about wine in a way that is approachable, relatable, and accessible to everyone.

Little did I know that I would get such a valuable lesson in New World Vs. Old World.

It’s one of those things we often taken for granted.  When we sip wine we usually just want it to taste a certain way, and for us to feel good about what we’re drinking.  How often do we think about where the wine is coming from?

For me I’d like to know the source.  Knowledge is power.  But knowledge when it comes to wine is even more invaluable.  It opens so many doors and steers conversations in regards to food and beverage into magical places.  I’ve found myself in riveting discussions because of what I’ve learned about wine and even more what my peers have taught me, whether directly or by happenstance.

So without getting any more long-winded I’m happy to write about a new world and an old world varietal.

The 2015 Penya Viognier is a treasure.  And as much as it paired great with the pizza we had, I can only imagine how great this would be in the summer.   With its inclusion of summer fruits like mango, pineapple, and peach this is perfect all year round.  But when it’s warmer in climate I can only imagine how joyous this is with a less hearty meal.

And the novice in me also thinks of New World (which is what this wine is) is the addition of fruits, more oak, and more creativity than it’s Old World counterparts.  I also think many New World wines want to please many people at once.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Wine is intended to make as many people happy as possible.

For more on this wine, which is distributed by Regal Wine, click here.

Now for the Old World.

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The 2012 Villa Puccini Toscana is what old world is all about.   It’s a medium bodied wine that is easy to drink and easy to drink now.  I found it just as light if not lighter than the Viognier.  But that could be because of the heavy holiday eating going on at the time.  And what else screams Old World more than Italy.

90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot seems simple enough.

However, I’ve had the Villa Puccini countless times in the past.  It’s just one of those wines that I tend to see everywhere. I’ve had it at restaurants, seen it at parties, and swear I’ve seen it sold in many a wine shoppe.  And it has always been reasonably priced and easy to drink, and to pair with everything.   If that isn’t old world then I don’t know what is.

But what’s old world and new world to me may be different for you, and different or everyone else.  And that’s the joy in wine drinking.

And more for on this wine which is distributed by HeyDay Corporation, click here.

I want to once again thank Bethany at Red Red Wine Bar for a world class experience that will forever stick with me as a great memory for this past holiday season.

I’ve seen both wines priced in stores anywhere from $9-$12.  Both are bargains for what you’re getting.

This is only the beginning. Their wine list is loaded with goodness and an inspired collection of wines that I won’t be able to ever do in its entirety.  But I can try a few.  And I hope to revisit this within the next month or so.

One wine I forgot to mention was their Chardonnay on tap.  I may have actually enjoyed it more than the others.  Not for the fact that it was on tap (well maybe).  But for the simple flavor.  It’s my fault I didn’t investigate further.  But it was wonderful.  Just another in the many reasons I will be back.

To be continued.  And this is likely the last holiday post for a while.

But for old times sake, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

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Christmas Eve Comradery

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I’m glad I got to save one of my more enjoyable wine tasting experiences for the end of the year.  Well when it’s the holidays, and even more specifically Christmas Eve, it makes the occasion all the more merrier and the wine taste so much better.

What makes it all the more special is the wine I’m going to write about will go down as one of my favorite wines I’ve had, not only this year, but in a long while.

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The wine in question (well not in question, I just said that for dramatic effect) is The 2014 Lost Colony Wine from Virginia Dare Winery out of Geyserville, CA.

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Now I know what you might be thinking.  It’s The Lost Colony, it’s Virginia Dare Winery, and isn’t the state of Virginia one of the original 13 colonies?  My first reaction is this winery is a reasonable drive away.  Well just a few more hours have been added than originally presumed.  I’ll let you read the synopsis since I’m not the best at history. Instead I’ll stick with the wine and the spirit of Christmas.  Yay Christmas!

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So what inspired me to bring this wine to a dear friends’ Christmas Eve gathering?  Well the kind folks who were hosting prepared a pork crown roast.  And when you get invited to an event with a carefully prepared main course, the wine has to at the very least complement this meal that took days to prepare with love and care.

In advance of this gathering of loved ones and friends, but more so family, I did my research on the proper wines to pair with this dish. Syrah came up a lot and that was more or less in lines what I was thinking.  There were other suggested pairings but I was set on Syrah. And my local wine shoppe came through once again with a massive selection of bottles to choose from.

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Within seconds I spotted The Lost Colony and was in awe of this label.   I mean I was in love.  I had to take pictures.  Well I always take pictures.  But in this situation how could you not admire this work of art?  I’m sounding like a novice that only picks wines based on the label, but that’s a huge part of the fun.  It’s what draws you in.  And no, never judge anything by its cover, but when it looks this good, how can you not be the least bit fascinated?

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To be factually correct, this wine is a Red Blend (45% Syrah), and the fact sheet can be found here.

And when I saw the price listed at only $16 (more on this shortly), I was thinking it’s the holidays, it’s my dear friends’ Christmas Eve Party, and its this portrait and this wine that I want to bring to this assembly of awesomeness.  After all the build-up, this wine better be good.

Thankfully, I can safely say this wine was stupendous, tremendous, and I’m so grateful to have shared it with a few friends at the party.   Was I thinking of keeping it all to myself? Well…

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I was clutching this bottle like it was my baby.  Even the host of the party told me I should bring a cheaper wine out of the cellar, and to save this for later.  He had a point.  So I got a more standard label out and popped it open, and was done with it.

But I really wanted to open my wine.   So even after opening up the el cheapo, I went ahead and opened my Last Colony wine way ahead of dinner time.

This was a fruit forward gem that didn’t need any time to air out or open up, as it was amazing immediately.

The aura of this wine was something.  Lots of friend, old and new, were asking about this wine.  They were also intrigued by the label.  I felt proud that I brought such a wine that led to such a discussion.  It became an ice breaker which I didn’t expect at all.  Well it’s Christmas and the magic of the holidays shined through again.

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I poured cups for folks who were interested and was happy to do so.  And yes, dinner was nowhere close to being served.  But it paired well with the mammoth amount of appetizers and treats sprawled all across the kitchen counter.

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I did save a little wine for the crown roast.  And to say the pairing was amazing only tells a small percentage of the story.  I believe half the bottle was still there when I departed.  I hope my friends got to enjoy it.  The reviews I heard were strong across-the-board. It was so easy to drink.  It tasted more light bodied than I anticipated.   This may also due to the fact that the incredible amount of holiday parties leading to this one has made everything taste differently.  I’ve been feeling full most of the time so this wine may have had the opposite effect than if this were a more relaxed time of year.   And I still loved it.  Perhaps the Malbec in the blend gives is a lighter on the tannins feel.

Remember how I said I purchased this wine for $16?  It just had this feeling of tasting more than that.  But as you can see on the link to their own site, the price is $28.  How can this be?  I feel like I committed winery robbery.  And even though we spend like crazy on Christmas, I fully appreciated the savings in hindsight.   Even on reseller sites I see the prices listed in the $22-$25 range.  So is this an anomaly?  I may need to buy a few more of these bottles for future consumption.

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What’s funny is that if this bottle was over $20 I likely would not have purchased it.  It goes against my purchasing habits.  But here it is.  I was meant to buy this wine on this day, and I’m glad I did.  I’m happy to share this wine with dear friends and family a like.

And everyone at the party did the same.

That’s a testament to all of us.  We all came together to share in this wonderful couple’s home.  They wanted to share the holidays with us.  And we gave back in all the ways we could.  We all brought something to the party, whether it was a side dish, appetizer, sweet treat, liquor, and of course wine.  And that’s not only important during the holidays but all year round.   This group knows the meaning of sharing and caring throughout the year.

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And the hosts of this party go above and beyond in ways I have never seen.  It’s a blessing to know our party hosts, who are more than just hosts, they are family.  This whole group is a family.  And there’s nothing more important than family.  It’s amplified during the holidays and with this crew, the whole year through.

I will always remember this holiday season for a lot of things.  This party will be one of the highlights.

For more on Virginia Dare Winery click here.  They have charming music playing on the main page so beware if you’re looking at the workplace.

To purchase directly from the website, go here.

Here’s a behind the wines and then a history lesson.

If you live near the Baltimore area, I’ve seen this wine at the great Wine World in Abingdon, MD.  I’ve not seen it anywhere else but if I do, I will update it here.

This was fun and I can’t believe another year is in the books.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.  I may revert back to some old posts I never got around too and of course take some unexpected twists and turns throughout the duration.  I look forward to you joining me.

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But for now I will savor what’s left of the holidays and appreciate the fact that I got to be a part of this gathering, and that I got to share this with you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Ideen

 

 

 

Hip Hip Hooray For…

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Well ordinarily I wouldn’t dig fruitier and sweeter wines.  But that’s always been the point of this journey.  I like getting out of my comfort zone as much as possible.  Essentially every wine is at least worth a try.

Not that long ago I would embrace sweet wines, because they’re accessible and endearing to so many.  It would be perfect and most likely affordable to bring to holiday parties, birthdays, and any gathering where not everyone enjoys wine.  But they would enjoy the sweet and tart varietals.  So it was a win win for everyone.

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As time went by it felt more like a loss.  I enjoyed the dryer reds and then started to appreciate the whites.  That much has remained the same.  But I’m no wine snob nor do I ever intend to be.  But the sugary content in the sweets began to give me a headache and became a chore to drink than anything else.  That’s not the point of this thing.  Wine is meant to be enjoyed.  And no time rings truer than the holidays.   Yet it’s with great pleasure that I say that the Cranberry Wine from St. James Winery is a winner.

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What’s not to like?  Look at that color.  It looks deceivingly like cranberry juice and not much else.  If you poured me a glass and didn’t tell me otherwise, I wouldn’t know the difference.  Only until sipping do you begin to realize that this is anything but just juice. You want to take your time with this one or it’ll creep up on you.

I love the tasting notes.  It literally is all cranberry all the time.   Cranberry acidity with a cranberry finish is what’s written.  Can you get more approachable and simplistic than that?  And around this time of year, with all the frenzy of running around like a fool shopping, errands, and looking for just a few minutes to relax, this is the kind of wine and synopsis you want.

This wine is so good I’ve gladly decided to give them buy a few and give them as gifts to people.  My hunch is the people I’ve purchased for may not be reading this blog.  So I hope I haven’t spoiled anything haha.

But I did bring it to my traditional gathering of dear friends.  We exchanged gifts, ate food a little too fast (or maybe that was just me), and sipped on this wine ever-so-slowly.

What’s funny is I think I only had one glass.  That is more due to the fact I was appreciating what I was drinking.  There’s nothing especially life-changing or monumental about this wine on the surface.  But if you’re enjoying this glass with the people you care about this much, then it will take on a life of its own.  And that’s how every wine and every experience should be, and is capable of being. The charm of that label helps too.

With this wine, you can also be creative, and make your favorite festive cocktails.

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Short and sweet, to the point, and happy holidays.

For more on our happy gathering, here’s the tea that we had.

For my festive friends in the Baltimore area, this bottle is available at Wine World in Abingdon for the low price of only $11.00.

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And to everyone else in the states and locally, here’s the link to search for it at a retailer near you.

You can also order this and all of their festive wines online, and their contact info is all over the page.

I wish you a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the joy that it’ll bring you.

Happy Happy and Merry Merry,

Ideen

 

 

A Very Special Label

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I’m calling another audible.  I had something in mine for this week, but I will be able to get back to that at a reasonable time.

This is an addendum to another post I made about this decorating party, which can be found right here.  And even with all the sentiment and heartwarming situations, there is room for laughs.  We all need some comedy and laughter in our life.  If not, then what’s this all for.  And is there a more necessary time than during the holidays?   This post might end up being funny, or just a bit dopey depending on where this goes.

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The title of this post might be misleading, but the label for the Happy Holidays Sparkling Wine is art.  What else needs to be said.  There is such care and precision put into this design, how can you not be drawn to it?

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For folks who love the entire wine experience, presentation is almost as important as the wine itself.  First impressions don’t necessarily tell you the whole story, or even offer up some semblance of what’s really going on.  We’re only scratching the surface.

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When you see a label like this, and at only around $11, it’s not worthy of a buy, it’s a must buy.  That’s what happened to me.   I got a little too excited that I made an impulse buy without stopping to check of the details of the wine itself.  And that’s where disappointment is likely to set in.  But we can also find the positives in any situation.  I’m saying all this before I’ve even opened the bottle.  But wait…

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After the euphoria wore off, I read that this was an Italian Sparkling Wine, which would go perfect for the brunch or light appetizer part of the party I was headed to.

This looked too good to open and too good to be true.  I wanted this to remain a mystery.  I wanted to romanticize all the beauty inside without ever uncorking.

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But that wasn’t going to happen.  The mimosas and various champagne drinks were being guzzled at rapid-fire rates that it was only a matter of time before my bottle would be unveiled to the world, or an audience of 10.  Either way this wasn’t good.  After the dramatic build-up I really wanted to like it.  But not even close.  And the host of the decorating party was the first to lash out.   My feeling weren’t hurt.  They all can’t be winners.  It tasted nothing like champagne, sparkling wine, or some other facsimile.

It was too thick and too heavy to be considered champagne or anything remotely close. Like I said, I wanted this to be one of those bottles that you’ll be talking about for years to come.  That’s not even close.  But the fact that it was hard to drink is what made this so funny.  We had a bunch of cheap and standard-label champagne to start off, that served its purpose and went down smooth.  That’s all we want in a champagne brunch.  Maybe the sparkling wine would have been better served in another capacity, but I don’t see it.

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The hostess was great to find the positives in this.  The bottle had already been open, and we waited until all the other champagne tapped out to finish this one.  It just sat there looking lonely.  No one wanted any.  But that label can’t be disputed.  I could stare at that for a while, or until I got restless and wanted a good wine or champagne.  It was funny trying to avoid drinking this until absolutely necessary.  It was tolerable enough to finish but a struggle at the same time.  That’s not an endorsement.

If I were to talk badly about a wine, I wouldn’t want it to be during the holidays, but I gave myself much higher expectations.  And because of the imagery, I doomed myself with such lofty expectations.  I would say I’ve learned my lesson, but I wouldn’t want to.  It may be a novice thing to buy a wine based on a label but the heck with it.  Buy what you want, drink what you like, and take some chances.  I did and I’ll do so again.

I can’t find much about this bottle online, except for this link.  Not sure this can help.

More on the winery itself, Villa Jolanda, can be found here.

For my friends in Maryland, I found this at Wine World in Abingdon, MD.

If you would like to see my friends’ party recap from last year, this is the link for YOU!

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I will bid farewell with a few more pictures from the decorating party.  Regardless of how the wine was, everything about the event was perfection.  I can only hope the next wine I bring to one of these affairs will be the same.

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As always, happiest of holidays to you.

Ideen

 

 

Holiday Party Season

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Here’s the exciting yet confusing part of the holidays for me.   I have a plethora of options to go with for this week.  That’s also the dilemma.  Which one feels right?  No matter what I go with, there’s going to be second guessing.  It’s the Christmas season.  Would you expect anything less?  And I think we can relate to that with just about any scenario. What’s the perfect gift to give someone?  What’s that perfect note, card or message that we would like to convey?  What’s that perfect fill-in-the-blank?

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Perfect is a relative term.  We have to be careful with setting ourselves for a colossal letdown or disappointment.  I’ll tell you something, the wine I’m going to write about is anything but a letdown or a reason to fret.  The Lost Order No. 191 from Boordy Vineyards is close enough to the perfect holiday wine that you forget about all the other hangups and insecurities that may come into your life during this season.  I may be projecting a bit but someone out there must relate.  If not, then this post is in vain.  But I’ll continue nevertheless.

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This continues my posts in support of local business.  I’ve written about Boordy countless times before, but figure it’s been long enough that it didn’t run its course.  I hope so.   Circumstances prevented myself, along with good pals, from attending the last couple of wine club parties, but sometimes life throws you a bone, or a bottle.  And your fellow winos share with you their love of wine.

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More importantly than how good this wine was.   This was a gift from some dear friends that are fellow Landmark Reserve Club Members.  Automatically this wine contains an attachment and memory of giving and of sharing.  And that’s what this season is truly all about.

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300 words later and I’ve yet to actually talk about the wine itself.  It’s a Red Blend that wine lovers and newbies will both adore.  Last weekend I brought it to my local gym’s (for more on Peak Performance, click here) holiday happy hour, and it went over very well.   I had debated on where the most fitting place to bring this invaluable vintage.   This needed to be an organic  experience.  So what better place than the gym.

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This red blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and one of my new favorite grapes, Petit Verdot, tastes surprising lighter than what I expected.  Yet it was refreshing and perfect (there’s that word again) for this or any holiday party.  It pairs with the lightest or heartiest of foods.

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I laugh because we work our tails off here, with our weights, rowing machines, and treadmills during the day.  However, in the lobby area we gorged ourselves on loads of food and drink that it felt like I undermined all my hard work for the day, or that week for that matter.

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Ah but that’s the holidays.  Your stomach is supposed to beg for a reprieve.  And one day here and there is not going to be the end of you or me.  Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?

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Well the party was fun.  The dynamic was different as we were revelers as opposed to fitness fanatics.  And that led to a different level of conversation.  And this season leads to a sense of love and community that I wish would permeate all year round.  Sometimes it does.  It’s up to me and you as individuals to spread that cheer for the duration of the calendar year and in this thing called life.

A wine like that certainly helps.  My bottle is still waiting for pickup, which just means I need to share it with close friends and family at the next of hopefully many holiday gatherings.  It’s early December and I love this time of year.  The more parties the merrier. I’m glad I was gifted this wine to share with these good folks.  And I can only assume the good times will continue to present themselves.

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For more on Boordy’s Landmark Reserve Club, click here.

For more on Peak Perfomance, click here.

 

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Have a Safe and Blessed Holiday,

Ideen