On The Mend

FalerniaCarmenereWine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully this will be revisited before the year is out.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

I’m Ready For Summer

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I mean that.  Technically on the calendar we’re still here.  We’re all right here…

Fall is wonderful.  It means festivals, a smell and crispness in the air, and still plenty of reasons to be outside and enjoy life.  Yeah that life thing.  It’s alright.

While it’s still hot and there’s still plenty of daylight, the lighter wines, the whites, and of course the rosé.   I’ve got time to talk about more rosé.  See, as much as the seasons all have a place, I love summer.  I’m ready for summer.

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The Lavignone Rosato was amongst the many choices I was looking at.  Actually no, let me know sound so serious.   It’s the one that stood out, because of the label, and because I knew nothing about it.  I don’t know about a lot of these wines.  And I don’t have to either.

Like any other situation, the mood I’m in, the setting, the feeling, and all those other little things that either do or don’t exist play a role in how a wine is going to taste, and how it’s going to make you feel.

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I’m still processing this one.  I’m still processing a lot of things.

At the same time, it’s not that serious.  At $15 this is bit of a splurge, but nothing out of sorts.  If it wasn’t for the flowers, I don’t know what I would think.  Yes I said flowers!

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The whole process of helping plant flowers is similar in how wine become well, a pretty bottle and label such as this.

Now there’s nothing life altering about this wine.  I’ve never looked at rosé in that way.  However, like flowers, the smells of summer is the main draw.  The synopsis mentions strawberry, watermelon, cranberry, and fresh cut grass.  Those would be the aromas, not necessarily the tastes.   I think I tasted grass once when I was a kid and I don’t remember it being good.

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This wine is ok.  I wouldn’t say it’s amazing.  I go back-and-forth on it.  As I’m writing this out, my heart is telling me something it wasn’t when I actually had a glass.  You may love it and that’s awesome.  My mind and heart are in contrasting places, and that’s a good thing, as much as that sounds confusing.

If I spent $10 on this label, I might have a different opinion.   As much as the display of flowers and colors is lively, full of life, and ready for the fall season, there are plenty of other grapes of all kinds that are going to be a bit more inspirational.

I mentioned how I was processing my thoughts on this wine, and my feelings may be unraveling as I share this with you. But I really don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s the change of the seasons and the place I’m in at the moment, but something isn’t completely adding up.   Maybe I’m ready for the medium bodied reds, or more of the whites I’ve grown to like and love.

Maybe I’m just not in love with this wine and that’s ok too.  There’s so many to choose from.  And as much as I or we want to see the good in everything, it’s good to see faults too.  Because those faults are sometimes those most endearing qualities.

No need to over analyze everything.  Some things just don’t need a further explanation.

It’s going to be a great rest of the year, and a great time to try wines (which is anytime) is just around the corner.   I’m all for a roadblock or two here to put things back in perspective.

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The best is yet to come and the best is in the present…

Love,

Ideen

 

Captivating Is Right…

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That’s what Pine Ridge Vineyard describes their white blend of Chenin Blanc & Viognier.  Which happen to me to grapes I’ve grown to love (not that I ever thought otherwise) over the past few years, simply by varietals finding me.

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For me, Chenin Blanc & Viognier have always carried an aura about them that feels larger than life.  They’re just different than many of the whites that are readily available at your local wine shoppe.   These grapes primarily found in France can be made into stellar creations on its own, but to have them together is a risk.  But life is about taking risks.  And if it were too fail, then so be it?  That’s what life and experiences are all about. They’re not going to be winners and perfect all the time.

And then there’s the 2016 Blend from Pine Ridge that I wouldn’t say tastes like nothing I’ve had before, because I don’t know what that nothing or something is.  It’s just a great wine at an affordable price.  And that’s important.  What also is wonderful is a blend like this can succeed and stand out among all the wines that are available for purchase.  Yet I’ve seen this listed for anywhere from $11-$15, and that’s more than reasonable.

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The notes are listed on the page, but while I can pretend I could smell, detect, or taste peaches, pineapple, and citrus, none of that is the case.  What I did taste is a wonderful white wine that makes me feel good and appreciate that something so well could be crafted and provided to us at such an affordable price.

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No, it’s not the best wine I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair thing to say.  What has happened it has added to my ever increasing love for white wines.   I would say appreciate but that sounds like I’m not really a fan, and a cop out.

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What I find charming is Pine Ridge has its own website devoted to this blend.  I like the touch and it shows how serious and passionate they are about this wine.

And the good news?  This is one you will likely find at a store near you.  If not, it’s also available for purchase online.

Which leads me to think, how good are there other wines, including the reds? Well if this is any indication, I have much to look forward too.  As we’re still in season and it’s warm and oh so summer out, the reds will wait.  The whites and rosé well… We shall see!

But get this wine, even if you don’t love it, at least it was something different, and it may lead to insightful and inspirational conversations, just like many wines can do.  Great wine, great food, and great conversation is what makes this life so great.

While the weather is still this kind, I hope to discuss more of the lighter and medium wines, because this life and time just keeps going.  It’s funny how cyclical things are, but that’s just what it is.  It’s great when a wine like this comes along to shake things up and breaks the cycle.  To write about something life this regularly might take away from that luster, so we’ll see where go to next…

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My hunch tells me more of the best and brightest.

Peace be with you.

Love,

Ideen

I’m Glad I Waited…

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The amount of times I had planned to write about my visit to Great Frogs back in January, is almost embarrassing to talk about.

I’ve written about them previously in different settings (you can read about that here) with the hope that one day I would get to visit their winery.    And it finally happened.

Good things come to those who wait, and before I discuss this exquisite visit, here is their FAQ, more about this wonderful winery, visitor information, info on purchasing their wines/shipping info, and where you can find their wines near you.

If you don’t live or aren’t planning to visiting the Annapolis area, your only chance is to have their wines shipped to you.   These wines are on the pricier side, and are outside of my price range.  But every once in a while, I feel it’s right to treat myself.  It’s right to treat yourself, as much as you want, for as much as you want.

It’s my life, it’s your life, and we only get one of those, as who we are in this lifetime.

A few years back when I first about this winery, I had these images of exclusivity, and this place being a secret club that only the highest of society are welcome or dare try to visit.  There’s this thing about assuming that you shouldn’t always do.

However, on a random day I had dropped someone off not realizing their house was literally on the other side of this immaculate looking green and shrubbery, which was Great Frogs.  I was in awe.  I put this place on even more of a pedestal.  Sometimes assuming or presuming adds to the excitement and adds to the mystique.

Needless to say, the winery wasn’t open that day and I thought maybe someday.

After attending wine festivals and having a glass at various restaurants around town, I was enamored.  Maybe it’s an Annapolis thing (my increasing list of my affinity for Annapolis can be found here) but I love their wine and I love everything about this place.

Tastings are by reservation only, and on a limited time frame Fridays and Saturdays only.  At $35 a person that may put some people off.  You can get three bottles in most places for that much.  But this is not that kind of place.  I love this place.

When I drove up, I noticed the amazing vines, the greens, the farmland, and then the barn which hosts the tastings,  I was looking for the adorable pups (Scout & Bruno) who protect the crops and vines from the outside world (wildlife), but not on this day.  That just means I’ll have to be back.  And that’s a given.

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I won’t talk about every wine that was tried.  I don’t want to bore you.  This is not what this blog is about.  It’s about enjoying the wines, enjoying the company your worth, and enjoying your surroundings.

This was well worth the investment.  And in hindsight $35 is not that much for an experience that’s more than just a tasting.  You get 6 wines, you get snacks (which they will replenish for you), and the most incredible ambiance I can ever recall at a winery.  Being away from Downtown Annapolis and being in your own universe a few miles away added another element of wonder and fascination to this visit.  Man I loved all of this.

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I neglected to mention this tasting also includes a glass of your choice upon completion.  Does it get any better?  This tasting room decor is incredible.   I want to thank Ben who helped with the tasting, and could not have been friendlier.

This is family affair as I also got to meet the owners, Nathathanael & Andrea, who could not have been friendlier.

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The wines that stood out to me were the 2015 Estate Meritage, the 2015 Cold Blooded (their newest release at the time), and the Chardonnay.    I went with the former as my glass mainly because the spices, the cedar taste, the berries, and the chocolate made this perfect for the winter time.   Full bodied wines are what’s going to work here, and this worked alright.    This is a $50 bottle, and if you’re feeling ambitious, go for it.   This is a tremendous wine, as most of their wines are.

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The Cold Blooded is a blend with every grape under the sun, and at $55, this was heavily pushed for a celebration they had the day after Thanksgiving, that was originally to be my first visit.  That didn’t happen for reasons I can’t remember, other than it wasn’t meant to be.

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This visit was meant to be.   This was more than a wine tasting, this was art.  It’s Great Frogs, it’s Annapolis, it’s happiness, this is living.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

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