Reds Before…

PinotProjectFlower

I’m already seeing the signs for Rosé season and that’s alright.   Any hopes of Spring and the joys of the warm weather are welcoming.  Because right now it’s still blah out there.  That’s a technical term by the way.  I, and many others are waiting for the sun.  In times and situations sometimes it’s what we want the most.  Without it can cause headaches, confusion, and all kinds of turmoil.

And we’re in this current cycle of Mercury Retrograde that is compounding everything.

So what does this have to do with wine?  I have no witty response.

In good times, in great times, or the other times (which I will just call experiences here…), a dinner with good friends is always welcome, of absolute importance, and can’t happen enough.

As we grow up, get older, and much more wiser (hopefully), we gradually know what is worth our time, and what will fade out, and be a distant memory or complete afterthought.  Settings like this stay with me because of its simplicity, wholesomeness, and all those other overly sentimental sentiments.  Wow I just said that last part.

Pinot Noir was requested for this sit down dinner of three, and as always I’m happy to oblige.   When you have so many options of such a drinkable and usually affordable wine, it can drive you bananas and make one indecisive.  That one in question, is me.

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So when I spotted a label that truly did stand out, I actually bypassed it for another.  And here I present to you, the Pinot Noir, from the Pinot Project, which in hindsight was supposed to happen.

PinotProjectInfo

Not everything is deep or meant to be over analyzed, decoded, and then analyzed some more.  But this is a project like the wine says, so let’s work on this project shall we?  That was cheesy.

The information, or notes if you will, are here for your viewing pleasure.  But I got nothing inspiring to say here.

However, it makes me laugh that roses and pomegranate can be found on the nose.  Funny how that all connects.  I didn’t get any of that though. No spices were tasted, but black cherry is always there.

This is a wine that’s just kind of there.  It’s not good nor bad.  It’s just there.  And that’s sometimes more disappointing than a wine that’s terrible.  At least more can be said in those situations.

At $10-$12 average retail value it’s alright.  I think some people will appreciate it for what it is.  It’s still easy to drink, since it’s a Pinot, but not the usual going down smooth.  The lingering finish is one that lingers for not the best reasons.   For me, it’s best to move on here.

PinotProjectFood

Within every cloud, there’s always a silver lining. The meal of boneless pork chops, couscous, and salad is one of the more healthier and learner forms of comfort food you’re going to find.  I’m grateful for my good friend to host and prep something so wonderful like always.

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And the good company, and conversation always helps.  The food is always going to stand out, and even though the wine this time left much to be desired, and with not much to discuss.  There will always be next times.

And I’m always thankful for those next times.

Feeling grateful…

Ideen

 

 

Take A Number

CanyonRoadPinotNoirWithFood

In the world we live in, or at least in a world you or I might live in, there’s never a lack of events to look forward to.  Some we’d be billing to bypass because they’ve ran their course, or we grow up.

Sometimes none of that matters.  We still grow up but we still enjoy our friends, good food, and a little vino never hurt anybody.

The event I’m referring to is a gathering of friends to watch a major professional wrestling event that took place this past Sunday night.  The specifics aren’t necessary, other than it was a good group of individuals, and I was honored to be invited and included.

Now I had no intention or idea that a story would come out of this. We’re at as simple as a bar as you’re going to find.   The food is bar food, the drinks are your cold beers, well drinks (I’m not even sure what that is but ‘well drinks’ just popped up in my head), and for the contrarians like me, they do have a couple of bottles of wine.

With the latter part of what I said coming to fruition, I did buy a bottle.  In hindsight I have no idea why I did.  But for a short and long-term investment it was worth it, so I didn’t have to get up to keep ordering a drink.   But in the long run, none of this really matters.  More on that in a little while.

CanyonRoadPinotNoir

The wine was the 2014 Canyon Road Pinot Noir from you guessed it, Canyon Road.  And there isn’t much to it. That sounds dismissive and I don’t meant it to be, but this is about as basic as a wine as you’re going to find.  And I’ve seen it listed from $7-$10 in most places.  The cheaper you can find it, the more it’s actually worth that price.  I know that makes sense.

CanyonRoadPinotNoirWithFood3

The wine has little, if any, structure.  And you don’t need to be an expert to know, you want a a wine to bring something to the table.  You might taste some cherry, get a little tannin, and a get a little soul.   But all things considered, this wine will satisfy many.  And when pickings are slim, there’s little room for complaining.    I even waited a good 15-20 minutes for this wine to breathe, and not much changed.   That’s when you know this as standard label and mass produced as a wine as there’s going to be.

CanyonRoadPinotNoirWithFood2

The salad was as good as it’s going to be.  I honestly don’t know what that means, as I think about it. Haha.

For a  post I made on another one of their wines, nearly two years ago, click here.

For more on Canyon Road click here,  here is where you can find their wines near you, their wine list, and finally their contact information.

But going back to numbers,  I want to focus on something else.  The event we watched was all about numbers.  We picked a number to match an entrant in said event, but also a number hoping we might win some money.  That’s always fun.  Not too much was committed, so the risk vs. reward was’t too serious.  Well the reward always feels good if you win it.

Where I’m going with this, is recently I’ve had conversations with people (and myself) about how more and more they feel like just a number, like a spoke on the wheel, and an afterthought at times.  The title of this post may evoke feelings of waiting in a deli line to pick up whatever, and that might feel pedestrian and robotic as anything. While in some universes that might be valid, it’s actually the furthest thing from the truth.

We’re all brought here to add value, we all come from the same source, and are all connected.  And none of that says we’re just a number.  We’re all spiritual beings that have arrived here to do some awesome things, enjoy the finer things in life (like good wine), but also to feel good as much as possible.  Again, nothing about that entails that you and I are just a number.

Well might be a number.  That number is 1.  Because we’re capable of being the best to ourselves, to each other, and all the good energy that’s here on this planet Earth.

Sunday night I felt something and I can’t explain it, nor do I need to right away.  Something felt uneasy but then it felt right.  I hung with good friends but I also hung out with people I rarely see, or just met for the first time.  We were all there for the same reason, and one of those was just to feel good.

And you can’t put any price tag or number, on feeling good.

I feel good right now, and I wish the same for you.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

Celebrating the Cherry Blossoms

CherryBlossomFilledGlasses

And honestly the celebration of the the actual cherry blossoms is the main positive I’m going to take from this.  Because the wine, the 2014 Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir is not much to celebrate.

CherryBlossomLabel

It pains me to say this.  At only $4, ($5 in Virginia where I purchased this) this wine exclusive to Trader Joe’s didn’t start off promising and never gained any ground or momentum.

I had purchased this wine for several obvious reasons.  First, the price was so cheap and that’s what I love about Trader Joe’s.    You can try new wines with little financial risk and the rewards can sometimes be phenomenal.   I’ve had wines from their that I’d pay $20 for that cost me less than $5.  This was not one of them.

Secondly, the label is so inviting and fits the mood of the time of year.  If this were in the winter or summer I may bypass this wine for others that would hopefully have been more enjoyable.

Finally, as I just stated, it’s Cherry Blossom season in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. And it may just be beginning or ending in your neck of the woods or your side of the world.

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC is something I always looked forward to attend with family and friends when I lived closer to the area and when I was younger. For reasons due to large crowds, other priorities, or life in general I haven’t attended in quite some time but hope to do so again, either before this festival ends (this weekend as of this posting) or hopefully next year.

This wine was hopefully going to raise my enthusiasm level but it didn’t come close. Upon opening the nose gave an ominous sign of things to come.  It smelled rancid and turned for the worst.

My friends wanted to give it a few minutes to breathe and I was all for it.  We were already outside enjoying ourselves and another few minutes would go by quickly.   There wasn’t a rush.  A few minutes might have turned into 30.  I honestly don’t recall.  And at the time and in hindsight it didn’t matter.

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Not even the aerator could save this one.

CherryBlossomPour

This synopsis by Trader Joe’s themselves is incorrect in my opinion.  I tasted no berries, no mocha, no toasted oak, or anything period.  I’m not even sure oak would have been able to save this thing.   That would be best used for a wine with robust flavors that would only be enhanced by oak.    This wasn’t fruit-forward by any means.  If I were to make a generic joke, I would actually call this fruit-backward.

CherryBlossomGlasses

Even after a glass a piece, my friends and I had half the bottle left and we couldn’t do any more.  It was requested I take this back home with me but I didn’t.  Where that bottle is now I couldn’t tell you.

I’d keep the bottle just for the label but couldn’t drink that wine any longer or ever again.

Here is my written history of Trader Joe’s exclusive wines.

CherryBlossomBackLabel

As for the website listed, it redirects to something else.  Think of that what you will.

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I do have another positive.  This is the first time the silicon wine glasses were broken out. These were a gift from me to my friends, and they were happy to use them on this day. And the day was gorgeous.  The glasses themselves made for a beautiful visual even though our wine was unsatisfactory.

CherryBlossomOpened

These glasses will be broken out again and as a matter of fact they were.  But I will save that post for down the line.

This was not the inspiring wine I was hoping for.  When it comes to honoring and celebrating the cherry blossoms, no motivation is really necessary, other than to get out of the house.   I was hoping this wine would add a little boost to that, but that didn’t happen.

I hope you all have been having an amazing Spring and if you’ve been to see the Cherry Blossoms I envy you, and I hope to do the same soon.  If you haven’t gotten the chance, at least in Washington, DC, this weekend might be it.

That’s the fun of the the beautiful weather months.  All kinds of awesome festivals and events will be happening and I hope to celebrate some of those with an equally awesome wine to commemorate those special days.

I look forward to it.

Ideen

 

Satisfy My Soul

 

oldsoulhalloween

Is there a little bit of Old Soul in all of us?  That’s a question of the ages, or for the soul if you will.  If you feel the need to proclaim yourself as one than there’s some more questions you need to be asking.  Wait, what am I talking about again?  The soul or wine? Are these two entities really that separate from one another?  This goes deeper if you want it to.

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I had initially brought the Old Soul Pinot Noir from Oak Ridge Winery as a gift so some dear friends.  I told them to save it for a special occasion, because there was symbolism and meaning for the recipients of this wine.  That conversation and metaphysical discussion will be left between us and the universe.   And we’ve all had these in-depth and philosophical meetings at least once (and if we’re fortunate, many more) in our lives.   This is the kind of wine that encompasses all that is good with the atmosphere.

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So after all that, the special occasion turns out to be a Halloween party?  Makes sense if you think about it.  Cut out the seriousness, and how fitting of a holiday to serve such a perfect and purposeful wine.   Not sure this is the kind of soul discussion I was hoping for. I think you get what I’m referencing.

At my local stores I’ve seen this priced anywhere from $13-$16.  I say that’s a fair price and one I’m willing to spend a few more dollars on than my traditional $10 and under purchases.

The immediate stand out is the intense fruits when I uncorked the bottle.   What a beautiful array of berries and as the synopsis says, floral tones.  I knew I was in for something special.  The aura and energy of the wine seemed distinctively familiar.  And it may be possible I’ve had this wine or any one of their other varietals.  But I think there’s something bigger here.  There’s something bigger than us.  Maybe it’s the name, the label, that beautiful tree, or all of the above.  This wine really hits nerves on a multitude of levels.

And it tastes a lot more fuller than your traditional Pinot, and that’s mainly due in part that it’s blended with Zinfandel.  I kept saying to anyone who would listen that this wine was fantastic.  Well I would say some pals agreed, or they wanted an alternative from a mixed drink or cold beer. This wine never stood a chance.  It was decimated in minutes, and I was lucky to get a second cup in.  Seriously, the taste of blackberries and whatever else may be inside the soul was something to savor.  I thought I may have gotten some vanilla.  Again, as I’ve said before, our palates are all different.  We all may get a little something and a little bit of the same with this wine.  That’s what makes this so fun.

This is a wine meant to be shared, but more importantly shared with the people you care about the most.  Yes, this was a Halloween party and the seriousness should be left at the door and especially when wearing a goofy costume.  But this wine really touched my soul. There’s a big picture with this.  Which means I must try more, and share it with everyone here.

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But for now I’ll leave with some of the foods that were paired with this one.  This was early on in the party so you see the easy plates of appetizers such as hummus, pita bread, and some sweet baklava and pastries that were opened later.

oldsoulowls

All this will be revisited again soon.  I’m a huge fan of this wine and think this winery is bringing some of that positive energy that we all need, and what a perfect time to talk about it was we steadily approach the holidays.

For information on where to find there wines in your area click here.

More is coming!

Ideen

 

Only In Olney

olneythewines

Yes I’m now officially part of this exclusive club.  I got my first ‘Get Stained’sticker from the fine folks at Olney Winery.  And it only took my fourth visit to the Maryland Wine Festival to get there.  Funny how I built something up so significantly for years, and it was all about a sticker.  If you understand the sarcasm, you realize that anyone who wanted a sticker, got one.  But it’s fun to pretend that this is an exclusive group of wine drinkers and lovers of life, that it’s the ultimate badge of honor, and no less than that.  And maybe it is.

So here we go again.  Last year I did three recaps of some of my favorite booth visits at this most exciting of fiestas.  These posts can be found here, here, and finally this gem.

I had no set plan.  I never do.  I could have written two months worth of material from the event but certain scenarios, wine and dinner parties, and holidays steered course.  I love that.  Once again I have material to last me a couple of months but I don’t see it happening on consecutive weeks.  We shall see.  It’s what makes this blog fun.   So before I go on another tangent, I will go with the very first tent I stopped by, the aforementioned, Olney.

olneycabwinefestAt the event itself they only had two wines I had interest in trying, their For Your Eyes Only Cabernet Sauvignon and their X Brothers Pinot Noir.  The former I’ve had before and on a very first taste at their tasting room (more on that shortly) I was floored.  I bought a bottle immediately.  I may have had other wines but this was the standard bearer at the time.

Since then I’ve purchased this same wine at various retailers with mixed results.  Maybe it was a bad batch, bad cork, waiting too long, or the universe telling me not to try it again, but it’s not the wine I remember.   But on this day the recipe seemed different (as every vintage should be) but my palate was rejoicing once again.  This is the Cab I remembered. I see more tannins were added, that oak I remember, and my favorite inclusion of all, pepper was back and with a vengeance.  Oh how I love thee.

olneypinotwinefest

But just when I thought it could’t get any better, the X Brothers Pinot Noir really wowed me.  I almost thing it’s truly difficult to butcher Pinot.  And most are simple, easy to drink, and get the job done.  But this is on another level.   It’s still warm enough outside to have something light yet slightly cooler to appreciate this same bottle all the same. This is a wine for right now, in this moment.  The teases of fruit and spice are a nice segue into fall.  If you like fall.  I have mixed feelings but will make the most of the season where I can.

I would say that we’re done and this was a great first stop at the festival.  I got my sticker and went about my merry way.  Yet I had an inspired thought.  If the opportunity presented itself I would stop by the tasting room, which is near where I grew up and only about an hour away from me now.  I wanted to enhance this post and say thanks in person.

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My one and only (Olney?!) visit was a couple of years ago by pure happenstance, or maybe it wasn’t.  Maybe all roads led to this.

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Funny because Olney has changed so much since I was a kid.  You can still see the original footprints of a town that has now evolved.  Mom and pops are now chains, more chains are moving in, and the quaintness is there but not like before.  But the tasting room puts gives this town something bold, unique, and inspiring.  Not many places can say they have a winery within a shopping district.  Pretty cool I know.

olneylight

So what  do you know?  One scenario into another brought me here, and just in the nick of time to put this post up.

A major thank you goes to Bryan who helped conduct the tasting and gave me a few extra pours for free.

olneypinotAnd instead of recapping every wine I had I will expound on another one that blew me away as well.  Yes I was all set to get the Pinot Noir but then the Tuscan Sunset Sangiovese had to rear its beautiful head.  Oh my goodness.  The no-so-subtle hints of strawberry and white pepper were more than enough to make which bottle to purchase a much more agonizing decision than it really needed to be.  But they’re both equal in quality and superiority.

olneysangiovese

So what did any irrational and indecisive person do? I went with both.  This is one of those times I decided to treat myself.  We need to treat ourselves more, within reason of course.

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The Pinot at $19.95 and the Sangiovese at $17.95 will likely be the most expensive bottles I’ll buy this year and for a while.   I’ve always said around $20.00 is where my cut off will be, unless I’m feeling really ambitious.  And the wine has to be immaculate.  Both of these fall under that category at a reasonable price.  As an unexpected bonus, my $7.00 tasting fee was waived.  I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble for mentioning that.

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Honorable mention goes to the Olney Mill White Chenin Blanc, which tasted like the tropics with some apple thrown in.

With a couple of exceptions, every wine I sipped went from good to magnificent.  And again, it’s all based on your palate and what you like.  It looks like mine is resuming back to my preference for the dry reds, even if the two I purchased were on the lighter end.  As we progress through the year, the full bodies is the likely scenario.

Bryan also gave me a tour of the winery and showed me the fermentation process up close. There’s a strong possibility that this will be revisited in a post late this year/early next year.  I won’t hint at much more than that.  But I may be taking part in something special.

This is a not your typical winery. There’s no vines or even an outside.  Everything is done in-house and it’s a concept that I could see becoming much more popular as time goes on. Yet many of of us, including myself, like tradition.  We like seeing grapes grown and an inspirational patio/backyard set up when we go to a tasting.    I like both, there’s room for both, and there’s room for everyone.  Here’s more information on their concept, their mission, and a brief synopsis of their history.

Here’s their contact info and the team of winemakers themselves.  And most important of all, where to find their wine.

Pictures of the various wines and the tasting room itself are all over this post.  Enjoy!

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Until next time and there will be a next time here…

olneyglass

Ideen

A Worldly Pinot

WorldMarketPinot

World Market does it again. I’m such a fan.  The positive energy and good vibrations I get each time I’m at one of their stores keeps me coming back.   And you know that includes their extravagant wine selection.

For the past few months I’ve been meaning to write about one of their wines. In particular, I present the 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  The wine was grown in Sonoma County and made exclusively for World Market.  How awesome is that?  As an added bonus, the wine was created from organically grown Pinot Noir grapes.  This is a winner all around.

But why do I like it so much?

First of all, when you’re a store that has a section on inspiration, you’re going to get many brownie points from me.

Secondly, it’s a user-friendly wine that anyone can enjoy. My first reaction after sipping a glass was that this would be ideal for anyone who was looking to get into wine, yet was hesitant to try.

This was as light as a Pinot Noir that you’re ever going to taste.  It goes down smooth.  And when I mean smooth, I mean effortlessly.  We have a perfect introductory wine.

I tasted some raspberry and perhaps some other fruits.  There’s spices in there somewhere.  But what I got most from this is that if this is what organic wine tastes like, I want more of it. This was a joy.

Around $12 is what I’ve seen this bottle listed for online.  That’s around what I paid for it. Because of the simplicity of it, that’s about what the price should be. That’s not an insult but more of a statement of the wine.  It’s mean to be affordable and approachable.  Those are my kind of wines.

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I had to go back in my library to track down photos of this eye-catching bottle. How gorgeous is that label?

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This wine can go with anything and can go with any season.  That’s one of the many reasons why I’m championing this one.  I wish I had more of this exclusive collection.  And there’s more. All the means is a road trip to one of the coolest stores around.

To find the nearest World Market near you, go to this link.

Not only is their wine selection brilliant, but so is everything else.  I don’t think I need to sell this any more.

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I had a pre-holiday meal with this bottle.   By the pictures I couldn’t tell exactly what I ate but it was something Thanksgiving-like I presume.   But the wine was the stand-out.

To read more World Market gems, go here and here.

More to come…

Best,

Ideen

 

 

Fab Tuesday

CardinalPlate3

I had no idea what I was going to write about this morning.  My mind drew a blank but I didn’t panic.  When I don’t know have any ideas, I venture out and experience. It happened again.

Most of know that yesterday was Fat Tuesday. So what does this have to do with the wine?

There is a wine that can go with anything.  I believe that.  It’s not rocket science.  Even if it’s not conventional or following social code, who cares?  Mardi Gras has never been about following everyone else.

My views on the event and New Orleans have rapidly changed in the last year.  I made my first visit to this amazing city last Summer.  And I still think about my experience often.

Of course it’s about the libations but it’s also about the revelry, the comradery, the food, and enjoying life.

I will get to yesterday in a moment.   But if you want a recap of my previous NOLA posts, one can go here, or you can click on this exciting post, and finally this inspirational story. Hooray!

The Cardinal Tavern of Canton is fantastic.   I may be understating this significantly. There food options have been unique in a city of many ordinary establishments.

I’m grateful to have friends who do their Sunday Brunch here on a regular basis. And that has introduced me to creative dishes and concepts that make me yearning to come back.

Last night I came back.

They had an amazing buffet spread for the holiday.  And the kicker?  It was free. For 2 hours we had a breathtaking spread that I’d pay $50 for.  I’m not joking.  This was insane.  I felt bad having a couple of plates.

Instead of explaining every item, I took photos of the smorgasbord.  You can use this as a legend to identify what’s on my plate.

Don’t drool too much.

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Here’s where the wine comes in…  I will say I impressed myself yesterday.  With spicy food, you want lighter choices.   I looked at their wine list and naturally figured I would like a Pinot Noir, Riesling, or even a Prosecco to go with this dish.  When inquiring with the barkeep, he suggested the former.  That was my intuition and first choice.  That felt good.   It’s the simple things.

ArrogantFrogWine

The 2013 Arrogant Frog Pinot Noir was the bottle that complemented this iconic meal.  As an added bonus, the bottles were half-off tonight as they are every Tuesday. Having the entire bottle for only $10 is highway robbery.  

The label seems deceptive.  And l might be sounding sarcastic, but nothing about this vino is arrogant. I found the bottle to be understated and humble.

CardinalPlate2

Psychologically speaking, discounted food and wine is going to taste so much better when otherwise it wouldn’t.  This doesn’t apply here. I’d pay good money for all of it. This is a great bottle with simple flavors of berries, cherries, and a few hints of spices.  What those are is up to you.

The wine is not listed on their site but I’ve seen it listed at under $10.00 elsewhere. It tastes like one that is worth one-and-half to double that. It’s light and easy to drink.  This can be had alone or with a multitude of eats.

To get in touch with them about their wines, you can guide yourself to this link.

CardinalBeignets

Finally, the crawfish beignets never had a chance.  Free food is going to go rapidly. However, these were being decimated instantaneously as a fresh batch came out. I mean it when I say all the food was amazing. But this was on another level.

My pals and I were able to grab a small plate to share amongst ourselves.  We were very fortunate.

And we’re very fortunate to wine and dine in a cozy, comforting, and welcoming.

I’ll be back soon.  It might be this weekend.

Damn this was good.

Happy Holidays!

Ideen