Keep That Momentum..

13.5Wine&Food

I can count the times on one, maybe two hands that I’ve been to 13.5% Wine Bar in the always enjoyable Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore.

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That number just went up and is going to continue to go up if each visit is like the last one.   Every time I’ve been here I’ve always felt comfortable sitting at the bar outside, whether it’s with people or by myself.  The first time I visited was over six years ago, and I came here purposely alone.  I loved everything about it, and while company is great, so can be solitude.

This time I had a friend join me, but not before our bartender Mackenzie (big thanks to her for her hospitality and kindness) had me try three wines on the spot.  An impromptu tasting will always make me happy.  Maybe I made a wish to the universe and three bottles magically showed up.

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Here are the three : The 2017 Pato Frio “Cashmere” Rosé; the 2016 Chalk Hill “Wits End” Vermentino, which is a new varietal and grape for me out of Australia, and my favorite the 2016 Three Brooms Riesling.

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They’re all good to great with the Riesling having the most character, boldness, and structure.  To me it tastes more like a Sauvignon Blanc, and the tasting notes would say the same.  I don’t usually appreciate Riesling’s, but this was so good that a few 3 oz. pours would say I truly loved this wine.

Yes, 3 oz. pours make it easier to try multiple wines at even more reasonable prices.   I stuck with my Riesling, and kept that momentum going.  Even per other recommendations, I wanted to stick with what made me happy.

I haven’t seen these wines sold anywhere near me, so this seems to be the place to have them, for now…

I appreciate the honesty and transparency of what these wines would cost at retail.  I don’t recall if I’ve seen menus like this anywhere else.  It’s welcome to see.  This is new to me, but it’s a detail that’ll keep me coming back.

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My friend and I had a good time catching up, talking about important things, talking about absurd things, and then nothing at all.  The small plates were great, and in a way symbolizes that the little things are the big things, and that’s what matters.

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Something about 13.5 has always brought joy to me.  It’s a getaway within a city.  If I want to be around people I don’t know, or don’t always see it’s perfect.  I like the anonymity and a different part of the city that while I do explore, I don’t explore enough.

The weather was perfect and ideal for sitting outside, but then the chances of a tasting and who knows what else may not have happened.  It’s all about location and timing, and I think, no I know, the decisions were made right.

You can’t force these things.  You can’t force good times and you can’t force your hand.  Being in the right place, at the right time, with a little divine faith is all you need.  And the universe will do the rest.

The universe looked out for us here.  This was tremendous in all areas.

Rosé and whites have slowly been done, with so many more to try.  There’s still the reds. There’s still plenty of time to try them all, but that journey will be done slowly, surely, and effortlessly.  Well maybe not too slow.

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This is to be continued, as we keep that momentum…

Salud.

Ideen

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.

GreatFrogsColdBlooded

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

 

Where You Lead…

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I recently told a story about sharing a gift I was given with by the gifters.  That would make me the giftee.

On that same night (more on that night here as well) I brought plenty of holiday gifts to share with the presenters, because it only feels right.

Even if you don’t drink wine, or sip it infrequently, you’ve likely heard of Robert Mondavi, and seen their wines at a store or restaurant near you.

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When the time is right, I’ll discuss my thoughts on some of those wines.  But my gift was on a different level, one that carries some prestige and cache that you will feel on the first impression.  I know I did.  The 2014 Private Selection Pinot Noir has all the makings of a classic, and matches the intensity and feelings that the label might evoke.

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The aromas of spice, tobacco, and oak is my kind of wine.  For a Pinot Noir this is a little more medium bodied than what you might be accustomed to.  With the weather breaking and settling into more seasonable and higher temperatures, this might push the limits of what you would like to drink this season.  But I love it.

And the cherries and strawberries are the taste that can fit any season, any time of year, and any mood your in.    Of course, the bourbon barrel taste is why you get this wine, and what a draw it is.  Incredible taste and incredible quality.

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At a price averaging under $15, and if you’re savvy you’ll it closer to $10, this is a bargain.  This is a tremendous wine.  And when sipping in the moment, and in a good mood, or even a lousy one, it’s going to lift your spirits, get you thinking, and get you talking.  This is a wine that will resonate with you.

It’s resonating with me now, nearly a month later.   It was a good night, and I was surrounded by great friends, great animal friends, nature, shared some snacks, conversations, laughs, and all the good (and sometimes not so good) moments in life and in time.

The fact that I’ve made several posts, and might make more, is something I don’t take lightly.  I’m overly sentimental, and then I’m overly sentimental.  I appreciate the good things in life, or at least I try to.  Sometimes I forget, and have let certain memories and situations disappear without realizing.

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This is what a wine, a meal, a deep (or sometimes silly) conversation will do to a person.  It means so much at the time and might even old more significance later.   It’s been less than a month and the importance has already grown exponentially.

I love this wine, and I love the night we had this on.  I loved the company I shared this with, and there’s not much else to say.   This is one of my shorter posts, and I can drag this out, but there’s no point.  Sometimes less is more.   The little things are the well, you know the rest…

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I must revisit the Mondavi Private Selection, but I won’t force the issue.  I’ll know when it’s right.  This was meant to sipped when it was, and I couldn’t imagine a better time for it.

Here’s more on their Bourbon Barrel Aged Wines, their wine list, more about them, and where to find their wines near you.

We’ll do this again soon.  Thanks so much, and….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Oh What A Thing To Do

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As promised, this is the continuation from last week.   It’s part two of my vacation.  Which was more of a home away from home.

And I love home.  It’s safe, peaceful, and a shelter from the sometimes chaotic and frenetic pace of the rest of the world.

And I love company.  I love the company of kind people, good people, the best people possible…  Then again you’re your own best company.   If you can’t enjoy your own then what is the point.  I remind myself of this fact constantly.   Yet when there’s a few awesome dogs running around, that point can be argued.   I love them so much.

You may spot on a dog in the background of one of the photos.  I love them so much.  Yes, I know I just said that.

So this is two wines in a row where something just didn’t click or compute.  And I wanted this to be wonderful.  But the 2014 Y Series, Shiraz Viognier, from Yalumba just didn’t bring any inspiration or feeling that I hope it would.

At around $10-$13 it’s not going to hurt you in that regard, but it’s not worth that much in my opinion.

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But that horse, that lovely horse, that symbolizes all the good that’s in the world, should’ve lead to so much more.   As someone who likes wine, actually I love it, I know the label is not the be all and end all of anything.  Never judge a book, a bottle, or anything by its cover, its label, and anything superficial.

There’s always layers under all that beauty.  Sometimes there’s more beauty.  Sometimes there leaves a to be desired, and someone you have to work a little harder.  I’m not sure what my point here was, but I couldn’t tell you anything redeeming about this wine.  That sound harsh but it’s true.

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There’s no flavors that really stood out.  It tasted bland, then it tasted off.   This one synopsis may shed some light on why this wine tasted peculiar.

Not every wine has to taste award winning or move you in a way that you’ll remember for years, or a lifetime.  But it helps when it tastes good, and you share an appreciation with friends.   Even though I had this alone, I don’t think sharing this with people may have changed my tune.   I let this breathe for a while and still nothing.   I wanted something.   That’s not asking for much.

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My plate of vegetables didn’t pair well with this, but I’m not sure what would have.  On their own my food was joyous.

Even though the wine didn’t work out for me, this was a great day nonetheless.  I had the company of some wonderful dogs, a beautiful day, a gorgeous setting, and I got to enjoy my own company (like I stated before), which I don’t get to do enough.  Being busy makes you forget about those little things sometimes.  But those small things are so important.  They’re SO important.

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The signs of Spring were all around me.  I saw and heard birds chirping, more green starting to show themselves, and the signs of the days getting longer makes me feel so good.   That means more time to enjoy life, your friends, family, your animal friends, and yourself.

I enjoyed myself today.   And like I always say, after a few pictures, I turned my phone off and just decided to be.  And I got to be for a while.  I felt more like myself then I had in a while.   And no bottle of wine, no piece of food, and no anything can substitute for that kind of harmony.  All those details will help, but putting ourselves on a pedestal leads all the good things to come.

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There’s more good to come.   I will treasure this time, and the time spent with my four legged friends, who have been friends for a long time.  And I hope for many years to come.  That’s the good stuff…

For more on Yalumba, here is their wine list, a link to purchase their wines online, and their contact information.

When the opportunity presents itself, I would love to try another one of their wines.  But for now…

Happy Spring and Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Count Those Blessings

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Because you can count them maybe more than the amount of anything else in your life.  There’s always much to be thankful for.

I know what’s going on.  I’m at a strange place in life, yet it’s so exciting.  In the many post I’ve made, I’ve changed as a person, yet remained the same.  Whether that’s or good bad is all in the universe’s hands.  Well maybe mine too.

But time keeps moving along, and my tastes in not just wine, but in food, in social situations, hobbies, and personal development have either evolved or I’ve had those existential questions, and moments of, what next?

As much as it’s important to be present, and live in the moment, there’s always a what next.  That can be a good thing or it could leave one in quite the predicament.

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Yet for now, we take it back to a great homemade pizza dinner, with great friends, and I decided to bring two bottles from Ninety Plus Cellars.

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Two wines, because I loved that unknown aspect of what pizzas were going to be made.  I mean I had some idea, so I’m being a bit dramatic, but it’s fun to take a chance, and see if the wines pair with the pies.  There is something to what grape goes with certain cheeses, sauces, and toppings.

And then again there is something to having however you want it.

The pizza was great, and you can read more about that here. But today I talk about the wine.

90PlusCabernetSauvignon

I’ll get the weak out of the way first.   The 2016, Lot 116 Cabernet Sauvignon left a lot to be desired.  I’m so grateful we opened this bottle after dinner, because if we had this with pizza, or with anything, this dinner would tell a different story.

And don’t get me wrong, the best part of dinner is the socializing and the company.  So the better the food and the wine, that’s just a bonus.  But still, thank goodness we saved this for the end.  Even after giving it time to breathe, the Cabernet Sauvignon tasted like it was open for way too long.

If you’ve ever ordered wine at the bar, and it tasted skunk, then you know what I’m talking about.  It’s that least ordered, lesser popular tasting wine at the bar, that will be disposed of, if you ask politely.

That may sound harsh, but maybe it was a bad bottle.   Because no Cabernet can taste that bad.  Seriously.

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From that we go to a stellar bottle.   The 2016 Lot 23 Old Vine Malbec is an absolute treasure.  I wish I had brought two of these, at least.

This wine can go with so many different kinds of wine, or simply by itself.  This is just a matter of personal opinion.   Those dark fruits you know and love, such as plum, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries may their understated yet profound impression felt.  I say that this wine has so much going for it.  It has structure, depth, and endearing quality that will resonate with you long after finishing your glass, or in our case, the bottle.

90PlusOldVineMalbecCarrots&Hummus

We had it with hummus, carrots, and the pizza!

90PlusOldVineMalbecWithPizza

A medium amount of tannins are going to make your tongue feel so good.  It did for me.  Most of all, to me, when you have this smokey or oaky type of taste that lingers towards the end, you have my kind of wine. 

If a friend were to describe my kind of wine, this would be lighter version of it.  And I’m all for it.  This was fantastic.

But speaking of endearing, so was this whole evening…

What I also recall is one of our party really loving the Cabernet more so than the Malbec. That’s what makes this journey so fun.  We all like different things.

Both bottles are likely to be found for under $15.

But in the end, we all share a bottle, a meal, some laughs, and some great conversation.

We are one an we are the same.  That makes me feel good.

For more on Ninety Plus; here is their wine list, their story, their online ordering information, their contact information,  and where you can find their wines near you.

Counting my blessings…

Ideen