Cast No Shadow

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As I continue to write, I wonder if at some point the motivation wanes.  The whole point of doing things you enjoy is to keep on enjoying them.   As life accelerates, we want to do all the things possible that make us happy, keep us going, and keep us feeling well, alive.

There are days where I’m just so exhausted, that I just want to sit, relax, and do nothing.  And I do have days when I allow myself the opportunity to do just that.  There’s enough time for rest.  But at the same time there’s so much out there to do, explore, and appreciate.  There’s room and time for sleep later..

Or right now…

As much as I love sharing a glass with friends, family, and other wonderful people; a glass cherished alone is just as important.  It’s a place to disengage, detach, and become one with myself and one with vino.

I’ve had many a wine story with friends, and in solitude, that I either forgot to share, the timing didn’t feel right, or the statute of limitations has run out.   Some stories are just not meant to be told either.   Yeah I got a flair for the dramatics.

But the title of this post is something I think about.  I pour a lot into what I write, with a consistent schedule for the most part.  At some point my concern is that I become transparent and have little or nothing left to say.  So it’s of great importance to dial it back when I can.  That was the whole point of this post, but that won’t be happening today.

Which brings me to the 2014 Cune ‘Crianza Rioja Tempranillo from CVNE.

I went with a Tempranillo, because like the Pinot Noir, it’s light, usually easy to drink, and can be savored the whole year round.  And it’s a drinking wine for right now, not later.

This would easily classify as a wine you open as soon as you purchase it.  That’s what I did.

I find the notes and reviews of this wine highly endearing.  Yes you can easily detect plums and cherries if you don’t think so much, or maybe tell your mind that’s what you taste; and in addition to that I read cream of mushroom.  Mmm.. Now I love cream of mushroom soup, but to get that in a wine is truly something.

If you gave me a blind taste test, there’s absolutely no way I would mention mushrooms or any facsimile to describe this wine.  But that’s the fun of it.  There’s a lot of truth to what you might be tasting, and then it’s a lot of imagination and being a bit liberal with your sense of smell, and taste buds.  For the sake of argument, I’ll just say this is an easy to drink wine that’s not going to offend anyone, or change the world for that matter.

But I find it to be delightful and has a pleasing to the palate.  That’s all you can ask for.

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I treated myself to some Chinese food to go with my wine, and it worked out well.   I snapped a few photos, came up with a few ideas, and then got some much needed rest…

…And then I wrote this out for you.   And that’s all I got for you, for now.

Well that, and saying for under $15, this is a solid buy.   But if you can find it for $10-$12, that’s more of what the wine tasted like for me.  Again, that’s just my opinion, and a few extra dollars spent here or there isn’t going to be the end of yours or my word in any way.

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As long as you keep casting that shadow…

Peace Be With You,

Ideen

 

 

Impromptu Tasting

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I just love becoming a part of things that I had no idea minutes or even seconds before, that I would be participating in.   With our busy and overloaded schedules, even our social events all seem too well coordinated and planned.  And not that there’s anything right or wrong with that.  But the charm of events coming together or coming to you instantaneously is what makes this life so magical.   I or you should intend it, without having to forcefully wish for it.  Because then, all the goodness finds you.

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It did for me this past Saturday.at Quarry Wine & Spirits right outside the city limits of Baltimore, in Pikesville, with a count ’em, 18 wine tasting.

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It brings me such joy just to write that.  Yes I said 18.  Aside from even the most comprehensive of tastings at a wine festival, I don’t think I’ve ever done double digits for a wine tasting.  That might show my naivete but it sounds like a grand number to me.  And what a treat this was.

No I will not go over every wine that was listed.   I took notes and did lots of scribbling which makes no sense to me as I look over it now.  But there will be pictures of that tasting sheet.  This is one I’m going to hold on to and store in a safe place.

How I ended up here is just one of those laws of the universe.  Quarry Lake is not a shopping district I find myself in often.  But I was here on this day for a reason.  As I’ve stated in certain instances before, I almost didn’t walk in.

I had been invited to a barbecue later in the day, and I would be bringing wine, but from most likely one of my usual wine shoppes downtown, without even thinking about this serendipitous experience that was about to take place.

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I will shortly go over the wines.  These are the three that I bought.  These are also the three that me and a new friend I made seemed to concur were the best.  Well at least on two of them we were in agreement on the same power and flavors these two in particular brought.

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What’s also fun about this is you do make friends at these things.  Sometimes it was just for that 20-30 minutes plus over the wine, or sometimes a deeper connection begins and you not only talk about the wine, but you start  talking about other things.  It’s as if you’ve known each other for years.  And maybe in certain situations that might be the case. Maybe it’s a past life sort of thing, or maybe it’s just the moment to take in and appreciate for now.  I think it’s a bit of everything and more.

This was also not one I planned on taking pictures of and blogging about. This was even more organic than I would realize.

Our party host was quite charismatic as well. And I wish I remembered his name.  This is not the professional journalism I’ve come to expect from myself.  But his voice and his selling almost made me by more.  But I’m not one to overpay and get carried away when it comes to buying one.  There’s a discipline.  These wines have to be bought with the intent of being either drank soon, or saved for a special occasion.   Buying wines and just letting them sit there till they go bad is something I’ve done far too often.  There’s probably wines in my cellar that needs to be disposed of for this reason alone.  Gross.

The 2015 Alto Vinho Verde Rose was only $6, from the retail price of $11.    And this is the one that set the tone for the rest of the tasting.  Yes this was the first one on this incredible list as we were going to were lightest to fullest, and sweetest to the boldest, as the list implies.  That’s Tasting 101.   I imagine for the price, and because it was the first impression, that many bought this one, if they didn’t purchase any other or had to buy just one.    This is going to wonders when the weather gets nicer.   It was nicer on this day but I’m gonna save this one and maybe expound on it another time.  But the strawberry flavors are going to get a lot of people excited when Spring finally comes.  It’s officially March so I say enjoy!

The 2013 Pinot Noir from Chamisal Vineyards is the first of two that got me to overreact and genuinely think this wine is one that could be a favorite.    The label mentions how the grapes weren’t aged in Oak but in Stainless Steel to show how great the Pinot can taste on its own.  Interesting stuff. It did seem to enhance the Pinot Noit by its self as well as the fruit flavors of cranberry, black cherry, and plum.  I definitely got a mix of all three, or is it because I read the label and was told that this is what I would taste? Hmm.. But the fruitiness was easy to get, and this made for a closer to medium-bodied wine (but still light) then what I usually get from my Pinot’s.  And this was a nice treat.   This was also #9 on this list and I had a few samples leading up to it that were less than great, that may have made this wine even that much better.  That’s for me to think about later when I open this up for guests or for myself.  But my hunch is I will love it the same.

However, at $30.00 retail, that may be a bit too much for me.  I like my bottles $20 and under and perferably $10-$15 whenever possible.  At the sale price of $17, I wish I had purchased two.  This was more than worth that amount.  I’ve seen it listed in the $21-$25 range on many sites, so there’s a frame of reference for you.

Again I can’t wait to break this out when the weather gets closer to awesome.  And it’s coming.   This is what I was going to bring to the barbecue.  Maybe it was going to be…

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The 2010 Finca Sobreno Toro Tempranillo was the big winner.  And as you can see, it’s the one I circled which makes me laugh in hindsight.  This is the expert analysis I’m here to bring.

It’s funny because at just about any other tasting that previous Pinot would have won in a landslide. I love how it’s 2010.  That means it’s already got more longevity than I know how to handle.  Actually yes I do.  I can drink it and share with fellow wine lovers.

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This medium-bodied wine is loaded with all sort of flavors, I don’t know where to begin.  It’s as if this wine was meant for me.  It’s a mix of all the seasons.  There’s scents of vanilla, chocolate, and clove.  I only got those based on power of perception, maybe.  And plenty more berries and chocolate after tasting.   This was wine  #14 on the list, so who know if there were so many ho hum wines (and lots of sips of water and small bites of crackers to reset the palate) in between the aforementioned Pinot and this. But the regular price of $32 is not for me.  However, at $20 this is just on the cusp of my threshold.  So why not.

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Tastings to tend to make many a wine larger than life than they really are.  It’s about the experience. It’s about the wines, potential pairings, and situations where these wines can truly shine.  And this discussion was done in the most genuine and without the slightest hint of pretension and arrogance.  Unless my rose (not Rose) colored glasses were a little tighter than usual, this was one of friendship, comradery, and just an awesome Saturday to celebrate the joy of wine drinking and get introduced to some new wines that will become staples of our lives.

Not to get too dopey but the weather turned to rain later on this day so the new memories will have to be put on hold.   If the universe allows I will revisit these wines when paired with food and see how my pairing pals enjoy it versus how much I did.

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I hope these wines create many new memories to cherish.  But for now, I do cherish this once in a while experience.  And can only hope the next time can be just as tremendous.

Cheers,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boca Breeze

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This will be one of the more visually pleasing notes.   Did I say notes?

I was invited to a gathering of friends.  Well maybe I just invited myself.   Regardless, I always like to bring something, whether it be a bottle of vino, a meal of food, or some sweet treats.  Luckily for me, I brought the former and everything else was provided.

My wine purchasing adventures has always been a highlight for me.  I sometimes like to go to parties blind, without knowing what will be served or what to expect.  I love the uncertainty.   On the contrary, if I know the food and snacks being served, I’ll research accordingly.  The 2015 Radio Boca Tempranillo from Hammeken Cellars falls under the category of unpredictability.

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Once again, the label is what drew me in.  That and the fact it’s a brand I’ve never come in contact with.   And being under $10 certainly helps the cause.   So how was the wine itself?

The tasting notes can be found here but I’d like to tell my own story again.

I didn’t adore it at first.  It felt flavorless and monochrome.   I was sharing this dejection with my friends.  It’s not a persons fault for when they unknowingly bring a wine to a party and it turns out flat.   I’ve been known to be hard on myself for that fact.   But common sense prevailed.  I let the bottle breathe as one should.

From there, the experience turned magical.   My next glass evolved into something beautiful.  I should add that this next glass was my last, as my friends decimated the rest of it.  You might notice, the bottle is empty in these photos.

The strawberries, cherries, and imaginative spices shown through.  For a light wine this one packed a punch.  It just took a few minutes.  All you need is some patience and a sense of spirit.  It also helps when your friends are sipping with you and enjoying it immensely.

 

Speaking of which, good company will usually make even the most drab wine better.  But this isn’t drab. It’s a grower and now I’m a fan.

The food spread enhanced this already immaculate experience, exponentially.    The strawberries and grapes opened up some nooks in my already fine glass.  And this has a bit more tannins than I expected.   I’m happy for that.

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All the food was amazing.  I give all the credit to the host and their impassioned cooking. Banana bread, croissants, chicken salad, and all the fruits and cheese encompass this iconic spread.

I’m a fan and now a convert.  I’ll be seeking out more Radio Boca and more of their expansive collection of wines.   And they got a lot.    For more information, you can go here.

These are the wines, the foods, and the events that make Spring so thrilling.  I can’t wait to see what’s yet to come.

Cheers,

Ideen

 

 

I Love Labs

This is simply going to be an homage to my favorite breed of dog, the Labrador Retriever.   Oh yes.  My whole being glows when thinking about them or when one crosses my path.

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Dogs are what life’s all about.  They love you, want to be your companion, and will always stand up for what’s right.  Labs, like the majority of dogs, only want the simple things back; food, water, love, shelter, and a few related things in between.  They don’t ask for much.

At the heart of it most of us human beings don’t want much more than that either.

We like to enjoy a nice meal, good company, vacations and other outings, or maybe a journey to our favorite restaurant or watering hole.   So I found the most appropriate wine that symbolizes all of this.

I adore the happily titled Lab, from Casa Santos Lima Winery out of Portugal. What I am reviewing is the 2013 Label. The 2012 is what the site lists.

Aside from Syrah, the grapes are; Tinta Roriz which for us in the states we would know as Tempranillo.   35% is Castelao, which is a grape mainly found in Portugal.   Last but certainly not least is Touriga  Nacional, which is highly touted.

For such a simple pleasure it seems like a complicated wine and I didn’t meant to write this post as so.  If I drank this blindly I wouldn’t assume this was a bottle that goes  for under $10 just about anywhere.  It drinks like a $20+  bottle and maybe approaching $50.

This is all my opinion but this wine rocks. That’s a scientific term by the way.   I love this wine so much.  I want to cuddle with it like I do my favorite dog.   The label drew me in.  I mean how could it not?

It’s going to taste better simply because of the artwork.  If it doesn’t for you then I can’t help you there.

And the wine was marvelous anyways.  I got some black cherry, some unidentifiable spices, but most of all I got joy.  This is a winner.

Just like last week, I’ve been proclaiming what a softy I am when it comes to animals, and dogs in particular.  So this is only the beginning.

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And I mean that because as you see in this photo, and linked here, labs come in all shapes and sizes.  Did you see how I framed that?  I love ’em.

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We enjoyed our vino with one of those simple things, a good slice of pizza (or two).  And it may not be the ideal pairing for these grapes but we didn’t care.  It worked for us and that’s all that matters. If it works for you then that’s exactly what I’m saying.

For our friends in Baltimore and Maryland, their wines can be found at Cranbrook Liquors and roots market, respectively.   For elsewhere, they can be contacted here.

More Lab wine reviews will be forthcoming.  This is just the beginning of an amazing journey.

On a not-so-final note, I’ve never had a dog of my own.   If there ever was a sign…

I Love Lab(s),

Ideen

Bodegas Is Brilliant

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I’ve been to a decent amount of wine festivals in Maryland and I always enjoy myself.  I mean how can you not?   There’s great wines to sample, great food, great company, and the weather is usually cooperative.  The Great Grapes Wine & Food Festival was no exception.

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When we go to our local county or winery event, we do get a lot of repeat visitors, which leads to tasting many of the same wines year after year or month after month.  But that doesn’t mean it’s boring or repetitive.  Many local wineries have new vintages, new years, and even new grapes altogether.   But for my first of three posts at this years event, I am excited to a write about a debut of a new winery!  And it was in my opinion the best experience of this years festival.

The great people at Bodegas Gonzalez Ruggiero or BGR short were some of the friendliest I’ve seen at these sorts of functions.

They were energetic, passionate, accommodating, and willing to answer any question posed to them.  They took their time with each person at their booth. When there’s a new winery in the area, there will be plenty of curiosity seekers. This is a young, family winery run by youth and exuberance.

From talking to the winemakers, they mentioned this was their first major event and seemed appreciative and honored to be there.  Their energy rubbed off on the crowd.  With all the other wineries, food, and vendor booths in the vicinity, they come off unassuming, approachable, and endearing all at the same time.   In middle of all the heavy hitters in Maryland, they really were a breath of fresh air.

They proclaim a fusion of American, Italian, and Spanish ways to create wine and the results were masterful.  They have three bottles and all three were a joy to taste and sample.

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Tempranillo, Rose, and Albariño is what was being sampled.  These are the three they currently make and they were all phenomenal.   Since they’re so new, I don’t have much to research and interpret of what other elements may be included in these offerings.  So I will just say they were all a pleasure to sip and they went down smooth.  They tasted approachable and down to earth like the folks that made the wine.  You can tell there is a genuine soul behind what was made.

I’ve really grown to like Rose’s recently and this was something to be savored. Albariño is not a wine I’ve had much experience with, but this was fun too.  As the days get hotter and brighter, these are more of the types of bottles I will be seeking out.

The Tempranillo was my favorite.   We loved it so much, we bought our own bottle.  It didn’t taste as full as many I’ve had before, but on a hot day like today, this was perfect.  And at under $20.00, this was a bargain.  It was worth that and more.

I am happy to support local wineries that feel passionate about what they’re doing and make awesome wines at the same time.

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We enjoyed our wine with some yummy crackers, chips, dips, hummus, roasted pecans, nuts, and other fun foodies.

They are not yet open to the public, but when they are, I’ll be sure to take a drive to their winery in Rising Sun and report on hopefully another wonderful experience there.

In the meantime, for information on where you can buy their wines, click here. And I look forward to attending future events in the coming months, and this is where you can find them.

If you’d like to know more about Maryland Wines, this is the site to go to.

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People like this is why I love wine and love talking about wine.  They make this thing so easy, so fun, and so enjoyable.  I appreciate all of it.

For now, I am craving another bottle of theirs and wish I had gotten more.   This was some of the friendliest bunch of people I’ve ever encountered at an event such as this.  They were genuine, unpretentious, and willing to go to extra mile to answer any questions.  That to me is just as important to wine tasting experience, as the wine itself. This is one of those experiences that was so positive, that it will resonate with me for a lifetime.

Cheers!

Best,

Ideen

Of The Earth

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As we celebrate Earth Day, I wanted to review a couple of wines that I ordinarily wouldn’t try.  These will be of the organic and all natural variety.  Drinking, eating, and living organically and/or healthy is something we should strive for all the time. But for the sake of the today, I am proud to expound upon these two selections.  And I wish I had tried them sooner.

I am not vegetarian, vegan, or have a gluten allergy.  But I can appreciate products that support peoples lifestyle decisions. And I enjoy trying anything that tastes good and promotes wellness and feeling great.

I would like to give a massive thank you to Friendship WIne & Liquor for all their help and suggestions.

First and holy moly, certainly not least, is Our Daily Red from Novato, CA.   And I mean this with all sincerity.  This is one of the best wines I’ve had in some time.  It tastes so good.  It’s a wine you can have at anytime and with anything.   If I did a blind taste test, I wouldn’t know this was free from Sulfites, Vegan Friendly, USDA Organic, or anything else.  But if all this led to this wine tasting out of this world, then I’m all for it.  And at $11.99 this was a steal.

For the past year or so, I would see that charming label and think nothing of it.  I’m a bit annoyed it took this long to pour a glass but better late than never.

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If I hadn’t researched what it contained, I wouldn’t have known it contained Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.  It tasted so light I’d have thought it was a Pinot Noir or even Beaujolais.  But my palate has changed over time.  With a bottle like this, there is no need for pretension.  The back label keeps the information to what is important. This is a wine to be enjoyed and not over analyzed.  It takes me to a higher place.

Now a new grape has been introduced to me.  I had never heard of Carignan until now.   If this gem from France had a hand in this bottle tasting so good, then I’ll be on the look out for it in future purchases.    It’s mentioned that blackberry and black cherry flavors are prevalent and after sipping, some of that can easily be detected.  I did sense a little toastiness but had no idea there’s some vanilla in there. What a fantastic combination of flavors.

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This can be had alone or with any food your heart desires.  I went in a different direction and paired it with a nice Korean Pork Shoulder BBQ and organic brown rice.   Pure class all around.

I can’t get enough of how approachable their website is.   I am grateful to have attracted this wine into my life.  Since it’s Earth Day, I need to return the favor to the universe.

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Not to be outdone is Lora Wines from Spain.   I wanted to try another one since this day is so special and worthy of at least another organic gem.   Their story of organic producing is just as inspiring.   I know this is a movement that has been going on for years.   And I fully support it.

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The Tempranillo & Syrah was the bottle of choice.  At first it tasted really strange.  I don’t know how to describe it.  It wasn’t bad. It just felt unique.  This is to be expected when trying something new.  But after letting it breath for 15-20 minutes, it settled into something great.  And best of all, my favorite, the oak came through in a big way.   I could detect some pepper, which is one of my favorite elements in wine.

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As for everything else, it’s all interpretation and what your palate may tell you. This wine was a grower.  No pun intended. Once again, this wine can be had on its own or with a variety of dishes.  This was enjoyed with a nice grilled Cheese steak sub and a side of sweet potato and regular potato chips.  Yum!  And again, at $11.99, I was happy to pay that price.

It’s been a pleasure learning more about Earth Day and how some wineries are really going above and beyond to provide a healthier and affordable alternative to many of the wines we drink on a daily basis.  This is not to be taken for granted.  I look forward to drinking more organic Gems.  And hopefully this will lead to a change in other lifestyle choices.  These winemakers are to be commended for their gifts to us.  It make me want to improve many of my eating and drinking habits. And of course, for today and everyday, do something to better our planet.  So for that I say, thank you.

Stay healthy everyone.

Peace and Love,

Ideen

Beaulieu – A Great Taste of Napa

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I’ve never been to Napa, but I have indulged in a few of their selections.   And it’s usually been a good experience.

I don’t believe in accidents or coincidence, so coming back from a recent ski trip a couple of Saturdays ago (1/24/15), I find myself at one of my favorite wine stores, College Square Liquors, in Westminster, MD.

I’ve been fortunate to attend a few of their Saturday tastings and the diversity of their choices is fantastic.    Napa Valley, and California in general, have usually been the most represented, among other wines from around the world.   But on this day, I discovered a beautiful bottle…

The 2010 BeauRouge from Beaulieu Vineyard is a delicious mix of eight grapes.  Cabernet Sauvignon is most prominent, maybe because it’s the fullest of the reds included.  The other seven are : Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Tempranillo, Petit Sirah, and two new ones for me – Touriga and Charbono.  The latter two I will need to do more research on.

This is a full bodied wine that hits you hard and pulls no punches.  The tannins are omnipresent and feel so good on my tongue, and on the inside of my mouth.   I know I’m drinking something special.  There is the peppery flavor that is so agreeable to my palate.  The description states there’s blackberry, chocolate, and cassis, which I could detect, if I try hard enough. Or maybe not at all

In the indoctrination process of Napa Wines, or more complicated blends, maybe this isn’t one of the early ones I should be drinking.  But as the old cliche goes, you gotta start somewhere.  So I welcome the simple ones and the even more intense blends to come.

When it comes to California wines, it’s a lifelong learning process that I look forward to.    I may never learn everything, but I am looking forward to gaining all the knowledge I can.  This is going to be a fun ride.

One of the most important things to note is, I got this bottle for only $16.99.  This is a good deal. The vineyard’s own website lists it at $32.00.   Most retailers, I have looked at online, have it around the $20.00 mark give or take.

I cannot tell you how many great wines I have bought at below cost, that are worth what they are regularly priced.  My preference is to buy all my bottles at under $20.00 if I can, with exceptions to the rule.   This would be one of those exceptions.  I look forward to trying more from Beaulieu.    And one day, it will hopefully be a memorable stop when I tour Napa.

Maybe someday…

Best,

Ideen