Being Enough this Mother’s Day

SAHMmelier:

I published this piece last year and it seemed to strike a cord with many readers. I thought I’d send it out again this year. Happy Mother’s Day to all. I see some good wine in my future this weekend.

Originally posted on SAHMmelier:

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with other wine lovers and professionals about the great wines coming out of the Finger Lakes. We tasted Lemberger, Pinot Noir, and two Russian grapes that were new for me, Sapervi and Sereksiya. I always learn something from the producers and writers, but this year, one 140 character tidbit in particular keeps ringing around in my head. Julia Burke, NyWineWench, wrote “Nice of YOU to appreciate it (instead of comparing NY reds to Napa cab)! ” to which Mary Cressler of Vindulge responded, “No way!! NY is NY. CA is CA. OR is OR. Absolutely no need to ever compare to each other. They are who they are!” This idea is one that extends to other areas of our lives, doesn’t it?

If you have been drinking wine for any period of time, you’ve likely come across the idea of terroir, the…

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Calling my Name- Bodegas Protos

Wait, did you hear that?  Oh, there it is again!   It happens every time I’ve opened a bottle from Ribera del Duero.  It is Spain calling my name.  It’s been happening more lately.  Maybe the voice is getting louder and more persistent, but the voice is balanced and never too much.  They are lively little wines.  Zesty, spirited so maybe that is how it keeps jumping in my cart.  Or maybe it is the fact that our kitchen remodel has me looking at value a little more.  The region is packed with value.

Recently, one even showed up on my doorstep!  Fate?  Kismet?  A sign from above?  (Ok, it was a sample from Gregory White PR but no matter.)  The voice was clear.  From the bright fruit, the acid to the depth of flavor without the heavy tannins, this wine speaks to me.  It was from Bodeagas Protos, the 2011 Tinto Fino.  And it was yummy.

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I paired it with a flatbread for happy hour.  It is a new go-to appetizer.  Easy, quick and impressive.  I take store-bought pizza dough, spread it on my pizza stone, brush with olive oil.  Throw on some garlic powder, Italian herbs, salt and pepper to taste and thin strips of prosciutto.  Bake for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, slice grape tomatoes.  Toss tomatoes and arugula in olive oil.  When the flatbread is done, cover with veg and shaved parmesan.  Cut into rectangles, or whatever you want, really.  Simple.

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It paired really well: the smoky flavor of the prosciutto, peppery arugula, salty parm all complemented the wine.  But, really this wine is so easy to drink, so versatile you could go in many directions.

I first became acquainted with the region last year at the Drink Ribera event in Austin.  My crush has only gotten bigger.  I have yet to see this wine in the stores yet, but I’ll be stalking the Spain aisle.  And dreaming of the day we can meet in person.

{This wine was received as a sample from Gregory White PR.  The thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

Solid as a…(Thoughts on Marriage and Winebelly)

I do some of my best “writing” in the middle of the night. In those quiet moments, my mind stirs while others sleep. Maybe it is the quiet. Maybe it is the half-conscious mind, free to roam. Tumbling around, thoughts and ideas seem both foggy and clear, vague and precise. I find an angle, a ribbon to tie it together, a theme upon which to build.

Sometimes in the morning, the idea is still there and solid, sometimes it fades with the light, and other times it is revealed to be not the cohesive profundity I’d imagined. And sometimes it dangles between all of those outcomes. I can’t quite let go of the idea, it is there somewhere, but I can’t quite pull it together.

Yesterday was my anniversary. So between the hours of 4-6am, marriage was on my mind. And rocks. One after another, the analogies and word pictures came to me. I was sure that I would wake up and start writing about rocks. But when you haven’t slept well, creativity can come slowly. Instead of writing about rocks, my legs felt strapped to them, my mind felt full of them, and I had nothing to write.

But, a good glass of wine can help you find renewed inspiration.  And as my husband and I sat on the patio of Winebelly, a great new wine bar and tapas place in South Austin, I decided that I would toss out a few pebbles of wisdom (?), gratitude, and wine recs whether or not the theme “worked.”

My marriage began with a rock. With great planning and fanfare, he placed a rock on my finger and asked me to be his. Our home, built upon and with rocks(or a derivative) has been the place where we’ve tried to build something of value. I’ve carried rocks. Rocks of resentment and anger, until they become so heavy I have no choice but to put them down. He has scaled the same boulder, day after day. Building a business to support our family as I rocked our babies to sleep.

We’ve thrown stones, words that hurt and scar. We’ve collected stones of beauty and skipped them from the shore. We’ve climbed together, mountains that were both literal and figurative. Sometimes he’d carry the weight, sometimes I would. But there is usually something beautiful at the top.

20140410-175735.jpgWhat do we get from rocks? Minerals. And what wine inspired me? A great mineral-driven, citrusy, Sancerre with well-integrated acid. (Like that segue?) Chateau de Sancerre from the Loire Valley to be specific.  He ordered the special, scallops over a coconut risotto cake with red curry and apple-mango slaw.  He loved it.  I can’t vouch for it, obviously, but it looked delicious!  We also shared the roasted asparagus with wild mushrooms, soft poached egg, shaved parm and smoked aioli.  Amazing.  I’m going to try to replicate it for Easter.  The pairing worked.  I’m sure there are wines that would have worked better, but we were going by the glass and wanted to have the same.  It is a wine I will be seeking out.

20140410-175722.jpgFor the second round we ordered Fried Quail legs with roasted pear, arugula and black pepper honey.  For the third round we had the Brick chicken with herbed spaetzle, grilled raddichio and crispy shallots.  To work with both we Proyecto de Espana Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo which was poured from a bottle with one of the prettiest labels I’ve seen.  Medium bodied, subtle tannins, great fruit with some earth and acid.  Really food friendly and a great story.  The service was great.  Well informed, friendly, casual.  (Thanks, Scott and David!)  It was a great evening and we will be back soon.

As we sat down, the light was just as it had been when we had our first dance.  It was to the Madeleine Peyroux version of a Leonard Cohen song, “Dance Me to the End of Love.”  We could not have know what was coming, how love changes and changes you.  We could not have known about the rocky roads and the everyday triumphs.  But we held on tight and climbed.  Thanks for sticking with me.  Thanks for always looking ahead.  Thank you for being MY rock through all of the crazy.  Happy Anniversary!

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Virginia is for (Wine) Lovers

We all know what you’re supposed to do when life hands you lemons.  And when life hands you a 40 year old vineyard, you make wine.  When Scott and Martha Stinson were looking for a place to retire, they came upon the property which boasts an eighteenth century farmhouse and 12 acres of vines.

Scott’s background in architecture gave him the vision for the restoration of the Piedmont Estate buildings.  A love of French wines gave him and his daughter, Rachel, a vision for the vines.  Under the guidance of viticulturist and vineyard consultant Lucie Morton, they revived the soil and planted Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat.  They source from other Virginia growers as needed to create smaller production, French inspired boutique wines.

I had been hearing about the great wines coming out of Virginia but had not had the opportunity to try any so I was thrilled to receive the samples of Stinson Vineyards wines from Folsom and Sons.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to open them. I gave them a couple of weeks to settle and opened them for happy hour on the deck.

Without a kitchen, my options are limited for pairing fare, but thanks to a borrowed toaster oven, I pulled off something. The first one I opened was the 2012 Cabernet Franc.  When I think Cab Franc, I think green pepper, so I roasted some Shishito peppers.  It is one of my current favorite appetizers.  Toss them in olive oil and broil them until they blister.  Shave some parmesan cheese and sprinkle with salt and a squeeze (or three) or lemon.

It worked just as I hoped.  Really beautiful Bing Cherry notes and a pop of pepper.  Medium bodied, good acid, with a clean, bright finish.  Some Cab Francs have a bite at the end.  This tasted like lovely, unmanipulated fruit.

This past Friday was our first day in the 80s in a while.  After a very long week, it was time to open the 2012 Rosé.  The wine is 100% Mourvédre sourced from Horton Vineyards in Madison County, Virginia.  Pale salmon color, clean dusty nose.  I kept getting cinnamon stick at the end.  On the palate, pink grapefruit, good minerality, herbal notes.  Maybe tarragon?  Herbs de Provence? Whatever it was, it was delicious.  I could have paired it many ways.  Chicken salad with tarragon, grilled salmon with herbs and green olives, farro salad with feta, mint, parsley.  It is a versatile, food-friendly, tasty wine.

When I was growing up, the “Virginia is For Lovers” tourism campaign was in full swing.  If Stinson Vineyards is any indication, “Virginia is for Wine Lovers” is bound to gain a similar momentum.

 

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SXSW Tragedy-#austincares

Excuse the break from wine, but this takes precedence.
Last night at SXSW, as a result of unfathomable selfish, awful choices, two people lost their lives and several more visitors were injured, some critically.
This is a tragedy magnified by the fact that those people were likely visiting our town and are without a support system.  That’s where I need your help.

One look at my site and you can tell I am not tech savvy.  And as much as I’d love to be able to be multiple places at once, that can’t happen.  But we can. together.  Together, we can show the victims and their friends and families the support they need right now.

As many of you know, last year we were in the hospital for about ten days with a loved one.  It was a very difficult time, a time that would have been much more difficult without the support of friends.  Whether it was sending food, praying with us, or even bringing some wine when it got too much, their support made all the difference.

Let’s be the support for these visitors.

Here’s what I envision.  A site where people can list needs, and someone else can fill them.  A ride to or from the airport?  Someone to sit with for an hour?  Someone to wait for news while they catch a breath?  Food?  Help managing the insurance/billing?  I would list those ideas and more and you, the great community of Austin would jump in where you can.

It may not be much, but it will be everything for those hurting and the families trying to get to them.  Who can help?  Web design?  Spread the word?  Jump in.

In the meantime, I have set up this Lotsa Helping Hands site where volunteers can join groups and people can post needs.

https://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/c/715104/

and the Facebook page, Austin Loves SXSWers.
*update: SXSW has set up an organization to help that will launch this evening. That may be a great place to put our energies at this time. I will leave the site active for anyone still wanting to use it to post needs/availability. #sxswcares

In a Sentimental Mood-Monday Wines

Last Tuesday I cooked my final dinner in the former version of my kitchen.  Since I moved in nearly nine years ago, actually since my then-boyfriend moved in ten years ago, I have wanted to make some major changes.  The original tile and cabinets, the laminate countertops, the horrid pantry all had to go.  I did the best with what I had.  I tried painting, but what I had hoped would be a wheat color, was more of a mustard mess.  “No matter,” I thought, “It will be gone soon enough”.  That was probably seven years ago.  Other things took priority.  And dollars went to diapers; it was survival mode, a long mental fog.  I was patient.  Very patient.

So, knowing it was my “last supper” of sorts, I turned up the music and got chopping.  The “shuffle gods” had something else in mind.  One after another, it was a “this-is your-life” soundtrack and a funny thing happened.  I found myself a little wistful, a little teary.  And I was chopping galanga root, not onions.  Even though I loathed that laminate, it is the one I floured for gnocchi and pie crust.  Even though that grout made me cringe, it is what my babies learned to move on as I pureed.  Even though that pantry was my organizational nemesis, it has stored a lot of love.  Well, groceries which would become little gestures of love.

I guess I’ve always been that way.  If I love you, I will cook for you.  If we are friends, we will share secrets and laughter at the kitchen table.  And once you’re in, you’ll always have a place at my table.  Maybe not literally; life brings changes in schedules and obligations.   Friends scatter and parenthood can squeeze your social calendar into a barely recognizable pulp.  But if you’ve held a place in my life, in my kitchen, in my heart, you’re there still.  Even if you are nasty green laminate from the 90s.

People had warned my about the chaos of life without a kitchen.  Actually, so far so good.  We’ve made our dining room our makeshift kitchen, I am not drowning in dishes, and I stocked up on Monday wines.  A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.  If you’re new, Monday wines are in the $8-12 range.  They are wines you don’t mind opening for no reason, wines that don’t need to be paired, etc.  Knowing that my cooking abilities would be  compromised and my need for wine reinforced, I needed to be prepared.  And like the food coming out of my current “kitchen”, these wines aren’t fancy, but they are tasty.  They are ones I’d love to share and they will all have a home in my new kitchen.

11 Irony Merlot from Monterey County

We opened this last when we had the neighbors over for a cook out (we still have a grill) so take this with a grain of salt, but I really liked it.  Great fruit, balanced, a little spice, round cocoa notes.  We had it with some salty grilled venison backstrap a neighbor brought.  Super yum.

09 Anciano Tempranillo Crianza

I love a good Crianza.  Fresh red, easy-drinking fruit, subtle spice, good acid.  Will be restocking this one.

Rapido Red Sangiovese from Puglia  Everything you want from a pizza wine.  Including the price.

Anna Codorniu Brut Rose

Opened this with a friend visiting the week before we started the crazy.  Beautiful, festive color,  nice balance of fruit and yeast, lovely little bubbles.  Great wine to share with the girls.

The Results are in! #MWWC7

This month’s topic elicited several interesting responses, as I hoped it would.  What I found most interesting was how the word “devotion” caused so many of you angst.  Even more interesting to me was how the response was almost unanimously divided by male/female response.  Many men felt uncomfortable with the word.  Whether because of the religious denotation or the idea of sacrifice, it was perceived as a negative concept.  Others looked at it as a loving gesture of sacrifice, of the natural give and take in relationships, as an affinity for a particular wine.  As an educator with a penchant for studying human behavior/relationships etc., I could have formed a whole study over this, but I’ll save you my thoughts.  The observation alone may elicit even more unfavorable responses, but take from it what you will.

Okay, now for the results.

On the podium with a BRONZE medal is Talk-a-Vino with his wrestling match with the term Devotion – The Blog Post I Can Not Write.

Taking home the SILVER medal is a sentimental tale of pink and blue, love served with every meal, and a special hope chest treasure, Armchair Sommelier with MWWC#7:  Requiem for a Potholder.

And for showing us that devotion can be an amazing act of love, The Sweet Sommelier wins GOLD with her tale of Devotion for her daughter.

So, Kara, congratulations and now it is your turn to pick the term for #MWWC8!  Now to finish packing my kitchen as the demo got moved up 2 days…aah!!! Wish me luck and lots of wine over the next six weeks.  The fact that I will keep trying to cook for my family with no kitchen is my big act of devotion and sacrifice.  But the results should be well worth it!

Storytellers-Sequoia Grove

This past summer, my family and I flew into San Francisco, pieced together equipment from my brother and father-in-law, and headed north.  I had seen them before.  I was probably eight.  At that age, everything seems a bit taller than it does now.  You tilt your head back, way back and gaze up, up, up until the weight of your upper body nearly tumbles you backward.  Even then, I knew I was in a special place.  There was nothing that approached that size in the Adirondacks.  No cone that large, no trunk so vast.  And there was a stillness, a sense of reverence.

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I knew the Sequoia Groves were magical then.  My children felt that same sense of awe.  They looked up,up,up and were delighted when they could see the top.  They climbed, giggled, wondered as I had years before.  What have these trees seen?  How much more will they see?  The sense of time palpable, I thought of how much life I’ve lived since I was there last and how little time frame was in the life of the tree.  I thought of how my mother taught me about what I was seeing, how I hoped my daughter would do the same one day.  Tradition, strength, a sense of place.

I had the honor of attending a winemaker dinner a few weeks ago.  Molly Hill of Sequoia Grove Winery was in town with her representative from Kobrand, Mike Zinni.  The dinner was at The Salty Sow and even though it occurred in a week already filled, I did not want to miss the opportunity.  I had read about their history, their approach to winemaking and knew the wine would be something special.

Founded by Jim Allen in 1980, they began making classically structured Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.  Michael Trujillo began as a cellar worker and is now President and Director of Winemaking.  Molly Hill began in 03 and was promoted to winemaker in 08.

Together, they have refined, acquired, and revised to produce the best wine possible.  Being in Rutherford AVA, the Bordeaux varieties flourish.  With the acquisition of the Tonella Vineyard, they’ve been able to go from 80% sourced to 80% estate grown.  Through relationships with other growers, they are able to source the highest quality fruit, continually evaluating and striving.  Each lot is sorted twice, kept separate through fermentation.  In Trujillo’s words, they “like to use Andre Tchelistcheff’s analogy for making tea.  You steep and taste, steep and taste, until it’s just right.”

I think they are on to something.  Each wine we tasted was “just right.”  Not overly manipulated, great fruit, balance.  We started with the 13 Chardonnay.  The color was phenomenal.  Beautiful nose: apple, stone fruit.  The fruit was intense and rang through.  It begins fermentation in stainless and ends in French oak.  Citrus, apple, minerality, often lost with too much oak, were pronounced.

We then moved on to the 10 Cabernet Sauvignon.  I got stuck just on the nose.  Super layered, structured, enticing.  Black fruit, cocoa, maybe coffee?  something vegetative?  On the palate, black cherry and cocoa with a beautiful finish.  Approachable and complex.

The final wine of the evening was the 09 Cambium.  This wine was perfectly balanced, incredibly smooth.  Black and red fruit, earth, floral notes, and bit of cocoa.  Subtle fruit, layered, incredible mouthfeel.  A gorgeous wine.

Reading through the marketing literature, I found out more about the origin of the Cambium wine.  The term “Cambium” refers to “a living layer of cells, between the bark and hardwood, that each year produces additional wood and bark”.  It is the living force that grows the massive Sequoia and the delicate vines.  As Michael Trujlllo said, “The cambium imprints the memory of the vintage on the grapes and that’s what I want in the wine.  Each bottle holds the memory of the sun and the soil-the memory of the season.”

There are Sequoia on the property for which the winery is named. They towered over the Rutherford valley long before they were colored with vines.  The vines have their own stories to tell.  They may not have seen all the towering trees have seen, but they are capable of sharing those stories with us.  Molly Hill and Michael Trujillo have become the storytellers, giving the fruit a voice.  And just as the place for which it is named, each bottle of Sequoia Grove contains a tale of tradition, strength, and a sense of place.

One Devoted Group #MWWC7

The entries are in and we had a great turn out.  I have had time to read…one.  But I will change that this week as the voting has begun.   Here is what I have.  If you didn’t email it to me or comment, I may not have found it so let me know if you posted somewhere else and didn’t link.

Rules will continue.  Vote once, you may or may not vote for yourself.  Pick three.  If you’d like, in the spirit of the Olympics, I can announce Gold, Silver, and Bronze.  So pour yourself a cup of joe or a glass of Beau-jo and enjoy the many talents of the entrants.

A Pitiful Attempt by twelvedollartastebuds

Devotion – The Blog Post I Can Not Write by Talk-a-Vino

#MWWC7 – Devotion by binNotes

Creeped Out by Devotion by The Winegetter

MWWC Devotion by Drunken Cyclist

Finding Devotion in the Cold and in the Wine by Wining Daily

Devotion; Why I love Madeira by Foxress

Devotion by Spring of Autumn

Devotion to icon wine in the 1980′s by Confessions of a Wine Geek

Winegrower’s Devotion by Foodwineclick

A Fairy Tale of Devotion by An Edible Quest

An Excerpt from my Novel by Wandering Gourmand

Devotion: Why is the Wine Gone? by Wine Ramblings

Devotion: The Monthly Wine Writing Challenge by Wine Raconteur

True Devotion by Joy of Wine

In praise of Bacchus by Renenutet13

A dessert wine of Devotion for Valentines Day, Giovanni Allegrini Recioto Valpolicella Classico D.O.C.G by Educated Palate

MWWC#7:  Requiem for a Potholder by Armchair Sommelier

Devotion by The Sweet Sommelier

Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011 by Oenophilogical

Totally Devoted to Beaujolais by My Custard Pie

Devotion: The Politics of Wine by The Food and Wine Hedonist

The rules

  1. Write a post based on this month’s theme: “Devotion”.
  2. The post should be at least tangentially related to wine (after all, it is the name of the challenge!).
  3. The post should be more or less around 1000 words (I’m not one for hard and fast rules)
  4. Include the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge badge that was designed by the very first winner, The Armchair Sommelier.
  5. Once you post on your blog, link back to this post (or somehow notify me), and I will be sure to include a link here as well as on all subsequent posts about this month’s challenge.
  6. It would be great if you tweet a link using the hashtag #MWWC7.
  7. Remember to vote!

The all important dates:

Deadline for submission:  Monday, February 17th, 2014

Voting Begins: Tuesday, Febraury 18th, 2014

Voting Ends:  Monday, February 24th, 2014

Winner Announced:  Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Previous winners:

If you’re looking for some inspiration here are the links to the previous winning posts:

MWWC1 – Transportation

The Armchair Sommelier

MWWC2 – Trouble

My Custard Pie

MWWC3 – Possession

The Wine Kat

MWWC4 – Oops

Confessions of a Wine Geek

MWWC5 – Feast

The drunken cyclist

MWWC6 — Mystery

SAHMmelier

Words of Devotion #MWWC7

The entries are starting to come in,  We have one more day to get in on the challenge so pour a glass of inspiration and show us what you’ve got.  Comment below with a link to your piece and I’ll add it below.

The birthday party is behind me, the Elsa dress was a success, but guess what showed up in its place?  Nothing like a fast moving stomach bug.  So far 3 down, I’m the only one still standing (Fingers crossed, probiotics downed).  I guess I could write about the wine I drank after the laundry I did, lysol I sprayed, and hours of sleep lost?  That is devotion, right?  Chances are it would be stream of conciousness dribble at this point, but sometimes that works.

I will try my hand at creating a poll a la Drunken Cyclist but I make no promises. In the meantime, check out the following entries:

Devotion; Why I Love Madeira by Foxress

Devotion by Spring of Autumn

Devotion to icon wine in the 1980′s by Confessions of a Wine Geek

Winegrower’s Devotion by Foodwineclick

A Fairy Tale of Devotion by An Edible Quest

An Excerpt from my Novel by Wandering Gourmand

Devotion: Why is the Wine Gone? by Wine Ramblings

Devotion: The Monthly Wine Writing Challenge by Wine Raconteur

True Devotion by Joy of Wine

In praise of Bacchus by Renenutet13

A dessert wine of Devotion for Valentines Day, Giovanni Allegrini Recioto Valpolicella Classico D.O.C.G by Educated Palate

MWWC#7:  Requiem for a Potholder by Armchair Sommelier

Devotion by The Sweet Sommelier

Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011 by Oenophilogical

Totally Devoted to Beaujolais by My Custard Pie

Devotion: The Politics of Wine by The Food and Wine Hedonist

The rules

  1. Write a post based on this month’s theme: “Devotion”.
  2. The post should be at least tangentially related to wine (after all, it is the name of the challenge!).
  3. The post should be more or less around 1000 words (I’m not one for hard and fast rules)
  4. Include the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge badge that was designed by the very first winner, The Armchair Sommelier.
  5. Once you post on your blog, link back to this post (or somehow notify me), and I will be sure to include a link here as well as on all subsequent posts about this month’s challenge.
  6. It would be great if you tweet a link using the hashtag #MWWC7.
  7. Remember to vote!

The all important dates:

Deadline for submission:  Monday, February 17th, 2014

Voting Begins: Tuesday, Febraury 18th, 2014

Voting Ends:  Monday, February 24th, 2014

Winner Announced:  Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Previous winners:

If you’re looking for some inspiration here are the links to the previous winning posts:

MWWC1 – Transportation

The Armchair Sommelier

MWWC2 – Trouble

My Custard Pie

MWWC3 – Possession

The Wine Kat

MWWC4 – Oops

Confessions of a Wine Geek

MWWC5 – Feast

The drunken cyclist

MWWC6 — Mystery

SAHMmelier