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SAHMmelier

Stay at home mom, lover of wine

Lost Draw Cellars-Texas Tuesday

Drawing on family tradition, Andy Timmons began farming in the High Plains of Texas.

Drawing on experience, he branched into grape-growing after years of cotton and peanuts.

Drawing on the wisdom and inspiration of neighbors, he expanded into winemaking.

We are drawing the rewards.

When Timmons’ nephew, Andrew Sides, married, it was not just a union of hearts; it became a union of dreams. Together with Sides’ father-in-law, Troy Ottmers, Andy and Andrew began Lost Draw Cellars. Ottmers’ property in Fredricksburg had been in his family for generations. He was already involved in the Texas wine world and ready for the next challenge. It became just the place to showcase Timmons’ talents.

On a recent return from Garner State Park, we decided a brief stop at a winery would be just the way to end the weekend. But it had to be just the right place. Clean but casual, with kids in tow, our choices were limited. We wanted to try something new, low-key, with great wine. After some research and consultation, we came up with a winner. Continue reading “Lost Draw Cellars-Texas Tuesday”

Fulcrums and Finding Balance

We begin seeking balance in our earliest years. Slowly, we learn to uncurl our toes, distributing our weight evenly on the quest for bipedalism. Rather than grip, we believe. Grabbing assistance wherever we can find it, something stable, someone we trust.

As years pass, we move on to other challenges, removing the training wheels. We persevere despite bumps and bruises accumulating, both badges of honor and reminders of defeat.

For adults, the challenges (generally) become centered less on physical balance. We learn to balance our time, emotional responses. We learn to weigh expectations and dreams. We learn to adjust our fulcrum, to distribute weight more evenly or to exert more pressure in other areas.  And, sadly, the bumps and bruises continue, less visibly, and they often take longer to heal.

There was a riddle that floated around in elementary school. There were many, but this one in particular has taken on new meaning for me in recent days.

What weighs more: a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?

We hoped to catch those whom were not listening carefully, those who heard only the feather/lead comparison and not the detail that they had equivalent mass. But during my “unpacking” process, in my quest for balance, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the weight of matters and how a pound of one “bag” is not necessarily counteracted by a pound of its opposing force. The laws of physics aren’t so clear in matters of the heart.

I’ve learned that while I can lift dozens of pounds at the gym, a few pounds on the scale can feel like more than I can bear. I need to adjust my fulcrum.

I’ve learned there is a reason for the term “burden of sorrow.” There are days it throws everything out of balance. It can be so heavy. Sometimes we need help carrying it; sometimes we need to carry it alone.

I’ve learned that an ounce of forgiveness can relieve the weight accumulated from years of resentment. Oh, the relief of adjusting.

I’ve seen how religious expectations are too much for my shoulders, but a faith relationship can leave me feeling weightless. How a trickle of faith can move concrete barriers. How I could not budge that box with my own strength, but a well placed fulcrum does wonders.

It is a constant battle, is it not? Seeking balance? Continue reading “Fulcrums and Finding Balance”

Cobwebs and Clutter

Crrreeeeeaaakkkkk….

“Hello?”

With great trepidation, I enter. Gesticulations begin, wiping madly at the webs, the dust clouds. It is easier to just keep the door shut, or to open it briefly only to tuck away another box. It is much harder to enter. To really evaluate what is in there, tucked behind the boxes large and small. And yet, whether or not the door stays shut, I keep tripping over everything in it.

A new year, resolutions, new beginnings. Every year, I find myself evaluating where I have been and where I am going. I open a box or two. I may purge some things. Tidy up a little, try to pretty up the package with a bow. Other boxes are too much to deal with. I close the lid, hide them in the back of the pile, and yet every year, they are there. Back in the front, right where I can see them, and once again, I find myself flat on my face. Tripped up again.

This year, I am hoping things will be different. I’ve been quiet on here. I’m going through boxes. Some are distracting me from writing, others inspire. The process of de-cluttering can be painful, cathartic, and writing is a way to process.

But how much is too much? Where am I going with this? What will the new year bring for this blog? I don’t know. Simple tasting notes become boring to write. But this began as a wine blog. Too much introspection may scare off those who tuned in for the wine, but the writing is much more meaningful to me.

One of the best things about getting older is that I feel like I am not only continuing to find my voice, I am less afraid of using it. I am getting in my own way less and less. I am starting to deal with those boxes once and for all.

So, if you open your email and find a post has nothing to do with wine, bear with me. If you need to tune out, feel free. If you don’t hear from me, be patient. I’m going through my closet. And I’m expecting to find some treasures.

 

 

 

Traffic Calming: Cheers!

On Tuesday, I reviewed some of the non-potable last-minute gifts . Today, the booze.

I refuse to get out and about today. I braved the store yesterday (braved is the correct term) but for those of you that are still wondering what to bring to your hosts or to toast with your family, look no further.

Participating in the Snooth articles this year has been a great gift for me. The special occasion wines came out just before Thanksgiving, the holiday wines under $15 edition came out earlier this week. Both are great resources. Wines from every region, a wide-variety of grapes, something for everyone. Choose your price point and voilà…suggestions galore.

Cape Classics came out with a cute promo for gifts, choosing wine by personality. They sent me samples of The Trendsetter, The Francophile, and the Fashionista. While only one of those descriptors holds true, I can say they are truly tasty wines. In typical form, I still have not opened the 2012 Domaine Vrignaud Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume Vielles Vignes (Francophile), still holding out for the perfect pairing opportunity which will be our Christmas Turkey. The others were delicious so I feel confident sharing the gift guide pre-maturely.

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I did try the 2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon* ($25) and the 2014 DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc* ($35). The Cab was vibrant in the glass, cherry red and alive. What started as a nose of blue fruits upon opening developed into layers of leather and cherry, cinnamon stick and cedar, bay leaf. The Chenin was rich. Heirloom apples and stone fruit, citrus peel and honey, floral and zesty. Both firm and feminine, weighted and light. A beautiful wine.

Bottles - Gran Cuvée Reserva BottleI was looking for bubbles yesterday. For the holidays, when you could be going mimosa or straight up, I try to choose something in between. Cava is a great value and both Codorniu and Segura Viudas make delicious bubble ranging from $8-25ish. The middle of the road sparklers are the Segura Viudas Gran Cuvée Reserva* ($14) and the Anna series from Codorniu.

The Segura Viudas Gran Cuvée Reserva is the palest pear, citrus and Golden Delicious apple with a touch of honey. Versatile and priced to share, a great holiday sparkler. As an additional gift, check out this beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne as performed on flutes by Indie Artist Eleanor Friedberger.

On the other end of the flavor profile, 2011 Cepa 21 Tempranillo* ($25) by Bodegas Emilio Moro. I was very impressed by their wines earlier in the year for a virtual tasting, this was no different. The new project of Javier and José Moro combines the tradition and respect for the vine with a desire for creating approachable wines, ready to share. I was struck first wit baking spices, cinnamon stick specifically. Black plum in color and composition, structure tannins, white pepper and a long finish with hints of toasted coconut. Gift worthy, indeed.

Ahhhh….I can now cross off my final item. The reviews of these share-worthy wines have been hanging over my head. But other items took precedence. Now, presents are wrapped and whatever is missing will remain that way. The to-do lists are officially put away. Now the focus is on “to-be.”

I will be present, enjoying the moments with my family. I will be grateful for each person in my family, all together for Christmas for the first time in years. I will be graceful with my home and myself, allowed to sit and enjoy. I will be reverent, reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and hoping all will be calm (relatively) and bright. Cheers!

 

 

Traffic Calming:The Non-Potables

It is a phrase thrown round Austin frequently. The swell of construction, the influx of residents, the business of life all combine to form abysmal traffic conditions here. The irony is that the city’s reputation is that of a laid-back, fun-driven, everything is weird and wonderful place. Just don’t get on MoPac or I-35 if you want to protect the façade. We all want some traffic calming.

In the same way, this time of year is supposed to be filled with folly and family, nestling and nutcrackers, warmth and wassel. And yet, if you venture in certain corners of the commercial zone, you are more likely to get thrown and elbow than a smile. Christmas lists become sources of stress rather than wonder. Pinterest is the best thing to happen to Michaels and the worst thing to happen to room moms. The Grinch is no longer just a character from Dr. Suess. And we all understand why.

So our family works very hard to avoid much of the hub-bub. We limit the focus on gifts, protect our schedules, return to the reason we celebrate. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get caught in the mental-scuffle. The guilt, the “I shoulds”, still creep in. I had coffee with a friend whom I have not seen in too long. She has been incredibly busy trying to change education in Austin, no small task. She is a wise woman with a big heart. She asked, “Are there any ‘shoulds’  you can let go of?” Continue reading “Traffic Calming:The Non-Potables”

Last Bottle Marathon-Today at 9 pst

An epic battle is mounting in the cyber-galaxies. Not between the light and the dark side, but perhaps the white and the red side? The Last Bottle Marathon begins today at 9am PST. Still looking for a last minute gift? Wanting to fulfill last year’s resolution to begin a wine collection? Need to re-stock after relatives? Whatever your motivation for buying, the Last Bottle Marathon is preparing for battle. If you haven’t signed up, you can share the love by clicking here to indicate that I referred you. You know I’ll share. Here are the details copied from their email:

Ready are you?

Star Wars #7 is released tomorrow and that seems like a FINE reason to blow out HUNDREDS of small lots of killer wine, no? Time to warm up the refresh button or put an add-on on your browser (check out options HERE).

At Last Bottle we think that, much like wine, Star Wars is a cultural unifier. Its themes, and the pleasure we derive from it, are ageless (your kids still love the first one, released in 1977!!). Being a small company of a wide age range ourselves, some with kids, and ALL big fans – to say we are STOKED about the release tonight (got your 3D glasses?), a massive understatement it is!! So much so that we planned an entire 2-DAY MARATHON OF WINE-FILLED MADNESS AROUND IT…! Read on!

Starting tomorrow at 9AM (Napa Time) sharp we’re taking the sage advice from one of America’s foremost thinkers: “Do or do not. There is no try.” This one is the BIGGEST and most jam-packed with world-class wines EVER! We have been shopping, collecting, saving and cutting deals like a bunch of hyperactive Ewoks and have amassed a massive storehouse of killer wines at mad, mad, market-crushing prices. Plus, FREE GROUND SHIPPING on ALL ORDERS (in the contiguous 48)! Blown away you will be!

Most of you know the drill – for the newcomers (welcome, you are going to LOVE this), here is the magic, the madness about to ensue: for the next 2 days (or until we completely run out of wine) wines will appear at breakneck speed on the website, and flip VERY quickly as they sell out. These are wines we get in limited quantities at crazy-good pricing, generally not enough to send out an email on, and you won’t get any emails for the next two days. You’ll need to keep hitting the “REFRESH” button on your browser to catch them all (the more you refresh, the more you will see, some sell out in seconds…!). That’s it – madness it is, and all first come, first served!!

Finally – All orders placed during this marathon will be combined. We will require several weeks (2-4 weeks) to stage and coordinate all the shipping (thank you for your patience!). Orders placed during this marathon will BEGIN shipping on January 4th! That way we don’t miss you during all the holiday/new year traveling. The tracking link in your account will activate once shipped from our facility.

Index finger ready? See you tomorrow at 9AM (NAPA TIME)!! Woo hoo!

Don’t Vie for Me Argentina-Part 2

Yesterday we looked at the wines of Achaval-Ferrer from Mendoza. Today in part two, we look to Rutini Wines.

Rutini Wines has been exploring the potential of Argentina for over a century. Hailing from Italy, they brought their knowledge and love of the grape to the New World in 1885. Since that time, they have continued to pioneer into new regions, with new varieties, while maintaining the family traditions.

I sampled three of their current wines, 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Malbec, and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

rutiniwines_51cd9aea59baf[1]Sauvignon Blanc was an unexpected grape from the region and the profile was equally surprising. Unlike any I have tried, intriguing just the same. Not quite French or New Zealand in style. Yes I could use similar descriptors, there were citrus and grassy notes, there was lively acidity. Whether it was the time in the oak (New French for 3 months) or the winemaking or the terroir (most likely some of each), something was different. More of a weighty mouth feel, perfumed notes, rounder, more savory. A unique wine and one I would like to try again. I was anxious to try this, the day before Thanksgiving waiting for guests to arrive. I paired it initially with…wait for it…folding laundry. I know, I couldn’t wait. But with appetizers later, it was perfect. Light enough to drink solo, layered and versatile with lighter fare. ($25)

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The 2012 Malbec ($35)was an interesting contrast to the Achaval-Ferrer Malbec. Blackberries were the star, white pepper peaks, tobacco afterthoughts. It tasted like Christmas with notes of orange rind and clove. I paired this with Colorado Pot roast. If you have never tried that recipe, it is a keeper. It is one my mom made and I have a hard time branching out. I have to say, the pairing was a bit off. Too much vinegar in the pot roast for the wine. I may need to try again.

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My favorite of the bunch was the Cabernet Sauvignon ($35). Again, interesting to compare with the Achaval components of which the Cab Sauv was my least favorite. Lively acid, baking spices, well integrated fruit. Lighter body than expected, balanced and layered and so easy to drink. This is a wine that could be enjoyed with a cheese plate or prime rib.  I chose the former and enjoyed every sip.

Recently my friend Anatoli of Talk-a-Vino interviewed Rutini winemaker Mariano Di Paola about their processes and production. Di Paola was recently named one of the top 30 winemakers in the world. His dedication and talent is apparent in each wine I tasted.

Each of these Argentinean wineries left an impression. In each wine, varied as they were, there was a unifying theme, a balance. I think of Santiago and his beautiful metaphors. When I think of these Argentinian wines, I think of a tamed stallion, running free, graceful and strong.  Equally wild and constrained.

New World wines made with Old World sensibilities. Balancing growth and attention to detail, progress and tradition.  The grapes allowed to express themselves, and yet coaxed into something more refined. These wines are intriguing and a region I look forward to exploring.

I entitled this as such because, well, it is hard for me to think of Argentina without breaking into Andrew Lloyd Webber. But if vying for me means more wines to consider, I’ll let you. And I promise not to cry unless they are tears of joy. Cheers!

{The Rutini Wines and Achaval-Ferrer wines were provided as samples from Gregory White PR. Thoughts and opinions are my own. I received no other compensation.}

 

Don’t Vie for Me Argentina-Part 1

The truth is there is room for both of you. Two wineries, nine bottles, one blend, four finished products. Argentinean wines were the stars around here last week. I participated in a virtual tasting with Santiago Achaval of Achaval-Ferrer and several others. I also opened a few single varietal wines from Rutini Wines. In this two-part post, I want to look at the approaches to winemaking, the vision behind the wines, and ideas for pairing.

Achaval-Ferrer’s focus is on creating wines that best represent the terroir, wines that “move us to emotion.” Their vines are rooted in Mendoza and the wines are made to reflect that region. They believe in low-intervention winemaking: no cold soaks, no enzymes, no added sugar, sulfites. The vines are old and ungrafted, yielding fewer, more intense grapes.

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Quimera is a Malbec (50%)driven blend, rounded out by Cabernet Franc (24%), Merlot (16%), Cabernet Sauvignon (8%), and Petit Verdot (2%). What made this virtual tasting so unique and so interesting was that we were given each component to taste individually and in comparison with the final blend.  We were able to hear from and question Achaval about his choices and motivation behind them. This gave each participant a better understanding about how each variety fares in Mendoza and the potential for, not only the grape, but the region as a whole.

Listening to Santiago is akin to listening to a great storyteller. His passion, palpable. His command of language, intoxicating. His wine, a carefully crafted masterpiece. He describes each variety as a color, a part of a building, a role in the opera. And this focus on the separate elements is to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, “one personality, one beating heart.” Continue reading “Don’t Vie for Me Argentina-Part 1”

A Confession- Hess Select #WineElevated

I have a confession. I am reminded of this shortcoming every holiday season. The family gathers, appetizers are prepared, it is time to open something. And I freeze. On one shoulder there is the angel saying, “Share that one. It is divine and will go smashingly. It is the holidays, after all.” On the other shoulder, a less generous voice screeching, “Not so fast! What are you doing!?! They don’t even like wine that much. They won’t appreciate that! Just open that one, the Monday wine. Save the other for yourself. Just you. All alone.”

Ok, I am exaggerating. I’d at least share with my husband. Probably. But the crisis is real. One family member only likes sweeter wines, another is open to trying and can discern if they like it or not. Maybe you have the guest that only drinks Chardonnay. Classic Chardonnay. No un-oaked, they don’t care which growth. Just pour it. And so that is why I keep a few extra Monday wines around during the holidays.

I recently received a shipment of four Select wines from Hess Collection. A classic brand from California, classic varieties, the Select line is accessibly priced.

Two bottles of Chardonnay meant two chances to pair. The first bottle I served with salmon. A spread of Dijon, mayonnaise, Herbs de Provence, and lemon. In the oven and quick sides of Israeli couscous and salad. A quick Monday dinner, a nice Monday wine.

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For my husband’s birthday family lunch, we opened the Sauvignon Blanc to start, the other Chardonnay for the sauce and with dinner, and then one special bottle. A compromise. I made Chicken with artichokes and mushrooms (recipe below). Delicious. Continue reading “A Confession- Hess Select #WineElevated”

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