A Wine Blogger’s Song in 3 Parts. Part III. Wines in the Hands of Crafty Women

Shoop, shoop, shoop ♪♫

So what to do after an all-day meditation retreat on goodness/merit? Visit my favorite wine shop, Bay Grape, especially since they were hosting a special event featuring Italian winemakers – all women who make organic wine.

I believe that relationships matter and so you need to get to know your producers when you can or connect to those (like your shop owner) who have those relationships. I came to this tasting to meet the producers and taste their wines, knowing that later when I would pick up a bottle from that winemaker, the experience would be even more meaningful and delightful.

I tasted four wines by four different women winemakers that night. The wine that blew my mind was a simple red that would be perfect to pour at a picnic on a sunny day: fresh fruit aromas that leapt out of the glass and, on the palate, sour cherry, blueberries and herbs – no oak influence. So delicious we could not put it down and I can’t wait to have more, creating a sunny picnic in the midst of winter. Thank you Matilde Poggi for your skill in making the Le Fraghe Bardolino  from the indigenous Corvina and Rondinella grapes.

So if you find this wine from Lake Garda in Veneto, please give it a try – it promises to enchant. And remember, know your producer!

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A Wine Blogger’s Song in 3 Parts. Part II: Musings on the “Hybrid” Experience

“Where everybody knows your name.” ♪♫

Looking for a place to have a conversation over wine with a colleague and found a florist and wine bar called Rosebowl Florist and Wine Shop. I told my friend, “we have to do this; it’s just weird enough.” Located in Opera Plaza in San Francisco, the wine bar is in the back of the flower shop “plus” (it has a lot of others items for gift giving). The space was intimate as in teeny tiny but that was also part of the charm. The real hook is Deidra O’Meade, the friendly owner and your bartender. She has a selection of maybe 20 (mostly domestic) wines and she pours everything. I had this Monterey Pinot, which was nice and balanced, delivering on its Pinot promise and not disguising itself as some big red.

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When I arrived my companion and I had the place to ourselves. Later, the neighbors came by to enjoy their wines, which Deidra kindly stores for them. The conviviality was contagious – these folks were regulars – and you could not help but have a good time in a wine shop minus any pretense. Deidra had a great description of the place: “its a cross between Cheers, The Algonquin Round Table, and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.”

I find it truly pleasurable to find wine in unexpected places.

So what has been your wine hybrid experience, if any – they seem rare, indeed. If you have any, please share all: the good, the bad and the ugly!

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A Wine Bloggers Song in 3 Parts. Part I: When in a Funk, “Funky Pinot” to the Rescue!

La, la, la, la, la. ♩♫

Music is often on my mind. Maybe that’s because I’m married to an Ethnomusicologist. Lately, it may be even more so because of the passing of  that great musical artist David Bowie.

Wine is always on my mind.

Hence, this post- and the two to follow.

Disclaimer: if you think this post is going to be about Pinot Noir or any other grape with “Pinot” in its name, it’s not. This is a tribute to an “old school” Nebbiolo that my was  renamed “Funky Pinot” by my witty and wise husband.

Once I asked someone in the wine business what was the wine that won his heart and it was a Barolo  – a temple to the Nebbiolo grape. Got me thinking: why wasn’t Nebbiolo a bigger part of my wine journey to date?  With a focus on more affordable alternatives to Barolo and Barbaresco (the more “feminine” Nebbiolo based wine from the same region – the Piedmont of Italy), I tried 5 different ones in 5 weeks and did a poor job of documenting what I tasted.

But that is ok, because the other night dinner was accompanied by a Langhe Nebbiolo (note: the grapes used are the ones that did not make the cut for Barbaresco) made by the prestigious producer Produtorri del Barbaresco – an amazing wine cooperative. When I purchased it, I was assured that it was “old school” and excellent.  What I encountered over delivered on the promise.

Just what the doctor ordered. Life is a rollercoaster and I was riding a big dip when this beautiful wine came to me and reminded me of why I fell in love with wine in the first place.

My blue funk all gone, especially when I realized that my husband had bought me a bottle of Barbaresco for my birthday from the same producer! Wheeeeeeeee!

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The Wisdom of the Stones OR Georgia On My Mind

The Rolling Stone’s song offers, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want…”

 I had purchased a bottle of Georgian rose´ and could not wait to taste it. As much as I like Orange wines, I have never tasted a wine from Georgia, the birthplace of orange wines. I poured a glass for me and my partner but on the first sip detected an unpleasant level of acidity and the feel of having vinegar poured down your throat. I wanted to make sure that the wine was not simply in need of a good airing out. Don’t know why I doubted myself. The wine flaw was clearly a fault that made it undrinkable. I returned it to the place of purchase and they were happy to replace but alas, they were all out of the wine and so I had to get a substitute (no tears here, I got Nebbiolo, my latest obsession). Still, I was a tad heartbroken.

Those @winewankers then posted a little refrain called, What is an orange wine? And why you should care.

Ah, I care, I care, I care! But still no Orange wine from the ‘O.G.’s” Nation of Orange wine.

The song then responds “…You get what you need.”

A few days later I was seated on a stool @BayGrape waiting for the unveiling of my wine club selections.

My eyes lit up as Stevie showed me a bottle of Orange wine from Slovenia – woo hoo! This wine comes from a region next door to Friuli-Venezia Giulia, an Italian region that knows white wine. And Orange wines are white wines made in a red style, i.e., the technique involves leaving the grape skins in the crushed juice for several days or more. The maceration with the skins gives the wine that wonderful hue but also a rich texture that can give a twinkle to the eye.

My orange wine at last: Kabaj Sivi Pinot Goriska Brda 2012.IMG_1085

Took it home to share with my best bud. I found the wine to be full bodied but with complexity that was reminiscent – please forgive me for the comparison -of a Lopez de Heredia’s rose´ The taste was savory, herbaceous with good minerality’ perfect foil to the dried apricot, orange peel and rich texture. I like it, and can’t wait to continue to explore the world of Orange wines, a journey that started a few years ago when I fell for an Italian Orange wine made from Vermentino.

Orange wine, just in the nick of time: deliciousness that cured the broken heart of a wine lover.

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A Case of True Love: A Toast to Wine’s “No Shame” Zone!

I sat down to write about my first wine app Vivino. I got it only because when I am in dire need of wine and hit the local market, there is no one who works there who knows about wine. The wine they carry comes in prepackaged blocks. A few posts back I shared my dread of heading down the hill to get a bottle of wine.  I prefer talking to people but my grocery store is not a fine wine shop. Last time I struck gold but what about this time? More on that later when I review the app and the wine.

So what I really want to write about is drinking wine without being shamed for it. So here’s the skinny: I was at a friend’s holiday party, enjoying a Cava that had pleasing minerality but decided to switch when I saw real Champagne. Alas, I did not like this particular fruity and super rich brand. The bartender then shamed me for not liking the more expensive Champagne! How dare I!?

I dare.

I see no reason to drink something I am not enjoying simply because it cost more. Both wines were well made. After you get past that threshold, then it’s a matter of what the palate prefers.

No one should be shamed for choosing one good wine over another! I am fortunate to have Champagne in my wine fridge that I love. The one that night would not make it to my cellar.

On the note of that certain sparkling wine, I will be ringing in the New Year with Jean Vesselle Rose´ Saignee Brut – an intriguing bubbly, indeed.  And I am searching for another bottle of 2005 Saint Chamant – Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuvee de Chardonnay.

So here’s one of my wishes for 2016: for a wine world where you can drink what you love, be open to finding new loves and never be forced into a case of untrue love!

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When “Mindless” Wine Shopping Get Results

Wine shopping brings me such joy. I always take the time to slow down and check out the wines – stopping to smell the flowers, if you will.  Viewing the labels, checking to see if any of my favorites are in stock, talking with merchants to find new gems, etc. – I love it all. I call this mindful wine shopping – being deeply present without judgment.

However, that sweet meditative practice comes to an abrupt end with I find myself desperately looking for wine at my neighborhood market. Scanning that selection always fills me with dread. Will I find anything? I call this mindless wine shopping.

Such was my state when I made a big pot of chili verde but had nothing in the wine fridge that seemed suitable. So I headed down the hill to that neighborhood grocery store and the search began:

I stared at the scary wine selection and thought: maybe an off-dry Chenin Blanc to calm the heat? (The particular chilies I used had proven themselves to be extra spicy this time.)  I spied a Vouvray but it was not cheap and I was feeling broke.

A Solution seemed elusive.

I then spied a domestic Chenin Blanc – Viognier blend. Low risk: $10 and a screw cap (no corked bottled here!)

So I snagged it and hoped for the best.

Voila!

Magic with the meal – the sweet fruit of the Viognier was off-set by the acidity of the Chenin Blanc and its off-dry nature went smashingly well.

So even those of us who strive to be mindful can have a lapse and I am lucky that this one turned out to be a lapse for the best. 😉

To my fellow wine lovers, happy mindful and “mindless” hunting!

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When Wine Goes …Weird.

For me, wine is a journey; quite the adventure in which you just never know. This brings me to a recent mind-blowing tasting in which I couldn’t tell what to make of the orange tinted concoction in my glass called Stevenjan (the Slovenian name for the village in Collio that is the home to Radikon and Gravner, and the epicenter of skin-fermented white winemaking) made by the Scholium project.

How would I describe it?

Would I say I liked it?

The words my husband used to attempt to give this wine shape and form seemed incongruent: waxed candy lips, mandarin orange, watermelon, cinnamon or allspice and warm wet stones.

Huh?

He reached the conclusion that is was not for him. On the other hand, I wasn’t quite sure as each taste kept me intrigued because the wine was just

WEIRD

Now I am a weirdo and a lover of other weirdoes and so maybe that came into play here. I was starting to like it though not as much as that skin-fermented Pinot Gris (aka, Orange wine) by Donkey & Goat Winery. The depth of flavor was intriguing and kept me coming back but would I buy it again?  Ask me again tomorrow.

Have you ever had a wine that confounded you?

Please do share your own stories of wines that baffle!

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