Monday, May 31, 2010

Trust Me

If you trust me on nothing else I say here trust me on it. Buy it by the case and do it ASAP. We had five cases on Thursday, four of Friday and blew through...and I am talking b-l-e-w through the rest of it on Saturday afternoon. We had people grabbing it out of the hands of the staff as they were trying to price the damn stuff. Francois Chidaine is simply a master and this Rose is right up there with the likes of Tempier as far as elegance and purity goes. It's brilliant wine and sadly it is made in tiny quantities. Sexy as hell on the nose, tons of floral and herby notes but with a plump burst of cherry and a hint of minerals. The palate is pure and utterly refreshing with a give-me-another-glass, no that's a lie....give-me-another-bottle crave-ability unlike any Rose I have had yet this that too is a lie, in years!

Getting five more cases on Wednesday and one of them is already spoken for. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT wait or you will miss out on one of the most thrilling Roses we have tasted in years. Call, email me or order it from the online store but do not lolligag people, this wine will not be around long and you would be insane to miss it. Oh did I forget to mention it is $11.99?! Stupid, it is a stupid value and the kind of deal that comes around like once every gillion years.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sir Charles Looks Like It's You & Me......

So I ask you love
Will you still visit me
Adore me
Feed me with your wisdom
Stoke me with your affection

Will you my beloved Charles Olken
Will you still love me when

They destroy your boys in green?

I make this promise to you now, and I am doing it now because I will be in full on smack talking mode come Thursday;

I will still adore you
Smile when I see one of your many names appear in my comments section
Think of you many times a day
Hope that I will someday be able to look at your sweet face over a glass of Champagne....
Love you
I will still love you when your team loses

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mission Not Impossible?

Samantha Dugan:

Your mission, should you chose to accept it is to hunt down the people that once loved, have never really tried or mistakenly tried the wrong White Burgundy. Find them, seek them out, look under every wine bar and tasting room from here to Temecula if you must but finding them has never been more important than it is now. We feel that we should warn you that these people while in serious need of de-brainwashing may resist a bit.

A region’s wines once beloved and fiercely coveted, a region responsible for inspiring wine makers the world over is being held captive by the nefarious ABC, (Anything But Chardonnay) cult, a group determined to cut off the supply of Chardonnay coming from anywhere in the world. They have had their eye on Burgundy for decades; it would be the jewel in their hate campaign crown. They are using the public’s growing distaste for ultra ripe, lavishly oaked, buttery tasting Chardonnays to destroy a very noble grape and they must be stopped. We have engaged the Anti Cougar Juice Alliance but they are still in their infancy, too green to present any real threat to the “I hate Chardonnay” masses….we need you.

This is not a mission to be taken lightly. You will need all that your years of training have taught you; your palate, your memory and we are not above asking you to check out those new Victoria Secret bras that can increase your…assets by two sizes. We are fighting varietal terrorism here Ms. Dugan, we must all be willing to do what it takes to rescue these legendary and extraordinary wines from becoming extinct. We must protect them, honor them and solidify their place for the next generation of wine lover….so what’s a little cleavage and over-the-shoulder-boulder- holder pain when you are preserving history right?

Find them Ms. Dugan. Tie them down and spill your accumulated years of desire and passion for White Burgundy all over them, again check out the new bras and you can file it under weapons in your expense report. Open bottles, pour for them, purr for them but goddamn it inspire them to want more. You’ve tasted White Burgundy, you know how sensual, texturally dizzying and profoundly important those wines are. Do not, I repeat do not let them slip away. Those stressed vines, neutral barrels and limestone rich soils have volumes yet to tell. Find them Ms. Dugan and your reward will be legions of people feeling history, nobility and purity spilling across their palates’, a growing village of voices chanting, championing, and campaigning for more Meursault, Chablis, Pouilly-Fuisse. Your reward will be felt and tasted on your own palate for years to come. Do not let Chardonnay slip beneath the primordial goo, toss them a line, give them mouth to mouth and slip a bottle into every cart, (this is where that bra thing might help inspire) teach, teach them that Chardonnay is but a vessel, a surname not a style and there is a whole other language yet to explore. Salty, savory, doughy, rich, nutty, haunting…these are the wines that we know and that we are now requesting your help to defend. Help us and the payoff will be felt the wine loving and lusting world over.

This message will self destruct in….

Oh calm down, we will not be blowing your shit up, but this is a real problem and one that we must address. Find them Sam, teach them, re-learn them....inspire them and they will be back for more.

Hugs and Kisses
The Wine Country

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Close But...

Got my......

Now I'm gonna go barf....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not Funny Joke

So I was not going to say anything about the Wine Blog Awards. I was just going to slink away in defeat, lick my wounds and try to forget the whole thing but, well I think it is kind of a weenie move to just ignore it. I’m just going to get this out there so no one thinks I am bitter because I didn’t make the finals; I did not want nor did I think I would make the finals. This blog full of my silly rants, sexually driven pictures, lustful descriptors, stories about my life and history with wine…this blog was never really a wine blog, just a blog about a wine chick…nothing more. I do not want to be pigeonholed into writing just about wine, upcoming wine events, Robert Parker or the 100 point system. Those things bore the shit out of me and if being a wine blogger means I am stuck droning out the same tired conversation then I happily shout from the top of my little steaming pile, “I am not a wine blogger!” therefore I could not and should not win any award for being one.

I woke Monday morning and did as I always do; coffee, MSNBC and nuzzling up to my beloved laptop to get caught up on my blog reading. I skimmed Heimoff, seems like I am always skimming Heimoff….don’t get me wrong I think Steve is a very good writer but, well it just seems like half the time I am reading it feels like déjà vu, “this again?” I do love his comments though and find that I spend more time there than reading the actual posts. I’m in the business so much of what he writes about, writes very well about are things I have already gone over and discussed at work. Not really looking for homework so I skim and read the comments. I clicked through my little blog roll and landed on, On the Wine Trail in Italy (I really have to learn how to put those linky things in) and was thrilled to find Alfonso had a new post up. I began reading his post, Rendezvous with Roma and found myself lost and walking the streets with him. Each word felt like a paintbrush on my skin and I found myself getting sad when I could tell it was going to end soon, “No no no, I want more” beautiful, it was a beautifully written piece and I felt lucky to have started my morning with it.

Figured I would check the Wine Blog Awards website, see if the Chinese hacker was still there or if they had in fact posted the finalists, they had. I excitedly scrolled down to the “Best Writing” nominees the whole time my mind still heavy with Alfonso’s words and beginning to wonder how I was going to choose between he and Ron Washam over at The HoseMaster of Wine, two titans of talent whose gift with the English language just get me off. I scrolled up and down twice before it sunk in, they weren’t there….neither of them were there WTF?! I literally sat there for over ten minutes, just looking at the list, my heart sinking….how could this be? Utterly deflated I just closed the window like covering a dead body with a sheet, didn’t even bother to vote for anything.

It has been since pointed out that I was naïve to believe that the awards were about anything other than stoking the social media machine, about more than vanilla and I will own up to the fact that I did believe that talent…actual talent was going to be rewarded and appreciated. Now let me say that I cannot even really remember the full list of finalists but two of them are in fact very good writers and I wish them good luck. There was one however that just left me wondering who the hell the judges were and if they ever even bothered to read the nominated blogs. Dreadful, a dreadful blog with pretty terrible writing, this piece of shit is nominated for Best Writing on a Wine Blog and two of the most talented writers I’ve had the pleasure to read were not. Joke. I went from being deflated to thinking that the whole thing was a joke, too bad it wasn’t a good one.

So there you have it, my take on the whole blog awards thing. If I sound bitter then you get the point. I’m no longer angry and I know both of the dudes that were left off the list don’t care, shit one of them probably would have been pissed had he made it. But I will be taking a pass on playing this year, not voting, taking my toys and going home.

There I said it now we can get back to talking sex and wine.

Your Faithful Non Wine Blogger

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How Do You Do That?

Landed at LAX last night feeling just a bit of pressure, we had made plans to meet our neighbors for our standing Monday night dinner at Mario’s. Before I left I took my beloved Flo, (the name of the car from the movie Cars, that Tyler got me for Valentine’s Day) across the way to my adorable four year old boyfriend and asked if he wouldn’t mind watching her while I was gone. We both take our Flo’s to Mario’s every Monday, and every Monday he yells across the parking lot of the restaurant, “Did you bring your Flo?” in that deep from the pit of his tiny little belly way. Each Monday I pull Flo from my purse and I get the big grin of approval which rings in the beginning of an evening of me being wooed and melted by the cutest kid…like ever. Well seeing as our flight was to land at around 5:00 pm and when you have dinner plans with a one and four year old it has to be pretty early, around 6:00 pm…I knew it would be cutting it too close to fly home from the airport, dump off my bags, grab Flo and run across the street in time for dinner. I figured having Tyler watch my toy and bring it to dinner would do two things; one let him know that I was coming back and two save me time or the sad face I would get for arriving without my Flo. I talked with him about it the afternoon before we left and being the serious kid, (he is ultra serious in some ways and a total goofball in others) that he is I knew my toy would be there at dinner.

We pulled into Mario’s parking lot at exactly the same time as the neighbors; I was dragging…just exhausted from the “relaxing” weekend full of booze and the flight from the other side of the country and still sporting my resort wear….a step up from the Resist Prohibition t-shirt that I usually toss on before our little Monday date. I felt a little pop of energy as I opened the car door; four days….I was only gone for four days and dammit if I didn’t miss that kid. I quickly made my way to their car as Mom was pulling my wee boyfriend from his car seat. I watched his tiny frame spin around, that big head full of blonde hair turn and those big, most expressive blue eyes I’ve ever seen just light up when he saw me. I stood there in my bright greenish yellow, longer in the front, open but draped sweater with my new lacy at the top, crinkled textured white tank top feeling like a fairy princess.

He quickly plunged his pudgy digits into the pocket of his jeans while yelling, (much louder than he needed to by the way) “Sam I have something for you!!” and extended his little arm…my Flo. I guess the plan was for him to pretend he forgot it but he was just so damned excited when he saw me that that little prank went right out the window, melted. We had a blast Tyler and I, a much more reserved dinner than usual; no face painting with Ranch dressing or ketchup and no blowing messy bubbles in our drinks, so I was a grown up for once and Tyler took my lead. Not sure if it was the time away or the outfit but he was so freaking shyly cuddly last night. Still playful and full of Tyler expression….which really is larger than life, I swear I will post video one day and you will all see what I am up against here. One friend upon joining us for one of our dinners said, “That kid could bring you the head of a dead kitten and yell “special delivery” and he would still be the most charming kid alive”.....big voice, big eyes, lots of gesturing, freaking adorable but he seemed much more interested in finding little ways to snuggle with me than playing cars. A very lovely homecoming I really must say but as I sat there in the middle of my bestest date ever, sipping my second margarita I couldn’t help but find myself still “missing” a bit.

“I think Tyler missed me a little” I said to his father when he came over later for a visit, “Yeah he hid it well” he responded. “Could he have found any more ways to lay his head on you and touch your shirt?” his father said wearing slightly pink cheeks and the tiniest, ‘That’s my boy” smirk. We laughed about it as I assured him that it was fine and in fact….it made me feel as special, and frankly beautiful as I had in days. I poured myself a second glass of Rose. The bright fruit, the freshness and vibrancy in that wine was just the little bump of life that I needed to get me through to bedtime but also gave me a taste of what it was that I was still missing….wine.

As those of you that read my Momma series might have gathered, May is kind of tough on me…this year a bit more than others as it is the ten year mark. I think that combination of Mother’s Day, her birthday, the last night I saw her and the anniversary of her death coming within two weeks of each other, well it can be a lot, consuming and not in a great way. I let that distraction and bit of reflection keep me from spending time with and really letting wine touch me. The Rose was a good reminder but it did not, could not have the power to reignite my fizzled out wine wick.

I opened a 2005 Chateau de Segries Cotes du Rhone this afternoon, a perfectly tasty wine that filled my palate and pleased me enough; nice dark fruit, deep violets and just a kiss of brown sugar with soft integrated tannin and a supple finish. Nice, quite nice really but like the Rose not quite enough to spin me, light me up, fill that little “missing” space that I have been unable to shake. I sat here awhile just trying to will it to be enough and wondering if I was stuck in the middle of some freaky wine slump. Not good, not good at all. That was when I made another pass by the old wine fridge, I tried to pretend that I was just looking things over…..just wondering what I had left but I knew why I was there. I needed to be made love to, seduced, have my protective layers peeled back and have something I love, something decadent, something that was going to shake me, plunged inside me.

I needed something that was going to flip all my switches; my palate, my body, my mind. I needed Burgundy. The second I committed to slipping the bottle out of its resting spot I knew we would spend the night together; no second guessing, no maybe I should waits….fuck if I could have opened a vein to feel this wine I might have. Ready…I was so ready to fall in love again, to feel in love again….to look at a bottle of wine the way that adorable four year old looked at me in Mario’s parking lot, excited, with wonder and thrilled that I still had the night ahead of me.

I peeled the foil from my last bottle of 2001 Comtes Lafon Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu and felt my pulse quicken, already feeling something. The cool neck of the bottle resting in my palm submissive as I pierced its cork and slowly pulled it from the bottle, each little detail noticed…cool bottle, tightening of my forearms, the sweet sound of a cork being pulled from a bottle and that glugging, sloshing sound of wine falling along the sides of a glass and landing upon itself. It was starting, I was beginning to feel that little missing spot fill. I spent five hours with this wine, five hours being pulled in, pushed back and completely lost in love.

Meaty and mushroomy with fine but grippy tannin at first. Red cherries, truffles and coco following that. Rose pedals, a sexy, soft body and that mouth watering want for more to finish. My head is still spinning; my palate fatigued but in that way that making love for hours can make you fatigued….spent, exhausted, mind reeling and that lust for more already making you think about the next time.

How do you do that?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yeah Okay So I Lied......

So Thursday morning when I posted my little “See ya later” dealie I fully intended on posting from Key Biscayne. Thought for sure that the free time I had would find me hunched over my laptop once again, sharing all the happenings and whatever food and wine moments I had….well yeah okay so I lied. It was not that I didn’t have the time, no not at all, matter of fact I spent most of the day yesterday just sitting in my chilly, not too moist hotel room watching stupid television or lounging on my little terrace watching the people go by. Time was not the issue and it was not as if I didn’t miss you cats because I did but it really wasn’t a wine weekend so I was unsure if anyone would give a rat’s ass that I was spending my time sipping away of gin and tonics and Pastis. For those of you that do care, this is how it went……

Woke up Thursday morning fully clothed on the couch in front of my laptop. I had been up far too late chatting with a friend on facebook so I got about two hours sleep, this really pleased the hubby I assure you. Our flight was out of LAX at the ass crack of dawn so we needed to leave the house by 5:00 am. I fired off my little post, again the hubby loving that one, and we made it to our gate with time to spare. As I felt the adrenalin of having to be up and rushing wear off that was when it hit me, “Damn…I’m tired” I knew better than to say a word. Landed in Miami where there was a little lady holding a sign with the hubby’s company name a logo, gathered our bags, (Oh and what the hell with the baggage claim being like twenty miles from the gate there at the Miami airport?! Dude, people movers…look into it) and were deposited at the Ritz Carlton. Dropped off the bags and made our way to the welcome reception where we ate lobster, I danced with the hubby’s bosses and I made only one tiny move of jack assery. Sitting there at the dinner table with the big mucky mucks of my husband’s company when the announcer guy said, “Those of you planning on going into South Beach this weekend should know that there is a porn convention going on” now I’m not sure if it was my volume or if it was my arms raised over my head as I yelled “Woo hoo!!!” that was more frowned upon….either way I stood out to say the least.

Friday I lounged while the hubby golfed and then we caught a cab into Coconut Grove for dinner, not all that thrilling. Saturday was another lounge day, this time by the pool. I’m pretty fair and not so much a sun worshiper so I found a comfy little pillow drenched couch under a palm tree, face melting from the humidity sipping away on cocktails. Quick shower and off to South Beach for the night…what a scene that place is! Amazing people watching, hostesses acting like those little guys in Vegas that try and hand you those Pick A Chick flyers….smacking their hands and waving stuff in your face, unreal. Had a rather delicious dinner and ended up at a club called The Clevelander where we drank too much and danced even more. I was spellbound by this guy on the dance floor; seriously buffed, long braids, in spandex and on Ecstasy…that dude, that dude was magic.

Yesterday was as I said, spent in the room or on the terrace where I simply marveled in how people kind of really check out when they go on vacation. I saw a woman wearing only the bottom half of her bikini…oh wait, nope dude in a speedo with some serious man breastage, ewe. Saw two terrace violations; old dude with a body shape that reminded me of a tomato on toothpicks, standing on his terrace in his tighty whiteys…dude, it’s not a private patio, we CAN see you…ewe. The other was while the hubby and I were on our terrace taking in the view, I had seen the guy four or five terraces over also taking in the view but had directed my attention back to the ocean. That was until the hubby says, “Oh My God, look over there” and I turned my head to see that the guy was no longer alone, his wife or whatever had joined him and was trying to get her seduction on….naked, she was naked and sixty if she was a day…ewe. Really people?! In this giant building full of windows and balconies you really believe no one can see you? I mean sure behind the reflective glass….oh did I mention that the hubby did not mention the windows were not reflective until day two…second bit of jackassery for me and now I am wondering which of my hotel neighbors is telling the story of the idiot that kept changing in front of the non reflective windows.

Late dinner last night
Fitful nights sleep
Sweaty morning
Had a great time and all but
Ready to go home….

Had a blast but am ready to get back to my life, my work, this silly blog and back to my beloved wines. I love me some cocktails but four days without more than a glass or two of wine has me itching……

Thursday, May 13, 2010

See Ya Later....

About to hop on a plane to this here joint....

Next time you hear from me I will be sitting like here and junk!

The hubby won a reward trip and I will be spending the next three days in the Florida Keys but seeing as he will be golfing and all, I will have time to chat.

Big Hugs

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Momma Final Installment

“Whatever you do don’t fall asleep. I know your body wants to but trust me, stay up. Get out and walk around, take a shower, call home or whatever but just stay awake if you have any hope to fall asleep tonight” I was standing in the lobby of a hotel on the other side of the world. A room that was saturated with more history than I could even imagine and Michael Sullivan of Beaune Imports was instructing us on what to do with our time before we were to meet back in that same history soaked lobby before heading out to dinner. I looked down at my large bags then to the very narrow and slightly winding staircase and thought, “Well shit it’s going to take me an hour to lug those things up to my room”. My body felt heavier than it ever had, the excess booze the night before leaving, the more booze on the flight over and flying for eleven or so hours with about two hours sleep total…heavy. “Hey, while it’s still light why don’t we go see a bit of the city? It’s your first time here…let’s go take a little walk and maybe share a bottle of Champagne. Meet me back here in an hour” I heard the words and was thankful for the direction in my fuzzy headed, fuzzy hearted condition.

I met Sonya my sales rep for Beaune Imports in the lobby as instructed one hour later, my eyes even puffier from crying once I dropped my bags in my ultra tiny room. Jeans, sneakers and a black hooded sweatshirt to protect my skin from the cold March air, I headed out behind my tiny little leader. The sweatshirt was so not needed…I couldn’t feel anything. We weaved our way through the crowded streets, streets teaming with pink cheeked, scarf clad people walking so quickly I feared getting swallowed up or lost amongst them. We found a corner bistro and weaved our bodies around tables full of folks talking, drinking, smoking and intently spearing little bits of food on their forks and then using their knives to distribute sauce on the selected bite. We settled into our little corner table asked for wine list and as I leaned back in my too-small-for-me chair…I felt. Felt the cold iron back of my chair pressed against my sweatshirt covered back. Felt the noise and energy of the room. Felt that my little companion was talking although my head was swimming, trying to doggy paddle through the wave that was coming over me. Her words muffled in a way that reminded me of my summers spent with my legs locked on the side of the pool, my whole body underwater listening to the voices of the other kids at camp…the kids I didn’t quite fit in with. As I floated there in that Paris bistro, muffled voices, once again feeling just a bit out of place I wondered if she had been here before. If forty years ago she had stopped into this restaurant for a bite, a cup of coffee…a rum and coke, sitting there is that space in the city that always seemed to hold an almost mystical “What if” for my mother I felt an old familiar feeling. Would she be angry, hurt or disappointed that I was here? Was I once again taking something that was hers? I’m not sure when the glass of Champagne appeared but as I felt my heart sinking, my spirit plummeting, my chest feeling like it was about to burst open I saw it. I grabbed the glass at first in an attempt to wash or stuff down the swell of emotions that threatened to take over me but….it ended up being yet another life line in the shape of a glass.

As I felt the tiny bubbles tickle my lips and the broad yeasty flavor spread across my palate it occurred to me, my mother wasn’t there making me feel guilty, saying hurtful things or demanding that I be more concerned with her feeling than mine…I was. As that first glass of Champagne slipped into my body I felt myself coming up for air. Everything became so clear to me; the bustle of a busy Pairs bistro, the cold iron chair against my back, the conversation happing at my table…I was a million miles away from that life, that hurt and if I wanted to move on I needed to stop plunging myself under water. “Oh Sam are you cold?” Sonya asked as she grabbed my hand….shaking, I was shaking.

My mother was never going to be a woman that would throw one of her children out of the house. We were the only real happiness she had and all the love she had ever felt came from us but my brother’s addiction was becoming a cancer that was slowly eating away at us all. For so much of my life my mother was the only person I had, we were unbelievably close and for some reason I was always so afraid that I was going to lose her. Not for some reason, she created that fear through her dramatic outbursts and fits of rage. I was convinced that if I left her side that she would either run away….or worse. I began sleeping with her when I was little not because I was afraid of the dark but because I was afraid of her dark.

As things hit the boiling point at the “thousand square feet” I was gone as much as I could be, doing anything I could to just be away from the sickness that felt like it was choking the life out of each and every one of us. My newfound sensuality had me taking the easiest way out, the cheapest way out and a way out that almost destroyed my just beginning family, another man. I sought comfort, peace and sanctuary in the arms of another man. I hated myself for it, hated my then boyfriend for ignoring it but no one hated it more than my mother. In this house of sadness, loneliness, rage and addiction I became the villain…the most loathsome character in a cast of pretty dark figures. One night while explaining to Jeremy that the hole knocked in his piggybank, the reason all his collected coins and given dollars were gone was because his uncle was very very sick I saw something in my mother’s face…a light and strength that I could not remember seeing in years.

“I’m moving to Boulder. Tessa and I are going to go live with my sister until I can find a job and get my own place” she was moving. She could never throw us out but her disappointment in me and feeling powerless as to what to do with my brother gave her reason enough to do what she had to in order to salvage a life for she and my sister. As terrified as I was to be without her it was the day when I was the most proud that she was my mother. My family moved out first, into the apartment we still live in…my home, this is my real home. I raised my son here, restored and rebuilt my relationship with my boyfriend now husband here. I figured out who I am as woman here. No longer giving in to the pull of my mother’s fears or sadness I was able to build a life that I am very proud of. She saved my life by cutting herself free.

My mother and my sister moved back two years later but rather than move back to Long Beach they moved to the high desert, the hope being that someday mom would be able to attain her one and only dream, to buy a house. When she returned things were different, our relationship strained a bit by the sting of me enjoying my life without her and my healing scars from what I saw as abandonment.

“Happy Mother’s Day & Happy Birthday!” we all said with glasses high. My mother sitting in her favorite restaurant in Long Beach, the place where she had her first legal drink and had taken us for every special occasion. We had all gathered there, my family, my brother’s wife and her two sons, my sister and my mother, to celebrate her. The waitress, the same damn waitress I had seen my whole life remembered our orders and rattled them off before we had a chance to say a thing. My mother was so happy that night, so proud and her power as a woman, as a mother was there sitting around the table, her years of loneliness and sacrifice now before her, happy healthy and raising our glasses to her. Her light was back, the light I used to see when I was four years old and she was holding my tiny hands while teaching me to dance…Stevie Wonder blaring in the background, that light was back.

Three days later as I was getting ready to climb into bed my phone rang, “Sam you need to get up here, now. “

Dear Momma,
I am sorry that I didn’t make it. I’m sorry that I was not there to say goodbye. I am sorry that I didn’t go into that cold room to see your body one last time. We drove as fast as we could. I still refuse to say goodbye and I was unwilling to let go of my last memory of you…lit up and being adored by your children and grandchildren….as you still very much are.

I’m not sorry we fought. I’m not sorry that I took it upon myself to feel your pain, be your safe place and at times your victim, without all of that I would not be the me that I am now. The woman that ten years later finds herself still so powerfully connected to your life that I find myself here on Mother’s Day, glass of Rose as my side…writing you. You were a stronger woman than you ever believed you were and to this day, in front of all the people that read this stoopid blog of mine I proudly say, “Nancy Dugan was my mother. She spent her life struggling with a sadness that could at times make her difficult, but she did the best that she could. Loved with an intensity that gave her children and grandson the strength to overcome some amazing obstacles. She was a mother before she was anything else and it was the one thing she was most proud of. Her fight was one brought on by many unwise choices on her part but she never gave up, never quit and even waited until my baby sister had turned 18, (19 days before she died) to let go. Her struggling heart stopped by a blood clot. She called 911 complaining that she was having trouble breathing, she was gone by the time the paramedics arrived."

Mom, I think of you often. Not every day as I am sure you would prefer but often. When the towers came down on September 11th I ached for you. When I was in that Paris bistro I wished I could call you. When Jeremy graduated high school you should have been there. When Tessa graduated from college we felt as if you were there. Just wanted you to know that we are doing fine. Tessa and I are both married to wonderfully sweet men, (you met Carl…you loved him and he you…he is now my husband) she is now in Grad school and continues to astonish me with how smart and funny she has become. Jeremy, your beloved Jeremy is doing great and just completed his junior year at the University of Louisville…his distance while painful at times makes me so proud of the mother that I have been to him. He is handsome, smart; funny as hell…a smart ass I am sure you are surprised, and just as sweet and gentle as he was when we first brought him home from the hospital. Oh and Mom…Mike is clean, has been for a few years now. He still struggles with holding a job but has found a home where he is adored and feels needed. Seems to be working for now and I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

As for me, well I’m the same I guess. I’m still at The Wine Country, still loving it and between the store, my family and this amazing group of people I find myself surrounded by I feel as safe and as loved as I ever have before. I’ve discovered that I have a love for writing that does at times consume me but in a very good way and as it turns out….this wine thing and this writing thing, pretty good combination for me. I still love music, still dance just like you taught me and still think of you every time I pass a bottle of Vouvray at the store. Vouvray night…the first night I felt that we were two women, not mother and daughter…just two women drinking too much and getting lost in a fit of giggles.

Just know it was not all for nothing Mom. We are all very proud to be your children. You done good lady.
I miss you
We all miss you and….
I guess more than anything I just wanted to say
Thank you.


Nancy Dugan May 17th 1945 – May 20th 2000

The End

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Momma III

“Tell me again why you had to leave?” I asked my mother one night when she was talking about having to dress up to go to the grocery store in Paris. When my mother was eighteen and had just graduated high school her father moved their family from Downey California to Paris France for a work assignment. It was around 1963, my mother was an adult but she was included in the move and from what I could tell….she found a bit of her “wild” in Paris. She didn’t speak too much about it, not really, just little comments about seeing The West Side Story while living there, the grocery store dress up deal….the kissing. I remember this intently; she always said that French men were the greatest kissers on the planet. It was like listening to two different women’s stories when she would walk down memory lane; there was the girl that lived in Downey, wrote for the school paper, wore pedal pushers and fuzzy sweaters…the girl everyone knew would marry young….and well. Then there was the Paris girl, the one that began to feel more like a woman, found little ways to rebel against her very conservative parents, the one that swore off Rum after a night of over indulgence that ended with a Frenchman (probably a good kisser) holding her hair as she rid herself of the vile liquid into a trashcan on the corner of a dark Paris street. I learned at a very young age that there must be something magical about Paris, there was just a wistful romanticism that surrounded my mother when she spoke about being there.
“Oh my grandfather got ill and seeing as I was the eldest and not in school it just made sense for me to be the one to come home and care for him. I was ready to come home anyway” she would report, and that was what it was like….like she was reporting. Not explaining or sharing, retelling the facts of what happened without the addition of feelings, one of the only events in her life that she hid her feelings about. That was the first in a long series of things my mother would do because she felt as if she had to. Sacrifices, she made many.

I continued my exploration of beauty and purity through my palate at The Wine Country. Spending nearly everything I was making on wines from around the world, France my palate was starting to lean towards France with Alsace leading the way, owning my heart a bit as it was a wine from that region that first grabbed me…first made me close my eyes while I was smelling it, opened me, made me understand that I was kind of good at this and made me comfortable talking about wine. I was still buying California wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel (Yeah that’s right Charlie) Syrah and I loved them but my purchases were clearly shifting more to the wines from France. “I’m going to dinner at my boyfriend’s parents and she is making chicken soup, what should I bring?” I asked our store manager. She asked my budget and upon hearing that I wanted to impress them she walked over to the Champagne rack.

I’d had Champagne of course, liked it enough and figured it would make me look kinda sophisticated to bring some to dinner so I went for it. I remember very little about that evening, couldn’t tell you what we talked about, how the soup was, (I’ve had it hundreds of times now and it is delicious) if anyone but me drank the wine….didn’t matter. First sip, small talk. Second sip, pulling me into the conversation. Third sip, I was leaning in on my elbow…getting just a little closer. Fourth sip, the kiss…a French kiss. Fifth sip, hands under the blouse. Sixth sip, fingers slipping under my waistband and unbuttoning my jeans. 1989 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicholas Francois seduced me, shook me, left my skin covered in goose bumps, that little shiver that runs down your spine and me out of breath saying, “Oh fuck, let’s do that again”. That night, with that wine I found not only a passion that would drive me but a comfort and acceptance of my own sensuality that made me feel as confident as I ever had. A connection to pleasure, my own pleasure and how having those tiny bubbles tickle my lips, having that full flavor spread across my palate, the way that first glass seemed to rub that tight patch of skin between my neck and shoulders…the way it reminded me of how it feels to press your bare skin against that of a lover you have been aching for. My connection to wine, the real connection for me was to be one of sensuality…mine and the wine’s. That night set in motion the discovering of a voice that would champion the way wine makes you feel rather than report information. A voice that would, at least for awhile push my mother and I further apart.

I felt alive at work, alive like I never had before. My palate was awake and seeking but so was I. No longer cowering or deferring to my mother, when she would snarl, snap and say things like, “You sound like a slut when you talk like that” I would roll my eyes and shake my head. At first I would seethe with anger and pain sometimes so powerful it would have me sitting on the floor of the ladies room, back against the wall, knees shoved into my chest, my head in my hands….sobbing. Other times just walking away from her without acknowledging her at all, seeking refuge in the front of the store with the people that were happy about me discovering myself, amongst the bottles that brought me such pleasure…away from a woman that saw my happiness as a threat to hers. Her safe place, her cheerleader, the one person that never accused or demanded of her was beginning to search for a life of her own. She was terrified.

“I’m moving to Boulder”…….

Dear Momma,
Champagne, why didn’t we share more Champagne? This Mother’s Day I want to pop a bottle of R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($39.99) a wine that not only makes me purr but makes me proud. It was over a dinner at A.O.C (God would you love that restaurant) with an importer friend, (don’t I sound fancy) that I first tasted this wine. Mom he brought the bottles to get my opinion on whether or not he should add it to his portfolio….me, he was asking me. Stunning, both the asking and the wine and it is in small part because of me that this wine is here in California, unreal. Big Champagne, I think we deserve this big Champagne with all its richness. Baked apples and caramel, salty, buttery pie crust and a finish that goes on forever. Yeah that’s what we need, a finish that goes on forever.

To Be Continued….

Friday, May 7, 2010

Momma II

I struggled my first year at The Wine Country. Tried to balance working the backroom doing shipping, (a duty that was added to my mailing list job) with the front of the store, filling in as needed stocking and working the registers. Mom was backroom only, she was doing the bookkeeping and as you can imagine juggling the books for a newly opened wine store was a full time gig. She would sit back there alone for most of the day except when I would be back there packing up cases and affixing UPS labels. Lonely to be back there listening to all the life and energy going on outside your little work station, the music, the voices, the laughter, the popping of corks for perspective buyers…I think in a way she saw my shift to the front, the adding of my voice to that cacophony of sounds that made her feel segregated, as a betrayal or abandonment. That first year had me as torn as I had ever been with regards to my already somewhat unusual relationship with Mom.

“Why are you crying?” my voice cracking, my heart racing while watching my mother break into to tears behind the wheel of the Volvo on our way to Costco. She sat silently at first, just kept driving with a face full of pain and wet with tears. I asked again terrified, (a feeling she had taught me, a feeling that was triggered by mom crying for no reason and not talking) but it would be ten minutes before she would open her mouth, what finally came out of that mouth would have me slapping on yet another piece of armor….an icy front to protect myself and her in a way. “I was watching the man in the car next to us, he couldn’t take his eyes off of you” I sat there my eyes no doubt displaying my confusion, (I had not seen the man she was talking about…almost never did) still at a loss as to why she was hurting so. “That used to be me. Men used to look at me like that” she choked through even more tears. It was me, I was making her cry, hurting her and there was nothing I could do to make it stop. I sank back in my seat, felt myself trying to shrink below the window and said all I could think of, “Mom I think you’re beautiful”

My siblings had a much different relationship with our mother, probably a slightly healthier one but one where they would rage at her, curse at her and while they undoubtedly loved her just as much as I did they were less affected by her sadness. Where they would roll their eyes and point out that it was her fault that she got a ticket for not paying her car registration, I would feel her sadness and defend her for something that was in fact her fault. Like I said, unhealthy. My reward for being her defender and protector, her feeling safe enough with me to be rather cruel at times.

“How do I look?” I asked right before heading out to my first wine dinner for The Wine Country. “If I were a man I wouldn’t touch you with someone else’s body” (cleaned up version) she snarled at me. I had been invited to the dinner, she hadn’t and she was once again angry at me. “I’d like to introduce Samantha Dugan and Eric Mohseni, two of the finest and most exciting young palates I have seen in years” Randy shouted to the full crowd at the wine dinner. He made us stand up, my face beet red and burning but Eric and I waved and nodded our heads before sitting back down. I was so grateful, not for being singled out and praised for my palate but because mom wasn’t there to hear it.

I found myself pulling away from her for the first time at the end of that first year at The Wine Country. Finding comfort tucked beneath the wings of the people there that would want to teach me, would talk wine with me for hours and took pleasure in helping me hone my palate and find my passion. I spent more and more time at the store, going in on my days off just to be near them, near the bottles that inspired me…tasting everything I could, sitting in on buyer meetings, my ears open, my nose open, scribbling volumes of tasting notes. Finding something beautiful in the purity and honesty of wine, closing my eyes with my nose buried in a glass of Riesling, letting it just be beautiful, letting it share itself with me through its explosive aromatics….losing myself and forgetting, if only for a glass long about the ever growing ugliness of the thousand square feet.

Dear Momma,
I wish I could share a glass of Roland Schmitt Riesling with you. Watch the corners of your mouth turn up as you feel the vibrant, peach heavy fruit dance across your palate. Feel your eyes on me as I explain that as concentrated as this wine is, as explosive and palate coating, that the little tingle you are feeling on the sides of your tongue is the acidity and that the tangy, almost lemon like snap that has your mouth watering...wanting another sip, well that is the mark of a beautifully balanced wine. I want to pour us another glass, toast it and us for what we are.....not what we aren't. Celebrate the beauty in this one bottle and not spend one second wondering if there is one that moment, you and I and that Riesling would be perfect. Yeah, I'd like that...

To be continued......

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dear Momma

“What is that? Wine?” my snarled response to opening the refrigerator door and having an elongated bottle come lunging at me from one of those side shelves. “Yes it’s a Muscat from Paso Robles” my mother replied stuffing the obnoxious bottle back behind the mayonnaise and smoothing her over-sized shirt before strolling back to her little corner of the couch. I sensed a little uppity in her saunter. A little sass and snide in her face as she glanced back at me standing in our too tiny kitchen still trying to navigate the “what the hell?” thoughts that were racing through my brain. Wine, we had wine in our kitchen. “You don’t even drink!” my smartass retort as I tried to piece together dinner for the six of us.

Six of us living in a two bedroom apartment. My mother and my sister in one room, me and my just starting family in the other…my brother tweaked out and living on the couch. Ugly. It was all so not healthy and ugly. My mother forever feeling as if she let my brother down and therefore punishing herself, (and the rest of us) by letting this very lost and unreasonably angry, drugged out monster serve as dictator of the living room. We had a big apartment but one thousand square feet spread out amongst six people, with one of those feeling as if they were owed around seven hundred of those thousand….things were tight to say the very least.

“Sam Randy could use some help with the mailing list at The Wine Country” my mother trying to get me to step foot in one of the stupidest sounding places on the planet. “A wine store? They have wine everywhere, why would they need a whole store just for wine?” me resisting once again. My mother and I had worked together in the Long Beach harbor, we did billing for freight containers, (many of which I am sure contained wine although I never once thought about what was in those refer containers I did the billing for) me having the memory to retain all the billing code for the refrigerated containers and her more apt to work the office and manage the billing of the chassis repairs. Our little company had been swallowed up by the Long Shore Union and we were both out of work. As I spent my time desperately trying to find work in the harbor, she was spending her time at her cousin’s shop that was just opening…a wine shop.

“Ha ha are you drinking wine now?” my brother sneering at mom as she sipped away on something she brought home from her new job. “Shut up you ass!” I snapped at the couch dwelling, mood ruining troll that was making fun of the woman that was supporting his loser ass. I grabbed the bottle of wine and poured myself a long glug in solidarity. I took one sip and nearly gagged. I clinched my teeth and found enough “prove him wrong” to swallow the yellow liquid that every part of me wanted to expectorate. I searched my mother’s face, my eyebrows crinkled and moving wildly…her face, her sweet face grateful for the gesture. I swallowed and vowed to never do that again.

As much as I admired my mom’s willingness to try and be a part of the new world she was trying to shimmy herself into I just knew it was not her. That same crazy eyebrow face was the same one I saw on her time and time again as she tried to teach herself to love wine. I took a year off to try and just be a mom and let my family bring in the money. My mom working hours at her cousin’s new shop, my boyfriend working at McDonald Douglas and me being the laundry, cooking, baby raising homemaker. Nearly killed me…the silent home during the day, the no one to talk to, the having nothing to share once those that were out in the real world came home. Me and my cracked out raging sibling fighting about everything. Horrid. I had to get out, be free from that thousand square feet…needed to hear myself, feel alive and viable. Each day I spent in that nest of “woe is me” threatened to capsize me. Erase me and any chance I had of figuring out what I was meant to do.

“Randy is still looking for help with getting his newsletter out” my mom seeing that I was being swallowed and being the woman that she was…trying to help me. I walked through the swinging door at The Wine Country and I instantly felt my jaw tighten and my back go rigid. Murals on the walls, piles of wine that I had never and would never taste. People standing around spinning liquid I had deemed stupid around in glasses….burring their noses, taking notes, spitting, ridiculous. I spoke very little but intently listened as my second cousin explained how to affix address stickers and stamps to his proudly written newsletter. “Great he thinks I’m a tard” swirling around me as I took notes on how to apply a stamp.

“Sam, come here and try this” the most cringe inducing bark to meet my ears that first few months at The Wine Country. Just one day, just the right wine and the right mood and damn….my life was forever changed. Her moment never came. She sat in the back room, away from the people that might have found that right wine for her. She in her backroom and me becoming the “front of the house” at a store that she felt like was to become her space. I took it. I took that from her…to this day I am unsure how to feel about that.

“Taste this” she said as she shoved a piece of cheese in my mouth, my newly awakened palate. “I would not feed that to my dog” she said as I tried my best to not projectile the vile bit of cow’s milk goo that she had somewhat violently shoved into my face. I felt her then, felt her more than I had in years…she was pissed. Angry at me for being what she could not be. I was sorry, so sorry but finding my place for the first time ever found me straightening my spine, flaunting MY stuff, my palate…a comprehension for those piles of wine that she would never get. I wanted to tell her that there was no way for me to repay her for all that she had done for me but her rage and disappointment in what life had dealt her, her inability to be anything but jealous made that impossible.

Dear Momma,
I wish I had bought you a bottle of 1998 Domaine de Fontanel Muscat Rivesaltes, ($25.99) as amazingly complex as any sweet wine I have ever had. The dried fruit and profound nuttiness mixed with a fiercely full texture and nervy bit of acid. A wine that reminds me of Madeira but has a silkier feeling, a gentler stride and a wine that we could have talked about. Its sweetness making it palatable to you, its acid and layers of intrigue making it one of those wines that I could go on and on about…teach you. I wish I would have taken the time to teach you. This wine would have been perfect for me to try and explain complexity, point to how very much like our relationship this wine is….sweet, nutty, full, salty with a serious spike of tingly acidity.

So much I wish I would have said and shared. So much I wish you could have seen. So many wines that make me think of you still…..

To Be Continued

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What A Critic Is Saying

So I was working on a little post about balance this morning before work and something inspired me to check the email that is linked to this blog. Not sure what made me think of it, it’s not something that I do like hourly or anything but I had been receiving such nice emails there lately so maybe I was feeling needy or something. Popped over there and saw that I had one new unread email waiting for me, “Cool” I thought and opened it, so not the rush I was looking for but it did get my heart racing for sure.

The subject line was as they almost always are, “Your blog” nothing to fear from that, it’s the “See what you inspired” ones that tend to make me hesitate before opening, ewe dude. Anyway I opened the email to find a long letter, a long rather hateful letter. My second bit of hate mail. At first I will admit that I was stinging a little, no one likes to read nasty things about themselves, but as I continued reading I found myself laughing….out loud. Not so much about what was being said, that part still pretty much sucked but it just struck me as so odd that someone, someone that seems to loathe everything about me and this blog would take the time to tell me so….for what?! What could one possibly hope to accomplish by sending a letter full of bile and personal attacks? What, you think I will reformat, conform or scrap the whole thing because some nasty twit doesn’t like me….yeah, wrong chick.

I finished the letter and jotted down some of my favorite parts before doing what I did with my last hate mail, deleted it. I just know myself too well and having that letter there to revisit over and over again would drive me to respond…just could not give such a person that much of my personal time. I sat there shutting down my computer before heading to work, my unfinished silly little piece about balance and this really mean guys words of hatred. I have been so very lucky in that I receive so much praise and adoration here, so many kind words and support that it is rather startling to be slapped in the face, or shocked out of my little bubble of safety…awoken to the fact that there are people that simply do not like me or the things I have to say. As much as it sucked the word, “balance” kept spinning around in my head so I figured what the hell, why not post a little something for those that only read me to get their undies in a twist, to scoff or to look for errors that will point out what an idiot I am or whatever. I don’t understand it but it’s like my friends that listen to Rush Limbaugh and start frothing at the mouth, I would turn it off, (lie I would never tune in in the first place) but whatever creams your twinke, I’m not here to judge.

So okay Robert No Last Name, lets address some of your issues.

“Your problems with the English language with regards to tense, sentence structure and grammar coupled with your incessant use of periods to create pauses make your writing unbelievably difficult to read. I thought the content was bad but the delivery is far worse. The fact that anyone including yourself would consider you a writer is laughable. Your writing is like a what-not-to-do for remedial English classes”

My Response
Yup dude, cannot argue with you there. I’ve said it more than I should have to as it is pretty clear, I am not an educated woman. I never claimed to be, in fact I think I have been pretty honest about my shortcomings in that arena. I hated school, probably because I was really bad at it so I never went. I am a drop out and that is bound to show. Never claimed anything more so I’m not sure why you are so pinched about it. Dude, I implore you….if it’s that painful for you to read please stop….save yourself.

“Your demonization of California wine only proves how much you don’t know about wine. Your post about sweetness in the wines you claim to hate only serves to prove what a hack you really are. The fact that you cannot tell the difference between actual residual sugar and perceived sweetness shows how flawed your palate is. I feel sorry for your customers”

My Response
I’m going to have to call bullshit on you here pal. I do not demonize wines from California, I may not feature them often or drink them regularly but I do not make it a practice to single out any region and smack talk on them. That is not what wine is about for me, I write about my affection for…not my distaste for. If you feel that I am picking on California then for that I have to say, “I’m sorry that you read that into what I wrote”. Look dude, there are hundreds of other bloggers writing about and singing the praises of California wines…go read them.

“The way you name drop is distasteful and I personally feel you are making it all up. Sure Eric Asimov reads you Samantha and I have the Pope on speed dial”

My Response
Okay I might have to cop to this. I might be a name dropper but I was not aware that I was doing it or that it made me look douchey. This might be the one positive thing I will take away from your crappy letter, I don’t want to be “That person”. I will not cop to lying though, I am not sure how often the people whose names I dropped read, but they have and have contacted me about it. Bragging, I may have been bragging and that IS distasteful and I do in fact feel a little like a creep for it.

“What I see when I read your overly sexually charged posts is a woman that can’t get anyone to sleep with her. I’ve seen your picture (if that is your picture) and I can see why. Maybe if you spent more time working on yourself and not pretending to be a writer someone might consider touching you and you could leave wine out of your pathetic lack of a sex life”

My Response
Ah yes, the cheap shot….a personal favorite. It’s rather amazing how you can see right through me Robert. My appearance means everything to me and my one and only desire and drive in life is to try and get people to bone me, what else is there? I mean seriously, why else would I get into a business full of buzzy men if it were not in the hopes that one of them may be drunk enough to fondle me. You’re good. This whole chunk of your letter had me in stitches. If I were to put a fake picture up you really think I would pick that one?! Retarded dude, that was simply retarded. Besides I am married so I have someone that is legally bound to me and is forced to undertake the revolting chore of dealing with my naughty bits so I’m set pal…not looking for more I assure you. I write…oh, should I make that, “Write” about wine the way I feel about it, (feelings are those things that some of us, you know the ones without frozen rods crammed up our pompous asses have that connect us to one another, places, smells and tastes) it inspires many feelings in me and yes….some of those happen to be sensual. If this bothers you or in some way wounds your fragile nature I implore you…STOP READING. Go back to Dr. Vino or whatever.

I do not speak to you and that has been made very clear. I get it and I guess I understand it in that different stokes (oh is strokes too dirty?) kind of way. Go away Robert, find peace in one of those other wine blogs that speak your language….just leave me here to toil away with my friends, my lust for wine and my untaught voice. I did not, nor would I have…ever come looking for you. My voice and style are nails on your chalkboard…just go away. I have read your words, ingested them and taken them for what they are worth….trust me on that.
Be well and I sincerely wish you luck in finding someone that does reach you. Talks wine in a way that inspires you because no matter what idea you may have about my motives…I just want people to explore, drink and fall in love with wine.

To my regular readers I apologize for this little rant or intrusion in Our flow...had an issue I felt I had to deal with and felt sacked up enough to put it out here. I don't lend more weight to faceless, commentless bile spewers than I do to all of you but I was not....could not just let some of that go. Thank you as always for indulging me and I promise to get back to my regular posting soon....I so adore all of you and find such warmth in the fact that I can come here and be naked...really fucking naked and feel all of your warm hearts and arms around me. Yeah, that's right Robert we are getting into group stuff now. You don't belong here dude.