Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Growers VS Showers....

Happened again a couple of weeks ago. My coworker Ronnie was pouring reds from Spain and Portugal, starting with the lighter, more friendly wines and moving into the heavier, chewier ones and I happened to be standing there when a couple was poured the first of the big reds. “Ohhhh, now that’s a wine!” the gentleman cooed as the opaque liquid settled in his glass. He and his wife were giddy, practically giggling as they made their way to the food table to grab hunks of cheese and sliced chorizo to munch on while sipping on their, “Monster red” I had already run through the wines, suspected that the dark wine thy were about to drink was not going to be what they were expecting, so I watched them closely and waited for their reaction and was not the least bit surprised when they quickly came back to the table. “UM, what is this?” they asked Ronnie, “It’s Afros Vinho Verde” he told them followed by, “It is from the Vinho Verde region which is typically known for their white wines but they do have some reds and this one is made from a grape called Vinhao” I watched as their faces glazed over, hearing words but not words that made any sense to them whatsoever. “Well it isn’t what we were expecting” the man replied before he and his wife went back to mill about the smallish group in the tasting room. Their reaction, exactly what I was expecting however.

The Afros Vinho Verde is a very dark, rich looking red wine but once on the palate you find something that is more akin to dry Lambrusco than the chocolaty, berry rich wine I’m sure that couple was assuming it would be. So their shock was not at all shocking to me, in fact it’s pretty typical for a lot of wine tasters. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve poured a big, black wine and had people ohh and ahh over it, say things like, “Yum!” before they’ve even smelled or tasted it and it never ceases to baffle me. As the Burgundy buyer for the store I learned long ago to stress to my customers that color tells you nothing about what you are about to taste. Often with red Burgundy the color can be just this side of Rose, and in some cases lighter than a Rose, but that doesn’t mean the wine isn’t loaded with deep and complex flavors. In a class setting I can make them understand that but in the stand-up tasting setting, little more difficult.

A couple of weeks ago we did a Cabernet Franc tasting on a Saturday afternoon and I couldn’t wait to extol the virtues of one of my most beloved varieties to all in attendance. Didn’t take long however, seeing as only about 27 people showed up. Randy and I found ourselves locked in a discussion afterwards trying to figure out why the event was so poorly attended, especially seeing as Loire Cabernet Franc is positively on fire in the shop right now. The only thing I could come up with, “Cabernet Franc is a grower not a shower”. Tasters seem to adore big, dark, thickly purple reds, wines that look as if they might just rip your face off and are loaded up with sweet upfront fruit and lots of toasty oak. They love them alright but the funny thing, not what most of them buy, to drink that is. 

“I need to buy a bottle of Cab, it’s a gift” this is how about 85% of the Cabernet Sauvignon I sell is sold, as a gift. Always amazes me that. That people wanting to give a gift of wine are automatically drawn to that big, flashy, showy style wine even though it’s not what they opt to buy and drink at home themselves. What’s up with that? Sure, we have some diehard Cabernet drinkers, drinkers not tasters, but for the most part that “I need a bottle of Cab for a gift” is followed by, “Oh and maybe something for me, a Pinot or blend maybe”. So you drink and prefer lighter wines but wish to….what, impress, with a bottle of bigger, richer, maybe better known and definitely more dripping with prestige Cabernet Sauvignon? Makes me wonder how that status was attained in the first place. Reminds me a bit of those ghastly holiday fruitcakes and rum cakes, everyone keeps handing them out but how many of those recipients are looking at that gift horse and stashing it away only long enough to pass it on to someone else?

“Dude, running through a lineup of Cabernet Franc is fun, running through those, that’s work” me emerging from the kitchen at The Wine Country after tasting only six of the twelve wines we had poured at our Big Time Cabernet Sauvignon tasting the night before. I’ve committed myself to learning more about California wine and no matter my mood or workload I will hunker down and give any and all of those wines my undivided attention to better understand what it is we stock and how best to serve our customers. Well, tasting through a dazzling array of high-end Cabernet Sauvignon had me thinking like those customers of ours do, “maybe a Pinot Noir or blend for me”. Just can’t seem to find pleasure, my pleasure in the actual drinking of them. Hell, for me, even the filling my nose and mouth with them, six of them, had me tapping out and asking for a break. Finding the working of the register and scrubbing of the wine bar in preparation for next event, much more inspiring than reaching for bottle number seven. This is what we give as gifts? The epitome of wine wonderfulness?! This is where you have to picture me sheepishly raising the index finger of my right hand, face scrunched and brows digging deeply into my skull as my mouth curled into a WTF?!

There are wines that “Show” upon one look, sniff or sip and there are those that demand that we spend just a little more our time, shedding expectations and stripping down to that primal grab of what really gets us off. Is that Cabernet Sauvignon?  In my world, not so much. That showy expulsion of juicy black fruit…the chewy density of exposed flesh right out there, open and giving it up in the first whiff? Seems rather cheap and shallow to me…

I want
Ache for
Showing is one thing, growing is another.      

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wines Of Place

Is that better you terroir disbelievers? Don’t want to get anyone’s knickers in a wad by using the “T” word. For those less geeky and not so much inclined to troll wine blogs, terroir is French word used, (a lot) to describe what the place the grapes are grown imparts on the flavor of the finished wine, and there are lots and lots of people, both in and outside of the wine business that don’t think it’s a real thing. Whatever. Might not be everywhere and who knows for sure if it is the soil, the strains of yeast or specific clones that create that common thread between wines grown in a certain places. I’m no scientist nor am I a winemaker, but I can tell you, from years of experience, there are in fact wines grown in places that taste like no other wines, made from the same variety, often from the same damn clones, from anywhere else. Period.

I’ve way too often had some sales rep or winemaker in my grill telling me his Central Coast, or Napa Chardonnay is Burgundian, and I can tell you that nothing will get my eyes rolling back in that, “Um shut up” way like that comment. I did have a guy recently tell me his Chardonnay was “Old world” in style and I have to say I found that down-right refreshing. Old world is a style, Burgundy is a place and it bugs the living crap out of me when place names are misused or misrepresented. Not to mention I think wineries should be proud of where they are, embrace it and make whatever style wine they wish. I won’t judge by any other standard….unless you toss about shit like “Our Chardonnay is very Meursault-like” well now you’ve given me something of an expectation, a place whose wines I know the flavors of and guess what? It’s not. Doesn’t make the wine bad, not in the least but it’s not Burgundian, so stop saying that. Do I believe there are wines of the same quality as many Burgundies being grown elsewhere, hell yes I do….but they still don’t taste Burgundian. It’s not just Burgundy either, although we do tend to hear it most often with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, that comparison thing, Rhone gets its fair share of it as does Alsace and Bordeaux at times and I wish it would just stop, not going to I know but I think that comparison thingie does more to fuel the flames of terroir debate than anything else. 

So I think it is pretty obvious where I stand on the argument. Can’t tell you why the wines from a specific place taste a certain way, but in my opinion they do. Call it what you like, make up the reason why but until someone can pour me a Cabernet Franc that tastes like Bourgueil, a Sauvignon Blanc that tastes like Sancerre or a Chardonnay that tastes like Chablis, well I am gonna stay firmly planted in the “Believer” camp. That being said, a couple of years ago I started using “wines of place” rather than the ubiquitous, and oft misused, terroir. Just paints a clearer picture for my customers and for some reason kind of takes that whole, “Vs.” thing out of the equation a little. When comparisons are made we as a people are inclined to pick a “winner” and with matters of wine, (or any other subjective, preference driven subject) the only winner is the one that tastes best, to you. Might not be the same winner as the person pouring picked or the person next to you at the table right? Which brings us to my next topic……..the wine scoring system. Kidding. Not a chance in hell I’m poking that buzzing bees nest.

A couple of weeks ago I was tasted on a flashy new Chablis, leesy, rich, toasty oak and when I buried my nose in the glass I thought two things; has no aroma of place and this style wine is made, far better, in other parts of the world. Had no use whatsoever for it and I took a pass…funny thing though, he didn’t mention when pouring that it was a, “Sonoma Coastian style”. I judged that wine on both sets of criteria, place and after that, style and it failed on both. Crappy Chablis and substandard Chardonnay, no thanks. When you look at it that way it might behoove suppliers, winery reps and salespeople to skip that whole “It’s an X style” wine because now not only have you given me the, “Um, shut up” face, you’ve thrown another layer of expectation in the mix. Just sayin’….

Last night I was dropped off a couple bottles of wine, samples of a new vintage from one of my favorite producers and the second my nose was in the glass I could tell where that wine was from, without question that wine was Chablis, not Chardonnay, Chablis. A wine of place. That stony, un-cooked bread dough, salty, almost fleshy smell and taste can only come from one place. Call it what you want, matters not to me but no one is going to convince me that there is nothing at all to what a specific place can add to a wine. Doesn’t take much to cover that up should you be so inclined, as was the case with that Chardonnay producing Chablis estate I was tasted on a couple of weeks ago. Little longer hang time, some brand new or heavily toasted oak and viola, accent covered. Not so much opposed to that but keep in mind Mr. Sonoma Coastian “Chablis” producer, you are now competing on a world stage with a new world style and you’ve got some seriously stiff competition ahead of you. They are making  far more concentrated, elegant, refined Chardonnays, like in the Sonoma Coast, you erase that place flavor from your wine…you can’t compete, theirs are better examples, of Chardonnay. 

I happen to dig the fact that I can taste where a wine is from, often times more than what it’s made from. I think it’s freaking cool as hell, romantic even. If you can’t, don’t want to or fall in the terroir is bullshit camp that’s fine too but how about not pointing your finger and saying the rest of us are being hoodwinked, or worse, lying. Oh and if you really think there is nothing to it, quit using words like Burgundian, it’s a freaking PLACE, ya jackhole.  Either you believe that imparts something or you don't.

Hugs and kisses,
Kool-Aid Drinker...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Catching Up With May 20th

So let me first apologize for my absence the past week. I know how all both of you pine away and wait for my every stinking thought so I’m sorry I wasn’t here when and if you clicked on by for a visit. I think I’ve been in a wee bit of a funk, a lot of it having to do with this past anniversary week and for some reason allowing myself to miss my mother, or letting myself be sad about it is probably closer to the truth. Wallowing is probably even closer. Mix that with Call-o being gone a whole hell of a lot and it amounts to me being really fucking lonely. Gee, can’t imagine why I didn’t rush here to bore the shit out of you cats with all that fun reading. Ugh.

I woke yesterday morning trying my best to simply ignore the date. That lasted all of seven minutes and while hovered over my first cup of milk and sugar infused coffee was when the first flash of, “Sam, something’s wrong. The ambulance is here and they are taking her to the hospital but honestly, it doesn’t look good” remembering standing there halfway into my beloved jammies, about to slip into bed, unable to make sense of the words coming through the receiver. May 20th, the day my mother died. A day that I never forget but have not really spent that much time thinking or talking about…and don’t worry, not about to now. Not really anyway.

I sat with my hands cupped around my coffee mug, working a fierce mane of bed-head, feeling…well feeling too damn much. Fired up the laptop, popped on to Facebook and opened my living room window just in time to hear…laughter. The high-pitched giggle and hard belly laugh of my wee boyfriend floating across the ever soggy patch of grass that separates our two apartments, and falling right into my open and exposed heart. Alone at my kitchen table, the only sound in my apartment coming from the ceiling fan as it whispered and rocked gently above my head, so early on a Sunday morning that the entire quad area of my complex was still shut up tight and silent, except for Tyler. That laugh so pure and honest, so in the moment that it felt like an icepack on my sore muscle, soothed me and before I knew it, I was wearing a grin from ear to ear…on May 20th.

Once fortified with just enough coffee I remembered why Ty was up and bubbling with enthusiasm, the memory of my somewhat buzzy night before and having a conversation with his Dad. “So Sam, Tyler is having his birthday party tomorrow morning and I know he would love it if you came” the words so sweet they made my heart swell and my pink cheeks, (both from booze and from blushing) raise in that way that makes my eyes squint….something like a smile but seeing as I tend to think of a smile as something lovely, and mine is anything but, we’ll just call it my “Sam Awkward Happy Face” and I found myself agreeing to not only go to a six year old’s birthday party, early on a Sunday morning, I was going to step foot in a place I hadn’t been in for at least sixteen years. A place that had this young mother, (shut up, I was once) looking down at the face of her most beloved son, seeing his sweaty head and goofy grin and saying, “Jeremy, Mommy can’t bring you here anymore” after my third visit. I was going to Chuck E. Cheese. Mother F’er. 

A little stunned by the remembrance and a touch irked when my husband finally emerged from the bed he has only been in like four times this month, seeing that big ass grin of his and shoulders shake with giggles…he clearly remembered where we were headed that morning and found it funny as hell. My glare ineffective I resorted to, “Har-har. When you leaving again” wicked sharp in the mornings, that’s me, I went back to my coffee, craning my neck to pick up the sound of an adorable six year old on the morning of his Chuck E. Cheese birthday party, and returned to my ever ready laptop.

Had a long letter from Jeremy updating me on what was happening there in Louisville and his plans to move to Virginia with friends in a couple weeks. Let myself swim around in the pride and excitement I have for him and this next big adventure. Imagined what that must feel like, to be at the beginning of your life and having the freedom, and courage, to make a move like that. Felt once again in awe of that young man and my cheeks were scrunching my eyes, more “Awkward Sam Face”. Popped over to Facebook to find a picture of my sister, the one that had just turned 18 twelve years ago when I got that call on May 20th, and was the one that stopped me in the parking lot of the hospital in Apple Valley, crying, telling me, “Mom didn’t make it” there she was, now 30, with her Master’s Degree, posting her first picture from the month long vacation she and her adorable husband are on, pictures from London. Yeah, there was more face scrunching. 

“You don’t need me anymore!!” my mother hurling her pain at me through the phone line. Bemoaning the fact that I had my life, my career, my Call-o (we weren’t married then) and Jeremy and I didn’t need her anymore. I was angry, really fucking angry as the words slammed into my eardrums. The rage creeping up my neck and that ball of “Why can’t you just be happy for me?” banging around in the pit of my stomach as my mother wailed and seethed. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, in my apartment, anger causing my eyes to water, my hands shaking as I tried remember that I was a grown woman, with a family of my own and a life that I was very happy in. “You’re right Mom. I don’t need you anymore” her voice now just somewhat muffled sobs, “I don’t need you, but I want you in my life. Doesn’t that mean something? Doesn’t that actually mean even more?” that was the last time I spoke to her. I’ve often thought about that call, tried to piece more of it together but nothing really comes. I know I had to have told her I loved her, know she would have said it in return, we always said I love you when we ended a call and I know that even that one, a fighting, angry, lonely, sad one, we would have ended it with I love you.

I’ve talked a lot about forgiving my mother lately, and I truly believe that I have. One thing I’ve always said about my mother’s passing is that I felt horribly guilty that the last time we spoke she was hurt, we were fighting and that I wish I hadn’t picked up the phone that night when I saw it was her calling….think it is now time for me to forgive myself. The last conversation we had I was just doing just as she would have wanted me to, standing my ground, being a woman and defending my family. My sister in London, Tyler’s birthday party, Jeremy’s long letter, new memories for May 20th, time to let the old one rest. It ended with, “I love you”…

So that’s where I’ve been, sorting things out, clearing my old sheds as it were. I’ve also been tasting a bunch of wine, so maybe, just maybe I’ll write a freaking post about wine on my damn wine blog one of these days. One can only hope right?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The HoseMaster's Probing Continues....

The first time we had a conversation it revolved around blogging and writing (two different things). Why don’t we talk about wine for a change? You have very strong opinions about wine, which I admire, and I’m wondering how long it took you to come to those opinions. If Randy had installed you as the California buyer at Wine Country, do you think your preferences about wine would have evolved differently?

Talk about wine? On my wine blog?! You’re kinky….

As far as opinions about wine, well I had them from the beginning. Of course then it was, “It sucks” because I didn’t know anything and thought it all tasted the same. Randy kept prodding, making me taste and smell everything and one afternoon, with a glass of Alsatian wine, I got it. From there it took only realizing that like anything else, wine is subjective, so having an opinion and sharing it was never a problem.

I think I’ve always loved Alsatian wines, though I rarely seem to drink them any more. The only birth year wine I’ve ever tasted was a 1952 Hugel Riesling—which was appropriate since it smelled vaguely of placenta. It was at an event in honor of Hugel’s 350th year of continuous winemaking. And it was a gorgeous wine. It was served to us blind and we were asked to guess the vintage. Most of us guessed it was from around 1971. It was unbelievably alive and fresh—which you could say about me. I have always wanted to taste the ’52 Chave Hermitage, if anyone has a spare bottle they want to send to their favorite HoseMaster.

My becoming the French wine buyer was more organic than a placement really. For many years I was the cheese and sparkling wine buyer only, although as I drank my way around the shop it was always the wines from France that spoke to me and that I drank the most often. It wasn’t until I made a call to Randy, from Beaune, after a long afternoon in the cellars and very late night dinner, (might have been a wee bit drunk) telling him that I had my heart stolen by Burgundy and wanted to learn more, my words and passion apparently palpable through the phone line, that he appointed me the Burgundy buyer for the shop. Not too long after that our French buyer left and Randy felt it was only natural that I take over the department. So my preferences were in place before I was the buyer and California wines, in general, never really grabbed me.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen you gush that much about the wines of the Rhone Valley, at least not Hermitage or Cote-Rotie or Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and not like you gush about Champagne and Burgundy and the Loire. I know that when I start listing the great wines of the world, my heart goes right to Chateau Rayas (though it hasn’t lived up its potential lately), Le Vieux Donjon, Chave Hermitage, Cote-Rotie from Rostaing or Jasmin, and many others in that neighborhood. Where do those regions rank in your French pantheon of wines?

I think you nailed it with the, “Hasn’t lived up to its potential lately”. I was never as taken with the wines from Rhone, just a little too much upfront junk for me at first and now, well now they are often down-right unrecognizable as French wines at all. When I burry my nose in a glass and get a big blast of cooked sweet berries and brown sugar…well I’m out. The Northern Rhone are a little more my style, dig that gamey, smoky, savory thing they often exude but I find that many of the foods I eat aren’t suited to wines that big. That and I’m not a cellar person, I drink ‘em young and the Northern Rhone wines need more time than I’m willing to give. 

Anyone who reads Samantha Sans Dosage knows of your great passion for Champagne, well, for Grower Champagnes. Let’s say you were tasting a lineup of Champagnes blind, some are from the Grande Marques, others are Grower Champagnes (ones you might not already know), how would you know which are which? And how would it affect your decisions if I were kissing your neck while you were tasting? Is Champagne better when it inadvertently comes out your nose?

You kissing my neck while I’m tasting Champagne conjures up a whole different kind of frothy…

Yeah, I’d probably prematurely disgorge myself.

As you know you and I have been on two panels where we tasted sparkling wines blind and if you recall the sparkling wines and big house Champagnes fell to the bottom of my list each time. There is just a richness and concentration in grower Champagne that simply cannot be replicated anywhere else or in million case production wines. Kind of the way truffle oil might taste like truffle but never has the power, layering, complexity, depth or freshness that eating actual truffle does. The thing is, with grower Champagne, (and I’m talking the good ones here. There are some that I find just as insipid as the big houses…not many, but some) it is the base wine that I’m interested in. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the bubbles, nice to have them but far from essential because it’s that concentrated flavor I crave. I drink great Champagne from a regular wine glass and I swirl the hell out of it just as I would any other wine. I think people are dazzled by the sparkly and stop short of truly evaluating the wine, shame really, because they are missing out on some truly world class winemaking. Truth be told I have stopped drinking sparkling wines all together, from anywhere other than Champagne. They just don’t have that thing that nibbles my neck and keeps me coming back for more. 

You have completely convinced me that drinking the great Champagnes from flutes is stupid. Even stupider from oboes. It was a genuine joy to taste Champagnes blind with you. I learned a lot. You have an exceptional palate, Samantha, one of the best I’ve ever tasted with. You often referred to a “salty” quality in the best Champagnes, a quality I don’t think I ever really picked up on, though I sort of get it. But it never appeared in my tasting notes. Can you speak to that? What I remember most vividly from one tasting was the greatness of the Camille Saves Rose. I remember thinking that it was EXACTLY what I wanted when I wanted great Champagne Rose. I haven’t had a better one before or since.

Yeah, Saves made me its bitch years ago….welcome to the club. The salty thing, not sure I noticed that I use that but I know what I mean, that’s not enough? Have you ever placed your tongue on a seashell or Play-Doh? There is this zing of something somewhat salty although salt isn’t quite the right word. I can taste that stark shock of “saltiness” in some great Champagnes, especially Blanc de Blancs. I get the same thing with really browned butter if that helps at all…

Are there any bigger Tete du Cuvee Champagnes you like? Pol Roger Winston Churchill Cuvee? (I confess a fondness for it, maybe because my jowls are beginning to mimic his.) How about Salon? Any of them? Or have you abandoned them altogether?

When was the last time you had that Winston Churchill? And not icy cold in a flute? Just curious. I think Salon can be truly remarkable and sublimely complex wine but it is also crazy fucking expensive and I can’t say that I find it that much better than something like Agrapart Venus or Jose Dhondt Vieilles Vignes, or even that Coquillette 2006  that we shared with Eric Asimov, (see what I did there? Made us all legit and shit by name dropping) and they are all less than $100 where Salon is what, close to $300?

Oh, and Champagne needs no aeration….

Doesn’t need a fucking Rabbit™ either.

You and I seem to have two constant wine disagreements. I love Zinfandel and you don’t. I’m still very fond of recalling the Ridge tasting we attended together and watching your gorgeousness go all fartyface as you tasted through their Zinfandels. What is it about Zin that offends your sensibility?

What? My fartyface isn’t gorgeous? How rude.

It is the standard by which all other fartyfaces are judged.

Aw, how sweet is that? I’m like blushing and junk.

I think asking me what I don’t like about Zin is like me asking you why you’re a freak and don’t like eggs or tomatoes. I just don’t. I find the flavors run along this green thing that I don’t care for, almost like stems or something and it makes my gag hairs stand on end. I do taste every Zin we open and find by wine number six or seven I almost have to swallow as spitting could be….um, messy.

As HoseMaster I have had too many eggs and tomatoes hurled at me to like them.

I find your aversion to Zin utterly perplexing. You’re certainly not alone in disliking Zin, but I love the variety. There can certainly be a green element to Zin, as with any red wine, but I think vintage is very, very important to Zin, more so than many red wine grapes. But Zinfandel can be every bit as satisfying as Chinon or Barbera d’Alba or Bandol. Give me one of the Storybook Mountain’s Zins and I’m a happy camper. Though I drink Zin out of a flute, so maybe that’s the problem.


Our other debate is about Rose. We both love Rose, but I find Pinot Noir Rose to be insipid whereas I love Rose from Grenache or Sangiovese or Mourvedre. You seem to think there are some wonderful Roses from Burgundy. I’m woefully out of touch with that world, so I sort of believe you. However, I rarely like Rose made in the Saignee manner—I tend to call it After Thought Rose. To me, Rose should smell like red wine, yet taste like white wine. And they should never be the color of Bozo’s nose.

Thanks for clearing that up. Was that a question? Can’t find one but let me tell you why you’re wrong. First of all, Rose from Sangiovese?! Dude, c’mon, I don’t even think Italians like their Rose. Lame. Secondly, I have tasted some “insipid” Pinot Noir Rose but they weren’t from the Loire or Burgundy….any guesses where they were from? I’ll give you a hint, YOU LIVE THERE. I do think there are some really nice Pinot Noir Roses in California but they aren’t, nor can they be, like those from Sancerre or Marsannay which are miles away from being insipid. My boss Randy thinks I need to tie you down and teach you the ways of Pinot Noir Rose, you game?

OK, so I’m wrong about Pinot Noir Rose with my blanket statement, but it’s OK for you to condemn all Zinfandel. Nice to know we’re on equal playing fields.

Vagina always makes me more right….read the fucking manual sweetheart.

Sangiovese makes lovely Rose, My Love. I have no idea what Italians like, aside from surrender. Alfonso? Want to chime in? And, yes, there are LOTS of insipid Pinot Noir Roses from California—they’re worse than you think. But, for my money, it’s the great Provencale Roses, and the great Roses from other parts of France that are made from Grenache and Mourvedre and, well, everything but Pinot Noir, that are far better than and more interesting than anything I’ve ever had out of Burgundy. Sancerre, OK, maybe Sancerre, here and there.

You can tie me down, but let’s skip the Rose of Pinot Noir and get right to the few hours of skin contact.

Here’s a simple question. Outside of France, what is your favorite, or several favorite, appellation for wine?

That’s simple?! Well least I can kind of speak generally, although it will piss Thomas off. I adore reds from Piedmont, whites from Friuli, nearly everything from Jerez and I am starting a love affair with the Santa Cruz Mountains…oh when I can find one, an old school Rioja gets me every time.

I’m a firm believer that the Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the great appellations in California. Mount Eden’s Estate Chardonnay is one of the great wines in the state, period. And Rhys’ Pinot Noirs? Wow, those are surely wines that speak to you. And me. I’ve always said, also, that anyone who lists the greatest Cabernets in California and doesn’t list Ridge Monte Bello in the top five doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

I also love Piedmont, and the Friulian whites. What about those great Northeastern Italian red grapes, Teroldego and Lagrein? I love Lagrein! And I used to drive a ’74 Teroldego. 

I just don’t drink enough Sherry. I love it, and it is so wonderful with so many dishes, and often with the food on the dishes. But I never seem to drink it. Stupid. What about you? What do you love that you don’t seem to drink often enough? I’ve noted Alsatian wines and Sherry, and I’d add to that Burgundy, on my end. You? And don’t say Gruner.

Rose of Sangiovese.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Inspired By My Mother

So a few days ago I wrote a brief post about my mother. One letting her know that I was thinking of her, that the songs she loved when I was a kid still moved me and made me think of her. Wondered if she were alive if she would have forgiven me for the hard truths that I shared here on this blog two years ago. Been feeling her presence and seeing there was no way for me to tell her I did the one thing that has, in recent years, brought me much peace and clarity at times when I can't seem to sort through the gray layers of emotion, memory and resolution...I came here. I wrote.

Something else happened though. Others wrote back, both figuratively and quite literally. Got an overwhelming response, albeit privately, from that post and my silly heart has once again been split wide open, in a beautiful way, by the words of support, encouragement and absolute understanding. The women that have contacted me, told me that reading my somewhat confessional piece inspired them to think of their own relationships with their mothers, well they have not only made me feel far from being alone, they have bestowed upon me a gift that I have, historically been too stubborn or shy to take....they made me feel proud, of myself. No easy task I assure you. I am my worst and most brutal critic and while that shan't change anytime soon, on this Mother's Day I will indulge in your miraculous words and very open hearts. Walk just a bit higher on the balls of my feet, shoulders strong, back straight, extra twist of my hips, let the confidence ooze from my flesh....let the scent of whatever talent I might have flow from my pours. Don't think there is a greater gift than that of making one realize that they have to power to make people truly think and feel. You, your letters, your comments and visits to The Wine Country...they give me that. 

I have only this one voice, this laptop, this one shot at living the life I've always wanted and the very real desire to bring us all closer by sharing myself and my stories in the hope that at least one person doesn't feel alone. Not much to offer you all I know, but it's what I have. 

I wrote a series of posts about my mother and our somewhat tumultuous, sometimes painful, often fearful relationship two years ago. They were some of the hardest pieces I've ever written but also ones that I am very proud of. Not the way they are written, but the freedom I had to finally be able to say those things, and the ultimate resolution and clarity that came from looking at her for what she was. Mother's aren't Super Women, we are just women and so very human. She did the best she could and in the end, she raised two daughters that were far stronger, and happier than she ever had the chance to be. I was lucky to have her....wouldn't me this me without all the lessons that came with being her daughter. 

Here they are all together and in order for those of you that weren't reading back then. Like I said, you make me feel incredible, like all the time and all I have to repay that are my words, my stories and my heart. 

I'm grateful for the love she gave, the struggles she endured, the sadness she made me see I never wanted. I would never be the woman I am without her....the mother I am without her. 

Thank you Mom
Thank you all....