Identity Consequences; Wine and You, Friend – Reviewing Bodegas La Casa Luculo

Identity, hmmmmm… are you living your painful truth?

Is it agonizing to live with your surface thoughts?  How many times have you filtered yourself, sent the over anxious text, flirted on the edge of just being inappropriate? (guilty)  I don’t agree with the fact that you cannot take responsibility, as an adult, for adulting. We’ve come this far for a reason, and now it is time to recognize that you may have become your mother on more than one occasion. And yes, I think the painful part is the crazy amount of stimuli that surrounds us all. How can you make a decision when Instagram is available to show you how inadequate you are? Professionally, emotionally, sexually – all three weigh a selfie down.  

Your identity is what I see, what I remember, what I crave and sometimes what saves me. When you leave me, I want to know that your watery eyes meant that we went somewhere, wherever that was, and that it can be found again between us. I want to know that our moment among moments has a life beyond – or was it the wine?  We all see through the people that peek outside the curtain a bit. They don’t answer your questions fully, are moody and vulnerable to be noticed, act a little “extra” when in a conversation – and why? Don’t you crave the release of integrity?  Can we lie just a bit to get by? 

Strange bridge, but in the age of extraneous marketing plans, I’m finding it hard to hang on to the key of the Spanish wine region of Navarra. It can be because of the fact that there are complexities of soils, many microclimates, and various impressions of surrounding areas. But damn – just send me the message of who you are! I’ve tasted your whites, your reds, your blends, your lighter reds, your self respecting imagery – that’s a lot of stuff. But I”m still trying – which means you still have me on the hook.  

  • Jumping on the Navarra train again with: Bodegas La Casa, Luculo
  • Grape Varietal: Old Vine Garnacha. Well, Garnacha, but I wanted to beguile you a bit with the Old Vine part. In my research, I’ve found that the sourced vines can be anywhere from 50 to 70 years old. Is that there to entice you; it should be. Truthfully, I would hope they are that old. We are sourcing in Northern Navarra – on the border of France, at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, tiny villages, and tiny outputs to produce gobs of wine. So yes, get excited about the old vine mystery; it may pay off.
  • Eh – the wine itself: And here is where I project something I’m not going to get. I don’t like to research to much before I taste. I don’t want any masks to discourage my opinions. If I had done the research, I would have expected that this wine WAS a lighter in style, and higher in acidity. What I did like was the fresh acidity – it met the opulent fruit as a partner to the finish. A toasty French oak (think Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream) wrapped up this wine and completed a good Navarra journey. Not great, just good.
  • What to do with this lovely: Dinner at La Brace in Little Falls NJ – https://www.labracenj.com – first time, not last time. Great Italian spot in my little home town, Don’t judge me for my neighborhood joint; the place was great. Tiny – if there are 30 seats I would be surprised. We indulged in pasta, seafood – nothing too heavy. I forgot to mention that the fruit on this wine was very “pretty” – a romp of strawberry jam, a bit of cinnamon spice, and silky in texture. In the end, a northern Navarra Garnacha was the perfect pairing for this place; nothing inhibited the delicacy of the comprised indeganeous Ligurian dishes.

What else was there: I hate to do this to you, but we had a winery only wine at dinner as well. (how boushy) Selfish of me to even bring it up, but it was a lovely Pinot Noir from Sterling, located in California. You know – if you read this blog – I’m not a lover of Pinot Noir. However, at times, Garnacha from this area in Navarra is known as the “Pinot Noir of Spain” – if that can even be said. The Sterling did not have the earthiness that the Garnacha did, but similar fruit, similar assent of satisfying mood enhancing powers. Good companion, and a good assimilation if Garnacha is new to you.

You may not agree with my idea that identity, or your true self, is a painful journey. You may be happy living with what you want me to understand – well then, go for it. I’m not judging. But, like the region of Navarra, the reason I’m reaching is because I see all the possibilities.  Navarra will still ghost the hell out of my wine region compilation journey – wow, I really found a similarity here that scares me.  I’ll leave it here – just know that all the things we all see are just that – and that when you are ready to trust, trust will be available. Navarra will still be confusing, but you will have a better step towards clarity than the Garnacha. You are both lovely to me.

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Breathing In My Ugly – Drinking Illumination Sauvignon Blanc

I”m told that you can find beauty in all things, that it is in the eye of the beholder, there is beauty in the ugly, that someone will see your beauty deep within you…is this all a crock of shit?

Sometimes, we gotta live in the ugly. In the REAL ugly – not the messed up mascara or pizza night sob fest. I’m talking raw, I’m not holding back, I may hyperventilate from crying, and I may say very very wrong things ugly moments. Does the decision to go there come from a sedimentary feeling of yourself – right at this very moment. In sales, we train ourselves to always be your super star. No matter what is going on personally in our lives, we are here to make you feel like you are on top of the world. Well, I gotta tell you – keeping up with the pretty is tough. Think about all the things stirring in you right now and then push them away, just to make a sensible sale – kind of crappy, right? This is where I am at now, and this is where I don’t see any getting out of right now. Is it ok to be banished to ugly land, or should I think about washing my hair?

In this immediate atmosphere I am creating, I thought it was funny that I opened a bottle of Illumination Sauvignon Blanc https://www.quintessa.com/illumination . In my mind, Illumination, and the Quintessa property this wine is being sourced from, is one of the most beautiful “Napa feelings” you can get. When I visited this winery, I was told I had to hike up a small hill prior to my tasting; ugly thoughts swimming in my head. What was revealed was a scenic view of the valley, more specifically the hills of Rutherford, with the Vaca Mountain range seen through the mist of a thick as hell fog. Things like this take your breathe away, remind you that you are human – an ant on this planet, and stamp an impression of what you believe true natural beauty to be. At the time, Illumination was not being made, and an overwhelming glass of red was put in my hand – sexy, voluminous, dense, rich, and full of brambly fruit (Quintessa). A small patch of land was pointed out, and I was told that was where they planted a little bit of sauvignon blanc – just for friends and family.  Lucky them.

Fast forward a few years later and you have this beauty of a wine. I remember the launch, rememberer selling this wine to a few restaurants, be needed a refresher:

  • Flavor profile: The fruit in this wine hits your nose before it hits your palate. I kind of love that moment – listening to the pour into the glass (listen next time – it totally seduces you), a bit of a swirl (really not needed with white, but it makes me look alluring), and a big ole’ sauvignon blanc facial is ready for you. This wine is like a bowl of citrus in your face – cooked lemon peels, navel oranges, ripe pineapple, limey rimmed sweetness on the end. I would have liked a bit more minerality that I seem to remember, but maybe that was just a dream. All in all, perfect with dinner, but probably not a “starter” wine – I usually like something a little crispier around the edges.
  • What we did with it: I had a dinner at Salute in Montclair http://salutemontclair.com – a great stand by BYOB with the crappiest parking ever. Suck it up and walk off your meal because it was worth it. Call us creatures of habit, but mussels were necessary and off the hook. At first I thought the meat and cheese plate would be way to much for this wine, but there is a heaviness in the body that is usually not there with this varietal. It can stand up to much more than you think it can. And listen, check out the label. If that doesn’t put you in some kind of mood, I don’t know what will.
  • What do you need in your purse: I found this wine on https://www.wine-searcher.com for around $30. It’s not really out there in the stores; more of a restaurant wine. Expect to pay more in the restaurant, and don’t be “that guy” and complain.  Fun fact; if you do not see something on the shelf, the retailer may be able to order it next day for you. All you need to do is ask!

I’m slapping on some red lipstick and pretending I’m pretty these days. I”m going to fake my pretty, and you will never know the difference. Whatever – it can be done. 


Forcing A Holiday Feeling – And Few Wine Suggestions

I have been drinking everything in sight lately.

Now hold on. I haven’t been drinking in excess, or carrying on like an idiot. I’ve just been indulging much more than I have in months. Well, one sip would be more than I’ve had in months being I had a little stand off with wine for awhile. I highly recommend a break, from so many things – but taking a break from something you study, admire, pontificate, crave, yearn for and have a true affection for is telling.  I don’t need a glass of wine to “take the edge off”, or finish the day, or for help in understanding my crappy attitude. I’m not going to judge if this is you, because, we all run our own lives. However, for me, new suggestions on how and what I drink started to emerge, and my approach in expressing my thoughts on flavors have changed. I’ve begun this study on where your thoughts on flavors are actually coming from.  Why did I have leftover Tres Leches for breakfast this morning instead of a protein shake (this actually happened), why do I seem to date guys that drink beer (known fact), and why do I seem to want a balanced chardonnay every day around 6pm? Where are these feelings coming from? I am starting to recognize they are not so much flavor choices, but rather notions of comfort, satisfaction, and yes love.

In saying all of that, I was thinking what my wine choice would be at Thanksgiving dinner. Let me tell you where I am coming from – I’m the invited guest. Don’t feel bad for me, I’m used to it. My family has other plans (and for good reasons-another blog), and I usually find myself as the orphan at your table. I also have the worst digestive system.  My 40’s have brought rough and tumble tummy issues that I’m still learning how to handle. That’s a lot of drama, I know.  But, what can cure the awkward non-family dinner/toasting to nothing you understand/eat till you puke wine event?  Check out these three choices:

  • The Grape: Grillo
  • Where is it from?: Sicily, Italy. Yes, you heard that correctly. And…it’s a white wine. Hold on…
  • Why, why and why?: This wine was a gift brought to my annual Friendsgiving Party. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE brings wine to my house – EVER.  So, imagine my surprise when not only did this wine appear, but it was actually good! It was the perfect white as a starter when first arriving somewhere where you are the “new guy” and feel a little out of place. Crisp, bright, with bountiful citrus flavors – very similar to your sauvignon blanc, but with a mineral backbone. We stood in my front room and quickly finished this bottle – giggling, exchanging kisses, realizing my house had become a safe zone and feeling like we belonged. Corny, but that is the memory – and I love it.
  • The grape(s); Tinta Roriz Alfocheiro, Touriga Nacional – yeah, there you go…
  • Where is it from?: The Dao area of Portugal. So many of my wine friends have been oohing and ahing over wines from the Dao, and I have been ignoring them. Not only am I beginning to expand my mind on this area, but am willing to open my wallet to the area – very affordable!
  • Why, why, and why?: Honestly, because it is easy. Medium body, plump, full of lush flavors of raspberries, plums, and any other round red fruit. Great “I’m in a conversation” wine – like a let’s chat about nothing while we sip wine. There is a sweetness that usually turns me off, but it is bearable in a way that is reassuring and soothing. Give hugs with this wine, be surface with your thoughts and filter what you say. You know, normal holiday conversation…
  • The Grape: Good Ole’ Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Where is it from?: Good Ole’ Napa Valley California
  • Why, why, and why?: This is my wine dinner choice because I KNOW it will be not only good, but appreciated by everyone that drinks it. Is it a sell out to bring a bottle of Beringer? This is always the conversation that surrounds a brand like this. There will always be the comment; “Oh Susan – did you bring me a jug of White Zinfandel from Beringer as well?” If that was what you were thinking, then I feel bad for you. If you don’t want a glass because of that notion, I feel worse for you. Is it nice to have the greatest example of not only the grape choice, but the area it is grown in? Is it not a wise choice to drink a wine from one of the first wineries created in a country you live in? Think about it. Don’t screw with my Beringer Knights Valley Cab. This wine will over deliver on what you love about a Cab – deep rich black fruit that is just silky and sexy, spicy oak, integrated tannins, and something that lingers. Don’t drink it, I dare you.

However you celebrate within the next two months – do it. If that means scrambled eggs and a bunch of candles on your couch, or something overly boushy – you do you.  I’ve done both and enjoy both almost equally. The truth that has come to me is that whether I am alone, or in a room full of people, I will almost definitely have a hole deep in my being a bit. Don’t fill it with booze – just a suggestion. Fill it with phone call from someone you keep thinking of, fill it with a new pair of shoes, or a really good movie on Netflix. Or suck it up and accept that invitation to a dinner you feel you don’t belong at. Because, you do.

This Happy Takes Work – Pass The Guidalberto

As I sit down this morning to write about the great food and wine I enjoyed last night, I’m at a pause. Do you know why?

I am happy.

Let me explain that – because usually, I’m a pretty happy person. I’m reflecting on how I’ve been expressing myself through this blog, and it seems to be a little, well, sad. What I am seeing my readers respond to is my snarky wine and emotional state comparisons. These comparisons come from some disappointment in my life, maybe a heartbreak or two, being mad at my sister, being mad at myself… Think about it – how many obstacles or failures would you like to see come to life in hopes that you can interpret these situations? That has been the method, and it is working pretty good for me and for you.

So why, now, do I choose to BE happy; it may be fleeting, but let’s discuss. Around 5 AM I realized that  a few people in my life are doing selfless acts. Some are shooting nonsense and welcomed texts, calling even though I am not returning the call – all very nice and neat. Others are doing the natural and easy – showing up. Showing up counts for everything doesn’t it? It is how luck finds us, or how our heart is touched a bit. It is connecting us, and creating a relax of the shoulders.  I’ll just say it – it is nice to hear from you – but when you keep showing up, I feel a little more special than I did yesterday. Thanks for the consistency!

And when you show up with exceptional wine with an exceptional story -it makes life a little memorable. Last night, I revisited the wine from Tenuta San Guido, “Guidalberto”. It would be horrible not to mention where the impetuous for this wine came from – the one and only, Super Tuscan loveliness,  Sassicaia. One of the only reasons Super Tuscans are on this planet was because of the risk of a winemaker to create Sassicaia. Prior to Sassicaia in the 1970’s, NO ONE in Italy was making a blended wine that DID NOT have an indigenous grape in it – by choice or by law. Why can’t Cabernet Sauvignon shine in Tuscany? The thing is, it wasn’t back in the day. However, the connection between the soils of Tuscany and Bordeaux cannot be denied, and the desire to produce something different, special, out there, against the norm, and risky cannot be denied either. Laws were changed, Tenuta San Guido (home of both Sassicaia and Guidalberto) was celebrated. And then the awards came, and awards are great. Awards give you some ether in our screwed up judgement cycle, but, does it mean you are exceptional? You showed up, but was it enough?

In this instance, the answer is yes. Because of the risk of creating Sassicaia, the launch pad of its baby brother Guidalberto was born. Can I call it a “baby brother” or a thing of its own? It continues the story of vulnerability, of different thinking danger zones, and exposure to the unknown.  Whew, sign this girl up…

  • Grape make up: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. Don’t poo poo the Merlot, because if you do, you don’t know. It is absolute perfection in this blend. It gives this blend a plushy pillow, a bottom to a fruit bowl, a sense of semblance. It’s silky because of that Merlot, it’s almost simplified; like a notch comes down on my palate. Without it, I feel the wine would be overwhelming and just not make sense.
  • Define “special” sister: This wine is fermented in both American and French Oak – yes and yes. Like getting the best of both worlds, and why not. Oh yeah, and I have a memory of sitting in a rock vineyard – because that is what the vineyard in Bolgheri Italy looked like to me – having pasta bolognese, the day just began to cool off, the winemaker was very flirty, and I felt like I was the only one on the planet experiencing these flavors. Outside in the dirty dusty air, clouds threatening rain but lying and just making the moment provocative, and tasting deep black fruits, smokey cigar sweetness, and malty chocolate Christmas candy. How can you not run to the wine shop right now…
  • Food, and it was glorious: I forgot about Fresco in Montclair! I am always hesitant to walk into an empty restaurant – but it was Monday, and who eats and drinks like we do on Monday, so a pass was given. Stuffed artichokes, burrata, mussels – I’m not kidding, so good. Probably not a GREAT pairing, but who gives a shit when it comes to this wine. We tried an ink squid pasta, but were way to full to finish it. That would have been the better wine choice. We were so full we ended the meal with a panna cotta – geez….

I’m going to linger on this happy thing for the moment. Milk it for everything it’s got. I need to recognize that people still want me around, and I still want them. I’m the one that needs to show up – doesn’t that just freak you out?

But screw this wine crap, I think I’m going into food styling. These pictures from last night are amazing…

The Juggling Of Friendship – Can’t We Just Drink A Glass Of Tempranillo?

Lately I’ve been picking up a few bottles of wine just on a whim. I have some design in my head on area of production, grape varietal…but that is really it. This has stirred an idea in my head about wine and friendship; what is attracting me?

Like my wine choices, my friendships usually begin on a whim. Should we say “organically” so we can all agree on a term -it’s all by chance in my life. Individuals waft in, make whatever impression is necessary or needed at the time, and then usually waft out. Is this because I am searching for what feeds me, or can support my nature? Am I drawn to the immediacy of liaisons, or am I scared of how deep it can get? Who can say where my head is at, but something weird is happening. No one seems to stick.

There are A LOT of wonderful people out there, just like there are A LOT of great wine bottles out there.  And like the flow of life, we all want something more than what the other can offer. I admire the souls that know themselves, and can tell me how communication should happen between us. You know those people – like my instagram post, call me every other day, text me in the morning, meet me for a drink but just on Thursdays – that’s a lot of emotional organization. Is there something wrong with my theory of the “whim”? Can two or three or five people agree that we are the tribe, and can that be enough?

The other part is the work. I don’t do the work, but go along with the work. What does that mean – I’ll GO to the dinner, but never organize it. I feel bad about this, but I think it has become my role. Now you are thinking “Should I become friends with Susan and is it worth it?” – I gotta tell you, I commit. (and if you are valuing “worth” and a relationship – let’s ponder that) I will pick you up, bring all the wine, listen to your stories, cry when you’ve told me how you feel about me, and order your meal. I know I am worth it – it’s just a little bit of a Susan journey for you to know that too.

And women friendships are another thing – whoa, that is a toughie. But the two women you may be seeing in pictures throughout this blog are dialed in. There are so many things to say about these women, and so many directions to go in. They have cemented themselves into my stream of wanting, needing, doing and dreaming. I also LOVE showing them the wine world. Even though they tell me they will drink what I put in their glass, they have opinions and things to say.  And I want to hear it! – and maybe exploit it for the blog…

What did we drink at Toros Restaurant in Montclair? –

  • The Wine; Vina El Aguila, “Embocadero”
  • Area of Production: Ribera Del Duero, Spain
  • Grape Varietal: In theory, and through recent reviews of this wine, the grape is Tempranillo. Now, I kind of believe this. It is the obvious, being Tempranillo is the Holy Grail of Spanish wines, however, I can taste a few more things making up this blend. By law in the area, 75% MUST be Tempranillo, where most are 100%. There were no noticeable aging requirements on this wine, which leads me to believe this was an entry level wine – and I don’t hate that. Did I taste Tempranillo’s signature dried fig, cooked raspberries, or smokey fireplace love like I usually do?  Sure – but the roundness and sweeter fruit profile lends me to believe just maybe there was something else thrown into the stew.
  • Why Tempranillo for my girls? – A few reasons – I’m obsessed with Spanish wine lately.  Just obsessed. Another reason was the weather – the bite of winter has begun in New Jersey, and I am embracing it. I wanted something a little more spicy, warming, comforting, reassuring, and nostalgic. Yes, nostalgic. This is the first grape I really got to “know” back in the day, and it brings on some great memories. I also chose this amazing Kabab house to dine at – what better pairing than grilled meats with this grape, which could really go with just about anything. I also thought I was going to get much more extraction than I did because of the fact it was from Ribera Del Duero, but I’m over it. Sometimes we don’t get the expected, and can live with that.
  • What did my girls think? – Honestly, we were so into the meat fest going on rather than chatting about the complexities in the wine. We started with a bit of chardonnay, so our palates were already saturated with so many flavors – between the wine and the food choices. I am noticing their questions are changing – they are more interested in where the wine is coming from, what exactly is in the bottle, and WHY I chose to bring it that evening. I would love to get more into the why. I think this is one of the biggest hurdles in the shopping for wine consumers deal with. How can we educate, in a better method, what emotional choices are being made? Regardless, we gave this wine a 3 out of 5 – good fruit, modestly priced ( I picked it up for around 13-15 dollars), and completely matched the ambience and evening.

Choices in wine, people, restaurants, family, spouses, kids – things I think about, or have thought about, and have stopped thinking about on purpose. Yes, on purpose. Do we share a moment, and do you talk about “our moment” with other people when I am not around? Am I invited because it is the right thing to do, or is it just what should be done? Is being alone the better choice? They say you only have a handful of friends – but what if that handful gets juggled?  What if you are the piece that doesn’t really fit anymore? I’m celebrating ME everyday, and I hope you do too. But, how does this party play out?

Consciousness Found In A Bubble

Last week I lost awareness.

Sure of myself, a little cocky, knew things would go “my way”, judge mental of my past, hungry for the next step, and not filtering what I said or did.

It bothers me when I need to begin a statement with “Do you know how good I am?”.  Truth; if you need to say that, the person you are speaking to is probably aware. I’ve also worked way to long and hard on myself, my skill, my business, my wardrobe – obvious I’ve arrived at the table. So, now, how do I shimmy through the crack between success and “you are not what we need at this time” situations.

Here is the issue – sometimes you just know. Sometimes you can not only recognize but feel your superiority. Be obnoxious and admit this, because damn it, you have struggled hard not to be just another shallow wine girl.  My problem was that I grabbed that feeling, but forgot to notice the edges. When I say the edges, in wine and in my life situations, I mean the flavors and  perceptions that are secondary, but more than meaningful. I insulted when not meaning to, I slacked off when I should have been more reactive, and my filter mechanism faulted.

Then last night, while cuddling with Karma, I was told that I missed a “tradition”.  A friend and I always begin a meal with a glass of some kind of champagne – I happen to have missed the dinner I promised I would attend. You may not think this is a “thing”, but the thought of this being a special something was of total comfort to me. It’s like it became an obvious secret, or an indisputable action just known between two people. Coming into the holidays, and always feeling alone at this time, what a great reminder that culture doesn’t need to be created in a room full of people.

A favorite bubble? God, so many. Here is an easy one:

  • The Wine: Moet and Chandon, Rose Imperial
  • The Grape: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay; classic line up for a perfect champagne.  Each grape will bring it’s own character to the blend. Now, to make the wine pink, we can go about this in two ways. We can blend the two red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) to the white one – makes sense, right?  Or we can do something called the saignee method; you may also hear “bleeding” of the juice (translation). With the saignee method, you will be stealing a portion of the red wine juice after it has been in contact with skins and seeds. Basically, something red wine making is leaving behind. That portion of juice is then left to ferment on its own. The result? Better aromas and flavors, better concentration.
  • Is this a yes or no; Big yes. Friends in the wine industry may poo poo the simpleness of Moet, and I can agree at some level. But don’t be mad at this wine; it does more than the job and just can make you happy. And who doesn’t want that.
  • What do you do with it: I always would ask my students this question to get them to think deeper. Ok, we like the wine, but there is more to the wine’s life other than our simple consumption. The BEST and I mean BEST thing about bubbles is that you can drink them with ANYTHING. That is a broad statement; maybe not Mama’s lasagna, or a pot of sausage and peppers – I can think of better. But alone, with cheese, paired with fish, flan for dessert, spicy Thai food, BBQ, watching the sun set; should I go on?  There is versatility where you presume there shouldn’t be – I love that statement so much.

If we have a relationship, I will make a mistake. You will make a mistake. There will be things we should have talked about, and probably will choose to forget. I’m holding on to the reminders that we are not malicious people, and have found each other for a reason. When I disappointed a ex-coworker last week, she told me she knew I had a “good heart”.  So, even in my haste of creating a non reality situation for myself, she saw the acceptable. Remember this moment.

Being “Basic” With Sterling Vintners Sauvignon Blanc

In my “who am I” caption for Instagram, I write that I am a Blogger, Influencer, Greatest Aunt Ever, and a Professional Scrapbooker.  I wrote that for obvious reasons; I wanted to catch your eye and show you a human side.  However, it’s all true.  Most of the time you will find me, sitting in my house among my many crafting supplies, creating picture books for hours.  Strange, somewhat farty, an excuse to why I am single, but all true. Is being a simple woman, wanting straight forward and honest dialog, no frills conversation, a beer and a pizza – and maybe a Netflix marathon – something I shouldn’t be doing?

Can’t I just be “basic”?

Urban Dictionary  – disclosing to people, like my mother, what I’m talking about:

TOP DEFINITION
only interested in things mainstream, popular, and trending
Omg BAE is so basic. all she wants to do is drink pumpkin spice lattes and play candy crush.
“Basic”, in the wine world, may mean you are not educated, scared of the unknown, have a boring palate, or just comfortable in the human portfolio you have created. Noses go up, judgements are thrown, and you may be axed by the Wine Mean Girls that are politely spitting into a dirty bucket. When studying anything at all, we learn to pull apart every aspect, become a true internal detective of sorts.  When you spy into the life of a wine, be ready with overwhelming thoughts of geography, science, stories of generations of families, and so much more.  Sensory overload at its best.
The other night I just wanted a white wine that would not talk back.  Give me citrus, a little acidity, balance it all out in a bright bow, and call it a night.  Here is what happened:
  • The Wine: Sterling Vintners Sauvignon Blanc, California
  • Why: I know I wanted a pretty fruit to the wine; hence the choice from Cali.  However, with the tropical fruit, melon, and other stone fruits I received on my palate, it WAS balanced with a nice acidity.  I didn’t want to go over the top with bracing acidity with something like a Riesling, or find layers of oak with something like a Chardonnay.  What I figured this wine would deliver was that lovely melange of citrusy fruit, while crisping up the edges a bit.
  • It could have gone horribly wrong; Without acidity, this wine would have been a complete failure. I can’t stand when I open a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and get complete grassy grapefruit bombs.  This is attractive to some, and maybe nice on a hot as hell day in the sun, but not when paired with food.  I want to TASTE my food while enjoying my wine, and I want the wine to elevate my experience.
  • A deeper into the “why”; I’ve been craving sushi for weeks.  If you follow me on any social, you know sushi is a diet staple.  When wine and food becomes physically tangible, I’m in heaven. Sexy fattiness on my palate comes alive with acidity in a wine. Spicy wasabi becomes balanced and almost sweet with the fruit of Sauvignon Blanc.  The weight of the body of the wine is perfect; not to transparent, but not putting me to sleep.
  • Secret Sushi Heaven; Takara Asian Bistro in Montclair.  I may be blowing up my spot, but this place is solid.

This blog is about why we make choices; in wine, life, or what may stir your mind. Are those choices always complicated? Are the elementary actions we all do every day something to dismiss, or something to celebrate? Do life behaviours always need to be extreme? Your wine choices definitely do not. Sure, this “simple” wine was great, but can we find the “basic” in the small production, expensive as hell, highly allocated and sought after wines?  Well, guess who is going to try to make that happen…

Wine Girl Gone Wild Quickie: Chardonnay Throw Down

If everything remained the same, my life would be a lot easier, right?  I wouldn’t need to explain myself, stress about the unknown, come up with a plan that may fail, come up with the cover up plan, and re-do all of this next week. So, why can’t the same grape taste the same way, even if it is grown in a different place?  Just give me what I want – why must I think so hard!

Well, so many reasons and so much to discuss with such a simple statement. However, this is a quickie, so check out below what happened when I tasted two chardonnay wines from two different regions.  My opinion is just that – a conclusion from a girl that was tired, not feeling great, absorbed in flirtatious texts, and arguing about the state of the world. Yeah, typical Sunday night dinner at home amongst friends…

Char Lyric and St Veran

 

Wine Girl Gone Wild Quickie – Chardonnay

Who thought this area would be so popular! (I kind of did!)

Chardonnay gets a bad rap. Oak in chardonnay gets a bad rap. This grape is always a roll of the eye from a wine snob. I happen to LOVE IT. What I learned, from my time with winemakers, is that they LOVE IT TOO! It is a fabulous grape to put an impression on. I never knew that, and now it makes sense. Basically because chardonnay represents the area of production, the vintage, the people making it… and so many other great things.  Truly a grape to study and drink drink drink.

Check out the low down on chardonnay:

quickie card - chardonnay

Not Being Normal Is The New Normal; Drinking Quintessa

Ever feel like you just don’t fit.

You don’t fit because you are not “wrong”, you are just not like everyone else. This is not ego-centric, this is not an excuse for your misfortune, this is not coming from a bitter and sour core. I am talking to the people that cannot shut off their minds at night, but are told it’s stress, or that you are “over doing” it. You are the one 30 minutes early “just in case” you missed something on your check list for the meeting.  You have a plan B, C and D. You have outlined your goals on a beverage napkin. Your closet is color coded.  Your friends think you are “unique”, your family thinks you are crazy and are concerned, and your new boyfriend is a little fed up with your “Type A” ways.

Guilty.

Guilty and now proud.  I never use to think my over organized life would lead to something positive. I’m still unsure, but have safety knowing that this personality tick has helped my cause along the way. How can all these particulars in my mind build to a crescendo…and I am witnessing it coming in waves.

I was reassured, and felt a sense of release, the other night when I tasted Quintessa again.  I can’t tell you how many vintages I’ve been through with this wine.  I want to say this was the first “iconic” Napa Valley wine I tasted, and was moved by. Yes, so many years ago, because of this wine, I first felt a shift in the way I perceived flavors, I understood how geography can alter a wine’s perception, and I began to appreciate sensory details that I never felt before. It is a compilation of so many things, and all at once. This is what has given me a kinship to this wine; I can see the vision, I can understand the quirky tones and edges, all while concentrating on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape – just to make it as great as it can be.

Ugh, this makes me so happy.  Let’s break it down:

Grape(s): The focus here is Cabernet Sauvignon. If you need a little more about this grape, check out my quickie notes here; Wine Girl Gone Wild Quickie – Cabernet Sauvignon. There are four other grapes in this blend that will support the beauty of Cab; Merlot, Cab Franc, Petite Verdot and a grape called Carmenere.  I like the addition of Carmenere; there is a new depth that I don’t remember before that I attribute to this grape. Quintessa always grabbed my attention, but now I’m pulled in.

Where specifically in Napa, California; Rutherford, oh Rutherford.  Rich and elegant all at the same time, while also conveying dusty tannins and integrated oak details.  A fav place to visit, and a fav place to drink.

What did it taste like; Before telling you that, let’s talk about the aromas.  I know the wine will be splendid when I can’t stop smelling it. It is so nice to taste with ALL of your senses burning and sending messages to the brain.  There are the obvious flavors of dark and broad red fruit, but also an underlining spicy note I couldn’t put my finger on.  Everything ends with a warmth from the oak components – that just comforts the hell out of me.

Why am I so jazzed; It’s nice to see a winery known and respected STILL produce something so freaking good.  We had the 2014 vintage; major drought going on in the beginning of the growing cycle, but a pretty nice summer and fall – great timing for ripening of the grapes.  I have had some expensive dogs from this vintage.  You never know, right? Mother nature is in charge, and don’t side eye her.  Cabernet Sauvignon was the winner in 2014 – smaller amount produced, but what a prize. Dark and Intense; exactly what we need from this grape.

This wine is a little like me, and I think that is why I connect with it. I’m glad to drink wine that shows us the normal is not normal.  Quintessa will always be a power house, but has a sensibility about it.  It shows me you can be that idiosyncratic persona while still maintaining grace. You can go beyond where you think you should stop and make qualitative impressions upon the world.  So I salute all you misfit-want-to-be yet extraordinary wines out there, and will join in your march towards greatness.  We only have each other, right?

Check out the other wines and food consumed at dinner with Quintessa.  Thanks Stamna in Little Falls for another amazing meal…