There Is A Knot In My Stomach, But A Different Wine In My Glass

“Too bad you never grew a pair”

“I’m tired of hearing how you are the victim”

“Go ahead and blog about this” (rolling eyes)

Yes, we all get judged. We also do the judging. Am I a victim or am I the one laying out the bullshit? That line is blurred, and that line has been crossed many times. I think I’m here now to face commentary and criticism – and maybe it’s time we all did. The above texts are real, painful to type out in this blog, and even more painful to review at their source. They come from confusion, from abandoned conversations, and omitted confessions. All done with purpose, possibly to injure the soul, and to leave a burned mark in my brain. Success for you dear reader/lover/hater/friend/maybe-friend/cynic – whatever costume you wear right now. I wish I could erase your Susan Reflections, but, alas, here you are.

I’m surprised at the control words have. I thought, just for a second, that maybe my blog, and a little of my self worth, was a silly waste of time. Maybe my “voice” was that of a poser, imposter, want-to-be wine goddess. Maybe I use this as an excuse for many things in my life. Further investigation into this dilemma leads me to the verdict – YEAH I DO! I need help and I need help now. I’m facing speculation on what I can deliver every day – and judgement continues and continues. How the heck can anyone balance that? How can anyone survive that? Well, let me tell you, any way you can.

My attempt at balance is not taking myself so seriously. And yes, I am a girl that remembers the wine coolers of the 80’s. I’m not a mixologist, don’t really want to be bothered with that, but do love a cocktail. Thank you Sandara for this wine/mojito goodness. I’ll see you on the beach this summer….

Then there are times when I take myself very seriously. I love the study of grape varietals – what makes up their personality, what is their origin, what makes them sing. Grapes like Riesling – so misunderstood and loved in a weird misconceived manner. (read into that if you like) When you are from Germany, to dig deeper, located in the Nahe region of Germany, we can be friends. Aromatic, off dry, almost “Muscadel” in style, juicy, slightly restrained, and made by a freaky dude from Tesch Vineyards, now we are besties. The valleys of the Nahe’s tributaries help foster diverse microclimates, while the rocky foothills to the east help retain heat and moderate rainfall. This grape can not fail. Sure, you can pick up a lovely from the Mosel, but this style reaches out to a different place in me – a different expression that begs me to return.

Love your many faces, and don’t apologize for them. However, know that they are looming, and can pop out when you are backed up against a wall, or are feeling all the feels. Practice “active observation” (thank you shine text), and maybe shut your mouth before you get into a dicy situation. Or don’t – that’s where this gets interesting. That is where your risk will be, but that is where your release will also be. I’m still thinking about you – dear reader/lover/hater/friend/maybe-friend/cynic – and sure, sucks that we can’t figure out a normal human experience. But, my journey continues – new experiences with new wines, new ideas about simple and arduous forms of nature, and how I perceive them.

My Ambivalent Mind and Cakebread Chardonnay

Current Mood: I wake up to uncertainty, confusion, my heart a little in the wrong place, vacancy of comfort, hungry as hell, and making the biggest attempt to go into the hustle of the wine world without tears streaming down my face. Some self help homies would tell me that this is where I should live; figure out how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. Is this where enlightenment begins? Is this where I begin to refocus life and become the person I always dreamed I could be…

Be a friend and let’s just talk real here – is the expectation of newness all rainbows and butterflies? What ever happened to being honest with the fact that you are miserable? Now, miserable has ebbs and flows. I’ve never been to a point, with business, where I lay my head down and wail, or feel I will throw my computer against the wall. It’s been close, but I’ve learned how to alter a mental state to a point where the flip of my mood is a thing of wonderment. Yes, I’m hiding behind a dirty screen of resentment, sadness, “why can’t you like me” feels, and other really stupid ideas we have about ourselves. It’s all just happening now, and with the speed of a freight train.

Hopelessness leads to wines of contentment. We want to feel liberated, we want to feel satisfied, we want all the pleasure a convenient choice can give us. This doesn’t mean to use wine as a vehicle to alter your mind – that is an unhealthy thought pattern, and just stop that. I’m talking about the luxury and awareness, through our senses, that we can be just “ok” for a moment in time. Is that an organic thing for you? Oh honey, that takes work for me…

I chose Cakebread Chardoanny, at a moment in time, that I needed to stop my mind, and know that my choice would generate the “stunt my brain waves” reaction I wanted. To dig deeper….

  • Chardonnay is so “ordinary” – I’ll give you that. It’s usually a grape, besides Pinot Grigio, that Ladies That Lunch shovel into their gullets by the bottle. Ok then why; I love the “idea” of citrus and melon flavors hitting my nose before I take a sip. When done well, like this wine was, there is structure, subtle tones of minerality and waves of changing fruit flavors. Chardonnay can develop in the glass, in the bottle, during your experience. It can help evolve your pressured state into that of lightness and affinity.
  • Napa Valley, really? – I’ve been running, no speeding, away from Napa wines; I just know there is more to life than Napa. However, I can’t deny how Carneros can deliver. Foggy mornings, cool afternoons (thank you San Pablo Bay) – this is text book chardonnay territory. That kind of climate will deliver acidity, an elegance, full fruit bowl goodness, and incredible balance.
  • What, Why, and Why – Honestly, it was the most trusted bottle on the wine list that was in front of me. My choice had nothing to do with the weather; it was cold as hell outside. I was at a cozy bar, sitting in the nook (you all know what I’m talking about – that place in the bar where you can just cuddle up to), and wanted a weighted wine without feeling weighty. Red would have been “too much”, Sauvignon Blanc would have been reprehensible; this chardonnay, with its notes of spiced apple and vanilla complexity, ended a very lovely evening. If I had a bite in front of me, I would choose a oily piece of grilled salmon; perfect balance of food to wine ratio, oaky flavors combining with toasty grill smoke, with both food and wine finishing with a subtle tone of richness in texture.

The Glass of Everything

At this moment, I feel as if I’ve stayed in the bath tub too long; pruned up, drunk on steam, and trying to balance on jelly legs.

This is what happens when you try to do and be everything; and what American isn’t guilty of just that. Why can’t we breathe through our day rather than screaming down a tunnel, naked and raw in your dirty car, while chewing on that turkey leg of wanting and progression – ok, where did that come from, but I couldn’t help painting the picture in my head for you. (and what a picture, right?)

Sounds like I’m loosing my mind, but I’m actually taking a moment. Yes, taking a moment – this is a thing. Compare it to the idea of working smarter not harder. However, isn’t “harder” how you push ahead from the pack? So now I’m confused. How can I be the best version of myself, stay smart, not fry my mind, still be a caring human, retain relationships, and learn more about my craft? Yo, that’s a lot of stuff.

Is it easy for you to step away from yourself and observe? I’m obviously not good at it, and now, for my career, I gotta figure out what wine to bring to whom to sell something to someone. Goodness, what a mess. So here is my plan for the moment; find a wine EVERYONE, that I am selling to, will raise an eyebrow at.

When I first started researching Bodegas Ego, the first thing I see on their website is this:

If you listen closely, the wine will tell you many things…

Ok, you have my attention. I have believed that since I’ve begun in this business; the wine will dictate who buys it, what experience I will have, where my mind will go. You can learn, study, pontificate – listening can open that wine storybook full of colors and textures.

What gleamed from the lineup was the Monastrell/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Verdot blend called Infinito:

  • Hailing from Jumilia Spain. Hot as hell there. However, with enough elevation and a specific style of soil, the wines can really sing.
  • This grape Monastrell (also called Mourvedre) does so good here; a very small and thick skinned grape, which produces those intense and layered big boy wines we love. And Petite Verdot – cmon, it just pulls you right into the core of this wine. Mixed with the backbone of a Cab, just delightful.
  • In the glass, it’s all here. There is a rooted blackberry jam component at the bottom of the sip, overlaid with spicy holiday currants and – this is crazy – my uncle (Uncle Red mind you) had this chair that he smoked a cigar in – you didn’t just smell the cigar, you felt it, and now that felling is present in the wine. There is structure, there is power, and it again, just makes you happy.
  • Surprise to me – this is matured in American oak. I’m not usually a fan of American oak; to awkward and clunky, but when used correctly…. I just read a descriptor that American oak can give flavors of cream soda – and YES you nailed it Mr. Internet. That is the secondary flavor I’m picking up and LOVING.

Listen, I’m going to bed. I’m beat. What a nice feeling it is to be exhausted, and done with the day. Tomorrow is creeping though, and right at the rim of my dreams.

Vernacchia Caught In My Up Swing

Reflection isn’t important – it is the soul essence of who I was, am, and will be. It is helping my heart vibrate and live again.

Yes, live again. When I think of myself in the last four months, I imagine a cartoon character; grey in color, a “South Park” body with limbs that don’t hinge, slant of a mouth, eyes half closed. I found a way to interact with my friends and family with this persona, and dazed out the hours of every day. I’m not into drugs, but I can imagine this is how a constant high feels; nothing really getting through to you, like your arms and legs have fallen asleep, angry but not connecting to the rage enough to yell, with a belly full of sullen dreams.

I’m looking back, laughing at the fact that I thought I would crumble, and forging ahead like a beast. I ask you to embrace new flavors, change, and experiences – I’m there with you now. So let’s indulge in a wine that you would usually admire in a wine shop or wine menu, but rarely pick up to taste.

  • The grape: Vernacchia (white wine ladies and gents – just to be clear)
  • Where is it from: a hilly town in Tuscany, Italy, called San Gimignano
  • Why so special: Well, for one thing, it is the only white wine in the area to receive DOCG status – in other words, it has a systematic approach, by law, to excellence. It’s also old as hell, and has been around since anyone can remember. Every time I taste great Barolo wines, with people in the wine industry, there is always a bottle of Vernacchia di San Gimignano to release our taste buds from overload. It’s classic to Italy, to Tuscany – making it an outstanding, every day drinking kind of situation.
  • Give me the low down on taste: The wine is light in stature, but full bodied as you go. I don’t know how that really happens, but it does. Very floral upon approach, but this almondy and citrus blast steps in. Because of the soil this wine is grown in, a minerality persists throughout tasting. It is pleasant, gives the body a unique spirit, and paired exceptionally well with a medley of shellfish, fava beans, and orange segments. Oh yeah, the wine states it is organic if that turns you on.
  • Best part: I only spent $14.99. Found this gem at Shoprite Wines and Spirits in Caldwell NJ:
  • Producer please: Poderi Arcangelo Vernacchia di San Gimignano. Can’t go wrong. Great website:

Fortitude comes from yourself, sure, but some wacky places as well. I had my tribe – and thank the heavens those people still stick around. I have my family – I think my mother would drive a truck over you if you had a sorry word for any of her kids. But the people that flit and float in and out of your life keep floating. Did I need them in the first place? What was the point of them in the first place? And where do they go in the end…it doesn’t matter. The you created is the you of your past – and the past can be a tool of inspiration. Embrace the you now, embrace a definition of who you are and the great things you have done, embrace a definition of a white wine with a sense of place. Take all that stuff now, pat the old you on the back for surviving, and go kick some ass.

Beautiful food porn from Turtle and the Wolf, Montclair, NJ.

A Letter To Food And Wine – Do We Need To Break Up?

Hate is a hideous and an unforgiving word. You can’t come back from that.

But food and wine – you let me down.

I bet on you. Not only that, I studied you for years, screamed your name, stayed up nights crying over you, over indulged in your glory, lost relationships because of your conniving nature – in the end, did really bad things just for your approval.

It hasn’t always been a honeymoon, but we had it good for awhile. You made me who I am in a way; teaching me to speak up, have an opinion even if it isn’t popular, combine the artist and the analytic, and to find the humor in the fact that no one really gets me. I guess that is what comfort really means – hence the “comfort food” imagery consistently thrown out to make us feel better about devouring a plate of mac and cheese. We had amenity together – held hands through it all. I was content and flourished with you at my side – total team moment.

But listen, we gotta fix this relationship. Just because you impress the notion that I will be “ok” in your glory doesn’t mean you can take advantage of me. I got your number, even if it took me up until now to realize we aren’t good together. I need you, I get it, but I don’t feel you need me.

Here is the beaten down girl moment; I realize this is my fault. I let you in without any hesitation or concern. I didn’t have a long term idea of what a goal with you really means. I saw it going bad and not only didn’t stop it, but did everything to hasten our untimely departure from one another. There were no boundaries and no concern of my health. I allowed peers to inform me I wasn’t “what they are looking for”, or that there is “another plan out there” for me. You are my plan, you are my intention for all things good in my life, and I’m not walking away empty handed.

As the responsible adult I am, I refuse to shame you. Trust me, I hold myself back every day, and wonder if social media is not the outcome of situations like this. I have the ability to report all of your unseemly stories – don’t forget, I know where the bodies are buried. (I always loved that analogy) But my future beckons, and in the end, nothing comes from sour story telling.

Good comes from different ways of thinking, doing, socializing, working, not working, and being. Good comes from me flipping the coin and seeing your good side. It’s not going to be easy – I’m already in a state of panic. But I’ve put in my time, and I’m REALLY GOOD at managing our stained past. I’m not asking for favors, leads, or a wink of approval from you. You can give that to the one that flirts and uses their “relationship” history better than I ever will. I am raw, naked in a way, but wearing an amour. No more sitting in the board room listening – I’m ready to run the show.

To celebrate, we won’t eat cake. The bottle staring at me on my desk will not get opened. My kitchen will be clean of cheese and puff pastry, as well as my dance card of wine dinners and bar crawls. I may loose some friends, but they probably weren’t the best choice of allies in the first place. (How many have called to say hello? Betcha you answered that quickly…)

But don’t fret – I’m still here and still curious. I AM that girlfriend you can’t get rid of. I’ll answer the questions and ask the questions and figure out all the answers. I’m still going to write about you, read about you, watch you on social media (on occasion), and try to completely take advantage of the good nature that resides somewhere deep in your soul. Don’t believe I am at ease from my blogs, posts, texts, pictures – they are just smoke and mirrors. I am looking for a deeper connection. We can have a deeper connection.

I forgot something – wait for the comeback.

—– my journal, January 1, 2019

Just A Good Time With Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Hands Of Time

The whole “Time goes by so quickly” line is a dirty lie.

It’s up to you to stop time. It’s up to you to NOT say “I’m good – just busy” – because you are not. I stole this idea from an article I read this morning. I am repeating it because the idea is haunting me. It’s not the cliche idea that you are missing something, or wasting priceless moments. You are being selfish. Well, I am being selfish and lazy with the grabbing of time. I’m scared of stopping – there I said it. I have a hint you are as well. I’m scared to give that open door a shove – open instead of closed I need to point out – for fear of defeat. Yes, yes, I’m the broken hearted. I’m the sour faced expression you see when you tell me your feelings. Allowing time – see that word “allow” – to wash over me chills me to the bone.

Time and decision making are companions in my life. The watching of time is making my decisions dull, lifeless, and all over passive. I grab for the same wine. I look for the same flavors. Time has made my passion lethargic and moody. Enough of the Susan tragedy – you know this life I’m living isn’t all boos and tears in the pillow. I have friends – more like I’m working on relationships – that fill the gap, kick my time dilemma in the ass, and spice up a simple moment. I also have really really good restaurants – I mean the stuff you SHOULD be writing about – just a step away. Time to investigate (couldn’t help myself)…

The description of “New American Eatery” can always be a complete win or a run for your life situation. Don’t collapse my dreams with a crappy chicken liver pate – that is just wrong. Turtle and The Wolf in Upper Montclair – I am now in love with you – let the stalking begin.

As you figured, I’m still thinking about the pate this morning as I write this blog. Creepy but true. We had two wines – Stags’ Leap Winery Viogner and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “Hands of Time” Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. You and I have discussed this Viogner – viscous, balanced, full of citrus and slight honeysuckle fruit, sexy, alluring, just everything good in a bottle. The Viogner became slightly metallic with the pate – understood and expected. I love this wine by itself, just standing alone to beguile my stuck in time mood – that’s what it is good for, and more. Better paired with the second course (you eat with me, we eat in courses and share – deal with it) of mussels and fries. And that broth…

We passed these two wines around all night – that sounds kind of kinky, and just wrong, but it was working. My first time with Hands of Time, which was a surprise even to me. I really hate to say this, but in my mind, this wine was always an “easy” sell. Great name, almost half and half Cab and Merlot – no big flavor notes, but no stinky elbows to the ribs either. Just good, simple, straight forward – I can appreciate an effortless yet uncomplicated wine conversation. If we had made different food choices – ones with screaming spices or smokey charred peaks – we would have been screwed. For this bistro style dinning, perfect pairing.

We ended our journey with kielbasa over sauerkraut and braised apples. Polish girl eating house cured kielbasa – could be a train wreck. Skin snapped in all the right places, sauerkraut brined perfectly – win and thank you for not ruining my life.

This meal was very “Napa Valley” in style, so it was perfect to enjoy wines that I feel emulate a notion about Napa. The two Stags sometimes confuse us. They tell us very different stories, how winemakers live their history, and how they want time to pass. There is elegance, there is harmony, even tension where appropriate. I like that. I like being grabbed a bit by the time of the now, and hooking in to what time might unveil. I’m not cured of my “I’m to busy” excuse. I’ll still hide behind that one. But I can bend at the waist a bit, and give time it’s due moment in the sun. We still aren’t friends.

Wine Girl Reflections – The Year Of Extremes

EVERYTHING about 2018 either inspired me to tears or went down the toilet. 

The biggest disappointment will not be reviewed immediately. (professionally speaking; the personal one is way behind me now) More anger, resentment, letting go, and reflection is needed. Your girl is on track, in emotionally recovery, and sees the light – may it be dim. But oh boy, stay tuned. That blog will be on fire.

There were A LOT of trips to California in 2018. Sounds alluring and just a ton of fun – and it is – but a nugget was dropped that wasn’t there before.  The major lesson travel taught me this time around was perception. I am still in a “learning” phase; and thank god for that. I hope to never leave that arena. However, now, I need to start leading. No one will follow me unless I have myself together – and that is more than creating plans, programming activities, and actively selling wine myself. That comes with my energy and my intention; wow, what foo foo words to throw out there. It’s true though. When you KNOW you have yourself together, and I mean when your educated/witty/mature/mentoring/directorial hat is on – you can’t be stopped. This time it came from my gut, not the smoke in mirrors show I am all so good at performing.

I received a compliment years ago from a co-worker – “When someone tells you that the program isn’t possible, you don’t just do the program, you re-create it/make it better/make tons of money/make everyone happy, and then just pretend it was this way the whole time.” I forgot I had that in me. Peddling along with the ride is wonderful when the ride is good; that was never my speed. I get burned up when someone tells me I’m not part of their “vision”. In my mind, they just don’t know it yet. So I did some really great stuff I was told was not possible. Please continue to tell me I am inadequate. I obviously thrive on your limited perception.

One thing that really pissed me off in 2018 was my lack of wonder. Now, I just showed you I am unstoppable – and that is mega true. I’m talking about getting comfortable with what you know and how you know it. And understand, I allowed myself to be defined; and it was nice. It was nice to have a persona that was respected. What I realized is that there is respect that is shown, respect that you mistakenly give with abandon, and respect that bounces right back to you. I put myself in the pot of all three, and got lost in the fuzzy dream state of all three. Wonder allows my mind to transform, and my intensity to shine. I’m abolishing this created noise, drinking more silent wines (thanks Terry Theise for the imagery-you nailed it), and carefully weighing my next step. It’s ok to break things down and become a little analytical. Yes, I said that.

Let’s wrap this up and look forward to what it coming:

  • The pursuit of an authentic voice – real authentic. Time to stop being so polite.
  • Be extremely polite. Polite to me is measured, screened, and a deliberate state of being. 
  • What am I doing with this blog thing? Someone help please. 
  • Keep weeding out the noise. (reminders on the regular from JS always help – thank god for those people who just won’t let go…)
  • Build and MAINTAIN (key word) boundaries where they are necessary and give a knee to the ones that are creeping around the corner.
  • Forgive.
  • The dead are dead. You can’t do anything about this. Move on.
  • Go on a trip, possibly not alone, and understand that you deserve it.
  • Take a step forward in education – does that mean your own, your ability to mentor, your ability to change the world? Who can say.

This blog was written for me. The pictures chosen where some pictures that only I (and some others) may understand. I am selfish right now – mostly because today is a really really bad mental day. I am deliberate, I am a wacky ass woman, and I can get deep in the pit with you and myself. I  am eager, annoyed, scared to death, always hungry, and totally thrilled at my mess of a life. Let’s jump into a new suit, shall we – what’s the worst that can happen?

I’m Liking What Everyone Else is Liking – Some Silver Oak Love

One of the biggest questions that I get asked, as a wine professional, is my opinion on the wines that have secured their feet in the sand as “wine fan” favorites. I am here to admit that I do not regularly drink Sassicaia, Tignanello, Penfolds Grange (that may be a lie), Caymus – you get it  – the icons that are thought of to be the definition of what is good, great, and expensive. Why don’t I indulge in a wine that is deemed worthy by your creepy neighbor that happens to take on “wine guy” status in your tribe? He is the guy that created the Saturday night “Let’s drink a lot of expensive wine” dinner parties you are slightly scared to attend for the chance you may look stupid.  I’m cheap – that’s the honest reason I don’t hang with that guy. I am also inquisitive and desire that experience of not knowing. What can my level of involvement be if you are already telling me it has to be good? And, by the way, thanks for not giving me an option…

That last statement was a little bitchy, but I get offended when the status of a wine is more important than the end product. Let me fall in love on my own time.

And just like a child’s thrill of Santa, I do get a rush when asked to go to a fancy wine dinner. What is fancy to me? Yeah, the wine counts – main component here. However, there are few times I can stop,  be part of the scene, ENJOY a five course meal, and become a participant in something special. A wine and chef can create all the magic possible – but it’s the vibe, the electricity of the landscape, and the arena the crowd constructs with their opinions, their laughter, and the ohs and ahs that come from filling your belly and palate with abundant flavors.

Thanks Fascino Restaurant and Silver Oak for hosting a night full of food and wine greatness, that really happens every so often. It takes skill, of course, to produce a successful wine and food pairing. However, it also takes thoughtfulness, precision, imagination, cleverness; being obvious is easy, but being creative is memorable. 

Every course – yes, every course – was memorable. Is it horrible to say that one of my favorites was the Seared Yellow Fin Tuna paired with Twomey Cellars Pinot Noir? (Twomey being from the Silver Oak family tree) Obviously California in nature, yet balanced with a pretty earthiness and rounded fruit paired well with the eggplant caponata under the fish.

When the “star” (and I’m being obvious, because all the wines were great) of the evening arrived – the Alexander and Napa Cabs – the crowd began to buzz. Was this what they were waiting for? Was this the only reason they put up with Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot as mistresses before the master? If so, shame on you. But, with a swish of the bottle from the ever so elusive server, we got to compare the two Cabs. Wine and food pairing champion – the Alexander Valley. More acidity was present, the concentration of fruit played with a lingering finish, and a spice was present; important trigger to the short rib braising jus surrounding my sexy polenta. The Napa Cab was typical (not a jab, more of a “definition”) Napa Cab with a life span. You could wear this wine like a fur coat; warming, alluring, silky and pressing on the palate. Thank GOODNESS for the chocolate fudge cake and bravo for that decision. Even though it kept me up all night, it was worth it.

Am I a “sell out” for indulging in the crowd favorite – absolutely not. Bravo to Silver Oak for continuing status in the wine world. How much good juice, and new juice, is out there? Here is an example of a recipe for success, a passion to make something – year after year – that works. I applaud you Silver Oak, and will continue this lovely journey with you. And Ryan DePersio of Fascino – please be my best friend. Your culinary vision is now on my stalking list.

And what the hell, throw in Stags’ Leap Winery Cab as a ringer at the end of the night. It was cold, I was contemplating on becoming an Uber driver, all during the buzz of “save the world” conversations – just needed to continue…

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 – – 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.

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 . 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 – 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 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.