Armour Of The Vulnerable Wine Mind

Can you direct me into what I should desire right now – because I’m confused.

This goes for life and wine. In my mind, I have organized a check list of qualities, attributes, “what am I getting back” (let’s be honest, if I’m not winning then why be in it), back door escapes from bad decisions – all to lead me to benefiting from desires, wanting, and working towards the greater good in my life. I’ve mastered the brick wall against vulnerability – to my demise.

Let’s look at a definition, shall we?

vul·ner·a·bil·i·ty

  1. the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

I’ve dated and married men out of my race and/or religion, I’ve traveled the world with little money or focus, I’ve had great jobs and lost great jobs, I’ve gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, probably had a small drinking problem – all to avoid being vulnerable – or to put myself in a complete vulnerable state. In the end, I still have no idea what to desire, or if all that crap was worth it. Is it the “being attacked” part that I am trying to dodge and weave from? Then there is that “harm” word – who the hell wants that in their life?

For instance, I believed, and was told, I should like this:

Classic Napa Valley Cab, right? Is the American palate so boring that we simply accept voluptuous and gobby depictions of California fruit? Do we, as consumers, search out the wines that won’t offend, but generously lay on our palates like wool blankets? I don’t mean to be crass, and kudos to Freemark Abbey for their continued pursuit at being a stand out in iconic wines from Napa: I’m here to tell you – eh (and shrug of shoulders, pursed lips, furrowed brow). California was known for highlighting the art of the grape, the “specialness” of a wine of place, a celebration of winemaker’s outlook and artistry – are we still there, are we vulnerable to 2019, has the consumer attack on our silent mind of creativity dulled our passion?

Whew – sorry about that rant. I’m just confused on where to go with my own palate, and how colleagues judge my wine direction at the moment. I watch as lesser developed palates taste my wine (by the way, not putting down the wine taster/buyer/judger/want to be – we are all babes in the woods at one point. Keep at it) and watch as their faces get perplexed. I know the wonder of “am I supposed to like this” looms in the room. Not all grapes you drink SHOULD be a noble grape (Cab, Merlot, Chardonnay – the usual suspects), and you are not cheating on your Sauvignon Blanc if you try another white varietal out. For example:

  • Anares, Terra Nova, Verdejo – a white grape varietal grown in the Rueda region of Spain. Looking for an alternative to Pinot Grigio? You just found it. Flavors of peach, melon, balanced acidity, enjoyable to the last sip. Simple yet not simple, enjoyed with just about anything at a meal, Sauvignon Blanc -ish but better.
  • Cartuxa, Eugenio de Almeida “EA”, Roupeiro/Antao Vaz/Arinto Blend – ok, what? Portuguese wines are not just oxidized port my friends. This blend has beautiful tropical flavors, stunning acidity, Myer lemon and tangerine peel notes, while retaining a medium body and pleasant structure. Sure it’s weird and maybe off the beaten track – don’t you just love a palate surprise?

Listen, I’m sorry if I offended anyone with my Freeemark Abbey hate; I’m being a hard ass on Cali wines, and picked that one from the bunch I’ve tasted lately. Maybe it’s a thought that, as wine drinkers, we are using Cali as our tasting ruler. And I understand that, and can appreciate that a consumer measurement can exist. I don’t want vulnerability – in wine OR in life. Can I avoid it though? Can I grow without it? Am I sacrificing a deeper scoop of my soul by sidestepping it? And what have I left in the past because of the chance of harm from this feeling? Can I suggest a direction in wine for you – sure I can. Can I suggest how to evade facing your true desires – hell yeah I can. Both are confusing, delightful for the moment, fading, and don’t do YOU justice. Is it where I am living now? What do you think?

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…

 

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Divide and Conquer – Judging Truvee Chardonnay

Have you ever felt the pull of another soul?

Two sisters, that do not know about each other, both fall into the wine business on two different continents, and upon their father’s death…

They connect.  That story alone gets me going.  How do things like that happen?  I feel the same about certain people I meet: I can feel where our relationship will go.  And there is someone, very far away, that I can feel as if I have seen him yesterday…

Enough about that – what about the wine they make?  Lately I’ve been drinking way to much chardonnay; good and bad.  Weird, in this cold weather, that is what I reach for.  So this made sense, and was welcomed on a Monday night when I really wasn’t in the mood for wine.  Here is my predicament though; will there be a stupid amount of oak, way to much passion fruit, bracing acidity that doesn’t make sense; you get it.  You too have drank your share of crappy chardonnay and live to tell the tale.

The fruit is sourced mainly from Monterey County in California; telling me I’m going to taste some white pear and peach.  Nice change from the lemon/lime crap I’ve been guzzling.  Also, a little addition of Moscato.  This is where I hesitate.  You got the French Oak going on, great area viticulture; why do you need that viscous candied fruit?  Ladies, I get it, and you are smart.  My New Jersey soccer moms will love this, so great marketing choice.  Really, I get it.

What to do with this wine.  I always like to paint a picture when I sell; helps the flow.  I’m thinking spring time; all those pastels and bunnies jumping around will love the roundness and luscious ending to this wine.  You know that moment, when the weather finally breaks, and you get a cool yet sensible evening.  The kind of evening where you bundle up in a sweatshirt and sit on your porch sipping, well, something.  You found your wine, and, you are welcome.

Great website (http://www.mcbridesisters.com/#about-the-mcbride-sisters) and gorgeous women that look like they are having the time of their life.  Plus, a promo shot of a Louis Vuitton bag filled with wine – my kind of broads.

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Holiday Wine Haul – Black Ink Red Blend

I apologize for trashing this wine on social media.  I really am.

I am here to have an open mind, and try new things.  I am also here to have an opinion.  I speak to this blog like I would speak to anyone about wine.  I am not hiding behind any flowery words or political walls.  I’m going to lay it out for you as painful as sometimes it may be.

Before I even tasted this wine, I attempted to do a little research.  What I did find was that this wine consists of a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and Zinfandel.  This excited me.  Syrah is just a sexy beast of a grape; violet hues, silky, full bodied, and all kinds of voluptuousness.  The rest of the grape crew was promising me spice, pillowy yet capable tannins, and balance.  This should be a balanced wine; perfect combination of earth, fruit, and tannic structure.  (more about tannins soon, I promise)

I really can’t say where this wine is specifically from.  I did know it was from California, and I believe one of my searches stated Napa, but that is all I got.  We can PRESUME the Zin was coming from Amador County, or Lodi (great growing area for Zin in California).  The rest MAY come from the North Coast of California, but this is just an educated guess.

Who cares anyway – the wine is a loser.

IMG_1363I tasted nothing.  The fruit was so fleeting that I didn’t even notice it was there.  There was this candied oak presence that turned me off instantly.  When I stuck my nose in the glass, I picked up a grape chewing gum smell.  This is just a turn off, and a sensory memory I left in grade school.

Black Ink wasn’t even a good pairing for pizza!  I think pizza is probably one of the easiest foods to pair with wine, specifically red.  You kind of can’t go wrong.; there was a lot of “wrong” going on.  There was also this viscous texture left on my palate after drinking the wine.  What the heck was going on here!

Crossfitters beware!  I know you want to try this because of the tattoo innuendoes, but just trust me and say no.  I may not be able to climb a freaking rope, or do a butterfly pull up, but I got this wine thing.

My sister usually asks me for a wine she can just guzzle; she is not choosey.  She is a music teacher in a grammar school, and a single mom to a four year old; romantic choices have left her consciousness.  I would tell her to take a pass on this $9.99 choice and pick up a box wine for the same price (Lindemans makes a great one; check it out).  Great marketing here, great packaging, and nice idea……if it’s not in the bottle, does this all really matter?

 

 

 

Holiday Wine Haul – Josh Cellars

I was not sure what to expect from a chardonnay priced at $12.99.

I did expect it to taste like it came from California.  Nope.  I wanted it to taste like the varietal chardonnay.  Close.  And I wanted it to be balanced with acidity, fruit and oak.  Closer.

My first mistake; I drank it way to cold.  As Americans, and as New Jerseyans, I see consumers make this mistake often.  Everyone thinks they need to ice the shit out of their white wine.  What this is doing is muting the flavors.  It’s like drinking the wine at 60%, and that is not what anyone wants to do, right?

Once it warmed up, I experienced that nice lemon/lime flavor that comes from Monterey fruit. (the area in California where this wine is sourced) It was, well, nice.  When I stated that I wanted it to taste like where it came from, this is what I was talking about.  I’ve always had wines from this area with more of a tropical feel; sexy, lingering, and a little spicy.  I got lemon/lime – eh.

And there was oak, but not to much.  I hate to say this, but I would have liked a little more.  Stating that is like showing more cleavage and pretending no one notices – more sometimes means MORE.  Chardonnay under $15.00 can be way over oaked and nasty.  I like oak components when done correctly.  That’s what this wine needed; a little oak kick in the ass to balance it out.

Didn’t light my world on fire, but did the job.  Was refreshing, but not life changing.  I wouldn’t be able to distinguish this wine in a blind tasting, but would not be embarrassed to bring it to a dinner party.  Better on it’s own, but could pair well with lighter dishes.  I had chicken with it, and it disappeared.  It’s good blog writing wine, or second bottle wine. (you know, when you are not really paying attention….)

IMG_1352

By the way – I had this wine in my Riedel “O” glass.  This is a stemless glass from the very famous wine glass company Riedel. They produce glassware that supports and influences the flavors in wines to release and tell their story.  This does work.  This is not bullshit.  I was a non believer and poo poo’d this for a long time; I was wrong!  Blog post coming on glassware and I will explain further.  Keep drinking out of your mason jars for the time being, but know there is a glassware makeover coming your way!