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…

 

Advertisements

Wine Girl Gone Wild Quickie – Cabernet Sauvignon

This section is for the reader that doesn’t want to read my blog, could care less what I’m eating and drinking, would not like to look at pretty pictures of random-ness, or that does not care what I do with my life.

I hear you.

You just want to know what the hell to drink when you are in the mood you are in, or need to buy a gift, or need to impress your boss, or forgot your anniversary, or want to drown out the screaming kids in the background… you just want to drink a Cab!

Again, I hear you.

Check this out…

Quickie Card - Cab

More quickies to come! (and yes, I went there)

Eat This: Dinner at South and Pine With A Little Pinot Noir

Categorizing an area for restaurant reviews on my website, and calling that category “Eat This”, should just happen. Mood noted.

I don’t go to Morristown for two reasons; (1) I have a destructive ex, in the industry, that trolls the land, and (2) I never think of Morristown as a qualitative “foodie” place.  Great bars, young pretentious hipsters, younger girls vomiting in the corners of bars around 2 AM…

Not judging, but I totally am.  Last night, I found South and Pine in Morristown – changed my mind on what I thought was going on in this busting at the seams town.  Where there is a bar/restaurant/meeting place on every corner, I dare you to search for an eclectic and direct outline of someone else’s vision of true culinary art-forms.  Cookie cutter “lets get drunk”, “how weird can I make the wine list”, and “I’m so trendy” cocktail locations have dominated and sickened the overly ambitious crowds.  Time to take a breathe, realize we are mature human beings and not animals ready to choke on cheap booze, and relish in a true, clean expression of “farm to table’ and in the moment design of a restaurant.

And yes, it’s a BYOB.  Glory BE!  When I go out to eat I want the server to run the show, make me feel like the queen I am, and tell me I am a genius wine goddess for owning such beautiful specimens I have brought to the table.

But I screwed up.  The wine I brought sucked.  Just sucked.  Thank goodness my dining partner thought deeper into the menu and what wines made sense; he saved the day. (whew, that could have been a tragedy!)

What do I mean by this?  As noted, the menu is consistently changing to match foods that are seasonly appropriate.  Right now, you will find pumpkin soup, pork belly, lamb sirloin, and just wait… Braised Bison.  You heard it, and I cannot lie, this made me loose my mind.  One of the BEST grapes for the Fall, and for this menu, is Pinot Noir – hands down.  This grape shows an abundant cranberry fruit, fall sweet spice, and a structure to hold up to a cornucopia of autumn flavors.  Our Pinot Noir choice, and this may be a surprise to you: Celine et Vincent Dureuil, Rully 1er Cru ,”Vauvry”.  Yes, your wine girl is drinking Pinot Noir AND a Frenchy; two things I’m not a fan of.  Let’s break this down and tell you why it worked:

  • Fruit for this wine is sourced from a Premier Cru Vineyard (pretty freaking good) located at the top of a hill.  Lots of sunshine giving this wine a plumpness and bountiful fruit expression without being over the top in candied flavors.
  • Aged 18 months in French Oak, picked from 40 year old vines, and one of the best producers in this region. The oak gives this wine oomph to the structure, and the older vines add a complexity to the fruit composition.  Basically, making everything I hate about Pinot Noir sing a different song.
  • Rully is a village in the larger area of Burgundy, France called Cote Chalonnaise.  Not a lot is written about this area of Burgundy, mostly because they are not known for wines of an elegant nature. I am not elegant in nature, so we have something in common.  Instead, you will get a rustic wine approach with earthy tones, black pepper and spice; and maybe not the best focus.  However, these wines are affordable, have a sound framework, and pair generously with the season.

Recap; go pick some apples, drink a few Octoberfest beers, and finish your day at South and Pine with a bowl of steaming Mussels.  Let the staff smile and wipe your chin, watch through the open kitchen all the hustling and bustling, and bring a bottle of Pinot Noir with you.  Ignore the 20 somethings passing by the window, but do flirt with your dining companion. (and maybe the cutie floor manager!)

Side note; surprise starter was a split bottle of Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial Champagne.  Just the right amount and just the right bubble to clean your palate for the fatty flavors of Fall.  Check out this review/sales pitch from my friends  @ Drizzly if you need some more info!

The Night I Invited Champagne Out To Dinner

In my career, I’m asked to describe a wine well enough to sell it.  That entails telling a buyer about the vineyard sites, history of the winemaker, and anything else I can conjure up to make the wine sound alluring.  I’ve studied my style, changed it over the years, and ripped off other people’s pitches when I would hear something worth the take.  Through investigation, I’ve noticed we are all leaving out the obvious, and most important component of the sale; the grape.

So, I’ve decided to have dinner with said grapes.  Not on purpose mind you.  When a dinner date arises, many wine choices are put on the judgement block – basically because a lot of wines are looming around my house.  And listen, when I am out with friends, I want to drink what I like.  I happen to like champagne; a lot.  Last night, a bottle of champagne came along specifically for a celebratory toast.  Now, let’s stop here for a moment.  When you are toasting, please don’t bring something good.  There are few people in your party that are going to drink the stuff.  Bring something that is actually palatable.  A friend had a bottle of Korbel over the weekend, and I almost knocked her over the head with it.  As I always say; you are better than that.

I also need to admit, I am a creature of habit.  I am surrounded by amazing restaurants, many BYOB (thank you Montclair you beautiful town), but still end up at the same damn places.  SLA Thai is a place that screws me up; I have found myself dreaming of her Pad Thai, and wanting to transport myself immediately to her door – not thinking of my mood, what I want to drink, what is close to my home (I am really lazy).  Why does this food make me crazy – I can’t tell you.  I’ve had Thai so many times before and after experiencing this place, but I’m left enchanted.  They just get me.

Back to that bottle of Champagne.  The choice: Maison De Grand Esprit, “Marquis De La Mysteriale”.  Here is a quickie; this wine is from Champagne: the viticultural area in France.  Soooooooo, we can call it Champagne.  Get it?  All other places make a “sparkling wine”.  Now, in Champagne, they choose to use a combination of the following grapes; chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier.  After a search of the internet and my brain, I’m presuming this one is all chardonnay, or at least I want it to be.  Pretty fruit, crisp, bright; not heavy on the palate at all.  Thank goodness for that – who needs that damn Pinot Noir anyway.  Hating it.

I know, from my vast wine experience and my growing waistline, that Champagne and spicy food will prevail.  What I didn’t predict was how this specific bottle would elevate the experience.  The wine paired with every dish on the table – a difficult task. I forgot I was supposed to disregard it, and instead, kept on drinking it.  It stood up as a wine; not backing down to the heavily flavored food before me.  LOVED it with a short ribs dish.  SHORT RIBS AND CHAMPAGNE?  It worked; that’s all I know.

Seeing a Champagne bottle may make you happy, get you excited, create some drama for the evening….we’ve all been there.  What I would like you to do, next time, is stop for a second and taste the wine.  Make a judgement.  Watch how it will change with a food choice.  Drink it throughout the meal.  Pair it with a dessert.  Remember it is chardonnay (with maybe a few other friends thrown in), and experience it as a chardonnay.  Love it as a chardonnay.  Or just forget this blog, pair it with a bubble bath, a movie, a really good looking man – but still have an opinion.  About the wine that is…

 

Rebounds and Getting Played – Real Wine Talk

I cannot disconnect myself with what is happening in my mind and what is happening personally in my life from this blog. This morning I woke up, checked out social media, witnessed a special someone creeping around town like an animal, felt like a brick hit me in the face (or the dead heart that was being slightly revived), and knew I had to write this.

Just like stupid romantic relationships that you find yourself in, wine can be a rebound and a “getting played” moment.  What do these two have in common; they make you feel special for a moment, lost, empty, and really really stupid.  I’m not any of the later, and I’m here to tell you that you are not as well.  Let’s distinguish how we got ourselves here, and what we can do to prevent this:

Getting Played:

IMG_2141

My friend Jackie buys a wine because the label is pretty.  This makes her feel special, intelligent, full of hope, confident that she is doing the right thing.  Sound familiar?  The marketing may tell you that you NEED this wine in your life, that this wine will bring you places you never have been before, your life will change if you just involve yourself a little bit…ok, that may not be the wine talking, but you understand where I am coming from.  I insert a picture of 19 Crimes here; a wine I sell, I love, I love selling.  This wine has everything I just spoke about, and does taste good.  You get a bang for your buck, a funky label that your friends will love to talk about, and a good time.  What does that sound like?  Beware, but be a risk taker.  Enjoy the positives that getting played may give your body and  palate.  It’s all just fun, isn’t it?

The Rebound:

IMG_1935I don’t consider a rebound always a bad thing.  It has the best intentions.  If I am feeling lonely, can’t make a decision, want a consistent warm hug, Stags’ Leap Winery Petite Sirah does it for me. (the innuendos in this blog are killing me by the way).  However, rebound wines will take you over the hump, but may not take you all the way.  It’s easy to get stuck with the one thing you know will make you feel good when you don’t want to take that next step into the unknown.  Petite Sirah may be the unknown for you as a varietal – here is the seduction.  The best rebounds are in the lure of what will be, aren’t they?  This one happens to deliver, and deliver.  That’s why it may be my date for New Years Eve…

Where does that leave us?

33908720_UnknownGreat question.  Maybe it’s not drinking wine at all.  Maybe it’s about making healthier choices for my body and my mind.  I chose this picture above because it is filled with food and wine choices that make me feel positive and good.   I just realized the wine is a little blurred out; is that a sign?  It’s great to take some risks.  When that risk fails though, should I stay in bed with a pint of ice cream, or go lift weights.  You know the right thing to do, but the “right” thing just seems so hard…

The opening photo is a picture of a wine barrel being “toasted” and treated for wine aging.  I remember taking this photo and being overwhelmed; it was a burning hot, a type of anxiety, a thrilling and tactile experience.  This photo is where I want my heart, mind, and soul to stay.  If I continue to get played, or be the “rebound girl”, so be it – it still makes me feel like the fire.  If I make poor choices in love and wine, so be it.  I rarely notice social media posts about mistakes we may make.  They happen to me at every turn.  Thank goodness they do – I’m learning, maybe closing myself off a bit, but still curious.