Catena Alta Chardonnay Fantasmas

Last night, yet again, I couldn’t sleep.

This isn’t a Covid thing, this is a Susan thing. I don’t have a problem falling asleep; on the contrary. Once the day is over, once I can sit on a couch with a Nexflix agenda – I’m out. I start to stir at 3 or 4 AM. I’m told that this is the witching hour; the time where the spirits can enter into your ethereal being. (don’t raise your eyebrows; there are stories, trust me) If you are experiencing the same, you know how weird that moment is when you just float around in the wee hours of the morning for no reason – not knowing what to do, coming up with stupid things to do, and all the things to do are lonely, empty, and bizarre.

Want to hear about meditation? I suck at it. Is anyone good at it? I follow @kristy_link meditation moments during the week; a guided flow on instagram that does quite my mind. It’s a help, and thank you to that goddess for her energies. (is LIVE on Instagram beguiling you?) But there is something more creepy; something that shoots cold chills into my core. It’s the meditation apps that I play at 3 AM – the one with the woman speaking to you like she is either going to seduce you, kill you slowly, or give you an inappropriate massage. I’m turned on and relaxed all at the same time. (look, something to do at 3 AM). Last night, my App lover told me to find a word to attach to my meditation intention. A word that embodies what would make my life complete. Hold that word, repeat that word in my mind, make that word my everything. That word for me was secure.

Secure in my relationships, secure in finding a relationship (yeah, I said that), secure in my job, secure in my finances, secure in lifting heavy objects (sorry, you know Crossfit will make an appearance), secure in my body that keeps changing (49 in two months – what is happening), and just secure in who I will become.

Then I started thinking about the wine I wanted to tell you about, and this moment was shot. I’m not kidding – the meditation turned into great ideas about a blog, a Live Instagram (that is happening tonight at 5 PM EST), and the ultimate selling tool that will change lives as we know it. It’ s all about chardonnay.

Yeah, chardonnay. Chardonnay is not a secure thing to a consumer, or is it? Sure – it’s the number one varietal grown in California, sure – it’s a great example on how a winemaker can put his/her creative thumb print on a wine, and sure – it’s the varietal that you either love or hate. And why the hate friend? I don’t want you to hate chardonnay as much as I don’t want you to hate the IDEA of chardonnay. There are directions to go in, areas of production to celebrate, award winning IDEAS of chardonnay – honor this sweetheart grape, and let’s sip on her together.

What will change your mind? Let’s break down this chardonnay from Catena Zapata and see what new ideas can come to mind:

Name: Alta Chardonnay from Mendoza Argentina.

Special – why: The grapes are sourced from high elevation vineyards; 5000 feet in elevation mind you. With this elevation, there is a diurnal shift (ohhhhh, vocabulary) – this is the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, and what this means to the life of the grape. Grapes will ripen slower, they will maintain their acidity, there will be balance in the grape outcome, they will mature like they should. Isn’t that what we all want?

Why you need to get over yourself: I know you don’t want to drink this because of the oak. Trust me – it’s there, but it is in harmony to everything else going on in this wine. I love the Burguny like texture – but this is in NO WAY Burgundy – but sure, can we smile a bit in it’s direction. Yes. Elegant without being reprehensible, vibrant in fruit without being cloying, bracing with acidity without throwing me off my chair. Flavors of pears and peaches tipped right off of the tree. There is also a floral quality that makes quaffing this wine delightful. But don’t get me wrong; this wine is rich, complex, and a bit sneaky on how it wins you over in the end.

Tune in to winegirlgonewild LIVE Tonight, June 4, at 5PM – I will be joined by Ann Marie Sgroi (@annmarie.sgroi) – Catena Task Force Master, lover of dogs and fixer of houses, and all knowing of things that make Catena Zapata great! We will be drinking OLD vintages of Catena Alta Chardonnay – ohhhhhh yes. Let’s see what happens then!

The Two Month “Susan Life Reflection” On Where We Should Go Now (While I am Drinking Cava)

It’s not that I havn’t wanted to talk to you.

It’s me – not you. We have a good thing: I dictate my thoughts through a keyboard, I pretend you are there, you giggle at me tripping over my own ideas, whisper “Isn’t she stupid and cute at the same time” to your partner/lover/one night stand/spouse/kitten, and slice a piece of that crumb cake, sitting on the counter, and tell me not to worry – start lifting that expensive barbell you bought (in a hyper sensitive moment) and all this Covid weight will melt away.

All that is a thing, right?

My challenges, beyond being an isolated and lonely girl, may not be as bad as yours. I still have my job, roof over my head, food in the fridge, a backyard I can play in, and money to pay the bills. I am usually the person with NONE OF THESE THINGS crying on the bathroom floor. So why am I back and in a positive condition? (fleeting, trust me, but today is a good day) Completely for selfish reasons: to sell some wine (yeah, admitting is letting go), to show you another side of the wine coin, to share my screw ups and successes, and to remember that I got some good stuff in my head that you may like to hear.


Here is the : Two Month Susan Reflection On Where Life Should Go Now:

  • Read my ass off, and grasp more wine related substance. I’ve been learning from a super smart wine guy the last two months, and I am just over the moon with his education; self taught, experienced, witty, detailed to the last drop in the glass. I want my song to be loud, accurate, and thundering with thought provoking conversation between us, and I know I can up my game.
  • I tried the LIVE Instagram thing. Honestly, it’s weird, and now it’s a saturated platform. Are we really having a conversation about wine, or am I just drinking to drink? It became very empty. What about a podcast? Thoughts? That sounds like fun…
  • Take more pictures. If you spend any time with me, you are now flipping me off. I already take pictures of wine, wine people, wine stacks, wine ideas, wine dinners, more wine…. enough with the wine. I have recently been looking at pictures, and erasing ones that have no relevance to my life now. However, there are memories that come flooding back, tears and laughter that I can touch, and wonderful people and places that remain in my soul. You just need a little nudge with a visual.
  • Reflect on what has happened, absorb what is happening now, acknowledge when someone does you wrong, walk away from that wrong without feeling wrong, find the delight in not being the star (back up dancers build the brand-you remember that hot one third from the right), assemble your team with different energies, evolve, know that a moment can just be a moment, and that a bad thing is just someone else’s idea of “bad” – not yours. This last year has taught me that people that have never met you before can appreciate you and grow to respect you. At the same time, people you have known for years can make you numb OR continue to fight in your army with a crazy vengeance.
  • And watch a movie with John Cusack; I suggest Better Off Dead (a 1985 classic).

All of that is really good shit.

But what you really want to know is what have I been drinking.

The first month of isolation; a whole lot of wine. Man, I became a very round lady. What a bloated mess. That had to stop friends; and it did. But you know, your girl likes her wine. A few new things needed to enter this picture; something lower in alcohol, quaffable, easy on the liver, and satisfying after a week not having ANY alcohol to drink. I’ve always liked a bubble; Champagne, Cava, Prosecco (eh, not as much but it will do), Brachetto – anything with a little spritz and I’m ready. I PURCHASED (you heard me) a case of Cava and was instantly hooked. Here is why:

  • 11.5 percent alcohol. That made much more sense.
  • Cava is from Penedes; one of the most important viticultural areas of Catalonia in Spain. I sell wines from Spain. Support yourself woman.
  • The grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello; Macabeo being the dominant in this blend. This grape is so elegant, has complexity, shows pretty acidity, and has the bang of fruit needed without being obnoxious.
  • There is a Brut, there is a Rose, and I know you are going to want to rock this as a mimosa – how about you DON’T! This wine is perfect without all the additional crap you want to feed it. Sure it’s your brunch wine, your after work out wine (don’t judge), a “Is it time to drink in a pandemic” wine (if you have to ask…) – all are acurate.
  • Bubbles make you happy, they just do.
  • This wine’s name? Los Dos Cava – Brut or Rose – affordable goodness; can’t leave that part out, by the way. Grab a bottle, send me a picture of what you are drinking and how you are drinking it, or send me a new suggestion! Anything with a sparkle!

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…

 

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.