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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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?

Drink This; Luzon, Petit Verdot

Don’t ask me to tell you about myself.

Do you know why I say that?  Because you know exactly what you want from me.  You KNOW what your are going to get before I answer the question.  And, I don’t even know how to answer that question.  Do you want the run down of my resume, do you want to know my career ambitions, do you want to know if I’m dating anyone?  Should I share just a little or go insane with my life notes?  I’m betting that honesty and credibility are gone from our conversations, personal or professional. Instead we just peck around each other and come up with really rude judgements.

On top of all this, I probably know what you want to hear.  I can size up the situation pretty quickly.  You want to know if I’m going to compliment your style, make you money, be engaged – but only to a limit, build your atheistic business, tell you you are pretty, pick up and satisfy your dropped promises, and smile the entire time.  I do all of that better than anyone you have ever met.

Wine choices are similar.  (a stretch, but do you like how I am connecting everything?)  We make wine choices for many reasons – we know the wine will deliver because we’ve had it before, the grape choice is our favorite, or the label is really attractive.  We want to impress our friends with our wine knowledge or lack of, maybe we want to get drunk, or just maybe we want to spice up an evening.  All valid thoughts, and all things we already know.

So why would I bring a wine to a pizza party where no-one has ever heard of the grape?  How am I winning here?  You know it’s not because I am trying to show off – my friends could care less about what I know about wine, and barley listen to my wine rhetoric.  The reason; I’m turned on by Spanish wine lately.

Just am.  I worked in Spanish wine years ago for a hot minute, and the romance never left me.  There is something about the fruit components, the spice, the line in the sand it draws, the feeling that lingers with me after I drink it…  This is what I wanted to share.  And that’s it isn’t it.  I just want to have my close friends get the goosebumps I do about a wine. (and life) Here is the low down on what we drank:

  • Name of the wine: Luzon, Petite Verdot
  • Where it is from: Jumila, Spain.  It is a continental climate with hills, valleys, a mountain range – but it is also hot as hell and a very harsh place to make a grape for wine.  What you get – very full bodied wines full of abundant fruit flavors, baking spices and coffee.
  • Grape: Petite Verdot; This area grows A LOT of the grape Monastrell – another WGGW fav and will be reviewed shortly.  Petite Verdot is a grape we find in the Bordeaux region of France where it is important in the final blend.  What I like about this grape, when hailed from Spain, is that it is courageous and daring, bold right from the first sip and dark as tar.  It’s like a chocolate covered deep black cherry, dipped in cuban coffee, and rolled around my tongue.  If that doesn’t make you want to drink this wine…
  • What to do next; Just buy it -it’s under $12.  I purchased this bottle at Fairway Market in Woodland Park.  Beyond the notion that I’m obsessed with Spanish wine lately, I knew we were having food from the grill.  I was going to a pizza party where you add your own toppings, throw it on the grill, and enjoy your pizza venture as well as everyone else’s.  First of all, genius party shtick.  Now think of that char you get from smoky grilling, dripping cheese, something spicy like chorizo toppings…it’s giving me heartburn, but pairing perfectly.

And yes, I drank this wine while eating a bag of cheese doodles.