OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Our Saturday Sips: Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio

It’s the end of the monthly budget with a few pennies to spare. So what’s a thrifty wine drinker to do? You bring home that trusted, consistent, widely distributed wine under ten dollars and you celebrate the fact there’s a decent inexpensive wine you can enjoy for under a ten-spot.

For us it’s Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio California 2016 –  Retail $8.65.

The name Gnarly Head reminds me an ’80s surf movie despite it really representing their old gnarled vines in Lodi.  The word actually means gnarled, challenging, disgusting, and gross. I couldn’t stop thinking about the word ‘Gnarly’ which led to the word ‘dude’.  And then that made me think of gnarly dudes dropping acid because the Pinot Grigio was acidic and I’m back to the 80s surfing movie again probably starring Sean Penn.  Which would be a huge letdown cause I think Nicolas Cage fits the role so much better.  Welcome to my stream of consciousness.

“BOLD. SOPHISTICATED. WITH A HINT OF GNARLY.”

The Pinot Grigio was not gross or challenging but refreshing and citrusy with some stone fruit and melons.  The Gnarly Head website states they’re part of the Delicato Family Vineyards portfolio.

The label suggested pairing with spicy Asian dishes, but in reality,  we paired it with a late night nosh of junk food and Netflix. The long week had ended with an evening  of high school football and marching band. The 8th grade band had been invited to join the high school band (they were recruiting for next year), so our youngest daughter got to perform with her older siblings on the bleachers in band heaven.

Meanwhile, my husband and I enjoyed a small taste of empty nesting. We’d sat in the upper deck  where the kids wouldn’t be able to find us (sort of) but I swear they have radar like an AWACS when they need cash. I’m half-joking. I’ll miss these years after they’ve all flown away. But seriously, how do my kids vanish when it’s time to load the dishwasher yet easily find me in a crowd of 10,000 when the trombone section is heading to IHOP and they need money? It’s just Gnarly.

Cheers to those reliable, cheap sips!

Madeira: My ‘Wow’ Wine Moment

Last evening, we attended a tasting at our local wine shop hosted by The Rare Wine Co. They specialize in old vintage wines and were pouring 6 offerings with the help of their rep Master Sommelier Anthony Anselmi. I throw his name out there encase anyone knows him. I adore name dropping whenever possible. 

All of the wines were Old World which gives me immediate recall issues on the where, whom and why but once I get my bearings on a wine I can sometimes remember. My brain picks up New World better. Anyway, my poor memory became irrelevant once I tasted the last wine poured. 

 

The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Charleston Sercial Madeira NV

19.5% Alc. Retail $50

This was my first Madeira and it hopefully won’t be my last. It’s produced by Vinhos Barbeito from the Island of Madeira, Portugal. 

It’s deep golden in color and powerfully aromatic.  So powerful on the nose that bourbon came to mind and I hesitated in tasting. Strong drink gives me a tummy ache. I braved it and took a sip.

And time stood still. I’m not joking. You all felt it right? Who else has experienced this after one sip? 

In that moment, I had my first ‘Wow’. It was magical. I’ve been fortunate to taste a few good wines over the years. Nothing of the famous cult variety but still very good. However, that little sip topped them all. Stupefied and stunned, I just kept looking at the glass.  Sniff and look. Sniff and look. I was clueless at that point as to where Madeira was located but I knew I was in love. The taste was nothing like the nose. Soft and dry with what I first thought was butterscotch but turned out to be caramel and a touch of saltiness. Delicious.

We had crammed the wine tasting in between a busy work day and rushing to a class at church but once I sipped the Madeira all thoughts of hurrying were gone. I wanted to draw out finishing it as long as possible and savor the moment. I’m making a note for future wine tastings to keep the schedule clear just in case a wonderful wine happens.  

This particular bottle is part of The Rare Wine Co. Historic Madeira series produced by the Barbeito family. The wines are named for U.S. cities where Madeira was super popular in the 18th and 19th century. They chose two cities in the south, Charleston and Savannah, which are drier Madeira and two cities in the north, Boston and New York, which are sweeter. Having a southern mama, I would have picked Charleston for sweet but historically the South preferred dry. 

Here’s a few info-bites I hastily gleaned about the wine I am now designating as the gift to give for all future weddings I might get to attend:

  1. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Madeira is a fortified wine which means it practically lasts forever making it a great anniversary tradition to save and sip each year. 
  2. High in alcohol. It can have between 19 – 22%. Another reason you might not finish the bottle in one sitting although it’s tempting. 
  3. As a landmass, Madeira is a mountainous island with mild temperatures. 
  4. The four current global Madeira wine producers survived by buying and stockpiling vintages during a 13 year phylloxera outbreak. The one we tasted was in barrel for 22 years. 
  5. Apparently, Japan really likes Madeira and buys lots of it. 
  6. It goes well with duck. (Thank you, Amy) 

Actually, it apparently goes well with lots of dishes for that matter. I’m thinking for Thanksgiving it’s goodbye Prosecco and Hello Madeira. The only thing stopping me is the price. Well, and the alcohol content. Other than that “if I were a rich man . . . yada yada yada” 

Cheers! 

Our Saturday Sips: Wheelhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

If the weekend is here that means there will be wine. And I plan on making it a good one! (Hopefully) Now let’s pour. 

 

Picking the wine fell to me this past weekend because my husband was out of town till Sunday afternoon. He came home to the privilege of opening the bottle and burying our beloved guinea pig.  Thankfully Rumble passed away Sunday while we were at church and not earlier in the week while my husband was gone. My husband manages these life events better than me. Fat hairy spiders? No problem. Dead pet? I get squeamish. In the end, our middle daughter, the reason we adopted Rumble 7 years ago, and my hubby held a sweet memorial service and buried him in the back garden. RIP Rumble. I’ll miss your loud whooping while I grind the coffee in the morning but not your droppings under the Lazyboy.  If interested, you can read about his brief career as a wine critic here

Anyway, for some reason, I had a hard time choosing the wine for the weekend. Here’s my predicament: We have a rule of one bottle a week and only on the weekend so I want a great bottle. Absolutely unrealistic, I know, but I’ve only got one chance. This dilemma is easily solvable by picking an old reliable. Except, I love to try new wines and I’ve been thinking lately I should test my wine knowledge and not ask the clerk every time for a suggestion. Why gather all this wine experience if I’m not going to use it? But that raises the odds of picking a dud and being disappointed. Oh, my first world problems!

In the end, I decided to just go for it and picked a Napa Valley Cabernet by a producer I’ve never tried since Napa is known for producing lovely Cabs. What’s Ms. Frizzle always say? “Be brave. Take chances. Make mistakes.” Besides, I can comfort myself in picking an old reliable next weekend, right?

Our Saturday Sip: 

 

Wheelhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Napa Valley

Overall, Wheelhouse is nice although slightly boring. It turned out to be a pleasant pour while we caught up on the week. If you’re looking for safe, nothing super exciting but drinkable then it’s a decent pick up. Although, in a blind tasting it’s not particularly obvious it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon with it’s lighter body and shy dark fruit. I probably won’t buy it again because I like Bold Cabernet. Also it’s a bit pricey at $17 for moderately boring. My guess is because of it’s location – Napa Valley.  Oh well. Still it wasn’t a dud! 

Happy Sipping, 

Allison

 

Thank you LORD for the fun piggy. Adieu, dear boy.

 

 

Oklahoma Skies #6: Sunrise

There are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

 

 

Life, on this day, two years ago. Promising beginning to the new school year. 

September 18, 2015

 

Our Saturday Sips: BoneShaker 2014 Zinfandel Lodi

Hello everyone, 
In a effort to regain balance in our life, we’ve decided to make a few changes and lay down a few new hard and fast rules. Someday, when I’m at liberty to share, I’ll explain. But for now let’s just say important areas in our life were spiraling out of control and changes needed to be made before we found ourselves as big as hippos and living in a van down by the river.  Therefore, one of our new “lifestyle” changes is limiting our wine to the weekend. Our bodies thank us. Our budget thanks us. And to be honest, the anticipation of what wine we will try is once again fun and enjoyable. 
Our Saturday Sip:
 
Boneshaker 2014 Zinfandel Lodi

 

The bottle claims it’s named for a teeth rattling thrill ride. Ha! Not much teeth rattling occurred but overall it was a nice dark, full-bodied wine with blackberries and spice. It was also on budget at $20.02. I’d get it again.  Boneshaker Zin is produced by the Hahn Family Wines with the grapes sourced from 40 year old vines out of the Bruella Vineyard in Lodi, California.

The past weekend was tremendously enjoyable as I got to experience two of my very favorite pastimes: college football and wine. We actually opened the zinfandel on Friday night because the Oklahoma Sooners were to play Ohio State in football on Saturday night.  The stinging memories of last year’s  loss  required all our energy to be focused on the game. Smart move on our part,  since this year’s game was incredible and required lots of jumping up and down, nail biting and high-fiving.  And in the name of good, clean, slightly disrespectful fun, according to Siri, Ohio State stadium  now has a new owner. Who knew?

Cheers!

 

Oklahoma Skies #5: Sunrise

There are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

 

Woke to a cracked summer sky . . .

June 29, 2017

 

 

Win(d)ing Down The Summer into Fall

Well, this may have been the fastest summer on record. Anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Life seems to be on fast forward since we’re in the transition years with our teens as they move from high school to college. I’m having a harder time dealing with all this transition than I thought I would. After school finished in May, our teenagers got jobs, went to camps and basically had activities until band camp in August. There wasn’t even a free weekend for a short family vacation. Although, I did enjoy skipping the stress of planning one. If you’ve ever had the joy of packing, finding accommodations or driving numerous miles with a crowd, I know you’ll understand. My son calls us the ‘Six Man Side Show’. He vows he’s going to vacation alone after he moves out on his own.

However, come December, half of our sideshow is traveling to London to march in the New Year’s Day Parade. The other reason we didn’t vacation this summer. Converting pennies to pounds is expensive! Oh, and I’m a chaperon for this UK adventure. Pray. Please. Pray for me, as I and several other parents along with 250+ teenagers descended on London for a week. The trip is kinda bittersweet with everyone excited for the opportunity but at the same time having to leave half the family at home. I’ve started brushing up on the language (important words like trousers, crisps, chemist, chips, underground and rubbish) and hunting for waterproof winter jackets. Here we come ENGLAND!

courtesy of BBC.com

londonvisitors.wp.com

Anyway, August is now gone, too. Which got me to thinking. A dangerous prospect, I know. There were a lot of ‘new’ wines on the shelves this summer and I’m wondering if they are only seasonal fads or producers just new to me?

prophecywines.com

Will these wines disappear after a while? Will there be a new crop on the shelves next summer? Are these short-lived trends? Seasonal offerings like pumpkin spice latte? Summer is a good time to break into the market. Holidays, I know, are the other marketing window. From my experience in retail, 80% of our yearly revenue came from the months of October to December. Anyway, the wine market is saturated with offerings in the low to middle range. We tried a few with marginal results.

The wines of summer – the beginning was not the end

We also wound up opening a few bottles special to us. This was the summer to clear out and tidy up starting with a favorite of ours from Frogs Leap Winery in Rutherford, CA. My husband surprised me with an anniversary trip to Dallas and dinner at Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille. They have a beautiful wine cellar from which we chose Frog’s Leap 2014 Zinfandel. It didn’t disappoint! 

We finished the weekend with another Frog’s Leap bottle we’d brought home from our Napa Valley trip 3 years earlier; Frog’s Leap’s version of Rosé. It was a nice light bottle of summer fruit to go with all our of reminiscing about the trip.  

The last special bottle we opened this summer was Castello di Amorosa 2012 Reserve Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard from the Castello di Amorosa Winery in Napa. The winery’s a giant castle run by charming imported Italians. We had a great time there tasting and exploring and petting the chickens. I’m convinced chickens are a requirement for every authentic castle. 

The rest of the summer we drank a lot of white with an few reds mixed in. See if you recognize any of them: 

And here we are in September. Oklahoma weather is pretending it’s already deep into Fall with morning temps in the 50s. I’m loving it. Good college football weather. I’m not sure why God has chosen to bless us with such beautiful weather while the rest of the country deals with horrifically heartbreaking hurricanes and devastating fires. Maybe it’s so I’ll learn to think soberly about my days and to be thankful. Either way, I’m grateful.

Cheers and Happy Fall, friends!

Off the Vineyard Trail #6: The Attic

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you just need to let a few things go.

During these past few unexpected rainy days, we decided to tackle the job of cleaning out our attic. The chore has been literally hanging over our heads for months now. Last week when I pulled down the ladder to get an ice chest for band camp, there wasn’t floor space to stand on. Mind you, our attic isn’t huge but it’s adequate to store the non-everyday items.

Cleaning out one’s attic is like opening a Pandora’s Box of ‘These were the Years of Your Life.’ Granted, we’ve had over 13 years in this house to stuff ours, so there’s the typical junk. However, among the boxes of Christmas décor and childhood memorabilia there were a few forgotten surprises…

  • A brand new Street Hockey net and Sticks
  • A duffle bag of uniforms from my hubby’s stint in the military
  • A prom dress circa 1989
  • 3 boogie boards
  • An Eskimo Barbie and a Russian Barbie
  • A full-sized spare tire
  • 2 Saber swords from Uzbekistan
  • A Margaritaville frozen drink mixer
  • A Biology lab microscope
  • Ticket stubs for the 1988 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the New Jersey Devils – face value $11
  • A baby crib
  • Crutches and a knee brace
  • A bike trainer (rehab after the crutches)
  • 2 bales of chicken wire (I forgot I’d bought one already)
  • A buffalo costume from Halloween
  • A 1986 newspaper with the headline ‘Challenger Explosion’
  • A box of VHS tapes
  • A baseball card collection
  • A 1994 Playbill from the Broadway Musical ‘Guys and Dolls’
  • New York Yankee baseball tickets 1996 – face value $16
  • The green metal slide from my son’s loft bed
  • A plastic toy refrigerator and stove
  • A vintage Trombone case

We decided to sort through all the boxes and do some serious clean out. The nicest surprise was in the middle of going through a box of old letters, birthday cards and pictures. I found two letters from my mom. One she had written on her 25th birthday when I was 6 weeks old, that I was to open on my 25th birthday. The second was a Christmas letter she wrote when I was seven. She wrote on the envelope, “Allison, this is to be opened when you’re an adult and your Christmas seems less than it should be. OR when your 7 year-old child drives you crazy with their impatience at Christmas. Love, Mother.”

Apparently, I was driving her crazy. I wish I could remember when she actually gave me the letter. I’d like to think it was the Christmas we had four kids under the age of 7 and they could barely stay in their beds past 4:30 that morning!

Let me warn you, sentimentality is running high in our household right now from revisiting all the life the LORD has given us. The task started as a chore but I can honestly say it’s ended with a lot of thanksgiving, laughter and a few cringy moments. Especially, after my kids found my high school yearbooks. (Yes, I really did want my hair to look like Robert Smith’s of The Cure. Deal with it.)

After hauling seven bags of trash and two large bins of junk to the curb plus one vanload to the Salvation Army, I’m seriously considering joining the minimalist movement. The feeling of letting go is so refreshing! I just wish some of our rediscovered junk was valuable enough to hawk on EBay. Maybe it could of helped cover the University Bursar bill that arrived last week. Oh well, at least I can put the Uzbek sabers to use opening an inexpensive bottle of cava.

So, what’s in your attic?

Oklahoma Skies #4: Sunset

There are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

 

One particularly fine summer evening in early June, we took the dog and her girl for a ride . . . 

 

June 8, 2017

#Winestudio Thru Rose Colored Glasses: Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino

“La Vie En Rose. It is the French way of saying, ‘I am looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses.” -Aubrey Hepburn

Who doesn’t enjoy viewing life through Rosé colored glasses? Cares melt away. Edges soften. The harsh world warms up into a bright summer glow. That’s exactly the effect the Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino produced for #Winestudio this month. And in a touch of playfulness, rose colored sunglasses were included with the Bonterra Rosé for #Winestudio participants to sport as we virtually visited the Bonterra Vineyards and farms. 

30 years ago, under the direction of winemaker Bob Blue, Bonterra Vineyards made a commitment to organic and biodynamic practices before organic was even cool. Today, organic is very cool despite the fact it’s been around for centuries! Bonterra’s organic vineyards fit perfectly with the June #Winestudio theme of “What’s ‘Old’ is ANew”. Regardless of the present trends, Bonterra remains passionate that great wine comes from farms and vineyards teeming with biodiversity and healthy soils. As a result of their commitment, Bonterra leads the U.S. in organic wine production and it’s garnered them the award of being named “American Winery of the Year 2016” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

“Our style has always been about restraint, because we have fewer tools in the vineyard & winery. Balance trumps trends, always.” -Bonterra Wines

 

Bonterra Vineyards and Farms

 It takes years to become an accredited California Certified Organic Farmer (CCOF). You must adhere to two of the Demeter farm standards which in Bonterra’s case is applying bio-dynamic preparations and composts and increasing biodiversity. Located in Mendocino County, the Bonterra biodynamic wine collection explores site-specific expressions from three Demeter-certified estate vineyards. 

According to the Bonterra website:

“Our three ranches (Blue Heron, McNab and Butler) are certified Biodynamic® by Demeter and our status is reviewed annually to ensure that each ranch adheres to the Demeter Farm Standard. The principle of Biodynamic farming is the simplest way to understand what it is: a living organism which is self-contained, self-sustaining, and follows the cycles of nature.”

 Bonterra Rosé 2016 Mendocino (Grenache, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo) $16

 

How’s it made?

Bonterra believes style and method go hand and hand. “Method drives the style, and we knew we wanted to make a Provence-inspired Rosé.” The Rosé is made in the Provencal style using the direct press method. Bonterra selected Grenache as the main grape because “it’s great for rosé and Sangiovese and Nebbiolo do well in Mendocino”. 

The Resulting Taste?

A refreshing mouth full of light summer strawberries, hints of rose petals and nice acidity. 

Let me know if you try a bottle. Rumor has it, with only a few days into the official summer season, the winery is almost sold out. If you come across a bottle I’d be happy to share it with you. In the meantime, may the LORD bless you with a very rosy summer. ~Allison

 

Disclosure: I received a media sample of Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino as a participant of #Winestudio. All rose colored opinions are my own. I think these month long Rosé sessions are turning me into a Rosé drinker. For me, this was another delicious bottle of wine. With any varietal, all it takes is finding a good bottle so I’m committed to trying! Cheers!

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