OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

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Twenty seven minutes ago, the door bell rang and there stood one of my all-time favorite people.

Dressed from head to toe like a miniature blue Santa with fur lined cap and soot-covered boots,

she had sprung from a shiny, package laden sleigh,

across the lawn and unto the porch making just a slight clatter (I know, cause the dog barked)

Gracefully balancing a box with the festive red label “Adult Signature Required”,

She quickly checked her list once and then twice,

cause I’ve been both naughty and nice.

And with a deft scan of my name and a hurried ‘good day’

she bounded back to her truck

to drive swiftly away.

I love seeing the FedEx and UPS trucks drive into my culs-de-sac. Especially in December. Just makes my heart race cause it usually means good things are on the way. This time it was a hefty bottle of Yao Ming Brut Sparkling Wine from a fellow wine blogger. Very Merry indeed! 

Cheers! 

 

Our Saturday Sips: Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2015


Confession. We actually opened this wine on a Wednesday. It was a very good Wednesday.

My middle daughter had begged me to be a chaperone on the annual Classics Day field trip held at the University of Oklahoma. Unbeknownst  to me, my shrewd girl had an agenda.  One, get out of school and two, meet up and hang out with her sister who attends OU. In order to accomplish this,  my daughter talked her Latin teacher into letting us drive separately by using me as Chaperone bait. There’s usually a scarcity of parents for any high school field trips so I was a welcome addition. However, my girl’s ace in the hole was a packed field trip bus.  In the end, she got her wish; the sisters got to meet up for the afternoon and the college girl got a free lunch.

One highlight of Classics Day was the presenter on the history of Greek Warfare. His vast knowledge of Greek history kept the students extremely engaged. However, I think the real reason for their rapt attention was the sharp, shiny weaponry and the fact he was built like a Gladiator.  Turns out, his other passion is body building. What’s that old saying? You can never judge a book by its cover? The combo definitely works in his favor!

 

The other reason I wanted to open a bottle  was the fact I  went on a field trip with my daughter and didn’t do anything  to embarrass her in front of her peers.  This might be silly, but trust me, any public outings where my kids don’t roll their eyes over my behavior is a rare event. This may not be reason enough for celebration in your house, but where I live, Teenlandia, it’s practically a National Holiday.

In celebration, I picked up Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 California.  It’s a consistent everyday wine at around $11 and has a nice smooth blend of cherries, plums and  vanilla.  Plus, Bogle Wines are everywhere so those rare occasions you have an eye rolling-free experience with a teenager, you can celebrate without breaking the bank. Cheers!

Our Saturday Sips: Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

The first week of November wrapped up the official Marching Band season with the final football game honoring the Seniors. Our family met our son at the 50-yard line as his name and future aspirations were read out over the PA system. Prior to this honor, Senior son had to fill out a form stating future plans, college, studies etc. He’s a joker and heavily encouraged by his father so this was a golden opportunity. Here’s what he wrote:

 

“Going to Colorado School of Mimes to pursue his dream of silently changing the world one motion at a time.”

 

Yeah.

In the end, I put the ‘mom’ squeeze on him and he put where he hopes to actually go to college to pursue degrees in Jazz and Physics. The traditional and boring answer. Looking back, I should have let him do it. No one ever remembers what’s said but they might have remembered that one. 

For the weekend, I picked one of my favorite producers to commemorate of our ‘Senior Mom and Dad’ titles. After four years of band, I’d say we’ve earned it! Now we only have four more years to go before we’ll be completely done.

 

“The Everyday Wine for the Well Informed” ~ Decoy

Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2015

 

I really like this young Cabernet with it’s blackberries, tangy cherry and spice. Very satisfying. Decoy is under the umbrella of Duckhorn Vineyards and Wine Co. and has grown into a well established Sonoma County winery. It’s the affordable cousin among the Duckhorn wine brands with ‘ready upon release’ wines selling for around $20. All of Decoy wines are Sonoma County appellation-designated and thankfully, widely available. 

 

 

Band Mom Corsage. It was as big as my head.

 

Homerun or Strikeout? MLB Swings Into the Wine Bizz

Recently, my sister-in-law, who is an ace at finding unique and interesting gifts, brought us a bottle of New York Yankee Cabernet Sauvignon from the MLB Club Series Reserve. She thought we’d have fun trying it out and as usual, she was right.

I immediately had thoughts of gimmick wines like Marilyn Merlot and Game of Thrones Blend but since the Yankees brand themselves with the image of ‘Old Money’, there was a chance the wine would be quite drinkable.

Apparently, Major League Baseball and wine is a fairly recent marketing venture dreamed up by the company Wine By Design and its founder Diane Karle. The offerings started in 2014 with 7 major league baseball teams who signed up to serve and sell their own ball club branded wines. To get past the novelty perception, each team uses either winery-specific partnerships or generic region-based wine holdings. The largest source for most of the team wines is from Plata Wine Partners with their vast California Central Valley holdings.

A few teams are fortunate enough to be located in well-known regions and have access to solid producers such as the San Francisco Giants Sparkling Brut which partners with Mumm Napa and the Seattle Mariners in Washington wine country. The Philadelphia Phillies bottle Reds from local Chaddsford Winery and the NY Yankees offer Finger Lakes Riesling by Anthony Road Winery.

As the 2017 MLB season wrapped up, there were currently 20 teams sporting their own club labels with many of the MLB Club Reserve wines priced between $20- $35 a bottle.

So, did the Yankees hit it out of the ballpark?

Um, not really. But my sisinlaw did score in the fun category. The wine was more like a sacrificed bunt for the run than a grand slam. For the $25 price tag, it was just  so-so and probably more suited as an accent to a great memory like sitting behind home plate in the Yankee Moat than served at home with a weekend dinner. Or to be given as a nice gift for baseball fans who collect Team memorabilia.  

We still had fun trying it, though, since anything is possible before you actually open the bottle. Cheers! 

“One of The Best-Kept Secrets of France”: Bugey Appellation

I love this time of the year! Our local wine shop hosts an abundance of wine tastings in prep for the coming holiday season so it’s an excellent opportunity to be exposed to wines all for free! I guess it’s not totally “free”.  The tasting and learning are free. However, I usually do come home with at least a bottle or two so you get it. Plus, there’s the opportunity to chat with a wine rep who’s sole aim is to help you get to know their wines. They are always amiable and enthusiastic talkers!

Once again, we found ourselves squeezing in a tasting  on a crowded Wednesday evening but it was well worth it.  Our local wine shop was throwing a Fall Wine Tasting hosted by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants. The wines were all from France, food-friendly and geared towards holiday gatherings.  Our favorite was the sparkling wine Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey-Cerdon Rosé. It was the last pour in the line up and the one that elicited the most smiles from everyone.  The color alone brought a great reaction and coupled with it’s very heady fragrance, the crowded back corner bar where it was being served quickly turned into a lively party.  A few of us may have circled through a second time while the rep spun stories about the Bottex family and the Bugey appellation.

Bugey-Cerdon is actually a blend of the grapes Gamay and Poulsard. The wine is low in alcohol content, vibrantly pink, bubbly, slightly sweet, and fabulously fragrant. Extremely festive. And from a region that according to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, “… is one of the best-kept secrets of France.”

Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey Cerdon Rosé NV

I really enjoyed doing research on this wine region. Not many of the region’s wines usually flow past their local dinner table but a few are making their way to foreign shores. The region of Bugey is tucked at the foothills of the Jura mountains between Savoie and the Rhone. It received official appellation status in 2009 but has been around since Medieval times.

“Today, Cerdon is considered one of three crus within the appellation of Bugey, and the only one whose entire production consists of sparkling wine.” ~ KermitLynch.com 

I’m thinking they’ve mastered the old adage, “Focus on one thing and do it well.”

“Le Cueille” Picture courtsey of Bottex Website

The 5 hectares of the  Bottex vineyard lies in the hamlet of Le Cueille.  According to French law, the wine has to be made in the Mèthode Ancestrale which is an ancient process that pre-dates Champenoise. Basically, the wine only goes through a single fermentation in vats and finishes up in bottle. Fairly simple. In my opinion, the results are wonderful! 

The wine tasting was so festive that just looking at the picture I snapped in haste (before getting back in queue to ask a question and maybe a drop more wine) makes me excited for the holidays. The “best kept secret” is now out but I’m confident I can get a few bottles during the wine shop’s Fall Sale this week. (Thank you,  Alexander Graham Bell

Rest assured, if you’re coming to my house anytime in the next two months, this is what I’m serving! Cheers!

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.

 

 

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!

 

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!

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