A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: September 2015

I’m a Bordeaux Groupie, er, Fan!

“Wine is a vehicle for time travel. You can literally taste what happened that year.” ~ Ian B.

Either someone has been dumpster diving in my Big Blues down at the curb or gotten wind of my homeschooling wine education because a few weeks ago I received the  most curious DM on twitter. After polite introductions, the contact said that I had been identified as a ‘Fan of Bordeaux’ and ask if I would like to participate in a Bordeaux.com blog event called ‘Bordeaux in my city: Fan Favorites‘? Shut Up! Me!?! A fan of Bordeaux???  Well, I do like to drink wine . . . so, after cautious DM back and forth I agreed and emailed my info. (This is going to be a long story so go ahead and open that Left Bank Bottle. It’ll have time to decant.)

Bordeaux.com, a wine school and website dedicated to promoting Bordeaux, issued the invitation to participate in their upcoming blog featuring various wine enthusiasts and the Bordeaux available in their areas. To aid in this Bordeaux exploration, they generously sent me a Bordeaux wine tasting kit, a gift card, Bordeaux swag, a handy informational book, a colorful regional map and a wine chart.  The wine tasting kit, alone, was an invaluable gift and one that will get lots of future use!

WineTastingKit - A wine student's dream tool

WineTastingKit – A wine student’s dream


The assignment was go to my local wine shop, pick up some bottles of Bordeaux and go home and play with the tasting kit! In the process,  I was to identify a few of the aromas, textures,  and colors of Bordeaux wine.  Well, the homeschool wine student in me nearly fainted from excitement. Someone wanted to teach me about Bordeaux wine and the region! After sniffing some smelling salts, I got myself to the wine shop.

This was a perfect opportunity to get a snapshot of each side of the Gironde with it’s tributaries Dorgogne and Garoone so I purchased three bottles, one left bank, one right bank, and one white. Let me pause here to  give a shout out to my favorite sommelier, Ian, who is a Francophile and walking encyclopedia of wine facts. Who better to assist in buying Bordeaux than a Francophile? May every winelover be blessed with a knowledgeable Somme in their life!  Merci beaucoup, Ian.  Forty-five minutes later, I was on my merry way with the bottles strapped safely in their car seats. What? How do you transport your wine?

Homework never looked so good.

Homework never looked so good.

Well, over the coarse of a weekend, each bottle was analyzed meticulously. Just kidding! My husband and I drank them with glee while comparing aromas and colors with the help of the 6 bottles of essences in the kit and  the color cards. It was a lot of fun taking a whiff of wine and then comparing it to the black currant or strawberry essence. If freshman Chem1001 had featured a wine tasting unit, I might have done better!  Now, per Ian’s instructions,  here’s how the actual home-school class, or as I nicknamed it, The Bordeaux Match, went down. The left bank was opened first because it would be the one sampled over two days.

Representing the Left bank and haling from the appellation of Margaux:

Chateau Mongravey 2012

Chateau Mongravey 2012

Chateau Mongravey  Marguax Cru Bourgeois 2012


  • 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot
  • Aged 14 months in French Oak
  • 30 year old vines
  • 13% alcohol

After opening, we took a sip sans swirl for the starting point. Then decanted the entire bottle and tasted an ounce every 15 minutes over the course of an hour noting the differences. Finally,  I poured each of  us a glass cause we definitely earned them and the rest was dutifully put away till the next day. Believe me, not since dropping my first born off at kindergarten have I needed sheer willpower to walk away! What I learned from this little exercise was that this big bold Bordeaux was a complex personality who came to a dinner party polite and reserved and over a delightful evening  relaxed and opened up to share rich, amusing anecdotes like an old friend.

Here’s a quick note on the tastes and smells at each 15 minute sip:

First sip: tight with vanilla, green raspberries and black current. Taste #1: Bell pepper, black currant, wet rock, minerals, pepper. There was a pleasant, familiar mystery smell but my untrained brain couldn’t place it. Taste #2: More berries Taste #3: Velvety, pepper, unsweetened raspberry jam, violets. Taste #4: A smell of green strawberry. Mellow, supple, black currants, berries with vanilla showing up again.  The second day it was velvet berries in a glass. Practically no acidity. Just full and relaxed.

I dreamed of Bordeaux that night. Since the first bottle was a lot more intense than the usual open and enjoy, I was still going over it with the tasting kit in my sleep.

Representing the Right Bank and haling from the appellation of Saint Emilion:

Chauteau Coutet 2010

Chauteau Coutet 2010

Chateau Coutet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2010


  • 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 150 year-old Merlot vine
  • fermented in cement tanks
  • Aged 18 months in French oak
  • Consultation winemaker, the famed Denis Dubourdieu
  • 14% alcohol

Chateau Coutet was decanted 15 minutes and enjoyed over a leisurely 2 hour steak dinner.  I was told this was a teenage Bordeaux. Our house is currently filled with the species so I can totally relate.  All I could think was Chateau Coutet was everything a teenager would be: bright, bold, in the NOW and sassy fun.  We really loved the straightforward drink-ability of this wine with it’s rich body of dark fruits, hints of strawberry and acidity.

In order to keep the bank balanced, I picked up a White Bordeaux from Bordeaux.

Chateau Ducasse 2014

Chateau Ducasse 2014

Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux 2014


  • 60% Semillion, 5% Muscadelle, 35% Sauvignon Blanc
  • aged in stainless steel for 6 months
  • bottled unfiltered
  • producer Herve Dubourdieu

The weekend weather was perfect for chilled white Bordeaux. Warm, sunny and humid. The wine had the aroma of stone fruits and minerals. Yum. It’s crisp tartness showcased the citrus lemon-lime and saline. A nice summer, easy going patio wine.

The Bordeaux match was a trans-formative, educational experience for me. Not to mention, it tremendously enhanced this wine fan’s love of Bordeaux!  Merci to Bordeaux.com for enriching my wine education and teaching me each Bordeaux is unique but still carries many of the same distinctive qualities that shouts ‘Bordeaux’ when you drink them.

Huh. I’m still pinching myself! Wine-tasting kit. Best. Gift. Ever. The foolish grin on my face  proves it!

Next weekend, wine school’s at my house and I’ve got a kit we can play with. Cheers!


The samples were gifts from Bordeaux.com and I received no other compensation. The opinions are all my own. Now get out there and try a Bordeaux! 

A Bubbly Toast to Choice -MWWC#19


The winner of last month’s ‘Monthly Wine Writing Challenge’ (put on by the Drunken Cyclist), Elizabeth of Travel Wine Chick, picked the word CHOICE for the next theme (#MWWC19). Interesting that she should choose this word. It’s a daily activity in everyone’s life. We continually make choices both large and small, spontaneous and planned. My little tale isn’t so much about wine but an experience in wine country. However, the choice of the wine at the end of my adventure, albeit unplanned, was remarkably fitting.



The trip was in celebration of a marriage milestone. One of those ‘once in a lifetime’ adventures. Months of planning and preparation had gone into it and every activity was carefully chosen. We’d compiled lists of tourist spots, researched various wineries and made notes of significant landmarks. Finally each list was divided into two categories. The first was wineries, tasting rooms and vineyards and the second was well-known restaurants and eateries. A schedule was made for each day to maximize our time with a small margin of flexibility but for the most part we stuck to the plan.


Unfortunately, our last evening was rapidly coming to a close and thus our celebratory weekend. There was one place left to visit on our list of ‘go to’ spots in wine country. It was a famous local tavern. As we walked closer to the landmark destination, loud music grew and filled the area. The outdoor patio was packed with boisterous patrons and several spilled out onto the street. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and it appeared to be the ideal place to wrap up the weekend.


However, maybe it was the late hour or the frenetic pace we’d kept, but the combo of noise, lights and crowd was a bit overwhelming. Dismayed, I turned to my husband. His face reflected my feelings. Our choice for a memorable ending didn’t look particularly appealing. A tiny cloud of anxiety began to form between us. Taking my hand, my husband suggested  a short walk down the block to give us a better perspective. The temptation to just leave was strong since all the wine tastings, rich meals and early hours were rapidly taking a toll. But by bailing on the last place would we to miss out on the capstone of our trip? Unfortunately, there seemed to be only two options: go back to the noisy tavern or go home.


While standing on the quiet corner debating what to do,  piano music floated seductively out onto the sidewalk. It brought a soothing calm to our spirits. Where was it coming from? A brightly lit door, angled at the corner, beckoned to us.  The word ‘methode‘ hung above it. While walking around downtown earlier in the evening, we hadn’t given it any attention. Our goal had been to complete the list.



A quick glance inside revealed a guy playing a white baby grand piano. Next to him was a small area reminiscent of a cozy living room. It had a couch, two chairs and a table. An older couple sat contentedly in the chairs. It looked peaceful and inviting. With the element of time pressing in on us, we needed to figure out what to do and quick. Should we stay? Should we go? Maybe we should try the tavern? In the meantime, the piano music pulled at us. A waitress approached and invited us to come in saying the place was a ‘Bubbles and Bites’ bar. Sparkling wine and appetizers. Dinner was served at tables farther in and a lounge with a bar was in the back for hanging out. As we stood there deliberating, the musician suddenly looked up, smiled, and nodded to the couch next to his bench. That clinched it. We plopped down and ordered glasses of Champagne.


Courtesy of methode

Courtesy of methode


At the end of the extremely enjoyable music set, the piano player picked up his glass of champagne and turned around to ask if there were any requests. The other couple didn’t have one. He turned to us. Surely there was something? A favorite?

Well, maybe. Did he know “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” by Frankie Valli?  You guessed it. Our song. He might be able to play it, he said, but it’d be a little rough.  The “rough” version of “our song” was lively and touching. It filled the air and danced out the door  into the night causing passers-by to pause and listen.

The piano player finished and thanked us for joining him and ended the set for the evening. As we sat there in the glow of the moment quietly lost in old and new memories, I couldn’t help sighing. What a remarkable evening.

And then it hit me. What was the one traditional element in every momentous occasion? A Champagne Toast. Thanks to a talented musician playing our song and a lovely flute of champagne, we’d just been given a perfect ending to our very special celebration.

It’s amazing what a choice can create.


p.s. The musician that evening was Napa Valley pianist, David Ruane.  Click on his name to hear this extremely nice and wonderfully talented guy.

Happy listening! – Allison aka Rose

Balderdash! I did it Again!

Today, I’m learning an object lesson in due diligence and appearances.  It’s valuable and I wished I’d learned it the first time.

There was white string tangled among the wet running shorts and khakis. Confused, I yanked on it and out popped earphones attached to the NEW iPod. Did you catch that? NEW. As in recently purchased. The one hastily bought to replace the other one. You might wonder about the demise of the previous Ipod. However, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to catch the obvious. You simply read the title “I did it again” and got the answer. Argh!!!

Water, as everyone knows, is the nemesis of technological gadgets.  I had blindly tossed my husband new iPod into the washer, which by the way, if I may state clearly to the jury, was inconspicuously hidden in the deep, dark pocket of his running shorts. The washer effectively ended its usefulness. It will sing no more. Snuffed out. Drenched and drowned. Circuits water-logged.  In my defense, I had checked the pockets of each garment before confidently tossing them in the washer. Or so I thought. The evidence clearly tells a different story.

After doing a hop and holler dance around the kitchen, I stopped in front the shiny, new and now completely ruined gadget. On the outside, there didn’t appear to be anything amiss. But try to turn it on and play music and it’s apparent it’s just a pretty, modern, empty piece of metal and circuit board. The outside doesn’t match what was on the inside.


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I’ve had a few wines like this over the summer. Now, I confess, some were purchased because the label was enticing with beautiful artwork, interesting design or typographical artistry. Everyone buys on looks. But there’s the anticipation and hope that the inside matches or exceeds the outside.  Well, some of the wines were just as lovely as the labels! While others were just lovely bottles of artwork and that’s where the pleasure ended.

However, I had the opportunity to  purchase and enjoy a few seemingly demure bottles of wine this summer. Not all of them looked exciting but the content inside really sang out!


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Santa Cristina Toscana 2012

Rich intense fruit, violets and hints of tobacco. This Sangiovese went great with a summer tomato tarte. 4.5 grapes!


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Edna Valley Paragon Grenache Blanc 2012,  Paragon Vineyard

Ripe juicy stone fruits and mineral. This was featured at a tasting hosted by our favorite local wine shop.  It was full-bodied and refreshing.  5 grapes!

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Big Guy Red 2013 by Bell Wine Cellars

Full fruit, vanilla, oak with a rich, nice finish. Outstanding Blend! Plus a really adorable pooch on the label.  5 grapes!


Oh, all those lovely wine bottles! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get on Amazon and overnight a new iPod cause the one in the kitchen is nothing but a pretty paperweight.


Update: After a few days of drying out, the iPod WORKED! Yes, you heard it here. Those little devices are stronger than they appear. Also, since it didn’t go through the heat of the dryer it may have only gotten washed but not cooked. Anyway, my hubby plugged in his earbuds, hit the power button and music began to play. Well, re-trying the iPod had me thinking about some of the wines I’ve so easily dismissed because they weren’t exactly to my taste. Perhaps, I need to plug back in  and see what comes out.  There might actually be a wine that plays a lovely song . . . 

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