A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to say thank you for the warm welcome into the blog universe. Thanks for the encouragement as I’ve stumbled around in this new venture.  Thanks to my fellow wine bloggers for sharing your enthusiasm of wines, wine regions, vineyards, vineyard practices, and well you get it. I am grateful for the knowledge gained and experiencing places and wines through you that I might never see. 

So, here’s to a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

May you be blessed . . . with a bottle you can’t stop writing about!  


Rumble’s Wine Wednesday View


Rumble lives in the kitchen and is privy to all the bottle openings. He loves to sing, hide under the living room lazy-boy and eat fried chicken. And now his latest hobby is keeping track of the eclectic wines we open each week. There’s no scientific or technical reporting for each bottle. Each one is on the Rumble system: 1-5 Grapes. Enjoy! 


Imagine for a moment next Wednesday. It’s the eve of one of my favorite holidays. There’s hustle and bustle and cooking and cleaning and polishing and last minute trips to the grocer and family arriving and . . . .You get it.  Completely consumed with activity. So before I share a few of the  bottles  we’ve had the pleasure of sipping, I wanted to pause and remember what I have to be grateful for in the past year.  Just a little exercise in preparing my heart for doing more on Thanksgiving than stuffing pie in my face while trying to beat my daughter at Settlers of Catan. (Our second sweet girl is ruthless, cunning and liable to snipe ya. Man, I love that kid!)

Of course there’s the generic  offerings in case one’s put on the spot while toasting around the dining table: Family, friends, health. But in order to really get to the heart here are a few I’m particularly grateful about:

  • The Lord’s grace and mercy  on our lives everyday
  • Celebrating 20 rich and rewarding years of marriage to my best friend
  • 4 teenagers who make me laugh, think, and Pray a lot.
  • My mom’s cancer-free diagnosis & the reminder that  loved ones shouldn’t be taken for granted
  • Taking  the guided tour and tasting  at Frog’s Leap Winery  with my sweet husband for our anniversary & the wine!
  • The fellowship and love of our new church community group
  • Riding OutLaw Run 4X with my youngest daughter at Silver Dollar City and not tossing my pork rinds
  • Not hyperventilating as I watched as our oldest take and pass her driver’s test

And now, to what’s been poured.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon  Columbia Valley 2013

Confession. Practically any bottle I open from this lovely winery located within a stone’s throw of my bubba’s house is wonderful to me. Unrepentant in my bias opinion, the Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 is even better than this one.

Dark fruit, black cherry, smooth tannins, chocolate notes, mint and herbs. $18. Rumble gives it 5 grapes, cause he’s bias too.

Votre Sante Pinot Noir 2013

Francis Ford Coppola romanticizes the vineyard in this well-structured, strawberry, cherries, balanced spicy Pinot. Lovely garnet color. $15. This was a pleasant tipple but the afternoon was so mild, we just sat in the garden chatting, sipping and reading. Lots of tasting went on but not a lot of note taking. Rumble gives it 3 grapes for having no lasting impression except a pleasant afternoon.

 Betsy’s Backacher Red, California Lot 11 

It comes from Spann Vineyards. Grown on a mountainside. Our local wine shop recommended this interesting blend.  Apparently it was  only given as gifts to family and friends by the winemakers but as the story goes acquaintances began begging for it, too. It had a little sweetness, dried cherries, raspberry, nice acidity, medium tannin and  touch of mint. Nice table wine. $17. If you find a bottle, I’d love to know what you think. I think it goes well with pizza and a late night movie like “You’ve Got Mail”.  Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are always a comfortable, easy-going pair with delightful comedic charm, kinda like this wine. Except  ‘comedic’ strictly applies to the actors not the wine.  That would be weird. Comedic wine.  Huh, wonder what comedy tastes like? Oh well. Rumble? 3.5 grapes.



Rumble’s Wine Wednesday View


Rumble lives in the kitchen and is privy to all the bottle openings. He loves to sing, hide under the living room lazy-boy and eat fried chicken. And now his latest hobby is keeping track of the eclectic wines we open each week. There’s no scientific or technical reporting for each bottle. Each one is on the Rumble system: 1-5 Grapes. Enjoy! 


Wednesday is here again! Except it’s now November and Thanksgiving looms like a pilgrim ship on the horizon. Opening a bottle of wine is paramount in sorting out all the Thanksgiving logistics involving family, menus, locations, and which board games and holiday movies to take along to the gathering. Our family loves to bring the newest game we’ve been playing and this year it’s a gamble with Wits and Wagers.  So, with all the holiday planning to get done, it’s a sure bet this wine lover and her congenial husband have opened a few bottles since the last time it was the middle day in the week.


Bogle Zinfandel

Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfangel 2013 California

The evening was finally one of those cool, rainy affairs. This $12 Zin had the aroma of a smokey seasoned cigar which I think always smells heavenly in the autumn air. The first taste reminded me of a fire pit on a fall night with spicy cherry, smokey oak and tannin. Unfortunately, the flame was doused too quickly by a flabby finish. Rumble gave it 2 grapes.


Sean Minor Cabernet

Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon

Sean Minor 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Usually any Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley has my attention or at least gives a fair showing. Sean Minor didn’t exactly bring it. The wine itself tasted more like watered down cherry juice with no tannin and a missing finish. At $22 a bottle, I expected more than uninspired and boring. Oh well. Rumble gave it 1/2 grape for the cherry.

Casillero del Diablo

Casillero del Diablo 2013 Chile

Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Chile

Bedeviled as to what to pick up for our Friday night delight, I turned to this wine suggestion from wineblogger Michelle Williams at ROCKIN RED BLOG. Chilean wines are favorites in our abode and we’ve now added a Diablo to the list. The aroma was cranberry and tobacco with a slightly sweet spicy dark fruit taste. Smooth plum, lovely solid structure and medium tannin. Thankful for the $11 bottle, we forged ahead with holiday planning. Rumble gave it 4 grapes.

Now I’m off to write a list to remind me of everyone I have to be thankful for because this planning is making me grumpy.  Cheers!


Classic LA Wine Glamour: San Antonio Winery

pic by sanantoniowinery.com
pic by sanantoniowinery.com

In the middle of Los Angeles, among the glitz and glam of tinsel town lies the  charming and captivating vineyard, San Antonio Winery which is headed up by it’s award-winning  wine producers, the Riboli Family.

Recently, the lifestyle site, Hip Latina hosted a private online screening of three of San Antonio Wineries’ leading stars. These three shining performers come from one of the longest running wineries in Los Angeles and play their roles quite well.


The Leading Ladies


Meet the lovely, effervescent Diama Rose Prosecco. She shone with a light fruity strawberry but kept it sweet and crisp to the end. This beauty can stand on her own or on the arm of any spicy food star. Diama is a true sparkling italian wine star and captivated our palates immediately.

Diama Rose Prosecco

Following, the Prosecco beauty’s lead was a Charmat Italian sparkler, Stella Rosa Black. This aromatic ruby cocktail  gave an Oscar winning performance of  sweet dark fruits and infused blueberries. Bringing only 5.5% alcohol, she played dessert beautifully.  I was skeptical of this wine starlet but her balanced sweetness and fizzy personality won me over.

courtey stellarosawine.com

courtey stellarosawine.com

Starring in the role of tall, dark and zinful was Opaque Darkness, Paso Robles. He defies the typical California goldenboy with his inky red blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petit Sirah and Petit Verdot.  His rich performance was one of smokey black cherries and zin. Dry with medium body, he was a strong presence to behold. Grrrarrrr!


Smokin’, dark and delicious

Here’s a glimpse of San Antonio Winery’s long-established production resume:

The winery was founded in 1917 by Santo Cambianica of Lombardia, Italy.  It actually flourished during Prohibition by becoming the premier supplier of altar wines. Santo’s nephew, Stefano Riboli, joined the business on the eve of WWII and grew into a valuable partner. After Uncle Santo died, Stefano, along with his wife, Maddalena, purchased vineyard properties in Monterey County and in the prestigious Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley. Today, Paso Robles is home to 2 estate vineyards within the El Pomar AVA for their wines. San Antonio Winery has grown into an essential component of LA’s cultural and historical landscape and they offer two other locations, one in Ontario and one in Paso Robles to sample their wine stars.


Bravo to the Riboli Family and their lovely wine. 4 stars! Hip Latina throws paramount parties and like any chic screening, the evening was filled with beautiful wine starlets and a little zin. 


 These lovely stars were media samples courtesy of San Antonio Winery and Hip Latina. They are definitely worthy of repeat performances. The reviews and opinions are my own. 


Turkey’s Heart of Wine

To really to know someone’s heart, you need to understand their passions and pursuits. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke12:34) Turkey definitely has a treasure of wine in their heart.

For the month of October, #winestudio (an online educational program) focused on the heart of Turkey, specifically, Turkish Wine.  And I got to be right in the middle of it!  Protocol winestudio invited this wine lover to join them in experiencing Turkey’s growing wine renaissance. It was an amazing educational tour and it created a taste for turkish wine. Which is a good thing, right? Our energetic and enthusiastic tour guides into this popular Eurasian destination were VinoRai Importers from Seattle who focus exclusively on  Turkish wine. Each week, we explored Turkey’s history, culture, indigenous grapes, wine regions, wineries and challenges. And here’s the best part: we got to taste the wine.

Turkish Wine

Turkish Wine: Rubies in a glass

Beginning with an amazing viticultural history, Turkey lays claim to more than 800 indigenous varietals. They were also the savior of European wine drinkers during the 1800s phylloxera epidemic in Europe. Today, Turkey cultivates the 4th largest vineyard area and has the 6th largest grape production in the world. However, for the modern Turkish winemaker, any marketing of the wine or winery is strictly prohibited by the current government. So being able to share their heart through their wine is almost an insurmountable challenge. But I think impossibilities often open the door for creativity and invention. One way wine producers are overcoming this obstacle is by ruling in the export market. This is good news for western wine drinkers! It also reminded me of the vines in arid climates whose roots are forced to grow several feet deep for water and yet produce some of the most sought after vintages.

Vineyard in Turkey

Vineyard in Turkey

The most prized of these indigenous varietals is Kalicek Karasai (kah-LE-chic KAR-ah-sehr), a beautiful blue-black grape varietal grown in Cappadocia which is located almost directly in the center of the country. Cappadocia means “mountain door” with high altitudes, hot summers, cold snowy winters, scarce water, volcanic soil and unique rock formations called “fairy chimneys”.

Cappadoccia Fairy Chimneys

Cappadoccia Fairy Chimneys

Our tour guides took us through a tasting of two red wines in order to give an idea of Turkey’s wonderful indigenous grapes. The first was Turasan Kalicek Karasi 2013 (kah-LE-chic KAR-ah-sehr). Now try pronouncing that name five times. Fortunately, just saying Turasan will do! The Turasan Winery, where this bright ruby wine is produced, is basically the wine pioneer of Cappadoccia. It was the  first privately established winery in the region and has been now for 3 generations. The Turasan Kalicek Karasi was a bright red beacon in the glass and gave ripe fruit, tart cherry and red currents with vanilla aromas. A hint of vanilla was on the finish. It was even better on the second day with more complex flavors and dryness with pronounced red currents and hints of strawberry.

IMG_6647 (1)



The second wine was Diren 2011 Karmena Red Blend. This blend contains five grape varietals. Five. The cornerstone is the indigenous grape, Okuzguzu (oh-cooz-GO-zoo). Rounding out the line up are three internationals: 30% Syrah, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon with one hearty native tying them together; 10% Bogazkere. The Karmena Red Blend hits the bull’s eye with lots of spicy, ripe fruit, full dark berries and loads acidity.

Okuzgozu Grapes

Okuzgozu Grapes

Diren Karmena

Diren Karmena

The indigenous grape has similar characteristics to Syrah and Malbec with earthy, plum qualities but the acidity and spice shone through.  On the second day, Karmena’s acidity mellowed and there was vanilla, with a meaty taste almost like BBQ brisket on the finish. Yeah, I know a bit weird, but really appealing! It was very unique. It made one stop and ponder it’s taste. On a side note: If you happen to make reservations at a restaurant with Karmena on the wine list, I suggest calling ahead to have them decant it just to experience the unique finish. Karmena reminded me of Bordeaux that just gets better and better the next day.


 "Throat Burner" Bogazkere

“Throat Burner” Bogazkere

Well, just like most extensive tours, this one included a trip to the seashore. It was in the bottle of Yazgan Bogazkere 2013. Bogazkere means “Throat Burner” and it definitely lived up to its name! It was full-bodied, dense tannins, sweet and sour cherries, and plums. Dry with 13% alcohol. Although a bit rustic, still enjoyable and delicious. Crazy, I know. Most times you want to avoid something that sounds dangerous but the only danger here was an empty bottle! The Yazgan winery in Izmir has four generations of wine producers. However, the indigenous grape itself is grown in southeast Anatolia with hot, dry diurnal summers and cold, wet winters. The soil ranges from sandstone to red clay. I understand red clay since we’ve been blessed with an abundance of it in Oklahoma. And now that I know the “throat burner” might thrive in it, I need to plant a vineyard.


The final destination on our turkish wine tour was the Gallipoli peninsula in the Thracian part of Turkey. Kavur Vineyards offered their Gali 2011 Evreshe for the wine tasting. Gali means “beautiful, precious, extending beyond limits”. Gali 2011 Evreshe is comprised to 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc and tasted of dark fruit, raspberries, lots of acidity and a long finish. Interestingly, the wine is aged for 12 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels. It lives up to the old world style with lots of rustic charm.

Gali Vineyards overlooking Gulf of Saros

Gali Vineyards overlooking Gulf of Saros

Gali Evreshe

Gali Evreshe


It was a pleasure to discover the beautiful wine that flows from the heart of Turkey and to meet some of their passionate turkish winemakers. At the moment, you can experience this turkish delight in Washington D.C. and Montana. Yes, that’s right! Apparently the clear mountain air makes rugged cowboys long for turkish wine. It can also be ordered directly from a few online wine retailers. However, I hope as awareness grows, turkish wines will began to find homes in wine shops across the west.

If you find a turkish wine, be bold and try it! The quality and uniqueness may amaze you. Besides, international travel via a glass of wine is always a great adventure without having to use a pass port.


These samples were received from VinoRai Importers through Protocol WineStudio in order to get me to fall in love with Turkish wine. They succeeded. I received no other compensation.

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