A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: May 2016

Time to pick the most Celebrated Travel wine post. #MWWC25 Time to vote! — the drunken cyclist

It is time to vote! The Remaining Timeline: Voting Begins: Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 (Today!) Voting Ends: Monday, June 6th, 2016 Winner Announced: Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 I am writing this a bit ahead of time as I am about to climb into a car and head off to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for a couple of days. Right now, there are only a […]

via #MWWC25 Time to vote! — the drunken cyclist

Wine Time-Travel #MWWC25

For this month’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC25 the word is TRAVEL


I love travel! I love to travel! The sights, the people, the cultures, the odd things others do, the food, the history, the magnificence of seeing familiar hopes, fears, and dreams in the hues of exotic people altogether unlike me. Traveling the world has always been a dream of mine.

The desire to discover fresh places comes from my globetrotting Grandma Rose. Every winter she’d fly through our “port city”, basically wherever our family was currently living, shower us with a bounty of garden produce, visit a day and then be on her way out of the country before the cold Northern California weather “would frost her orchard”. Belize, the Philippines and India were her favorite hangouts. Returning the first week of April, because she had to “get her taxes filed”, Gram Rose would stop long enough to share weird and wild stories accompanied with projector slides (tiny plastic framed negatives for all of you born after 1985) and treasures from faraway lands.

Ah, travel.

Nowadays, I do most of my traveling closer to home. But someday, Lord willing, my modern steamer trunk will display those coveted passport stamps of foreign lands and my iPhone will hopefully contain a picture or two of an Italian or even Croatian vineyard.

Well, buckle up, buttercups, cause we’re going to do the unconventional – we are going to time travel. 

Why time travel? Why not? If you can fly in and out of time zones belted to a metal gas can and begin the day with a champagne brunch in Brussels and end it with a cocktail in Beijing, then why not time travel?  I’m sure the current reigning #MWWC winner, Loie of Cheap Wine Curious, might agree there are events in wine history worthy of daydreaming about. Not the phylloxera outbreak of 1855, mind you, and the total decimation of vineyards across Europe but perhaps more exciting moments that changed the course of wine into what we drink today.

I’ve decided to follow the style of the movie “Midnight in Paris” starring the affable Owen Wilson.  So hop into a 1920s Peugeot 176 with me, we’ll pour some champagne and take a short trip through wine history by beginning in Paris. Why? Because I love the movie and I love wine. And if you watch closely, each 1920s scene is laced with famous personalities such as the Fitzgeralds, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Salvador Dali and accented by a glass of wine. 




 (Just to warn you, dear friends: for those of you who yawn at lists, I’m about to make one.)


Let’s time-travel through a little wine history together!

  • 1820s – Madame Clicquot of the Champagne house Veuve Cliquot drills holes in her Louis XVI dining table and forever ‘rids’ her champagne bottles of pesky sediments  – We sip her sediment-free bubbly and watch as she makes all her employees sign Confidentiality Clauses but unfortunately somebody talks.
  • 1920 – In America, we sneak into a meeting of the Mafia Kingpins and watch as they dress as well-meaning citizens, effectively hijack Congress, lobby for the 18th Amendment and Prohibition is born. We get our jazzy wine fix in the most popular Speakeasy in New York, The Cotton Club. Located in Harlem, it’s hipper than Pa Luke’s backwoods moonshine shack. (Seriously, my Arkansas Great-Grandpa was a moonshiner and way cooler than those wannabes on TV.)
  • Jetting back to France, 1976:  We take a front row seat as upstart Cali-boys, Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars top French producers in the blind tasting of Paris and high-five each other as New World wine REPRESENTS!  
  • 1001: We sail with the Viking  Leif Eriksson who names North America  ‘Vineland’ for the endless species of native grapes he found. Unfortunately, Amerigo Vespucci renames it ‘America’ 500 years later and it sticks. This may not have changed the course of wine history but seriously, I would have been fine with the United States of Vineland.
  •  1224 – Cyprus. We score tickets and t-shirts to “The Battle of the Wines”. It’s the first recorded wine tasting competition staged by the French king Philip Augustus. Over 70 samples from France and across Europe, including Cyprus, Spain and the Mosel region, were tasted and judged by an English priest. The priest classified the wines he tasted as either Celebrated for those which pleased him or Excommunicated for those that did not meet his standards. Who the heck was this guy? Did he have a Master of Wine certificate?? (wikipedia.org)

On a personal note, I will now be adopting the priestly rating of  Celebrated or Excommunicated for all future wine tastings and reviews. Clear and simple. BOOM! _______ wine, You’ve been Excommunicated! 

To end our time traveling wine tour, we wind up in ________. Use your imagination. You know why? Because, thanks to the exploding global economy and transport, modern wine technology, invention of stainless steel temperature controlled vats, and a plethora of amazing modern wine science practices, you can get your passport stamped in 100 different burgeoning wine regions without ever leaving your backyard. Countries with century-old wine cultures are making a splash in as far off lands as Oklahoma. Yes, OKLAHOMA.  And it’s only the beginning to all the wine travel. What an amazing time period we live in. Just as Owen Wilson’s character, Gil Pender, discovers from all his nostalgic, sentimental wanderings: the Present can be all together just as exciting. 

Now get out there and collect a few wine stamps in your passport!


This is my entry for the #MWWC25,  hosted and moderated superbly by Jeff @thedrunkencyclist, founder. If you like it, vote for me with a Celebrated and if you don’t, then just keep the Excommuncated rating to yourself. Thanks.



Rambling Down a New Path



In the past two months, our family has gone through some major life changes due to the simple fact my mom has died. With any unexpected life change i.e. job, moving, birth and in our case, death, there’s an adjustment. Ours has been trying to find the “new normal”. And because of this, blogging about wine hasn’t been high on my list of priorities. To be honest, my heart hasn’t been into most of the usual activities. I do still love wine and reading about wine and talking about wine and wine places and experiences. It’s actually been therapeutic and a pleasant distraction to live vicariously through other’s wineblogs/blogs but I question the existence of my own. 

I know I fumble around and am oft times lazy with writing, fact checking and coherency on this blog. And there’s the continual challenge of posting pictures that stay upright! However, I truly do have a growing passion about wine and the need for a place to share the enthusiasm and excitement it creates.

So, after a few weeks of thoughtful pondering, I’ve decided to keep going if only because it’s nice having a place to send out random thoughts on wine into the cosmos. They’re sort of like little birds released from a cage. The few posts I’ve been able to cobble together lately have actually given brief moments of relief to my aching heart. And where else can I regurgitate what I’ve learned during #winestudio sessions or my growing awareness of the true depth of my ignorance on wine? Plus, there’s the constant burning desire to share whatever cheap bottle we’ve opened on a Thursday night.  So, in conclusion of all this rambling, I’ve decided to start a new feature that has nothing to do with wine. Instead, it will mainly focus on navigating this new path God has put me on in dealing with the grief of loss and change. Wine will definitely still be the Star but occasionally there will be a ramble away from the vineyard.

Well, dear fellow blog friends, thank you for listening, reading, clicking the ‘like’ star, and commenting on past posts and just being here. It’s meant a lot to me. I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen but I do know once I’ve walked through this Valley of the Shadow of death, I’ll once more enjoy chatting about wine with you and sharing all the lovely and amazing places it can take us.

And as summer warmly approaches and the plethora of whites, rosés and sparklers are chilled and opened, may you find yourself enjoying the sweet company of friends and family while sharing a lovely bottle of wine. In other words, to quote the New York Times Wine critic, Eric Asimov, “Wine to me is entwined with pleasure, joy, fun, family, and friendship.”

May it all be yours. Cheers!



Mama’s Day: Chateau Ste. Michelle Style



Anna Jarvis. Most of us wouldn’t know her or even have heard of her name. But thanks to an endearingly close relationship she enjoyed with her mother and the desire to honor and celebrate her life, we now honor our own mothers every May.  Thank you, Anna Jarvis.  I thought I’d throw a slice of history out there for you. Just something to spice up your day and to let you know not everything we celebrate was clandestinely birthed by Hallmark. Besides, all cranky attitude aside, I’m grateful for an opportunity to honor our mothers, and especially, my mom. And more so this year than ever since my Mom went home to be with Jesus on April 9. Our life has been turned upside down. Someday I’ll list all my mama’s wonderfulness  but presently my heart isn’t able to make it through, so I thought I’d concentrate on one of the many things I loved to tease her about: sweet wine.

And since the semi-sole purpose of this blog is to chat about wine, I’d like to showcase my mom’s favorite wine: Riesling.  Specifically Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley



Mama loved the stuff. It was her go-to wine of the moment and I found no less than two bottles in the fridge in the garage and four half-started grocery lists with it written at the top. My mom was the ultra prepared type. If you need it, she invariably had it. Whatever it is.  So I decided to do a bit of research into this American Riesling and get to know the origins of Mom’s favorite. In all honesty, my mom wouldn’t care beyond the lovely afternoon they spent at the winery and the delicious wine but I’m the one who loves to faux-geek out.

Chateau Ste. Michelle. Such a lovely name. The winery is in Woodinville, Washington, and actually right down the street from my brother, who one day took our parents for the winery tour and as they say, the rest is history.  Fortunately for mom, Chateau Ste. Michelle is widely distributed and easily obtainable even in limited Oklahoma. Otherwise, she would’ve had to fly bottles home stowed among her unmentionables every time my parents visited. Can you just image the overage fees on those Samsonites?

Courtesy of Chateau St. Michelle Website


Chateau Ste. Michelle was actually  started in 1967 by the wine conglomerate, the American Wine Company under the name St. Michelle Vintners with winemaker, Andre Tchelistcheff, the “Maestro”.  The bio stated he was LEGENDARY and of course, curiosity drove me to find out why he deserved such an honor. Well, I found out he deserves the honor. Andre basically helped define the style of California’s best wines as well as contribute to the development of the winemaking regions of Oregon and Washington. This Russian immigrant is a Wine Hall of Famer and his style techniques are standard for modern vineyards.  If you’re interested in learning more about the ‘Dean of American Winemaking’, Andre’s grand-nephew, Mark Tchelistcheff has produced a film about his life, ‘The Voice of Wine’ (2013). This wine drinker is grateful, Maestro, thank you! 

In 1976, St. Michelle Vintners built a French Chateau in Woodinville and renamed themselves Chateau Ste. Michelle. French elegance in the wilds of Washington.  You can take tours or relax in the gardens while sampling their wines. They source their grapes from their four vineyards, Cold Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Canoe Ridge Vineyard and Horse Heaven Vineyard. However, besides the usual winery attractions of tasting room, tour, Summer concerts, charity events, Chateau St. Michelle also hosts in conjunction with Ernst Loosen estate of Germany, the largest Riesling event dedicated exclusively to Riesling in the US: the Riesling Rendezvous . —– Ok, rabbit chase with me for a moment: when I was in the 8th grade and we were living in Colorado, my history teacher Ms. Berman took our class to the Mountain Man Rendezvous where she turned us loose. Needless to say, BEST FIELD TRIP EVER. These Mountain men had set up lean-tos in a pasture for a week and were living it up wild style. Of course, there were the required ‘educational’ aspects to teach us Colorado history but we basically ran wild too. So when I hear ‘Rendezvous’ my mind immediately sees buckskin clothed, long bearded men drinking wine out of cattle horns. —- OK, now back to the original story – Three days of total Riesling immersion. The conference brings renown Riesling experts and producers together plus participants enjoy a Grand Tasting event of, you guessed it, Riesling. It’s just like my mom to fall for the one who hosts the mega Riesling party. She had told me Chateau St. Michelle was delicious and to try it but you know how the old teen rebel likes to rear it’s ugly head when your gut tells you mom is right. And she was right, of course. On a runners note, you can lace up and run through their vineyard every September in the Woodinville-to-Redmond Half Marathon where the finishers enjoy a wine and music festival and the race bling is bottles of WINE!

Personally, the Riesling is delightful. Here’s the tasting notes: Drawn from several Columbia Valley vineyards, Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley is dark golden blend with a refreshing medium-body, hallmark acidity and the aroma of peaches, apricot and tropical fruit on the nose. It’s slightly sweet with white peach, crisp apple and underlying citrus. I’ve found it to be fairly consistent with it’s characteristic white peach and tropical sweet fruit. A bonus is the affordable price: $9-11 a bottle.

Well, someday I hope to actually take the winery tour but for now I’ll live vicariously through their wine. And I have thanked my mom profusely for introducing us! My mom has been 99% right on stuff even with our polar-opposite wine tastes.

So here’s to you Mama and your favorite Riesling. Happy Mother’s Day!


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