A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: July 2016

Chilling On the Patio with Torre La Moreira Albarino

Hola! I have finally opened the last of the #winestudio Albariños from the two months exploration of Rías Baixas DO on the southwestern coast of Galicia, Spain. You could say we were practically swimming in them! It’s been a very enjoyable journey and I have that feeling you get from finishing a really good book. A mixture of contented satisfaction tinged with sadness that it’s over. I really liked this last bottle with it’s classic crisp citrus characteristics. Once again, if you haven’t tried Albariño then put down the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio you’ve had on the patio all summer and try one. Trust me, many are excellent drinking solo be it sans food or people and this one was no exception.

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Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja, 2015 Torre La Moreira DO Rías Baixas

  • 100% Albariño
  • 12.5% ALC.
  • SRP: $9

The Torre La Moreira poured clear with a hint of yellow and muted aromas of  tropical fruits and seashells. The first taste was tingly acidity on the tongue. It reminded me of the sea as the waves roll to and fro on the shore leaving tiny bubbles in its wake, clear, lively and very, very temporal. Classic lemon zest, limes, herbal notes and minerals. Everything you would expect of an albariño. It was a mouthful of acidity and sunshine with a lengthy lemon finish. Torre La Moreira definitely stays with you long after the final drop is gone.


Torre La Moriera comes in a cool flask shaped bottle sealed with wax over the top of the cork.  I forgot to get a picture before we opened the bottle but that little piece of red wax was flush with the top.   The next time you’re stocking up with refreshing whites to tame the summer heat,  grab a bottle of albariño . You might just find yourself cooled down with a crisp tingly taste of the Galician seashore.  img_8791


Happy summer sipping!


WhirlWind Winery in Watonga, Oklahoma

Have you ever stumbled upon a ghost town?  A lonely Main street dressed in decaying storefronts and dilapidated buildings. Empty east to west as far as the eye can see? Which seems as far as Texas when you’re in the western plains of Oklahoma. I stumbled upon one over the weekend. With one exception. In the center of the barren avenue, between practically the only other businesses left open, an antique store on one side and a live theater on the other, was a tiny working winery and tasting room pioneered by a gregarious winemaker. 

Whirlwind Winery


Whirlwind Winery in Watonga was founded by winemaker Brad Stinson of Fay, Oklahoma ten years ago. As we stepped through the door, we were taken in immediately by Brad’s welcoming nature, the cozy tasting room and the scent of fermenting wine from a ginormous wine spill. It’s also a working winery so wine accidents happen! 


Brad getting the heavenly goat cheese.

Brad getting the heavenly goat cheese.

The place was quiet for a Saturday which I thought was a wonderful advantage. My husband and I immediately moved in and made it our home away from home. Brad didn’t seem to mind. He pointed to a table he’d prepared for us and then poured us an almost full glass of his Sweet Fay Rosé which he’d paired with probably the best goat cheese I’ve ever tasted from Middle Mountain Dairy in Clayton,Oklahoma. The rosé was blushing pink and tasted of slightly sweet fruit. I was tempted to finish it off but that would have been the end of the tasting for me. Did I mention the glass was generously poured? And so were the next four that followed! Brad definitely makes you feel like a friend just popping in for an afternoon chat. As he plied us with wine we peppered him with questions. How did he wind up a winemaker in Oklahoma? After traveling the world with a cruise line and falling in love with the vineyards of Bordeaux, France, he came home to plant and cultivate a plot of vines he’d purchased with his father in 2002. He partnered with two other investors and winemaking moved from being a hobby to a viable lifestyle. His passion for making wine and having a successful winery was evident. Currently, Whirlwind Winery has approximately 3200 vines  across three vineyards. 


Next, we tasted Honey Apple, a semi-dry mead, paired with an Oklahoma Italian cheese-maker, Lovera’s Smoked Cow Cheese. The smokiness of the cheese paired deliciously with the sweetness of the apple. Whirlwind acquires honey from a variety of sources to make this flavorful mead. This was my first mead wine and it was definitely sweet.

sand plums via pinterest

Wild Sand Plum with Oklahoma “Gruyère” was the third pairing. Wild sand plums are native to Oklahoma and grow like weeds. In fact, I have one in the field behind my house that my kids like to pick. Brad said his aim was to make an “all Oklahoma wine.” This is the only sand plum fruit wine in the world. It was paired with a funky, pungent, rough “gruyère” made by Wagon Creek Creamery  out of Helena, OK. Brad called it a “crazy pairing” and heartily encouraged us to try it. The cheese was rough but paired with the wild plum’s supple sweet taste the flavors melded into a creamy treat. It’s a classic example of how wine and food can compliment and work very well together! 

As Brad poured the next pairing, he lamented he’d hoped to make dry reds when he opened the winery in 2005. But Oklahomans have sweeter tastes so the winery focused on more sweet offerings. However, he does make two really nice reds. The first one was a dry red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot named Stiletto. Dark red but bright in the glass, it was earthy, rustic tart cherries, vanilla and nice tannin. I asked him about learning to make wine and he laughed. Making wine is super easy. It’s really hard making good wine.” Stiletto is a good start!

The second wine was Sojourn Red Blend 2012, a bright, dry, medium bodied wine with berries and cocoa.  img_8747

At this point a group of ten had shown up for a tasting way earlier than their reservation time. At larger wineries this might not be a problem but Brad was a one man show that day. He warned us it was about to get a little crazy. I think he was trying to tell us we might feel neglected for a short time. No problem. As Brad got them settled, the first glass poured and was talking them through the first pairing, we relaxed, peeked at the current fermenting wines, and took a second listen to the winery history. img_8702

To keep us busy, as he hustled to set up more chairs, he’d given us a huge bowl of dark chocolate made by Bedré Chocolates of Oklahoma and the instructions to eat it with the Sojourn. Wow. Chocolate and wine are truly a marriage made in heaven. Note to all chocolate lovers – Brad believes in generous portions! As we wrapped up the afternoon, Brad snapped this picture. Good times! 

Selfies w the Winemaker

Selfies w the Winemaker

Whirlwind Winery offers wine tastings Fridays and Saturdays 12-6 pm. If you find yourself driving through the plains of Western Oklahoma, I encourage you to stop by and try the Wild Sand Plum. You’ll be tasting a bit of Oklahoma and you’ll most likely get to hangout with Brad. Trust me, he’s a funny guy and he has wine!

~ Allison

p.s. If you do go, let me know! I need to go back cause my bottle of Sojourn 2012 is already empty! 


Cross Country Travels and Meeting Up with Wine Friends

In the past couple of posts I mentioned our family was traveling to visit the Grandparents on the east coast so here are a few highlights.

Since there are 6 of us, it’s more economical to drive the 1600 miles than fly. Actually, we’ve always enjoyed driving and now that our kids are teenagers it’s a breeze. All you need are loads of movies, MP3 downloads and snacks. They act like they’re still at home just sitting around zoned into their computers. Except at 80 MPH which I think is a lot more exciting cause at least they’re going somewhere even if they aren’t paying attention at the time.

Another perk about driving cross country is you travel through some interesting places.  This year we decided to take the ‘northern route’ instead of our usual path through Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia or as we say the ‘southern route’. We skipped Calhouns by the river in Knoxville and Bristol Motor Speedway for exploring Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Gateway to the West. Or is it east? I was driving east at the time. 

St. Louis Arch

St. Louis Arch

Who wouldn’t buy wine from a top hat wearing Dino? Met this fellow next to the local liquor shop in Vandalia, Illinois. Catchy wine marketing!

TopHat Dino

TopHat Dino

Hello Ohio

Hello Ohio

Ohio. It’s Hi in the middle and round on both ends. But before Ohio . . . we drove through Missouri and discovered Uranus. However you pronounce this sideways planet, it still elicits giggles. 


Rex promises Big Fun

Rex promises Big Fun

It claimed Big Fun at the Fudge Factory . . .  in Uranus . . .


Fudge from Uranus. Yeah. Tempting, but we had to make Ohio by nightfall, so you understand why we didn’t stop. 

So moving on . . . to New Jersey and the shore. I had a lovely picture of all the umbrellas by the water not just my lone one but I accidentally erased it. Tragic thumb mishaps are my specialty. 






and a NYC Broadway Musical for the high school graduate . . . 

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Waitress. They made Pie!

Waitress. They made Pie!








In the middle of our visit, I got two wine surprises. The first occurred while picking up a bottle of wine at a local wine shop. My husband and I met Kevin Ciftja, a winemerchant with IlCrinale Di Cavino located in the Italian region of Abruzzo. Kevin effortlessly talked us into buying a bottle of his family’s wine. I could claim exhaustion from the 22 hours of driving but he had me with his earnestness, Italian accent and the $12 price tag.

img_8462IL Crinale Quiterano Montepulciano D’Abruzzo poured a deep purple and was dry and earthy with cherries and vanilla. It was perfect with our cheese and pretzels while enjoying the cool evening in my dearest In-laws’ backyard. The wine was nice but I suspect the lively chat with the wine merchant may have influenced our perception. Or I should say enhanced it. Another’s passion can rub off on you.

The second enjoyable surprise was in the form of a wine-meetup with two twitter friends I had met through the online education program #winestudio. Originally, I’d asked about wineries to visit in the area but instead, it turned into a great afternoon of #winestudio live with Debbie @hvwinegoddess and Lori @Dracaenawines at a local pub. These two women are definitely passionate about wines! Conversation flowed around the latest #winestudio Rosé, our families, backgrounds, wine blogs and tornadoes. Yup, tornadoes. Ironically, in the middle of chatting, Debbie got a weather alert for none other than a tornado warning and a text from her hubby confirming the crazy weather. What are the chances she’d be hanging with a tornado savvy Oklahoman at the same time? So for the next 30 minutes hook-echos and wind gusts dominated the convo.  In the end, all was well and we went back to talking about WordPress quirks and wine. 

(L2R) Me, Lori & Debbie

(L2R) Me, Lori & Debbie

As the afternoon came to a close and we parted ways, Debbie said this moment was what social media was all about – building relationships with others who share your passion. What a fantastic and enjoyable afternoon getting to know these two wine friends and then reconnecting that evening on #winestudio to chat about Rosé. This may be the start of a #winestudio tradition! 

In the meantime, hope you’re having an enjoyable season and making new wine friends!

~ Allison


Roping Rose with Angels & Cowboys of Sonoma County #winestudio

By chance, I received the last wine featured on #Winestudio‘s June program: Sonoma County Rosé Revolution.  Since our family was going to be traveling for a chunk of June, I had decided not to fully participate except an occasional “check-in” on the Rosé  twitter discussion. And I confess, Rosé hasn’t been a wine I’ve readily enjoyed. However, just before we flew the coop to the East Coast, a bottle of Angels & Cowboys Rosé Sonoma County 2015 arrived. I was delighted and confused and then in a panic because  even though I hadn’t requested the wine, I still felt an obligation to get involved and thought we might not be home in time.

Well, I was home with just enough time to do some surface research on Angels & Cowboys and Rosé. Apparently, a kind winemaker was determined to get me to  rethink Rosé. With an open-mind, I opened the bottle and was immediately lassoed by it’s contents. (Please forgive the cowboy references. I tend to get carried away but I’ll stop with this: “Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” Unless they’re Rosé Cowboys making heavenly Rosé!)


Angels & Cowboys is a collaboration between Yoav Gilat and Dennis Hill, co-founders of Cannonball Wine Company and Northern California Graphic Artist, Michael Schwab. They wanted to create a handcrafted, propitiatory Rosé blend for the “lover, trailblazer and rule-breaker”. Right away, the label brought back memories of the beautiful Southwest Art my mama collected when we lived in Albuquerque. Clean lines and straight-forward design with the wine acting as the pale pink sunset hues typical of art in New Mexico.

photo credit: graphis.com

photo credit: graphis.com

This dry Rosé is made in the old world Provencal method with the grapes harvested at 21° Brix. Brix is the scale used to measure the sugar content in wine. Winemakers Dennis and Yoav strive for a Oeil de Perdrix color which means “Eye partridge” in french or light pale gray and pink. The grapes are lightly crushed and left to soften on their skins or macerate until this color is achieved. Then the juice is pressed off and kept cool during fermentation. Finally it’s aged for 2 months on its yeast lees. Lees are those delightful dregs that rest in the bottom of the wine vat. The end result is a mouthfeel of savory, dry, well structured, vibrant, fresh wine with minimal fruit flavors and minerals.  To me, it seemed to have a light hue of orange playing in the clear pale pink. It was easy to drink and refreshing with our 93° evening. I loved how the flavors blossomed from spicy floral acidity to mild citrus as it warmed.

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Beautifully blended of Grenache Rouge, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Grenache Blanc from three of their vineyards: Carneros, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley for those of you familiar with Sonoma, it boasts a low alcohol content of 12.8%. Rosés are meant to be drunk young and this one didn’t last long. You can serve it with or without food. It’s a great summer sipper while sitting on the patio with it’s screw cap closure.

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Thanks to the Sonoma County Rosé Revolution lead by #Winestudio of ProtocolWine and the efforts of Dennis Hill and Yoav Gilat, I’m open to Rosé for summer. I’ve heard rumors Rosé is great all year-round, especially with Thanksgiving turkey so I’ll be looking to rope a couple of bottles when that lovely holiday comes around. Until then, I’m learning to keep an open mind about wine.

If you’re interested in learning more about wine or chatting with other wine enthusiasts, ProtocolWine Studio hosts (hashtag) #Winestudio on twitter every Tuesday at 6PST/8CST.

“#winestudio is a free, interactive wine education program conducted via social media. If you have a Twitter and Facebook account, you can participate! Each month we select a unique wine-based (or cider) topic to explore from a social, political, cultural, geographical and of course a wine-oriented perspective. Bloggers and wine lovers from across the world join us every session to discuss the culture of wine.”  

Join the fun! You might be tempted to try or rethink a wine.

In the meantime, happy summer sipping! 


The wine was a media sample of Cannonball Wine Company in conjunction with the online educational program #winestudio. Opinions and thoughts are my own. Many thanks to MM. Hill and Gilat for introducing me to a mouthwatering Rosé. Best Wishes!






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