A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: October 2016

The Pre-Holiday Line Up: Philbrook Wine Tasting

On Monday evening, our best and dearest wine shop started the Holidays off early by throwing a pre-holiday wine tasting featuring the wineries from the Philbrook Wine Experience. The Philbrook Wine Experience is a charity wine event that brings together over 40 wineries to raise money for the Philbrook Museum educational programs and museum operations. The Philbrook, located in Tulsa, OK, is a favorite of mine. So, of course, I jumped at the chance to taste some of the wines featured.

Wine + Art = Philanthropy. Tasting and buying wine for the greater good.

Obviously, there wasn’t enough time, space or manpower for our little wine shop to pour all 40 wines so the lineup was cut to 6 starters.


img_9922Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, Carneros SRP$21

If I had created the lineup, I would have placed the bubbles last as the Clean-up hitter. The Blanc de Noirs was a deep golden and slightly dry. It had bread yeast aromas and citrus with a mild bitter finish. As I’m writing this, after thoughtful consideration, I concede that Amy, our wine shop somm, may be a better team manager than me. Greeting my Thanksgiving guests with a glass of bubbles could possibly defuse any pre-holiday tensions from previous gatherings that may or may not have transpired. Bubbles potentially puts everyone in a good mood in the first inning. Thank you, Lord. 


img_9915Villa Creek White Blend 2014, Paso Robles SRP $28

This wine has a very small production and wasn’t what I expected as I moved from nose to mouth. Nice and unique. It’s made with 85% Grenache Blanc and 15% Roussanne. The texture changed from racy and bright to a thicker cream soda made of pears, raw apples, herbs and a slightly bitter lemon finish. There was even a touch of effervescence. It’s the one player that loves to surprise you by stealing a base. 


img_9916Joullian Chardonnay, Monterey 2014 SRP $25

Once again, my perception of chardonnay and reality is shifting. Joullian was smooth, creamy and floral with nice stone fruit. Chardonnay has always been a DH for me in the lineup. But I moved it back to starter and brought this one home. This in itself shows how much wine and wine drinkers change over time. I was a child in the chardonnay oak-boom era so I’m not sure why I let other’s past disdain shadow my opinion. I’ve tasted a few oaky butter bombs but recently like merlot, the next generation of chardonnay is a calmer, balanced version of its predecessors. It might not be first or second up but it’s in the top five.



Barra Pinot Noir, Mendocino 2013 SRP$21

Pinot, I love you. Pinot is always a solid hit, steady and dependable. With that biased declaration, I will happily vote Pinot into the hall of fame. This pinot was true to form, spicy, cherries, low acidity and would definitely go well with Thanksgiving dinner. The finish was a little weak but still gets the job done. Barra is estate grown, family-owned and operated, 100% organic vineyard which is always a home run for any team.


img_9920Radicle Vine Red Blend, Columbia Valley SRP$19

It came to the plate swinging with a strong aroma of fruit and berries. There was acidity on the front decked with plums and raspberries and tannins at the end. Overall, it’s the flamboyant player on the team who entertains on and off the field. It’s sourced out of northern Oregon with 4 different grapes in the blend.




Pietro Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast 2013 SRP $23

The team motto on the bottle states, “A century of wine history in every glass”. Pietro Family Cellars sources their grapes from Napa (I suspect Laird), Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake County to create this solid hitter. Down to earthiness, it’s very fruit forward with blackberries and smooth tannins. An old world style player that brings experience and balance to a team. Dependable in the present as well as for the length of the contract. I found it delicious.

Happy pre-holiday menu planning, friends and thanks to Amy for getting a decent lineup for the start of the holidays!




p.s. I’m really enjoying this World Series. For one, my team isn’t in it so no pressure. Two, I kinda like both contenders with their storied pasts so it’s just been good old fashioned baseball. Go C!

Off the Vineyard Trail #3: A Wedding in WA Wine Country

Life can be full of irony. For example, I was literally in the middle of Woodinville Wine Country a couple weekends ago and left without visiting a single winery. As you know, occasionally, I like to write about wine and here was a golden opportunity. You could have tossed a bottle any direction and hit a winery and yet, I might as well have been in Death Valley. Surprisingly, I’m not entirely depressed about this fact despite feeling like the boy in the bubble after gazing longingly at winery upon winery and not being able to stop. To emphasize the irony, here’s a map of the area. 



Our hotel was four miles up the winery crowded road from Chateau Ste. Michelle at the bottom of the map. There’s only one reason I’d skip this golden opportunity: I love my brother and his wedding ranked higher than me tasting my way through Washington! The breathtaking beauty of the area was a nice consolation. 

img_9592Mt. Rainier welcomed us on the approach into Seattle. I swear I could have climbed out on the wing and skied down it, that’s how close it felt.

img_9601Sadly, my brother has lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly a decade and I’ve not once gotten to visit him. I could use the excuse of how expensive it is to go or I might just be a lousy sister. We got up early the next day to explore Seattle with the promise to be back to Woodinville before the 6pm rehearsal. Ha! I’ve been in rushhour in NYC, LA & SanFran but Seattle is a whole different ballgame. With only one day, we hit the highlights: Space Needle, EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum with the Star Trek experience (my baby brother’s a sci-fi nut), Pike Place Market with the flying fish and Starbucks.  


img_9661We enjoyed the view from the top of the Space Needle. Although, Seattle might need to call an exterminator. 




The Space Needle’s outside balcony causes you to unintentionally bump into fellow tourists and get a mild case of motion sickness. There should be warning signs on the doors telling you to brace yourself and leave the coffee cups inside. I watched more than one unsuspecting viewer stumble suddenly into the retaining wall. You’d have thought there was more than just cream in their cup.

Wavy floors of fun

Wavy floors of fun

Next we hopped the Monorail, after paying an exorbitant $4 for a round trip ticket, to watch the sport of fish flinging and ogle the birthplace of $5 cups of coffee. Pike Place Market is a multi-level, cavernous indoor/outdoor farmer’s market on steroids. You can walk for days through the winding passageways and still not see every booth or vendor. 


Scent of money, er, coffee.

Scent of money, er, coffee.




img_9705After playing Turbo Tourist, we got to enjoy a rainy, no wait it stopped . . . . it’s raining again . . . ok, it really has stopped, outdoor Fall Wedding. This was our first family gathering since our mom’s passing in April and it was a much needed welcome celebration. My dad had warned me to dress warmly because it’s more north than Oklahoma. Yeah, I know geography! 55 degrees in Seattle during the rainy season isn’t the same as 55 degrees in Oklahoma. It’s cold. However, Fall in Washington is wonderful. It rained the night we arrived and the trees were dressed in brilliant colors the next morning. My brother and his lovely bride tied the knot at a farm (ironically, not a winery but there was one down the street) and it even stopped raining for the reception. 





A rainbow blessing for the newlyweds.



It was your typical wedding with dancing, hoop-la hoops, badminton and family tattoos. My new sister-in-law fits into our goofy family perfectly and she plans ultra-awesome weddings. 

No tramp stamp for me, thanks.

No tramp stamp for me, thanks.

I did get to drink Washington wine: 14 Hands. Lovely. And sample beer from a keg of Mac & Jack’s African Amber to go with the delicious Falafel Food Truck fare. I think food trucks may be the wedding trend of the future!  

Wedding Caterers

Wedding Caterers

In the end, despite no wineries visits, it was still a very enjoyable trip. And all those wineries gives me a really good excuse to visit my brother and sister-in-law more often in the future beside just wanting to see them. 😉 

Until then, 


Me and my lovable goofball.

Me and my lovable goofball.

Delicious Destructive Force(s) of Nature #WineTasting




Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on Florida this morning as I try to put pen to paper to describe a wine tasting at my favorite wine shop recently that introduced me to a small but powerful winery. Oklahomans are familiar with the devastating power of nature. Out here on the plains, unencumbered by mountains or forests, God displays an array of iPhone camera worthy skies. OK, we are totally obsessed with weather, earthquakes, and all types awe-inspiring atmospheric activities. These destructive entities are basically our main source of entertainment on the prairies beside sports. And I’d say we have good reason because if the forecast calls for rain, it really means magnificent torrential, house shaking thunderstorms or tornadoes.

A few Saturdays ago, Force of Nature Wine hit Oklahoma. Produced by Rabble Wine Company from the central coast of California, the wines are as rich and luscious as the labels. Whimsical, vibrantly colored prints of mayhem wrap the bottles with no visible name brand. Mt. Vesuvius erupts in Pompeii on the Cabernet Sauvignon. A Chardonnay kraken destroys a coastal seaport. A Red Blend tornado wipes out a city. A Zinfandel firestorm decimates a village. The labels are actually public domain German woodblock prints from 15 and 16th century.  Heavily textured and embossed.

If you read braille, the word ‘gullible’ is printed down the middle of the Chardonnay label. Unsettling attention grabbers from a winery whose name ‘Rabble’ means a disorderly mob; stirring the comforts of public opinion.

Force of Nature Wine

Force of Nature Wine

I have to say the labels got me excited with their evocative subject matter. I love vibrant artwork and these were intriguing. Vintners and partners Rob Murray and Andrew Nelson go for the unconventional.


img_95542014 Chardonnay, Murmur Vineyard, Santa Barbara County

Confession: Chardonnay isn’t my usual white wine pick. The creamy oak tends to be too much for me. Second confession: I bought a second bottle yesterday. 100% Chardonnay. Pale golden, drafts of peaches and delicate flowers with a light chiffon body. The taste was green apples, peaches, and salty toasted nuts, which makes it sound like a cobbler, but in reality is a bright wine with refreshing acidity and a lingering finish. To further shake things up, the chardonnay is bottled in a dead leaf colored bordeaux bottle. I’d say its delicious with a spicy grilled kraken. $23/bottle

img_95482014 Red Blend, Paso Robles

Dark purple with cherries, raspberries and cocoa aromas. This blended firestorm was more like a docile campfire than wicked uncontrollable wildfire. As with a fire, there was smoke, spicy cherries and a dusting of tannins. I’d say this is a good table wine but at $19 not serious enough to call out the fire department.



2014 Zinfandel, Mossfire Ranch, Paso Robles

A tornado of raspberry jam, black cherry and a hint of orange whirl out of this young bright ruby colored wine. The aroma draws you in immediately but there’s a lively ‘wow’ of dark fruit and chocolate on the palate. Crisp tannins and acidity. This isn’t a typical zin. The winemaker said it leans more to old world Primitivo than new world zin which is probably why I liked it. Maybe I’ve been in too many tornadoes, but this one was my favorite of the four tasted. $23


img_98152014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mossfire Ranch, Paso Robles

Dark garnet in the glass, the Cabernet was a beautiful dark berry aroma. Loads of volcanic earth, herbs and bushels of blackberries. The berries made it a bit sweet but it had great balanced tannin. I actually liked it better the second day because the sweetness mellowed like cooled lava rock with a nice long finish. $23

By the end of afternoon, these were my favorite natural disasters. Although, Krakens don’t regularly attack coastal cities, do they? The poor little guy on the label just wants to share his chardonnay!

So keep your eye on the sky or is that wine? Whichever!

Cheers friends,

Allison from Tornado Alley


Kraken sharing Chardonnay


post script: Stay safe dear Florida friends! Praying the hurricane turns into a docile tropical storm. 

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