OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

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Oklahoma Skies #6: Sunrise

There are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

 

 

Life, on this day, two years ago. Promising beginning to the new school year. 

September 18, 2015

 

Our Saturday Sips: BoneShaker 2014 Zinfandel Lodi

Hello everyone, 
In a effort to regain balance in our life, we’ve decided to make a few changes and lay down a few new hard and fast rules. Someday, when I’m at liberty to share, I’ll explain. But for now let’s just say important areas in our life were spiraling out of control and changes needed to be made before we found ourselves as big as hippos and living in a van down by the river.  Therefore, one of our new “lifestyle” changes is limiting our wine to the weekend. Our bodies thank us. Our budget thanks us. And to be honest, the anticipation of what wine we will try is once again fun and enjoyable. 
Our Saturday Sip:
 
Boneshaker 2014 Zinfandel Lodi

 

The bottle claims it’s named for a teeth rattling thrill ride. Ha! Not much teeth rattling occurred but overall it was a nice dark, full-bodied wine with blackberries and spice. It was also on budget at $20.02. I’d get it again.  Boneshaker Zin is produced by the Hahn Family Wines with the grapes sourced from 40 year old vines out of the Bruella Vineyard in Lodi, California.

The past weekend was tremendously enjoyable as I got to experience two of my very favorite pastimes: college football and wine. We actually opened the zinfandel on Friday night because the Oklahoma Sooners were to play Ohio State in football on Saturday night.  The stinging memories of last year’s  loss  required all our energy to be focused on the game. Smart move on our part,  since this year’s game was incredible and required lots of jumping up and down, nail biting and high-fiving.  And in the name of good, clean, slightly disrespectful fun, according to Siri, Ohio State stadium  now has a new owner. Who knew?

Cheers!

 

Oklahoma Skies #5: Sunrise

There are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

 

Woke to a cracked summer sky . . .

June 29, 2017

 

 

Win(d)ing Down The Summer into Fall

Well, this may have been the fastest summer on record. Anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Life seems to be on fast forward since we’re in the transition years with our teens as they move from high school to college. I’m having a harder time dealing with all this transition than I thought I would. After school finished in May, our teenagers got jobs, went to camps and basically had activities until band camp in August. There wasn’t even a free weekend for a short family vacation. Although, I did enjoy skipping the stress of planning one. If you’ve ever had the joy of packing, finding accommodations or driving numerous miles with a crowd, I know you’ll understand. My son calls us the ‘Six Man Side Show’. He vows he’s going to vacation alone after he moves out on his own.

However, come December, half of our sideshow is traveling to London to march in the New Year’s Day Parade. The other reason we didn’t vacation this summer. Converting pennies to pounds is expensive! Oh, and I’m a chaperon for this UK adventure. Pray. Please. Pray for me, as I and several other parents along with 250+ teenagers descended on London for a week. The trip is kinda bittersweet with everyone excited for the opportunity but at the same time having to leave half the family at home. I’ve started brushing up on the language (important words like trousers, crisps, chemist, chips, underground and rubbish) and hunting for waterproof winter jackets. Here we come ENGLAND!

courtesy of BBC.com

londonvisitors.wp.com

Anyway, August is now gone, too. Which got me to thinking. A dangerous prospect, I know. There were a lot of ‘new’ wines on the shelves this summer and I’m wondering if they are only seasonal fads or producers just new to me?

prophecywines.com

Will these wines disappear after a while? Will there be a new crop on the shelves next summer? Are these short-lived trends? Seasonal offerings like pumpkin spice latte? Summer is a good time to break into the market. Holidays, I know, are the other marketing window. From my experience in retail, 80% of our yearly revenue came from the months of October to December. Anyway, the wine market is saturated with offerings in the low to middle range. We tried a few with marginal results.

The wines of summer – the beginning was not the end

We also wound up opening a few bottles special to us. This was the summer to clear out and tidy up starting with a favorite of ours from Frogs Leap Winery in Rutherford, CA. My husband surprised me with an anniversary trip to Dallas and dinner at Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille. They have a beautiful wine cellar from which we chose Frog’s Leap 2014 Zinfandel. It didn’t disappoint! 

We finished the weekend with another Frog’s Leap bottle we’d brought home from our Napa Valley trip 3 years earlier; Frog’s Leap’s version of Rosé. It was a nice light bottle of summer fruit to go with all our of reminiscing about the trip.  

The last special bottle we opened this summer was Castello di Amorosa 2012 Reserve Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard from the Castello di Amorosa Winery in Napa. The winery’s a giant castle run by charming imported Italians. We had a great time there tasting and exploring and petting the chickens. I’m convinced chickens are a requirement for every authentic castle. 

The rest of the summer we drank a lot of white with an few reds mixed in. See if you recognize any of them: 

And here we are in September. Oklahoma weather is pretending it’s already deep into Fall with morning temps in the 50s. I’m loving it. Good college football weather. I’m not sure why God has chosen to bless us with such beautiful weather while the rest of the country deals with horrifically heartbreaking hurricanes and devastating fires. Maybe it’s so I’ll learn to think soberly about my days and to be thankful. Either way, I’m grateful.

Cheers and Happy Fall, friends!

Off the Vineyard Trail #6: The Attic

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you just need to let a few things go.

During these past few unexpected rainy days, we decided to tackle the job of cleaning out our attic. The chore has been literally hanging over our heads for months now. Last week when I pulled down the ladder to get an ice chest for band camp, there wasn’t floor space to stand on. Mind you, our attic isn’t huge but it’s adequate to store the non-everyday items.

Cleaning out one’s attic is like opening a Pandora’s Box of ‘These were the Years of Your Life.’ Granted, we’ve had over 13 years in this house to stuff ours, so there’s the typical junk. However, among the boxes of Christmas décor and childhood memorabilia there were a few forgotten surprises…

  • A brand new Street Hockey net and Sticks
  • A duffle bag of uniforms from my hubby’s stint in the military
  • A prom dress circa 1989
  • 3 boogie boards
  • An Eskimo Barbie and a Russian Barbie
  • A full-sized spare tire
  • 2 Saber swords from Uzbekistan
  • A Margaritaville frozen drink mixer
  • A Biology lab microscope
  • Ticket stubs for the 1988 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the New Jersey Devils – face value $11
  • A baby crib
  • Crutches and a knee brace
  • A bike trainer (rehab after the crutches)
  • 2 bales of chicken wire (I forgot I’d bought one already)
  • A buffalo costume from Halloween
  • A 1986 newspaper with the headline ‘Challenger Explosion’
  • A box of VHS tapes
  • A baseball card collection
  • A 1994 Playbill from the Broadway Musical ‘Guys and Dolls’
  • New York Yankee baseball tickets 1996 – face value $16
  • The green metal slide from my son’s loft bed
  • A plastic toy refrigerator and stove
  • A vintage Trombone case

We decided to sort through all the boxes and do some serious clean out. The nicest surprise was in the middle of going through a box of old letters, birthday cards and pictures. I found two letters from my mom. One she had written on her 25th birthday when I was 6 weeks old, that I was to open on my 25th birthday. The second was a Christmas letter she wrote when I was seven. She wrote on the envelope, “Allison, this is to be opened when you’re an adult and your Christmas seems less than it should be. OR when your 7 year-old child drives you crazy with their impatience at Christmas. Love, Mother.”

Apparently, I was driving her crazy. I wish I could remember when she actually gave me the letter. I’d like to think it was the Christmas we had four kids under the age of 7 and they could barely stay in their beds past 4:30 that morning!

Let me warn you, sentimentality is running high in our household right now from revisiting all the life the LORD has given us. The task started as a chore but I can honestly say it’s ended with a lot of thanksgiving, laughter and a few cringy moments. Especially, after my kids found my high school yearbooks. (Yes, I really did want my hair to look like Robert Smith’s of The Cure. Deal with it.)

After hauling seven bags of trash and two large bins of junk to the curb plus one vanload to the Salvation Army, I’m seriously considering joining the minimalist movement. The feeling of letting go is so refreshing! I just wish some of our rediscovered junk was valuable enough to hawk on EBay. Maybe it could of helped cover the University Bursar bill that arrived last week. Oh well, at least I can put the Uzbek sabers to use opening an inexpensive bottle of cava.

So, what’s in your attic?

Oklahoma Skies #4: Sunset

There are approximately a thousand pictures on my iPhone of the Oklahoma skies. Apparently, I’m infatuated with them. Some days, they can be fairly spectacular. We might not have much here in tornado alley, but more often than not the skies are saturated in a range of glorious colors. 

 

One particularly fine summer evening in early June, we took the dog and her girl for a ride . . . 

 

June 8, 2017

#Winestudio Thru Rose Colored Glasses: Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino

“La Vie En Rose. It is the French way of saying, ‘I am looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses.” -Aubrey Hepburn

Who doesn’t enjoy viewing life through Rosé colored glasses? Cares melt away. Edges soften. The harsh world warms up into a bright summer glow. That’s exactly the effect the Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino produced for #Winestudio this month. And in a touch of playfulness, rose colored sunglasses were included with the Bonterra Rosé for #Winestudio participants to sport as we virtually visited the Bonterra Vineyards and farms. 

30 years ago, under the direction of winemaker Bob Blue, Bonterra Vineyards made a commitment to organic and biodynamic practices before organic was even cool. Today, organic is very cool despite the fact it’s been around for centuries! Bonterra’s organic vineyards fit perfectly with the June #Winestudio theme of “What’s ‘Old’ is ANew”. Regardless of the present trends, Bonterra remains passionate that great wine comes from farms and vineyards teeming with biodiversity and healthy soils. As a result of their commitment, Bonterra leads the U.S. in organic wine production and it’s garnered them the award of being named “American Winery of the Year 2016” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

“Our style has always been about restraint, because we have fewer tools in the vineyard & winery. Balance trumps trends, always.” -Bonterra Wines

 

Bonterra Vineyards and Farms

 It takes years to become an accredited California Certified Organic Farmer (CCOF). You must adhere to two of the Demeter farm standards which in Bonterra’s case is applying bio-dynamic preparations and composts and increasing biodiversity. Located in Mendocino County, the Bonterra biodynamic wine collection explores site-specific expressions from three Demeter-certified estate vineyards. 

According to the Bonterra website:

“Our three ranches (Blue Heron, McNab and Butler) are certified Biodynamic® by Demeter and our status is reviewed annually to ensure that each ranch adheres to the Demeter Farm Standard. The principle of Biodynamic farming is the simplest way to understand what it is: a living organism which is self-contained, self-sustaining, and follows the cycles of nature.”

 Bonterra Rosé 2016 Mendocino (Grenache, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo) $16

 

How’s it made?

Bonterra believes style and method go hand and hand. “Method drives the style, and we knew we wanted to make a Provence-inspired Rosé.” The Rosé is made in the Provencal style using the direct press method. Bonterra selected Grenache as the main grape because “it’s great for rosé and Sangiovese and Nebbiolo do well in Mendocino”. 

The Resulting Taste?

A refreshing mouth full of light summer strawberries, hints of rose petals and nice acidity. 

Let me know if you try a bottle. Rumor has it, with only a few days into the official summer season, the winery is almost sold out. If you come across a bottle I’d be happy to share it with you. In the meantime, may the LORD bless you with a very rosy summer. ~Allison

 

Disclosure: I received a media sample of Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino as a participant of #Winestudio. All rose colored opinions are my own. I think these month long Rosé sessions are turning me into a Rosé drinker. For me, this was another delicious bottle of wine. With any varietal, all it takes is finding a good bottle so I’m committed to trying! Cheers!

Kicking off a Month of Rose for #Winestudio: Domaines Paul Mas

Program note: I started this post last week with the intention of publishing ASAP because of the timeliness of the subject, however, reality often eclipses intention. June is #Winestudio’s annual month of Rosé, so technically I’m still on time! 

June 10th    is   was National Rosé Day so it’s only natural #Winestudio’s June program feature Rosé. To kick off a month of Rosé education, the first week featured  a portfolio of wines from Domaines Paul Mas with vigneron,  Jean-Claude Mas, as guide.  In 2000, Jean-Claude left a career in motorsports to restructure his family’s declining vineyard estate into a viable winemaking business. He has worked hard to cultivate a wine style focused on a philosophy of “the simple pleasures of life” and has built a wine empire in France’s Languedoc region with their wine exported to 61 countries. 

“Luxe Rural sums up our culture and philosophy. With the greatest respect for our rural roots, we aim for perfection. Our wines are the result of our mission to inspire real emotions.” ~ Vigneron Jean-Claude Mas

With the philosophy of Luxe Rural in mind, we tasted through three different rosés; two still wines and a sparkler.  Now is when the education part of #Winestudio kicks in – I had to revisit the meaning ‘free run juice’ which led me to an inner dialogue about my lack of formal wine certification/qualifications and how basically the fact is I’m only a wine drinker. I run on intelligence guided by experience.  What am I saying? The following is focused more on the specs of these wines than the taste so it might be drier than usual. Although, the taste was a very pleasant experience and is further changing my views of Rosé.  

To get the party started, we popped a sparkler:

Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut NV St. Hilaire Languedoc ($16)

  • 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir (Personally, in my palate’s opinion, chardonnay is more pleasant when she brings friends along to temper her buttery personality.) 
  • Production is by Methode Traditionelle – Primary fermentation is in stainless steel vats with a blend of sugar and yeast, “Liqueur de Tirage” added before bottling. The bottles are placed upside down to gather the lees in the neck and aged a year. The bottlenecks are then frozen to trap the lees in an ice plug which is easily removed. The bottles are re-sealed and aged a second year. 
  • Limoux is often cited as the oldest sparkling wine region in France.
  • Don’t you think sparklers make excellent introductions to the world of Rosé?

 

Côté Mas Rosé Aurore 2016 Sud de France ($11)

  • The grapes are de-stemmed and the varieties: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah – are vinified separately.  
  • The Cote Mas Rose Aurore is made with only free run juice.  Free run juice is the juice pressed out from the sheer weight of the grapes stacked on top of each other into the winepress. This juice is treasured for it’s characteristics of purity, freshness and clarity of flavor. Wines made from free run juice are bottled under a separate label and often at a higher price point. 
  • The Aurore ferments for 3 weeks at 17*C in stainless steel and then aged on its lees in new cement vats with regular pump-overs. Pump-over – a technique used to increase optimal extraction of color and flavors. Also known as remontage, the wine is pumped up from the bottom of the tank and splashed over the top of the fermenting grape skins, seeds and stems; the purpose is to submerge the skins so that carbon dioxide is pushed to the surface of the must and released.
  • This free run juice is widely available at the astronomical price $11. 

 

Arrogant Frog Rose 2016 Languedoc ($10)

  • 100% Syrah and nicknamed ‘Lily Pad Pink’
  • The Arrogant Frog has become the mascot of Domaines Paul Mas Estate wines.
  • It had a rich body and weight to it with lovely strawberries. (That’s all I’ll say.)
  • Protected by a pine forest, the vines grow in a gravel, clay and limestone soil wrapped in a Mediterranean climate. 

The Arrogant Frog was the only wine I had time to plan a proper menu pairing so I decided to try my hand at homemade street tacos. The spices paired really well! The Frog was my favorite of the three.

There is so much more I could share with you about these luxe Roses besides them being simply affordable but I think I’ve already loaded you down with enough information. Plus my goal isn’t to cause your eyes to glaze over! I’ll leave you with this: Domaines Paul Mas makes a lovely range of rosés. Let me know if you try one! Adieu.

 

Disclosure: I received these wine media samples as a participant of the online wine educational program #Winestudio. All ramblings are my own. 

A Bird’s Eye view of Texas Wine: 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery

Our plan was to visit a Texas winery on the way home from Dallas. My husband had surprised me with a quick trip for our anniversary and our teens are finally old enough to babysit themselves, so we had time to explore. Ironically, I’ve lived on Texas’ doorstep for over twenty years and have traveled all over it’s vast land, yet I’ve never tasted Texas wine. So you can imagine my excitement for this first Texas wine experience.

Here, I’m going to pause a moment for those with young children and let ‘teens babysitting themselves’ sink in.Yes, there comes a day when you can take an overnight trip and not have to get a sitter. It is a GLORIOUS day.

We meandered northwest over rural county roads and wide sweeping plains toward the quaint town of Muenster and it’s rich German heritage. Then farther north and closer to the Red River onto chalky gravel roads where among sweeping vistas and rocky terrain lies 4R Ranch Vineyard and Winery  in the North Texas Hill country.The ranch and vineyard have been cultivated by 6 generations of Texans. 4R Ranch’s tasting room, the Wind Shed, opened last November and is named after the vast wind turbine farm that dominates the landscape.

Although the winery directions were clearly marked with signs, my distrust of google maps kicked in as we drove farther down a narrowing dirt track. Of course, it was completely unfounded, for there, on a rocky hill, a stone building came into view as we gunned the engine up the last steep, winding curve to the top. The entrance to the Wind Shed appeared sparse but sleek and curiously inviting. A simple front compliments a cantilevered deck in the back with a magnificent view of the Red River Valley. We soon discovered the view and wine to be utterly relaxing. 

The  front entrance

The back entrance

Stepping inside, we were charmed by the modern decor and inviting staff. The winery had just opened for the day but the place was already bustling with activity. This was a surprise since we hadn’t passed a single car on the way up for over twenty miles.There was a brief debate on whether to stay inside at the granite bar and air conditioning or sit outside. Both were great, however, one glance through the large glass doors and concern for the warm humidity evaporated. The view was amazing! We sat relaxed and mesmerized while watching turbines whirling in the distance, birds soaring between vistas and a deer bounding across the lower floor of the Red River valley. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d skipped lunch so their cheese plates and pub mixes were a welcome addition to our tasting. 4R Ranch offers a tasting flight of 3 or 5 of their 17 wines on the menu with all but two of the wines made solely from Texas grapes. Of course, we’re were going with all Texas for our flight of 5 wines which included 4R Ranch’s estate grown Viongier and Cabernet Sauvignon. By the end of our tasting, my husband leaned close to whisper, “Everyone’s envious of us.”

Huh? Startled out of my thoughts of wondering if the birds soaring in between the turbine blades ever smacked into them, I glanced around the deck. The view and wine had so captured my attention, I hadn’t noticed the place had filled up behind us. Peering over the railing into the valley below, my hubby was right. We had scored the best table and a thoroughly enjoyable overview of what Texas has to offer.

5 Wines of Texas: Viognier to
4R Ranch Red

Although there was a pleasant breeze, the day was warming up typically Texas so for our flight we gratefully started with the orange-gold hued Viognier Estate “Texoma” 2015 and its refreshing fruit, load of acidity, and minerals. It was my husband’s favorite of the two light wines. Up next was the spicy Tempranillo Rosé “Stampfenstier” 2015 or the ‘Stomp Animal’. 4R Ranch has several of their wines named with a nod to the area’s German heritage. Their Rosé was classic and refreshing. The last three wines were red: Cabernet Sauvignon Estate “Texoma” 2013,  Lenior/Grenache “Hoof und Hund”, my favorite, and the 4R Ranch “Texas”. The “Texas” is the winemaker’s homage to the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Papes with a constantly changing blend of Texas grown Rhone varietals. All three were delicious and balanced. Not a bad introduction to Texas wine!

I’m not that naive to assume every Texas winery produces stellar wine but for a first taste, this was a fantastic start. I wonder if in twenty-five years Texas will be the new Napa? Man, I hope so. It’ll save me a ton on airfare and wine shipping charges! In the meantime,“if you’re ever down in Texas” . . . get to a winery! 

~ Allison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wines of the West Festival – Stockyard City

If you’ve ever wondered what cowboys do between rodeos and cattle round-ups, then next June strap on your spurs and head to the west side of Oklahoma City to Stockyard City. There’s more than steers and Stetsons in this historic part of town. For the past 8 years, the Stockyard has hosted the Wines of the West Festival where 15-20 Oklahoma wineries gather each year in the old Mercantile building to pour their wine. It’s a great opportunity to sample the Oklahoma wine scene and enjoy a step back into the Old West.

Riding into town at high noon and we ambled over to the Cattlemen’s event center at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse to check in and pick up our wrist bands. The majority of the wineries had set up shop in the old Stockyard Mercantile with a few others located in the Granville Music School and the Rodeo Opry. After getting a couple of glasses from the Saloon keeper, we wasted no time burning the breeze to the Mercantile. A lively crowd was gathered around the twelve watering holes dispersing fire-water while a future Garth Brooks strummed a 6-string and sang. 

We did a quick two-step around the room and then jumped into the shortest line. Most winery lines moved faster than molasses but with the spirits flowing, everyone was in good spirits. 

I’d hoped to chew the fat with a few of the winemakers but between the music and the crowd it proved to be harder than uncorking a bronc. I gave up and settled down to enjoying the wine and western atmosphere. Y’all, despite living in Oklahoma with ranchers, farmers, country music, western ambiance, and loads of pick-up trucks, must of us OKC locals are just good old suburbanites. Or at least we’re a hybrid of cowboy suburbanite. Either way, I see more ball caps behind the wheels of the F-150s flying by me on I-35 than cowboy hats. So an afternoon of soaking in a bit of western heritage was really refreshing.

 

 

After saying howdy to each winery at the Merc, we wondered over to the last two tasting spots while admiring the western haberdashery along the way.

Our last stop was at the Rodeo Opry building and the wines of Water’s Edge Winery. The line was thankfully small cause by then we were tuckered out. Water’s Edge Winery was pouring a watermelon wine that reminded me of that first cool, sweet bite of melon on a hot summer day. 

The regular Rodeo Opry band was setting up in the auditorium for the evening show so we took advantage of the opportunity to sit and relax. Apparently, Rodeo Opry has a variety show on Saturday nights with everything from country western to blues. Loads of local talent. The auditorium is small and well laid out so there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Overall, the afternoon was really enjoyable so I think we’ll be coming back for a bit more western culture in the future! Until next time friends, Happy Trails!

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