Love, Forgiveness and Shafer Relentless

Earlier this week we attended a memorial for a man who was just two years older than my husband.  He was a well-respected community leader with a big heart and was also a philanthropist who supported and promoted many children’s charities.  I knew he lived life Large but what I didn’t know until hearing his friends and colleagues speak, was that he was also a jokester.

Stories of him being such a bad driver that he ran into and over a Saguaro cactus on a golf course with the cart and then enlisted help to squish it down so he could drive off and continue his game coupled with, having 12 packages of turkey legs delivered to a neighbor who couldn’t find them at his local Fry’s store, helped me realize that there was much more to this man than I knew.

I was struck by how short life seems when you’re not ready to say goodbye.

As I was holding Ron’s hand during the service, I was thankful I still had my favorite person in my life.  I was overcome with a tremendous amount of love and respect for him.  He does so much for our family and I appreciate how hard he works to create this wonderful life for us.

I Love You A Bushel And A Peck

A wonderful saying from a shop in Solvang, Ca.

He is my forever partner and I’m having so much fun on this life journey with him!  I realize that finding that person that gets you, that makes you laugh, that loves you for all your crazy quirks is hard to find but, when you do, hang on for the ride of your life – it’s worth it!

Wayne Dyer uses an affirmation from his Meditations for Manifesting that goes something like this:  “My judgements prevent me from the seeing the good that lies beyond appearances”.

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How many times have you made a judgement based on something you saw or heard only to revise that judgement when you had more information or heard the whole story?

My guess is, many times….

I’m sharing this in hopes you will stop for just a moment and give thanks for the good things in your life…..the things that don’t suck.  The things and people, that if they weren’t in your life, you would miss.

I used to think Forgiveness was for the people in my life that didn’t conform to my expectations.  Those that did me wrong, the ones that needed grace and were lost for their misguided ways…..

I’ve done a lot of soul-searching in the last couple of years and I realize forgiveness is between Me and Me.  I forgive Myself for being unyielding, obstinate and for seeing life only through My filter.

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What I now realize is that everyone has their own story.

Love them and let them be.

No judgements.

Live your life as an example of how you want others to treat you.

Love unconditionally.

Every time I hear this Collective Soul song Forgiveness, it stops me in my tracks and I am overcome with such strong emotion.  It reminds me I’m not perfect….

I’m also reminded to hug those I love, long and often.  You never know the length of their life journey…..

One of the things we had in common with the man whose memorial we attended was our love of wine.

Relentless 2009-we drank the 2007 before I could get a picture!

Shafer Vineyards was one of his many favorites and Relentless was one of his recommendation to us.  We enjoyed the 2007 vintage with good friends (very important!) which is mostly Napa Valley Syrah and a bit of Petite Syrah.  It is dark in the glass and tasted of blackberry, dark cherry, tobacco (Ron) and cedar (Me).  It’s definitely a  full-bodied wine to be enjoyed with food and will cellar well for the next 5-10 years.  If you visit Napa Valley you really should visit this winery.  They have 2 tastings a day of only 10 people each so you will be assured an amazing experience with top shelf wines!

Tonight Ron and I are raising a glass of wine to Jon.  Here’s to the life he lived – full speed ahead, to his love of wine and to the legacy he leaves behind.  We will miss you.

Cheers to those that have gone before us….IMG_4458

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Random Bits ~ My Week in Review

So another week has flown by, my to-do list hasn’t budged and I’m wondering what the heck happened.  Here are a few things I can account for:

1.  Pelligrino – Is it possible to become addicted to sparkling water?  When I first met my husband I couldn’t stand the taste of the stuff.  Now, I can’t wait ’till dinner to have a glass.  Today, I drank it straight from the bottle and it was only 2 p.m…..I think I have a problem.

2.  Pan-Roasted Brined Pork Chop

bonappetit.com
bonappetit.com

We made this for Hubby’s B-day celebration and it was Ah-mazing!  Be sure to use 2 inch bone-in pork chops as the recipe states and marinate no longer than 8 hours or they will be very salty.  We drank some good juice and started off with a 2010 Capiaux Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.  Earthy, medium bodied with cherry cola notes, just the way we like it….paired well with the pork.  Next up, 2009 Shafer Relentless, which is a Syrah/Petite Syrah blend from Stags Leap, Napa Valley.  The 2008 was Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year  and the 2009 was drinking beautifully.  I don’t usually buy into that stuff but my honey kept saying it over and over and by the end of the evening I was repeating him like a parrot.  Yeah we had a bit to drink….

Ron's bday

Two Ah-mazing wines and Grand Marnier in the snifter…

3.  Earlier this week it was Winter and all of our plants froze.  Yes, we did wrap them in sheets and burlap but Mother Nature laughed in our face.  Today, Spring is teasing us and I’m sweating just thinking about what is to come.  I can’t take the heat….Tell me again why we live in Phoenix??

4.  Twitter….I am now on Twitter (@cherylhjohns) and it’s my new crack.  I love that you can stalk follow peeps on Twitter without having to know them.  Here are a few of my new favorite “friends” Jerry James Stone  @jerryjamesstone – he’s all about cooking in SF,  Hot Food Porn @hotfoodporn – I’ll admit they had me at food porn, but when I saw the pigs on their Twitter wall I was a gonner!  And finally, an amazing photographer Nick Ulivieri @ChiPhotoGuy who uses Chicago as his photo backdrop.

5.  The Art of Barter.  It’s January and this is the month you are supposed to get rid of all the useless crap you have hoarded over the last year!  Don’t throw it in the landfill; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Sell it, barter for more useful items but don’t contribute to mass consumerism.  Seriously though….think before you buy.

pb8512clb6.  Jackie from Marin Mama Cooks  – my new blog crush… Lots of quoina, kale and veggie recipes.  She features meat as well as cookies and cakes but what I love most is her step-by-step pictures that work oh so well for the not so confident kitchen cook that is me.  When Hubby and I move to Northern Cali, Jackie will be one of my BFF’s she just doesn’t know it yet…

7.  This goofball keeps me on my toes.  Is she praying to the sleep Gods or practicing doggie yoga?  Either way I decided she needed a memory foam mattress in her crate since she has spent a bit of time there this last week while I was off getting myself beautified and what-not.

Yes, She really sleeps this way!

Yes, She really sleeps this way!

8.  Music finds – Macklemore…..Thrift Shop – Love this song!  It has a message with a bit of fun!  One kind reader was gracious enough to point out that I’m just tagging along to be weird and non-conformist and I should stop trying to sell a lifestyle that’s based on deception.  There was something in there about the relevance of this song with wine and blah, blah, blah.  I stopped listening because I was having too much fun and really life should be about having fun.  Be sure to check out Patty’s favorite “Same Love” – this brings me to tears every time I listen.  Also check out Heather’s favorite “Irish Celebration”.

9.  I love when my sister visits me, which happens several times a year.  She’s visiting again in a couple of weeks and I have a mile long list of things we “Have To Do”, most of which we never get to.  We do eat well thanks to her culinary skills and drink lots of good juice but don’t take my word for it, check out her latest post on the Rose Pistola Rocket Salad.  I’m hungry now!

10. Let’s end with some eye candy…..Adam Levine.  The Food and Wine Hedonist  did this so well I really don’t need to add much more except if you like men or have Man-Crushes be sure to check out his post and click on the link for the picture of Adam in all his glory.  And then check out this one on his FB page

Want to know what wine I paired with Macklemore’s Thrift check it out here.

Happy Weekend peeps and Cheers to you!  What’s in your glass?

If You See Kay you might find her at the Thrift Shop

When feeling persnickety, I look to those who flaunt convention And do it well.  It makes me feel better about my current emotional state.  Enter Macklemore….

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Until recently I had no idea who Macklemore (a.k.a Ben Haggerty) was until this song Thrift Shop came across the air waves.  I loved it at first listen and then really appreciated it after viewing it on You Tube.  The other day my sister Melissa and I were chatting and she asked if I’d heard the song Thrift Shop.  More excited chatter ensued, one thing led to another and here I am posting about it.

So without further ado here is Thrift Shop…..The more I watch it the funnier it becomes!

Now the wine…..during my chatter with Melissa she suggested pairing the music of Thrift Shop with the beautiful yet funky Italian Cabernet if you see kay.

Let me introduce kay

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who is kay you ask???

kay is a creature;

she is an embodiment of a lifestyle,

a genre,

a feeling in your gut.

kay is a force of nature,

a wanderer.

She represents the philosophy of “Wide Open Throttle or don’t bother doing it at all”.

She’s not trying to be, she just is

kay is elusive; she can be coming from anywhere, around any corner, the world.

I could call kay my alter ego, similar to Rose in the comic strip “Rose is Rose”….

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But what it really is, is an Italian Cab with a bit of Petit Verdot and Primotivo (Zinfandel) whose grapes hail from Lazio, Italy with the wine being made in Napa.  I first saw this at my favorite wino hangout/wine bar/grocery store and thought – what is this novelty wine stuff?!  I truly turned my nose at it and dismissed it from my radar.  While searching for a wine to enjoy with turkey dinner at Christmas I found this recommendation on Antonoli’s wine blog Talkavino.  He had it with his turkey dinner and mentions that if you see kay is Perfect.  I tend to agree…in fact I could kick myself for not purchasing more during the 30% off wine sale!

Made by industry bad boy Jayson Woodbridge of Hundred Acres, Layer Cake, and Cherry Pie fame, this wine follows his bad boy image.  Possibly, this is where the idea for the  biker chick kay image came from…

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When I taste this beauty I get deep blueberry fruit, then dark berries/cherries with a bit of cocoa and spice.  It’s nicely balanced with smooth tannins.  I’ve enjoyed this with appetizers such as nuts and olives along with cheese and crackers.  It also pairs well with most protein dishes including grain based proteins (Quinoa!!).  I loved it and found it enjoyable with or without food, and yes we polished off the bottle in no time!

So, to summarize from  the wine’s website:

“this wine kicks ass”. Period end of story – NO PRISONERS THANK YOU.

Melissa is coming out for a visit at the end of the month and we will definitely be drinking wine, and of course if you see kay is on our list of to-do’s along with a Macklemore Thrift Shop dance party.

If you are in the Phoenix area looking for dining options be sure to check out my recently updated Phoenix Eats page.  Lot’s of great places to nosh!

Until next time, cheers!

Revisiting Rocket Science in the New Year

New Year’s Eve found us enjoying more than one bottle of wine with our steak dinner.   Not wanting the fun to end I ventured in the “Man Cave” and returned with one of my favorites – Rocket Science from Caldwell Vineyard.  It was popped open and we enjoyed a glass. At this point, the ball was soon to drop and  we were hoping to squeeze in cognac and cigars on the patio before that happened.  The rest of my lovely Rocket Science was relegated  to the counter for enjoyment on another night.  This baby lasted for 4 days in great condition.  The air was sucked out and it was stored in the fridge.  Day 2 (New Year’s day) it wasn’t touched, but days 3  & 4 it was drinking beautifully!  The fruit was deeper and more concentrated with a spicy lingering finish.  If you can find this in a retail establishment or have any in your wine stash – drink up!  Here’s more on Rocket Science from one of my most popular posts last year!

***And a birthday shout to my lovely Mom….She was our wine partner in crime on New Year’s Eve.  Happy Birthday Mom, Love You!!

To say I’ve been a bit stressed lately is an understatement and when I’m stressed, I get sick, which has happened several times in the past two weeks.  The disclaimer here is, that it wasn’t my fault – it was more likely that someone at Scholtzsky’s didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom and then made my sandwich.  Since my Mom got sick as well and we split the sandwich I’m going to stick with that story…….After I made it through that I decided to soldier on and stuff my stress and when that happens my back decides it’s not gonna let me do anything.  I couldn’t sit, stand, walk or even find a comfortable position to lie down.  After 3 days of misery I called the ever so amazing Dr. Chris and let him work magic on my spine.  I feel better but have to ask “Why did I wait so long to see him??!!”

The whole sickness drama continued in a different vein, but I won’t bore you with that. I will tell you, I did what anyone practicing avoidance would do, I stopped at my favorite grocery store for a glass of wine before picking up a few things for dinner.

Best.Decision.Ever!

One of my favorite wine stewards was working and here’s what he recommended:

Made.My.Day!

All of my stress melted away as I found myself totally enamored by this 2007 Rocket Science blend of 67% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Tannat, 1% Camenere and 1% Petit Verdot.  I’ll admit I wasn’t that familiar with Tannat, so here you go….it’s a blending grape which originated in France and Uruguay and it’s used to soften the astringency of a Cab and make it more approachable.  This definitely needs to be decanted or at least let it open up in the glass.  Given that I didn’t have a lot of time to burn, I gave it a few good swirls and dove right in.  I found the nose and the palate to have a heady mix of dark raspberries and blueberries and the medium bodied weight was nicely balanced with smooth cocoa tannins that just went on and on.  Each sip revealed another new layer of juicy flavor that had me sorry to see the glass empty. I’m confident it would stand up to a manly steak with mushrooms, but it was nuanced in such a way  that I really enjoyed this without food.  At $10 a glass it was a worthy splurge; my grocery retailer offers it for $50 a bottle and from what I understand its in short supply.  If you can find it buy it, and then hide it!

Caldwell Vineyard is the maker of this blessed juice and Marbue Marke, Rocket Science winemaker since 2007, is responsible for my adoration of this wonderful vino. Owner John Caldwell, has been instrumental in creating an awareness in Napa Valley of how French grape clones affect wine quality.  It seems that John is a bit of a rebel….he smuggled French clonal material from Canada to the U.S. and got caught. What happened next became part of wine history and put the Coombsville AVA on the wine making map.  The Caldwell website has a great article from The World of Fine Wine titled “Clones, Cops and Cabernet” that tells the story.

Taking a cue from the Rocket Science tagline, here is Thomas Dolby’s She Blinded Me With Science….Ahhh, this takes me back to 80’s with big hair and neon colors.  I love the sound of his voice and although this song is from 1982, his album Aliens Ate My Buick,  from the late 80’s, is one of my favorites.   Check out Hot Sauce – it’s quite sassy or should I say hot and spicy!

Because I grew up with the original Star Trek, William Shatner has been on my radar most of my life.  Here’s another take on Blinded Me With Science from his point of view….

If you get a chance visit the beautiful Northern California wine country (where we hope to be living very soon!), check out the Caldwell Vineyard.  Tastings are by appointment only and are done in their the wine cave…I haven’t been there yet but the reviews are fabulous.

Until next time, Cheers to you!

Good luck pig….

She Blinded Me With Science…..Or Was it Rocket Science?

To say I’ve been a bit stressed lately is an understatement and when I’m stressed, I get sick, which has happened several times in the past two weeks.  The disclaimer here is, that it wasn’t my fault – it was more likely that someone at Scholtzsky’s didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom and then made my sandwich.  Since my Mom got sick as well and we split the sandwich I’m going to stick with that story…….After I made it through that I decided to soldier on and stuff my stress and when that happens my back decides it’s not gonna let me do anything.  I couldn’t sit, stand, walk or even find a comfortable position to lie down.  After 3 days of misery I called the ever so amazing Dr. Chris and let him work magic on my spine.  I feel better but have to ask “Why did I wait so long to see him??!!”

The whole sickness drama continued in a different vein, but I won’t bore you with that. I will tell you, I did what anyone practicing avoidance would do, I stopped at my favorite grocery store for a glass of wine before picking up a few things for dinner.

Best.Decision.Ever!

One of my favorite wine stewards was working and here’s what he recommended:

Made.My.Day!

All of my stress melted away as I found myself totally enamored by this 2007 Rocket Science blend of 67% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Tannat, 1% Camenere and 1% Petit Verdot.  I’ll admit I wasn’t that familiar with Tannat, so here you go….it’s a blending grape which originated in France and Uruguay and it’s used to soften the astringency of a Cab and make it more approachable.  This definitely needs to be decanted or at least let it open up in the glass.  Given that I didn’t have a lot of time to burn, I gave it a few good swirls and dove right in.  I found the nose and the palate to have a heady mix of dark raspberries and blueberries and the medium bodied weight was nicely balanced with smooth cocoa tannins that just went on and on.  Each sip revealed another new layer of juicy flavor that had me sorry to see the glass empty. I’m confident it would stand up to a manly steak with mushrooms, but it was nuanced in such a way  that I really enjoyed this without food.  At $10 a glass it was a worthy splurge; my grocery retailer offers it for $50 a bottle and from what I understand its in short supply.  If you can find it buy it, and then hide it!

Caldwell Vineyard is the maker of this blessed juice and Marbue Marke, Rocket Science winemaker since 2007, is responsible for my adoration of this wonderful vino. Owner John Caldwell, has been instrumental in creating an awareness in Napa Valley of how French grape clones affect wine quality.  It seems that John is a bit of a rebel….he smuggled French clonal material from Canada to the U.S. and got caught. What happened next became part of wine history and put the Coombsville AVA on the wine making map.  The Caldwell website has a great article from The World of Fine Wine titled “Clones, Cops and Cabernet” that tells the whole story.

Taking a cue from the Rocket Science tagline, here is Thomas Dolby’s She Blinded Me With Science….Ahhh, this takes me back to 80’s with big hair and neon colors.  I love the sound of his voice and although this song is from 1982, his album Aliens Ate My Buick,  from the late 80’s, is one of my favorites.   Check out Hot Sauce – it’s quite sassy or should I say hot and spicy!

Because I grew up with the original Star Trek, William Shatner has been on my radar most of my life.  Here’s another take on Blinded Me With Science from his point of view….

If you get a chance visit the beautiful Northern California wine country (where we hope to be living very soon!), check out the Caldwell Vineyard.  Tastings are by appointment only and are done in their the wine cave…I haven’t been there yet but the reviews are fabulous.

Until next time, Cheers to you!

Good luck pig….

Enough With The Haboobs, Give Me A Viognier And Some Collective Soul!

It’s July in Arizona and that means we have “Weather”.  Things like rain and wind – strong wind…and dust storms.  This is big news for us because it’s usually Hot, Dry and, well….Hot.

In Phoenix,the arrival of a summer dust storm is often called a Haboob.  As in, there is a Haboob rolling in from Casa Grande.  We even make the national news from time to time.

Courtesy of ABC 15 news

I lived in Tucson for  25 years and we never had these.  I’m guessing it’s because Tucson is surrounded by mountains on all four sides of the city.  Phoenix is a bit more spread out and the “mountains” don’t form the same pattern.

Did you just detect a bit of mountain snobbery there?  Why, yes you did!  I freely admit it and am not ashamed to say that for me, in Arizona, there is nothing like Mt. Lemmon.  It was there I experienced many a ditch day from the boredom of my high school years.  It was there I took my children to escape the oppressive heat of the brutal Arizona summers.  Most importantly, it was there I introduced my daughters to the man, that less than a year later, I would marry.  It is one of the most beautiful spots in Arizona to gaze upon as the sun is setting.  The mountain range turns a dusty purple and you can see such depth and dimension in all the hidden canyons and rock formations.

I include this on my wine blog Why?  Well, because I love weather.  I love the clouds, the sky, the stars, and magnificent rain storms…..I should have been a Meteorologist.  In fact, in 5th grade that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up.  And because I can’t stop pulling out my iPhone, snapping pictures and filtering them through Camera+, I feel compelled to share the beauty I find with you.

The Wine…

If I was drinking wine during a summer monsoon storm it would be a Viognier (Vee-own-yay).  I first tried this floral, fruity white wine at Trefethen Vineyards on a wine country trip about 4 years ago and fell in love with it.  I find it delicate in aroma, but it definitely  has enough body to stand up  to Thai or Chinese food, as well as heartier fish and chicken dishes.  You don’t hear much about this Amazing varietal but if you get a chance to taste – do so!  Darioush is another favorite Viognier of mine.  We purchased several bottles last year when visiting the Napa Valley area. We made an unexpected (but most enjoyed!) stop at this Persian style winery on our way back to San Francisco.

The Music…

So, the music I would be listening to during this storm would be an instrumental ditty called Pretty Donna by Collective Soul.  They are one of my all time favorite groups!  Did I mention I LOVE Collective Soul?  Yes I did and Yes I do!!

One last note – today was my Grandson’s last day with me and I couldn’t believe what he asked for…..his chocolate chip cookie…..the one from Sunday, well over a week ago…..the one that I ate just after he left for a several day visit to my Mom’s house.  I had to do some serious distracting on that one!  Check out my earlier blog post about his cookie here.

I leave you with a picture of my silly greyhound Crystal paying homage to the Sleep Gods….She loved having my grandson around.  He, however, wasn’t so sure about her.  I suppose it can be intimidating have a dog stare you eye to eye when you are standing.

Yes, She really sleeps this way!

Enjoy your week and Cheers to you!

Praying to the Monsoon Gods and Drinking a Yummy Red Blend

Do you know what I’ve been doing?  Praying to the Monsoon Gods for rain.  For today – not tomorrow.  Tomorrow is The Party……The pool party we’ve been talking about and planning for almost 6 weeks now.  It’s my grandson’s last Sunday with us and we’ve invited friends and family over and it’s sure to be some crazy fun but it can’t rain tomorrow!  Here in Arizona rain is spotty and unpredictable at best but, when it does rain it usually pours!

It looks like in the hour or so I’ve been writing the Gods have been listening….not only do we have a storm, but it looks like a Haboob has joined us as well.

So as usual, I leave most everything to the last-minute, grocery shopping included.  Well, today I was in for a treat….there was a cooking demo along wine tasting and the chef was featuring Francis Ford Coppola Wines and I sampled the Rosso.

The 2010 Francis Ford Coppola Rosso is labeled as a California Red.  When I see that  I’m not sure what to think….but this one surprised me.

The breakdown is 33% Zinfandel, 26% Syrah, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petite Sirah.  The nose is very Zin-like and a bit jammy.  I could really taste the Zin in this one – just a slight bit peppery, with some jammy-ness from the Syrah and the Cab gave it some body.  I definitely got plum and cherries with a light to medium body mouthfeel and a short clean finish.

When I returned home to unload my groceries of course I did what any faithful wine lover would do – I popped this baby open!  How else could I give an accurate description? I tried it without food – more cherry and lighter in body and then, with food, which gave it more berry notes and that classic Zinfandel profile -spicy with a bit of richness. YUM!

An interesting note, just before tasting this at the grocery store, I had mint chewing gum  in my mouth (of course I spit it out, what do you take me for?).  The wine tasted much deeper and richer, which leads me to believe this would stand up to something like meatballs.  It just so happens the Coppola website has a recipe for Mama Coppola’s Meatballs.  Try them, I’m sure they are fabulous!

The best part was the price….It was on sale for $8.99 with a $2 off coupon for purchasing meat along with it.  When I got to the register the coupon scanned for $3 bringing my total cost to $5.99.  Damn, I should have bought Two!  I just read online that Trader Joe’s also carries this yummy wine in my area for $7.99 – Check It Out!

Did I mention I am a Super Procrastinator and I would rather write than clean.  My house is nowhere near ready for our guests, yet here I sit writing and drinking wine so that I may share my love with you.  That’s why my site is called My Love Affair With The Vine….

Not to be forgotten is the music.  Here’s is a fun, upbeat, catchy tune that I first heard from the Food and Wine Hedonist.  Now I can’t get it out of my head so I’m passing it along to you….Your Welcome!

Happy Saturday and Cheers to you!

In Memory of lives lost in Aurora, Colorado

 

I don’t want to end this post on a sad note but I do want to acknowledge the movie theater tragedy in Aurora, Colorado….my heart goes out to all of those affected by this horrific event.

Welcome To The Chateau….Would You Like A Cookie?

My Grandson, who is 5 years old (5 1/2 as he tells it!) has been visiting without his parents for a couple of weeks now. After 2 days with him I have to say I don’t know how they do it.  There is roughly a 45 year age difference between us and to say our energy levels are different is putting mildly.  He’s up at the crack of dawn – I’m not.  Once up, he’s ready for breakfast and the playground….Me – don’t even look at me until I’ve had my first cup of coffee.  And please, don’t ask any questions until I’ve been up for at least an hour or so.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, I feel a little guilty.  My mother picked him up for a several day visit at her house and I was grateful. I walked about my now quiet house, surveying the damage when my gaze settled upon a something on the kitchen counter.  I’m hoping what I did next doesn’t actually disappoint you…..

I ate his cookie – the one I had saved for him as a treat…..you know the kind….thick, homemade with lots of chocolate chips.  And, I drank the rest of his chocolate milk……with the cookie.

courtesy of Foodiefortwo.wordpress.com

It wasn’t until I looked down at the few remaining crumbs in my lap that I realized what I’d done. Those slurping noises……they were coming from me as I coaxed the remaining drops of chocolate milk from the glass.  The chocolate milk that was supposed to be his.

He doesn’t know any of this and I’m not telling him, but it feels good to get it off my chest.  Thanks for listening…

What I did later that day won’t surprise any of you.  I drank wine……

So what was in my glass?

Chateau Ste. Michelle.

These wines have long been a favorite of mine.  The entry-level varietals labeled as Columbia Valley, are consistent year to year in quality and flavor profile and the price is just right, $8-12 a bottle.

On a recent Costco binge shopping trip, I hit the jackpot with the Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells.  This tier is a step up from the entry-level Ste. Michelle wines and the grapes are from a collection of warm climate vineyards including the namesake Indian Wells Vineyard.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is the founding winery of Washington state being that Pommerelle Wine Company and the National Wine Company were first formed. They merged in 1954 to become American Wine Growers and in 1967, American Wine Growers began a new line of premium wines called “Ste. Michelle Vintners” under the direction of legendary California winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff.   Additionally, they led the way in obtaining federal recognition of the Columbia Valley in eastern Washington as a unique wine growing region or American Viticulture Area (AVA). So there’s some pretty serious history here!

courtesy of /www.ste-michelle.com/terroir/columbiaValley

One of the things I find interesting about this winery is they have two wine making facilities.  One in Woodinville (North of Seattle) exclusively for the white varietals and one in Patterson, WA (South and East of Seattle) in Columbia Valley closer to the Oregon border.  All of the grapes are sourced from the Columbia Valley AVA and then blended and bottled at the respective sites.

Enough history on to the wines!

This Chardonnay is truly one of my favorites!  When I think Chardonnay, I hold all others to this  flavor profile.  I get a nice round mouthfeel with a bit of tropical fruit and a finish of baking spice.  As the wine warms all of this is enhanced and it does a happy dance in my mouth!

The tasting notes indicate ripe, sweet fruit with caramel and brown sugar notes, fruit forward flavors and plenty of natural acid.  The Wahluke Slope, which is where the majority of the grapes are sourced from, has warm days and cool nights.  This causes the grapes to assert sweet citrus and tropical characteristics and offer good structure,  balance and flavor intensity.

My Costco price was $10.99.

Now this beauty….

For me this is the ultimate wine under $20.  I get lots of berry on the nose and the first sip reveals berry mixed with a bit of vanilla followed by a nice lush mouth-feel.  The finish is Bing cherry that lingers to lusciousness.  Can you tell I love this wine? The tasting notes indicate this is a “warm climate, ripe, jammy New World style of Cabernet Sauvignon, with dark fruit aromas and flavors with hint of vanilla.”  This Cab has 6% Syrah blended in which accounts for the jammy fruit character of the wine.

My Costco price for the 2010 Cabernet was $12.99. Both of these are fabulous prices, so I grabbed several bottles of each!

I recently tasted the 2010 Red Blend which is 60% Merlot, 28% Sryah, 6% Cabernert Sauvignon, 3% Grenache, 2% Malbec, .5% Cinsault and .5% Mouvedre.  I really enjoyed this blend!  It exhibits jammy boysenberry flavors from the Syrah with a luscious backbone from the Merlot. The other varieties add the “spices” that make it YUM!  I hoping my favorite grocery store will soon carry this fabulous blend!

All of these wines are easy drinking, well structured and food friendly.

The take away from this post is that wine and food are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family…For me and hubby, these two people are both….

Two of our favorite people who possibly love Ste. Michelle Wines more than we do…

And not to be forgotten – the music.  For me, this is a song that celebrates all kinds of love….

I’m curious about what my readers enjoy as far as content….Do you like more info and history on the wines (such as this post) or do you prefer just a bit of information with more entertainment value?  I’m trying to find the right balance, so your input is greatly appreciated – Thanks!

Until next time, cheers to you!

Gomez and a Bacon and Eggs Pinot Noir

This little guy is visiting, and when you’re Five, every day runs at a hundred miles an hour!  So my Monday post has become my Friday post…..

Todays group Gomez, is from the UK and they are classified in the Indie/Alternative genre. Each member pretty much has equal contribution to the music with all five members playing an instrument and three singing vocals.  The band released their first album in 1998 with great success in the U.K. and Australia, but it wasn’t until 2004 that they made the U.S. Charts.  I discovered them, once again, through my sister Melissa  (she has fabulous taste!) a couple of years ago and have been hooked ever since.

I had trouble choosing a favorite for this post but ultimately decided on How We Operate.  Mainly because I like the edgy vocals and the liberal use of guitars and banjo….yes, that is a banjo Ben is playing.

Onto the Food…

Hubby and I have been known to enjoy eggs and potatoes for dinner because frankly, sometimes we’re too tired cook a real meal….

Let me clarify – he’s too tired to cook a real meal and I really don’t enjoy cooking. Love to eat, don’t love to cook – if truth be told it’s the mess I don’t want to deal with…..I’d do well with a personal chef and dishwasher on staff.  So, there are some nights we pan fry leftover baked potatoes and create a yummy, cheesy egg dish.

Not being ones to waste wine, we have on occasion, found a bottle of Pinot Noir in the fridge leftover from the night before.  This is how we discovered Pinot Noir pairs well with eggs and potato.

Now the Wine…

Enter La Follette Pinot Noir

I discovered this 2010 North Coast Pinot  at a Far North Scottsdale grocery chain that has a wine cellar and some pretty amazing shelf wines.  The wine steward special ordered this for a customer who later decided they didn’t want it and she sold it to me for $14.99. Not bad, considering it goes for $20 plus shipping from the winery.

So how did it taste?

Glad you asked.

My first first Sniff revealed Bacon.  As did, my second and third Sniff.

Whaaat??

My first Sip revealed Bacon….I was beginning to think something was seriously wrong with my senses.  Without telling Hubby what was going on, I presented him my glass for confirmation or denial of my peculiar discovery.

Bacon and Eggs” was his proclamation.

So how can a wine taste like Bacon?

Well, this question prompted me to find out who Greg La Follette is.

Greg’s first love was playing the bagpipes but he soon realized this was not a practical career path so he went on to earn a double BA at California State University at Northridge, in Plant Biology and Chemistry.  Then following a stint as a staff chemist at UCSF, he went back to school to earn a Masters degree in Food Science & Technology from UC Davis.

While working at the student winery at UC Davis, Greg became highly focused on the scientific components that make for mouth feel.  This, I imagine, is how the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir came to taste like bacon…

The descriptors read “A bright entry of red cherry transitions midpalate to charcuterie and cranberry, offering a lovely acid/tannin balance”.  Charcuterie, loosely translated, is Bacon.  I did taste a bit of cherry and cranberry with the acidic/tannic balance, but that was definitely in the background.

Greg went on to Beaulieu Vineyards where he worked  for famed master winemaker André Tchelistcheff.  You can read all about that here.

So here’s the kicker – I don’t like bacon.  I know, most would think I’m crazy but, let’s just say, I recently had a bad experience with bacon and can’t/won’t eat it anymore. But, for those that do like bacon, this Pinot is for you!  Not to mention, Follette is the master of making Pinot Noir!

As a side note, I have Meiomi Pinot Noir in the fridge going on its 4th day and it’s still drinking Fabulous!  It’s rare that wine will last that long in our house but we also have a Rose, a Chard, and Sparkling Wine open.

Choices, it’s all about choices!

Which brings me back to Gomez…..Here’s another favorite.

Have you had a wine that was unusual or didn’t taste as you expected?  Please Share!

Until next time, Cheers to you!  Cheryl

An awesome sculpture at Koltton Fox

For the love of iPhone!

I love my iPhone!  You could even call me an Apple fanatic, but for cryin’ out loud, Give Me A Break!

Not Literally!

This is what happened last Thursday when my sweet baby kissed the tile floor.

I.Was.Devastated!

I tried to talk myself into using it like that until my contract was up NEXT MAY, but are you kidding me??  I couldn’t read text messages, couldn’t see my pictures and frankly it looks a bit white trash.  So, off I went to the Apple Store to accept my punishment.  I thought I would have to buy a new phone but, as it turns out it you can buy a replacement phone for less than a new one.  But, what happened next hardly ever happens (or so I’m told).  Somehow my last backup in the Cloud was corrupted in the download to the new phone.

I won’t bore you with all the mundane details but today – 7 days and 2 new phones later – I am now complete…..

I have to say Kudos to the all the smart, techno savy Apple employees who helped me through this entire ordeal.  During my 4 visits to the Apple store and 3 phone calls to technical support, they exhibited superior customer service skills.  In fact, I think they should get a medal for dealing with a slightly hysterical me!!

I did have some help getting through all of this, so let me introduce you to some of my friends…

Mionetto Proseco Brut D.O.C.

The Mionetto Proseco Brut D.O.C. is a delicious sparkling from Northern Italy.  My first sip exhibited small bubbles that danced across my tongue.  The bubbles are produced using the Charmat method which uses stainless steel tanks and yeast to produce a natural secondary fermentation. It has a nice light almond, hazelnut taste on the palate.  Most of the reviews read Golden Apple and  the tech sheet reads Very Dry but I did not find this to be the case at all.  In fact, I found it light in body and well-balanced. We enjoyed ours with appetizers  but it would also work well in a Bellini or with dessert.  Since I like discovering the details behind whatever it is I’m enjoying, here’s a link on Proseco.

Next up, 2010 Sojourn Gaps Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir.  They have been making  boutique artisan Pinot Noir since 2004 and this single vineyard Pinot since 2007.  The fruit is from Sonoma Coast and is grown in rocky soil which imparts a bit of minerality but that just lends to the fabulousness of this wine.  It is deep in color and the blueberry aroma is intoxicating.  On first sip, I got the impression of a big Pinot.  The dark Bing cherry fruit followed with some spice and then led to a long lingering finish that just wowed me!  This is a complex Pinot that had me begging for more. …. it reminded me of Meiomi Pinot Noir,  but on steroids.  The winemaker suggest paring this with prime rib however, we had this with a vegetarian dish that was tossed in a walnut/mustard vinaigrette and it was wonderful!

Here’s a video from the winemaker describing this fabulous juice.  I love how he calls this a Pinot Noir for Cab lovers…..That’s me!

Yeah baby, this is a sexy Pinot…..

Finally, we have a 2007 Maldonado Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.  I love the story on this one…Lupe Maldonado moved from a small town in Mexico to work the vineyards in California.  He spent over 30 years at Newton as the vineyard manager and now he and his son Hugo, a who has a degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis, have partnered on their own 10 acre project.  Lupe lives in the midst of the vines they planted and is still involved  farming and overseeing the project.  I understand there is a secret garden on the property across the creek that marks the vineyard border…..

This limited production Cab comes from a property on Spring Mountain. We decanted it for several hours and the beauty of it did not disappoint.  It is full-bodied with well-rounded tannins.  The red currant, cedar and dark cherry came across on the tongue beautifully with a touch of minerality.  We enjoyed this with grilled steak, sautéed mushrooms and grilled veggies.  Loved It!  I would chill this slightly, maybe 10 minutes, before decanting or serving to enhance the overall experience.  That tidbit came from 2 different wine experts so I think it’s worth heeding.

So, the  take away from this post would be:

If you really want to protect your iPhone, get an Otter Box

AND

Alway drink good wine!

Until next time, Cheers to you!