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!

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!