lummi island wine tasting may 29 ’20

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Bread, Wine, and Socially Distant Wine Tasting

As mentioned last week, Friday Bread pickups have morphed into an impromptu Covid Aversion Therapy Tailgate party at the Ferry Parking Lot beginning around 4pm.  Many set up folding chairs, wine, and glasses to share company and conversation (with appropriate Spacing!). Last week we opened Our Own tailgate for a mini-tasting (3 wines), and now declare the experiment a Success! We have missed the conversations and camaraderie of our customary weekend gatherings at the wine shop, and the Parking Lot Scene definitely provides some much-needed Social Nourishment!

Our current plan is to continue our Tailgate Tastings. See this week’s tasting notes below; we look forward to seeing you this weekend!

 

How to Make an Online Wine Order

We are continuing to take individual wine orders online or by phone for pickup at the wine shop. Click on the “Order Wine” heading at the top of this page for a partial list of our current offerings. When you have made your selections there are two ways to order:

  1. Click “Contact Us”on the website header bar at the top of this page, enter the names and quantities of each wine you would like to order, and click “Submit,” or…
  2. Phone us your order at the number next to our logo, above.

It’s that Simple!

 

MAN Vinters, South Africa

Some of us (who will remain unnamed) have a taste for wines with a certain “rustic” quality, the kind of wine you would drink with a game stew cooked over a fire pit in an old cabin in the wilderness. There might be elements of “barnyard, with notes of damp earth and vegetation, or garrigue, which includes a wide range of aromatic herbs (rosemary, thyme, tarrogon, basil, and more) that appear on both the nose and the palate.

Pinotage, perhaps  the dominant red grape in much of South Africa, often displays many of these qualities. The varietal was created in 1925 by Izan Perold, crossing seeds from Hermitage in France with pinot noir, and planting them in his yard where they were forgotten. Years later they were discovered, and cuttings grafted onto various rootstocks eventually created today’s pinotage, which became the  backbone of South African red wine production.

MAN winery is a partnership formed in 2001 among three young couples in South Africa. The name MAN is an acronym of the wives’ initials (perhaps a lobbying point to gain their support?) for the venture. Who knows? All we can say is that we were impressed enough with their pinotage, which we first tasted a couple of years ago, to be curious about their chenin blanc. 

We are offering both wines as part of this week’s Tailgate tasting (see notes below) from 4 – 5:30pm Friday. Come by and taste!

 

Mar a Lago Update: Fox News is the New Joseph Goebbels

In 1932 the Nazis leveraged the Reichstag Fire into a populist victory that swept them into power a few months later. One of Hitler’s first actions was to create a Ministry of Propaganda with Joseph Goebbels as its Director. Goebbels preferred it to be called the “Ministry of Culture and Public Enlightenment,” but Hitler insisted. While there were numerous propaganda offices in the Reich, Goebbels  controlled the content newspapers, films, radio, and theater with detailed restrictions on content. Violators could be sent to concentration camps. Propaganda became the hallmark of the Soviet, Nazi, and Fascist regimes that spread across the world and ignited WWII, and which today remains a central strategy for dictators both petty and grand.

Over the past few weeks we have been reading On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by historian Timothy Snyder (watch interview). This little book is recommended reading for all citizens; using examples from WWII, it is a carefully crafted Wake-Up call to the Existential Threat our country faces from the Right from a movement that started decades ago and gained enormous traction after the 9/11 terrorist bombings on US soil.

There were countless ways our nation could have responded to 9/11 that would not have committed us to endless war in the Middle East. But Neocons in the Bush Administration, including Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others, had all been members of the Project for a New American Century, formed in in the late 90’s, when they had asserted to then-President Clinton that “the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power” should be a top goal for the United States, and also that their goals would have to be accomplished slowly, unless “some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor,” should occur. You know, like their very own Reichstag Fire. We all remember how quickly and irrationally the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were conceived and executed. And how they turned out. It was their Reichstag moment, and they seized it.

In the last thirty years we have seen the Republican Party withdraw almost completely from its Constitutional responsibilities in favor of its own agenda. That agenda has seen the refusal even to consider Democratic appointees or legislation under Obama, the undermining of the Constitution by failing to hold the Tweetster Administration accountable for its lies, failures, excesses, and crimes, and at the state level, the vast disenfranchisement of likely Democratic voters through unconscionable gerrymandering and voter suppression.

There is clear evidence that the new agenda for the Republican Party is, like the Nazis before them, to turn our country into a one-party Authoritarian State. Wrapped in the Flag and carrying a Cross, lauded 24/7 by Propaganda Media, it has already succeeded in altering the perception of Reality for nearly half the population of the country. The Dept of Justice is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Empire. Arguably there has not been a fair Federal election in this country for nearly thirty years. Democracy is being dismantled before our eyes. There is a lot of work to do!

 

This Week’s Friday Tailgate Tasting 

MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc ’19 South Africa $11
Uses only the free-run juice (no pressing of the grapes) to preserve a clean and natural character, refreshing acidity, and delicious ripe fruit flavors, with vibrant aromas of quince, pear and pineapple. On the palate, fresh stonefruit and apple flavors are backed by refreshing acidity, minerality and a pleasing, rounded mouthfeel. A versatile food wine that will pair well with poultry, shellfish and vegetable dishes.

La Vielle Ferme Rosé ’19    France  $10
Classic and tasty blend of grenache, syrah, and cinsault from Ventoux;  fruity, dry, crisp, delicious, smooth, at a bargain price.

MAN Vintners Pinotage ’18 South Africa $11
Pleasing aromas of mocha and dark coffee beans, accented by red berries, nutmeg, and vanilla spice, pairing well with spicy or gamy dishes. Dark berries, plum and a smoke on the nose. Rustic yet silky and juicy, with wild cherry flavors, smooth tannins and well-controlled acidity with good intensity to the plum and mocha flavors.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting may 22 ’20

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Bread Friday and Wine Tasting Experiment

As most of you on the Bread List now know, in the interest of Social Distancing, our Famous Wine Tastings have been temporarily shut down because fairly often there isn’t enough Room for social distancing. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that if everyone is supposed to maintain 6′ radius of separation, each person would require 36 sq ft of space. Since our space is an oddly distributed 400 sq. ft., we could only have about 12 people at a time, including one on the stairs and one in the bathroom. Not to mention the tendencies to cluster around the bar in mouth-to-ear proximity just to hear what someone is saying. Let’s just say that “social distance” during our wine tastings would be, um, challenging.

However, bread pickup has become something of an impromptu Covid Aversion Therapy Tailgate party at the Ferry Parking Lot as many of you bring folding chairs, wine, and glasses and share company and conversation (you know, as we have done for years in the Wine Shop!). So this week we will try an experimental mini-tasting of a couple of wines you might enjoy.

So, depending on your Social Distancing choices, you might want to just drive in, pick up your bread, and drive out, or make camp, set up, and Visit-at-a-Distance!

 

Now Accepting Online Wine Orders

We are continuing to take individual wine orders online or by phone for pickup at the wine shop. Click on the “Order Wine”  heading at the top of this page for a partial list of our current offerings. When you have made your selections there are two ways to order:

  1. Click “Contact Us”on the website header bar at the top of this page, enter the names and quantities of each wine you would like to order, and click “Submit,” or…
  2. Phone us your order at the number next to our logo, above.

It’s that Simple!

 

Wine Notes

The wine list mentioned above has a number of new wines we have never poured for you. So each week we will add notes on a couple of them and keep something open to taste when you drop by to pick up an order. Last week we discussed the Pascual Toso Estate Malbec from Argentina, with a few notes on the winery’s 140-year history:

Toso Malbec ’17 Argentina $14
Red ripe berries and plum notes. Smooth and delicious; focused, clean notes of blackberry, plum, dark ripe cherries, and with a plush, elegant mouthfeel with smooth oak, easy tannins.

Pascual Toso is named for its founder, who emigrated from Italy to Argentina in 1880 (OMD, that’s 140 years ago!). Sr. Toso settled in Mendoza. With a family history in winemaking he became intrigued by the exceptional quality of the vineyards in the region, and opened his first winery in San Jose in 1890. In subsequent years he (among others!) discovered the exceptional terroir of the Maipu Valley, bought land and developed vineyards. Today, like many old-time wineries, Toso was bought and owned by the J Llorente and Associates corporation at some point. Today, after 125 years, the winery is exploring the planting and vinification of Bordeaux varietals cabernet sauvignon and cab franc which do very well in Mendoza. This is not surprising given the astonishing success of Argentine malbec worldwide in the last twenty years.

Three months ago (OMD has it really been THAT long?!), we poured the Toso Reserve Malbec from the same vintage, with these notes:

Toso Reserve Malbec ’17      Argentina       $21
Elegant and balanced with food concentration and ripeness; focused, clean notes of blackberry, plum, and ripe,
dark cherries; a plush, elegant mouthfeel, easy tannins, and lingering notes of leather and Spring soil.

We quickly sold out of the Toso Reserve and just today brought in another case, affording the opportunity to taste them side by side! Typically one expects the “Reserve” version of a wine to come from older vines and better soil, with more time in barrel. Does it make a difference? You be the judge!

 

Mar a Lago Update: Twitter As An Offensive Weapon

There is a reason we refer to the Fake President as “the Tweetster.” From Day One of his campaign he has bombarded the platform with offhand commentary, sometimes posting hundreds of Tweets in a single day, thus perpetuating a constant turmoil of network Punditry. It has proved a remarkably effective way to keep the news cycle distracted and speculating on their Meaning.

Most of the World has understood for years that the tweets are aimed solely at stimulating outrage and confusion. Metaphorically they are a kind of ECM – Electronic Counter Measures – which have long been a part of military tactical strategies. The classic example of ECM is for an aircraft which senses it is under surveillance to release tin-foil chaff into the air around it, creating a cloud of conflicting signals that distract and mislead radar tracking. Thus the Tweets: 1) keep public attention riveted on him, which he covets; 2) maintain cover for his ongoing dismantling of our Constitution and the Democracy it has guarded for a quarter-century, and 3) give him control of the group of people that Lincoln realized “could be fooled All of the Time.

We have been recently musing on the singular effectiveness of the Tweetster’s fallback strategy of Relentless Distraction not only at keeping the Public Spotlight on what he says and away from what he has done or not done, but also at neutralizing the impact of public discourse with Constant Lies (see WAPO numbers below) about Reality itself. This is the kind of vaudeville stage magician who is conning us even when we think he is going to explain his last trick from an endless Hall of Mirrors.

The emerging Reality is that we are now many years into a War to Defend Truth against a Master of Illusion and Deception. Every day it becomes increasingly clear that  that this is a man devoid of humor, intellect, responsibility, perspective, respect, or honor.

 

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting may 15 ’20

click on photos for larger images

Bread Friday, Covid Rules

While Social Distancing remains in place to limit the spread of Covid-19, those of you on the Friday Bread mailing list will continue to receive a Sunday email from Janice with the week’s bread order menu and have until Wednesday to submit your orders. Until Social Distancing protocols, are loosened, Friday bread pickups will be from 4-5pm at the North Exit of the ferry overflow parking lot across Nugent Road from the ferry dock.

Bread pickup has become something of an impromptu Covid Tailgate party, with people setting up lawn chairs and wine glasses to hang out for awhile. So, depending on your Social Distancing choices, you might want to just drive in, pick up, and drive out, or make camp, set up, and Party. As you can see, people are keeping a safe distance while managing to schmooze, sip wine, and enjoy the sunshine! (This photo was taken around 5pm last Friday…can you find nine people* in it??)

Now Accepting Online Orders

Since it may be a long time before we can return to our elbow-to-elbow wine tastings, we have taken the first step toward an “online store.” As mentioned last week, from time to time over many years we have explored that possibility, even had a couple of versions up and running briefly before abandoning the idea. While a lot of those early files are still in the website somewhere, many are years out of date, so we are now exploring a new array of online  ordering options, starting this weekend with this simple email order form you can use to order wine in a few easy steps:

  1.  Click “Contact Us”on the website header bar at the top of this page.
  2. Fill in the Contact Form per instructions;
  3. Submit your order.

It’s that Simple!

 

Wine Notes

The wine list mentioned above has a number of new wines we have never poured for you. So each week we will add notes on a couple of them and keep a bottle open should you drop by to pick up an order! This week we feature the Pascual Toso Estate Malbec and the Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet.

Toso Malbec ’17      Argentina       $14
Red ripe berries and plum notes. Smooth and delicious; focused, clean notes of violets, plum, and red cherry notes with very good freshness and a plush, elegant mouthfeel with  smooth oak and easy tannins.

Pascual Toso is named for its founder, who emigrated from Italy to Argentina in 1880 (OMD, that’s 140 years ago!). Sr. Toso settled in Mendoza. With a family history in winemaking he became intrigued by the exceptional quality of the vineyards in the region, and opened his first winery in San Jose in 1890. In subsequent years he (among others!) discovered the exceptional terroir of the Maipu Valley, bought land and developed vineyards. Today, like many old-time wineries, Toso was bought and owned by the J Llorente and Associates corporation at some point. Today, after 125 years, the winery is exploring the planting and vinification of Bordeaux varietals cabernet sauvignon and cab franc which do very well in Mendoza. This is not surprising given the astonishing success of Argentine malbec worldwide in the last twenty years.

 

Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet ’17   California   $19
Huge, rich, and opulent, with complex flavors of chocolate, coffee, blackberries, cassis, mint, and velvety tannins. New French oak adds notes of vanilla and toast; concentrated, rich, and smooth on the palate.

One good way (besides tasting it!) to get a felt sense of this particular wine (or its Image) is to watch its website open up…! Clearly this wine and its image are very Madmen-designed products. That said, and cabernet sauvignon being what it is, there a Power and Depth to these grapes that makes for a very satisfying wine experience. We also confess a Weakness for red wine from the Sierra Foothills wine regions just south of Sacramento. We have found that these wines, many from very old vines (100 yrs.++), have a certain richness, depth, and power that certain moods just Require.

 

Mar a Lago Update: Capitalism, Freedom, and Tyranny

When I was a grad student in Economics in the Seventies, Milton Friedman, a Conservative economist at the University of Chicago, had reached the Top of his Game, winning the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976. Friedman’s whole Schtick was a defining Update of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand , asserting that the self-interested motives of individuals in markets would inevitably lead the the best Overall Outcomes for all.

Last week we explored the tension between the idea of representative democracy and the tendency of human economy to concentrate power and wealth in few hands, a fairly useful definition of Tyranny.

There are numerous markers on the table that we are now in a Tolkienesque struggle between the Good of Democracy and the Evil of Authoritarianism. The last four years of the heartless and mindless confederacy of the Tweetster and his minions like Fox News, the Republican Party, the Militia-minded Racists, the Wall Street Grifters, the Gun-Toting Rednecks, the Bible-Thumping Authoritarians, and the rest of their Ilk and their Kith and their Kin have faithfully represented the resurgent Dystopias of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, Amin, Kim Jongs Il and Un, Mao, Saddam, Gaddhafi, and and on and on and on throughout human history. From the wills and unmet psychological needs of deeply disturbed and unfulfilled men have come thousands of years of astounding acts of stupidity, cruelty, and waste.

We continue to read, recommend, and contemplate On Tyranny by historian Timothy Snyder, who puts these men and their history in a stark and relevant perspective to our present global and national crises. As the old warning says, “Awake, awake, be mindful in practice; time flies like an arrow, it will not wait for you!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting may 8 ’20

click on photos for larger images

Bread Friday, Covid Rules

Although Social Distancing remains in place to limit the spread of Covid-19, those on the Friday Bread mailing list will continue to receive a Sunday email from Janice with details about the week’s bread menu. And to maintain Social Distancing protocols, for the time being Friday bread pickups will be between 4-5-ish pm at the North exit of the ferry overflow parking lot across from the ferry dock.

It has become something of an impromptu Covid Tailgate party, with people setting up lawn chairs and wine glasses to hang out for awhile. So…depending on your Social Distancing parameters, you might want to just drive in, pick up, and drive out, or make camp, set up, and Party. At a safe distance, or course…!

Btw, this photo was taken a few years ago about this time of year at a friend’s 80th birthday party held at Curry Preserve. We brought raw materials and were instructed on how to make a punch bowl of May wine, a blend of bubbly and riesling steeped with newly picked sweet woodruff  Today here on Lummi Island has felt very much like that particular day — cool air, warming sun, deep blue Spring sky, and colors to make an Impressionist Weep. Absolutely lovely!

 

Redefining Our Mission

When we started this venture back in Oh-Five we had No Intention of being shopkeepers in a Wine Store. From the beginning our curiosity was in having a tasting room where we could explore the world of wine. Yes, there had to be wine sales to keep it all going, but the Tasting was the Thing, and it  has been deeply engaging for us and the many people who have hung out with us for a few hours schmoozing with friends over a little vino.

The present Global Pandemic has put that model on a back burner for as long as it takes to make it safe for all of us to be crowded into a small space again. Could be many months. So for the time being our “business” will have to be wine sales only, hopefully with at least a few minutes of appropriately distanced conversation and maybe a taste of a new wine.

From time to time over the years we have explored adding an online store to the operation, even had a couple of versions up and running briefly. A lot of those files are still in the website somewhere so we have begun the process of re-exploring it all to find the easiest way to take orders online and arrange with you for pickup. Our first steps will be to develop the Order Wine and Contact Us links at the top of this page to provide you with information on wines in stock and some options for pick-up. We will keep you posted on our progress!

Until we get that sorted out, we have been doing just fine with ordinary Wine Emergency emails or phone calls. Even now you can click on the ORDER WINE link at the top of this page for a partial list of current offerings with tasting notes.  And while there is not yet an online order form, you can; 1) send us an email using the CONTACT US link atop this page (coming soon!) ; or phone us (number next to logo above right); or (we are working on this) use the online order form when it becomes available.

 

Wine Notes

Periodically our friend and wine distributor Judy drops by the shop with her sample bag (it holds a whole case, has wheels, maybe even its own cooling system, who knows?) which we taste through and discuss. Often she has a Special Deal on buying X cases from a selection of wines being promoted for a particular mega-producer. We should say at this point that over the last decade or two hundreds of established family wineries in California have been bought from aging owner-winemakers by corporate conglomerates, who then own the land, the vineyards, and the Names of the established wineries and wines. That’s a whole topic in itself which we will leave aside for another time.

The point for today is that we just bought (from Judy) a bunch of wine from a conglomerate that evolved from a long-established Napa winery, Caymus, famous for its cabernet sauvignon almost from its first vintage in 1972. The founder, Charles Wagner, died in 2002, and the winery passed on to sons. Properties and labels were bought and sold, and an array of new wines were created. As we like to point out, a key difference between Old World and New World wines is that in Europe there is no distinction between a wine and the particular piece of land it comes from. There are Rules established so that Place is Sacred; every wine tells the story of a particular varietal from a particular vineyard in a particular year. The story changes from year to year, but there is a consistent underlying theme and identity. So when you taste an Old World wine, you are tasting a particular footprint of the land and fingerprint of the winemaker.

Not so in the New World. This group of wines we just brought in from Judy are very much New World style. Modern winemaking technology allows juice from any place to be engineered and blended with juice from other places to taste like juice from somewhere altogether different or even imaginary. Or, what is the same thing in the New World, grapes are raw materials that can be engineered in countless directions. The Takeaway is technology is to some degree a substitute for terroir; or, to put it another way, unless designated vineyard-specific, a New World wine aims for predictable outcomes every season, while Old World wines aim for the best outcome available within the constraint of a particular piece of geography in a particular season. They have different things to offer, and they can both knock your socks off. While some of us admit a bit of snobbery about terroir-driven wines, we all like it when a wine knocks our socks off.

Well that got longer than I intended! Anyway, here are some of these wines from the Wagner conglomerate that we have in stock. They are reasonably priced for their quality, engineered for enjoyment, and definitely Not Plonk!

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay ’17       California     $25
All the things you hate that you love about rich Chardonnays: Fresh, bright notes of white peach with vibrant acidity balanced by lush flavors and texture of ripe apple.

Conundrum Red ’17     California      $22
Petite Sirah, Zin, and Cab; rich, complex and seductive, with round notes of cherries and baking chocolate, fine tannins, and a silky smoothness.

Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon ’17    California      $22
Aromas of blueberries and blackberries ride on silky-smooth tannins; mouthwatering, lengthy finish trails off with hints of unsweetened chocolate and cassis.

 

Mar a Lago Update: Tweetster’s Last Stand

The Chaos we are all feeling at such a deep emotional level seems only made Bearable by the Magic of the Spring unfolding around us (see above!). Nevertheless anyone paying attention should be deeply worried that the breathtaking hubris and incompetence of the Fake President and his Unconfirmed Cabinet of Incompetents who have, like the Famous Chickens, Come Home to Roost. Tens of thousands of our fellow citizens have died needlessly from this  sheer Incompetence, and thousands more are certain to die before he can be voted out of the Office he is so gravely unfit to occupy.

None of this is a Surprise. The past three and a half years have been a steep downhill slide for our country’s position on the World stage. There is no international or domestic problem that he has not made Worse, no alliance he has not frayed, no balance of power that he has not tipped to our disfavor.

What we see before us in this Crossroads Election Year is a formidable power structure poised to take complete control of our country under rigid authoritarian rules. As we have suggested many times before, the Default political organization for human beings is Feudalism, where a small group of dominant males enslave or subjugate every source of resistance to their authoritarian power. They control all production and distribution, make all the laws, and wield Authority over every aspect of their subjects’ lives. Nowadays we call it “Populism.” On the one hand it sounds like “popular,” as if everyone really wants it.

But in reality Populism, by abandoning the cautions of History, becomes the codependent sidekick of Tyranny by failing to question its rise, by failing to stop its dismantling of checks and balances, and by failing to support and strengthen the Institutions which provide checks and balances against tyranny. In his recent short but powerfully focused book On Tyranny, historian Timothy Snyder has built a compelling case that our country and much of the World are experiencing a resurgence of Authoritarianism. Using examples from Nazi Germany and other historical regimes, he makes a strong case that our Acting President and the Republican Party at all levels across the country are moving toward one-party control of Congress, the White House, and the Courts, aimed at the creation of a Corporate State that serves an emerging, highly concentrated Feudal Capitalism that is above any level of government.

There’s a lot on the Political Plate right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Tasting