lummi island wine tasting feb 15 ’19

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Friday Breads This Week

Levain w/ Dried Cherries and Pecans – A levain is made the night before final mixing of the dough as when using a sourdough starter. The final dough combines the levain with bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat before loading up with dried Montmorency cherries and toasted pecans. A nice rustic loaf that goes well with meats and cheese – $5/loaf

Pan de Chocolate – A delicious chocolate artisan bread made with a levain, bread flour, and fresh milled rye flour, honey for sweetness, vanilla and plenty of dark chocolate. Makes fabulous toast – think about spread with peanut butter, even better french toast – $5/loaf.

Chocolate Panettone – Panettone is an Italian Holiday brioche often including candied orange
peel and raisins and made as a large loaf. These Chocolate Panettone are a smaller version made with lots of sugar, butter, eggs and honey including three types of chocolate, cocoa nib praline, and candied ginger, before being topped with a chocolate glaze, and no candied orange or raisins. Great as a pastry, toast, or a great bread pudding! – 2/$5



The Carmignano wine region comprises a modest 270 acres of vines about 12 miles west of Firenze (Florence) that yield about 30,000 cases of wine per year. The region has made wine since Roman times, and has been growing French Bordeaux grapes since the 1500’s.  Now in its fourth century as a recognized wine region, Carmignano wines must include at least 50% sangiovese, 20% canniolo nero, and 10 to 20% each of cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc in its blends with several other Italian varietals and a  recent trend toward including merlot and syrah in the blends.

Carmignano was designated a separate DOC in 1975, before which its wines had been known as Chianti Montalbano. The soils in this small region are rich in lime, with good drainage and favorable balance of hot days and cool nights, which some of us think give the Carmignano sangiovese a bit more weight than Chianti in general, making it a good pairing with rich, savory dishes. Possibly a bit intense for some palates, some of us find it….how shall we say…curiously compelling.


Wine Club Notes

Here we are in February already, and an unseasonably Snowy one it is! And regardless of what Press Pundits for Punxsutawney Phil Pretend he Predicted, there are still five official weeks left till Spring Arrives. Although our unseasonable C-c-cold will hopefully abate over the next few days, the days will keep getting longer and warmer. On average.

More to the point, here we are in 2019 (really?…seriously?…OMD!) a New Year here at the Wine Shop, and it is yet again time to renew Wine Club memberships, as many of you have already done.

This is our gentle reminder that to maintain your wine club benefits ($5 wine tastings and sales tax-free purchases) through 2019, you must renew your annual calendar year membership.

We rely on and appreciate your support, and look forward to another year of sharing the nourishing space we somehow mutually create each weekend. As an old friend sometimes says, “We are all Lucky Ducks!”



Mar a Lago Update: I’m Not Getting My Way, It Must Be a National Emergency

Back in 2016 or so when we took the photo that has accompanied this weekly paragraph in the wine blog for the last two years, we were on a day trip to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Near the ferry dock and adjacent marina is a small park with a fountain feeding a sweet little pool of water in which swam this Sunglassed Plastic Duck. It had a familiar Air, a certain Nonchalance, a certain je ne sais qua air Symbolic of…hmm, who or what was it…?

After a few moments’ contemplation, we realized OMG, it’s the Tweetster!  Though never doubting the truth of this insight, it was a long journey to drill down to the meaning this image evokes: Smug, Oblivious,  Infantile, Pampered, Vain, Invulnerable, Self-Centered-– a constellation that adds up to a profound sense of Personal Entitlement, unconstrained by any sense of Personal Responsibility.

The last two years have largely confirmed the intuitive metaphorical validity of the Plastic Duck. It cannot be denied that the Political Dynamic since 2016 has been, sadly: Tweet (five minutes effort); b) Analysis (three days commentary); c) Retweet (five minutes); d) the Re-Analysis; etc. That is, the Tweets drive the news analysis, not the other way around.

For just over a month we have all been getting used to the New Reality of Divided Government, and it is an unfolding Revelation that it can make so much Difference in the Balance of Power. Supposedly the Tweetster will soon declare a National Emergency to get funding for his Wall, whatever that might mean.

All we can be sure of at this point in time is, it won’t be pretty!


Washington Post Tweetster Lie Count to date: 7,546 as of 1/1/19


This week’s wine tasting

Lumos Pinot Gris  Rudolfo Vineyard ’17      Oregon   $18
Clear light golden straw color. Lively and complex aromas of lemon, green apple, nectarine. A vibrant, dry yet-fruity body and a tingling, breezy, nicely balanced nut-skin finish.

Saint Nabor Gris de Gris Rose ’16       France         $10
Bouquet of red fruit and honeysuckle with linden-tree nuances; light, crisp and easy drinking, with palate of wild strawberries and blueberries with mineral nuances.

J Lohr Cypress Merlot ’16    California      $10
Classic varietal aromas of black cherry and plum with subtle hints of oak;  savory red fruit and comforting weight finishes with a touch of chalky tannin.  Seriously over-delivers for its modest price.

Terra d’Oro Zinfandel ’16    California       $15
Vibrant aromas of clove and big, generous fruit lead to concentrated flavors of juicy plums and  blackberries,all with a good dose of toasted oak.

Piaggio  Carmignano Il Sasso ’13    Italy   $29    
Rich, ample and voluptuous, with black cherry, plum, lavender, spice, tobacco and dried herb notes, and int3ense fruit and texture. There is not much subtlety here, just plain gorgeous!.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting feb 8 ’19

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Friday Breads This Week

Fig Anise – Always popular, made with an overnight sponge fermentation, then mixed with bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat. Honey, dried figs and anise bring in all the flavors of the Mediterranean. A great flavorful bread – $5/loaf

Breton – Incorporates the flavors of the French Breton region. Bread flour, fresh milled buckwheat, and rye make for interesting flavor and sel gris – grey salt from the region brings more mineral flavors to this bread. Goes great with meats and cheeses – $5/loaf

Rum Raisin Brioche:  A delicious brioche dough full of eggs, butter and sugar. Filled with golden raisins and chunks of almond paste and topped with a chocolate glaze before baking...mmm! – 2/$5.




Real Rioja

Construction on the Lopez de Heredia winery in Rioja began in 1877 when Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta fell in love with the region around Haro. Sensing a magical combination of soil and climate that would offer the perfect environment for producing wine, he built one of the first three bodegas in the Rioja region, one which continues to adhere to many traditional methods that other wineries have abandoned.

Cubillo, which we are pouring this weekend, is the youngest and least complex of the Lopez de Heredia Rioja wines.  In the Cubillo vineyard tempranillo vines are harvested along with garnacha, mazuelo and graciano.  It is aged in neutral oak barrels for two years and another two in bottle, nearly long enough to be classified as a Gran Reserva. Nevertheless it displays a brighter and more youthful personality than Lopez Heredia’s longer-aged red Reservas and Gran Reservas, and consistently shows brighter fruit and more pronounced acidity than many other Crianzas.

While most long-established wineries in Rioja work to maintain traditional standards for the qualities define the wines of the region, Lopez Heredia arguably clings to the Old Ways more than others, as if to wag a finger in the air and saying, This is Rioja!


More Lirac

Last week we offered a well-regarded wine from Lirac that proved quite popular despite its somewhat tannic structure. We mentioned then that Lirac lies just across the Rhone River from, and is ever-eclipsed by Chateuneuf-du-Pape. Lirac borders on the adjoining wine region of Tavel, which the same “Papes” (Popes) declared could only be used to make rosé.

This week we are bringing back two old favorites from another winery in the region which we have visited a couple of times and particularly enjoyed. Since our last visit some five years ago, sisters and co-owners Severine and Melanie have apparently been making another rosé  besides their Tavel, under the simple label “Initial R.” We do have a vague memory, brought to mind by the photo to the left, that they were making a second rosé even then that was aged longer but still wasn’t quite as dark as the Tavel.

This weekend we will also be pouring their “Lirac Classique,” a traditional Lirac blend of syrah, mourvedre, and syrah that we often keep on our shelves and find a treat to enjoy at home.



Mar a Lago Update: The War We Are Losing

For as long as we can remember, Republicans have been trying to Out-Hawk Democratic opponents for offices at every level by inventing Straw-Man Enemies who want to take our jobs, seduce our wives and daughters, take our Hard-earned Stuff, and leave us in a Ditch in rural North Dakota. On reflection, these days when finding a Republican politician with an actual military record of any sort is a Curiosity, you have to wonder how these Bozos have managed to keep getting Traction with this nonsense, exciting all the other chimps and getting them to jump up and down and Want to Hurt Someone. Given this 70-year Republican mantra, one would expect Republicans to take a Strong Defensive Stance against any Real Threat to our National Well-Being.

Such a threat could come in many forms: overt or covert, flagrant or subtle, short-term or long-term. In whichever case, we want our Leadership to be on the Alert, ready to warn and mobilize us toward an effective defensive response.

Over the last several decades the United States has seen the rise of a Powerful Enemy which threatens pretty much Everyone and Everything. On many occasions since 2000 this Enemy has carried out numerous attacks against our country and its people, killing hundreds or even thousands, and causing tens of billions of dollars of damage. That Enemy is Global Warming, and let’s get it straight right now: Global Warming is the Enemy, and Climate Change is the Weapons System it is using to Destroy us. We can spend countless Billions invading Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria (and so many more) with military power, but do not even admit that This Enemy is even Real. WTF is Wrong with these people??

If we add up the costs since 2000 of increasingly damaging hurricanes, flooding, drought, habitat destruction, resource shortages and conflicts, mass migrations, and forest fires, all directly due to human-caused climate change, we are already in the trillions of dollars in damages. What other enemy could do us this kind of damage without some kind of retaliation? Climate Change is a Clear and Present Threat to our very existence as a species. We are waging a War against our own Planet’s ability to house Life in general, and Human Life in particular.

This is why the Broad Issue of Climate Change is THE Dominant Issue of the 2020 political campaign that has already started. The War is here, we are not fighting back, Time is Short, and we are in Grave Peril.

Washington Post Tweetster Lie Count to date: 7,546 as of 1/1/19


This week’s wine tasting

Ottella Lugana Bianco ’16    Italy    $15
Trebbiano di Lugano (Turbiana). Intense straw yellow color with green tinges. Exotic notes of candied fruit and citrus, warm and very deep on the nose. Widespread expressive finesse, with rich and persistent texture.

La Rocaliere  Initial R rose  ’14   France    $12
80% grenache, 20% syrah; pressed after 12 hours cold maceration, 10 days fermentation, and aged in both stainless steel and concrete tanks before bottling to display bright, red fruit flavors both fresh and versatile on the palate.

Avignonesi Rosso de Montepulciano ’15     Italy $18
Perfumed aromas of red berries, violets, cinnamon, and almond flower. Juicy and bright, with precise strawberry and redcurrant flavors and lively acidity. Finishes long and fresh, with lingering floral perfume.

La Rocaliere Lirac Classique Rouge ’15   France   $16
Grenache, mourvedre, syrah from sandy and pebbled soils; floral and spicy bouquet reminiscent of garrigue scrubland. Powerful and full-bodied, it finishes crisp and rich, matching perfectly with the spirit of contemporary cuisine.

Lopez Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza ’09   Spain/Rioja    $22
Juicy and soft; fermented with natural yeasts in large oak vats and matured in neutral barriques for three year; shows good balance between fruit and more developed aromas, with hints of leather, cherries, spices and smoke. On the palate it is deep, full-bodied, focused and beautifully balanced, with fine complexity and grip and a long, classy, vibrant finish.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting Groundhog Day ’19

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Bread Friday

Our baker has taken this week off…so sorry, no bread this week. If you have signed up for her mailing list, you can expect an email with next week’s breads on Sunday.

But Bread or Not, we will be open for wine tasting on Friday!





Another Cross-Quarter Day

This Saturday is Groundhog Day, a good time to reflect on our seasonal place in the Great Sidereal Movement by which we humans reckon Time and the passing of the Seasons. As we discuss periodically in these pages, we are all familiar with the greater solar holidays– the two equinoxes and the two solstices– that mark the official transitions from one season to another.

Lesser known is the ancient tradition of celebrating the “cross-quarter days” that fall halfway between these quarterly events. February 2, aka Groundhog Day in our time, falls midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and has been variously known as Candlemas, Imbolc, Oimelc, Brigit, Brigid’s Day, Bride’s Day, Brigantia, or Gŵyl y Canhwyllau by various cultures, many of which consider it the beginning of spring. In the picture, it is labeled 1st.”

The Solstices and Equinoxes divide the year into four quarters; the addition of the four cross-quarter days further divide it into 8 six-week periods, important for planting and harvesting over millennia. Together they refine our view of the changing seasons. This all becomes clear to kids when they realize with a start that there are always six weeks between Groundhog Day and the First Day of Spring, whether the Groundhog sees his shadow or not!


Lirac is a small wine region across the Rhone River from, and shares the same geologic history and grape varietals, terroir, and climate as the more famous Chateuneuf-du-Pape region, just across the river. One of our favorite regions, it consists of a layer of marine molasses of the Miocene period covered by alpine alluvium. Deposits of a great number of round stones known as “galets” were formed when the current tore fragments of rock from the Alps and deposited them downriver on the plain.

This weekend’s Lirac, as reviewed by Robert Parker with a stellar 93 pt rating, is a “serious, large scaled, voluptuous effort that has lots of ripe tannin, a bold mid-palate and copious amounts of blackberries, black cherries, scorched earth, licorice and roasted herbs. One of the bigger boned and concentrated reds in the lineup, it will have a decade of longevity.”

Our tasting yesterday suggests that the tannins have yet to settle down, suggesting the wine needs a bit more aging. Even so, we are fond of the wines of Lirac, sort of a poor man’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Come by and see what you think!


Mar a Lago Update: Learning is a Beautiful Thing

It has been a Long Two Years, and if you are like most of us, this Anniversary is deeply Sobering. Those of us who have steadfastly refused to mention the Tweetster by any other name have always maintained the Conviction that this Mistake, this Miscarriage, this Farce, this Outrage could last even for a few months. Yet here we are, two years into our worst Dystopian Nightmare and almost certain to continue for another two, regardless of eventual findings by the Mueller Investigation. It is sobering and distressing, but blessedly tempered by a more balanced distribution of power in Congress, and the recent failure of the infantile Tweetster to get his way with his Shutdown. Or to put it another way, at least one of the Parents is home now and things are gonna stop getting worse faster than we are getting older, we hope. Hallelujah!

On a more micro level, there are signs on the Horizon that the Tweetster is starting to come out of his childhood Trance. This is, to be sure, a tentative observation on the Sartorial Mystery of the Tweetster’s Necktie Practices. I know, I know, most of you have No Idea what we are talking about here, but those of us who spent time in the Service learned that whatever kind of knot you put in your necktie, the fat end may hang to your belt buckle and no further; the skinny end must be clipped or tucked into your shirt so as not to show; and the knot, whether four-in-hand or Windsor, Must have a Dimple. As we all know the Tweetster’s “style” is to make the fat end long enough cover his Private Parts, uses the four-in-hand (a Child can learn it), not the Windsor, and is seldom seen with a Dimple. However, that has recently started to change. This is, admittedly a pretty crappy dimple (and does he look as menacingly Froglike to you in this photo as to us…?), and maybe he is starting to suspect that OMG, there are Other People besides me!

Okay, admittedly we are grasping at straws trying to create a little positive spin. But maybe the Dimple and the new Dem control of the House are simple signs of Progress.








Washington Post Tweetster Lie Count to date: 7,546 as of 1/1/19


This week’s wine tasting

Montinore Borealis White   Oregon   $15
Aromas of orange blossom, honeydew, guava and kiwi; sumptuous flavors of stone fruit, Meyer lemon and juicy pear drizzled with caramel.

Domaine La Croix Belle Caringole ’14      France       $11
Syrah, Carignan and Merlot blend from Languedoc’s Cotes de Thongue region; fresh and supple with flavors of cherry, and black olive, and herbs.

Tommasi Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo ’14      Italy    $17
Amarone-like raisiny opulence to the ripe, soft red cherry, sweet spice, and herb aromas and flavors. Velvety, well balanced and smooth, with long, lush, smooth tannins. Terrific buy!

Amalaya Malbec ’16 Argentina $15
From high in the Andes, notes of crushed currents, plums, fig, and raisins.

Alain Jaume Clos Sixte Lirac ’15   France    $25
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre.  Aromas of  kirsch and wild blackberry; full on the palate, with notes of black currant and spice. Fleshy, elegant tannins with hints of licorice and vanilla on the finish.


Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting jan 25 ’19

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Bread Friday

Rustic French Country Bread –  A levain bread made with mostly bread flour, fresh milled whole wheat and and a bit of toasted wheat germ. After building the levain with a sourdough culture and mixing the final dough it gets a long cool overnight ferment in the refrigerator. This really allows the flavor to develop in this bread. Not a refined city baguette, but a rustic loaf that you would find in the country to go along with a hearty soup or stew. A great all around bread – $5/loaf

Sweet Corn & Dried Cranberry – this could be Sweet, corn & cranberry or sweet corn, & cranberry – either way it is delicious. Made with polenta and bread flour, enriched with milk, butter and honey for a soft and tender crumb, then loaded up with dried cranberries. Has great corn flavor but is not a traditional quick cornbread. A delicious bread that makes great toast and even better french toast- $5/loaf

And pastry this week…

Traditional Croissants – Made with two preferments, a levain as well as prefermented dough – which is also known as old dough where a portion of the flour, water, salt and yeast is fermented overnight. The final dough is then made with more flour, butter, milk and sugar, laminated with more butter before being cut and shaped into traditional french croissants. 2/$5



This weekend we offer a sparkling wine from the Savoie region of France. It lies east of the Burgundy wine region and reaches well into the French Alps, and like Jura, its neighboring wine region to the north, borders on Switzerland to the east. It also offers a number of unusual varietals, grown in a large number of subregions shown in the map at left (click here for a larger view). The micro region of Seyssal has been producing wine grapes for about a thousand years.

The region’s vineyards average between 1000 and 2000 ft. elevation, often with southern exposures and favorable growing temperatures. Today’s wine is a blend of two varietals from the Seyssal subarea: altesse and molette. As in most sparkling wines, the flavor profiles of the grapes become subtle and yeasty, but with definite local nuances. Thus, sparkling wines from the Savoie and its neighbor Jura to the north have an appealing freshness and  rustic complexity. Altesse adds notes of honey, toast, nuts, and truffle, while Molette adds floral notes of magnolia and acacia, reminiscent of Viognier, and excellent acidity.

This wine is made from the traditional method, aging for two years sur latte, i.e., in bottle after injecting with yeast for the second fermentation that makes bubbly, you know, Bubbly.

We like it, hope you do, too!  read more



Around here we know it as lemberger, a lesser known red varietal with flavors that always remind me of ripe thimbleberries– yes, those weeds that line many of the roadsides here on Lummi Island and which usually ripen in mid-Spring (soon!). In Austria lemberger is more commonly known as Blau Frankisch, literally “blue grape from France.” In the past we have found that under either name it goes really well with spicy food, a revelation a few years ago when we were pouring it along with a tasting of jalapeno cheese– one of those Perfect Pairings one occasionally discovers.

The grape comes up today because it is seldom seen, and it appears this weekend as one of the grapes in an unusual blend in wine #5 that also includes sangiovese, zinfandel, and malbec. It plays a minor role in the wine (19%), behind two big grapes, so probably indetectable. Still…it would be fun to try it with something spicy just to taste how it goes….!



Mar a Lago Update:  The Language of Politics

Some time around 1980 Republicans began a continuing attack on Language and the Meaning of Meaning,  a long term campaign of Orwellian Newspeak and DoubleThink, by hijacking familiar words and giving them different meanings. Businesses, which have always had the goal of minimizing wages, began referring to themselves as job creators, to whom Workers should be grateful for being hired, Cities should be grateful for being selected for corporate locations, and Consumers should be grateful for the glittering mountains of products and services the Corporate World was trying to Poison them with, Charge them interest for, and Bury them in.

Back then it made a certain amount of Karmic Sense that the Last President of the US would be a mediocre Cowboy Actor in an Empty (but expensive!) Suit with a Nice Voice. But I was naive; it has gotten Far Worse since then. The Litany of Real , Nonfiction Newspeak has since then brought us terms like political correctness, coastal elites, death tax, pro-life, pro-choice, extraordinaty rendition, IED, downsize, enemy combatant. infomercial, pre-owned, insurgent, welfare moms, anchor babies…the list goes on and on and on. Each one is a deliberate strategy to reframe an otherwise nondescript phenomenon with a pejorative tag for a political purpose.

There is much that is disturbing about this Weaponization of Ordinary Language to mislead, confuse, and reprogram target audiences— the same tactics that are, or may be, the target of investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. One can only reflect and be sobered by the complexity of the international Media Rabbit Hole at issue in that investigation. And, as in the arcane Olympic Sport of Curling, every play involves numbers of trained operatives with Brooms continually brushing away Every Trace of Actual Facts.

Despite all that, there is for the first time since the Tweetster’s Coup, in the form of the U. S. House, the potential for some Leverage against the Boldfaced Lying we have been observing since 2016 in the persons and words of the Tweetster, abetted at every turn by Darth McConnell, his Soulless Henchman Graham the Empty, and their Undead Army of Avaricious Orcs in Red State Legislatures. It’s a welcome foothold in what looks to be a Long Siege, probably not Survivable without the Circle of Good Friends and Copious amounts of Wine you have come to depend on here at the Wine Shop!

Washington Post Tweetster Lie Count to date: 7,546 as of 1/1/19


This week’s wine tasting

Seyssal Petit Royal Brut   France     $16
Traditionally made from Savoie white varietals Molette and Altesse, with extended time on lees and two years sur latte before rebottling, yielding a yeasty complexity and fine bubbles.

Matorana Nero d’Avola ’17    Italy   $14
From Sicilian volcanic soils; full-bodied and fresh with big notes  of ripe plums, berry cobbler, dark chocolate, and almonds, melting into earthy flavors with good minerality.

Altarocca Rosso Librato ’15     Italy     $14
Unoaked blend of canolao and cab franc from volcanic soils. Zesty, spicy, lush, and smooth.

3 Rings Shiraz ’15     Australia    $17  
Rich and full-bodied with attractive aromas and flavours of fleshy ripe black plum and blackberry liqueur;  squid-ink black with expressive and powerful aromas of dark and exotic berries and palate of chocolates, tar, leather and spice.

Owen Roe Abbot’s Table Red  ’16     Washington      $22
Charming blend of sangiovese, zinfandel, lemberger, and malbec showing rich notes of black currant, blueberry, cherry, white pepper spice, tobacco, and roasted red pepper, with gripping acidity and balanced flavors.

Wine Tasting