Lummi island wine tasting Labor Day weekend ’14

Studio tour Featured Artist

dscn0929 (Modified)Our artist for Labor Day Weekend Studio Tour is again our friend and neighbor down the street, Anne Gibert. Anne has been in something of a high-gear production mode for well over a year now, generating an amazing series of large, colorful, and appealing paintings at a prodigious rate. These newer works are bright and airy, often with offbeat moods that are hard to describe, but which invite curiosity and contemplation. Although Anne is off to Alaska for a month, and will not be available to discuss the show with you till she returns, we heartily encourage all of you to come by and see these intriguing new works!


A Special Note on Studio Tour Hours

Generally our Featured Artist is in attendance from 10am-1pm on Saturday and Sunday. HOWEVER, since our FA is out of town, we WILL NOT OPEN UNTIL 1PM BOTH DAYS. We regret any inconvenience this causes our members and visitors,


A Strange Day

dscn0924 (Modified)It’s Thursday evening as I write this week’s post. This morning around 11:30 a friend stopped by to say, “Um, your boat seems to have drifted off her mooring and is aground on the beach.” So, OMD, you think, that’s Pretty Urgent! Jumped into my boots and drove down to the little bay next the to ferry dock where we have our mooring, and yup, there she was, aground and heeled far over to port not far from the abandoned wreck of the last sailboat to break free of her mooring around here. My co-owner Bob had gotten the word much earlier (we were off at yoga and missed the calls) and had done his best to break her free but the receding tide made it a futile effort.

By low tide at about 2pm she was stranded in about two feet of water. The next high tide was at 8pm. We deployed anchors in two directions seaward, took up the slack, and waited for the tide. Around five the rising tide had her again afloat, and we returned her to her mooring, embarrassed, but thankfully no damage. Cause for the incident was an unexplained failure of a simple shackle, though it had been appropriately tightened and secured with wire to keep it from unfastening. So it’s a mystery. Anyway, we spent a strangely quiet afternoon on the beach, waiting patiently for the tide to come to her rescue. How about those tides, huh…? They are SO Dependable!


Closed Next Weekend

sailboatDespite today’s near-disaster, we are taking next weekend off from the wine shop and and going…wait for it…sailing! Hopefully we will get any lingering boat glitches sorted out enough to get out on the water for a few days. In previous years we have taken this time to attend the annual Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend (highly recommended if you have never attended). This time we are hoping just to sail out to a nearby gunkhole for a few days, and kick back with a few good books and maybe a bottle or two of wine. Mmmm, sounds appealing!

Btw, drydock parking is particularly skimpy this year. So it’s especially nice if those of us who can get by without going off-island for two weeks (far easier than the usual three week ordeal) to avoid leaving a car on the mainland while the car ferry is out of service– leaving more room for those who really need it.


The Return of Tristan!

tristanIt’s getting to be a Tradition here at AWG: if it’s Studio Tour, our friend and importer-impresario Tristan will be here again with a vanload of French and Spanish wines. He will be hosting our tastings both Friday and Saturday, pouring a selection of delicious and incredibly well-priced wines from small, family-owned wineries in France and Spain. Tristan has been leading SV’s Spain/France efforts for several years now, so that while he is pouring he will expound in great detail on the families, the vineyards, the terroir, and the history of each family winery. These are very special tastings, and definitely not to be missed!


This Week’s Wines

Aravo albarino  spain  $18
Alta vins tinto joven  spain  $10
Finca el tesso  Spain   $10
Borie de Maurel Esperit d’Automne  France  $13
San Isidro Blanco   Spain    $10
Domaine de Cabrol Vent d’Ouest    France   $18
Girot ribot cava brut     Spain    $10
Lacroix Vanel Melanie  France     $24
Parmi L’Infant Priorato  Spain $29

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting August 23 ’14

French Wine Orders Have Arrived!

Most of you don’t know that it was over a year ago that Ryan hatched a plan to reconnect with some of his favorite French wineries (ah, mais oui, ALL his favorite wineries are French…shrug..), and became their agent for US import. We and many of our members have visited several of these wineries on one of the French wine tours Ryan has organized. So it seemed logical to look for a way to bring them right here to our shop so we all could enjoy them without leaving Lummi Island. Good plan, huh?!

In April we held a gala tasting of 10 of these wines at Mark and Lis Marshall’s beautiful home (and #1 Lummi Island B&B!). Many of you attended and ordered some of the wines. I will not go into the complications involved in making all this happen, except to say that all the rules have been in an uproar since Washington State voters approved the Costco-funded initiative a few years ago to close the State Liquor Stores and allow anyone to sell hard liquor. Wine got caught up in the Flood, and as nearly as I can tell, the new rules serve No One except Big Retail. But of course, that’s Another Story.

All you need to know is that the French wines ordered in April have arrived and are available for pickup beginning this weekend!!! We will be sending individual emails with details to all of you who made pre-orders.


Faugères and St. Chinian

Languedoc (“language of Oc”) is the largest French wine region, stretching along the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to the Southern Rhone…Nimes is in Languedoc, but Avignon is in Rhone. Languedoc is divided into many wine subregions, most dating back centuries (maybe even to the prehistoric cave dwellers who made their mark here fifty thousand years ago!). If you consult a good map , you can see that Faugères and St. Chinian are next door to each other. Among our new wine arrivals are two from Domaine Moulinier in St. Chinian, and one from Chateau la Liquiere in nearby Faugères.

By the way, we have encountered these rather heavy metal chairs (photo, left) at several wineries in the Languedoc, and I have to admit I rather covet them. Apparently they were made as part of a regional wine promotion some years ago, and many Languedoc wineries have a few in their tasting rooms. I just haven’t figured out how to get them into my carry-ons in the unlikely situation that some Languedoc winery would even sell one. So they fall into a large class of objets d’art that we can enjoy where we find them but which are impractical to being home. Still, they are Very Cool, eh?…and isn’t there something especially nice about the somewhat austere stencil cutout of the region’s name…?



Tom’s “Vine Route”blog

On our first trip to French wine country in 2011, I happened onto an interesting blog written by Tom Fiorino, an American wine enthusiast living and studying wine in Toulouse. At the time we were there, he was doing an apprenticeship of sorts near Faugères, where we tracked him down and spent some time talking about wine. Since then we have had a link to his blog on our site. I just found his 2009 post about one of the wineries ( La Liquiere), many of us have visited on Ryan’s recommendation or on his tour. You can read his detailed and informative post here, All his posts are loaded with detailed information about a particular winery or region (he has been writing a lot about Corsica lately…!).


This week’s tasting

Vilarnau Cava Brut Sparkling Rosé Spain $12
Shy, mineral-driven aromas of citrus and orchard fruits, with subtle strawberry. Juicy red berry and orange flavors are expansive and lively, with dusty minerality.

Domaine la Renaudie blanc ’12 France $15
Benchmark Loire Sauvignon Blanc with a great balance between nervous, lean acidities and restrained grassy, elderflower character.

Domaine Moulinier Rouge ’10 France $13
70% Syrah, 25% Grenache, and 5% Mourvèdre; Nice spice and garrigue on the nose, with a broad palate of ripe red fruit, with a bit of orange note on the finish. Smooth and soothing; .

Chat. Rayssac L’Essentiel ’09 France $16
Merlot, grenache, syrah, cab franc, cinsault; Cabardes combines the red fruit, finesse and liveliness of Bordeaux varietals with the rich sumptuousness of Mediterranean varieties to yield a complex and spicy wine with balanced tannins.

Chat. La Liquiere Les Amandiers ’12 France $17
From young vines with aromas of fresh red fruits, redcurrant, strawberry, and cassis. A wine of soft pleasure and aromatic freshness.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting aug 16 ’14

A quiet day dscn0121 (padilla sunset 1)This year saw the return of the Lummi Island Reefnet Festival, an ode to Lummi Island’s unique Historic Fishery, started time out of mind ago by the Coast Salish who have inhabited these parts for eight thousand years or so. You can read more about modern reefnetting here. It is an Island tradition, carried on nowadays by a mix of stalwart old-timers and young hopefuls. As it turned out, the fishery didn’t open until the next day, and even then, as sometimes happens– sorry, no fish– very disappointing to those who spent a very hot day waiting on the water in anticipation. However, the Festival seems to have been a success, to the point that we, your tiny wine shop at the Edge of the Salish Sea, enjoyed a quiet afternoon of wine and pleasant conversation, very ordinary, very wonderful; a little reminiscent of the way it was our first few years. You know, before we became Famous.


Bubbly Surprise

For those who haven’t yedscn0910 (Modified)t caught on, Fridays have become something of a “locals” party, highlighted by the Sharing of The Bread That Janice Makes, as well as, it almost goes without saying, fabulous wines.  As noted in recent posts, she is now bringing a big box of fresh bread each week, and All Hands will join me in a hearty “Arrrrrr, it’s Mighty Good!” Mates, just like Them Radicals we hear about, we got our own deeply held ideas about the Good Life to which we all aspire.  The Europeans figured all this out centuries ago, and we are convinced it is a necessary Evolutionary Step for our entire Species: every healthy community must have: Fresh bread every morning, and at least ten well-made local cheeses!

And so it was that last Friday there we all were, in the usual Friday configuration, when Monty, whom we first met years ago as a youngster down the street, and who is now a wine rep for one of our distributors, dropped by with Samples of….could it be true?...All the current Bubbly releases from star sparkling wine producer from (no, I am not making this up) New Mexico, aka Gruet. Let’s just say it was quite a show, and all hands were smiling even more than usual. The wines were all good (oh yeah, this is my favorite…hmm, well, no, I guess that is my favorite…!) Whether you were there or not, please know that THIS Friday we are expecting a delivery of the crowd favorites from Gruet, and it is very likely that YOU will not want to miss them!

A new Friday Tradition?

We have been opening on Friday afternoons from 4-6 for a couple of years now, generally with our good friend Ryan (see above) acting as host/sommelier, giving us the freedom to be elsewhere and do otherthing. Curiously. though we have the night “off,” we often choose to spend it right here at our favorite wine bar, on the customer side schmoozing with our Friday Regulars. And of course…Janice’s bread! Good friends and good conversation– the essence of Being Human, eh…? Anyway, the Lightness and Fun of last weekend’s spontaneous Bubbly Surprise was so enjoyable that we now wonder about the feasibility of “bubbly and rose” as a guiding principle of Summer Fridays here at the wine shop. Below is the list of wines we will be pouring on Saturday. But Friday’s tasting might be much more oriented toward rose and bubbly, in contrast to the list below.  Or not! Only one way to find out!

This week’s tasting

Chateau Virgile Rose ’13 France $12 (grenache-syrah); Musky aromas of red berries and cherry pit; Dry and nervy with a floral nuance that gains power with air; tightly wound and vivacious enough to work with a wide range of foods.

Cloudlift Cellars Updraft  ’11        Washington       $17 Tom Stangeland’s beautiful interpretation of a classic White Bordeaux (sauvignon blanc and semillon) with the added weight and ripeness that Washington’s climate usually delivers; bursting with ripe yellow fruits,  apricot and papaya.

La Rocaliere Lirac Blanc ’11 France $16 Grenache Blanc and Clairette. Subtle, elegant floral aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle, and verbena. Rich and round on the palate, with wonderful notes of fresh citrus.

Riojanas Rioja Canchales ’11 Spain $11 Pungent redcurrant and cherry on the nose, with a peppery lift and focus. Firm bitter cherry and rose pastille flavors, with juicy acidity; aeration brings up deeper blackberry and licorice notes that linger on the taut, youthfully tannic finish.

Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec ’13    Argentina    89pts    $14 Aromatic and fresh, with notes of violets, ripe plums and a touch of brown sugar, quite showy, with the profile of a cool vintage, the sweet tannins of the Malbec, some sweet spicy flavors, and good length.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting august 8 ’14

Awwwwfully Cute…!

dscn0890 (Modified)Sometime in the last couple of weeks I was working on a project in front of the garage/ wine shop when  I heard a commotion in the bushes nearby along with a peculiar sort of shrieking. Curious but cautious, I tiptoed around the apparent source and found these three little rascals clinging to the base of an alder tree. It looked as though they couldn’t climb the tree (or maybe had instructions from Mom to stay put!), because they stayed right there for some while, pretty exposed to danger, or maybe just posing for photos. I have noted before that though I know lots of people don’t like raccoons (okay, so they are vandals of a sort), I find them beautiful and fascinating. These three are each the size of a small house cat, obviously very young, and completely endearing.

 click images to enlarge


Smilin’ Jack 

A zillion years ago (1950′s) when people my age were kids, there were a bunch of daily comic strips that lots of people followed. Many of them had started before WWII, and many had heroic main characters. One such strip was called “ Smilin Jack.” An aviation comic strip, it first appeared in October 1933 and ran until April, 1973. Jack was a suave yet rough-and tumble hero, always skirting some kind of jam, and all of his adventures involved glamorous gals and of course lots of airplanes. So obviously it is a very short step, or even shorter flight with Smilin’ Jack, to Lummi Island’s own legendary…


Happy Jack

dscn0907 (Modified)I have been reminiscing about Smilin’ Jack because the past year has seen the final demise of the Happy Jack, the iconic rusting hulk of a steel-hulled fishing boat that has been occupying a prominent portion of the beach below Lovers’ Bluff for decades. Despite that romantic location, Happy Jack had the air of a retired old guy (I can totally identify with that!) who on completion of his years of service was dragged up on a beach and left to rot. We are moved to ask, “Who was Happy Jack? How did he come to such an ignominious end on an obscure island in the Pacific Northwest? Was he an unwitting pawn in some nefarious Land Grab? A hopeful idea that went Terribly Wrong? Probably we will never know. Now Jack has been reduced to a shipping container sized cube (left), leaving us with little to say except …so long, Jack…so long!

Unfortunately, in all those years I never took a photo of Jack…I mean, who ever imagined he would get cut up and hauled away for scrap? Instead, all we have is this very distant shot from last winter, a vague shape on the beach in the snow…a ghost, a wisp, someone’s dream, someone’s folly, someone’s burden, someone’s project…“so it goes,” as Kurt Vonnegut was fond of saying,



Devils You May or May Not Know

Various people have been telling us for some time that we should check out Gorman winery in Woodinville, and a few months ago we did, and found the wines very appealing. The style is definitely New World…the wines are well-crafted, big, fruit-forward, and extracted, perhaps more California style than most Washington wines. Maybe that’s not surprising, given the changing global climate– Washington may be the New California, huh…?

Anyway a few days ago I got an announcement from their distributor that these two wines have been recently released, so we decided to bring them in for a comparison tasting. As I understand it, “the Devil you Know” is a blend of cab sauv, syrah, and mourvedre, made in the usual Gorman style, and combining elements of Bordeaux grapes with Southern Rhone grapes, a sin that various Devils have been committing in many countries in recent decades. Maybe that’s the “Devil” part. The “Devil you Don’t Know” is more of an experiment, with a different blend, and different vineyards. Since we have tasted neither, we have no idea what to expect. But it is an interesting opportunity to compare and contrast one winemaker’s variations on a theme. Come by and check it out!

This week’s tasting 

Albaro Castro Dão Branco ’12      Portugal    $15
A lovely combination of fragrant crisp fruit and intense mineral notes. A blend of lemony and fragrant Encruzado, crisp and apricot-y Bical, and smoky-edge Cercial.

Borsao Rosado ’12               Spain           $9
(100% Grenache) Spicy strawberry and orange zest on the nose, with a light floral quality.  Dry, focused and refreshingly brisk, offering tangy redcurrant and strawberry flavors and a suggestion of tangerine.

Palama Negroamaro ’12 Italy $10
Elegantly expansive, rich and robust, with silky mouthfeel, layered aromas of steeped spices, and palate of blackberry jam with accents of cinnamon, leather, tobacco and smoke.

Gorman “The Devil You Know” ’12    Washington    $28
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah, 8% Mourvedre; strong red pepper and rare beef flavors playing against ripe cherry and blueberry fruit, with crisp tannins and a sharp edge of acidity.

Gorman “The Devil You Don’t Know” ’12    Washington    $28
Syrah, Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah; Supple and expressive with ripe fruit aromatics that veer toward savory, smoky grilled vegetable notes before returning to the dark berry and spice at the core. Focused finish.


This week’s tasting

This week’s tasting

This week’s tasting


Wine Tasting