Bread Friday (sign up for
Light Rye - made with a rye sourdough culture, rye flour, and caraway seeds..what many people picture when they think about “rye bread.” - $5/loaf.
Italian Walnut & Honey - About 30% fresh milled whole wheat for a great chewy texture, sweetness from the honey, and additional flavor from toasted walnuts…makes fabulous toast! - $5/loaf.
Rum Raisin Almond Brioche – Delicious buttery brioche buns stuffed with rum-soaked golden raisins and almond paste, then topped with a chocolate glaze. - 2 for $5.
Last Weekend’s Artists’ Studio Tour: Portraits of Lummi Island Women
(click on photos to enlarge)
Last weekend’s opening of Anne Gibert’s (photo, left) latest show can only be described as Awesome! The concept, the execution, and the public response are all a testament to the resonance of the show’s theme with the Island Community. We managed to snap photos of a few of the surprised but pleased subjects (the paintings were done from Anne’s photo collection, not sittings).
Shown here with Anne’s portraits are Bobbie, Diane, Becca, and Wanda. Portraits being what they are, a momentary gesture caught in stillness, some are more effective than others at capturing a Signature gesture or Look that everyone recognizes immediately. But as a group, I think we are all extremely impressed and grateful to Anne for coming up with a great idea and executing it so beautifully and professionally!! Wow!!
Rosé Season is Back!
No, this is not a Prison Photo! These are huge stainless steel tanks where rosé takes time to get its breath while it is learning to become wine. After all, it is pretty traumatic being snipped from your parent vine, thrown into a series of containers, frisked for stems, bugs, and foreign matter, and then thrown into a a heap of your fellows that is So Heavy that your Precious Bodily Fluids (that we all Love so much!) surrender to the Higher Cause of Becoming Wine. Yes, it is Cruel and Beautiful at the same time, a Mystery…but hey, just because we can’t understand it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it!!!
This is all to review the Perennial Question: How is rosé made, anyway? Well, there are several methods, but the one most used en Provence probably accounts for most of the dry rosés you see on our shelves. Rosé is typically made from red grapes (i. e., usually used to make red wine). When making rosé, however, the juice remains in contact with the skins for only a short period of time, sometimes as little as a few hours, and at a relatively cool temperature, before separating it from the skins. The longer the contact time between the skins and the juice, the darker the color and the more red-wineish the wine becomes. So the very pale rosés (like this weekends’s Bargemone) usually mean that the contact time is very short, with the common goal of producing a wine that is aromatic, fresh, crisp (acidic), and refreshing. And pale!
Another way of looking at it is to realize that contact with the skins is to a very large extent what gives red wine not just its characteristic color, but more importantly the complex chemistry that makes it so infinitely variable and interesting. Click on the link below for a brief video clip of the bottling line at Bargemone we filmed last June…!
People experience a lot of feelings: curiosity, boredom, wonder, amusement, boredom, fear, silliness, hope, pride, shame, remorse, exultation, and on and on to include just every conceivable feeling that People can experience. Therefore, Logically, since Corporations are legally People, they should be able to Feel Something. But of course they don’t, and can’t. And that is a Big Problem. As an old and dear friend once told me, with great conviction, “Rich, Feelings are Facts.” This is actually a pretty Profound Idea, so let’s take a moment with it.
For whatever reason, our nervous systems have evolved not just with analytical intelligence, but also with emotional intelligence. Our decision-making is governed not simply by deductive and inductive reasoning (the best that Corporations can hope for), but also by Emotional Congruity, which is something we really don’t understand very well, but that corporations are completely incapable of understanding. This “Emotional Congruity” (just because I just made this up doesn’t mean it isn’t important) might be thought of as the “Right Brain” part of how we organize our experience into Meaning.
To succeed in Survival, we humans have been equipped with a brain with a linear component (left brain thinking) and a gestalt component (right brain thinking). Basically, the left brain narrows down options based on linear logic, and the right brain selects from the remaining options based on systems logic, i.e., “what feels right.”
Because Corporations are ever-changing groups of human beings, not One Person, their Right Brains are Committees, and their Left Brains are dysfunctional constructs generally known as PR and HR Departments. Like robots simulating primitive feelings, Corporations are awkward, clumsy, emotionally Blind, and Extremely Dangerous. As with the Pods in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, do NOT go to sleep until they are All Eliminated!
This week’s wine tasting:
Anne Amie Amrita White ’14 Oregon $14
Palate-tickling blend of pinot blanc, viognier, and riesling; aromas of quince, Rainier cherry, and lemon; palate of strawberry, raspberry, and nectarine; good match for Asian spices.
Bargemone Provence Rose ’14 France $14
Beautiful pale pink. Bright, mineral-dusted aromas of pink grapefruit and dried red berries. Light and racy on the palate, with tangy citrus and redcurrant flavors. Finishes brisk and dry, with good lingering spiciness and length.
Ontanon Ecologica Rioja’12 Spain $14
100% organically grown Tempranillo; spends five months in barrel before release; Bright cherry and raspberry fruit flavors combine with a subtle element of sweet spice to deliver a a well structured mouthfeel and fine-tuned acidity.
Kermit Lynch Cotes de Rhone Rouge ’11 France $14
Grenache, syrah, carignan, cinsault and mourvedre: Bright violet color; perfumed, spice-tinged nose of dark berries and fresh flowers; exuberant and intensely fruity, with juicy blackberry and cherry flavors that pick up nuances of pepper. licorice, and succulent herbs on the finish.
Masquerade Syrah ’07 Washington $22
From Burgess Vineyard in Pasco, and made here in Bellingham, this syrah is substantial, fruity, and crisp, a great accompaniment to richer fare.
Bread Friday (sign up for
NOTE: Because the Wine Gallery is hosting the opening of Anne Gibert’s new show for Studio Tour, Friday may be crowded. Just in case, bread pickup will be on the deck outside the shop (weather permitting).
Pain Meunier: (“Miller’s Bread”), includes all parts of the wheat kernel, bread flour, whole wheat flour, cracked whole wheat and wheat germ. A great all around bread. – $5/loaf.
Dried Cherry, Walnut & Buckwheat: Bread flour, buckwheat flour, and some whole wheat, packed with dried cherries that pair well with the buckwheat. – $5/loaf.
Hamburger/Sandwich buns. Soft bun of bread flour with fresh milled white whole wheat and topped with onions. Limited, order early. -4 for $5.
Sablet is a small village about thirty minutes east northeast of Avignon in the southern Rhone Valley of France, with a history of viticulture dating back to the 14th century. Although essentially all of the area’s vineyards were wiped out in the nineteenth century by the phylloxera infestation, it was a resident of Sablet, Francois Leydier, who developed the machine used to graft phylloxera-resistant rootstock onto local vines, a major factor in rescuing the French wine industry. Sablet mostly produces red wines blended from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. The wines tend to be full bodied, with notes of blackberry, ripe plum, and hints of violets.
The Sablet Rouge we are pouring this weekend is a favorite of ours, which we first tasted at Bertrand Stehelin’s winery in Gigondas a few years ago. We are also great fans of his Sablet Blanc, a blend of roussanne, marsanne, and grenache blanc, and which we like to think we helped bring into Washington by lobbying strongly with the importer who was already bringing in Bertrand’s red wines. We hope you like it as much as we do!
Portraits of Lummi Island Women: Studio Tour Opening Reception Friday. May 22!
Our guest Artist for Studio Tour this weekend is Anne Gibert showing her latest works, “Portraits of Twenty-three Lummi Island Women.” We just put up the show this afternoon and so now we know Who They Are! The portraits are mostly painted from photos Anne has taken in recent years, so many of the subjects probably have no idea their portraits even exist. We can tell you that any Islander will recognize lots of familiar faces!
We will have a Special Opening Tasting on Friday, May 22, from 4-7. Anne will be in the wine shop to talk about the paintings, and all of you women who are subjects will be entitled to a free wine tasting!
Memorial Day and the Meaning of Time
When I was a child, each Memorial Day my mother would take us to the cemetery where her parents were buried. It would always take a while to find the graves, which were poorly marked and in an old and untended area. Her father died in 1920, when she was five years old, and her mother in 1933, when she was 18. Which also means that this July would have been my mother’s 100th birthday.
We have all noticed that the older we get the Faster time seems to go. When my mother talked about her parents, I sort of understood that, sure, she had been a child once. But it was a pretty fuzzy concept. It is only through the perspective of our own years that it begins to sink in that, as Alan Watts put it, “being born is like being pushed off a cliff.”
So Memorial Day is essentially about Mortality. There is nothing Heroic about young men killing each other for Glorious Causes. There is nothing Honorable in torturing or killing another human being in the name of Justice. At root there is never any reason for causing another being pain, or injury, or death. We are all fragile and mortal. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone everywhere would commit themselves to this little idea from the Metta Sutta…
Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state,
Let none through anger or ill-will wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world,
This week’s tasting:
Jardin Unoaked Chardonnay ’13 South Africa $10
Alluring aromas of ripe pears and honey lead to a bright, crisp palate of fresh lemon, honey, and a touch of quinine. Delicious!
Villa des Anges Rosé ’14 France $10
Spicy and focused on the nose, showing fresh citrus and red berry and a hint of white pepper. Dry and nervy on the palate, with refreshing bitter cherry and berry skin flavors.
Pugliano Treggiaia Italy $11
A smooth and satisfying blend of sangiovese, canniolo & cab, serious but friendly, delightful with anything from pizza to lamb chops.
Le Rote Massimo Chianti Riserva ’11 Italy $18.
95% sangiovese, 5% canniolo; lovely notes of cherry, black tea, sage, and red clay, with a delightful rustic flair
Bertrand Stehelin Sablet Rouge ’12 France $22
(70% grenache, 25% mourvedre and 5% syrah): Vivid purple. Bright, perfumed aromas and flavors of candied red fruits and lavender, with subtle spiciness and a soothing palate from a year’s rest in concrete tanks.
Bread Friday (sign up for
Buttermilk Currant - 50/50 bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat, with buttermilk for some tang and then loaded with currants and just a hint of rosemary. – $5/loaf.
Ale Bread - Bread flour, fresh milled whole wheat, and hearty ale to boost the flavor. – $5/loaf.
Sourdough English Muffins - These delightful treats are made with a sourdough culture and taste great. Limited, order early! 4 for $5.
Exploring the Solera System
An old favorite with us, St. Cosme Little James Basket Press Grenache is unusual in several respects. First, it is made by a winery that has been around for something like 14 generations, with family ownership dating back to 1490 in France’s southern Rhone region (yes, we have visited!).
Second, unlike most wines, which are either from a single vintage or a non-vintage blend of two or three recent vintages, this wine, like a sourdough bread, is created from a solera system started in 1999. Each year the current wine is bottled from the aging solera, a blend of all the vintages since the solera was started. Therefore it tends to have about 50% of the most recent vintage blended with the moving average of the previous vintages. It’s an unusual way to make wine, but it has been the standard method for making Sherry in Jerez, Spain, for centuries.
As a result, the wine slowly evolves, with any rough edges smoothing out over time. So, like a “Heinz 57″ puppy, it tends to be well-balanced and versatile year after year, yet with its own personality and charm, slowly changing its personality while keeping the varietal’s underlying sense of softness, fruit and texture.
Infrastructure: the Private Sector Won’t and the Public Sector Can’t
Periodically we need to call a Special Assembly and bring Everyone together to review a few Important Things so we can (oh, please, let it be!) get on the Same Page about our Cultural (I use the term loosely) Reality. Today’s topic is “Infrastructure.” Just think of it as all the long-lasting Stuff we have built over a long period of time that is still yielding services that have Value, like bridges, highways, airports, railroads, public buildings, ferries, parks, public services (and their employees), police, fire departments, and so forth. Without a modern, viable, healthy Infrastructure, every effort of labor or investment bears less fruit than it might.
Investment in infrastructure can be viewed as the essential Oiling of the Wheels of Progress. It boggles the mind to see Right convinced that Somehow the Private Sector will step up and take care of it better than G’ummint ever could (not Bloody Likely!), and the Left Stingless after too many decades of Groveling for Corporate Dollars. It’s like we are all Dorothy in Oz, just trying to get back to Kansas, but we are constantly confounded by every conceivable kind of straw man, tin man, brainless man, and charlatan Wizard. Wtf is Wrong with these people???!!!
Look. This is not complicated. All the Very Rich need to do is look at their annual tax deductions for Depreciation, i.e.,”Stuff Wearing Out and Needing Replacement.” The latest Amtrak Tragedy rivets our attention on the problem. Chinese, Japanese, and European trains go hundreds of mph. Our trains go 60-80 mph, maybe 100 on a good day on a straight stretch. That’s all you really need to know– a society can survive many things, but Collective Stupidity is not one of them. As on a ship listing heavily to one side, what is Desperately needed here is for Everyone to Stand up and Come to the Center, ignoring the Mind-Numbing Newspeak from all sides, wrest Command from the Idiots, and get the ship back on course and on an Even Keel.
Lummi Island Women: Memorial Day Studio Tour Opening Reception Friday. May 22!
Okay, I admit it, I love this whole idea! Our old friend Anne down the street has been painting up a Storm for the past few years– a Legacy thing, she says, because she is getting on in years– (see her blog) Ah, we should all age so gracefully! I confess I have not seen any of these paintings yet. But I have a feeling this will almost certainly be the Best Show we have had the privilege of presenting in the Gallery, for a couple of reasons.
First, Anne is our First Best Customer! For the first few years we were open, back in aught-five to aught-seven and only on Saturday Afternoons, there was many an afternoon when Pat and I and Anne had the place to ourselves and mused about Life, Love, and the Meaning of Meaning over the day’s tasting menu. For many years a Painter, in the last few years Anne has been particularly Prolific, and we have done several shows of her latest works. But we are particularly looking forward to this one!
All you need to know is that (we will remind you again next week) we will have a Special Opening Tasting on next Friday, May 22, from 4-7. Anne will be in the wine shop to talk about the paintings, and all of you women who are subjects (sorry, I have No Idea who you are!) will be entitled to Free Tastings!!!
This week’s wines
Rio Madre Rioja Rose ’14 Spain $10
Strawberry, raspberry and blood orange on the fragrant nose, along with peppery spices and potpourri. Palate of supple cherry and blackberry, with tangy minerality and acidity adding vivacity and verve.
Altos Hormigas Malbec Clasico ’13 Argentina $10
Aromas of blackberry, strawberry, mocha and smoked meat, plus a hint of violet. Supple, soft and sweet flavors of black fruits and licorice, finisheing with smooth tannins and hints of chocolate and licorice.
St. Cosme Little James Basket Press Grenache ’14 France $11
An ongoing solera* with an aromatic nose of cassis, cherry and lavender; rustic Old World style, with a firm mineral spine giving clarity and lift to the dark berry and bitter cherry flavors.
Shooting Star Blue Franc ’11 Washington $12
From slate soils; nine months in French oak. Lively and vibrant, with aromas of blueberry, blackberry, cocoa, pepper, and clove. Flavors of cranberry, blueberry, and blackberry with cinnamon and licorice on the velvety smooth finish.
Kentia Albarino ’13 Spain 89pts $12
Pale gold. Spicy pear and lemon on the nose, with candied ginger and chalky mineral with lemon curd and pear flavors. Clean, tangy finish with good clarity and a subtle touch of tarragon.
Bread Friday (sign up for
Breton Bread - inspired by the Brittany region in France, bread flour and buckwheat with fresh milled whole rye and sel gris. – $5/loaf.
Seeded Country Hearth Bread. Bread flour with a third fresh milled whole wheat flour, toasted hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds – $5/loaf.
Pain aux Raisin. Delightful treats laminated like croissants– rolled out, spread with pastry cream, sprinkled with golden raisins and dried cranberry, rolled up, sliced and baked. Absolutely delicious but limited supply! -2 for $5.
OMD, China now has more vineyards than France!
Well, we all suspected it was coming– you know, Some Day, Way in the Future maybe– and yet here it is: China now has nearly 800,000 hectares of land devoted to vineyards, second only to Spain (over a million hectares), and ahead of France in overall grape production. Non, tsk, tsk, alors, un moment, Monsieur, c’est pas grave; parce que France still makes the most wine despite being #3 in vineyard acreage. Still, China now ranks #6 in the world in wine production, having recently surpassed Australia. Further, some of the top names in French wine have invested heavily in vineyards in China, including the iconic Lafite-Rothschild. Read more
On the one hand there is something Deeply Disturbing about this development. Ah, oui, it makes me want to lean back, light up a Gauloise, shrug a few times, and bubble something about “boof, alors, these Chinese, what could they know about wine…? I mean, besides the fact that they may have discovered fermentation something like, you know, 8,000 years ago…?
Well, I dug up part of an old Chinese poem (from 850 years ago!), by Lu Yu, by then (1170 AD) an old man, who wrote of his time:
“Wild flowers blue and purple– gather them by the fistful,
Valley fruit green and red– now just right for picking;
On the way I found some wine, watery but still not bad, at river’s edge;
Getting drunk as I please, no regret in the world;
A thousand years of history’s ups and downs here before my eyes…” — Drunk Song, by Li Yu, translated by Burton Watson
I suspect there will be a huge Chinese wine business soon. I also suspect it will have its own earmarks, fingerprints, and footprints to distinguish it from Elsewhere, and I expect I will treat it with some suspicion. Because of the traditional Chinese penchant for imitation, it seems entirely likely that in the not-too-distant future there will be a scandal involving Chinese wine with forged labels from extraordinary French vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Think about a Chinese version of Peter Mayle’s A Good Year…hmmm…is wine a Simple Product or a Profound Cultural Expression?
“Who Are We and What Are We Doing?”
This has become my Centering Mantra for the past six or seven years. It works for beginning any meeting or encounter, or even just getting up in the morning. And judging from the words of the elderly Chinese poet from nearly a thousand years ago mentioned above, not much has changed since his time in our understanding of that mysterious Crystal Pearl of Human Consciousness we inhabit (or which inhabits us) that reflects the World into our little Minds. Our lives are an ongoing kaleidoscope of experiences, feelings, thoughts, and reflections, and our Minds are like those little sticky rollers that you can use to lift the lint from your clothing, especially, you know, wool and fleece. And of course the older we get, the more wool and fleece, or so it seems.
Anyway, one of the many wonderful things about being Old is that one starts to see how it really doesn’t matter what you Believe, or in which Time you appear in this world, because there is only this One Game in Town and we will all eventually Lose. This idea has been exquisitely illuminated by an old and respected acquaintance* who has contemplated these issues for a long time and put it this way:
Everybody knows that the Fight was fixed,
The Poor stay poor and the Rich get rich;
That’s how it goes…
And Everybody Knows…”
I mention these things because we are Wired to care about our Group. Some people don’t have a Group. They suffer for that. Some people think their Group is their Family. They suffer for that. Some people think their Group is their Neighborhood, or their Country, or their Species, or their Planet, or their Universe, and they suffer for that. So the ongoing answer to the Question above is that we are Social and Mortal Beings and it is the nature of such beings to need to be in relationships that Nourish us, and for a lot of reasons we are not very good at giving or getting the Nourishment we need. More important, we are vulnerable to manipulation by those who promise Nourishment in exchange for Power, and who give back far less than they take.
Here we are in another election season. Election seasons have been going on for thousands of years in one form or another, and will go on for as long as our species lasts. We will reserve discussion of the merits of our species to another time, and for now will focus on the immediate issue of Our group of primates’ (“Americans”) choosing a Leader for the next four years. Btw, this is probably a good place to note that Some People think that our Big Brains evolved NOT to invent Quantum Physics and Arcane Stock Derivatives, but mainly to navigate the swirling, treacherous waters of individual Status and Reward in the many Social Hierarchies which are constantly breaking onto our Personal Shores. Sometimes they nourish us, and sometimes they drag us into the surf, spin us around, slam us against the Bottom a few times, and then give us five seconds to breathe before starting the whole cycle again.
Nowadays National Office holder are Rich and want to be Richer. That’s just who they are. Some of us just want to have a modest but secure life, but some need to have such Power that their Little Follies can easily — yes, Easily– make stupid decisions that threaten Life As We Know It.
So, enter unknown and eccentric Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has just announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016. He is what was once called a “Dark Horse,” with extremely high odds against his ever getting nominated.
Still, out Nation and our Planet can wait no longer for the Candidates of the One Percent to act rationally. The Republican so-called candidates are Nut Jobs, every single one. Hillary is pretty opaque, and though her heart may be in the right place, she arrives with a lot of Baggage.
So comes Progressive, Socialist, ethically driven, truth-telling Dark Horse Bernie Sanders into the National political arena, raising questions that only a Third-party candidate can raise, and depending on the masses for support against the concentrated power of the 1%. Go Bernie, let’s talk about all the things the 1% don’t want us to talk about!
This week’s tasting
J Laurens Cremant de Limoux Rose France $16
Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir; shows a gentle yeastiness accompanying its effusive effervescence and rich, tangy, mouth-filling fruit. The perfect match with a sunny afternoon and smoked salmon!
Chateau L’Ermitage France $10
Roussanne, grenache, and viognier. Light gold in color with aromas of peach, flowers, and honey; the Grenache provides the richness and the Roussanne the balancing acidity.
Campo Viejo Tempranillo ’12 Spain $11
Aromas of ripe red fruit followed by gentle sweet notes of vanilla and spices. Perfumed, soft and fresh with a lingering finish of red fruit, vanilla and cocoa. A perennial go-to value here at AWG.
Estezargues Cuvee des Galets ’14 France $10
Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from organic and biodynamic vine, fermented with natural yeast, and bottled without filtration. Explodes with plump juicy berry fruit, liquorice and spice, showing appealing character and freshness.
Pomum Red ’11 Washington $19
Bordeaux blend with a bit of syrah– Inviting, open-knit aromas of plum, raspberry and tobacco. Supple, sweet and mellow; plummy and broad in the mouth, displaying good depth of texture.