lummi island wine tasting dec 20 ’14 winter solstice

Bread Friday

20140724-123524.jpg- Sonnenblumenbrot (German Sunflower Seed bread) – white flour, rye, and loads of yummy roasted sunflower seeds. $5/loaf

- Buckwheat with walnuts and honey -  gorgeous and loaded with flavor. $5/loaf

- Breakfast treats
……..Chocolate Babka rolls in honor of Hanukkah; sweet egg bread dough filled with chocolate, butter and a hint of cinnamon
………Gibassier- a traditional Provence treat  with candied orange peel, tossed with sugar.


Holiday Case Sale continues  through Dec 27!

Our annual Holiday Case Sale continues through December! Buy any twelve bottles, and we will pay the sales tax (8.6%)! Even betterWine Club members get an additional 5% off! Offer good through closing time on Saturday, December 27!

We have brought in a lot of new wines in the last few weeks, so the selection has never been better. OMD, better hurry, only TWO SHOPPING WEEKENDS LEFT THIS YEAR!




Solstice Thoughts

Over this blog’s six year (OMD!) history, I have often taken the opportunities presented by solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days to muse about our ongoing astronomical situation. For example, last year at this time you were presented with this link to a fascinating little video illustrating the limitations of our childlike tendency to imagine the Sun as fixed in space while all the planets, comets, and its light-year-wide Oort Cloud revolve around it. No, the video suggested, the overall motion is more of a Vortex, because the Whole Kaboodle is moving through space at 45,000 miles an hour carrying the Sun and its orbiting disciples with it. This year we take the opportunity to stretch our creaky minds a little more.

Click on the image or here to run the next video, which imagines the path our Small but Beloved Solar System takes around the Milky Way every 226 million years. Each of those sinusoidal waves represents the 26,000 year precession which keeps moving our Pole Star around, wreaking Havoc in those eras when the Earth’s axis doesn’t happen to point to any particular star. For you sailors our there, it just means this is a Golden Time for Navigation, because there IS a North Star, and it has come in very handy over the last several centuries.


Tenth Annual “East Coast” New Year’s Eve Gala Extravaganza!

Yes friends, it’s here again! From 7-9pm on New Year’s Eve we provide the wine, you bring something delicious to share, and when the Ball drops in Times Square we hoist our glasses and toast the Year of the Goat! (huh?…GOAT..?? There’s a whole YEAR of the Goat? What’s that about???).

Afterwards, as usual, you young folks can move on to your next party, and we old timers can get to bed at a decent hour! We have grown quite fond of this annual chance to thank all of you who have visited, schmoozed, chatted, laughed, and enjoyed yourselves with us this past year, and to look ahead together to more fun in aught-fifteen.

Here’s the deal: We provide the space and the wine, and you bring your most delectable finger food to share. BEST DISH WINS A NICE BOTTLE OF WINE! Mark your calendars and start planning your finger food.


Winery dogs

It’s hard to say if this wine (see notes, below) is as good as I thought when I first tried it. Ordinarily I am not seduced by just another Pretty Label– you know, it’s What’s Inside that Counts, right? But alas, we all have our little Weaknesses, and yeah, like many of you I am a sucker for cute dog photos. So you should all buy this wine just for the label, and if it’s any good, well, all the better. As it turns out, it’s from a pretty reliable source; the fruit is from Washington State’s most hallowed wine region (Red Mountain), and the producer is Hightower Cellars, usually a source of pretty good wine.

Then there is also the other thing– almost every winery has a Winery Dog. For some reason they are usually getting on in years (it’s a senior position), are pretty laid-back, and pretty friendly. The big events of the day often involve standing up, shaking, and ambling to a more comfortable spot as the sun moves the shadows around. You know, sunny spot to sunny spot on cold days, and shady spot to shady spot on hot days. They have something to teach us, these icons of the wine industry…!


This week’s wine tasting

Shooting Star Chardonnay ’12   California    $12
Big aromas of citrus and apple; round on the palate, with stone fruit flavors and nice minerality on the crisp finish.

Casa Contini Biferno Riserva ’09 Italy $12
80% montepulciano, 20% aglianico; wonderfully smooth and balanced, with smoky blackberry, chestnut, and peppery aromas.

Monte Tondo Valpolicello  ’12    Italy    $16
A blend of some ripe and some raisined grapes gives this wine body and texture, along with notes of sour black cherry, spices, roses, and violets.

Steele Outkaste Red ’11 Mendocino $16
53% zinfandel, with syrah, tempranillo, petite sirah, and petit verdot; aromas of black pepper, raspberry, and cobbler, with palate of brambly blackberry, cassis, and spices.

Hightower Murray Syrah ’11 Washington $16
From legendary Red Mountain grapes; Ripe, rich and utterly enjoyable; lush red berry fruit followed by a complex, meaty mid-palate and a long finish.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting december 13 ’14

(as always, some photos will click open to larger versions)

Bread Friday

20140724-123524.jpgFresh bread is back for two more weeks through Dec 19th!

This week’s breads:


Holiday Case Sale continues  through Dec 27!

Our annual Holiday Case Sale continues through December! Buy any twelve bottles, and we will pay the sales tax (8.6%)! Even betterWine Club members get an additional 5% off! Offer good through closing time on Saturday, December 27!

Not only is this a great deal for both members and non-members, but it is also a good time to stock up for January, because the current plan is to close the wine shop until the first weekend of February!



The Italians (and a Croatian) have arrived!

Twice a year our favorite Seattle wine importer Small Vineyards puts on a tasting for area restaurants and retailers. They have a great selection of high quality, seriously underpriced wines from relatively small, mostly Italian wineries, and we will be pouring newly arrived selections (that we ordered in August) for the next few weeks, beginning this weekend with two of the new SV arrivals. The white, as it turns out, is not from Italy, but rather is from across the Adriatic in– I’m not making this up– Croatia! The wine is a lovely pinot grigio, see notes below.

In addition we will be pouring a lovely wine from the Chianti region of Italy, the Le Rote Chianti Riserva Colli Senesi  ’10. Because the grapes are grown a little outside the boundaries of the designated region, it can’t be called “Chianti Classico,”  which basically means you can get a great buy on a lovely Chianti.


Christmas Decorations

dscn1053 (Modified)It’s been a very long time since we’ve put up a Christmas Tree of any dimension. We do have a little fir in a big pot outside that in some years gets moved into the house for a few days with a decoration or two on it. It’s a little festive and takes a hand truck, but it has been easy and “enough” for our needs. We understand that those of you with children and grandchildren have different obligations, and the Whole Scene is no doubt de rigeur each year. But generally we are pretty minimalist around our place for the Holidays.

A couple of days ago, however, we received a curious package (thanks to Hans, filling in until Island Icon Bill C. recovers from a recent setback) via UPS, containing the little Live Tree shown here. It came pre-decorated with a little string of lights, red bow, and power supply. It’s easy, it’s comforting in an understated way, and it can be planted after the holidays to grow into a Real Tree someday. It is not something we would ever have bought for ourselves; but on this windy December night, with a fire in the stove, it supplies a measurable amount of Comfort for an absolute Minimum of Effort, and we toast the foresight and generosity of our benefactors with a hearty “Thanks!”



This week’s wine tasting

Krauthaker pinot grigio  ’13    Croatia    $14
From Croatia; Vibrant and harmonious, with well pronounced fruitiness and freshness; straw-yellow colour, crystal clarity; Nose hinting at apples, pears, peaches, kiwi, lemon peel and hay. Salty on the palate, with refreshing acidity.

Le Rote Chianti Riserva  ’10  Italy      $18.
95% sangiovese, 5% canniolo; lovely notes of cherry, black tea, sage, and red clay, with a delightful rustic flair.

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.

Orowines Bluegray Priorat ’11     Spain     $16
Named for the llicorella slate of Priorat, which yields intense, terroir-specific wines from the harsh soils that challenge local varieties like Grenache and Mazuelo to the utmost, yielding tobacco and spice notes to the raspberry jam flavors. Rustic, earthy, spicy, and wildly aromatic.

Waitsburg ‘Three’ ’12    Washington     $23
Merlot, Malbec and Mourvedre; Cool aromas of blackberry, redcurrant, tobacco, spices and fresh herbs, complicated by rose petal and hints of licorice and menthol. Moderate density and texture with light dusting of tannins.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting december 6, ’14

Bread Friday

20140724-123524.jpgFresh bread is back for the next two Fridays through Dec 19th!

This week’s breads:


Seattle Film Institute 20th Anniversary

dscn1047 (Modified)Today (Thursday, 12/4), we were in Seattle for the 20th Anniversary/ new building dedication of Seattle Film Institute (yes, complete with seachlights filling the sky!). Most of our wine shop regulars know David (below, with mom-in-law) who, along with wife Sam and their sidekick Randi, have second homes here on the island, and usually spend an afternoon in the wine shop when they are here.







dscn1049 (Modified)David founded the Seattle Film Institute twenty years ago. Over the past couple of years he has been deeply involved in the purchase and renovation of a new building, which became operational last Spring. So today was the double celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the school, plus the official dedication of the new digs. It was our first visit: Awesome! Read more about SFI here.






Walla Walla Vintners

Vintners_nlettervideo link

We have been hearing about the great wines from Walla Walla Vintners for years, but have rarely encountered them. That changed last May when we spent several days around Walla Walla and were fortunate enough to taste through the entire lineup of current releases with winemaker/co-owner Gordy Venneri. Over the many years he has been making wine he has developed a very balanced style that pervades all of the WWV wines: soft yet full, rich yet understated, “just enough” in all directions– very satisfying. Couple that style with a commitment to keeping quality high and prices very moderate, and you get a portfolio of lovely artisan wines.

This week we are pouring the 2012 Dolcetto; the grape originated in Piedmont, Italy, and the grape now grows beautifully in Walla Walla’s Dwelley Vineyard.

The Death of Plausible

One of the challenges of advanced age is the awareness that your values have become anachronistic. We have lamented before in these pages about how Facts have fallen out of favor and replaced with Opinion, which somehow in these times is considered More Reliable. Well, some of us Old Folks lean back in our rockers, scratch our whiskers, and muse, “hmmm, ain’t that peculiar…what are these Bozos gonna come up with next??!”

In the political realm, of course, which may be (for lack of a better term) the cutting edge of this philosophy, there is no longer the slightest pretense that the words being uttered have any need for factual basis. Anything that can be said is now, perhaps by some perverse twisting of Equal Opportunity, entitled to Belief without Question, you know, the way that Science once was. As I think about it, the last person I heard talk about Honor was Lt. Worf in Star Trek NG, and that was…OMD…twenty years ago! Can’t you just Hear him accusing, “You have NO Honor!”  Come back, Worf, we need you, Man…er…Klingon!

We find ourselves in a Time when Business Schools have convinced generations of students that Truth only counts if it makes a profit, when Cable News has replaced Facts with Hyperbole, and when politicians of all stripes have even stopped caring whether Deniability is at all “Plausible.”

If that doesn’t make you need a glass of wine, what will?


This week’s wines:

Idilico Albarino ’13    Washington      $14
Full spectrum of floral, almond and white peach aromas leading to flavors of apricots and peaches with a bit of citrus to make it really bright. Albariño has bracing acidity from those cool nights

Feraud Cotes du Rhone ’11 $14
Dark berries and cherry pit on the pungent nose; slight jamminess and a hint of cracked pepper to its extroverted berry fruit. Juicy and focused, with supple tannins and a lingering herbal note.

For a Song “The Score” Merlot ’11    Washington  $11
Lush and concentrated, with big New World notes of dark plum, blackberry, and cherry, and earthy Old World notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and leather.

Can Blau Blau ’12        Spain    $12
Attractive fresh red currant and raspberry-scented bouquet; medium-bodied palate with a sweet candied entry. Well-balanced with a crisp seam of acidity.

Walla Walla Vintners Dolcetto ’12     Washington     $21
Soft, velvety wine – front loaded with black licorice, cassis, and espresso – draws you in with a sweet nose. The ripeness of the 2012 vintage provided a lot of libido and you’ll surely return the love.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting november 29 ’14

Yes, open this weekend!

myoldvinezinHere it is Thanksgiving Night after way too much really delicious food. Sound familiar? There is something about “feasting” that blends together elements of gratitude, celebration, community, and yes, a bit of Overindulgence. At this time every year we follow traditions learned from our families, and blend them with the traditions of other families, into something particularly “American,” with the same basic form from household to household, though details might vary widely. In the great stream of human existence, we in this place in this time are blessed beyond comprehension.

As if all that weren’t enough to elicit Deep Gratitude, there is the additional Blessing that we WILL BE OPEN our usual hours this weekend. Come on by!



Holiday Case Sale–Black Friday through Christmas!

Our annual Holiday Case Sale .begins this weekend and continues through December! Buy any twelve bottles, and we will pay the sales tax (8.6%)! Even better…if you are a Wine Club member, buy any twelve bottles and get an additional 5% off! Offer good through closing time on Saturday, December 27!

Not only is this a great deal for both members and non-members, but it is also a good time to stock up for January, because the current plan is to close the wine shop until the first weekend of February!



A room with a View

20140110-223040.jpgOne of the great pleasures of our place on Lummi Island is our wonderful view toward Orcas Island. Over the years I have posted many photos taken from our vantage point; though it is always the same structure, the experience is different in every moment depending on the light, the season, the time of day, and the weather, and constantly nourishing. In each case, there is something inherent in our human nature that finds a water view pleasantly soothing.

A recent study on the real estate market in our area found that water views account for 50%-130% of the sale price of various properties. So the better the view, the higher the demand. In addition, of course, the better the view, the more taxes you pay. And perhaps most important, there is an ongoing psychic value to the nourishing experience of being able to enjoy a great view from moment to moment. If there is a point here, it is that a view is worth the sum of these various effects (higher market price, stream of tax revenue, and stream of daily benefits over many years.)

Over the years I have posted scores of pictures of this same view, all quite different; it’s a huge benefit of being in this place, and yes, something for which we are continually grateful.

Idle Hands

Our “Big Wine” this week is the result of the Underground Wine Project, an ongoing collaboration between two highly regarded Washington winemakers, Mark Ryan McNeilly (Mark Ryan Winery) and Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars (we poured his “Renegade Red two weeks ago and everyone loved it!) “Idle Hands” is named for a song by The Gutter Twins, and the calligraphic label is the first line of the song:.

With my idle hands
There’s nothing I can do
But be the Devil’s plaything, Baby
And know that I’ve been used

Mostly syrah with some cab, all from Red Mountain, adds up to a very enjoyable wine experience: you’re gonna like it!

Read more


This week’s wine tasting

Markham Chardonnay ’12       California   $16
Pear and apple aromas are highlighted by vanilla and steely minerality that carry over onto the rich, lush palate, while sur-lie barrel aging adds texture and weight to the mouthfeel.

Mannina Cali red blend ’11   Washington     $10
cab-merlot + sangiovese; plum, coffee, flowers, menthol and an earthy nuance on the nose, fruity and easygoing in the mouth, with bright red berry flavors with notes of mocha.

 Domaine de Couron Cotes du Rhone ’12     France     $11
Lightly dusty-edged black cherry and black currant fruit is lined with a graphite note, with a hint of lavender chiming in on the finish.

Alta Vins Tinto Joven    Spain  $11
60% Garnacha, 30% Syrah, 10% Carinena; Brilliant garnet color; bright and fresh with notes of red currant, balsamic, and rose water.

Idle Hands Syrah ’12     Washington        $27
A luscious blend of 92% Syrah and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain; big aromas of fresh vanilla, blueberry jam, and hints of anise. The palate is rich and supple,  showing blackberries and smoky oak, with hints of black pepper, coconut and medium-dark chocolate.

Wine Tasting