Attention Shoppers! Help Island Library just by Shopping…!
Community Food Co op: Friends of Island Library (FOIL) has been awarded a Community Shopping Day at the Food Co op. Our day is this Saturday, April 19th! FOIL representatives will be at both stores from 1:00-4:00 PM to cheer you on. The Co op will donate 2% of the total sales for that day to FOIL. So come one, come all to either the downtown Co op (1220 N. Forest St.) or the Cordata Co op ( 315 Westerly Rd.) on April 19th,! Stock up and shop till you drop! It’s for a worthy Cause!
smile.amazon.com: Next time you are making an online purchase from Amazon, instead of going to “amazon.com,” go instead to “smile.amazon.com”. In the Your Account drop-down, select “Choose your charity,” and fill in “Friends of the Island Library.” A number of choices will be displayed, and probably our (Lummi Island) library will be first, but read carefully to be sure. Make your selection and follow a few more simple instructions, and you are signed up! Future purchases through “smile.amazon.com” will continue to benefit the library!
Disclaimer: Artisan Wine Gallery does not encourage wasteful consumption (duh, any non-wine-related products and services!), especially from gargantuan, worker-exploiting outfits like Amazon.com. But if you are going to buy from them anyway, please be sure to take that little cut for our sweet Library, which needs all the help it can get!)
On our last trip to France we visited Jean-Marc Espinasse at Rouge-Bleu, in the southern Rhone area west of Cairanne and north of Orange. We got terribly lost on the way and were very late arriving, but Jean-Marc was the perfect host, tasting us through his palette of wines very late on a fall afternoon. His wife, Kristin, it turns out, is from Bellevue, and the suggestion to go there came from a conversation with acclaimed Washington winemaker Bob Betz (Betz Family Winery in Woodinville). The setting, the wines, and the broad, flat vista of the vineyards were all on the Rustic side, the sorts of wines I like to explore but which may be a bit challenging to Western palates.
After our return from France, I did expend some effort trying to connect Jean-Marc with a Washington distributor, to no avail. So it was with some pleasure that I found his wine in a recent catalog, and we ordered a few bottles for you to try. It also seems that in the past year the winery has been sold to a young couple (Caroline and Thomas), and Jean-Marc (toujours l’entrepreneur) has gone ( je ne sais pas ou)…! Nevertheless, we are pouring for your pleasure this weekend the 2011 Rouge-Bleu Mistral, a blend of very old-vine grenache with some syrah and bits of mourvedre and roussanne, all aged in cement tanks with the skins. Which is to say, if you like Rustic, you will like this wine!
Wine Club Dudes Dues Due
In case you haven’t noticed, it has been 2014-ing out for several months now. If we had been smarter when we launched our Wine Club last year, we would have devised a calendar-year system so that all memberships would become due at the same time, like, say, January 1. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. In retrospect, getting the Wine Club off the ground at all was a major Accomplishment. We are grateful to those of you who have joined and become Supporters, and we hope that you will choose to renew your memberships.
The main perk for membership is, of course, the $5 member discount on tasting fees, which can save you a bundle…I mean, really, the more you taste the more you save! In addition, last year we also offered discounts based on total wine purchases since joining, with white card, pink card, red card, etc. However, as mentioned recently, for 2014 we are doing away with these cards and embarking on a simplified set of purchase benefits for the Wine Club, to wit:
- 8.6% discount on any mixed-case purchase (we pay sales tax!)
- 5% discount on any 6-bottle purchase
- 15% discount on any special-order case
In addition we would still like to reward members who choose to bring us more of their wine business, as we did last year with the different expenditure-based cards. So 2013 members will be able to choose either the discount they have earned through cumulative purchases (card level) or the everyday bulk discounts above, whichever works better. All of this basically boils down to: 2013 members may choose whichever set of rules works better for them!
This Week’s Tasting
Mt. Baker Siegierrebe ’11 Washington $14
This early ripening cross of Gewürztraminer and Madeleine Angevine grows well here in Western Washington. The wine is light, bright, crisp, and refreshing, perfect with a fresh summer salad.
Andrew Murray Elleven Pinot Noir ’12 California $16
A first picking of five pinot noir clones planted in 2009, already showing medium body, soft texture, and Central Coast pedigree…we managed to get the last case for this vintage, check it out!
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.
Poderi Elia Barbera d’Asti ‘11 Italy $14
Balanced, soft, and rich, with freshly pressed cranberries on the nose, and lush palate of pomegranate, bright acidity, and soft tannins that beg for pairing with a savory meal.
Rouge Bleu Mistral ’11 France $23
Bold and toasty, with espresso and baker’s chocolate notes up front, followed by gutsy blackberry cobbler and blueberry paste flavors, all with a hearty Old World feel through the finish that lends rustic character.
In Search of Terroir
One objective of the blog this year is to provide more information about wine “footprints and fingerprints,” aka terroir — the particularities of where the grapes were grown and who made the wine. At it turns out, this information is not so easy to come by for a lot of wines, so it is a great pleasure when a winery website goes into some detail about these things. Such is the case with Chateau Montfaucon (see slide show), which makes the Cotes du Rhone rouge we are pouring this weekend, and which has been in the same family for many generations. If you browse their website you will find some great photos of the landscape and a sense of the local history and their winemaking philosophy:
“From the vineyards to the cellar we work delicately and with maximum care to preserve the quality and purity of the fruit: We only pick the grapes by hand. In order to enhance the balance of the wine, we co-ferment up to five varieties in the same tank. This increases the exchange and integration of different grapes during the important fermentation time. By controlling temperature and time on skins, typically 8 to 14 days, I am looking to extract only soft and silky tannins.”
Wine Club Members Only: Our Own French Imports!
Join us on Sunday, April 27th, 2014, 3-5pm for a spectacular pre-order tasting of Ryan Wildstar’s French wine portfolio. These wines are currently available nowhere else in Washington and are being offered exclusively to Artisan Wine Club Members at one-time only pre-sale prices! Ryan is the US representative for each of the wines we will be tasting and many of you have visited some of these wineries on Ryan’s Wine Tours over the last two years. So you know how good they are!
At this special tasting event you will get an in-depth perspective on the wines, their regions, and their winemakers, accompanied by tasty cheeses, knockout chocolate, and charcuterie. Time and location are still being worked out, but space is limited so please RSVP to reserve a spot. Tasting will include several wines from each of:
- Domaine Ferrer-Ribiere, Languedoc-Roussillon
- Domaine Moulinier, St. Chinian, Languedoc
- Château La Liquière, Faugères
- Château Rayssac, Cabardès, Languedoc
- Domaine De La Renaudie, Touraine, Loire Valley :
Let’s face it, Life is often challenging, and at those times we all need a little help, a little boost. The downer you are the bigger boost you need, and that’s where Chocolate comes in. Chocolate is there for you. It doesn’t criticize; it’s never passive-aggressive; it doesn’t make judgments. It’s There for you in the deepest possible way: sometimes it’s your Only Friend. Yes, yes, Sad but True. Because we never know when Life’s Delivery Person is going to show up with something indigestible, we all need to keep a little secret stash of Chocolate tucked away. File it under “Emergency Preparedness;” when the worst happens, you don’t want to be without it.
For all these patently Sensible reasons, we have restocked our chocolate shelves with more offerings from Theo, Seattle’s Premier Chocolatier, and we have also just brought in more of the very refined bars from “Dick Taylor,” a surprisingly elegant outfit in Arcata, California. “Dick” and “Taylor” are the last names of two of the partners in the firm, who have come to making chocolate from the somewhat unusual practices of building wooden boats and playing acoustic music. When you taste their chocolate, you will Understand: this is about taking Chocolate to higher level than we usually experience. No, these are not bars you wolf down; these are bars you can enjoy looking at. and inhaling, as well as savoring…definitely a Cut Above. Like, if you just spent your entire fortune on some hopeless cause, and you needed just the right taste of antidote to make it All Right, this is The Stuff…I’m just sayin’…!
The War for Everything: Chapter Whatever: Images
In many respects it’s been a Quiet War, mostly fought sotto voce across the Globe over the last 30 years. There was a scene early in the recent TV series (which I liked a lot) Battletar Galactica in which the President (played by Mary McDonnell) says to the Galactic Captain, who wants to continue the Fight, words to the effect: “There was a War. It’s Over. We lost. ” Implication: “It’s not about trying to Win, it’s about trying to Survive.”
Last week I mentioned a bit about how the World of Digital Images is being controlled by a few giant companies which have been harassing bloggers and web designers for years to pay outrageous penalties for “illegal use” of images found online, and which are very difficult to trace to a definitive origin. I was pleased to learn this week that the company harassing us has recently adopted a new strategy. Instead of its usual practice of releasing packs of Legal Hounds onto the foggy e-moor of the Internet to track us down and devour us, they have decided to take a new direction, opening up some 30 million images for free use by bloggers. In return they ask that we use “embed codes” which generate images as in this post from last July.
I am hoping that this decision will get these harpies off our backs, but the larger implication here has not changed. What is really going on is that the Very Few now own so much of Everything that it is inevitable they will own All of Everything before very long, like one big Company Store. In a way, that’s just the latest form of Feudalism, which I have always considered the “default” human socioeconomic system, so we shouldn’t be surprised. On the other hand, it means that, as Marx predicted, the inevitable result of marrying “private enterprise” to government is the reduction of the working class to a struggle for bare subsistence. What’s the matter with us? Why aren’t we all marching in the Streets?
This Week’s Tasting
Andrew Murray Elleven “Unplugged” White ’12 California $16
Unoaked, crisp, dry blend of chenin blanc (smooth and haunting) and sauvignon blanc (bracing and racy).
Ventisquero Carmenere ’10 Chile $10
Glass-staining purple. Smoke-accented aromas of black and blue fruits and violet, with a peppery topnote. Juicy and light on its feet, with a seamless texture and good clarity to the fresh blackberry and blueberry flavors.
Montfaucon Cotes du Rhone ’11 France $13
50% Grenache co-fermented on skins with syrah, cinsault, carignan from 40 yr old vines; matured in concrete tanks. Good ripeness and lots of minerality along with fleshy plum, blackberry and licorice notes. A floral hint adds charm on the finish. (read more)
Maryhill Winemaker’s Red ’11 Washington $11
Aromas of berry jam, chocolate, and cinnamon, with fruity notes of strawberry, caramel, and hints of white pepper, oak, and tart marionberry.
Ciacci Piccolomini Ateo ’10 Italy $16
Juicy cab-merlot blend that shows excellent up-front intensity, with notes of freshly cut flowers and mint that give the dark berry fruit an attractive sense of lift.
Opening: New Works by Anne Gibert
Today we installed a new art show featuring new works by our friend and neighbor Anne Gibert. As a group, these paintings all share a certain bold intensity, sometimes for their composition, sometimes for their contrast, and sometimes for their sheer Size in our tiny space. They are quite striking, and we highly recommend that you come by and take a look.
Anne will be in the shop Friday evening to host the Opening, and will provide a range of munchies to accompany our regular Friday night wine tasting. Shown above are a few images from the show. Don’t miss it! Click on images for larger version
The New Carpetbaggers
As both of you who read this blog probably figured out a long time ago, it isn’t just about wine. This is a very personal creative endeavor which has painstakingly evolved to its present form over many years. The typical structure is several short paragraphs, each illustrated with an image that in some way illuminates the topic. After all, if Google can show a thousand photos in response to any crackpot query, then anyone else should be able to link to it (free advertising!), especially in the service of zany Creativity!
That, it turns out, is an Open Question. We have recently received several heavy-handed, intimidating, and threatening letters (sent, peculiarly, by Bulk Mail…must be a Big Task shaking down Mom and Pop bloggers around the world…) from unscrupulous, nasty, grasping…what shall we call them?…ah, yes, Carpetbaggers, of course, which Wikipedia describes as “a pejorative term referring to the carpet bags (a fashionable form of luggage at the time of Reconstruction)…the term came to be associated with opportunism and exploitation by outsiders, and is still used today to refer to an outsider perceived as using manipulation or fraud to obtain an objective.”
Millions for Defense, but Not One Cent for Tribute!
These lines go back to the “XYZ Affair” involving bribery demands on U. S. diplomats by officials of the new French Republic in 1798. But the version I prefer for the statement goes back to our war against the Barbary Pirates around the same time, “(the shores of Tripoli”), which took the Pirates out of US Hair (no pun intended) once and for all. As mentioned above, our business in general and this blog in particular are currently being harassed by an unscrupulous outfit called “Getty Images, a gigantic global firm that supposedly owns the rights to some 80 million images, many of which come up in Google searches for anything you can imagine, like, oh, let’s say, “Flying Elephants,” and which are rarely identified online as proprietary. Getty has gained an international reputation for preying on Mom and Pop bloggers like us, and we are joining the ranks of thousands of others who find their behavior offensive in the extreme and are determined to fight them. In our case, they want $1400 in compensation because I linked to one of their (unidentified) online photos in this blog. Stay tuned. “Arrgghh…Now All Hands report to the Bos’n’s Locker for Cutlass Issue…look lively now, lads, and stand by to Repel Boarders!!”
This week’s tasting
Giro Ribot Cava Brut Spain $11
Delicate bubbles, deep minerality, and invigorating acidity make this the perfect start to any gathering.
Scarafone Montecucco Rosso ’08 Italy $12
90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. A rustic Italian red with aromas and flavors of dried cherry and dark blackberry, with a somewhat toasty character that includes bramble and dried herbs with a hint of leather.
Les Pious Cotes de Rhone Grenache ’11 France $14
Smooth and rich, with notes of plum and caraway; grown biodynamically and aged in cement tanks…nice!
OS Red ’11 Washington $14
64% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon. A silky blend from some of WA’s best vineyards; Deep, rich color; smoky condensed fruit on the nose. Full and round on the palate, with notes of black currants and plums.
OS Riesling ’12 Washington (92pts WE) $11
Apple blossom and citrus aromas; broad, flavorful palate of quince, lemon custard, lime, and honey-tinged mineral notes; bracing acidity; should evolve further over time and age well thru 2034.
For some time now we have been re-using the nice “non-woven” wine bags that many of you bring to us for recycling. We have lots of paper bags, but these bags, in use at many wine merchants, are definitely nicer to use…and use again…and again. Thanks to all of you who have brought in your bags for us to recycle– they have worked very well.
I should mention here that I Really Like our logo, which Pat designed about ten years ago. Curiously, I don’t recall that anyone has ever commented on it one way or the other. But to me it really captures the feeling of what we are trying to do here with wine and community. Maybe it’s the vaguely art-deco motif, or my fantasy that we did all this before in Atlantis with a similar logo, or whatever, but I do get curious about whether any of you have ever, you know, seen it or thought about it…
But we have long had in mind how nice it would be to have our own Logo Bags. We recently found a deal that works for us, and have brought in a big box of bags for use by our Wine Club members. Hopefully you will keep your bag in your car, always on hand for your next visit. “Wear it with Pride!” Admit it, aren’t they just the Height of Fashion…?
Wine Club update
As mentioned two weeks ago, we are pleased with the first year of our Wine Club, especially the member perk of enjoying half-price tastings through the whole year of membership. We could call that the “Subscription Perk.” In addition, we also piloted a”Loyalty Perk,” which involved a complex hierarchy of rewards based on cumulative purchases and advancement through a cumulative series of membership levels. It was complicated and very difficult to implement. So, on the spur of this very moment, we are doing away with all of that for your Wine Club renewals, in favor of something simpler.
We will continue the annual fee of $35, and the $5 tasting fee for members. However, we are doing away with the various membership levels (white card, pink card, red card, second red card, etc.). Instead, we are going directly for your volume-purchase jugular with anytime volume discounts for members only:
- 8.6% discount on any mixed-case purchase (we pay sales tax!)
- 5% discount on any 6-bottle purchase
- 15% discount on any special-order case
Spring Art Advisory
For the last few months we have enjoyed our backdrop of original paintings (mostly water colors by Meredith Moench, along with some intriguing framed mirrors by Jyl Peterson. The image at left is of one of our own “Moenches” hanging in our living room. This weekend is your last chance to get one of your own before we change artists for our Spring Show (more on that next week!). Since most of us don’t actually “see” the art on the walls around us, except as a hazy, unconscious awareness, we invite you to take a serious look when you visit this weekend.
I happen to be particularly fond of watercolors, and have really enjoyed how Meredith’s work has been evolving, with lots of lively color balanced with soothing expanses of white space. I also invite you to look more closely at Jyl’s interesting art-deco mirrors and old-time Lummi Island cannery labels.
From time to time a visitor to the wine shop asks, “What is your favorite wine?” At first glance this is a perfectly reasonable question. But I am always surprised by the question, and never know how to answer. At some level, I don’t have a “favorite,” because for me, at least, it doesn’t work like that. I have lots and lots of “favorites,” little pleasures sitting patiently, (or indifferently), on a shelf, or in the shop, or in the “cellar,”or in an unopened box somewhere I haven’t even opened yet. The problem is with the question, of course, the assumption that there is, or could be, or needs to be, one single favorite. But I kinda think hedonism just doesn’t work that way. It’s not so much a matter of good-better-best, but more a matter of these kinds of pleasures, or those kinds of pleasures. I mean…there are So Many, and they are So Good!
The Logo at left is a really nicely done logo for Gorman Winery in Woodinville. We stopped by their tasting room a few weeks ago and were duly impressed; the wines are carefully made, definitely New World (big and extracted), and well worth savoring. I have been going through a periodic “chardonnay” phase, and I have to admit the Gorman chardonnay really caught my attention. A few years ago, when I didn’t like chardonnay, for all the reasons YOU probably don’t like chardonnay, we went to a high-end wine event, with scores of very expensive and highly regarded wines. I was amazed to find that my two favorites were both chardonnays. All you need to know is that the Gorman “BIg Sissy” chardonnay made a big impression, and we will let you taste it and make up your own mind this weekend…!
This week’s tasting
Château Coujan Rouge ’11 France $11
Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault. Imagine a bowl of fresh cherries and raspberries disguised as wine.
Simple on first sip, evolves in the glass and works well with food.
Bibbiani Treggiaia Rosso Toscana ’09 Italy $11
A smooth and satisfying blend of sangiovese, canniolo & cab; serious but friendly, delightful with anything from pizza to lamb chops.
Borie de Maurel Espirit d’Automne ’11 France $13
Syrah, grenache, carignan; perfumes of black olives, tobacco, and spices; minerally flavors of graphite, limestone and clay with notes of morello cherries, red fruits, mint and liquorice.
Bodegas Breca Breca ’10 Spain 94 pts $16
100% Garnacha from 80 year old vines yielding less than one ton per acre in an amazing terroir of steep hillsides and ancient head-pruned vines. Black raspberry, truffle, kirsch, lavender and liquid rock-like characteristics emerge from this astonishing wine. An absolutely incredible value in today’s market.
Gorman “Big Sissy” Chardonnay ’12 Washington 93pts $30
Bright straw-tinged yellow-gold. Wild aromas of orange, apple, spices, vanilla and nutmeg; pliant, very ripe and nicely concentrated, with floral and leesy notes, finishing fat and long.