Lummi Island Wine Tasting August 27 ’11
To begin with, we are doing a bit of a, what do they call it, a “makeover” in the wine shop. We mentioned several weeks ago that we were making a few changes that we hoped would improve traffic flow and make the limited space work better for all of us. Step one was moving the “Best Buys” rack, which gets most of the action, away from the tasting area. That seems to have worked quite well.
The second part of the plan has taken a little time to implement. That is, our local woodworking guru, Tom Lutz (who supervised the development of our whole space, from walls to cabinets to our bar (a Happy Place!) has installed lovely window-tables along our front wall. We have moved out the wine racks along that wall to make room for you to sit, sip, and enjoy the view. We also think the extra floor space will make it easier to move around the shop to browse all the displays. Below are Ryan and Mary Jane showing us how it works! (you can click on the picture for a larger image!). And for more information on Tom Lutz’s work, see his website . Yes, he IS available to make your woodworking Dreams come true!
On the local scene, our weather continues to be lovely (despite a couple of days of laid-back summer rains), and also it is the time of year when our local Historic Reefnet Fishery is in operation right out in front of us out in Legoe Bay. A couple of mornings ago I looked out to this eerie view, in which the early morning sun was shining on Legoe Bay and the reefnetters, while we and Orcas Island across the channel remained in shadow. The effect was so startling I took a photo, which may give some idea of the interesting light contrasts…it was quite arresting. (click on the picture for a larger image!)
Last week’s wines were great, although I did make a last minute substitution from the blog posted selection. Because it was actually HOT (we deployed our portable air conditioner for the first time in two years!…I’m not making this up!), I postponed our tasting of the Dynasty Cellars Zin from our neighbors across Haro Strait until a cooler day, and added a rosé, making the whole array lighter. This summer we have developed a definite taste for the Provencal style of rosé (light and dry) and have gone through cases and cases of several labels because it is so delightfully refreshing on a summer afternoon or evening. So look for the Dynasty Zin tasting on our next cool and gray weekend. This weekend we will again be starting with a rosé and a white, followed by a couple of economical and tasty reds.
Last week’s Argyle Brut sparkling wine from Oregon obviously touched a cordial nerve, because we sold out in short order. We will look for more if anyone missed the boat…call or drop a note. And as occasionally happens, the Atalaya ’08, which was nice but a little disappointing six months ago compared to the ’07, had evolved to be showing magnificently, so we are cleaned out. The Three Trees Cougoumeilles also struck a nerve, yet again showing that “89pts” is a magical wine rating score…not flashy enough for 90. not ordinary enough for 88, and usually priced to sell. My friends, a toast to the 89-point wines, the poor person’s ‘perfect wines!”
This week’s wines :
Delille Doyenne Rose ’10 Washington $20
Bright and refreshing, a zinger of a dry. Provencal-style rosé that brims with guava, rhubarb and tea flavors, finishing with creamy texture balanced with the zip of acidity. Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre.
Stephen Vincent Chardonnay 09 California $10
A terrific value, the 2008 Chardonnay offers attractive melony, buttery citrus, and tropical fruit characteristics as well as a hint of minerality. Elegant, fresh, and medium-bodied, it tastes far better than its humble price suggests.
Chateau D’Oupia “Les Heretiques” ’09 France $10
Made in Minervois from Carignan and syrah with native wild yeast; delivers aromas and flavors of dried herbs and pressed ripe blackberry; fruit-rich, hedonistic, and a great buy. (see video review)
Langmeil Three Gardens SMG ’09 Australia $16
Rich, silky-smooth and round, delivering a generous wave of red berry, cherry, spice and licorice that plays out through a long, harmonious finish. Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre.
Lummi Island Wine Tasting August 20 ’11
#1. Don’t forget we are now open Thursdays and Fridays from 4-6 pm! Two Generous Pours of our Vins du Jour plus munchies like olives, cheese, crackers, salumi, and a few surprises, hosted by notre bon ami et professeur de Francais, M. Ryan, comment dit-on, le “Wildstar.”
#2. We just stocked up on Pleasant Valley cheeses this week, including Herbes de Provence, Farmstead, Jalapeno, Fines Herbes, Caraway, and of course the straight Gouda, so if you have been waiting for something this is the time to come by.
National Radio Day. This Saturday, August 20, is (as I am sure you all know) National Radio Day. So let’s all bow our heads, or raise our antennas (antennae?) and take a moment to reflect on how much of our lives have been spent listening to radio: news, music, talk, whatever. Talk about something we take completely for granted– yet imagine how different our lives would be without it! Maybe better, maybe worse, but definitely Different.
Somewhere out in the garage “archives” is an old Zenith short-wave radio (also AM and FM) from the 40′s (or earlier) that was in the house when I was a kid. It is in too bad shape to show an actual photo, but something like the one below. Not only did it have a good speaker and good sound quality for the time (late fifties), but it also had “jacks” in the back so you could hook it up to your hi-fi turntable and play your 45′s through its speaker. Which reminds me, around the same era the “clock radio” showed up on the market, which also had jacks so you could (I’m not making this up) hook it up to your electric coffee pot (percolator of course) when you went to bed. The alarm function of the radio would then make the coffee so it was ready when the alarm went off. Pretty cool, huh?
Nowadays we have computers and phones that tell you (and anyone who wants to know) where you are at any given time, where you have been, what you spent your money on, who you called, what you said, who you emailed, etc. etc. etc., but do ANY OF THEM make coffee for you in the morning? I don’t think so! And they call that PROGRESS? Anyway, radio is deeply embedded in our culture and in each of our personal histories (as is every technology), and it’s fun to reflect on our interdependence with it, from the distant stations we listened to in the car late on summer nights to the programs we listen to now on the way to and from work every day. It’s an amazing thing we take completely for granted, so that’s why I am happy to find this odd little “holiday”— National Radio Day…!
Wow and Whew! We don’t keep records here at Artisan Wine Gallery, except for this blog, of course, but I think last Saturday was some kind of record-breaking day. It is possible that sometime or another, particularly during Memorial Day or Labor Day Artists’ Studio Tour, we have had a day with as many visitors and as many tastings as last Saturday. All I can tell you is that after a slow beginning, the crowd ebbed and flowed (mostly flowed) all afternoon till quite some time after closing. On a typical Saturday we go through about one bottle of each wine we are pouring, sometimes two, usually about one and a half. Last week we went through three bottles of everything and I was shaking the last drops out of each one to get everyone covered. Folks, it was PACKED with revelers, and the accompanying photos do NOT do it justice–VERY festive!
NOISE HAPPENS. Oh, and yes, it was LOUD! Several times people whose faces were not more that a foot away from mine were saying words in my direction, and I didn’t have a clue what they were saying, and would just shrug and point to my ears. As if that meant something. We are exploring ways to muffle the sound reflections in our little space, maybe with some carpet (there is a ‘test carpet’ in the far corner by the “under $12″ rack) that so far seems to help, so the next step will be to carpet more space to see if it makes a difference.
Great Wines Last Week! Beginning with the lovely (in a crisp, wake you up with a slap in the taste buds kind of way) Chateau Guiraud Bordeaux White (sauv blanc and semillon), all the wines were showing really well. Curiously, not many buyers on the Guiraud, maybe a little $$ at $18, but a personal old favorite nevertheless…if sauv blanc is a poem, this one is a sonnet, that’s all I’m saying. The Vinosia was Big for an aglianico, lots of layers, very intriguing. The Elena dell’ Adami Comete Rosso was a surprise hit, one of those wines we pour a couple of times before we hit it in its stride and it’s Gone, gone, gone…whoah oh oh oh. Funny how that happens. To top if off was the eye-rolling favorite of the day, the Browne Family cab sauv, a limited production wine from the super-rich owner of Precept Brands, which bought out Walla Walla’s Waterbrook Cellars a few years ago. It’s limited production, and a great example of good Washington Cabernet Sauvignon at a remarkable price. VERY limited production, and we still have a few left.
Among last Saturday’s guests…when it was REALLY crowded, there was no time to take pictures…!
This week’s wines:
Argyle Brut sparkling wine ’07 Oregon WA90pts $23
Not only does this little Oregon winery make great pinot noir, it also has earned a reputation for producing terrific Old World style sparkling wine. This blend of chardonnay and pinot noir displays a bouquet of brioche, pear, apple, and white peach. Crisp, balanced, and lengthy, it’s an outstanding value.
Atalaya ’08 Spain WA90pts $14
A blend of Monastrell and Garnacha, 8 months in French oak. Deep crimson-colored, it displays an aromatic array of cedar, spice box, violets, blueberry, and blackberry with a hint of licorice in the background. On the palate it has layers of savory fruit, excellent concentration, and a long, fruit-filled finish.
Three Trees Cougoumeilles ’09 France WA 89pts $13
This fascinating Carignan-Grenache blend combines nutty and attractively vegetal elements – suggesting spinach, chard, and beat root – with tart-edged black raspberry and, surprisingly, red currant. Exuberant and persistently juicy, this wine’s unusual character won’t appeal to everyone, but will display deliciously distinctive, even rare versatility at table.
Dynasty Cellars DCZ zinfandel ’07 Washington $26
Sourced from the premium Walla Walla “Les Collines” vineyard, this wine is jam-packed with rich, dark, berry fruit and a long, lingering, slightly peppery finish that will leave you gasping for more.
Lummi Island Wine Tasting August 13 ’11
For no particular reason, nostalgia seems to be in the wind for me lately, some confluence of the order in which things are experienced that triggers thoughts and images from the past.
For those of us of a Certain Age ( you know who you are, and so does AARP), a lot of our memories are set to scores by the Beatles, which basically means tunes and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Last week we watched the first in the series The Beatles Anthology, on loan from Jennifer and Brendan.
It IS true that sounds, smells, and flavors take us immediately back to the past; the first volume barely got us up to 1962, when no one in America had even heard of them. Yet there they were, the familiar faces, antics, and music, vicariously known by an entire global generation as if we Knew them, as if they were our personal friends: John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
On top of that, I have to admit that the murder of John Lennon was so bizarre, so Out of Left Field, that I still can’t get my head around it (or is it “can’t get it around my head?”…heard it both ways). I mean, WTF was that about? What dysfunctional hookup in the human genome wires us for Violence in the Absurd?
In the midst of this internal Beatles retrospective, last weekend among the guests were two charming young women (see below) who radiated all the Delight that goes with a new and promising relationship. And of course the way my mind works, continually connecting A and B into some kind of C, I thought I saw a resemblance between one of them and…wait for it… John Lennon! Maybe it’s the nose, maybe it’s the joy tempered by a certain “sure ya gotta hope for the best but u no the world is basically fo—d” sense of reality, but…there was Something, that’s all I’m saying…am I totally making this up or is there some kind of resemblance?
Since this thread could easily degenerate into a philosophical morass, that’s all I’m gonna say about that, except to take a moment to wish these gals All the Best. The perspective of years wishes them joy and the everyday compassion that is necessary to sustain it. (go ahead, raise your glasses, friends!)
The way this blog happens is that sometime late Thursday night I do the week’s tasting notes, then the pictures from last week, and then (after copious amounts of wine…right now ‘editorial we’ are enjoying the 2003 Andrew Murray Roasted Slope Syrah…) we make up a story to fit.
So the story right now is that I am nostalgiac for the Beatles, and for the Promise of Youth that I experienced when I and the Beatles were Young, when anything was possible. Maybe it still is, but you know, it doesn’t feel that way, so I want to take a moment to wish all Young couples (“Hello, young lovers, whereever you are…”) compassion, wisdom, and patience with each other.
I recently re-connected with a distributor I had lost touch with, and have restocked some old favorites. We will pour one of these this weekend, the Chateau Guiraud White Bordeaux (sauvignon blanc and semillon). This winery is best known for its long history of distinctive sauternes dessert wines. This vintage I bought sheerly on past experience, so come on by and see if experience really does count, or if all is fluid and whimsical. My guess is that if you like the way someone makes wine, the vintage really doesn’t matter that much. Rather, the experience of successive vintages, some easy, some challenging, leads you to understand the winemaker’s art, and helps decide whom you really appreciate.
This week’s wines:
Chateau Guiraud Bordeaux White le G 09 France $18
From an estate most famous for their world-class sauternes; a fresh white blend with a creamy edge to the peach, melon and salted butter notes. The stylish finish lets a hint of macadamia nut chime in. Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Vinosia Aglianico 08 Italy
Aglianico 100%; Deep garnet-purple colour. Raisin, blueberry and underbrush aromas. Some dried rose petals and spice. Crisp acidity and a medium+ body. Medium+ level of velvety tannins. Long finish. Addictive.
Elena dell’ Adami Comete Rosso 08 Italy
NOT your mother’s merlot, this is a daring blend of Marzemino, Merlot and Lagrein. Wow! Made by 30 year-old Elena dell’Adami de Tarczal in a light, fresh style — “for gals going out with their friends.” Old vines, the latest technology and a new outlook combine for a distinctive red, great with quail, truffle soup, even grilled hot dogs with stone-ground mustard!
Browne Family Cabernet Sauvignon 08 Washington $28
Inviting aromas of bing cherry, cocoa, and leather leading to a silky palate of vanilla, clove, and Damson plum, with cedar notes rounding out the finish.
Lummi Island Wine Tasting August 6 ’11
Well, this has been a beautiful week on the Island and environs. Lots of sun with cool breezes, beautiful and bright colors, and the deep blue mid-summer sky with its tapestry of puffy white clouds. Yes, folks, this is what the locals have been waiting for for nearly two years, and what is generally known around here as “Summer.”
It’s a little like what they would call early fall in a lot of places, but here it is actually more summery than last year, and absolutely beautiful. Mornings are cool and bright, gradually warming up so that for a few hours in mid-to-late afternoon it gets up into the 70′s for a while and it feels really Hot! The coolness in the air whispers of Fall, but in a way that makes you think, ah, it would not be a bad thing, a long, slow, sunny, and bright unfolding from whatever season this is into whatever comes next in three or four months. All in all, it’s just about Perfect– days when everywhere you look you feel particularly grateful for being able to perceive Color.
We had a great tasting last week. The wines were all delicious, the place was pretty full much of the afternoon, and everyone was in a sunny mood, very energizing. I think it’s one of the defining characteristics of the Pacific Northwest, this High that everyone shares on a sunny day. I fantasize that it is all about Color: when the clouds are thick around here, the color washes out of everything, and if you really look, everything is some shade of gray because there just isn’t enough light to bring out the colors, so we actually just imagine them, and when the sun is clear and bright, with no haze, it’s as if we are all sort of giggling inside, it is SO beautiful here.
So maybe the wines WERE terrific last week. Or maybe it was just a beautiful weekend and everything was elevated by it. All I know is that being outdoors during much of the last week has been a real treat, with the cool air on your face, the warm sun on your back, the blue sky and the blue-green water lapping at the shore while eagles, herons, terns, and a bumper crop of robins soar, cruise, hover, and hop all over the place.
Our Thursday and Friday evening openings from four to seven have become increasingly popular. Thursdays seem more laid back, more salon-like (like tonight with a few steadfast supporters), and Fridays a bit more of a Happy Hour event. So far we are pleased with the response to the new hours. What’s your favorite time to visit?!!
sunny smiles for a sunny day
perfect outfits to show off the paintings!
This week’s wines:
La Cana Albarino 09 Spain 90pts $14
Light gold-colored with an unusually fragrant nose of mineral, lemon zest, and spring flowers that jumps from the glass, on the palate it exhibits a creamy texture, vibrant acidity, and a lengthy, refreshing finish.
Bargemone Provence Rose ’10 France $14
Pale pink. Bright, mineral-dusted aromas of pink grapefruit and dried red berries. Light-bodied and racy on the palate, offering tangy citrus and redcurrant flavors. Finishes brisk and dry, with good lingering spiciness and length.
Jean-luc Colombo Les Abeilles 07 France $12
Creamy and forward, with pretty plum, red cherry and floral notes backed by a stylish finish. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre
Mt Baker Cab Franc ’08 Washington $16
Aromas of raspberry, pie cherry, strawberry candy and black pepper, backed by minerality and crushed leaf, with juicy red cherry and cranberry acidity. Spicy finish of pepper and anise.