Lummi Island Wine Tasting June 30 ’12
Signs of the Zodiac
A few weeks ago I got a call from the folks at Schooner Zodiac; complications at Legoe Bay Winery created a need for a new wine tasting venue on Lummi Island to fit into their established San Juan Islands wine cruise, with its planned stop on Lummi Island TODAY (Thursday, June 28 as I write this). Heeding the call, we swung (swang?…swinged?) into action! I arranged with Bill and Jennifer Kimmerly of Masquerade Winery in Bellingham to come out and pour their wines for the event.Wines included their exceptional sparkling wine Effercescent Elephant, expertly blended in the traditional French style. a lovely Gewürztraminer, a Viognier, a rose, three cabs from different vintages and vineyards, and their popular syrah.
In order to get here, of course, all the guests had to ferry in from Zodiac in an inflatable, and then be ferried to the wine shop in a van brought over for the purpose. That took several trips. Despite some wet feet on the part of some of the crew (those of you who have ever landed a small boat on the beach in front of Earl’s know that at low tide your dinghy runs aground several feet from the shore, and Someone has to get their feet wet to bring the boat onto the shore!) all the guests were in good spirits, and a good time was had by all.
However, all you need to know is that we are continuing the Masquerade tasting on Friday, June 29, during our regular hours from 4-7. After a long absence for the French wine tour, Ryan will be back to pour these lovely wines, so come by, say hi, and enjoy the Masquerade. (Friday only: wear a mask, get a free Masquerade tasting!)
The Italians are back!
Twice a year we get a shipment of special order wines from importer Small Vineyards. The summer shipment has just arrived, bringing some new wines and several old favorites. Among them are two we will be tasting on Saturday, from one of our favorite Italian producers, Perazzeta. They include the new rosado and the new Erio super-tuscan blend of sangiovese, cab, and syrah. We also received a case of their new (2011 harvest) olive oil, which we will also be sampling. Many of you fell under the spell of their 2010 harvest during the past year…come try the new vintage. This is true Tuscan olive oil, fresh and tangy.
This week’s wines:
Riveraerie Gewürztraminer ’09 Washington 91pts $15
Intensely perfumed, with heady pear, rose petal and spice aromas that lead to generous flavors, classically balanced with rich texture, finishing mostly dry.
Perazzeta Rosado di Montalcino ’11 Italy $14
It’s back! From the same grape as Brunello (sangiovese grosso), this beautiful rosado has it all: rich, bold, flinty, and summery.
Perazzeta Erio ’10 Italy $14
Another local favorite returns! Sangiovese, cab, syrah blend (”Super-Tuscan”)– this vintage is even more balanced, with even bigger flavor than last year– totally yummy!
Les Aphillanthes Cairanne l’Ancestrale ’09 France 93pts $23
From 100-year-old vines, this unfiltered blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre is an extremely supple, full-bodied, opulent, irresistible wine that fills the olfactory senses with copious aromas of black cherries, black currants, forest floor, pepper, lavender and garrigue. It is a compellingly sexy, full-throttle, ancient vine Cotes du Rhone the likes of which are impossible to find anywhere else in the world.
Lummi Island Wine Tasting June 23 ’12 Summer Solstice
This past Wednesday was the Summer Solstice, the first day of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the day of the actual moment this year when the sun was (for a moment) directly above the Tropic of Cancer. Each year the point is different, but always falls (more or less) on the line of latitude at 23° 26′ N, aka the Tropic of Cancer. All of this relative motion occurs because the Earth’s axis is tilted at a constant (more or less) 23.5° from the ecliptic. Can you imagine how weird the world would be if it weren’t tilted?
That means our next “cross-quarter day” will be in six weeks, roughly in early August. It is called Lammas, and celebrates the wheat harvest, as well as the beginning of the descent into winter. Here’s a good story about the holiday.
In any case, as usual around here, Spring has kind of dissolved into being in the last few days. We’re just past the New Moon, with its characteristic “lower low” and “higher high” tides; winds have been very light; and it seems uncharacteristically sultry. If you have ever read Conrad, you will naturally be concerned that we are in the lull before the Big Typhoon: a little restless, a little anxious, a little “this doesn’t feel Quite Right.”
Is Midsummer Night’s Eve the Solstice?
Those of you who for whatever reason actually read this blog from time to time have probably noticed I have a fascination with the seasons and the ancient ways of observing and finding meaning in them. One thing I have wondered about and not found a satisfactory answer for is the relationship between the Summer solstice (around June 20 or 21) and the more mythic and poetic phrase “Midsummer Night’s Eve.” Because for some reason I often take language literally, I think of “first day of summer” (i.e., the Solstice) as being something quite different from “Midsummer Eve,” which seems a much more appropriate name for the Cross-quarter day halfway between summer solstice and fall equinox, in the first few days of August. It’s a puzzle. It probably comes down to when is the more likely time that people went out and rutted in the fields– in early summer (solstice) when the greens are coming up or in REAL mid-summer when the grains are harvested? My own sense is the latter, when evenings are warmer, the ground is dry, and the stars are bright. What do you think?
And, as incentive, bring in the definitive answer and get a free tasting!
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
There is certainly some resemblance among public markets everywhere. But like wine, each one has its own special characteristic look, sounds, and smells. The public market in Barcelona is just off the Ramblas, with its constant strolling throngs all hours of the day. This video captures both the restless-wave feeling of the Ramblas plus the unfolding array of carefully displayed fruits, vegetables, jamon, chocolate, cheeses, jamon, fish, and even more jamon, very expensive, very delicious, a gastronomical world unto itself, on display at the mercat.
Our own slides provide an echo of the video, but capture of few of the images that grabbed our attention…(click on “slideshow”)
This week’s wines:
Marques de Casa Concha chardonnay ’09 Chile 90pts $15
A medium-bodied, ripe, plush Chardonnay with vibrant tangerine, spiced apple, melon, and heather notes, with savory flavors, lively acidity, and excellent length.
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)
Stephen Vincent “Crimson” 09 California $11
Firm and spicy, with appetizing blackberry, wild berry, pepper, spice and chicory notes that firm up on the finish. Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Condado de Haza Ribero del Duero ’05 Spain 93pts $27
A lot of flavor on a supple frame. Black cherry, blackberry, smoke, mineral and espresso notes show focus and depth, backed by firm but well-integrated tannins that dissolve on a finely etched, floral-scented finish.
Wine Tasting June 15-16 ’12
Friday Night is Again Bread Night–but only till 6:15!
Due to various opportunities and obligations, we will be open from 4 – 6:15 on Friday, after which we must dash for the ferry. So come early, enjoy some wine with a chunk of Janice’s latest bread creation (last week was crusty-on-the-outside, chewy and flavorful on the inside, and Really Delicious!), a little charcuterie, cheese, and a bit of chocolate among friends! And of course be prepared for a quick exit. And yes, Ryan is back, but will not be in attendance until Europe to America jet lag has dissipated. So…remember…closing early this Friday.
Spanish Guitar, Honey & Cheese
Way, way back sometime in the sixties I bought a really cheap guitar (“over there” in 1968), took some lessons from a young Corpsman on the ship ( wait a minute…we were ALL young then!), and subsequently tried for years to learn to play guitar. For a long time it was your basic folk songs, and then in the early eighties I bought a classical guitar and tried to learn to read music. All you need to know is that I have a beautiful guitar sitting under the bed which I haven’t played in nearly thirty years; but I have maintained a love and respect for Spanish guitar, so much so that it was a tough decision to book tickets for the Flamenco performance at Palau Musica (see last week’s blog) rather than the guitar performance that was also scheduled during our stay in Barcelona.
Given that, you can imagine the pleasant “cup runneth over” feeling when we discovered, quite by chance, a different guitar concert the night before the flamenco concert. About mid-day on Saturday we were attending a little “honey and cheese” fair at the square of the Basilica Santa Maria del Pi, just off the Ramblas (the main tourist street in Barcelona, with its ongoing parades of tourists, gypsies, pickpockets, con men, actors made up as statues (who will pose with you for photos), restaurants, bars, etc.), when someone handed us this flyer (page 1; page 2). OMD! The concert was actually IN the Basilica; you can get a feel for it in this picture, and also in this video , which shows the same artist in the same location. As you can see from the program, he played classic works we have all heard many times, and he played them beautifully.
Oh, and by the way, yes we did buy both cheese and honey. You can see a bit more of the honey and cheese fair (modest, Lummi Island size!) here.
For all of you chocolate lovers out there, we have restocked our dwindling supply of Theo’s chocolate bars. In addition, we have added Theo’s totally decadent, luscious sipping chocolate to our selection…the Classic and the Chipotle. You just heat some milk, melt in a few tablespoons of ground-into-little-chunks (not powder) Real Chocolate, and stir it up. Oh yeah, it be Some Good!…especially on these chilly Fall evenings. What’s that…? It’s what…? It’s June, and this is what people around here call “summer”…? WoW…so why do we feel we need a fire in the stove every night…what’s THAT about?
This weekend’s tasting
Monte Oton Garnacha ’10 Spain $9
100% Garnacha sourced from higher elevation. Spice box, incense, mineral, and black cherry notes inform the nose of this round, supple, savory red.
Venta Morales Tempranillo ’09 Spain $9
100% organic tempranillo raised in stainless steel. Deep crimson-colored, it emits aromas of spice box and fragrant black cherry. On the palate licorice and other black fruits emerge leading to a finish with no hard edges.
Lapierre Morgon ’10 France WA92pts $23
Fresh raspberry and strawberry touched with brown spices and provocatively wreathed in musky peony-like floral perfume are underlain with rich nut oils; seductively soothing, with a mouthwatering mineral savor akin to lobster shell reduction.
Lummi Island Wine Tasting June 8-9 ’12
Friday Night is Bread Night!
Ah, the dilemma…what to do about Friday nights? We have been open Fridays from 4-7pm since late summer,and the jury is still out about whether to keep doing it. On the one hand it is generally sparsely attended. On the other, sparse attendance sometimes contributes to an easy, salon-like, conversational warmth. We also like Fridays because usually Ryan is behind the bar, and we get to schmooze at our favorite wine shop with many of our favorite friends. On Saturdays when it’s busy that just isn’t possible. The upshot is that we keep trying different things for Fridays.
Last week was the debut of fresh bread from Janice’s wood-fired outdoor oven. It was crunchy, it was complex, mostly rye, with raisins and seeds and nuts, and it was great with the charcuterie and manchego cheese. This week we expect to continue the Great Bread Experiment; don’t know what the bread will be, but it will be fresh, and there will be other tasty morsels and wines to go with it. Down the road we hope to have loaves to sell; for now, it’s Friday night samples. Oh, and by the way….it’s REALLY good!!
The New Chocolate Tempering Machine
I know, I know…it’s cruel to mention the C-word (“Chocolate!”) on an occasion when we are not offering Pat’s delectable truffles, medallions, or, as last week, nut clusters in deep, dark chocolate. They were an experiment resulting from the convolution of two disparate events: the arrival of a new, more sophisticated chocolate tempering machine (better temperature control!), and our discovery in Spain of the delicious Marcona almonds, aka “the Queen of Almonds.” They are shorter, rounder, softer, and sweeter than the California variety. Those we had (and loved!) in Spain were roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Hard to improve upon, but I can honestly say that embedding them in delicious high-quality chocolate is, for lack of a better term, an Inspiration. OMD- they are soooo good! I can’t speak for Pat, but hopefully there will be another experiment soon, and an opportunity for you to pre-order. (Let’s all hope so, and I will continue to lobby on our collective behalf…!)
Back in the seventies and eighties, Bellingham was home to a world-class flamenco dance team, Teo and Isabel Morca. Not only did I see them perform numerous times, but as it turned out, I also happened to be taking some dance classes at Western (I was on the faculty then) and had the opportunity to participate in a Master class with them. Flamenco, it turns out, is a complex art form combining dance, guitar, percussion, and voice into a layered, textured, formal, and yet emotive, passionate, and very physical expression of life, love, rhythm, and movement. So it was with some excitement that before our trip to Spain we had booked tickets to Gran Gala Flamenco in Barcelona at the Palau Musica Catalana. It was a little hard to find video and sound segments that convey the set of experiences of both the passion of flamenco and the classic architecture of the 100-year old Palau, but the links below are our best shot. As it turns out the best photos of the Palau seem to be taken by Japanese tourists…no we don’t know them, but we do appreciate their pictures, because ours didn’t come out very well! And the various videos below are not exactly the performance we saw, but they are the same troupe in the same theater, about a week later. Enjoy!
Flamenco #2 (not at Palau, but same troupe)
This week’s tasting:
Muga Rosado ’11 Spain $11
Pale and refreshing, with a lovely bouquet of cherry blossom, strawberry, and rhubarb. Crisp, vibrant, dry, and well-balanced.
Campo Viejo Tempranillo ’10 Spain $10
Supple and fresh, this light red offers cherry, berry, and herbal flavors over modest tannins. Crisp and refreshing, “joven” (young) style. with only four months in oak.
Can Blau “Blau” ’09 Spain 90pts $11
40% Carinena, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha aged for 12 months in French oak. Wood smoke, spice box, incense, lavender, black cherry and plum aromas are followed by a mouth-filling, round, dense wine with outstanding grip and length. It over-delivers in a big way. Drink it over the next 6-8 years.
Browne Family Cabernet ’08 Washington $28
Inviting bing cherry, cocoa, and leather aromas are followed by a silky palate of vanilla, clove, Damson plum, and fleur de sel, finishing with hints of cedar. Classic Washington cab.