Lummi Island Wine Tasting Groundhog Day ’13
This movie is such a cultural icon I just assume that Everyone has seen it at least once. The basic idea is compelling: that you get to live the same day over and over– always remembering how things turned out– and you can make adjustments to your decisions to see how that would affect outcomes. And at some level we all agree that, yes, it would be Very Cool to be able to do that!
I am also reminded of an obscure line from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in which the main character says something to the effect that life is “light” exactly because we can’t do things over and over to eventually choose the behavior with the best outcome. Oh, non, non, non, monsieur! You just get the one shot at everything, and that’s it!
So Groundhog Day has always been one of my favorite days, because:
- it is, as we have often mentioned, one of four very special “cross-quarter days;”
- The “sees his shadow” thing appeals to our deep distrust of the annoying randomness of our lives;
- Let’s face it, the whole idea is completely zany, and we all need a lot more of “zany” in our lives.
Wine Club Reflections
This picture of Mary Beth from last week illustrates the elusive nature of bringing our Wine Club to fruition. It is slowly taking form like the reflection in the window (people at the other end of the bar…click image for larger view)…there’s definitely Wine Club energy here trying to manifest, but materialization remains elusive…!
Never fear, however, help is on the way. After spinning wheels for another week trying to grok the programming necessary to make wine club and wine store software work correctly, I finally understood enough about the problem to accept that I am not willing to put in the time and effort required to become a programmer. Therefore I have happily engaged a local professional to help us out. Hopefully she will, like the rest of us, “work for wine!” Stay tuned!
In the meantime, you can still sign up for the wine club online by clicking on the WINECLUB! link at the top of the page, and following the instructions.
Supporters and Sustainers
Seriously, last Friday night Ryan opened the shop as usual at 4; Janice and David came shortly after with her latest loaf of fresh bread to share (pretty much every Friday night, and you don’t really need another reason to come by!); Pat and I were there as usual, because, like, it’s an Island, and wtf else would we do…?
Do not suppose, however, that low attendance had a negative effect on the animated, salonic (if that’s not a real word, it should be!) topic of whether our Wine Club should have more than one level of membership. Surely we don’t want to discriminate against people who live off-island, or who just don’t drink four bottles of wine a month, and so on. All agreed to some extent that there is something important about this question, something about inclusion and community, but, alas, there was no agreement at all about what the “different levels” of the Artisan Wine Club should look like, beyond the obvious notion that the bigger your commitment, the greater should be your reward. On the more practical hand, our financial survival requires us to challenge the notion that Trader Joe’s can do anything for you that we can’t do better.
Which brings me to tonight’s little Insight about all of this: we are happy to acknowledge both supporting members and sustaining members, and grateful for both. The difference in the two levels is fundamentally about commitment. From our perspective, the more of your wine budget you spend with us, the better off we are; from your perspective, the less you spend on wine overall, the better off you are. Obviously, the goal is to make it worth your while to buy more of your wine from us. So there is a contradiction: how can we encourage you to buy more of your wine from us? Is it about: Prices? Convenience? Service? Trust? Selection? What do YOU think?
This Week’s Wines
Nera ‘La Novella’ nebbiolo ’11 Italy $15
This unusual white (nebbiolo is typically a red wine) offers surprising complexity: zesty lemon cream, yellow apple, and white grapes, with a touch of nut skin, white pepper, and dusty earth.
Palama Negroamaro 08 (Italy) $10
Elegantly expansive, rich and robust. Although it is 100% “rustic” Negroamaro, it is amazingly balanced; silky mouthfeel, aromas of violets, plums, fresh ground pepper and blackberry jam with accents of cinnamon, leather, tobacco and smoke.
Palacios Rioja Crianza la Montesa ’08 Spain WA91pts $17
55% Tempranillo, 35% Garnacha and 10% Mazuelo, it has an uncomplicated, vanilla-tinged bouquet with ripe wild strawberry and cranberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent tannins and the oak is well-integrated, lending structure and backbone on the finish.
Boomtown Syrah ’08 Washington $17
Second label from Dusted Valley; deep ruby-garnet color and complex aromas of black currants with smoky notes. On the palate rich and nicely concentrated with good structure, balance, and velvety tannins.
Lummi Island Wine Tasting January 26 ’13
Wine Club Progress
We have Good News and Bad News about the Wine Club. The good news is that we think the software is set up adequately to kick this thing off and let you sign up. The bad news is that we haven’t figured out how to make your page look nice, but what the heck, we can keep working on that. For now we are already planning wine club events and the first samples of Ryan’s new import wines have arrived (see below), so we feel some pressure to, um, pull the cork on the new Artisan Wine Club! YAY!
How To Join the Artisan Wine Club
1. Click on the “WINE CLUB!” link at the top of the page.
2. Read the terms of membership.
3. Fill in your name and email address and click the “Sign Up” button.
4. A web page will be created automatically where you can update information about your wine preferences, which we will use in our wine purchase decisions.
5. You will receive an email with a link to your wine club page. You should save the link so you can access the page in the future. (Should you lose the link, no worry, you can sign up again using the same name and email and you will be sent an email with the same code.)
6. Use the link whenever you like to go back to your page and answer the various questions about your wine preferences.
First Wine Samples Arrive from France!
As many of you already know, particularly those of you who went on Ryan’s wine tour in the Languedoc last spring, he has been developing a way to bring some of those wines here, I mean Right Here to Our Shop. This turns out to involve a cast of thousands scattered from France to Rhode Island (Hey, I went to grad school there!) to Washington to Lummi Island. Since the details are even harder to explain than to comprehend, we will spare you the burden. The important take-away here is that it is nearly time for the first Artisan Wine Club Import Tasting…for Members Only, of course!
That is to say, in the next month or so we hope to kick off our Wine Club with our first, members-only, free wine tasting event, where you can taste and pre-order more than a dozen different wines that are EXCLUSIVE to our members! How about THAT? Stay tuned for details!
You will notice below TWO wine lists for this weekend’s tastings. The first tasting will include some of these French samples. However we only have ONE BOTTLE of each of the four wines. Most likely, that means they won’t last till Saturday, when we will probably pour different wines, also listed below. Those of you who went on the Languedoc tour last spring will recognize some of the wines, and here is your chance to taste them again! Those of you who did NOT go on the tour, this is your first chance to taste them! Either way, our recommendation is to come by tonight (1/25) if you can!
Love the New Camera!
Okay, it’s true, the photos on the page today may not have much to do with the paragraph they accompany. But this is really the first outing of our new camera after the old one bit the dust a few months ago after over a decade of faithful service. Regardless of what you might think about the compositions of the photos, try clicking on them to open the larger versions. Pretty amazing!
This Week’s Tasting #1 (previews of France!)
Chateau de Rayssac Cabardes 2009
Complexe et élégant; La bouche suave et veloutée aux arômes de fruits noirs profonds enchantera les amateurs de vins fins. Ses
tannins mûrs et fondus lui permettent d’être dégusté dès à présent ou conservé dans votre cave. Sur la table, il s’accordera
parfaitement avec le gibier et les viandes rouges, les fromages forts, les plats à base de truffe ou de champignons.
Chateau de Rayssac “Côté Ouest 2010
L’influence des vents atlantiques ainsi que sa dominance l’ont probablement façonné comme le vin le plus accessible de notre gamme. Clair et rond avec une bouche souple, il serait en parfaite adéquation avec du poulet, de la cuisine italienne… et des amis !
Chateau de Rayssac “Essential” 2009
La couleur rubis, ses arômes de mûres et ses tannins fermes sont incorporés dans un vin corsé et souple. L’attaque est franche et conduit à une finition onctueuse, grâce à un mélange équilibré de fruits et d’épices.
Domaine Gavoty Melopée Rosé 2011 ( I love this wine…and the description, too!)
“Our most fragile child is the one we care for most dearly; it is provocative by nature, revealing flavours that none of our other wines could hope to equal. It sublimates the garlic in a “Pesto” sauce, and exasperates our taste buds, raising the spices and sweet-and-sour flavours of a lamb curry to new heights. It cultivates contrast through its freshness, elegance and structure.
This Week’s Tasting #2 (when the #1′s are empty!)
Peirano Viognier ’10 California $12
Peaches, pineapple, and tropical fruit are complemented by the scent of lemons and ginger, and balanced by flavors of apples, pears and orange marmalade.
Pugliano Treggiaia 09 Italy $10
A smooth and satisfying blend of sangiovese, canniolo & cab, serious but friendly, delightful with anything from pizza to lamb chops.
Peirano Cabernet Sauvignon ’09 California $12
Aromas are a compendium of blackberry, black raspberry, and currant, with elements of toasty oak, chocolate, dark roasted coffee bean, sage, and spices. A sip fills the mouth with blackberry pie, black cherries, sweet oak and white pepper.
Idilico Garnacha ’10 Washington $18
From two highly regarded Washington vineyards (Upland and Elerding); fermented in small lots and barrel aged in neutral French oak; bottled unfined and unfiltered; exhibits aromas of tart cherry, strawberry jam, moist rock and citrus; full bodied with luscious mouthfeel and a lingering finish. Only 240 cases produced.
Wine Tasting January 19, ’13 Spanish Delights
Sunset over Orcas, Jan 17
This shot was taken tonight– first one on the NEW camera– and it clearly shows that in one month the sunset has moved from the left edge of Orcas Island to the bright spot in the photo, nearly halfway along the ridge. So, yes, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, but today was sunny, the wind was calm, Spring is just around the corner.
Wine Club and Online Store Update
I had hoped that by the time we reopened after inventory we would be up and running with our online store and wine club. It turns out that these things take time for the uninitiated (including yours truly), more time than any reasonable person could call, you know, “reasonable.” It has turned out that every small step forward requires a great deal of trial and error. The set of WordPress plugins we are using to set this up could, theoretically, be installed with a few clicks of the mouse, and voila, we would be in business. The truth is that it is far less like “click here for the cheese” and far more like “click here to enter the Maze where there may or may not be cheese for YOU, although we can honestly report that SOME who have entered have reported seeing cheese, or what they think would have been cheese if they had been running a different operating system, and, you know, figured out how to tweak the code a bit in their import.php file.”
Despite these setbacks, some progress has been made. Although the store is not actually functional at the moment, you will notice at the top of the page that there are three new links, each representing a functional element in progress that should be operational in the next week or two (we are that close!).
If you click on the “Wine Club” link at the top of the page, you will go to a page that describes the many benefits of wine club membership. At the bottom of the page is an online form where you can join the club. (yes, at some point you will be billed!) When you submit the form, a personal page will be created for you where you can enter more info about yourself, the wines you like, and eventually keep track of the wines you buy from us. You will receive an email with a link to your page, and you should definitely save the email and the link where you can easily find it again. Eventually we hope to provide opportunities for you to make notes about the wines you have bought.
The “Buy Wine” link takes you to our online store, which is still in development. As you can see, the plan of the moment is to give you a chance to shop by region. Clicking on the region will give you a list of our wines from that region. We hope to provide you with some details about the varietals (merlot, cab franc,…), the subregion (California/Napa…), and more detailed notes from winemaker or reviewers. The idea is that it will look like an online store for the world even though it is really aimed right here at Lummi Island, where you can order online and choose between picking up at the shop or having us deliver. The familiar online “shopping cart” is on the bottom of the right sidebar. ALL of this has turned out to be way more complicated than expected!
The “My Info” link will take you to a page where you can log in to your own account, update your information, evaluate the wines you have bought, or check out your purchase history.
In summary, this has turned out to be a much bigger set of tasks than expected. We think it will be up and running very soon, and no doubt it will take some time to iron out the expected wrinkles, get feedback from you on what works and what doesn’t, and learn our collective way into the Modern Era.
This Week’s Wines–Spanish Beauties!
A few weeks ago I was contacted by a gentleman from the mainland about whether I could find a certain Spanish wine for him. He had found a few bottles (on the East Coast), and liked it a LOT. Btw, critic Robert Parker gave it a whopping 94 points, absolutely unheard of in a wine that sells for less than $20. Turned out the wine was not yet available in Washington, and as far as anyone knew, it might never be available here. So I advised him to buy more from his East Coast source. Meanwhile I placed an order for five cases should it become available.
Last night I got a call that, literally, my wine-ship had come in, and not only was the wine available, but even though it was highly allocated (not enough to meet the demand, read “rationed”), I was still on deck for the five cases. Oh, and by the way, there was another beautiful Spanish wine, but there were only TWO cases, so I got those, too. And all of this just when I was feeling downtrodden by the Costcos and the Haggens of the New Washington wine world, and their special volume deals with distributors.
The important thing here is that we have some great wines this weekend, and you don’t want to miss them!
Martina Prieto Verdejo ’10 Spain $14
Verdejo thrives in the hot days and cold nights of the mesa and yields one of the most refreshing white wines of the world, delighting the palate with flavors of nettles, ripe pineapple, dried mint, and pencil dust on a crisp, fresh frame. From vines planted in clay, shells, and limestone in the Rueda wine region.
Bodegas Breca Garnacha de Fuego ’11 Spain 92 pts $9
Dark ruby/purple color, jammy black cherries intertwined with crushed rock minerality. On the palate, a full-bodied, voluptuous texture develops towards ripe raspberries and black currants intermixed with camphor and forest floor.
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.
Bodegas Convento Las Claras ’11 Spain 93 pts $18
From vineyards dating back to 1900; dense ruby/purple color accompanied by abundant notes of pencil shavings, white chocolate, espresso roast and creme de cassis. This modern-styled Spanish, super-rich, intense red takes ripeness to the limit.
Reminder–closed this weekend, reopening January 18
Reminder: closed for another week!
Just a reminder to all our friends that we are closed for annual inventory and a little respite. We expect to be closed till Friday. January 18, when we will reopen for our regular Friday and Saturday wine tastings. We apologize for any inconvenience, and look forward to seeing you in two weeks!
A couple of travel memories
This was taken at the opening event of the Falset (Spain) 2012 Priorat Wine Festival last April, called “Night of the Garnatxes.” This was the main floor of the winery, the Capcanes Cooperativa; there were other buildings and other floors and all looked like this…btw, the party didn’t even START till 11pm! Fortunately it was only a five minute walk from where we were staying. GREAT wines, GREAT party! In aught-fourteen we’d like to go back with a group. Anyone interested??
French winery chairs
At several wineries we spotted these old chairs with the region name on them. Never did learn the story of their origin, but they all look to have been around for a long time…love to have a collection from different areas! You will recall from previous posts that I am a big fan of wines from Pic St. Loup!