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lummi island wine tasting jan 25 ’19

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Bread Friday

Rustic French Country Bread –  A levain bread made with mostly bread flour, fresh milled whole wheat and and a bit of toasted wheat germ. After building the levain with a sourdough culture and mixing the final dough it gets a long cool overnight ferment in the refrigerator. This really allows the flavor to develop in this bread. Not a refined city baguette, but a rustic loaf that you would find in the country to go along with a hearty soup or stew. A great all around bread – $5/loaf

Sweet Corn & Dried Cranberry – this could be Sweet, corn & cranberry or sweet corn, & cranberry – either way it is delicious. Made with polenta and bread flour, enriched with milk, butter and honey for a soft and tender crumb, then loaded up with dried cranberries. Has great corn flavor but is not a traditional quick cornbread. A delicious bread that makes great toast and even better french toast- $5/loaf

And pastry this week…

Traditional Croissants – Made with two preferments, a levain as well as prefermented dough – which is also known as old dough where a portion of the flour, water, salt and yeast is fermented overnight. The final dough is then made with more flour, butter, milk and sugar, laminated with more butter before being cut and shaped into traditional french croissants. 2/$5

 

Savoie

This weekend we offer a sparkling wine from the Savoie region of France. It lies east of the Burgundy wine region and reaches well into the French Alps, and like Jura, its neighboring wine region to the north, borders on Switzerland to the east. It also offers a number of unusual varietals, grown in a large number of subregions shown in the map at left (click here for a larger view). The micro region of Seyssal has been producing wine grapes for about a thousand years.

The region’s vineyards average between 1000 and 2000 ft. elevation, often with southern exposures and favorable growing temperatures. Today’s wine is a blend of two varietals from the Seyssal subarea: altesse and molette. As in most sparkling wines, the flavor profiles of the grapes become subtle and yeasty, but with definite local nuances. Thus, sparkling wines from the Savoie and its neighbor Jura to the north have an appealing freshness and  rustic complexity. Altesse adds notes of honey, toast, nuts, and truffle, while Molette adds floral notes of magnolia and acacia, reminiscent of Viognier, and excellent acidity.

This wine is made from the traditional method, aging for two years sur latte, i.e., in bottle after injecting with yeast for the second fermentation that makes bubbly, you know, Bubbly.

We like it, hope you do, too!  read more

 

Lemberger 

Around here we know it as lemberger, a lesser known red varietal with flavors that always remind me of ripe thimbleberries– yes, those weeds that line many of the roadsides here on Lummi Island and which usually ripen in mid-Spring (soon!). In Austria lemberger is more commonly known as Blau Frankisch, literally “blue grape from France.” In the past we have found that under either name it goes really well with spicy food, a revelation a few years ago when we were pouring it along with a tasting of jalapeno cheese– one of those Perfect Pairings one occasionally discovers.

The grape comes up today because it is seldom seen, and it appears this weekend as one of the grapes in an unusual blend in wine #5 that also includes sangiovese, zinfandel, and malbec. It plays a minor role in the wine (19%), behind two big grapes, so probably indetectable. Still…it would be fun to try it with something spicy just to taste how it goes….!

 

 

Mar a Lago Update:  The Language of Politics

Some time around 1980 Republicans began a continuing attack on Language and the Meaning of Meaning,  a long term campaign of Orwellian Newspeak and DoubleThink, by hijacking familiar words and giving them different meanings. Businesses, which have always had the goal of minimizing wages, began referring to themselves as job creators, to whom Workers should be grateful for being hired, Cities should be grateful for being selected for corporate locations, and Consumers should be grateful for the glittering mountains of products and services the Corporate World was trying to Poison them with, Charge them interest for, and Bury them in.

Back then it made a certain amount of Karmic Sense that the Last President of the US would be a mediocre Cowboy Actor in an Empty (but expensive!) Suit with a Nice Voice. But I was naive; it has gotten Far Worse since then. The Litany of Real , Nonfiction Newspeak has since then brought us terms like political correctness, coastal elites, death tax, pro-life, pro-choice, extraordinaty rendition, IED, downsize, enemy combatant. infomercial, pre-owned, insurgent, welfare moms, anchor babies…the list goes on and on and on. Each one is a deliberate strategy to reframe an otherwise nondescript phenomenon with a pejorative tag for a political purpose.

There is much that is disturbing about this Weaponization of Ordinary Language to mislead, confuse, and reprogram target audiences— the same tactics that are, or may be, the target of investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. One can only reflect and be sobered by the complexity of the international Media Rabbit Hole at issue in that investigation. And, as in the arcane Olympic Sport of Curling, every play involves numbers of trained operatives with Brooms continually brushing away Every Trace of Actual Facts.

Despite all that, there is for the first time since the Tweetster’s Coup, in the form of the U. S. House, the potential for some Leverage against the Boldfaced Lying we have been observing since 2016 in the persons and words of the Tweetster, abetted at every turn by Darth McConnell, his Soulless Henchman Graham the Empty, and their Undead Army of Avaricious Orcs in Red State Legislatures. It’s a welcome foothold in what looks to be a Long Siege, probably not Survivable without the Circle of Good Friends and Copious amounts of Wine you have come to depend on here at the Wine Shop!

Washington Post Tweetster Lie Count to date: 7,546 as of 1/1/19

 

This week’s wine tasting

Seyssal Petit Royal Brut   France     $16
Traditionally made from Savoie white varietals Molette and Altesse, with extended time on lees and two years sur latte before rebottling, yielding a yeasty complexity and fine bubbles.

Matorana Nero d’Avola ’17    Italy   $14
From Sicilian volcanic soils; full-bodied and fresh with big notes  of ripe plums, berry cobbler, dark chocolate, and almonds, melting into earthy flavors with good minerality.

Altarocca Rosso Librato ’15     Italy     $14
Unoaked blend of canolao and cab franc from volcanic soils. Zesty, spicy, lush, and smooth.

3 Rings Shiraz ’15     Australia    $17  
Rich and full-bodied with attractive aromas and flavours of fleshy ripe black plum and blackberry liqueur;  squid-ink black with expressive and powerful aromas of dark and exotic berries and palate of chocolates, tar, leather and spice.

Owen Roe Abbot’s Table Red  ’16     Washington      $22
Charming blend of sangiovese, zinfandel, lemberger, and malbec showing rich notes of black currant, blueberry, cherry, white pepper spice, tobacco, and roasted red pepper, with gripping acidity and balanced flavors.

Wine Tasting
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lummi island wine tasting august 4 ’17

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Bread this week

Sonnenblumenbrot – aka Sunflower Seed Bread made with a pre-ferment that is a complete dough itself. It takes a portion of the flour, water, salt and yeast that ferments overnight before mixing the final dough. The final dough is made with bread flour and freshly milled rye, then loaded up with toasted sunflower seeds and some barley malt syrup for sweetness. This is a typical german seed bread- $5/loaf

Honey, Wheat, Lemon & Poppy seedsMade with a poolish that ferments some of the flour, yeast and water overnight before being mixed with the final ingredients which includes a nice mix of bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat. Some honey, poppy seeds and freshly grated lemon peel round out the flavors in this loaf. A great all around bread – $5/loaf

And for pastry this week:

Pan de Cioccolate – A delicious chocolate artisan bread. Not a typical enriched sweet pastry dough made with plenty of eggs, butter and sugar, but rather a rich chocolate bread made with bread and freshly milled rye flours, honey for sweetness, vanilla, and plenty of dark chocolate. Makes fabulous french toast! $5/loaf

The Italians are back!

It is now an established tradition each summer– the arrival of our semiannual special order shipment from our friends at West Seattle importer Small Vineyards. As most of you know, they specialize in family-owned wineries mainly in Italy, but in recent years also in France and Spain. Many of their member wineries have been  handing down traditional methods of farming and winemaking for generations. Virtually all of the SV imports vastly outperform their modest prices, and we always look forward to their arrival.

Over the next several weekends we are offering some old favorites as well as a few new imports. The old favorites are the Perazzeta Sara Rosato, a delicious rosé made from sangiovese grosso, the grape that made Brunello di Montalcino one of the most sought-after wines on the planet for the last hundred years. In addition, this weekend’s Italian representatives also include Sanguineti Cannonau Di Sardegna, which is basically grenache (a French Southern Rhone varietal) grown in Sardinia, where it develops its own distinctive and lingering notes of pomegranate to the more traditional red fruit notes. Locals claim grenache (cannonau) originated in Sardinia long before being exported to Spain and France, when the island was part of the kingdom of Aragon.

Moon and Tides

A few days ago I got Dreamtime out for a bit of a sail with my friend Mike, a former Army pilot who understands navigation principles, but the Army being what it is, never had to think much about tides.(!) We discussed my ongoing project to learn to predict where the Moon is in the sky by observing the Tide, and similarly, knowing where the tide must be if you know where the Moon is in sky.

Those of you who have been bored enough with your everyday lives that you have actually read any of these “Moon and Tides” musings the last several weeks should have picked up the basic tenet: when the Moon is highest in the sky the Tide will be pretty close to Low , and when the Moon is near the horizon, the tide has to be pretty close to a High. So imagine my Consternation as we were sailing, noting that the Moon (just past First Quarter) was High in the sky, and yet precious little of the shore was showing. In fact, it looked a lot like High Tide! Huh? Whazzat?

So of course when we got back in I checked my Tide App and was comforted by an interesting revelation, something I sort of knew theoretically, but hadn’t actually observed before. That is, when the Moon is at First or Third Quarter, it Is high in the sky at dinner time and the Tide is Low. However…I forgot that we also know that the tidal range between High and Low is at a Minimum at the Quarter Moon. Indeed, the day we were sailing there was only about a half-foot difference between the afternoon high tide (5.6′) and the evening low tide (5.1′)…! So yes, after Due Consideration, we are Happy to Report that it IS Intuitively Obvious!
Time   Tide   Height
0702    low    1.57′
1406    high   5.64′
1725    low    5.11′
2400    high   8.07′

 

Thimbleberries

Thimbleberries are a local curiosity, growing in banks alongside the road, often alongside salmonberries, another Northwest native. According to Wilipedia they are, like other raspberries, not a true berry, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core. The drupelets may be carefully removed separately from the core when picked, leaving a hollow fruit which bears a resemblance to a thimble, perhaps giving the plant its name.

We often find wines with flavors reminiscent of thimbleberries, definitely raspberry-like, but somehow brighter and more acidic, and often with a sort of dusty quality (probably from dirt blown onto them by passing cars!). Today is the first day we have found some bright red ripe ones, and lots of hard pink ones which may or may not reach maturity.  This summer has been very dry, so pickings are slim. Look for them along roads or driveways or around the edges of fields. And yes, they are a perfect match for the many dry rosés we have in stock right now!

 

Mar a Lago Update: New Hall Monitor?

Things have happened very fast the last week or two. Let’s just call it a series of “Staff Adjustments.” The thing one would expect about Staff Adjustments is some Overall Rationale, you know, “Okay, we are not meeting our goals so we need a Change in Strategy.” But that implies that you Actually Have Goals and a Strategy for Achieving Them! So somewhere in this picture we would expect “Tweetster and Team” to be able to Articulate their Goals and Strategies and gather Data to Assess their Progress.

But, to our Immense Relief, six months into Ruling the Most Powerful Nation on Earth, these Clowns haven’t even figured out where the bathrooms are, and who gets to use which ones at what times. No Wonder they’re Frustrated! It is, as Any Observer might note, Time for some Discipline. It’s Time for some Leadership. It’s Time to Send In the Marines!

And so it is that Arch-Republican Priebus is Out and New Chief of Staff and retired Marine Corps General John Kelly is In. The Question on the Floor is whether Kelly, by all accounts an accomplished Leader, yet lacking Political Experience, will be able to Establish Discipline in the Chaos that Follows the Tweetster like a Burlesque Theater Company with Trailerfuls  of Baggy Pants, Feathered Boas, and Rhinestone Pasties. Stay tuned!

 

This week’s wine tasting

Finnriver Apple Abbey Belgian-inspired Craft Cider     Washington   $11
A silky, full-bodied cider. Lingering apple sweetness with tropical aromas of ripe banana and hints of pepper and clove spice. Nutty, bread-like finish.

Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc ’16   Napa      $18
Aromas of honeydew melon, cashews, apple, which continue on the crisp palate with notes of nougat, tangerine, and peach, with good minerality on the finish.

Perazzeta Sara Rosato ’15     Italy     $14
From the same grape as Brunello (sangiovese grosso), this beautiful rosato is rich, bold, and flinty while also crisp, summery, and light.

Cecilia Covolo ’13   Italy    $16
A blend of cab and merlot aged in concrete; lush and mouth-filling, sunny expression of  Cab with engaging aromas of spearmint  and warm cocoa. Palate  of extured black currant fruit, dark chocolate, and a lively acidic core.

Sanguineti Cannonau de Sardegna    ’15     Italy      $12
This cannonau– a Sardinian varietal known elsewhere as grenache– offers dry and dusty aromas and flavors of cherry, pomegranate and plum that leave lingering, crisp, earthy and briny flavors that beg for food.

Ramirana Cab Reserva ’15    Chile    $12
Expressive notes of red and black berries, with notes of black pepper, chocolate, and tobacco. Nicely balanced body, acidity, and tannins, with a pleasing finish.

Wine Tasting
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lummi island wine tasting february 28 ’15

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Last Bread Friday till March 20!

20140724-123524.jpgGet on the pre-order

Berlin Country Bread. Rye sourdough culture with about 70% rye flour and coarse ground fresh milled rye. Hearty and substantial–  a couple of slices with cheese will last you all day – $5/loaf.

Hazelnut & Fig Country Bread. A mix of bread flour, whole wheat flour, and a bit of cracked rye, with toasted hazelnuts and dried figs soaked in brandy. What’s not to like – $5/loaf.

Pain aux Raisin. Croissant dough rolled out, spread with pastry cream, and sprinkled with golden raisins and dried cranberries before being rolled up, sliced and baked. Get your order in early as there is a limit on how many I can make. – 2 for $5.

 

 Mencia

triton_menciaMencia is a Spanish grape varietal found in the region of Bierzo, in northwest Spain. Like other wine regions, some of the best vineyards in Bierzo are on slate hillsides that produce wines with notable depth and complexity, often showing  plum, cherry, tobacco and chocolate notes with notable minerality. Valley floor vineyards, which generally have more quartz and clay, produce wines that can be light, pale, and fragrant, but without the complexity of their hillside neighbors. In general Mencia tends to be  fruity and aromatic, with good acidity that makes for versatile food pairing with both meat and fish dishes.

The grape was for a time thought to be related to cab franc, but recent genetic testing has demonstrated that it is in fact identical to a Portuguese varietal found in the Dao region where it is known as Jaen. Some people say it sometimes tastes like cab franc from the Loire region of France, while others think it’s more like pinot noir or gamay noir (you know, beaujolais). You will just have to come by this weekend and find out for yourself about this particular mencia (which I imagine is pronounced “men-thee-ah”…?)

 

 

The Blue Grape From France

Around here we know it as lemberger, another lesser known red varietal with flavors that always remind me of ripe thimbleberries– yes, those weeds that line many of the roadsides here on Lummi Island and which usually ripen in mid-Spring (soon!). In Austria lemberger is more commonly known as Blau Frankisch, literally “blue grape from France.” In the past we have found that under either name it goes really well with spicy food, a revelation a few years ago when we were pouring it along with a tasting of jalapeno cheese– one of those Perfect Pairings one occasionally discovers.

Today’s version is from Shooting Star winery of both California and Washington. Because winemakers in Washington love the varietal but universally hate the name (reminds too many people of the famously smelly cheese of similar name), the wine is called Blue Franc, playing on the Austrian name for the varietal. That also led to the choice of an old French Franc bill for the label.

 
This week’s tasting

Domaine Girard Chardonnay ’13 France $13
Medium to full bodied with fleshy notes of fresh-picked apples and pears; no oak, but spends time on the lees to give it richness; clay soils at a higher elevation impart a delightful freshness.

Agricultura Vinho Tinto ’11 Portugal $11
From Alentejo, on Portugal’s south-eastern border with Spain, comes this eminently quaffable red wine with surprising depth and complexity.

Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec ’13    Argentina    89pts    $14
Aromatic and fresh, with notes of violets, ripe plums and a touch of brown sugar, quite showy, with the profile of a cool vintage, the sweet tannins of the Malbec, some sweet spicy flavors, and good length.

Shooting Star Blue Franc ’11 Washington $12
From slate soils; nine months in French oak. Lively and vibrant, with aromas of blueberry and blackberry with touches of cocoa, pepper, and clove. Palate packed with cranberry, blueberry, and blackberry with a bit of cinnamon and licorice on the velvety smooth finish.

Triton Mencia ’11 Spain $12
From slate soils and nine months in French oak prior to bottling. Pungent dark berry and mineral scents show lively character. Firm and juicy, with concentrated blackcurrant and bitter cherry flavors and a hint of allspice.

Wine Tasting
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Lummi Island Wine Tasting July 21 ’12

 

Annual Chili Cook-off

Okay, folks, it’s that time again. A dozen or more chili competitors will be vying for your vote as best Lummi Island Chili for 2012 at Otto Preserve this Saturday beginning around noon. There will also be music, beer, cookies, and more. Two things you need to know about that are:
1) We will once again be among the competitors with the new, improved version of our famous vegetarian “Screaming Seagull” chili, for which we won the award for best name and best logo two years ago! and
2) We might be a little late opening the shop on Saturday, maybe around 3-ish (not usually a problem cuz everyone will be at the Chili Cook-off!)

Thimbleberries

I only became aware of thimbleberries after moving to Lummi Island nearly twenty years ago. They are a curiosity, growing in banks alongside the road, often alongside salmonberries, another Northwest native. According to Wilipedia they are, like other raspberries, not a true berry, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core. The drupelets may be carefully removed separately from the core when picked, leaving a hollow fruit which bears a resemblance to a thimble, perhaps giving the plant its name.

All I know is that I often find wines with flavors that remind me thimbleberries, definitely raspberry-like, but somehow brighter and more acidic, and often with a sort of dusty quality (probably from dirt blown onto them by passing cars!). All you need to know is that this year, right now, today and for the next week or two, these little gems are out in all their glory. In most years, thimbleberries are marginally edible at best, ripening unevenly or not at all. But this year, oh yes, this year is probably the best we have seen. Look for them along roads or driveways or around the edges of fields. And yes, they are a perfect match for the many dry rosés we have in stock right now!

Summer Friends

For some months we have been looking forward to the seasonal return of dear friends we have met here at the wine shop. When people ask me, “how’s the shop doing?’ I usually have to stop and think about what in the world that could mean. And where I usually land is, “Are we still having a good time?” And the answer is generally yes, we ARE having a good time, because of all the wonderful people we meet each week. We have been to a number of events with lots of people we know and very much like, and the thought sometimes occurs to us that these are people we have met in our funny little wine shop. And we also notice in such groups that many of the people know each other from the wine shop!

So I would like to take this moment to thank all of you who have bellied up to our tasting bar upon occasion, and a special thanks to you who have made our tastings a regular event. I am prompted to mention this because, like migratory birds you only see in a certain season, some of our dearest (see pix…sorry no names!) are hereabout this month. So hoist yer glasses, lads, and Toast to Friendship! Arrrrrrrr, ‘n’ it’s a good life when ya can share a spot o’ grog wit yer mates, eh?…!

This week’s wines:

Aravo albarino  ’09       Spain       $15
A one-of-a-kind, lush, mineral-laden, and medium-bodied Albariño that fills the mouth with peach, pear, mint, acacia flower, and wet granite notes.

Lost River Rosé ’09    Washington       $14
Blended from merlot and cabernet franc, harvested early to preserve bright notes of strawberry and cherry; excellent by itself or paired with summer fare from salads to barbecue.

Sikelia Nero d’Avola ’10 Italy $11
90% Nero d’Avola,10% Syrah. Densely purple, floral and earthy, combining the power of mountain fruit and the bold lushness of fruit grown by the sea. (a big hit two weeks ago, back by popular demand!)

Baguala Malbec ’08     Argentina      $8
Rich, elegant, and full-bodied, with notes of raisins and a dash of bitters. Delicious!

D’Artagnan Gascogne  ’10     France     $11
Alluring nose of black raspberry, flowers, and garrigue leads into a crisp palate of plum with a touch of bitters.

Wine Tasting