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lummi island wine tasting december 6, ’14

Bread Friday

20140724-123524.jpgFresh bread is back for the next two Fridays through Dec 19th!

This week’s breads:


Seattle Film Institute 20th Anniversary

dscn1047 (Modified)Today (Thursday, 12/4), we were in Seattle for the 20th Anniversary/ new building dedication of Seattle Film Institute (yes, complete with seachlights filling the sky!). Most of our wine shop regulars know David (below, with mom-in-law) who, along with wife Sam and their sidekick Randi, have second homes here on the island, and usually spend an afternoon in the wine shop when they are here.







dscn1049 (Modified)David founded the Seattle Film Institute twenty years ago. Over the past couple of years he has been deeply involved in the purchase and renovation of a new building, which became operational last Spring. So today was the double celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the school, plus the official dedication of the new digs. It was our first visit: Awesome! Read more about SFI here.






Walla Walla Vintners

Vintners_nlettervideo link

We have been hearing about the great wines from Walla Walla Vintners for years, but have rarely encountered them. That changed last May when we spent several days around Walla Walla and were fortunate enough to taste through the entire lineup of current releases with winemaker/co-owner Gordy Venneri. Over the many years he has been making wine he has developed a very balanced style that pervades all of the WWV wines: soft yet full, rich yet understated, “just enough” in all directions– very satisfying. Couple that style with a commitment to keeping quality high and prices very moderate, and you get a portfolio of lovely artisan wines.

This week we are pouring the 2012 Dolcetto; the grape originated in Piedmont, Italy, and the grape now grows beautifully in Walla Walla’s Dwelley Vineyard.

The Death of Plausible

One of the challenges of advanced age is the awareness that your values have become anachronistic. We have lamented before in these pages about how Facts have fallen out of favor and replaced with Opinion, which somehow in these times is considered More Reliable. Well, some of us Old Folks lean back in our rockers, scratch our whiskers, and muse, “hmmm, ain’t that peculiar…what are these Bozos gonna come up with next??!”

In the political realm, of course, which may be (for lack of a better term) the cutting edge of this philosophy, there is no longer the slightest pretense that the words being uttered have any need for factual basis. Anything that can be said is now, perhaps by some perverse twisting of Equal Opportunity, entitled to Belief without Question, you know, the way that Science once was. As I think about it, the last person I heard talk about Honor was Lt. Worf in Star Trek NG, and that was…OMD…twenty years ago! Can’t you just Hear him accusing, “You have NO Honor!”  Come back, Worf, we need you, Man…er…Klingon!

We find ourselves in a Time when Business Schools have convinced generations of students that Truth only counts if it makes a profit, when Cable News has replaced Facts with Hyperbole, and when politicians of all stripes have even stopped caring whether Deniability is at all “Plausible.”

If that doesn’t make you need a glass of wine, what will?


This week’s wines:

Idilico Albarino ’13    Washington      $14
Full spectrum of floral, almond and white peach aromas leading to flavors of apricots and peaches with a bit of citrus to make it really bright. Albariño has bracing acidity from those cool nights

Feraud Cotes du Rhone ’11 $14
Dark berries and cherry pit on the pungent nose; slight jamminess and a hint of cracked pepper to its extroverted berry fruit. Juicy and focused, with supple tannins and a lingering herbal note.

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.

Can Blau Blau ’12        Spain    $12
Attractive fresh red currant and raspberry-scented bouquet; medium-bodied palate with a sweet candied entry. Well-balanced with a crisp seam of acidity.

Walla Walla Vintners Dolcetto ’12     Washington     $21
Soft, velvety wine – front loaded with black licorice, cassis, and espresso – draws you in with a sweet nose. The ripeness of the 2012 vintage provided a lot of libido and you’ll surely return the love.

Wine Tasting
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lummi island wine tasting november 29 ’14

Yes, open this weekend!

myoldvinezinHere it is Thanksgiving Night after way too much really delicious food. Sound familiar? There is something about “feasting” that blends together elements of gratitude, celebration, community, and yes, a bit of Overindulgence. At this time every year we follow traditions learned from our families, and blend them with the traditions of other families, into something particularly “American,” with the same basic form from household to household, though details might vary widely. In the great stream of human existence, we in this place in this time are blessed beyond comprehension.

As if all that weren’t enough to elicit Deep Gratitude, there is the additional Blessing that we WILL BE OPEN our usual hours this weekend. Come on by!



Holiday Case Sale–Black Friday through Christmas!

Our annual Holiday Case Sale .begins this weekend and continues through December! Buy any twelve bottles, and we will pay the sales tax (8.6%)! Even better…if you are a Wine Club member, buy any twelve bottles and get an additional 5% off! Offer good through closing time on Saturday, December 27!

Not only is this a great deal for both members and non-members, but it is also a good time to stock up for January, because the current plan is to close the wine shop until the first weekend of February!



A room with a View

20140110-223040.jpgOne of the great pleasures of our place on Lummi Island is our wonderful view toward Orcas Island. Over the years I have posted many photos taken from our vantage point; though it is always the same structure, the experience is different in every moment depending on the light, the season, the time of day, and the weather, and constantly nourishing. In each case, there is something inherent in our human nature that finds a water view pleasantly soothing.

A recent study on the real estate market in our area found that water views account for 50%-130% of the sale price of various properties. So the better the view, the higher the demand. In addition, of course, the better the view, the more taxes you pay. And perhaps most important, there is an ongoing psychic value to the nourishing experience of being able to enjoy a great view from moment to moment. If there is a point here, it is that a view is worth the sum of these various effects (higher market price, stream of tax revenue, and stream of daily benefits over many years.)

Over the years I have posted scores of pictures of this same view, all quite different; it’s a huge benefit of being in this place, and yes, something for which we are continually grateful.

Idle Hands

Our “Big Wine” this week is the result of the Underground Wine Project, an ongoing collaboration between two highly regarded Washington winemakers, Mark Ryan McNeilly (Mark Ryan Winery) and Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars (we poured his “Renegade Red two weeks ago and everyone loved it!) “Idle Hands” is named for a song by The Gutter Twins, and the calligraphic label is the first line of the song:.

With my idle hands
There’s nothing I can do
But be the Devil’s plaything, Baby
And know that I’ve been used

Mostly syrah with some cab, all from Red Mountain, adds up to a very enjoyable wine experience: you’re gonna like it!

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This week’s wine tasting

Markham Chardonnay ’12       California   $16
Pear and apple aromas are highlighted by vanilla and steely minerality that carry over onto the rich, lush palate, while sur-lie barrel aging adds texture and weight to the mouthfeel.

Mannina Cali red blend ’11   Washington     $10
cab-merlot + sangiovese; plum, coffee, flowers, menthol and an earthy nuance on the nose, fruity and easygoing in the mouth, with bright red berry flavors with notes of mocha.

 Domaine de Couron Cotes du Rhone ’12     France     $11
Lightly dusty-edged black cherry and black currant fruit is lined with a graphite note, with a hint of lavender chiming in on the finish.

Alta Vins Tinto Joven    Spain  $11
60% Garnacha, 30% Syrah, 10% Carinena; Brilliant garnet color; bright and fresh with notes of red currant, balsamic, and rose water.

Idle Hands Syrah ’12     Washington        $27
A luscious blend of 92% Syrah and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain; big aromas of fresh vanilla, blueberry jam, and hints of anise. The palate is rich and supple,  showing blackberries and smoky oak, with hints of black pepper, coconut and medium-dark chocolate.

Wine Tasting
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lummi island wine tasting November 22 ’14


At left is the lovely new logo of the latest incarnation of the “you may not love it but by gawd you shuah need it” Beach Store Cafe, Lummi Island’s only Real Restaurant. I don’t know who designed this logo, but I do absolutely love it. I have an old ball cap with the logo of the late-90′s incarnation of the BSC, but it is too grubby to photograph. This logo graces the web page of the new Cafe.

Anyway, Ryan (he who opens our wine shop on most Fridays) is on loan to the BSC as wine advisor/wait staff trainer/sommelier for a few weeks, so is not available to open the wine shop on Fridays for a few weeks. Unfortunately, we are not available this weekend either, as we have a long standing reservation for Pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Ciao Thyme on Friday…!!

Your important Take-Aways here are that 1) we will NOT be open this Friday as usual, and 2) Janice will NOT be bringing bread this weekend. (We know because she and David will be with us at Ciao Thyme!) We regret any inconvenience, and look forward to seeing you Friday regulars on Saturday as you load up wines for Thanksgiving!

Old BSC Logo

dscn1046 (Modified)I don’t remember the exact year. The basic history (these are impressions, not facts, so I expect many corrections before next week!) is that there was once an old Store in this building called the Beach Store, because it was a “store” and because it was on a little spot actually known as “Beach, Washington.” The store closed a Long Time Ago. In the late eighties, Mark and Lis Marshall bought it, made it beautiful, and reopened it as the original Beach Store Cafe.

Over several years they built it into a Fine Dining Experience, with great food, good jazz, and a clientele from both the Island and the mainland. They closed the restaurant and moved on to other things sometime in the mid-nineties, and the building was dormant for several years, prompting the brief and incandescent manifestation of Java the Hut (more on that next week!), which for a brief time presented great coffee and weekend pasta meals where Art Hohl now has his Glass Studio.

This old sew-on decal has lost most of its color over the years, and I don’t remember who did the graphic. It shows sunrise over Mt. Baker, a checkered table with (l to r) a cup of coffee, a loaf of bread, and fresh vegetables. And yes, I think there was more color back then…but it is still a cool image. Obviously graphics have gotten a lot less personal in fifteen years. But the idea is the same, here and everywhere: “come on in, sit down, and be nourished. And take a moment to savor this amazing view!”

We take a moment to wish Tess, Jason, Craig, Janice, Ryan, and all the staff every success with their new vision of the BSC! Most of you will love it; some will hate it; and we will continue to bow in Gratitude to anyone who puts in the time and energy to try to make a restaurant happen way out here at the End of the Universe.


Good deeds, Punishment, and “Never Volunteer”

Circumstances require that I be a little cryptic here, a little (for lack of a better term) diplomatic, a tad obscure. The insight I would like to share with you is that after feeling Very Badly Burned in my last outing in Community Service over a decade ago, I have been duly conditioned to “never volunteer” (yes I know it is a split infinitive, mea culpa, mea culpa, it’s for a good cause…!).

So it was with some trepidation that recently I took on a couple of Civic Responsibilities. And for the most part it has been congenial and rewarding. So from that perspective, the old Adage about volunteering is entirely misplaced.

The image here is Titan Prometheus’ daily torture, assigned by a Jealous Zeus, of having his liver ripped out and eaten by an eagle, only to have it regenerate in time for the next day’s repetition of the same Hell. At the moment, given things that have been going on in my life lately, it is absolutely clear to me that this fable, this image, this extraordinary metaphor, could ONLY have been the Insight of someone who, with all Good Intentions, in a weak moment allowed himself or herself to be persuaded to volunteer for the Public Good. We are a strange species, passionate, irrational, and hateful as often as we are thoughtful, rational, and compassionate. No wonder the Rats fear us, huh…?



Curiously, the image here illustrates the point at a deeper metaphysical level. This paragraph started with an intention to take a more positive attitude about our so-called “Culture,” with a search on “Pollyanna,” motivated by my new conversational mantra, “Yeah, it’s all Good!” But “Pollyanna” turned out to be yet another name that has been commercialized into meaninglessness by the New Thought Police: a search for images relating to “Pollyanna” delivered (I’m not making this up, you should try it for yourself!) a gazillion images of nail polish ads, which were, like, “Hello, wtf…?”

This leaves us with the gear-spinning, clutch-slipping, mind-blowing Reality that the Big Algorithm designed to Think As We Think has determined that a commercial interpretation of what is basically a  literary reference must be what people are looking for when they put the term in a Search Engine. I mean, just Think about that for a few seconds…OMD, what happened to what we used to call “Reality”….!

Admittedly, this recent finding makes it even harder to keep telling ourselves, “Hey Dude, it’s all Good, man!” So okay, it’s not necessarily All Good, and if you believe that and don’t watch out you are gonna get Squashed into a blob of yellow-green Goo like a Bug. What’s important here is that we’re all salmon swimming against a powerful stream, and no matter how tired we get, we still have to keep swimming. We swim for Truth, we swim for Wholeness, we swim for Whatever we believe in. Sorry, Pollyanna, modern politics and business have made you an endangered species; it is, we are sorry to say, not a good time for Optimists…but hey, hang in there!

This week’s tasting menu

Brancott sauv blanc ’12 New Zealand $14
Spicy quince and Asian pear flavors rest on a crisp, juicy body, with plenty of lime zest and grapefruit notes through the juicy finish.

Campo Viejo Tempranillo ’12      Spain       $11
Aromas of ripe red fruit followed by gentle sweet notes of vanilla and spices. On the palate it is perfumed, soft and fresh with a long finish that leaves memories of red fruit, vanilla and cocoa.A perennial go-to value here at AWG.

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.

Lacroix-Vanel Fine Amor ’12 France $18
Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Carignan; generous dark cherry and black raspberry tinged with lavender, sassafras, brown spices and tobacco, with suggestions of iodine and crushed stone.

Pomum Red ’11 Washington $19
Bordeaux blend with a bit of syrah– Inviting, open-knit aromas of plum, raspberry and tobacco. Supple, sweet and mellow; plummy and broad in the mouth, displaying good depth of texture.t

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Ferry photo




Wine Tasting