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lummi island wine tasting february 28 ’15

(note: some photos may click open to larger versions)

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.



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 february 21 ’15

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Friday breads!

20140724-123524.jpgNote: breads are now largely by pre-order; to get on her list!

Heidebrot. Made with a  50% rye sourdough culture with coarse ground fresh milled rye. Try with cheese or smoked salmon - $5/loaf.

Dried Apple & Honey Egg bread. Four-braid loaf packed with dried apples and a bit of honey, great for toast (or even better, french toast) - $5/loaf.

Kouign Aman. Made with croissant dough laminated with butter and sugar, cut into squares, folded and baked till the sugar caramelizes in to a yummy crunchy pastry. Oh my! O\Limited, order early! - 2 for $5.


2015 Wine Club–  Better than Ever!

awg glassThis will be the third (or is it fourth?) year of the Wine Club. We have reviewed the pros and cons of various features (and how much work they make for us), and have decided to simplify the rules even more in a couple of ways.

First, all memberships will now be for the calendar year. Whenever you join the club, you get full benefits for the remainder of 2015. That shouldn’t be a problem for most of you, who last signed up in the first half of 2014. For those of you who joined after August 1, we will automatically extend your membership through 2015.

This year’s dues are again $35 per person. Membership benefits include:

– 50% off on all wine tastings (value up to $420!! –you know, if you came every Friday and Saturday!
– No sales tax on ALL wine purchases! (yes, yes, we must be Crazy!)



OS Revisited

Their original name was Owen-Sullivan Winery, named for the two founders, Bill Owen (winemaker), and Rob Sullivan (the business guy). As it turned out, some winery in California had the name “Sullivan” in it, and after years of legal sparring, they had to change the name, and it became just OS Winery seven or eight years ago. The winery was located in the Georgetown district of Seattle. In those days they self-distributed, so periodically I would drop in and hang out with Bill while he poured me the current releases, which would inevitably lead to some barrel tasting. I would then load up several cases and bring them back to the wine shop for all of you.

A few years ago they got a distributor, and though we have usually carried their basic OS Red and their Riesling, and I didn’t get to visit the winery anymore. Well, now Bill has his own winery, and there is now a new winemaker at OS. I ran into Rob at a wine event last summer and tasted through the current releases. I am happy to say the original vision is still intact: “Our focus since the beginning has been on select sites (i.e., the best vineyards in Washington) and low yields combined with a winemaking ethic centered on simplicity (i.e. no fining, no filtering, gravity fed production) all with one aim: Opulent, Voluptuous, Concentrated Red Wines.”  This week we will be pouring their new “16th St. Bridge” Red, which I believe is the new incarnation of their always-popular “OS Red” of recent years.


Newtonian Physics

I took a fair number of physics classes as an undergraduate. When it came time for an exam, the joke was, well, if you just remember F=ma (i.e., Force equals mass times acceleration), you can easily derive from it all the equations you would need to solve most of the problems you were likely to encounter on your physics exam using a little basic calculus. (which, believe it or not, we actually learned to do).

So it is with some puzzlement approaching consternation that all these years later I hear it claimed that a ferry boat weighing several times as much as another can operate on half the fuel. Yes, folks, I am talking about the Hiyu, the giant “free” boat that may be available on the cheap very soon, and which some people think should replace our trusty Whatcom Chief.

The “m” in Newton’s First Law is for “mass,” which we can consider a measure of inertia, which is to say, “how much it wants to stay in one place and not get moved around.”  If we consider two boats, one of mass “m” and one of mass “3 x m ,” then for a given acceleration (like, leaving the dock at zero knots and increasing to 11 knots, and then doing the opposite a few minutes later on the other side), other things being equal, we would expect the amount of energy required to be about three times as much for the more massive boat.

Why is that interesting? Well, our back of the envelope calculations suggest that this larger vessel would most likely use about three times more fuel doing the same job. Which is to say, “hey, let’s take another look at those numbers…!!


This week’s wine tasting

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes ’12 Argentina $14
Highly perfumed aromas of lemon drop, white flowers, peppermint and white pepper. Supple, pliant and easygoing, with citrus, herbal and floral flavors joined by a hint of licorice.

OS 16th Street Bridge Red ’11 Washington $12
Polished, open-textured and appealing, with green olive-accented cherry flavors and a graceful bearing. Finishes with delicacy; Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

Domaine Donjon Minervois Tradition ’11    France      $16
60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Carignan; aged 12 months in stainless steel. Meaty and complex, with sweet red and black fruits, loads of white and black pepper, bay leaf and dried herbs, it stays fresh and lively on the palate, with medium-bodied richness and length.

Eguren Codice  ’09     Spain    90pts     $11
Aromas of cassis, cherry, licorice and mocha. Dense, alluringly sweet and juicy, with excellent concentration, silky fine-grained tannins and lingering spiciness.

Alto Moncayo Veraton ’06     Spain   93pts    $25
Offers a sensational aromatic array of pain grille, pencil lead, earth notes, wild black cherry, and black raspberry. Dense, layered, and full-flavored on the palate, this hedonistic effort is balanced enough to evolve for several years…an awesome value!

Wine Tasting
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lummi island wine tasting valentine weekend ’15

(as always, some photos will click open to larger versions)

It’s back:  Bread Friday!


Honey Rye– rye sourdough culture, 1/3  fresh milled rye flour,  coarse ground rye and a bit of honey for sweetness. Try with cheese or smoked salmon – $5/loaf.

Buttermilk Currant–  50% fresh milled whole wheat flour with a buttermilk tang, dried currants, and a little fresh rosemary. Makes great toast! – $5/loaf.

Rum Raisin Brioche: Delightful and buttery with almond paste, rum raisins, chocolate, and sliced almonds. Won’t last, so get here early!  2 for $5



The Never-ending Story

dscn1016 (Modified)As you know, we were away for a month, having “adventures,” mentioned in recent posts. So of course one point of interest on our daily dog walk has been to check in on Ning Ning, aka the Green Ketch, whose exploits we have followed since her grounding last fall. When last we posted, she had been brought back from yet another watery grave, once again afloat on her mooring. I have lost count, not sure if that was the third sinking and refloating or the fourth.

So it was with some considerable dismay and consternation to find, on our first walk after our return that alas, she is sunk again. In the interest of Full Disclosure I will say that this photo is actually from sinking two or three around late November…but it is a pretty good representation of what she looks like right now. On behalf of this poor old boat I just have to wonder, (picture Lewis Black saying this and waving his arms for emphasis), “WTF ARE THESE GUYS THINKING??!!” This is not Rocket Science, folks. To paraphrase the old saying…”sink me once, shame on you…sink me twice, thrice, and more, shame on…who…why are you looking at me like that…??”


Signs of Spring

dscn0450 (Modified)In Napa Valley a few weeks ago we noticed that the mustard that is planted between the rows in many vineyards is in full bloom in many places– about six weeks early. And on one day in late January the temp got up to eighty, very unusual.

It seems pretty warm around here, too, for Valentine’s Day. We’ve noticed lots of spring birdsong in the early morning air; Indian plum and snowdrops are blossoming, and iris and daffodils are reaching up for the sun. That was the case last year at this time, too…just before we got a foot of wet, heavy snow. So this is just a reminder not to get too confident or take the weather for granted. It’s really the same lesson as in the previous paragraph– “Arrr, always keep an eye to weather, lads!”





This week’s wines:

St. Innocent Pinot Blanc Freedom Hill ’12 Oregon $18
Bright, green-tinged yellow, with minerally scents of honey, tangerine, and herbs. Light and easygoing, with delicately earthy notes mixing with the pear and citrus flavors.

Bibbiani Treggiaia     Italy     $11
A smooth and satisfying blend of sangiovese, canniolo & cab, serious but friendly, delightful with anything from pizza to lamb chops.

Casarena ’505′ Malbec ’10 Chile $12
Nuanced aromas of currant, dusty herbs, licorice, spices, coffee and smoky oak. Serious and lively, with saline complexity to flavors of blackcurrant and cranberry.

Montfaucon Cotes du Rhone ’11 France $13
50% Grenache co-fermented on skins with syrah, cinsault, carignan from 40 yr old vines; matured in concrete tanks. Good ripeness and lots of minerality along with fleshy plum, blackberry and licorice notes. A floral hint adds charm on the finish. (read more)

Lost River Western Red ’12 Washington $17
Lovely blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc; dark fruits on the nose, smooth and rich in the mouth, enjoy with rich sauces or all by itself.

Wine Tasting
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lummi island wine tasting february 7 ’15

We’re back– Grand 2015 reopening Saturday, February 7!

DSCN1099A week ago we were parked in the sun at Bodega Bay, relaxing and enjoying the warmth of the weather and the pleasure of nothing in particular we had to do. Ahhhhhhh, very pleasant! This is the same place we spent time and wrote about last year at this time. Lovely weather, great dog walking trails, and even a yoga class right next door! The original plan was to spend at least a week there, but given the unexpected change of plans  mentioned last week, the three days we did get to spend there were especially enjoyable.

It has been helpful to have had that week and a half of sunny days in our back pockets on the drenchingly rainy drive back north the last few days. It is Amazing how much more room wet dogs take up in a small trailer than dry ones…!



Terrapin Creek Revisited

dscn1103 (Modified)As mentioned last year, there is a delightful little restaurant in Bodega Bay called Terrapin Creek (read more). Low-key, understated, and affordable, this little one-star Michelin restaurant operated by chef/owner Andrew Truong is an unexpected gem in this little coastal town. Last year we enjoyed a wonderful lunch there; this year we went for dinner, beginning with the very tasty Wedding Cuvee bubbly (yes, a rosé) from nearby Iron Horse Vineyards (which we of course had to visit!). Absolutely lovely meal, highly recommended!

dscn1104 (Modified)









This week’s tasting

Scherrer Dry Rose ’13    California    $21
69% syrah and 31% grenache): Light, bright pink. Vibrant, precise aromas of strawberry, orange zest and white pepper. Taut and linear on entry, then fleshier in the middle, offering an array of red fruit flavors and a hint of honeysuckle. Finishes on a juicy tangerine note, with excellent clarity and spicy persistence.

Aravo albarino ’13 Spain  $18
A one-of-a-kind, lush, medium-bodied Albariño that fills the mouth with apples, lime, peaches, flowers and grass, with bracing acidity and cleansing minerality.

Venta Morales Tempranillo ’13    Spain   $9
Deep ruby/purple color in addition to lots of berry fruit and a touch of licorice presented in a lush, Spanish fruit-bomb style.

Vinosia Aglianico ’11      Italy        $12
Deep garnet-purple color. Raisin, blueberry and underbrush aromas. Some dried rose petals and spice. Crisp acidity and a medium+ body. Medium+ level of velvety tannins. Long finish.

Scherrer Old Vines Zinfandel ’12     California    $34
Superb depth and richness, along with layers of flavor, all while maintaining the essentially mid-weight personality of the site. Sweet rose petals, mint and licorice meld together on a silky finish supported by excellent structure.

Wine Tasting