Bread Friday (sign up for
Toasted Pecan Flax Seed - Made with a rye sourdough culture and about 1/3 fresh milled whole wheat, toasted pecans and honey – $5/loaf.
Buckwheat Rye - 15% fresh milled rye and 30% buckwheat flour make for a dark and hearty loaf. – $5/loaf.
Chocolate Babka Rolls – Sweet roll dough with a chocolate/cinnamon butter filling. - 2 for $5.
While exploring the Web for notes on this weekend’s wines, I found the phrase “Guyot-trained” vines, and wondered what that meant. It turns out that there are lots of ways to train grapevines, depending on the varietal, the soil, and the sun exposure. In all cases the objective is to get the best fruit and therefore the best wine from each vine. Some varietals in some settings produce too much foliage and not enough fruit, or the opposite, letting in too much light. Depending on the climate, some methods of canopy management work better for optimal air movement through the leaf canopy, and thereby reduce the risk of pests and rot. Also, of course, in each setting some methods work better for pruning or harvesting.
The Guyot method was developed about 200 years ago by Dr Jules Guyot, and has special application for managing canopy density in lower-vigor sites.In all cases, canopy management is site and varietal specific, aimed at balancing sun exposure for optimal fruit development. There is a lot at stake in a business that is expensive and land-intensive, and where years pass before investments yield any return– so a lot of attention is given to which varietals and which vine training methods will work best at each vineyard site.
It is hard to believe a whole year has passed since we were in France. And while this photo is not actually of rosé, it was taken at the Lirac winery of Jean-Pierre Lafond. And since it is without doubt the best wine photo I have ever taken, I can’t miss any excuse to post it yet again! As we have mentioned before, Tavel and Lirac border each other just west of Avignon and a bit south of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. From Lirac come some of my favorite red wines on the Planet, and from Tavel come possibly the best rosés on the Planet. So yes, we are very fond of the wines from this little area. This week we are featuring the Lafond Tavel rosé for your Early Summer pleasure, and of course the winemaker referred to it at “the Best Rosé on the Planet!”
Global Warming Guilt Trip: Is it Wrong to Bask While the Planet Suffers???
Okay, it’s been cloudy the last several days, with even a little rain. More would probably be better, especially after the strangely warm and dry summers we have had here in recent years. And yes, I have already worn shorts this year, which is, let’s just say, not a familiar choice in a place where, as Mark Twain is alleged to have put it, “the mildest Winter I ever spent was a Summer on the Puget Sound,,,!” So it is with a mixture of Surprise and Delight (with dashes of Guilt and Worry) that we observed, toasted, and celebrated the Return of the Sun today. It was not Too Hot, but it was, for several hours late this afternoon, Very, Very Comfortable and Beautiful, making this just about the Perfect Place to be, as noted in the the accompanying photos..
This week’s wine tasting
Kermit Lynch Vaucluse Blanc ’13 France $12
Think crème brûlée and honeysuckle; this viognier-chardonnay blend is round-bodied, yet with tart, stony crispness and knockout aromas of
pear, sun-baked apples, and spicy hints of anise.
Domain Lafond Tavel Rose ’14 France $18
(60% grenache with cinsault, syrah, carignan, clairette, picpoul, bourboulenc, and mourvedre): Dark pink. Pungent red berry and floral aromas, with hints of blood orange, anise and white pepper. Fleshy and broad on entry, offering juicy redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors and a touch of citrus pith. Finishes supple and spicy,
Renegade Red ’12 Washington $11
Nicely crafted blend of Cab, Merlot, and Cab Franc; shows lots of red and black fruits, scents of loamy minerality, and fine grained tannins that are matched with balanced acidity.
Corte Gordoni La Fontane Bardolino ’12 Italy $14
Bardolino is made from a blend of 60% Corvina for structure, weight and a sour-cherry aroma, and 30% Rondinella for the wine’s appealingly fresh, herby flavor. Corvina vines are Guyot trained; all other varieties are spurred Cordon Vines
Caymus Conundrum Red ’13 California $17
Totally California, with lots of bright, bold cherries, raspberries, and a little plum smoothly interwoven to yield a smooth, round, hedonistic palate and VERY easy drinking.
Bread Friday (sign up for
Light Rye - made with a rye sourdough culture, rye flour, and caraway seeds..what many people picture when they think about “rye bread.” - $5/loaf.
Italian Walnut & Honey - About 30% fresh milled whole wheat for a great chewy texture, sweetness from the honey, and additional flavor from toasted walnuts…makes fabulous toast! - $5/loaf.
Rum Raisin Almond Brioche – Delicious buttery brioche buns stuffed with rum-soaked golden raisins and almond paste, then topped with a chocolate glaze. - 2 for $5.
Last Weekend’s Artists’ Studio Tour: Portraits of Lummi Island Women
(click on photos to enlarge)
Last weekend’s opening of Anne Gibert’s (photo, left) latest show can only be described as Awesome! The concept, the execution, and the public response are all a testament to the resonance of the show’s theme with the Island Community. We managed to snap photos of a few of the surprised but pleased subjects (the paintings were done from Anne’s photo collection, not sittings).
Shown here with Anne’s portraits are Bobbie, Diane, Becca, and Wanda. Portraits being what they are, a momentary gesture caught in stillness, some are more effective than others at capturing a Signature gesture or Look that everyone recognizes immediately. But as a group, I think we are all extremely impressed and grateful to Anne for coming up with a great idea and executing it so beautifully and professionally!! Wow!!
Rosé Season is Back!
No, this is not a Prison Photo! These are huge stainless steel tanks where rosé takes time to get its breath while it is learning to become wine. After all, it is pretty traumatic being snipped from your parent vine, thrown into a series of containers, frisked for stems, bugs, and foreign matter, and then thrown into a a heap of your fellows that is So Heavy that your Precious Bodily Fluids (that we all Love so much!) surrender to the Higher Cause of Becoming Wine. Yes, it is Cruel and Beautiful at the same time, a Mystery…but hey, just because we can’t understand it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it!!!
This is all to review the Perennial Question: How is rosé made, anyway? Well, there are several methods, but the one most used en Provence probably accounts for most of the dry rosés you see on our shelves. Rosé is typically made from red grapes (i. e., usually used to make red wine). When making rosé, however, the juice remains in contact with the skins for only a short period of time, sometimes as little as a few hours, and at a relatively cool temperature, before separating it from the skins. The longer the contact time between the skins and the juice, the darker the color and the more red-wineish the wine becomes. So the very pale rosés (like this weekends’s Bargemone) usually mean that the contact time is very short, with the common goal of producing a wine that is aromatic, fresh, crisp (acidic), and refreshing. And pale!
Another way of looking at it is to realize that contact with the skins is to a very large extent what gives red wine not just its characteristic color, but more importantly the complex chemistry that makes it so infinitely variable and interesting. Click on the link below for a brief video clip of the bottling line at Bargemone we filmed last June…!
People experience a lot of feelings: curiosity, boredom, wonder, amusement, boredom, fear, silliness, hope, pride, shame, remorse, exultation, and on and on to include just every conceivable feeling that People can experience. Therefore, Logically, since Corporations are legally People, they should be able to Feel Something. But of course they don’t, and can’t. And that is a Big Problem. As an old and dear friend once told me, with great conviction, “Rich, Feelings are Facts.” This is actually a pretty Profound Idea, so let’s take a moment with it.
For whatever reason, our nervous systems have evolved not just with analytical intelligence, but also with emotional intelligence. Our decision-making is governed not simply by deductive and inductive reasoning (the best that Corporations can hope for), but also by Emotional Congruity, which is something we really don’t understand very well, but that corporations are completely incapable of understanding. This “Emotional Congruity” (just because I just made this up doesn’t mean it isn’t important) might be thought of as the “Right Brain” part of how we organize our experience into Meaning.
To succeed in Survival, we humans have been equipped with a brain with a linear component (left brain thinking) and a gestalt component (right brain thinking). Basically, the left brain narrows down options based on linear logic, and the right brain selects from the remaining options based on systems logic, i.e., “what feels right.”
Because Corporations are ever-changing groups of human beings, not One Person, their Right Brains are Committees, and their Left Brains are dysfunctional constructs generally known as PR and HR Departments. Like robots simulating primitive feelings, Corporations are awkward, clumsy, emotionally Blind, and Extremely Dangerous. As with the Pods in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, do NOT go to sleep until they are All Eliminated!
This week’s wine tasting:
Anne Amie Amrita White ’14 Oregon $14
Palate-tickling blend of pinot blanc, viognier, and riesling; aromas of quince, Rainier cherry, and lemon; palate of strawberry, raspberry, and nectarine; good match for Asian spices.
Bargemone Provence Rose ’14 France $14
Beautiful pale pink. Bright, mineral-dusted aromas of pink grapefruit and dried red berries. Light and racy on the palate, with tangy citrus and redcurrant flavors. Finishes brisk and dry, with good lingering spiciness and length.
Ontanon Ecologica Rioja’12 Spain $14
100% organically grown Tempranillo; spends five months in barrel before release; Bright cherry and raspberry fruit flavors combine with a subtle element of sweet spice to deliver a a well structured mouthfeel and fine-tuned acidity.
Kermit Lynch Cotes de Rhone Rouge ’11 France $14
Grenache, syrah, carignan, cinsault and mourvedre: Bright violet color; perfumed, spice-tinged nose of dark berries and fresh flowers; exuberant and intensely fruity, with juicy blackberry and cherry flavors that pick up nuances of pepper. licorice, and succulent herbs on the finish.
Masquerade Syrah ’07 Washington $22
From Burgess Vineyard in Pasco, and made here in Bellingham, this syrah is substantial, fruity, and crisp, a great accompaniment to richer fare.
Bread Friday (sign up for
NOTE: Because the Wine Gallery is hosting the opening of Anne Gibert’s new show for Studio Tour, Friday may be crowded. Just in case, bread pickup will be on the deck outside the shop (weather permitting).
Pain Meunier: (“Miller’s Bread”), includes all parts of the wheat kernel, bread flour, whole wheat flour, cracked whole wheat and wheat germ. A great all around bread. – $5/loaf.
Dried Cherry, Walnut & Buckwheat: Bread flour, buckwheat flour, and some whole wheat, packed with dried cherries that pair well with the buckwheat. – $5/loaf.
Hamburger/Sandwich buns. Soft bun of bread flour with fresh milled white whole wheat and topped with onions. Limited, order early. -4 for $5.
Sablet is a small village about thirty minutes east northeast of Avignon in the southern Rhone Valley of France, with a history of viticulture dating back to the 14th century. Although essentially all of the area’s vineyards were wiped out in the nineteenth century by the phylloxera infestation, it was a resident of Sablet, Francois Leydier, who developed the machine used to graft phylloxera-resistant rootstock onto local vines, a major factor in rescuing the French wine industry. Sablet mostly produces red wines blended from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. The wines tend to be full bodied, with notes of blackberry, ripe plum, and hints of violets.
The Sablet Rouge we are pouring this weekend is a favorite of ours, which we first tasted at Bertrand Stehelin’s winery in Gigondas a few years ago. We are also great fans of his Sablet Blanc, a blend of roussanne, marsanne, and grenache blanc, and which we like to think we helped bring into Washington by lobbying strongly with the importer who was already bringing in Bertrand’s red wines. We hope you like it as much as we do!
Portraits of Lummi Island Women: Studio Tour Opening Reception Friday. May 22!
Our guest Artist for Studio Tour this weekend is Anne Gibert showing her latest works, “Portraits of Twenty-three Lummi Island Women.” We just put up the show this afternoon and so now we know Who They Are! The portraits are mostly painted from photos Anne has taken in recent years, so many of the subjects probably have no idea their portraits even exist. We can tell you that any Islander will recognize lots of familiar faces!
We will have a Special Opening Tasting on Friday, May 22, from 4-7. Anne will be in the wine shop to talk about the paintings, and all of you women who are subjects will be entitled to a free wine tasting!
Memorial Day and the Meaning of Time
When I was a child, each Memorial Day my mother would take us to the cemetery where her parents were buried. It would always take a while to find the graves, which were poorly marked and in an old and untended area. Her father died in 1920, when she was five years old, and her mother in 1933, when she was 18. Which also means that this July would have been my mother’s 100th birthday.
We have all noticed that the older we get the Faster time seems to go. When my mother talked about her parents, I sort of understood that, sure, she had been a child once. But it was a pretty fuzzy concept. It is only through the perspective of our own years that it begins to sink in that, as Alan Watts put it, “being born is like being pushed off a cliff.”
So Memorial Day is essentially about Mortality. There is nothing Heroic about young men killing each other for Glorious Causes. There is nothing Honorable in torturing or killing another human being in the name of Justice. At root there is never any reason for causing another being pain, or injury, or death. We are all fragile and mortal. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone everywhere would commit themselves to this little idea from the Metta Sutta…
Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state,
Let none through anger or ill-will wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world,
This week’s tasting:
Jardin Unoaked Chardonnay ’13 South Africa $10
Alluring aromas of ripe pears and honey lead to a bright, crisp palate of fresh lemon, honey, and a touch of quinine. Delicious!
Villa des Anges Rosé ’14 France $10
Spicy and focused on the nose, showing fresh citrus and red berry and a hint of white pepper. Dry and nervy on the palate, with refreshing bitter cherry and berry skin flavors.
Pugliano Treggiaia Italy $11
A smooth and satisfying blend of sangiovese, canniolo & cab, serious but friendly, delightful with anything from pizza to lamb chops.
Le Rote Massimo Chianti Riserva ’11 Italy $18.
95% sangiovese, 5% canniolo; lovely notes of cherry, black tea, sage, and red clay, with a delightful rustic flair
Bertrand Stehelin Sablet Rouge ’12 France $22
(70% grenache, 25% mourvedre and 5% syrah): Vivid purple. Bright, perfumed aromas and flavors of candied red fruits and lavender, with subtle spiciness and a soothing palate from a year’s rest in concrete tanks.
Bread Friday (sign up for
Buttermilk Currant - 50/50 bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat, with buttermilk for some tang and then loaded with currants and just a hint of rosemary. – $5/loaf.
Ale Bread - Bread flour, fresh milled whole wheat, and hearty ale to boost the flavor. – $5/loaf.
Sourdough English Muffins - These delightful treats are made with a sourdough culture and taste great. Limited, order early! 4 for $5.
Exploring the Solera System
An old favorite with us, St. Cosme Little James Basket Press Grenache is unusual in several respects. First, it is made by a winery that has been around for something like 14 generations, with family ownership dating back to 1490 in France’s southern Rhone region (yes, we have visited!).
Second, unlike most wines, which are either from a single vintage or a non-vintage blend of two or three recent vintages, this wine, like a sourdough bread, is created from a solera system started in 1999. Each year the current wine is bottled from the aging solera, a blend of all the vintages since the solera was started. Therefore it tends to have about 50% of the most recent vintage blended with the moving average of the previous vintages. It’s an unusual way to make wine, but it has been the standard method for making Sherry in Jerez, Spain, for centuries.
As a result, the wine slowly evolves, with any rough edges smoothing out over time. So, like a “Heinz 57″ puppy, it tends to be well-balanced and versatile year after year, yet with its own personality and charm, slowly changing its personality while keeping the varietal’s underlying sense of softness, fruit and texture.
Infrastructure: the Private Sector Won’t and the Public Sector Can’t
Periodically we need to call a Special Assembly and bring Everyone together to review a few Important Things so we can (oh, please, let it be!) get on the Same Page about our Cultural (I use the term loosely) Reality. Today’s topic is “Infrastructure.” Just think of it as all the long-lasting Stuff we have built over a long period of time that is still yielding services that have Value, like bridges, highways, airports, railroads, public buildings, ferries, parks, public services (and their employees), police, fire departments, and so forth. Without a modern, viable, healthy Infrastructure, every effort of labor or investment bears less fruit than it might.
Investment in infrastructure can be viewed as the essential Oiling of the Wheels of Progress. It boggles the mind to see Right convinced that Somehow the Private Sector will step up and take care of it better than G’ummint ever could (not Bloody Likely!), and the Left Stingless after too many decades of Groveling for Corporate Dollars. It’s like we are all Dorothy in Oz, just trying to get back to Kansas, but we are constantly confounded by every conceivable kind of straw man, tin man, brainless man, and charlatan Wizard. Wtf is Wrong with these people???!!!
Look. This is not complicated. All the Very Rich need to do is look at their annual tax deductions for Depreciation, i.e.,”Stuff Wearing Out and Needing Replacement.” The latest Amtrak Tragedy rivets our attention on the problem. Chinese, Japanese, and European trains go hundreds of mph. Our trains go 60-80 mph, maybe 100 on a good day on a straight stretch. That’s all you really need to know– a society can survive many things, but Collective Stupidity is not one of them. As on a ship listing heavily to one side, what is Desperately needed here is for Everyone to Stand up and Come to the Center, ignoring the Mind-Numbing Newspeak from all sides, wrest Command from the Idiots, and get the ship back on course and on an Even Keel.
Lummi Island Women: Memorial Day Studio Tour Opening Reception Friday. May 22!
Okay, I admit it, I love this whole idea! Our old friend Anne down the street has been painting up a Storm for the past few years– a Legacy thing, she says, because she is getting on in years– (see her blog) Ah, we should all age so gracefully! I confess I have not seen any of these paintings yet. But I have a feeling this will almost certainly be the Best Show we have had the privilege of presenting in the Gallery, for a couple of reasons.
First, Anne is our First Best Customer! For the first few years we were open, back in aught-five to aught-seven and only on Saturday Afternoons, there was many an afternoon when Pat and I and Anne had the place to ourselves and mused about Life, Love, and the Meaning of Meaning over the day’s tasting menu. For many years a Painter, in the last few years Anne has been particularly Prolific, and we have done several shows of her latest works. But we are particularly looking forward to this one!
All you need to know is that (we will remind you again next week) we will have a Special Opening Tasting on next Friday, May 22, from 4-7. Anne will be in the wine shop to talk about the paintings, and all of you women who are subjects (sorry, I have No Idea who you are!) will be entitled to Free Tastings!!!
This week’s wines
Rio Madre Rioja Rose ’14 Spain $10
Strawberry, raspberry and blood orange on the fragrant nose, along with peppery spices and potpourri. Palate of supple cherry and blackberry, with tangy minerality and acidity adding vivacity and verve.
Altos Hormigas Malbec Clasico ’13 Argentina $10
Aromas of blackberry, strawberry, mocha and smoked meat, plus a hint of violet. Supple, soft and sweet flavors of black fruits and licorice, finisheing with smooth tannins and hints of chocolate and licorice.
St. Cosme Little James Basket Press Grenache ’14 France $11
An ongoing solera* with an aromatic nose of cassis, cherry and lavender; rustic Old World style, with a firm mineral spine giving clarity and lift to the dark berry and bitter cherry flavors.
Shooting Star Blue Franc ’11 Washington $12
From slate soils; nine months in French oak. Lively and vibrant, with aromas of blueberry, blackberry, cocoa, pepper, and clove. Flavors of cranberry, blueberry, and blackberry with cinnamon and licorice on the velvety smooth finish.
Kentia Albarino ’13 Spain 89pts $12
Pale gold. Spicy pear and lemon on the nose, with candied ginger and chalky mineral with lemon curd and pear flavors. Clean, tangy finish with good clarity and a subtle touch of tarragon.