Monday, November 24, 2014

Elyse Winery - C’est Si Bon 2010

Every time I open a bottle of wine, I imagine that I’m going to have a great time enjoying a little vino whether I’m with friends or alone, out or at home, having dinner or sitting on the patio unwinding. Every bottle has the potential to dazzle me. Some do and some don’t. One that has dazzle written all over it is the Rhone style blend from Elyse Winery aptly named C’est Si Bon which is French code for It’s So Good.
I was invited to dinner with friends at one of their houses and the lovely hostess was gracious enough to tell me what she was preparing for the evening meal. She knew I was a wine aficionado. Well, her exact words were ‘wine nerd’, but I knew what she meant. She wanted me to bring something that would go with pork loin with a tart cherry sauce, wild rice and braised carrots. As soon as my mouth quit watering, I started going through the mental Rolodex of wines I keep in my memory. Cab, no. Merlot, no. Malbec, no. OOH! GSM! That would be perfect, but which one? There are some pretty tasty Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blends out there, but I wanted something that would live up to the meal that I was going to be dining on in the very near future. I also wanted to retain my status as everyone’s resident wine ner…expert.
C’est Si Bon is, as I said before, a GSM. Luckily for some people, they provide the blend on their website. It is 43% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 17% Mourvèdre, 10% Cinsault, 7% Counoise, and 3% Viognier. Do you know what that means to the average wine drinker? Absolutely nothing. What does that mean to vino geeks? Deliciousness! The Grenache gives the wine a great fruity base, the Mourvedre adds depth with tannins and earthy flavors, and Syrah provides a touch of spice. Overall this wonderful wine has the flavors of plums, dark red berries, and hints of chocolate, pepper, and terroir/petrichor. (Petrichor is the aroma of earth after it rains.) This wine has a medium tannin presence, a wonderful bright acidity, and an even fruitiness which gives it a well-rounded, magnificent flavor. As luck would have it, everyone at the table thought it was the perfect wine to have with our glorious meal. Everyone agreed that the master chef was the queen of the evening. And they also agreed that I am, in fact, a wine nerd. As long as I keep finding wines like C’est Si Bon, I accept that title with pride.

Go see what else Elyse winery is up to.
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Banshee Pinot Noir 2012

California. Dr. Dre and 2Pac said California knows how to party. It may know how to party but it didn't know how to make a decent Pinot Noir. For a long time, I  had a problem with California Pinot Noirs. Mainly because I was a French wine snob and didn't like venturing outside of Burgundy to find a Pinot that suited my taste. As my ignorant prejudices about Pinot Noirs from the rest of the world have relaxed, I have started finding jewels from here and there that even satisfy my desire for a nice Bourgogne. Oregon has some outstanding Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. I'll review a few of those in the near future, but for now, I'm going to focus on my previous nemesis, California.
My main problem for so long with California Pinot Noir was what makes it difficult to grow; the climate. Pinot Noir are finicky grapes. They will certainly grow in the middle of California, but the quality of them tended to wane with even the slightest miscalculation in the growing process.  A little too much rain, a little too little rain, or possibly even the wrong flock of ducks flying overhead would all have detrimental effects on Pinot grapes. This led to inconsistent and shallow wines which, for me, is a bigger turn off than name dropping. As growers learned how to better grow theses grapes in the climate they had, the better the wine became year after year. Sonoma County also let the learning process develop naturally rather than forcing the issue. Unlike its neighbor Napa Valley, Sonoma is a laid back farm area that happens to grow incredibly good grapes. To me, Napa is a bit like the white collar version of the wine business and Sonoma is the blue collar. Both have their place. Both produce great wines but Sonoma does it in a My Morning Jacket concert t-shirt and jeans. Believe it or not, this relaxed atmosphere can be apparent in the wines produced there and it can lead to a more natural wine experience.
Three friends started the Banshee Wine Company. Noah Dorrance, Baron Zeigler, and Steve Graf were all in places other than California, but each developed a love for wine. One day they all converged on San Francisco, met each other, and decided to get into the California wine business. I'm sure the events were a little more drawn out than that, but I don't have all day to give their life stories. They have it on their website. (Link Below) They pooled their money and released Banshee Pinot Noir with great acceptance from California wine drinkers. Jump forward a couple of years and they released another outstanding Pinot Noir, their 2012 which I sampled this evening.
I love to eat turkey. A giant bird at Thanksgiving is certainly a thing I look forward to every year. As is my habit, I spend the entire month of November sampling wines that will perfectly fit my Turkey Day meal. More often than not, I'm dining with some people that won't drink red wine and some that won't drink white wine so I try to find one of each. The Banshee Pinot Noir will probably be my choice for red wine this year. It is a dark ruby hue like cranberry juice but the flavor is far from the tart cranberry. It has the wonderful aroma and flavor of a black cherry, a juicy Santa Rosa plum, and hints of kola nut and petrichor. It finishes clean and sharp with a slight tingle on the back of your tongue. Since I'm a turkey nerd, I had a breast on hand so I took a couple of slices and drizzled them with a special recipe of dark fruit puree before I baked it. What a combination! I loved it. The wine is rich and tasty, but it didn't overpower the soft flavors of the turkey or the fruit. Exactly what I was looking for in a Thanksgiving Day wine. Maybe it's exactly what you're looking for too. Cheers.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Q Drinks Mixers

I’ve never been one for settling into a food or drink routine. I don’t eat the same thing even if I go to the same restaurant. I also don’t like drinking the same drinks, whether it is a beer, cocktail or just a soda. My need to try new things and expand my horizons has led me to a new mixer, Q Drinks.
I have recently been introduced to these tasty beverages by a friend of mine. I’ll keep her name a secret in case she’s embarrassed at the thought of knowing me. In any case, she told me about them and I sought them out. Unfortunately, I had to get them from a wholesaler because no one in my area carried them. Fortunately, I have a party and cigar store that can buy wholesale. Now that we carry them, I sampled the seven flavors that are available to me and was incredibly pleased with all of them. They have eight varieties; Tonic, Club Soda, Ginger Ale (Sweeter), Ginger Beer (Dry & Spicy), Kola, Orange, Grapefruit, and Lemon. The only one I don’t have access to is the Ginger Beer, but I’m pretty confident in saying that it’s probably delicious too.
The Q Drinks are all made with Mexican agave nectar instead of high fructose corn syrup. This automatically makes them a lighter, crisper drink mixer. They enhance your drink rather than drag it down. Their Tonic Water is what tonic used to be and still should be. They went to Peru to get the bark from the cinchona tree, called in some experts, and made a truly great drink. The Club Soda is basically a sparkling mineral water. Again, it isn’t heavy or salty like some club sodas I’ve had in the past. It is pleasant and tastes good by itself or in a spirit of your choice. (Mine was Scotch this time.) Ginger Ale is one of my favorite drinks. I don’t particularly like it in cocktails, but that’s just me. I prefer it alone and this one can fly solo any time. Q’s Kola is something in and of itself. Imagine the flavor of Coca-Cola without the heaviness of corn syrup and the too sweet intensity of high fructose corn syrup. It ain’t heavy, it’s my Kola! Unless I’m stranded in a bar with no class, I will not use another cola to mix with. This was it for me. The last three I can lump together even though their all great in their own way. Orange, Lemon, and Grapefruit all have a slight sweetness to them, but the fruit flavor is the shining star in each of these mixers. Orangy orange, lemony lemon…I sound like the Trix rabbit.

One thing I took away from the tasting of all of these little jewels is there are people out there that really care about quality and taste. The fine folks at Q Drinks are among them. If you’re in the Grand Lake area, swing by Main Street Party & Cigar and try a bottle of each. (Shameless plug!)  If you’re out at a bar or grocery store, ask for it by name. If they have it, you’ll be well on your way to a better drink. Cheers.

Go see some Q!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Peter Brum Vino Noire

As I've said before, I like wine in all of it's forms from the sweetest Sauternes to the driest Champagne. A wine I tried last night is smack dab in the middle of those two extremes. It was Peter Brum Vino Noir from the great country of Germany. Red wines from Germany are pretty rare, but worth a look.
This Peter Brum was one of the most unpretentious wines I've had in a long time. It is made with the Dornfelder grape which isn't really that well know outside of Germany, but it should be. These grapes usually make a semi-sweet wine that has the aroma and taste of a big juicy plum and a faint aftertaste of cherries. Brum delivered those flavors perfectly. I was about to dine on some shepherd's pie when I opened this bottle. I chilled it for about 15 minutes in the fridge before opening it and it was the right amount of time to cool it down a little. It matched very well with the peasant's food I was eating which happens to be one of my favorite dishes. After dinner, I still had a little space left so I snuck a chocolate cookie from the jar and finished off my glass...okay, my second glass of wine. The chocolate and Vino Noir pairing was actually better than I had anticipated. Another great combo!
I can bet that if you only like dark and dry red wines like Cabernet or Petit Sirah, then this wine will be too sweet for you. It will seem like a dessert wine. If you like super sweet wines, it might not be sweet enough. It has very low tannins but they're still in there giving it some character. In both cases, what you should do is just try it and see if you like it. It isn't that expensive so you can take a bottle with you to a party and sample it there. If you don't like it, there will definitely be someone there who will love it. This is also a great wine to wean people off of Moscato. I'm not saying Moscato drinkers necessarily need to switch, but sometimes you might want something a little lighter. I know all too well that it's easy to get locked into one varietal that you like and not want to risk spending money on something you're not sure about. This Dornfelder will make you happy you ventured out of the Moscato section. Chill und Beifall!!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Justin Furstenfeld - "Songs From An Open Book"

I have heard a lot of emotional music in my life. And by emotional I mean low-key or humble. Some might call it sad, but I don't look at it that way. It's one of the things that comforts me when I'm feeling like the world needs to shut the hell up and leave me alone. I don't always listen to it, but when I do then I really need it. It gives me perspective.
I recently bought Justin Furstenfeld's album "Songs From An Open Book" and was completely blown away by it. Justin is the lead singer and songwriter for the band Blue October. My friend Bart introduced me to them and I was very glad he did. Their music is sometimes driving and upbeat and sometimes sullen and reserved. They cover the whole spectrum of good rock music. The songs they do often have a slightly odd slant because of Justin's lyrics. Like a lot of people, Justin had some battles with mental illness. One of his therapies, along with a little Paxil, was song writing so the lyrics sometimes have the tones of someone dealing with some issues. What is great for the listeners is they get to have their own little therapy sessions listening to Justin's troubled thoughts. Apparently fans love it because they sell out shows all across the globe. I know I do. I've seen them twice.
The one different thing you get from "Songs From An Open Book" is the acoustic versions of some of Blue October's best songs. They are performed more like how Justin wrote them rather than what they ended up like on the original records. In the brief liner notes, he writes that there are two tracks for this album, one for his favorite Guild guitar and one for his voice. It doesn't get much more bare bones than that. Most musicians these days use 48 tracks or more to achieve the sound they're looking for. Two. Justin used two. That's impressive to me.
One added bonus to these songs is, interspersed throughout the album are a few live introduction spots where he is talking to an audience about the songs. These, I assume, are taken from his countless solo shows that he does when he's giving the rest of the band a break from touring. Justin is funny and gets his point across quickly so you can get to the next song but I would get a kick out of hearing a lot of his stories told to me over coffee in an all night diner. I'm not sure he does that anymore since he's a devoted father of a beautiful girl that he loves taking care of and showing off to everyone who will look. He also has a daughter from a previous marriage, but I didn't dig into the details of that story. I figured that's his business and not mine.
A side note: Justin also has a book titled "Making Crazy" that contains his lyrics and what he was thinking when he wrote the songs. It's a great book. I bought it for the guy that introduced me to Blue October since he gave me endless hours of good music.
This kind of album is certainly not for everyone. If you only listen to death metal or opera, you probably won't get much out of this album. Even so, you should still give it a try. It's immaculate. It's heart wrenching. It's subtle, quiet, and perfect. Thanks Justin.

Here are a couple of links.
Blue October's Facebook page:
Justin's Twitter:

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Friday, October 10, 2014

For the sake of shameless self promotion, I am letting everyone know about the website based on this weblog. I'm going to keep this blogger page going, but every new review will be on the website from now on. It is a fairly easy site to navigate so please have a good time looking around. I appreciate everyone that has viewed this blog over the last few years. May you all be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead. Cheers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Jim Jefferies: BARE

I watch a lot of stand up comedy. A lot! It is a sad hobby of mine. Some people go kayaking, some people make birdhouses, I watch funny people tell jokes and stories. While I can't say that all the comedy shows I've seen have been good, one I saw yesterday was great. Streaming on Netflix is Jim Jefferies: BARE.
If you've never seen one of Jim's specials, you should know that he uses very colorful language in his great Australian accent. In particular, he has a knack for saying a word that rhymes with blunt on more than one occasion. This doesn't bother me in the slightest, but a lot of people find it off putting. They should learn to get over that because this guy is hilarious. In other words, this isn't a show for the kiddies. 
Jim is a storyteller. He runs through great scenarios about his new son, airports, guns, sex, and a chance encounter with Neil Diamond. He doesn't dance around issues hoping you get the point. He just says it. He doesn't follow up a joke with "Oh man, just kidding, but seriously". He lays it out for you to accept his comedy or not. If you like it, great. If you don't, piss off. That attitude shines bright when he's talking about guns. I've liked Jim Jefferies since I first saw him a couple of years ago. I'm going to be a life-long fan of both his stand up and his TV shows. Watch this comedy special and I bet you'll join me.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Rogue Honey Kolsch

It's been awhile since I've reviewed a beer. I've had a few really tasty ones, but haven't gotten around to reviewing them. Today that changes with the Rogue Farms GYO Honey Kolsch.

A quick story about the difference between Rogue and Rogue Farms is the Rogue Farms includes ingredients that they grow themselves. GYO = Grow Your Own. This is a powerful leap toward outstanding artisanal beers. Rogue controls the barley, the hops and all the adjuncts like honey, berries, and even pumpkins that they use in these beers. What this means for us is one company controls every step of production in a process they call Ground to Glass. No middle men taking their cut of profits, no growers spraying who knows what on the produce, and no outside brewery bottling the end results. It's kind of like going to a farmer's market except instead of tomatoes and radishes, we get beer!

Rogue Farms Honey Kolsch is about as good a Kolsch as I've ever had. Kolsch in and of itself is a lightly hopped, light weight beer that is quite refreshing. Adding the wildflower and hopyard honeys only adds to the ease of drinking. Even with the obvious but mild honey aroma and taste, the beer still stays light and crisp. It doesn't have a thick honey consistency like you might imagine. It's just smooth, clean and wicked tasty. I checked out their website and they suggested pairing this beer with cheese and spicy foods. I think that would be a wonderful match. I would, however, like to add that this beer would also pair well with barbecue, tamales, pizza, twice cooked pork, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken ala king...probably dog biscuits. I honestly can't think of any cuisine that I couldn't at least try to pair with Rogue's Honey Kolsch. Well...maybe not breakfast. My suggestion is go get a couple of the 750ml bottles and drink it with dinner for a week. If something doesn't pair with it, let me know.

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Me and my Rogue and my Pink Floyd fridge magnet!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes 2010

"Big things come in small packages", "One man's trash is another man's treasure", "Good things come to those who wait", "Wine makes my clothes fall off." All of these phrases could be associated with my latest sampling of dessert wine, the 2010 vintage of Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes. Another great wine under the large umbrella of Kermit Lynch.
A few weeks ago I wrote about having an outstanding California Cabernet with a wonderful steak. What I didn't tell you about was what transpired after the bottle of cab had gone the way of the dodo bird. As my friend Henri and I sat and solved all the world's problems, his lovely wife Linda went for the gold medal in entertaining and brought out (drum roll) bananas foster for our dessert. I still had a little space left so I happily partook of the wonderful dish. Since I always try to be prepared, I happened to bring a little bottle of dessert wine, a split bottle (375 ml) of the Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes.
I gave a quick wine explanation after we were finished eating since some people might think the process of making a Sauternes is kind of gross. Hervé Dubourdieu is the winemaker at Roumieu-Lacoste in Haut Bersac. (He also owns Graville-Lacoste and Chateau Ducasse.) Hervé has the task of making this Sauternes for Roumieu-Lacoste entirely of Sémillon grapes, but not just plain old Sémillon grapes. They're botrytized or noble rot Sémillon grapes. Botritis is a fruit fungus that you've seen if you leave strawberries in the fridge too long. For grapes, sometimes it's a good thing to have happen. There is a process of wetting the grapes to make the right conditions for the fungus to grow and do its magic. The fungus breaks the skin of the grape and sucks out a lot of the water. This leaves very concentrated leftovers like sugar, fruit acids and minerals. The grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented leaving a sweet wine.
This sweet wine had the typical aroma of honeysuckle with an added hint of spiciness. The amazing flavors were a rich honeyed apricot with a dash of the spice I smelled earlier. I honestly can't say that this wine would go with every dessert out there, but that's perfectly okay. All wines aren't supposed to go with everything. It would certainly pair well with simple flavors of sorbet or sherbet, fruit tarts or chocolate mousse. One thing I know for sure, though, it pairs extremely well with bananas foster. Love it, love it, love it.

See Kermit Lynch's line of wines at:

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' Artemis Cabernet 2007

Usually I don't write about wines that are nearly impossible to come by. I call it the Wine Spectator syndrome. They are forever raving about wines that I will never have the chance to see, let alone drink. That is, unless I'm in the same provincial French hamlet where they happened to find this local wine for a mere €250. I like to talk about things that you can run out to the store, buy one, take it home and try for yourself. This time I'm going to go a little rarer because I had an excellent bottle of wine with friends the other night. It was a 2007 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars' Artemis Cabernet. This wine is still available in a couple of better wine stores, but they're presence is getting scarce. One of the reasons is that 2007 was a phenomenal year for much of California. Near perfect climate conditions made for one of the best years in recent history for them. Even average Cali wines turned out really tasty and, in turn, came to be great bargains for wine lovers.

My family joined my friend Henri and his family for dinner recently. We sat on their covered patio overlooking the garden having some beer and cider before dinner. (Shiner's Ruby Redbird and Ace's Pear cider to be specific. Both delicious.) Henri's wife Linda had everything food related under control as she usually does so when we saw her fire up the grill for the steaks, we knew it was time to open some wine to decant it. I brought over the Artemis, uncorked it and gently poured it into the decanter. Even with a cool breeze wafting across the patio, I could smell the wonderful aroma of this dark purple Cabernet. Blackberry was the prominent ester with a faint vanilla floating behind it. I polished off my Ace Pear cider and cleansed my palate with a few mild crackers. I wanted badly to dive into the wine, but I also wanted to wait on the steaks. I waited and it all paid off. The medium rare steak was magnificent. We also had some roasted veggies from the garden that lay before me and some crusty French bread. What made the whole meal complete was the Artemis. It was one of the more complex wines I've had in awhile. There were blackberries, black cherries, raspberries, currants, cedar, vanilla, and new word I learned, "petrichor" or the smell of earth after it rains. (It's a word not associated with wine yet, but I'm working to change that. Petrichor. Try it out yourself.) That's the terroir influence shining through all that fruit. It was wonderful.

I finished my steak and veg and sat back fat and happy with half a glass of wine to sip at my leisure. And sip it I did. Even after the wine was open and decanted for about forty minutes, I could tell the tannins were still very present. This made me realize that I could have saved this bottle for a least another five years and it would have softened a little more and been even tastier. As it was, though, I'm glad I opened it and enjoyed it. Even better was having great friends to share it with. Which is really how wine is supposed to be enjoyed. Friends, food, and fermented grape juice.

As I said before, finding this particular vintage might be difficult if not impossible. If you find one, just get it. You'll be glad you did. If you pick up a more recent vintage of the Artemis, the tannins will more than likely be pretty bold. Just let it air out for a while in a nice decanter. I've never had a bad bottle of wine from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and I can bet you won't either. Cheers.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Poggio Anime Sameal Montepulciano D' Abruzzo

For the last decade, I haven't been one to always pair a regional food with a wine from the same region. When I was first becoming a wino, I did this all the time. Northern Italian foods with Northern Italian wine, French provincial with Burgundy, etc. While that kind of pairing is usually quite good, I don't necessarily follow that anymore. I'll put together a chicken parm with a German Kabinett if that's the mood I'm in. Tonight, however, I decided to go back to the beginning and have this Montepulciano with a good Italian meal. I drummed up some marinated beef kebabs and spaghetti with a simple marinara. (Many thanks to Francis for the recipe.)

I poured a couple of glasses and let the wine air out a bit. As per usual, I can't wait until dinner to drink wine so I sampled it. It was unmistakably a Montepulciano. It had the old world wine flavors that reflect the terroir of the region; earthy, herbal, and dark fruitiness. Another little tidbit about this wine is that it is aged in tightly grained Slavonian oak barrels. It is a less expensive barrel alternative to French oak and it imparts only the faintest of woody flavors which leaves plenty of room for the fresh blackberries and rich cherries. The concentrated flavors only became more complex as the wine rested in the glass. Overall, this inexpensive wine was the exact right thing to have with my kebabs. Other things that you could match it with would be a nice bolognese, some lamb chops, or a cheesy supreme pizza. (Hold the green peppers on mine, please.)

About the label. That is Samael. He is one of the seven archangels. According to Talmudic texts, he serves God, but he wants humans to act evil. He is said to be both good and bad, which translates easily to Montepulciano. In Italy, it's easy to get tired of this wine because it is ubiquitous. That's the bad. The good is that it is a very tasty wine. Not all Montepulciano wines are good. I've had some bombs, but this one is not. It is a very tasty, inexpensive dry red wine that you should make an effort to try. Saluti.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

American Grill, Grove, OK

If I remember correctly, the old saying goes "From the ashes rises the phoenix" and that is exactly what happened to The American Grill. When The Grill was in their small location on 3rd Street, I was a frequent diner. I had tried everything on the menu and it was all really good. Through a series of unfortunate events, it was broken into, ransacked and set on fire. I was quite angry that someone would do that to a business, not to mention it was one of my favorite businesses. Fortunately, they were not deterred and not only started cleaning up that place, but also looking for a new bigger place. They found a location on Main Street attached to a motel that was being vacated by another restaurant. Hard work and dedication led to a 2014 New Year's grand opening for the new American Grill with much more seating including an old fashioned lunch counter.
Their menu kept most of the tasty favorites that I had before, but added some new things that I am ready to add to my list of things I've eaten there. The name American Grill is an apt one since the cuisine is delicious American food standards. They have great burgers, big sandwiches, steaks, salads, pasta and the American staple chicken fried steak. Also on the menu is the instruction that if you can't find what you want, make a request. If they have the ingredients in the kitchen, they will make something just for you. Try doing that at a chain restaurant! If that wasn't enough, they also have daily lunch and dinner specials that may or may not be on the regular menu. And they didn't let a good building go to waste. Their old location is the home base for their fantastic catering services. There isn't much more praise I can bestow on The Grill. Friendly staff, good management, skilled cooks and great food all make for a pleasant dining experience even if you have to wait a few minutes for a table on Friday and Saturday nights. You can find them at 1623 S. Main in Grove. You can also call in a to go order at 918-787-8689. Tell them the Talking Simian sent you. They'll have no idea what you're talking about but it will be funny for a couple of seconds. Happy dining. 

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Beauty is Embarrassing

I don't know about you, but I love love love a good biography. Whether it's a book or a film, I enjoy hearing about people's lives. I'm not prejudice about subject matter either. The stories could be about Clint Eastwood, Dr. Dre, or Ben & Jerry or they could be about Noam Chomsky, Whitey Bulger, or Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The person's notoriety isn't as important as the story itself. A case in point, the film biography of Wayne White. It's called Beauty Is Embarrassing and it is important.
Wayne White is a name you probably haven't heard before, but you may have seen his work. He was a puppet designer, puppeteer and set designer for Pee-wee's Playhouse. He did animation work for Pee-wee and other kid's shows. He also did the animation for the Smashing Pumpkins' video Tonight, Tonight and Peter Gabriel's video Big Time. Wayne is a painter, sculptor, illustrator, musician, public speaker, and an all-around great guy. He cusses a lot but it isn't malicious. Like me, its just how he talks.
Wayne was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He had a long career of television work on both coasts but decided to scrap all of that and move back to his home state. There he and his wife, Mimi Pond, (a prominent illustrator herself) their son and daughter all live creative, artistic lives.
If you are an artist, a musician, a business person, or you wish you were, this is a fantastic documentary for you to watch. Wayne has been through the wringer that life often gives creative people and has come out the other side playing the banjo and singing. If you need a little inspiration to motivate you into being the creative person you want to be, watch Beauty Is Embarrassing. It's streaming on Netflix, but it's a film that I have ordered so I can have a copy to watch if they ever drop it. I don't want to forget a film like this. I hope you enjoy it too.

"This place is so beautiful it hurts my feelings." - Wayne talking about Tennessee.
Here is a link to his website.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Banfi Rosa Regale

With the dawning of a new year, I have decided not to make resolutions other than to be a better Jonathan than I was last year. Better at whatever it is I decide to do. One thing is to be a better wine lover.
I personally enjoy most varietals and sweetness levels of wine, but my preference is dry red wines. They are just more compatible with my senses. I can, however, taste the driest natural Champagne in the same sitting as the sweetest Sauternes or Ice Wine. If a wine is good, I will drink it. If it's too sweet, I won't drink much of it, but you're really not supposed to.
This New Year's Day, I opted for something a little sweet since my drinking partner thinks dry Champagne tastes like vinegar. No amount of samples and instruction from me will change her mind, so I picked out a sweet sparkler to share. It is one of the best and most overlooked sweet wines in the world, Banfi's Rosa Regale.
Brachetto grapes have been growing in Italy for a long time. In a certain vineyard in the Piedmont (Piemonte)area in northern Italy, they have been growing these grapes annually since the mid 18th century. In 1979, John and Harry Mariani acquired the vineyard for Banfi Vintners and renamed it Vigne Regali. Since then, they have honed this 100% Brachetto wine into what I had as my first wine of the new year, Rosa Regale.
Even though Rosa Regale is categorized as a demi-sec or semi-sweet wine, it is so rich and fruity that the brain is tricked into thinking it is sweeter than it actually is. (All that is based on sugar content, not taste.) That didn't stop me from enjoying the heck out of it. It is a darker rosé and is packed full of wonderful tiny bubbles. The taste of Rosa Regale is akin to a raspberry jam, full of fruit, pleasantly sweet but not overly so, and as smooth as they come. I have heard in the past that this wine is the absolute perfect wine to have with chocolates, so that's exactly what I did. I had a couple of dark chocolate truffles that I paired with one glass. They, whoever they are, were correct. Chocolate and this wine are made for each other. I didn't want to stop there. One of my traditions for the new year is Blueberry Pie...long story, but it is. So I poured another glass, got a piece of warm pie with whipped cream, and enjoyed them both immensely. The fruit of the pie and the fruit of the wine made the first day of the year very fruitilicious. They have Rosa Regale available in split bottles that are half the size of regular bottles. However, the big bottle would be the perfect addition to a Valentine's Day box of chocolates. Hint Hint, gentlemen. 
Go see Rosa Regale here.

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