Life in Wine

Just what the Title says! Life in Wine. MY Life in Wine.

Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Opinionated. Lover of Wine.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Moon-Mad Selby

Moon-mad Selby, stutter-stepping Selby

Prowls on the old stone porch

The Lady is high in a late autumn sky

Selby yowls in Siamese chords.

Moon-glad Selby, sniffing whiffing Selby

Shivers by the maple tree

The golden light is falling over kitten caterwauling

Selby quivers curiously

Moon-dazzled Selby, leaping springing Selby

Clambers up a tempting branch

The lady moon is watching as Selby goes hopscotching

Scrambling in a treetop dance.

Moon-struck Selby, frisky whiskered Selby

Frolics among the leaves

Tthe round light is glowing, November wind is blowing

Selby rollicks beneath the eaves.

Moon-filled Selby, patting batting Selby

cuffs at shadows everywhere

Even as the night's advancing, the magic light's enchanting

Selby scuffles with the air.

Moon-sated Selby, happy tired Selby

Daydreams by his cozy bed

Pouncing at the stars, saying his au revoirs.

Moonbeams prancing in his head.

Moon-mad Selby, purring moonstruck Selby

Counting little moonlit sheep

The full moon is shining, the drowsy cat's reclining

He shuts his eyes and falls asleep.

Oh moon-crazed Selby, dazed dozing Selby

Enamored of the wide night sky,

Moon-kissed Selby, silly snoring Selby

The harvest moon sings hush-a-bye. . .

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

May Day! May Day!

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz (oh HOW it's riz! stupid sputtering mower!), I've had ever so many wine experiences these past months. . . but I can't seem to get off my tuckered arse to actually WRITE about it. It's not that I've stopped loving wine, or drinking it, or thinking about it; it's that I can't seem to muster the energy to set it all down in print.
I blame Jonah. Kinda like Amy blaming her Godzilla-sized brain tumor for her unexpected crying jag, or her speedy desertion of a friend in need, or making the wrong choice in sperm donors*. I figure a brain tumor, excised or not, provides excuses enough to cover any number of transgressions or faux pas for oh, at least 10 years. *snark alert*
So it is with child-rearing. Jonah ought to be worth countless excuses between now (18 months of age) and matriculation. And the delicious irony is that after THAT, he will blame ME for various misdeeds of his own. That's what children do, isn't it? As the saying goes, "All therapy is about your mother." Mothers. Whatever.
Hang on. I'm going out to the recyling bin (Okay, recyling buckets. Kitty litter containers. Plastic pails in which to store junk. Like bottles awaiting dropoff at the screaming purple Ripple Glass behemoths.) to check my most recent encounters of the wine-y kind. Because it's not as if I can remember what I most recently sipped, except last night's 2007 Green and Red Chiles Mill Zin, at Houston's, which God love 'em also has the Dashe Zin, and the Elyse, and mother of all mother lodes, the A. Rafanelli! 2008, in case anyone cares. (Is there a word for logorrhea of the keyboard? because I think I've contracted it. Help! I've been stricken with prolixity!)
Wait. I don't have to go outside to remember the best-tasting surprise cork-popping in recent memory: The Hidden Ridge 55% Slope Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005. Holy father of Cabs! Where did I GET this wine? It is flat-out scrumptious, like a Cab should be. I can't remember where I bought it, or HOW: It's out of my price league, fo sho. Happy Easter to me, Happy Easter to me, Happy EASTER to meee-eee, and Lisa and Andie. . . . I opened this AFTer the 2007 Foxglove Cab (meh. okay. no write-y home-y, $14 and the highly touted Georges deBoeuf Morgon (Costco, $12) , some Gamay Burgundy Beaujolais/Pinot vino that I figured might go with ham. Light. Non-offensive. Except, of course, that it was light. Which fans of big reds might well find offensive. . .
Well. What the Morgon REALLY went with, no idea have I why, was the oh-so-tasty lemon cake Andie had made. The Cabs, of course, went terrifically with Leeser's chocolate chess pie, but it's laughably easy for a Cab to go with chocolate, so no bonus points there.
Anyway. The Hidden Ridge Cab 2005 can be had for maybe $40 on sale, $75 not discounted. Eesh. That means I shan't have it again, leastways iffen I'M buying. Gosh I hope I didn't accidentally drink my sister's wine! She ordered so much last year that I still am not sure I've hauled all of it from my cellar (okay, basement) and delivered it to her. With any luck, she won't read this post.
Ooh, ooh, I remember another winner! The Rebel Cru from Wine Guerilla! Bruce Patch kicks out some flavorful Zins, but this inaugural blend is more Prisoner-ish, and much, much rarer. Maybe 1,400 cases of the Cru available, while Orin Swift's cult fav. The Prisoner doubles production every year - think it's up to 80,000 cases or more with the 2009, since the label was sold to Quintessa. And the Rebel Cru? Just $25. Zin, Cab, Syrah, Petite Sirah. We liked it even before Bruce autographed the bottle.
You know what? It's getting late, and I find I don't actually NEED to rummage through my empties. Not now, anyway. It's time to set the trash at the curb, and go watch my baby boy sleep. Precious, innocent, dreamy little Jonah, replenishing his energy for another day of raising Hades and wearing me out.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Swiftly Flow the Years

All is a blur since the onset of the Obama Era; not so much because of the crazy teabaggers and ignorantly inflamed populace, but because it's been a Year of Consequence. Gram passed November 9, 2008, and I can't remember what wine we tossed back to drown our tears. Andie and I clung to a small hope that our impregnation that day would be successful, a way to punch through to the silver lining in our cloak of sadness.

It was not to be. However, here it is a year later, and our life these past 12 months can be measured in wine: the wine that Andie has not imbibed, and the wine I HAVE. Since she could not drink with a bambino growing in her belly, she frowned upon me drinking anything "special" from my collection. Good grief, Charlie Brown: EVERYTHING I buy and squeeze onto the shelf (rack, cooler, cardboard box) is special to me.

Clearly, it was necessary to devise a plan that would satisfy the both of us. I began by uncorking the wines I GUESSED would be either so-so, or readily available. This meant a great deal of sampling Cellar Rat's Wine of the Week, and along the way I learned a valuable lesson -- about life, and wine: Breathe.

Breathing helps with grief, and oh how it helps with wine. The example that springs most emphatically to mind is the Layer Cake Shiraz. The Rat baristas raved about this wine, but I was underwhelmed when I cracked it. Yes, it was rich, and I usually love big, fruit-forward wines, but this was a letdown. Sipped it, experienced the familiar "eh" response, vacuum pumped it, forgot about it.

Fortuitously, Laurie Lou swang by (swing, swang, swung???) a day or two later, and helped me select a wine for our rare evening together. She was curious about the already open Layer Cake, took a sip, had a very positive reaction, and I immediately monkey-seed, monkey-doed. It was a different wine! The day or two post-uncorking had transformed the Shiraz. The dense, dark fruit and chocolate flavors had come together, and the Layer Cake had breathed its way to fantastic. We toasted our good fortune: The bottle I'd set aside in disappointment made for one delicious dessert.

Ditto for the 2005 Rustenberg Stellenbosch John X Merriman, an elegant Bordeaux blend that was good one night, but VERY good the next. O Oxygen, which maketh and can breaketh a wine!

Since I have not blogged for lo these many months, I have not kept track of the (many) wines I have consumed. Or perhaps it is that because I have failed to keep track of the wines I've tried, I have failed to blog. Whatever the case, I am herewith squeezing my brain to see what wines were memorable enough to make an impression. (Usually, I just poke through the recycling bin to jog my memory, but the wine restrictions placed upon me prevent that approach. Ahem. Andie.)

Kim's short list: The 2005 Seghesio Sangiovese, pure pleasure. The repeated deliciousness of the 2007 Ridge Ponzo Zinfandel. (Chant with Lisa and me: "Ponzo! PONZO!") The 2007 Cabernet Franc from Inland Sea Winery, astonishly from Missouri. Everything from Mollydooker. The Novelty Hill Viognier, of all things -- it never fails to shock me when a white wine kicks ass.

I clearly recall the wine we had for Valentine's Day: The Flora Springs Trilogy -- the 2005, I believe. This is a wine out of my price range, but I bought it anyway, because my sister Karen was meeting us in Belleville (Illinois), and she appreciates a good wine, and I thought it might be an occasion for celebration: We had just inseminated, and were hopeful.

Hey, it's the thought that counts. I love the wines of Flora Springs, and this meritage was highly rated, but it just wasn't a knockout. Looking back, I realize we should have put the wine aside to breathe for an hour. It's okay, though, because although the wine didn't strike me as worth $50 at the time, turns out it was. It was a LUCKY wine, and someday we will tell Jonah the story of how he was conceived.

In the meantime, we're on Countdown to the Big Day, and we (most especially Andie) need to remember to BREATHE.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Autumn Bottles are Flowing

I’ve been too busy trying wines to write about them, which is surely the oldest non-wine-blogging excuse in the book. Although nonetheless true. And enviable.

Right out of the gate, I commend the 1998 Lancaster Reserve, a Bordeaux from California fortuitously snatched up at the Rat’s summer garage sale, which overall was frenetic and not an experience I’d repeat. Also on the tip of memory’s tongue is the 2006 Seghesio San Lorenzo Block 8 Zinfandel, characteristically lush but not as impressive as, say, the Rockpile. On the Seghesio scale, admittedly a lofty one, it rates perhaps a 7.5.

The Block 8 still was vats better than any of the dozen wines sampled at Cellar Rat’s October $100-a-case tasting. A few interesting whites, a good Carmenere, and a surprisingly drinkable Echelon Pinot Noir. Lisa and Andie share my non-affinity for Pinot Noirs, so it was triply surprising that we all sipped this inexpensive candidate to pleasant effect. (“Clove,” I said speculatively. “All-spice,” affirmed Lisa. “Cinnamon,” declared the tasting sheet.) We tried to buy two bottles of the Echelon for Thanksgiving, but only one bottle remained. We don’t want white wine with our turkey.

Best Wine Value of the Autumn: The dam’ fine 2005 Tin Roof Merlot. You ain’t drinkin’ no stinkin’ Merlot, you say? More for us, then. This plush, bold baby retails for $7.99 at Costco. Smooth, with black cherry and spice, and nicely complex, perhaps because the Tin Roof winemaker was thoughtful enough to add a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. Get a case of it!

Quickly, because I need to clean up the kitchen before my Dad arrives for a visit: Pretty Sally 2005 Cabernet-Shiraz, recommended by the barista at the Wine Bar. Good, but not great. The Briccotondo 2006 Barbera, which made the Wine Spectator Top 100 for 2007: Not bad, but the bottle I had was not 90 points in MY book. I have a backup and maybe it will impress more. Clink! That’s the sound of the empties hitting the recycling bin.

The wine I most enjoyed over these past weeks? A tossup, I think. I thoroughly yummed out on the Green and Red Tiptop Vineyard Zinfandel, both the 2004 and 2005, one from HyVee Liquors and the other tasted at Starker’s Reserve. I also loved the dry flavors of the Callabrigo Dao, a red wine from Portugal (yes, that’s all I know about it. Oh, and it was about $18.) Portugal is the new up-and-coming wine place, and there are supposed to be tons of great, inexpensive wines wending their way to our shores from theirs. Its. Whatever. Happy Halloween.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Old Age Ain't for Sissies

Bette Davis was right. Or Paul Newman, or whoever first said it. Old age definitely isn't for sissies.

A friend of mine has a father considerably wealthier than I, and who consequently has a much larger and more expensive wine collection. He’s also older (than I am, I mean. At least I think so. I hope so.) – anyway, he has an aging problem.

I don’t mean the aging problem with which we’re all afflicted – you know, chronological and accelerating carbon decay, with the lovely spectre of Death at the end of the slide. Nope. I mean that Katie’s Dad is reluctant to share his “special” wines, despite their abundance and his ability to replace them with new stars. That’s a pity, not least because unless he drinks far more than I do, those wines are going to disappoint him by the time he gets around to cracking them open.

Most wines simply don’t age well, or at least don’t age well indefinitely. I’ve been discovering this sad truth for myself, most recently at the birthday dinner we cooked for Lisa. She requested an all-Southern menu, and I struggled to find something special in the wine cooler for her.

I settled on the 1998 Deerfield Ranch Winery Merlot, fortified with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. I bought this at a Sonoma tasting room back in 2000 or 2001, and I remember how tasty I found it. It was more than $30 at a time when I usually spent less than $15 on a single bottle, so you know it was appealing.

We opened it with anticipation, knowing we’d be better off, pairing-wise, with a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, but resisting any such match. Merlot was as light a wine as we were prepared to attempt. It was her BIRTHDAY, after all.

Curses! I don’t think it was the fault of the okra (fried) or the chicken (fried) or the potatoes (drenched in gravy), or even the greens (flavored generously with ham). Nope, this Merlot had not been improved in the bottle. I wish we’d tried it a few years ago.

The same disappointment struck me when I sampled the remaining bottle of the 1999 Gallo of Sonoma Barelli Creek Vineyard Zinfandel. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this wine when first I had it, back in ’04 or ’05. This time around, it was limp and lacking in the full flavor I remembered.

Maybe it’s the Americans that don’t age so well. Wines, I mean. Because the 1999 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre was wonderful when I opened it a few months ago, much better than it was young. Ditto for the 1998 Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva. This reliable Spanish red, a Tempranillo, was much smoother and more elegant with some age on it.

The 1997 Tomassi Ripasso, a huge favorite of mine back in 2002, is still aging beautifully. We sampled it a few months ago; it’s even better than it was, and since I have two bottles left, I’m hoping it continues to kick butt next year, and the year after. I’m also hopeful for my remaining ’91 Barbaresco; it certainly was superb LAST year. Those Italians know how to age gracefully.

Not so the Australians, to judge by the Rosemount Merlot I uncorked the other night. I’d somehow overlooked it in the rack – it was the 2000, and before you sneer, let me just say that the 1994 Rosemount Merlot was the wine that jumpstarted my love affair with red wine. Repeat after me: It’s not the price; it’s the taste.

This later version might have been tasty once, but that time was past. Some things get better with age, of course – paychecks, perhaps, or the stories we tell about prom night. As for this weak sister, it served to lace my black bean soup. (Which was killer, if I say so myself.)
We're hoping our new cowgirl, Zin, ages gracefully. She's off to a good start.

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Monday, June 30, 2008


Dam’ I like Spann!

Vineyards, that is. Great wines. Sonoma sippers.

I really enjoyed the 2006 Spann Chardonnay-Viognier ($20), rich and tasty and a favorite at Lisa's birthday bash; and I was all over the 2005 Merlot ($25) once I tasted it. Lovely! (Also hard to come by.) But NO, I missed the Spann tastings both at Cellar Rat and The Wine Bar. I need to blame somebody, or something, for this, but an easy target escapes me. At the moment.

Right about the time I was coming out of my sulk over missing the Spann tastings, the Rat threw me a bone: a Cline lineup that included single-vineyard, upper-level Zins I’d never before tasted. Harrumph. I dragged my petulant butt (and partner) downtown for some quick sipping before an engagement.

I confess I tend to overlook the Cline wines, even as I’ve enjoyed their ubiquitous $10-range offerings. The latest Oakley Five Reds is a sour-cherry, lip-smacking blend of Merlot, Barbera, Cab Franc, Mourvedre and another varietal whose name escapes me; it’s funky, and I like it even though the current blend lacks the usual Zin. I also think the Red Truck is an all-round good camping wine. But Cline Zinfandels? Eh.

Ah, dear sipper, this is what tastings are FOR. As expected, I was so-so in my reactions to Cline’s California Viognier and everyday inexpensive Zin. I liked the Cashmere a bit more; or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I ADMIRE the Cashmere, a GSM that is pleasant – and philanthropic: Profits from Cashmere support breast cancer research efforts.

Swirling and sniffing at the rest of the Cline wares, I found I liked the Sonoma Coast Zin ($20) well enough, and I expected to like both the Bridgehead and the Big Break Zins, given what I’d read about them.

The Bridgehead? Not so much. I did like the Big Break, but my clear favorite of the tasting was the Live Oak Zin from Contra Costa County. It had more going on than the others – berries and spice, sure, but it also seemed both bigger and more nuanced than its Cline companions. It’s grown on the three acres of Cline’s Live Oak block, where they dry-farm the head-pruned vines. (And no, I don’t know what that means. I suspect it has something to do with the winemaker saying, “To hell with irrigation!” as he slashes through the vineyard with a mean pair of clippers. I don’t know what possesses someone to do that, but I certainly applaud the result.)

Wait, did I say the Live Oak was my favorite? Well yes. . . and no. It was my favorite ZIN of the tasting, and after all, it’s the siren call of Zin that got me tramping downtown right before a dinner date at Pot Pie. But. The most interesting, and delicious, of the Clines was the 2006 Small Berry Mourvedre. I can’t recall whether I’ve ever had Mourvedre straight up rather than as a GSM component – and this was yummy. Double yummy, in fact.

Why "Small Berry"? Because the vines are old and tired and can only kick out wee berries, apparently. This does not bode well for future bottlings of this winning wine, and may explain why it costs $38. Ouch. If I want THAT sort of punishment, I generally jump on the Seghesio web site.

Instead, we took home the Live Oak. I’m still thinking fondly of those eensy-weensy Mourvedre berries, though.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Empty, dusty and evocative

The wine bottles have been stacking up on the back porch, thanks to the untimely demise of yet another midtown recycling center. I have bottles in an old recycling bin, bottles in paper sacks, bottles spilling out of the various nooks and crannies into which they’ve been tucked.

Happily for me and my embarrassing bottle collection, the publisher of Greenability magazine has offered to take the bottles off my hands. She has some mysterious project in mind, and I’m lucky enough to live just a few miles from her home. (Greenability, a handsome and commendable magazine, offers green lifestyle choices to residents in and around Kansas City. Check it out at )

So I’ve been consolidating the various strewn bottles, cramming them into sacks for the drop-off drive, which has provided the opportunity to consider the libations previously housed therein. Here’s what strikes me as I do: How few are memorable.

Some are even disappointing. I consider the Treana Mer Soleil, a Viognier-Marsanne blend that is praised to the skies by wine professionals. All I can recall is how much I did NOT find it delicious. And first impressions are terribly important with wine, I find; although a single bottle can be off, perhaps due to oxidation or corking, it’s unlikely I’ll try it again – at least not if I’m the one buying.

Wines I’d Buy Again, Happily

Wine tasting is so subjective, and so evocative. Like particular songs from particular times in one’s life, they stir memories: Three Dog Night, early ‘70s, arriving at Incirlik AFB, Turkey, for what would be two years of wonder. Tired and scared and excited. “Jeremiah was a bullfrog!” blaring from the cafeteria jukebox. The 1997 Salice Salentino Riserva, Lisa stealing into the house late one night to raid my wine cooler, and dropping a favorite stemless Reidel on the kitchen floor. Oops.

I reach into the scuffed blue bin. The first bottle I pick up, the 2004 Four Vines Old Vine Cuvee, makes me smile. This wine is a favorite, a value Zin, trusty and tasty and under $15. Its big brother, The Biker, is lounging about in the same bin, and it brings an even wider smile to my face. Andie’s birthday. Aladdin’s Café. Good tastes, good times.

Ditto for the 2004 Shotfire Ridge Barossa Cuvee, which sparks fond memories of my sister Karen’s visit. And the scrumptious, velvety Seghesio Sangiovese. Also the 2006 Seghesio Pinot Noir, one of the few Pinot Noirs I’ve ever really warmed to. Seghesio! Risotto and Barbera. Lisa, who’s never been to Wine Country, and how much fun THAT will be.

The Amavi Cabernet: Meeting the winery owner at the Rat; dining with Kimmy Tappan; cleaning with my sister. Yum! The 2005 St. Francis Old Vines Zin? As good as expected. Hereford House with Andie, and another memory of the first St. Francis Old Vines Zin -- a bottle filched from Nancy’s wine rack and enjoyed (without her) on a second-floor porch. The 2006 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, triggering memories of Laura and her frequently splendid choice of new white wines. Party!

And what’s this fun label with the dancing elephants? Of course: The unique Petite Petit, a scrumptious mix of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. Michael-David Vineyards. Earthquake wines. Lodi, California, with Ali and John. Fresh figs and a V.I.P. tour of the working farm/winery. Petite-Petit: marvelous.

Nah. (Wines I’ll pass on, next time)

The Este. Like other recommended wines from Spain, it did little for me. It’s not BAD, just not good enough to try again. The 2004 Clancy’s, a Shiraz/Cab/Merlot blend, also widely recommended. Eh. For me? Not so much. Also, the 2006 Eskadale The Winner’s Tank Shiraz, a gift from KT, and recommended by Sarah at the Rat. . . all I can remember is sipping it and thinking, “Hmm. Plum? Huh.”

Up in the Air

The Fife Redhead Red, which we selected as our favorite at a Cellar Rat tasting, was underwhelming the next time we had it. Maybe we’ll try it one more time. Call it a tiebreaker. Finally, the 2005 Hewitson Ned & Henry’s Shiraz. I have absolutely no memory of drinking this wine. Make of that what you will.