D. Vine

I guess I have been remiss and it has been brought up to my attention that I should add another character to my cast of wine devotees. Ms. Yoga is one of our oldest friends and she has been on many an outing over the years, and we have had many fine memories that have centered on wines. I am talking about times in Michigan, Florida, and North Carolina and in Napa Valley, California. There has been plenty of wine tasted over the years and many great dinners, laughs and fine times. I was going to give her a nom de plume about her favorite color, but over the years that has changed, and she is deeply into yoga and is even thinking of teaching it later. Ms. Yoga has just been part of our lives for so long, that she is more than a friend, actually she and my Bride were friends, and I met them both on the same night as they went to the same affair that I was at.

T Vine Hallowed Ground 2013


Ms. Yoga was in town for a long weekend for her high school reunion, and I will just say that the number was higher than ten. She wanted to get together with us, before she started her reunion get-together. We went to see a movie, and ended up meeting her brother who went to see the movie as well. After the movie the four of us went to a wine bar, and we had some time to use until the restaurant that we were going to go have dinner at opened. The wine bar is D.Vine Fine Wines and I just think that is a great name for a wine bar and shop. We used to belong to the wine club from an earlier shop that was there, but we had to stop it, as the selections were not what we were looking for and I really should give this place another look since it has a new name and a new owner. In fact they have weekly wine talks and tastings, but it seems that they usually conflict with my work schedule or we have a prior commitment for that evening, but nothing lasts for ever. In fact Ms. Yoga got a kick out of me, as while we were there, some customers that I had not seen for a while walked in, and she said that I kind of took over the wine bar with introductions and working the room. In fact one of the customers as I was introducing my Bride to him called her my Bride before I did, as he follows this blog.

Chappellet Mountain Cuvee 2014


We had several wines by the glass while we were there and I will mention two of them now. The first was Chapppellet Mountain Cuvee 2014 from Napa Valley. This is a proprietary red blend of theirs and consists of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It was a most easy drinking and smooth wine that it was made for early drinking, I think, because it was young and still an easy drink. The other wine was also a proprietary red blend, but of a much different blend and identity. The T-Vine “Hallowed Ground” 2013 is also from Napa Valley. This wine was a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Carignan and spent sixteen months in oak for aging. The “Hallowed Ground” was that the fruit was from some famous vineyards in Calistoga, Howell Mountain and some other areas in the valley. I actually found this wine more interesting of the two reds of this article. I may also state that over the years we have been to many wine bars in many areas with Ms. Yoga and we have always had the best of times.

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A Respite

As I have stated often, I consider myself a clothier, which means that I am in the retail industry. If you have never been, or if you have in the past, you will understand that meal breaks can be the loneliest times of the day. Most of the stores that I have ever worked at did not have staffs that were large enough to have more than one person eat at a time. I have tried especially in the early years to pack my lunch, but when one is in the store all day long, just the ability to go out and have one’s meal is a treat. It isn’t too often that I have company for a meal, but my Bride had business out my way and she wanted to join me. She had dinner plans that evening, due to her job, so she really wasn’t going to eat, but wanted to give me some company, which was so appreciated.

Count of Buena Vista Founders Red 2013

She went and secured a booth at R.P. McMurphy’s, a delightful establishment that is nearby and then I went to join her. They describe themselves as a “long time tavern for classic comfort food and spirits, served in a turn of the century pub setting.” Since I did not want to have a meal and eat in front of her, I scanned the menu for something that we could share, while we visited. I chose one of their classic bar/comfort food selections, namely the Super Nacho. As most of you know, the Super Nacho plate is one that can be shared quite readily as it is made of fresh tortilla chips covered in seasoned ground beef and Jack cheese, then topped with onions, green peppers, tomatoes, avocado and Jalapeno peppers. One just reaches in with your fingers and grabs the chips and starts munching away; and the dish was largest enough for the two of us to share.

MI RPMcMurphy's MB

Since she still had to work and drive, she did not want to indulge in a glass of wine, and in today’s climate, that is a good choice, if one is only going to be eating for a short period. I ordered something interesting which I thought would compliment the dish and that she could sample. We enjoyed the Count of Buena Vista Founder’s Red Wine 2013 from Buena Vista Winery. This wine was named after the founder of the winery Count Agoston Haraszthy in Sonoma County, and is part of the Boisset Collection of wines. The Founder’s Red Wine is a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Carignan, Cinsault and Valdigue. The assorted varietals are aged for eleven months in their own barrels, before being blended; and the barrels are a mix of Hungarian, French and American Oak. I had to research to see what the wine was blended with, but I will tell you, that we both found it to be a great choice and I think that it would work well with almost any dish that calls for red wine

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Kind of

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” was penned by the cleric Charles Caleb Colton. This kind of described the night, a while ago. Went to the cinema and saw another of the films in the new generation of Star Trek; we saw Star Trek Beyond.   Now I have to admit that I am not the “Trekkie” in this household, but I have seen the movies, and the original television series goes back to the days when I actually watched that little box. There was just something so fun to watch the original series, because they did not take themselves really serious, and the star was so hammy, that it was enjoyable. Any show of this genre, gets my Bride’s attention, and she has watched all of the shows and the movies and will still watch them in syndication. The film was “kind of” like watching the old show.

Le Grand Courtage Brut NV

We went out for dinner in conjunction with the show. We ate at California Pizza Kitchen which is a chain, and they were in the adjacent mall where the movie was playing. California Pizza Kitchen has a tight and decent menu, nothing outstanding, but good, just the same. My Bride had the Thai Crunch, which is a salad that has crispy vegetable and cilantro, chicken, peanuts and rice sticks tossed in a Thai Peanut Dressing. She tends to be a creature of habit and she normally orders this dish when she is there, and it is “kind of” a form of Thai food. I have to admit that the odd time that I have gone there, I am also a creature of habit and because I have found a dish that has some flavor, I keep repeating it as well. Now we have had several holidays in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and the dish I always have is “kind of” Cajun in flavor. I had the Jambalaya Fettuccine with blackened chicken and shrimp, crawfish, Andouille Sausage and Tasso Ham in a spicy Cajun sauce. We both liked our dinner that time, as well as any other time that we have been there.

Mionetto Prosecco de Treviso NV

We both had splits of sparkling wine, because it was a very hot day and the chilled wine would work with both of our entrée picks. My Bride had Le Grand Courtage Grand Cuvee Blanc de Blancs Brut NV. This “kind of” sounds like Champagne, but it is French, but from Nuits St. George in the Burgundy region. This sparkling wine is made in Stainless Steel and is a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Ugni Blanc. I have to admit that it fitted the bill very nicely, though it would not be confused with Champagne, it had that festive feel to it. I also tried some sparkling wine, but mine was Mionetto Prosecco de Treviso DOC Brut NV. Prosecco de Treviso DOC is a relatively new designation from 2009 for the Treviso province in Veneto in North East Italy. To get this designation the wine must be made from at least 85% Glera or Prosecco grapes. The other 15% can be Verdiso, Bianchetta, Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanco and/or Pinot Nero. I have to admit that I enjoy having Prosecco or almost any other sparkling wine, if there is some taste and flavor, and I don’t confine myself just to Champagne. The evening on the whole was much better than “kind of.”

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August Birthdays

When there are so many people in a family, it is easier to have one designated party for all the celebrants for any given month. It does make planning easier and less chance of having family absent from the party. So there we were at one of the Sister’s home for the party, and everyone knows to get together there and just relax, if that is possible. Actually it was quite the day, because all of the sisters and families were there and represented, and that does not always happen, since one sister lives in Kentucky and the rest of us are in Michigan. It was also the same day that my Brother-in-Law and I went wine shopping to get away from the swirling dervishes in the kitchen for an hour or so.

Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour 2007

My Bride and her Sister from Kentucky were the designated cooks and party planners, so we schlepped all of the food to another location, and they did their magic. There was some prep work that they could do the day before, like the marinating of the meats, but the rest was all done on the spot. There were concerns about having enough different dishes to satisfy all the guests, as some are not partial to Filets, so there was also chicken and salmon, not to mention hamburgers and hot dogs. Salads and sides were stacking up, and of course the meal ended up as by tradition as a buffet, and one takes what they want and then jockeys to find a chair and table space where they can eat comfortably. When the food was all cleared, it was time to bring out the desserts, and of course the Birthday Cake is decorated with the names of all the honorees of the month.

Black Star Farms Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay 2013

There were beverages of all types as well. Anything from water, pop and beer and of course wine was also present. There were many bottles of wine there for the crowd, and I think that by osmosis, even more people are drinking wine at these gatherings, but I will only discuss two of the wines from that afternoon. The first bottle that I will talk about is from Michigan, a state that is really making inroads for making fine wines, but it is not getting as much attention as the West Coast States. From Black Star Farms in the Old Mission Peninsula AVA we enjoyed Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay 2013. The “Sur Lie” refers to the method of leaving the residual yeast at the bottom of the vat, which imparts additional aroma and taste to the wine. The winery also does not use any oak in the fermentation or the aging of the wine; hence it is very crisp and dry. As a side note, this particular area of Michigan is on the same parallel that Napa Valley and parts of France occupy, even though one thinks of Michigan as strictly a cold weather state, and some of the great wine varietals are being produced there. The other wine of note that day is one that has been respected for years and even though it carries the tag “Private Reserve,” it really is and is not used as a marketing ploy. Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 is a great wine, in fact, to date; I have not experienced a bad vintage from them. Georges de Latour planted the original vineyard in Rutherford, and all the fruit from that site is used by Beaulieu Vineyard for this wine, and is an homage to this wine pioneer. Even though the winery is in Rutherford which has its own AVA, the label reads Napa Valley, and perhaps it is from tradition, but it is an awesome wine and a wine that you don’t want to miss having, if you ever get a chance. Now to see what the September party will bring.

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Two French Wines

While my Brother-in-Law and I were still strolling around Elie Wine Company searching for some more wines, we had the chance to chat with Elie some more and he is a font of wine knowledge, especially about the wines of France. As the old saying goes, he has probably forgotten more about the wines, than I will ever know; so it was pure joy to listen to him discuss wines with such authority. Eventually I had to ask him if there was any wines that he thought would be interesting for me to try and to write about. Elie being the good merchant as well as being generally interested, suggested two French wines that he thought would be interesting without breaking the bank from Jean-Marie Chaland and his Domaine Sainte Barbe label.

Thurissey Vire Clesse 2014

The first wine that he pulled out for me was “Thurissey” Vire-Clesse 2014. Appellation Vire-Clesse Controlee is relatively new, as it was created in February 1999 and applies only to the driest white wines from the villages of Vire, Clesse, Laize and Montbellet in the Maconnais district of Burgundy. Domaine Saint Barbe has a total of 8.2 hectares in the villages of Vire and Montbellet where they grow Chardonnay. I will look forward to trying this wine at one of the dinner parties here, as we always seem to enjoy Chardonnay wines in this house.

Terres Rouges Macon Burgy 2013

The second bottle of wine from Domaine Saint Barbe was “Terres Rouge” 2013, which just translates to “Red Lands.” This wine carries the Appellation Macon-Burgy Controlee and is a red wine from the Maconnais. To carry this Appellation Controlee the white wines must be Chardonnay and the red wines must either be Pinot Noir or Gamay. Domaine Saint Barbe has eighty acres of Gamay vines planted and they are a mix of Gamay, Gamay de Chaudenay, Gamay de Bouze and Gamay Freau. I am not sure if I could discern the difference of all of these Gamay varietals, but I think that they might be an interesting wine to try with a roasted turkey, so perhaps I shall open both of these bottles this Thanksgiving.

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Two More Spanish Wines

While I was at Elie Wine Company shopping with my Brother-in-Law we also discovered a couple more Spanish wines. Elie has branched out some, from originally only carrying French wines, as he has become a distributor and wholesaler for some Spanish wines that he feels has merits, at the expense of just buying the Spanish wines that are routinely found here in the States. He uses the same keen sense that has kept him going in French wines and applying the same traits elsewhere. I will discuss two wines that he was offering from the Catalonia region of Spain.

LEquilibristra Negre 2013

The first bottle is Ca N’Estruc L’Equilibristra Negre 2013. This wine is made by Francisco Marti and is a charming blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah and from the label one would presume that it is a fine act of balancing the three varietals for maximum effect. The wine is originally fermented in open wood and stainless steel, and then is aged in French Oak for fourteen months, and it was truly a lush wine to me.

Ona Penedes 2014

The other wine that I bought that was not offered for a tasting, but I bought strictly on the authority of Elie. I have bought other wines with the “Ona” label, as he is quite proud of the fact that his daughter designed the label. The Ona Penedes 2014 is entirely of the Marselan varietal, and it is a new one to me. This is a grape for the Century Club scorekeepers as it was created in 1961 of a cross between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. This grape is being grown in the South of France, and it has done quite well in the Penedes region of Spain, which is the main wine growing region of Catalonia, and found between Barcelona and Tarragona. There were four-hundred-fifteen cases made of this wine, and I am sure that it will not be in my cellar long, as I am very curious to try it.

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Wine Shopping

My Brother-in-Law came down after the trip to Mackinac Island with his family, and we had another party to attend. I had suggested that he come shopping with me to Elie Wine Company. After we dropped off everyone early for the preparations for the party, we jumped in the car and took a little trip. The wines that my Brother-in-Law has acquired over the years, makes me look like a rank amateur, but then again, I probably am. I had told him several times about the selection of wines, and such a specialized offering that I knew that he was intrigued. When we arrived, Elie was there and I made the introductions and then we kind of wandered around, before we did some tastings. I do think that my Brother-in-Law was just as amazed as I was, the first time entering the shop. First Growths of the Medoc and of Burgundy were as prevalent, as one would find big name bulk producers at other stores. Then there was the Champagnes and the cases and cases of wines stacked just so. Magnums and Jeroboams of First Growth Medoc wines were just as casually arranged, to cause heart flutters among wine lovers. Then we tasted some wines that were being featured.

Domaines Lupier El Terroir 2011

I have to admit, that I wanted especially to go there that day, as I had received an email advertisement from Elie about some Spanish wines, and lo and behold there was a wine grower that I had the good fortune to meet through Social Media. I even had to show Elie that fact off of my phone. Domaines Lupier El Terroir 2011 of Navarre was from the husband and wife team and the fruit was harvested from twenty-seven different plots with vines from sixty-eight to one hundred years old. All those vines of Garnacha, in Spanish, that we more comfortably know as Grenache, dating back to 1903, and there were 1,688 cases produced. This wine bowled me over from the nose and the first taste and I knew that I had to get some of it. Thank you Elisa Ucar and Enrique Basarte for your fine labors of love, and I am so looking forward to opening this wine after some proper cellaring.

Maldivinas La Movida Granito 2012

The other wine that we tried was from Bodegas Maldivinas La Movida Granito 2012, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon and also Garnacha, so we tasted similar wines. This wine was harvested from four and a half acres of ninety year old vines. This wine was fermented in cement with native yeasts with some whole clusters to highlight the fruit and then aged in neutral oaks barrels. It was very powerful and with a definite fruit forward taste.

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