Never Be Hasty

I was getting ready to try the third and fourth wines at a tasting at D. Vine Fine Wines in Livonia, Michigan. I was looking at the sheet and I saw one wine that I had just tried a couple of days earlier and a wine region that I remember trying in my youth that I was not particularly fond of. I guess I can be quick to jump the gun and I realize that most of all, I of all people, am not an authority and I cannot let prior remembrances bias my opinion. The next two wines were an example of open mouth and insert foot.

Three days earlier I had a chance to try Loring Wine Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 and I was not really impressed with this wine, and I opined about that moment. Was I wrong, the first time I had it, it was from a freshly opened bottle of wine that was being poured, and this time the bottle had been opened about an hour and a half before the tasting, what a difference. In case you don’t recall the information about the wine, I will repeat some of the important notes about it. This single vineyard wine is in the AVA that originally was Santa Rita Hills when it was established in 2001 as a sub district of the Santa Barbara County; due to protests from the large Chilean wine company Vina Santa Rita, the AVA was changed to Sta. Rita Hills in 2006. This wine spent ten months aging in French Oak, of which fifteen percent was new, and they produced one-hundred-fifty cases. It was night and day different then the last time, and I made no bones that I had spoke out of turn, as I was really impressed with the wine this time, I initially thought that it was a light tasting Pinot Noir, but with the time for the wine to breath, it was delicious and everything that I enjoy about this varietal.

The fourth wine that was up for tasting was from the Languedoc, and I have periodically tried some wines from this region and my appreciation has increased over the years. When I first started learning about wines back in high school, a great Claret could be bought for five dollars, and a Languedoc could be bought for about two dollars; and back then there was a world of difference between the two and I often felt sorry for the Frenchmen and their table wines. This fourth bottle proved me wrong, though I did get some nods of comprehension from a couple of old timers that could appreciate what I was talking about. The Mas de Daumas Gassac 2014 is from the Haute Valleee du Gassac and carries an IGP Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert and prior to 2010 it was IGP Pays de l’Herault. Here is a winery that was established in 1971 and they are now referred to as “the Lafite of the Languedoc” or by themselves as “the Grand Cru of the Languedoc.” High praise indeed, but it was true. I mean this wine is a “Heinz 57 as we used to say about anything that had many parts to the whole. The wine was a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 2% Pinot Noir, 1% Tannat and the balance was a blend of “rare grape varieties” Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Armigne, Arenie, Bastardo, Saperavi, Tchkaveri, Montepulciano, Arena Noir, Tchekapesi, Souzan, Brancalleo, Carmenere, Abouridu, and Plavac Mali. The average age for all of the vines was 42 years of age. The wine was made in the “classic” Medoc vinification of long fermentation and maceration (a minimum of twenty days) in Stainless Steel with no filtration, and then the juices were aged in neutral oak for twelve to fifteen months. If I had tasted this wine blindly, I would have guessed a Claret, but with something more, that I couldn’t put my finger on, as it had a deep nose, and a deep purple color with a tinge of garnet at the edges, with a very satisfying finish. The wine was meaty and chewy and I was totally impressed and of course there was none of this wine to be had. So, from now on, I will have my hat in hand and not opine about another wine until I try it, I guess perhaps, that some old dogs can learn new tricks.

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A Blow-out Tasting

I received a rather cryptic email telling me that there would be a blow-out tasting at D. Vine Fine Wines in Livonia, and I was free, so my curiosity got the best of me. I got there a bit early, not knowing what to expect, but it was not an S.R.O. evening, I did see some of the usual crowd and a few new faces, though I have to admit that I am not that frequent of an attendee. I went about setting up my little “photography studio” atop of a couple of cartons of wine with a blank piece of white paper for a back drop and I was ready to do some tasting.

The first wine of the evening was an Apriori Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Napa Valley. I have had another wine from this winery that I enjoyed, so I looked forward to it, and the name of the winery actually means “from the beginning” or a fancy way of saying deductive reasoning. The fruit came from the Farella, Morgan Lee and Yount Mill vineyards. The fruit was hand harvested and fermented in Stainless Steel for thirty days, and then it was aged for eleven months in neutral French Oak. The winery produced five-hundred-forty cases of this wine. The wine had a very soft straw color in the glass and I thought a much better nose than I usually encounter from a Sauvignon Blanc with a decent finish to it. One of the people at the table that I was seated at, attested to tasting white grape juice, but I thought that it had the classic flavor of grapefruit, which I look for, from this varietal and others as well as our host agreed.

The second wine of the evening was from a new winery to me, not that I am such a maven. The Young Inglewood Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2014. The winery itself is located in St. Helena and was originally part of Rancho Carne Humana, a Mexican government land grant that stretched from what is now Rutherford north to Calistoga, and vineyards were planted there in the late 1870’s, continuously except for the Prohibition era. This wine had its fruit from the Michael Mara Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast, so I did not get a chance to taste an estate wine, and I am sure that the estate wines must be stellar from the care that they used to make this wine. The hand-harvested clusters were gently pressed whole over night and two-thirds of the juice was aged in French Oak, and one-third in Stainless Steel. The juice was aged Sur Lie for sixteen months without racking, fining or filtering. Only twenty-five cases of this wine were produced. This wine had a great nose, too bad that every Chardonnay wine does not, a beautiful light gold color, decent legs and a long finish. I was upset that there was a disclaimer at the top of the wine sheet, that said most of the wines would not be available for purchase. I thought this would be a wine that would stop the ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) crowd dead in their tracks, but I was surprised that most of the attendees were not crazy about this wine, but then it was not the usual California Chardonnay and all I could think of, is that it is a shame that my Bride had a prior commitment as she would have gone crazy for this wine. I felt like I was a voice in the wilderness about this wine, and with the small production, I was just glad that I had a chance to try it.

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“Mystery Blogger Award”

I have been nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by a young lady that I follow by the name of Cecilia Kennedy and her blog is “fixin’ leaks and leeks.” Now before anyone accuses me of being any kind of -ism, I referred to her as a young lady, first, because nowadays everyone seems to be younger than I am, and second, because she is a lady, which to me means that she is a woman, who also happens to be married and a mother, so I think that covers all of the bases. Anyone that has followed my writing for any period of time would realize that I am the type of individual that would doff my hat, and hold a door open for a woman, things like that were just done without thinking, when I was growing up. Of course, since I wear a hat properly, I guess that I am from another era, so everything goes hand in hand.

So, without further ado, I will list the rules as I received them, and I will respond accordingly as best as I can, as I do seem to ramble at times. The award is “for amazing bloggers with ingenious post. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.” I am not sure if that really describes me, but I will accept Cecilia’s nomination and hope that I can live up to the ideals that she has graced me with.

– Put the award logo/image on your blog. I think that I can handle that one, even though I came from the middle of the Twentieth Century.
– List the rules. Which I think I am doing, even though I am a bit of rebel, it is inherent from my generation.
– Thank who ever nominated you and provide a link as well. That would be Cecilia Kennedy and I enjoy and follow her blog “fixin’ leak and leeks” which can be found at and I highly recommend that you take a look at her writings.
– Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well. The creator of the award is Okota Enigma and he can be found at and I am sure that this has made this blogger very endeared over the years.

– Tell your readers three things about yourself.
– 1) I guess that I am a bit of a packrat when it comes to wine, because I have saved labels and corks and even a few bottles of note. This has all come in handy for my writing, because it has given me visual aids for all of my articles. Every bottle of wine that has been mentioned, has been bought over the years, and I have saved the labels for a scrapbook, but I also have used the labels as “wallpaper” for the walls of my cellar to make by bottles feel more at home, and eventually when I get my arse in gear, the corks will become the crown molding in the cellar. I guess that I was raised by parents that survived the Great Depression with the concept of waste not, want not.
– 2) Another thing that I have saved that makes for great visuals are the matchbooks from the restaurants that I have eaten at, over the years. I still lament that restaurants no longer still use them as mementos, even if they are not socially and politically acceptable. There are a few matchbooks that somehow have slipped through the cracks of some great places, and a lot of times when I see one of the books, it makes me remember a meal and the bottle of wine. In conjunction with the matchbooks, I have saved other memorabilia from the restaurants, which just make me smile when I see them. I have somehow even managed to save some wine retail price lists from when I first got into wine, not to mention some menus and wine lists.
– 3) The thing that some people don’t realize about me, is that I am told that I have a great sense of humor, but a most of the time that is buried in my articles, but as I have looked back at some of the articles, I am pleased with the quality of improvement as I progress with my writing.
– I am to nominate ten to twenty people for this award and since I follow such a diverse range of bloggers, and I have noticed that other bloggers have also refrained from putting others on the spot, feel free to take your nomination from me.
– Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice with one weird or funny question (specify). Since I was not asked any questions of this sort, I will refrain from asking others in the future.
– Share a link to your best posts and since I am an amateur Raconteur, I will list my two favorite stories about wines, that I tend to still regale people with over a meal or a glass of wine. I am like that one favorite uncle that sometimes repeats himself with the same stories, sometimes enhanced and sometimes they are quite terse, depending on the reception of my audience at the moment.

Screaming Eagle Wine – My Favorite Story
I mean how often in one’s life, does one get a chance to try one of the famous cult wines of California?

A Celebration of the Women and Wine of 1961
The best dinner and wine selection I have ever had in the privacy of a home with other like-minded wine and food lovers.
So, in conclusion I will once again thank Cecilia Kennedy for this honor and I hope that she and others will be pleased with how I answered this. Now I think that I need a glass of wine.

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Brian Loring

It was a pleasure being at a wine tasting with Brian Loring at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. One could feel his passion for wine making and his ability to start a new career. He got his start in 1997 helping at another winery and he was totally smitten. While he owns no acreage, he does maintain a tasting room in Buellton, California. He has made some great contacts and contracts with over a dozen different vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Lucia Highlands, Russian River Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Paso Robles and Sonoma Coast. His winery facility is in Lompoc and he said that he can be available for tours, but from mid-July to mid-November he basically cannot due to bottling and harvest, which is totally understandable. I had to marvel at how smoothly he ran the tasting, keeping track of most of the customers and what they were having next, even though there was a constant stream of new tasters.

The fifth wine of the tasting was Loring Wine Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2016 and it was interesting to taste the difference from 2015 to 2016. While this wine being sampled was not a single vineyard, the fruit all came from vineyards in the AVA; the vineyards were Rancho La Vina, Kessler-Haak, Clos Pepe, Cargasacchi and Aubaine. This wine like all the others being sampled were aged for ten months in French Oak, of which fifteen percent was new. I would venture to say that it is easier for him to produce all of his wines on the same schedule and be the most productive with his time. He produced nine-hundred cases of this wine. Here was a wine that had a bigger nose full of spices, and a bold fruit forward taste, with a good finish.

The last wine he was pouring was I thought a bit out of order if I had done the rotation, but it worked. He had a blended California AVA wine that was more popular priced and it was named after his nephew. The Cooper Jaxon Pinot Noir 2016 was a blend of wines from Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Lucia Highlands. He acknowledged Rancho La Vina, Kessler-Haak, Clos Pepe, John Sebastiano and Aubaine vineyards from Sta. Rita Hills and also Rosella’s and Sierra Mar vineyards from Santa Lucia Highlands. Just like the other wines this was aged for ten months in French Oak, with fifteen percent being new, and he produced seventeen-hundred cases of the Cooper Jaxon. The wine had a softer nose, a little softer color compared to the others, but it was very accessible and an easy drinking wine right from opening of the bottle. I would suggest any of the wines that I tried, and I look forward to trying some of his other offerings as well.

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Two Single Vineyards

There I was enjoying a wine tasting at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan and being regaled with charming banter from Brian Loring the owner of Loring Wine Company. I think some of us were mildly amused from the fact that the day he was there, it was a pleasant dry day and he was lamenting that there was no snow. I think that most of us were happy that it was such a nice day, in fact, I was able to get by with just a sport coat and sweater and did not have to wear a cumbersome coat over it, especially with the crowd that was there. Loring Wine Company has a great motto “We’re a small company that produces tasty Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and whatever else strikes our fancy.”

The third and the fourth wine being presented were both single vineyard Pinot Noir wines. The third wine was Loring Wine Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015. This really interested me when I looked at the tasting sheet, as I have had several wines from Rosella’s Vineyard and I still have some cellared, and I consider it a great vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County. The wine was aged for ten months in French Oak of which fifteen percent was new and they produced four hundred cases of this wine. As most of you know, I am not a fan of descriptors when it comes to describing wines, but since I was at a tasting, I guess I should, because back in the day when I was learning about wines, the description went something like “this tastes like a Pinot Noir should” or “this is a poor example of a Pinot Noir;” though I will add that back then, one would substitute Burgundy for Pinot Noir. This wine had a great nose, a nice medium ruby color, well balanced and I would say a good cellar life of at least eight to ten years.

The fourth wine of the tasting was Loring Wine Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir 2015 from the Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA. I have to admit that it has only been in the last couple of years that I have really discovered the Russian River Valley wines and I tend to be more impressed with each wine that I have had. This will probably be the last wines for Loring from the Keefer Ranch vineyard as it has been sold. Here is another wine that was aged for ten months in French Oak, of which fifteen percent was new and they produced five-hundred cases. A very bright wine with notes of cherry and pomegranate with a good color and a nice finish. I would think that a good six to nine years in the cellar, unless you like your wines very fresh, and this one was great with very little chance to breath.

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Loring Wine Company

I got a heads up from another local wine blogger about a wine tasting at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan and it was nearby for me. This wine shop was on my radar, but for ages I was always off of work on Sunday and Monday, and so was the wine shop. I had a chance meeting with the owner while dining at his daughter’s restaurant and I reintroduced myself to him. The wine shop will require a special visit and article down the road. I was going to meet Brian Loring who calls himself “Owner/Yeast Herder” for Loring Wine Company. The tasting event reminded me more of going to a winery and doing a tasting, as it was catch as catch can, and I must say that Brian Loring did a great job keeping abreast of which wine to pour for everyone, as everyone was coming and going.

The first wine that I tasted was the Loring Wine Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2016 and I have to admit that my ears perked up, as I find that is probably my favorite district in the Monterey County. This is a Chardonnay made from the Robert Young (Wente Selection) Dijon 76 Clones and sourced from the Sierra Mar and Rosella’s Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, and I have had other wines from these particular vineyards. The two vineyards were treated separately, but both were aged for ten months in half French Oak and half American Oak, of which twenty percent were new. The winery produced one-hundred-twenty-five cases of this Chardonnay. The wine had a nice soft color, a soft oaky nose and was very balanced and easy to drink, and it sounds like I had the same opinion, as I had heard that they had run out of the wine at the shop.

The first red wine for the tasting was Loring Wine Clos Pepe Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2015. This single vineyard wine is in the AVA that originally was Santa Rita Hills when it was established in 2001 as a sub district of the Santa Barbara County; due to protests from the large Chilean wine company Vina Santa Rita, the AVA was changed to Sta. Rita Hills in 2006. This wine spent ten months aging in French Oak, of which fifteen percent was new, and they produced one-hundred-fifty cases. I thought that wine had a lighter nose for a Pinot Noir, but it had a nice soft light purple color and it was well balanced. I think that it would benefit some eight to ten years in the cellar to really enjoy.

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El Enemigo

We were invited out by our son and his wife for dinner and we tried to settle on a restaurant that is mid-point between our two houses. We settled on Andiamo in Bloomfield Township, which fits the logistics. My Bride and I have been there often, and I have written about some of our dinners there, but our son had never been there. We can remember when it was the Machus Red Fox, and that fine establishment had to close, because of the infamous night 30 July 1975 when James R. (Jimmy) Hoffa disappeared and he has been missing ever since. I guess there is still a cachet or allure to the building ever since.

The four of us were having dinner in the bar area, near where the band was playing, in fact we were the table adjacent to the music, but for the most part, we could maintain a nice conversation going. We started off the evening with some shared plates of “Sausag e Peppers” of house-made sausage, potatoes and Hungarian hot peppers done in a demi-glace and a platter of “Salumi e Formaggi” some artisanal cheeses and cured meats along with some mixed fruits and vegetables and Marcona Almonds. I won’t mention all of the dishes, but I will list what my Bride and I had for the evening. We both had the house salad which came with a Creamy Garlic dressing, and that is hard to pass up, since so few restaurants now offer what used to be a staple dressing. I ordered the Veal Marsala with wild mushrooms with a Marsala reduction demi-glace; I do like to order veal dishes when we are out, as it is one of the few dishes that we never make at home. My Bride ordered one of the specials and it was a huge pan of Roasted Chicken with a Pomegranate Honey Sauce, citrus, toasted almonds and Tzimmis, and Tzimmis is you have never had is a sweet stew made from carrots and other root vegetables and dried fruits. Alas Tzimmis is also a Yiddish word for a bother, which kind of describes all of the work and preparation to make the stew and unfortunately, I had a bit of a Tzimmis. I think that our waitress made an error, because she had to verify my order and there was a long lag time between the salad course and our entrée orders. All four dinners were brought out and they looked delightful, except that my dish was not hot, I would say that the temperature was more tepid and by the time the waitress came back with the perfunctory question “how is everything?” the others had almost finished the dinners. The manager then came and offered to have another dish made, but I said that it would take too long, so as compensation they deducted my meal from the tab, and it was a shame, as I was looking forward to some good veal. At least my Bride and I did get a chance to cut the rug a bit, before we left and did some dancing.

Our Daughter-in-Law very seldom drinks anything stronger than a cola, and our Son prefers beer, and when he asked what beers were on draught, he was informed that they only have bottled beer, so he asked what Michigan craft beers do they carry and the waitress immediately mentioned Corona, which struck both of us as odd, I guess when no one was looking Mexico was annexed to Michigan. They finally brought him a beer list and he was happy. As for my Bride and I we went with a bottle of wine, which is what I tend to write about. I was going to go with an Italian wine, but one wine caught my attention from the list and it intrigued me, and it really intrigued my Bride when I pointed it out to her. We had a bottle of El Enemigo Cabernet Franc 2011 from Mendoza, Argentina, so we had to try something new. El Enemigo means the enemy, and the vintners Adrianna Catena and Alejandro Vigil applied this quote on the back label “At the end of the journey we remember only one battle: the one we fought against ourselves, the original enemy. The one that defined us.” The wine was basically all Cabernet Franc with only eight percent Malbec blended in. The fruit came from the Gualtallary district of Mendoza and was aged for sixteen months in French Oak, of which twenty percent was new. The wine had a beautiful color, with a terroir driven nose. It started off a bit tight, but it opened up during the course of the meal and it turned out to be an excellent and refreshing wine choice. The company, the conversation and the wine all made up for my meal, and I know that we will end up going there again in the future.

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