Author Archive

A Cautionary Tale Scattered to the Winds…   2 comments

Venn Vin Diagram

Who hasn’t nursed that longing pang for the second bottle? 

I have always said that the 750 ml bottle is too small for two winos, errrr, Sybarites, such as Ms. R and myself.  After one of those insufficiently sized bottles has been drained of all that is good, all that is right, all that is just, we pathetically gaze at the empty.  Our eyes lock and those insightful, albeit less than lucid, minds of ours naturally turn to considerations of what might be lurking in the wine rack… 

A smile creeps out of the corner of my mouth, she arches her eyebrow:

“What do you think?”, say I. 

“Muerto, quieres misa?!”, she responds. 

(Roughly translated– “Dead Man, do you want a mass?!” which is another way of saying that a person desperately needs/wants something that is obvious.)

The nefarious fun is about to begin! 

The waves of regret can wait till morning…  

We never learn… Like Hemingway, we are fearless in the moment. 

This is what Great Weekends are all about!  

Cheers! 

 hemingway_magnum_launcher_jpg_CROP_article568-large

Posted August 2, 2013 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

Virginia is for Lovers? Perhaps….   Leave a comment

File:Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving.jpg

Travelling through Virginia recently, I was reminded of a Constitutional Law class I had taken a few years ago as a young law student, when I came across a case that appeals to me on many levels, the aptly named, Loving vs. Virginia. 

The case involved what was then Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law.  OK, I don’t really expect most people to know what that is.  Miscegenation is the mixing of races– in this case the Virginia law prohibited the marriage of people of the “white ” race and people of “colored” races.  The case was brought by Mrs. Loving, a Black Woman who had married a White Man.  The Wikipedia write-up of the case sets out the facts rather nicely (Gracias, Wikipedia!):

At the age of 18, Mildred became pregnant, and in June 1958 the couple traveled to Washington, D.C. to marry, thereby evading Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made interracial marriage a crime.  They returned to the small town of Central Point, Virginia.  Based on an anonymous tip, local police raided their home late one night, hoping to find them having sex, which was also a crime according to Virginia law.  When the officers found the Lovings sleeping in their bed, Mildred pointed out their marriage certificate on the bedroom wall.  That certificate became the evidence for the criminal charge of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth” that was brought against them.               

*                             *                           *

On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pled guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia.  They did so, moving to the District of Columbia. 

In June of 1967 the US Supreme Court’s decision, in Loving v. Virginia, invalidated the Virgina law putting an end to race based restrictions on marriage. 

  220px-US_miscegenation_svgDates of repeal of US anti-miscegenation laws by state:
 
   Grey: No anti-miscegenation laws passed
   Green: Repealed before 1887
   Amber: Repealed from 1948 to 1967
   Red: Repealed 12 June 1967 (the day Loving v. Virginia was decided)
 

The Loving case, even if it did not specifically address the right to privacy, in my mind is all about privacy and what happens within the sanctus sanctorum of the bedroom, of the home. 

Yes, thanks to that 1967 Supreme Court, we can now say that Virginia is for Lovings.  But as good as that result was 46 years ago, as a society we need to deal with volatile social issues regarding race relations and marriage.

I like to think that our country is a more open place now, but am reminded that in some respects it is not and that there are private places that the Government continues to seek to regulate and monitor.  Think of the laws in a number of states prohibiting same-sex marriage.  (Think also of the recent disclosure of the NSA’s efforts to track our electronic communications– but don’t think too hard about that one…)

The 2013 Supreme Court moved the needle toward nationwide equal recognition of gay marriage.  But unlike the Loving case, there is still work to do on the gay marriage front since the court did not directly decide that prohibitions on gay marriage are unconstitutional.  After these recent cases, only about 30 percent of Americans will live in states where gay marriage is legal.  Virginia has yet to legalize it.

DFP Same-sex marriage ruling

While I appear to have been beating up on Virginia, here, let me say that I have a very favorable impression of the state and the people I have met there.  To me Virginia is in many respects a microcosm of the values of our country.  

Painted CornerHaving painted myself into a corner, how do I get back to the real purpose of this blog?  WINE.  A Sybarite has to do what Sybarite has to do…

Gather a bunch of our hetero, homo, black, white, latino, you name it, friends and have a picnic with lots of great food and some Virginia wines. 

During our recent trip to Virginia from Linden Vineyards.  Located in the Virginia Blue Ridge, Linden has been producing wines in Virginia since the 1987 vintage.  Not a very long history, but the wines have a nice energy to them.  Owner-winemaker, Jim Law (whom we did not have a chance to meet), is clearly interested in putting out a quality product.  We tasted through a number of Linden’s current releases and were particularly impressed by three of them that made it back to Connecticut with us.

Seyval 2011 ($20).  The Seyval is made from seyval blanc, a hybrid grape that is, interestingly, outlawed in the EU because it contains non-vinifera genes.  No matter.  In Virginia, this varietal produces an energetic and minerally white wine with citrus notes that is reminiscent of Sauvignon blanc.  Built to be drunk with shellfish or milder cheeses, we grabbed a half case of this before we left the winery.   Rated ** 1/2 out of 4*

Vidal Riesling  2010 ($19).  A blend of Riesling and Vidal (another hybrid varietal).  This wine had an engaging energy and an immediacy that, coupled with the pear and tropical fruit (think lychee) notes, is a joy to sip to the last drop.  Rated **1/2 out of 4*

Petit Verdot 2010 ($28).  This is a hefty effort with a goodly amount of black and blue fruit with enticing aromas that jump out of the glass.  Equally at home with an aged Gruyère as with a grilled pork chop, this is a handsome food wine.  Rated *** out of 4*

We are looking forward to our next visit to Linden.  If you live in the D.C. area, put it on your list.

Posted July 24, 2013 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (or at Least Some Good Wine)   2 comments

Marilyn & Jackie 2It may be a little bit too early for Christmas, but I feel as though I have been given a very nice gift.

A couple of years back, Jancis Robinson wrote about a wine revolution occurring here on the East Coast of the U.S. in the state of Virgina, home to and burial place of T Jeff– an 18th century French Wine Geek, who also happened to pen Declaration of Independence and served as our young nation’s third president– yeah, THAT Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson, an avid gardener, planted Bordeaux varietals in Monticello, but it appears he was never able to produce enough grapes to make any wine there.  Given that I am writing this on the eve of Independence Day, as well as the 187th anniversary of T Jeff’s passing, it seemed an appropriate time to speak out about Virginia wine.

Now, Virginia is not the first place you would think to produce wine.  First off, it’s generally quite warm which results in early ripening (and often over-ripening) of the fruit.  But the real problem is rainfall which in wet vintages dilutes the fruit and can promote the growth of molds and mildew– none of which are good ingredients if you want to make a tasty wine.  But a few winemakers, and one in particular, seem to have figured it out by placing his vineyards at higher elevations on soils with a base of drainage-friendly fractured granite underneath.

About 1 hour’s drive west of Washington D.C., stands RDV Vineyards, a small property with a mere 16 acres of vines planted.  Located in Delaplane, Virginia, this operation with a very dedicated staff will become a standard-bearer for high quality East Coast wine and in time world-class wine.  Given its short history– I believe the first vintage to be released was the 2006– the rise of the quality of the wines produced here is remarkable. 

ProprietorRutger de Vink, Rutger de Vink (in case you were wondering where the winery got its name), has set out to create a world-class wine that can hang in the same stratosphere with the finest Bordeaux and California wines.  There is no question that his wines express their sense of place, even if Bordeaux  is the inspiration.  The winery produces a “mere” two offerings a year, a Right Bank style merlot-dominated fruitier wine, which in marketed as Rendezvous, and a Left Bank style cabernet-dominated more structured one previously known simply as RDV.  Right Bank and Left Bank, and the letters R and L now play prominently in the marketing of the wines.  In vinous genuflection to the French inspiration, starting with the 2009 vintage, the two wines are called Rendezvous and Lost Mountain.

The tasting room, a well-appointed, airy and modern space, is the perfect place to quietly ponder the beauty of these wines.   Recently, I opened the 2008 RDV (renamed Lost Mountain for the 2009 vintage) and was impressed by the level of restraint this wine exhibited– good concentration of flavors and fruit, certainly, but balanced by tannins resulting in an elegant wine.  And as good as the 2008s are, the improvement in the 2009s– the first RDV wines benefitting from the expertise of Eric Boissenot, wine consultant to 4 of Bordeaux’s 5 first growths– is readily apparent.  The 2009 Lost Mountain is a wine that, while drinkable now, has yet to really stretch its legs out.  Still as the wine opened up it released a magical perfume.  The wine has an insistent finish that Ms. R and I can’t wait to experience again.  The folks at RDV will know her as the sun goddess since she managed to keep the rain away while we were there…

Having also tried the 2008 Rendezvous which, to be honest, seemed a bit over extracted or over baked and almost coffee-like, I was pleasantly surprised by the 2009 Rendezvous which has a more solid core of fruit without appearing to be too New World.  The folks at the winery will tell you that the Rendezvous is for more immediate drinking and that the Lost Mountain is for long-term aging.  While I cannot disagree with that advice, I would put it a little differently: Although it does not have the same presence as the Lost Mountain, the 2009 Rendezvous has its own fleshy elegance, playing the role of Marilyn Monroe to the Lost Mountain’s Jacqueline Kennedy, if you know what I mean. 

Let’s cut to the chase here– the 2009s are the ones to get your hands on.  But to do so, you will need to visit the winery since the internet allocation is sold out.  Visit, if you can– you will not be disappointed.  Oh, and don’t be thrown off by the $40 per person fee for the tour, tasting and light food parings.  It is worth it.

Which brings us to the bottom line– in absolute terms, these wines are not inexpensive.  The 2009 vintages of Lost Mountain and Rendezvous, are sold for $88 and $75, respectively.  The pricing for the 2010s, which are to be released in September 2013, are $95 and $75, respectively.  But relative to Napa wines of comparable quality, there is value there.  There may come a time when we may look back on these early RDV vintages and sigh at what great values these wines were “Way Back When”…

Sybarite Sauvage 4 Star Rating System:

RDV2008 Rendezvous Rated **1/2

2009 Rendezvous Rated ***

2008 RDV Rated ***

2009 Lost Mountain Rated ***1/2

Posted July 3, 2013 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

A Winter’s Tale of Two Boys (and Some Bad Behavior)   2 comments

William’s McLoughlin’s dad was hit by a car and died.  That’s all I had heard about Billy’s dad. 

Billy’s mom, became a widow with three young children.  We had moved into the neighborhood the previous fall and walking down the street one day, I saw that Billy had a new bike that he did not yet know how to ride.  I was all of 11 years of age and Billy had to be in first grade.  I did for him, what his dad could not do for him.  I ran behind him, as my own dad had done for me, steadying the bike as Billy peddled furiously in front of our modest houses Friendship Street, I let go and off he went.  A wobbly start, then crash bang skinned knee tears.  Helping him up, I counseled perseverance and a Band Aid, and off we went again.  In no time, he was on his own and I just watched– a self-satisfied smile on my face. 

I was a surrogate for him, though I did not know that word at that time.  And as my little surrogate brother, he looked up to me knowing I would protect him. 

Billy’s mom never forgot that small kindness.  And she let me know this every time I saw her.  After that, I wanted to do whatever I could to bring a smile to her face.  She would take me aside and let me know how much she appreciated that I had befriended William and taken him under my wing.  I guess I had a schoolboy crush on her– she was in fact quite beautiful, long dark brown hair framing a gentle face that did not betray the stresses of being a 30-something widow. 

Then one day, without warning, she sold the house and the family moved away.  At least this is the way that events from childhood are remembered.  There are no explanations.  Just a shift in the players in our lives– people come and go with no explanation, no rationale.  As we age, we piece the events together to make sense of events by filtering them through an imperfect adult lens. 

The new family that purchased the house had kids of their own.  But in my eyes, the bar had been set by the McLoughlin family.  Perhaps no one could live up to that standard.  And Michael, the new kid in the house, was so far below the standard, that I could not help but dislike him as much as I had liked Billy.  The house now symbolized change for the worse, having surrendered up  a good friend, a great kid and replacing him with this young idiot. 

Michael did not help himself either.  He was downright annoying– though younger than us, he was headstrong, unjustifiably confident and would use whining as a tactic to get his way.  Did I mention he had no self-awareness?  A unique blend of personality traits that was not going to make him any friends.  With these qualities, he attempted to take a leadership role in the clique of neighborhood kids.  That wasn’t going to happen.  And as it turned out I was not alone in my feelings. 

The pecking order had been set before he got there.  It wasn’t an official pecking order, but people knew where they stood in general terms.  The oldest kids ran the show, but we usually included the younger ones that we liked in our hijinks.  While not exactly Lord of the Flies, there were unwritten rules and Michael seemed to be oblivious or, worse, unconcerned with them all.

He was forever trying just a little too hard, and when we ignored him he did whatever he could to piss us off.  With sandy-hued curly hair, a goofy expression on his face and an air of superiority, after a while, it seemed like all the kids on the street had taken a dislike to him.  But as kids we never bothered to analyze the situation or even to discuss him let alone pay him much mind.  Still in those moments when he infiltrated our gatherings, one glance amongst us and we, each of us, knew that we did not like him.

During the Christmas break from school, on one of those short winter days, he emerged from his house, dressed head to toe in a red corduroy outfit that he had received for Christmas that year.  In this snappy sartorial splendor, he was a scarlet spectacle resembling a demented elf. 

And us?  We were just roaming the neighborhood that day looking for something to do on a cold Winter’s Day when we had no school and there was no snow on the ground with which we could play.   Naturally, Michael and his elfin attire joined us without being invited. 

Somehow, we found ourselves in a stand of woods behind my house.  There, at the edge of the woods was a small pond– not particularly deep.  Mosquito infested in the summer.  It was a theatre for war games, Lewis and Clark Explorations, nature walks, whatever our imaginations could conjure.  Here, in the Spring and Summer, we captured tadpoles, skipped stones and hunted/avoided snakes.  In the winter, though the pond froze over, none of ever dared to stroll across it as the ice always appeared a little too thin.

As Michael leaned over the edge of the pond, my best friend at the time, Reed, stole behind him and did what came naturally.  With the small encouragement that came from the slightest of shoves, Michael lost his balance on the slippery muddy edge of the pond.  At first I thought that he was going horizontal and would make a tremendous splash in the pond and perhaps drown– nah!  Yet somehow, he managed to capture his balance on his left foot, but tipping over, his right leg went into the pond up to his crotch.  The frigid water quickly drenched the scarlet fabric and filled his boot with cloudy liquid.

We all stood in stunned silence waiting to see how Michael would react.  His eyes widened, mouth agape, wanting to say something, but no sound coming out.  He stood there– a red statue.  We reciprocated in silent amazement.  The cocky airs that he had escaped from him.  He was the butt of a great practical joke.  And in that moment of devastating humiliation, he realized where his place was in the neighborhood pecking order.  He extracted his wet red corduroyed leg from the pond along with a goodly amount of the muddy muck from the pond’s bottom which covered his footwear and the pretty red pant leg up to his knee.  Turning to Reed, I said, “Look, he has humus on his leg!”  Not having wasted my education, humus, I had learned in school, is the decaying organic matter, found in forests underneath more fresh leaves.  But this was wet humus from the bottom of a stagnant pool of water.  It also smelled like you would expect wet decaying organic matter (leaves, frog skins, etc.) to smell– a magical combination of rotting leaves and kimchi with a touch of sewage. 

Reed, taking pride in his handiwork, stood there and blurted out a derisive  “Hah, he’s covered in Humus!”  Up to that moment, Michael wore the red suit as a badge of honor.  Perhaps it made him feel all superhero-like and invincible.  But that feeling of invincibility dissolved in the ether of laughter by the pond.  Tears welled up in his eyes, but to his credit we did not see him cry.  I almost felt sorry for him.  He went home and trudging into the house, what had been Billy’s House, brought the stink of the pond and a generous amount of mud inside with him.  I don’t know what happened after the front door closed.  Perhaps he was whipped for ruining such a lovely outfit or for tracking rotting mud and decayed leaves across the carpet.  We were kids, and those domestic housekeeping protocols did not concern us. 

But we knew after that day that the pecking order had been preserved.  And he never forgot that.  Henceforth, Michael became known as Humus.  And Humus is always found on the bottom.  Oh, and to my knowledge, the red suit never saw the light of day again. 

Now and again, I would walk by Humus’ House and think back on the fun times I had when it was Billy’s House, there on the somewhat ironically named Friendship Street.  But then I remembered that it was now Humus’ house and things had changed. 

I would have to take solace in thinking back on the day at the pond.

Over the years I have tried to track down Billy.  But no success yet.  When I do find him, I will tell him the tale of Humus and the fantastically filthy red suit.  If he doesn’t read it here first.

minervois fabasChateau Fabas Moural Minervois 2009 ($14).  From a great vintage, this aromatically gifted wine starts with earthy mineral syrah notes (no, that’s not humus, but then again…) pushing toward a black cherry perfume on the palate complemented by black olive notes.  A blend of Grenache 20%, Syrah 60% and Mouvedre 20% that finishes with soft and lingering tannins, this is worth searching out, though in the US, you are best off getting it directly from the importer, Cynthia Hurley.  Rated ***

Where and what is Minervois?  Minervois (pronounced MEE-ner-vwah) is an AOC in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. 

minervois2

For the uninitiated, AOC stands for appellation d’origine contrôlée, which translates as “controlled designation of origin”, and is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines and other agricultural products.  For the budget conscious (and who isn’t budget conscious?), the regions boasts some of the best values in French wines and is worth keeping on the radar.

Posted December 29, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

Ooooooops! Ignore the Last Post– A slip of the finger :-)   Leave a comment

Why do they put the “Publish” button so close to the “Save Draft” button?!!

 

Posted November 4, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

What is the Law?   4 comments

Is it time to buy a gun?

Hurricane Sandy has left a loss of property and power and sadly, some lives, in its wake.

For us there was no power for merely two days– though that seemed like an eternity.  We cooked by candlelight and flashlight– desperately trying to use everything that could spoil in the fridge.  We adjusted our sleep patterns to coincide with the rising and setting of the sun.  There are lines at the gas stations and gasoline rationing in some places.  But these are just minor inconveniences, right?

I have always thought that the revolution would start if you turned off the power for 5 days.  You can feel patience wearing thin for those of us still without power.  Our local electric company seems to be uniquely aware of how precarious things are as well.  And whether by design or accident they have focused much of their initial power restoration efforts on the nearby cities with the largest economically disadvantaged populations.  Think of the result if they had instead concentrated the power restoration on more affluent towns.  Better yet, don’t.  Anarchy can become quite real, quite quickly.  We are just a few days from a breakdown of the kinds of rules set out by Dr. Moreau in the 1932 film, Island of Lost Souls

Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton): What is the Law?

Man/Beast (Bela Lugosi): Not to walk on all fours.  That is the Law.  Are we not men?

Dr. Moreau: What is the Law?

Man/Beast: Not to eat meat.  That is the Law.  Are we not men?

Dr. Moreau: What is the Law?

Man/Beast: Not to spill blood.  That is the Law.  Are we not men?

Things did not work out too well for Dr. Moreau– when there is deprivation, man can release his inner savage.  Where we live in Connecticut, we are fortunate that the situation had not so deteriorated.  But some of our neighbors in other parts of the region are not as blessed and have had to take more drastic measures to protect what is theirs.  And this makes me think that maybe I should “buy me a gun”.  What is the Law?  For some the question boils down to, “Where is the Law?”

Another less painful casualty of this catastrophe is the loss, or in our case deferral, of Halloween. 

Halloween is a magical time for kids– a time when you visit homes that you would never approach the rest of the year.  This is the fascination of Halloween– approach a house that you have never given a moment’s thought about in the hope of adding to your sack of sweet booty.  In some neighborhoods, in our region, this might not be such a good idea just now.

It reminds me of the year we lost and reclaimed Halloween.   

The year of my 9th birthday, we were living in Long Island City, a Queens New York Neighborhood.  We lived in a complex of several 6-story elevator buildings.  The neighborhood was filled with some of the most colorful people I have ever been around.  Leo, best friend, with a basketball shaped head covered in shaggy blond hair and a high-pitched voiced.  Rudy, the round-faced gravel-throated wunderkind, remembered mostly for shouting out, “The Fuuuuuuuzzzzzzzz!!!” every time a cop wandered into our neighborhood,  as we all scampered away like cockroaches under the glare of the policeman’s stare.  After school, we played on the concrete sidewalks, places where skinned knees and elbows were as frequent as the sound of sirens.  And this was especially true if, like me, you learned to ride a bike and learned to use parked cars as an emergency braking system to prevent the bike from slipping out in front of oncoming traffic.  I must have ruined a paint job or two during my bicycle apprenticeship. 

Though I did not know it at the time, that Halloween was the last I would have in this urban heaven.  I went Trick or Treating with friends.  We hit three of the buildings in the complex.  Here’s the Halloween Bagmath of it: 6 stories, 10 apartments on each story multiplied by the three buildings:  that’s 180 households.  And we hit every apartment that was laying out the goods that night.  It was an immense haul of candy.  We had to stop because we literally ran out of room in our overflowing Halloween bags and they became too heavy to carry by the end of the night as we dragged the bags home, stopping several times along the way to regrip the twine shopping bag handles that were eating their way into the skin inside our hands.  We had struck gold and I never wanted to have Halloween in any other place.  

It was a time to gorge ourselves– though I had learned a lesson about moderation the year before when I discovered that you can have too much of a good thing: I overdosed on Smarties (my favorite candy at the time) and spewed Technicolor vomit in the middle of my 3rd grade class the day after Halloween.  It was fantastic!

The following October, we moved to Southern New Jersey.  Taking up residence in a place call Vineland where my parents sought refuge from the city and found the anti-New York.  There were about 10 houses on our block.  What the hell were we doing here?  I did not know how to voice it until years later, but I was experiencing a strange and personal diaspora.  This wasn’t even a suburb.  It was downright rural– peach orchards and chicken farms.  The night sounds of the city– people pacing the apartment above, sirens blaring in the night– these were consigned to memory only.  At night, the soundtrack consisted of crickets– hundreds, maybe thousands, of crickets looking to score and perpetuate their family lines.  This was not my place and I hated that sense of non-belonging.  Yes, my parents were trying to get a better life for us.  But what good is served trading safety (whatever that is) for misery.  It would be eight long years before I would get out.   

Come October 31st, we did as always– we put on costumes and went out in search of a hoard of Halloween candy, in the chill October air, the Smarties Episode a distant memory.  However, my expectations for a big haul were very high, given the prior year’s success. 

This time, my younger sister and I went out together.  There we were on our dark street– 10 houses and 15 minutes later, we were done.  We returned home with a paltry dozen pieces of candy in our sacks.  Disappointment does not begin to describe what we felt.  Back home, my mother sat with a big bowl of candy and no other Trick or Treaters in sight.  We were living on Isolation Boulevard.  Dad was away in New York City, working.  We would see him on the weekends only.  We had one car that he used it to commute to NYC.  My mother did not even have a driver’s license– there was never a need for that while we were living in NYC.  Thus, going to another neighborhood to get candy was not an option.  Looking back, Halloween was harder on her than on us.  Separated from our New York family, no form of transportation, on a dark street, husband away from home, no real friends to rely upon, 2 deeply disappointed kids.  She must have felt she was drowning.  Drowning anonymously on a darkened street.  But she did not let on.

She asked us to step outside and ring our own doorbell.  Trick or Treating at our own house.  THIS WAS LAME.  But we obliged– at least we would get more candy.  We rang the door bell and shouted “Trick or Treat!”  The door did not open right away.  Great.  We’re being dissed at our own house as well.  When it finally swung open, she greeted us, a sheet draped over her head.  Dressed as a ghost, and making appropriately ghoulish sounds, she happily filled up our bags with the candy that no one else claimed that night.  The steam from our laughter-filled breath permeated the October chill as we rang the bell again and again.  It was our most incredible Halloween– in retrospect, much better than the one the year before.

I am not comparing the tragedy of Sandy to the inconvenience of losing Halloween.  But this story serves as a reminder that when times appear dire, we need to turn to each other for support and comfort.  And sometimes relief comes from the most unexpected places– sometimes from a change of attitude within ourselves.

Next week when we celebrate Halloween, the day after the Presidential election, we may need to ask the same questions. 

Should I buy that gun?  What is the Law?  What is the role of Family?

Posted November 4, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

GFW: La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001   6 comments

Why do you the devil?

As we close in on election day here in the U.S. I believe that the one thing we could use more of in our society is tolerance.  But I find myself in a quandary since I cannot tolerate the intolerant.  I don’t begrudge others the right to express their intolerance.  I just don’t want to see it, hear it, feel it.  So this posting is a bit like therapy for me– address this acerbating thing head on.

It seems inevitable that we should look to pigeonhole each other to see if you are like me and therefore, likeable to me.  Republican,  Pro-Choicer, Democrat, Hetero, Whig, Libertine, Tory, Federalist,  Homo, Right-to-Lifer, Prude, Socialist, Religious Fundamentalist, Arrogant Bastard, Intellectual Snob.  I like some of these values– others, not so much.  But I don’t exclude you because you are fowl and not fish.  And I certainly won’t condemn you to hell for your choices/preferences.

How did I get onto this?  I came across this pic a month or two a ago.  At that time, I found it merely amusing and that was that.  Then it popped up in my archives and well, here you go—  

By my count, and ignoring those crazy apostrophes, at one time or another I have either belonged to, or been accused of being a member of, 21 of the 38 categories listed above.  By the way, does anybody out there know what “BAHI’S”, “EMO’S” OR “P.K’S” are?  Make that 21 of 35 somewhat comprehensible categories.  Can anyone top that number?  Is my number anything to be proud of?  I guess my ticket is punched for that one way trip to Hell. 

When I started with NGW (No Guilt Wednesday) a year and a half ago the idea was to show that one did not have to spend like the

HIGH FULLUTENT

SOPHISTICATED SWINE

(that I might be) to drink good juice.  Along the way, we found some fantastic values and a few duds.   But on the whole, I think we have shown that there is some good juice out there that is available at decent prices.  But now it is time for a change in approach. 

NGW is being relaunched as GFW (Guilt Free Wine).  My little guy and I are going to expand our horizons a bit and you will see some more expensive wines showing up here.  We may spend a few more dollars on these wines, but there’s no reason to feel guilty about that, is there?

La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001 ($34).  When I came across this in the wine shop, I immediately grabbed it.  The Reserva Especial on the label is a departure from the typical Spanish classifications of (in ascending order) Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.  The amount of barrel and bottle aging for each of these categories is strictly regulated by Spanish law.  The Reserva Especial designation is one that the producer reserves for its best vintages (this is the third time that the designation has been used).  The professional reviewers love this wine.  Me?  Not so much.  In the final analysis it does have a fair amount of complexity but the omnipresent American oak and a little too much acidity held me back from being as effusive as those other guys.  I may not agree with them in this instance but that’s what makes the world go round… Rated **1/2

Posted October 21, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

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