Saturday, May 30, 2009

$4 < House Wine > $12

I keep the following bottles at home to open on casual occasions. They are easy to drink as they are or pair with food. I like to keep my posts short and sweet, so I didn't write tasting notes for these, but I'm happy to add them at your request. Trader Joe's offers this list at these prices. They sell at such low margins that they don't do 1/2 case or case discounts like Whole Foods and other wine shops. I've seen these bottles at other stores for a buck or two more - not a big deal, but for such low priced wine they just tacked on another 20%!

Domaine Ste. Michelle: Brut and Blanc de Noirs
Traditional Method, Colombia Valley, Washington, $6.99

Picton Bay: Sauvignon Blanc (12.5%)
2008, Marlborough, New Zealand, $6.99

Trader Joe's Coastal Syrah (13.8%)
2006, California, $3.99

La Loggia: Barbera D'Alba DOC (14%)
2007, Alba, Piedmont, Italy, 2007 $6.99

Castle Rock: Pinot Noir (13.8%)
2007, Mendocino County, California, $9.99

Robert Hall: Cabernet Sauvignon (14%)
2006, Paso Robles, California, $11.99

Liberty School (second label of the famous/cult Napa cab Caymus): Cabernet Sauvignon (14%)
2006, Paso Robles, California, $11.99

Great Wine Under $14

Brad and I visited Roger, ChrisAnn, and Drew at Wine Lab last night to pick up a few bottles for his party. I always tell my friends there is a ton of great wine to drink between $8 and $14 (I'll do another post with some more bottles in this range). When I think about paying that much for a cocktail or one mediocre glass at a bar, I'm especially inspired to bring a few bottles to a gathering and open everything just to show how well anyone can drink! Last night we enjoyed bubbles from France and Spain and a refreshing white from California:

Varichon & Clerc Privilege, Blanc De Blancs, Brut, Methode Champenoise, France, $14
Awesome value. Drinks nicely and has the apple and (approachable) toasty notes you'd expect. Complex and flavorful for the price.

Cristalino Cava, Brut, Traditional Method (secondary fermentation in bottle), Spain, $11
This is such a clean, citrus focused sparkler. Taste this side by side with the Varichon & Clerc. V&C's toasty and leesey notes will be much more pronounced while the Cristalino's perky acidity, bubbles, and sour apple will define this cava. 

Valdez, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, California, 2006, $13
Surprisingly sublte, integrated oak for the price. Normally I stick to Marlborough and the Loire Valley for this varietal, but this is a tangy, tropical version from Sonoma that will be a crowd pleaser.

Squash Blossoms

What a treat! I bought some at the farmer's market in Corona Del Mar this morning. They are such a pretty and delicate addition to a salad. So glad I finally tried them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do What You Can

This sweeping generalization differs for everyone. Having recently been prescribed rest to get better, I've been thinking about the concept.

I tell myself I can accept that no one is superhuman, well maybe Madonna. But, for some reason, I recently worked myself up to a state of hyperproductivity that stressed out my immune system (resulting in shingles). This virus was not fun, so it became a priority to figure out how I could prevent it from recurring. Here's what I came up with...

It's always going to feel good to accomplish a task, educate your mind, and take steps to improve your life. Unfortunately, for some, this can mutate into extreme expectations and guilt-ridden down time. I took the basics for granted and pushed mental and physical energy to the limit. I can talk and write about "keeping it simple." And learned the hard way that there's no benefit to that attitude without execution. 

So, do what you can. Be uniquely human. Exercise your strengths and accept your weaknesses at capacity. I'm trying now. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mama's Boy

My nephew, Grant. What a face.