Wednesday, July 31, 2013

BRAMBLES; What am I Drinking?

Aix en Provence vineyard in Summer
Summer daze, each early sunrise folding into the next, with dried grasses and leaves carpeting our hillsides and my gutters seems to relax my spirit. Perhaps it was the eleven(11) week kitchen remodel that had forced us to camp at home that set this seasonal picnic table.  I know that the late-Spring upheaval that marched thru our home lives was disruptive, but I continually found myself giving in to it.  Don't fight it, I thought, it is bigger than us.  My primal hope was that our major kitchen project would not overly stress our routines, that I could take a shower(even if was a cold one!), and that our resources would not run out before our kitchen was up and running once again.  And, of course, that I could continue to be able to search out and enjoy great value wines from around the world.

Shrouded over all of this was that fact that I needed to continue to pursue with focus my quest to be certified as a Wine Educator.  The national Society of Wine Educators had given me opportunity to overcome the challenge of the Faults and Imbalances wine exam, but I continually found it difficult to commit to the time, the research, and the unwavering focus necessary to effectively overcome its trial.  Our family obligations(including my son's college graduation), our work schedules, and the kitchen remodel were, for me, convenient excuses not to focus on wine testing.

Ah, but wine tasting was a different matter altogether.  If this quest of becoming a Certified Wine Educator has taught me anything, it is to be critically appreciative of each and every glass.  It tells me that on each and every day I present wines to consumers or shed light into the wines that they enjoy, I educate. The process reminds me of why I enjoy wine, a living story in a bottle, so much.  On our garden deck, under the sun or between those infrequent Spring showers, we share a bottle to enhance our food and enrich our experience, even if we have no kitchen.

Along with quality wine values of Chenin Blanc from the Loire, Sauvignon Blanc from Quincy & Reuilly, and the occasional Cru Beaujolais, here are a few selections that were recently enjoyed:
Commanderie de la Bargemone, 2012 Coteaux d'Aix en Provence(AOC): abundant aromas of wild strawberries, red currants and summer flowers; bright and crisp notes of red fruits dance across the palate with a hint of spice that refreshingly lingers. 12.5% Alcohol

Sansilvestro Cantine 'Domina', 2010 Barbera d'Alba(DOC): Dark ruby hue, with ripe aromas of red fruits and leather; bright and lively red cherries, black raspberries and licorice across a rich palate with integrated tannins that remains round in the mouth.  13.5% Alcohol
Barbera vineyards of Monferrato, Piemonte

Gabbiano 2009 Chianti Classico(DOCG): Dark garnet hue, restrained aromas of dark, dried fruits with a hint of leather; expressively rich flavors of dried cherries, dried cranberries and orange with an little dried tea leaf, framed in sweet wood with integrated tannins that echo over a moderately long finish. 13.5% Alcohol

Viticcio Riserva 2007 Chianti Classico(DOCG): Opaque garnet hue, rich aromas of dried red fruits and cedar, introduce rich and earthy notes of dried cherries and currants, licorice and tobacco over a long, silky finish.  13.5% Alcohol

Bodegas Ondarre 2006 Mayor de Ondarre Riserva (Rioja DOC): Dark ruby bright, ripe aromas of dark tree fruits and candied spice; robust flavor notes of black cherry, red currants and spicy vanilla ingrained in fine tannins over a long, elegant finish. 14% Alcohol
Garden Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
With our kitchen nearly complete and the garden tomatoes ripening, I have an renewed opportunity to commit to the tasks at hand.  Much like the Summer's bounty, there has been a long, slow and lazy development towards our upcoming harvest.  As we eagerly anticipate our first party from our new kitchen and as I look towards accomplishing the long nurtured goal of a professional certification, there will always be a lingering question in our house. "What am I drinking?"

To Your Health!