Ready for Thanksgiving!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I was Samantha Stevens. How great it would be to just twitch my nose and finish my DIY projects. If you’ve been following along, you know that I had a long list to complete in a short amount of time: painting the kitchen cabinets, the guest room and the guest bathroom. Yes, I know the bathroom wasn’t originally on the list – but, in my infinite wisdom, I started that one while completing the rest. It did bump the painting of the front doors though… for now.

kitchen before and after     bathroom before and after

Newly painted kitchen cabinets with new hardware and cultured marble bathroom counter (w/flat iron burn) painted to look like granite

guest room

Retro guest room – hard to get a pic of the whole thing, you can’t even see the most-amazing-thrift-store-find-ever, the purple egg chair!

I was fortunate enough to have all my kids get themselves on restriction! They all pitched in on my project list in exchange for an early release. Turns out, the youngest is a BOSS at baseboard miters. They are perfect! His prize will be to finish the entire house in new baseboards. Don’t tell him, I want it to be a surprise. Surprises are fun. 🙂

So, I’m ready for Thanksgiving. Let’s have some wine!

five wines

Terrapura Chard ~ EOS Chard ~ Concannon Cab ~ Cate Cab ~ Homestead Sangiovese

We paired these wines with a fancy selection of cheese!

goat cheese

I didn’t think I was a fan of goat cheese. It sounds like it should be kinda disgusting. I like to think of myself as adventurous, so we gave them a try. I cannot believe I waited 40 years to try it! They were the perfect compliment to wine tasting. I especially liked the Blueberry Vanilla, it tasted like dessert. Definitely not disgusting. Also, pictured are Garlic & Herb, 4 Peppers and Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil (not pictured: Cranberry Cinnamon). The price in those other stores is $4.39 for 4oz, but who would pay that when you can get it at Grocery Outlet for just $1.99? I will be serving these at Thanksgiving.

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Terrapura chardonnay

2011 Terrapura Chardonnay – Central Valley, Chili – $3.99

Elsewhere price $8.99

Larry says it was very light in color but, it’s got a bite. It’s a wine that’s down to earth. Brian said he liked this one and Becky thought it was earthy. Arvin said it was good and called it a blue collar wine. Terry noticed that everyone was enjoying it and Connie liked how it paired with the blueberry vanilla cheese.

The label reads: Terrapura represents the Balance Spiral, symbolic representation of the earth, that exists in perfect harmony with all the other elements from nature: climate and hand labor.

On-line review: An amazing value Chardonnay (at $10.99)! Big, rich, well-balanced and priced well below the recommended retail price – snap up Terrapura Chardonnay for a Wright Find from Chile!

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eos_chardonnay_1

2009 EOS Estate Chardonnay – Central Coast, California – $4.99

Elsewhere price $12.99

Becky liked this Chardonnay right away and Steve tasted a hint of vanilla. Larry tasted grapefruit or pineapple and Brian said this one had more tannins, it was drier than the first Chardonnay.

The label reads: At EOS our approach to winemaking is traditional and natural; our methods are decidedly low tech. We allow the soils and climates of each vineyard site to be clearly heard in our wines. EOS Chardonnay is fresh, lush and refined with pear, citrus peel, pineapple and vanilla. (dang! Steve & Larry are getting good at this)

On-line review: This Chardonnay is ultra-fresh and approachable with aromas of red apples, lemon custard, pineapple and melon. Toasty oak fills in the palate and adds depth and character to the wine. While there is plenty of richness…

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Concannon

2008 Chateau Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon – San Francisco Bay – $6.99

Elsewhere price $10.99

Connie started right off by noticing the wonderful bouquet, she said it was very smooth and Arvin liked that it was full-bodied. Brian said this Cab was a winner with him, it had long legs but not too much tannins. Larry commented that it goes well with dark chocolate, he really liked it (Red again, Larry? Wow) and he can really taste the dark cherry. Terry agreed, she said it finishes well with the cherry taste.

The label reads: Our Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, rich with black cherry and vanilla-oak flavors. Subtle spice and just a hint of chocolate mingle in the smooth finish. Enjoy with your favorite cut of beef or cheese.

On-line review: 84 Points. Aromas of sweet cherries, red licorice and rose petals, a little bit of pepper. Medium-bodied and tangy acid, lots of bright cherry and raspberry with notes of caramelized sugar, red licorice and soft toast. A fun, easy-drinking style.

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Cate Cab

2012 Cate Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley, Ca. – $8.99

Elsewhere prize $19.99

Terry found the aroma to be intoxicating before she even had a sip. Brian noticed that it had short legs and thought it would go well with a grilled steak. Arvin liked this one, he said it was dryer and he tasted black berries and enjoyed the finish. Larry and Steve both tasted tobacco, they collectively decided that it would be great with a cigar after a great big steak and loaded baked potato.

The label reads: Fragrant cassis, black cherry and cocoa notes tantalize the nose while the mid-palate is jam-packed with fleshy ripe tannins, blackberry, dark chocolate and tobacco flavors. The finish is well balanced integrating the ripe fruit with its plush tannins ending with subtle hints of caramelized almonds.

On-line review: Can you believe in this day and age that there is absolutely zero information on this wine? Nada, zip, zilch. Not even on the winery. No pictures, nothing, until this blog of course! My internet search gave me everything from cat wine to Cate Blanchett. Crazy.

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sangiovese

2010 Homestead 1897 Sangiovese – Napa Valley, Ca – $3.99

Elsewhere price $14.00

This wine was recommended to us by a regular wine customer. He taught Steve all about Sangiovese, including how to pronounce it. Steve worked Sangiovese into every sentence he possibly could after that, lol. He also learned that this is the prominent grape in Chianti. Chianti is usually a very dry red wine, but this Sangiovese was quite fruity. Terry and Cici both tasted peaches and Becky tasted elderflower. Terry also said it made her feel warm. Warm=happiness.

The label reads: In the boom of Napa Valley’s mining era 1897, Ed Haus homesteaded a small vineyard and ranch in the far north eastern corner of Napa Valley. Homestead 1897 is made with the same care and attention to detail as the first wines handcrafted during the turn of the century.

91 points from Cellar Tracker

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Carpe Diem!

Did you ever notice how fast time passes? Like when you first have a baby and everybody tells you they grow up so fast – take pictures and pay attention. And you’re like, yeah sure, I have decades ahead of me taking care of this new person. The next thing you know, they’re teenagers and you look back and think WOW. That was fast. You then become one of the people warning others to watch out, they grow up so fast.

I’ve noticed that as I get older, time goes by faster and faster. The holidays come quicker each year and there’s less time to prepare for them. I’ve had to be more creative in finding time to make progress on the famous DIY project list that must be done by Thanksgiving. (It’s kind of at a boring stage, stayed tuned for the before & afters!) Instead of making dinner when I get home, I head out to the garage to paint another coat on the cabinet doors and tell Steve to find something in the freezer to heat up. I am sick of painting cabinet doors. It takes forever. When I finally come back in, with an aching back and paint-stained hands, I find Steve and Jake eating apple pie for dinner. At least they used plates. Pass me a fork.

We all get older, but we don’t have to grow up. One day this past week I thought I’d try something new and act like a grown-up. I wore one of my nicer work shirts and a watch. That shirt was uncomfortable and the watch squeezed my wrist all day. So much for that! Acting like a grown-up is no fun. It was alright for a day, I guess, but I’d rather wear a comfortable shirt and go through the day wondering what time it is.

Sometimes we have to pay attention to time so we don’t miss out on something great. Like babies growing up or a 20% OFF WINE SALE that ends this Sunday (November 10, 2013) Time to stock up on great wines for the holidays so we can relax with our families and make new memories. Carpe Diem! Seize the day!

20% off wine sign

Here’s this week’s wine picks – worthy of stocking up…

four wines

Hey Mambo Swanky White ~ Carmen Chardonnay ~ Homestead 1897 Red Wine ~ Red Door Pinot Noir

This month is CHEESE-topia! (loosely translated means: cheese-lovers paradise)

fresh mozzarella     Irish cheese sliced

Here’s some wonderful CHEESE-topia treats! Fresh Mozzarella cheese drizzled with herbs and olive oil on slices of Campari tomatoes and two Irish Specialty cheeses from Kerrygold. Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey and Dubliner with Irish stout.

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 Hey Mambo 2

Hey Mambo Swanky White California $3.19 (after discount)

Elsewhere price $13.99

At first sip, I thought the Hey Mambo Swanky White was tangy. It’s color is very light and it tastes fruity like a summer wine. Terry said it was slightly sweet and also noticed the fruity bouquet. She liked it, as did Larry. Steve announced that this was his favorite white wine, tasted like sauvignon blanc.

Winemaker’s Notes

A refreshing blend of eyebrow-raising charm, this Hey Mambo Swanky White is markably an uncommon treasure. This vintage is a harmonious blend of Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Muscat Canelli, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Fresh and alluring, this wine is an ideal candidate for holiday occasions. Serve with herb and Dijon mustard roasted turkey or baked ham glazed with tropical fruit. When the heat sets in, try this wine as a base for a puréed, chilled watermelon-mint soup or a dessert of ripe blackberries and raspberries folded with freshly whipped cream made with Mexican or Tahitian vanilla.

The hue of fine yellow crystal, this wine unfolds with aromas reminiscent of summertime by the pool or in the garden with fragrant floral blossoms, rose petals, ripe apricots and a hint of cloves over a backdrop of lemon-lime from the Muscat. The palate is very juicy, honeyed with gooseberries from the presence of Viognier and grassy tones from the Sauvignon Blanc. This wine’s heart and soul is captivatingly fruity, with crisp acidity driven by the Chenin Blanc. It concludes with a clean, dry finish of Pink Lady apples, orchard peach and limestone.

90 Points from Wine Enthusiast

“The word for this white is fun. It’s filled with apricot, pineapple, peach,green apple, honeysuckle and spice flavors, and is not complicated, but has a fine, crisp structure. The creative blend is Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Muscat and Chenin Blanc.”

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

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carmen-gran-reserva-chardonnay-2010

Carmen Gran Reserva Chardonnay Chili $3.99 (after discount)

Elsewhere price $14.99

This Chardonnay had a nice distinct aroma, that we collectively decided was apples. Steve tasted oak from the kegs but Larry said he could smell the kegs, but couldn’t really taste them. A very enjoyable glass of wine.

From the Winemaker:

A very fine chardonnay with a complex bouquet of fruits, wood, vanilla, and butter; pleasant in the mouth, with great body and length.

On-line review Tasting note:

The 2010 Carmen Reserva Chardonnay wins the Best Brie Wine award! It’s caramel, toffee depths are a perfect backdrop for such a rich cheese. The green apple and citrus notes give the wine a mouth-watering vibrancy. Top me up! Chardonnay  food  pairings: lobster in butter, rich pasta dishes, lemon chicken.

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Red door Pinot 2

Red Door Cellars Pinot Noir Oregon $6.39 (after discount)

elsewhere price $16.99

Warm tastes of cherries and berries. We let this Pinot breath for a good 30 minutes before tasting. Steve noted that it warms the tummy and Larry actually liked it! He doesn’t usually go for the red wines, but he may be coming over to the red side 🙂

On-line review:

13.5% alc., $21 (I have seen it on the internet for $18 which is a steal). Crafted by Laurent Montalieu for NW Wine Co. (Precept Brands) in McMinnville.      ·     Herb-dusted red fruits, sage, bay, oak and char on the pleasing nose. Very light, even ephemeral, with red cherry and strawberry flavors touched by herbs. The fruit is well-supported by supple tannins. Goes down like mother’s milk. My only nit is that the finish ends in a flash. ~The PinotFile

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homestead 1897 2

Homestead 1897 Napa Valley Red Wine $7.99 (after discount)

elsewhere price $35.00

Originally, I had planned on tasting the Homestead 1897 Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought two bottles the morning before wine tasting, but by the afternoon, Steve told me he’s just about sold out, he didn’t even put it out on the sales floor! Some of his regular wine customers came in and bought it by the case when they saw it on the pallet with all the new wines waiting to get to the shelf. So, I opted to get the Red Blend from the same winery. We did taste them both and honestly, I could not tell the difference. I’m sure a lot of you could, but not me. Terry commented on how it tasted very berry and Larry had a second glass! A second glass of red wine for Larry? Its a Front Porch Wine Tasting miracle!

Cellartracker Expert reviews:

1/2/2013 – dnsteadman Likes this wine: 86 Points – I decanted this bottle for about 4 hours and it opened up nicely. We drank it with appetizers and some cheese. It was sturdy but not overpowering and the tannins were fairly mellow after the decanting period. I have 3 more bottles in the cellar and plan to let them age a bit more but would not hesitate to open another bottle this year.

6/16/2013 – dorphil wrote:89 Points – Garnet color – Excellent. Not too overpowering. Went well with meat. Would buy again

8/4/2013 – dorphil wrote: 91 Points – Brick color – Excellent wine. Mellow but bigger than expected for the price. Would buy again

Wine for your next Celebration!

Nothing is more annoying than getting in the shower the day after Halloween to scrub your face clean of the leftover zombie blood that still stains your skin and find that your husband used up all the soap and didn’t replace it. FYI shampoo does not remove zombie blood from skin. Thank goodness for make-up.

What does the first day of November mean to you? The start of the holiday season, maybe? To me, today is the first day of the great race against time to complete my various projects before Thanksgiving. I work best with a deadline. I’ve counted the weekends and confidently made lists. I am focused.

But…

In the back of my head, I can hear the faint whisper of that tiny dictator. ‘What a stunning impact newly painted front doors would make.’

Really? What is wrong with him? I have to finish the kitchen AND the guest room! The multiple lists are long plus I will have to perform the tedious chore of removing the protective layer of dust from all the rarely touched surfaces around the house. Most of the downstairs rooms don’t even have baseboards yet, why on earth would I even consider painting the front doors. Does that tiny dictator that lives in my head even know that I have a job? Maybe he wants to bring on the ever looming nervous breakdown so I will finally eat breakfast on a regular basis – breakfast that includes happy pills in a paper cup and is served from a cart that is wheeled into the room. Actually, that kinda sounds nice.

I did watch a YouTube video on the proper procedure to painting front doors so I’m basically an expert now.

Challenge accepted! I will finish all of these projects before Thanksgiving and I will bake fabulous holiday desserts. Then I will take a nap.

We tasted two unconventional wines this week that will go perfectly with holiday desserts and they’ll make fun gifts for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. Make sure you read to the end to find them.

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backyard bar

Thanks to Joe and Misty S. for hosting our remote Front Porch Wine Tasting at their beautiful backyard bar – You guys definitely added some class!

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4 wines pic

Lunatic White Blend ~ Three Rivers Chardonnay ~ Fetzer Shiraz ~ Whiplash Red Blend

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14319-000_1

2011 Lunatic White Wine Blend $5.99 elsewhere $14.99

California

The label reads: ‘True genius often borders on lunacy. Visit lunavinyards.com to find out what makes this crazy good blend so insanely delicious.’

I’m pretty sure that whoever wrote that is calling me a genius 😉

As you can see from the picture above, the color of this white blend is very light. Misty and I both thought it tasted light and delicate as well. Arvin tasted peaches and apricot and Larry noted the fruitiness. Steve agreed. Larry said the fruit he tasted was grapefruit. Steve agreed. Lol. Steve also said that he tasted grapes and without missing a beat, Kathy said, “it does have grapes, we don’t know how many, but they’re in there.” Terry commented that we’re all feeling a little luny. Becky mentioned that it was kind of sweet and Scott said its got a little twang to it.

On-line review: The aromas are floral and real delicate, but on tasting there are citrus flavors on the front of the palate and apricot on the back. The tannins are very mild and delicately active – a nice crisp wine, perfect for summer….or for a hot hotel room.  Whichever works…the hotel room, in this scenario.  Hurry up summer! The Lunatic was so delicious I ended up ordering a case through one of my friends who owns a wine bar in Seattle…thank goodness for friends in high places.

Winemaker’s notes: Intensely aromatic, densely flavored, muscular but supple, graceful and delicate. This wine is full of contradictions and charming mysteries. It is a trifecta of Albarino, Malvasia Bianca and Chardonnay; each providing a balancing force in the blend. The Albarino is delicate in aroma, like a white peach, but full flavored. The Malvasia Bianca is almost overwhelming with jasmine flower and apricot nectar aromas, yet brisk and clean to taste. The Chardonnay is a ripe pear in both flavor and aroma, filling your mouth with warm, succulent flavor. But, the wine is much more than the sum of its parts… insanely good!

Blend: 38% Albarino, 34% Malvasia Bianca, and 28% Chardonnay

Arvin hit the nail on the head with the fruit he tasted!

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TRW-Chard

2009 Three Rivers Winery Chardonnay $6.99 elsewhere $15.99

Columbia Valley. Walla Walla, WA

Arvin says this Chardonnay has swagger! Moses tasted walnuts and Steve said it was little heavier. I thought it looked and tasted buttery. Joe S. liked it with chilled red grapes in his glass.

On-line review: “Pale straw. Orange blossom and dusty stone on the nose. Sweet, pliant and nicely balanced, with orange and nectarine flavors framed by a slight phenolic edge. This essentially supple chardonnay finishes spicy and nicely dry.”
88 Points International Wine Cellar

Winemaker’s notes: The long, temperate growing season coupled with partial rather than full malolactic fermentation yielded a Chardonnay of great richness and structure. The nose is scented with green apples, pears and a dash of vanilla. The palate is full and creamy with pears and pineapples. This is a beautifully balanced wine that complements a wide range of foods including roasted chicken, pan seared halibut, crab cakes and pasta in a creamy sauce.

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image_2329526_full

2010 Fetzer Anthony’s Hill Shiraz $4.99 elsewhere $9.99

California

Shiraz (or Syrah) is one of my favorite types of wine. This one had great color and I would choose it as an everyday-after-work-wine. Arvin smelled the aroma of apples and liked the pairing of chocolate with this wine. But, Becky thought it was too weak (she might be a wine-o, lol). Joe S said it tastes like a real wine – like my wife’s driving us home wine. Misty said good thing we don’t have far to go!

On-line review: The Fetzer vineyards Shiraz unoaked radiates with a dense, Garnet-red color. The aromas is characterized by intensely fragrant wild berries, wood and Oriental spices. On the palate the Fetzer vineyards Shiraz is unoaked tight, well structured game on the tongue and Finish with a thrilling sweet-acid soft round and exotic spicy.

The original review was in German (I think German)

Awards:

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition: 2010 silver

San Francisco International Wine Competition: Silver for 2010

The label reads: Explore. I think of Shiraz as a grown-up Merlot. It’s familiar and different at the same time, a fearless choice when you’re ready for something new. From the deep purple colour to aromas of white pepper, plum, blackberry and licorice, you get a sense of adventure. Our Shiraz (others call it Syrah) is medium-bodied, with a lingering finish that is very satisfying. It’s a wine well worth exploring.

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whiplash

2009 Whiplash Redemption $3.99 elsewhere $13.99

California

Arvin and Larry agreed that this wine was smoother than the Shiraz and it had a dry-ness to it. Scott said it tasted better than it’s aroma would suggest. Becky liked the way this red blend started and even more when she paired it with chocolate. She said it brought out the fruitiness. She tasted a smoky flavor with cherries and coffee. Steve tried it with a smoky Gouda cheese and really liked the pairing. He also said chocolate brought out the fruitiness.

On-line review: Big fruit and firm tannins, blackberries and black cherry. Tart, tannic finish. If a wine ever called out for a bacon cheeseburger, it would be this one. Great casual Wednesday wine after getting home from work.

The label reads: Inspired by the timeless artistry of an intricately woven whip, Whiplash Wines are hand-crafted with balance & structure. Redemption is a dynamic blend of Syrah, Barbera & Zinfandel, with bright cherry aromas intertwined with flavors of succulent huckleberries, currants & spice, creating a wine of distinction & complexity. Want more? Check out www.whiplashwines.com

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chocolate shop wine   almond roca wine

Chocolate Shop ~ The Chocolate Lover’s Wine $7.99  ~~~  Brown & Haley’s Almond Roca Cream Wine $7.99

Misty loved the Almond Roca Cream wine immediately. She called it a Celebration Wine. Arvin agreed that this is a Holiday Wine.

Tasting notes: Inviting aromas of black cherry and dark chocolate entwine and continue on the palate surrounded by hints of cocoa powder. Nuances of red wine and residual sugar linger on the smooth finish.

Winemaker’s notes: Sweetening the tongues for centuries, chocolate and red wine has been the most reliable pairing in history. Chocolate Shop takes this pairing to the next level, marrying chocolate flavor with red wine to create a sumptuous drink. We start with a proprietary red blend of the finest vinifera varietals, add a touch of oak and a kiss of sweetness to create the perfect fruit-driven foil for the rich dark chocolate which unfolds in silken layers across the palate. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Terry loved the Chocolate Shop wine, she thought it was delicious. And, it was less sweet when paired with chocolate. Arvin thought it tasted like chocolate covered cherries and Becky said it smelled like cherry port.

Winemaker’s notes: In this cream-based wine, natural almond and toffee flavors marry with delicate cocoa notes, just like the flavors found in ALMOND ROCA® Buttercrunch toffee. ALMOND ROCA® Cream is crafted to be enjoyed over ice, as a traditional wine, or mixed with coffee. The 750ml bottles retail for $14.99 and contain 14% alcohol. The formula and flavor profile were co-created by Brown & Haley and Chocolate Shop Winemaker Hal Landvoigt. Precept Wine markets Almond ROCA® Cream.

Both are definitely Special Occasion wines. Stayed tuned to see how my Holiday race against time turns out!

Check out this link for some scrumptious ways to serve Almond Roca Cream Wine