Ready for the Holidays? part 1

You remember a while back I gave you a teaser about a ’61 Baja that I thought I would restore by the end of the year? The one my dad dropped off conveniently disassembled one cold rainy night filled with rusty parts where the people are supposed to fit? Yeah, that one. Okay, it might not have been raining that night, but it certainly was pouring when me & the boys pushed it onto Arvin’s trailer to deliver it to my cousin who I tricked into helping kindly offered to help.

Bug on trailer

The end of the year seemed like a nice far away deadline. It sure came fast though. I know, I know this must be a giant let-down or at least disappointing to the group of people that thought I could do anything. A group that is made up of just me. But, in my defense, as I started going through the pile of old parts, I knew it was hopeless.

bug parts

Pretty sure there is enough parts to build 2 ½ bugs. I didn’t even know where to start.

weed covered bug

It had been waiting for me for so long the weeds almost consumed it! Cousin Gary was my only hope. He sorted the pile in a matter of minutes. Easily identifying what was salvageable and what was ‘trash’.

That’s when the tiny dictator showed up. Did you know of his fascination with making lamps out of rusty metal parts? Well he was practically throwing a fit watching the ‘trash’ getting nonchalantly tossed into the dumpster.

I had to intervene.

Just as Steve was about to throw the brake drums in – I stopped him. The tiny dictator inside my head was celebrating like never before. Dancing a jig and high-fiving himself. Steve not so much.

“You’re going to do what?”


They are heavy & rusty, everything I love in trash lamp parts. Steve just shook his head and surrendered them to me.

As for the lamp? Here’s a preview:

brake drum lamp 2

To be continued…


Let’s talk about wine.

We had a wine tasting frenzy during the 20% OFF Wine Sale! I hope you stocked up for the Holidays. If you didn’t, it’s not too late – Steve says if you buy a case or more of wine the 20th through the end of November (2014) he’ll give you 10% OFF! Just mention Steve and this blog for your discount 🙂


Here’s some great ones:

Reatta Chardonnay

2010 Reata Chardonnay Carneros $5.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Arvin found this Chardonnay to be crisp and dry. Connie called it smooth. Terry thought it had a nice aroma and Steve said it was light. Scott commented that he really liked it.

Winemaker notes: This chardonnay is incredibly well balanced. Aromas of caramel creme Brule and a touch of coconut complement the light oak profile. Bright tropical fruit aromas complement the rich and vibrant flavors of green apple and crisp citrus fruits in our Carneros Chardonnay. This wine has a lengthy finish with a breadth of flavor. This wine is ideal for any special occasion for new wine drinkers or wine connoisseurs. You can enjoy this wine at a nice dinner at home or serve it at a cocktail party. Choose from simple poached salmon with a buttery sauce or chicken and pork with a cream-based sauce to bring out the complementary flavors in this wine.


middle sister wicked white

Middle Sister Wicked White California $2.99

Elsewhere price $11.99

Kerri noticed this white blend had a fruity aroma, very subtle. Not bad, she said, and added that she tasted melon. Arvin called it an after dinner white. Caroline tasted pear and lime and said it was an easy drinking wine. Joe added, for easy drinkers, so if you wanna be easy…

Winemakers notes: 36% Chardonnay, 32% Chenin Blanc, 21% Gewurztraminer, 11% Other White. 100% California fruit with 23% from cool climate Monterey.

Long, cool, slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks turned fresh, juicy grapes into bright, aromatic wine. Smells like…melon, pear, tangerine, rose petals, lychee, lemon zest. Tastes like…the same fruit flavors that you smell – explode in your mouth. After a second or two, lush melon and sweet pear melt on your tongue. A lingering note of minerals finishes the sip. Yummy with…Seafood, salads, vegetables, light meats, fresh cheeses.


good daughter

2010 Good Daughter Chardonnay Carneros $5.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Kerri got the first taste of this Chardonnay and immediately commented – Buttery! Caroline couldn’t wait to taste it, she likes a buttery Chardonnay and this one didn’t disappoint, she loved it. Arvin said it’s got legs and he went on to explain what that means, but I wasn’t able to jot it down, so you can read more here: What are wine legs?

Winemakers notes: Good Daughter Chardonnay has aromas and flavors of juicy apples, pears, and pineapple. There is also a touch of cream and toasty oak on the finish of this elegant and easy to love wine. Yummy with roasted chicken, corn salad, salmon with mango salsa.

Good Daughter wines are made using gently farmed grapes from cool-climate California coastal vineyards. They pledge to support sustainable vineyard practices, environmental stewardship and building prosperous farming communities. A portion of the sale of each bottle of the wine goes to sponsor these principles. Take care of your mother. She’ll take care of you.


Jankris crossfire


2011 Jankris Crossfire $4.99

Elsewhere price $21.99

Larry said this red has a nice nose and legs like J-Lo. Terry liked how it just slides right down your throat, smooth. Steve found it to be on the sweet side and good with berries. Connie commented, “Sooo Sweet!” Arvin says, “When Connie likes a red I gotta stock up!” He also said this would pair nicely with Thanksgiving turkey, but you can enjoy this red just by smelling it.

Winemaker notes: Truly the “world’s blend” A Merlot base followed by smatterings of Cab, Tempranillo, Petit Syrah, Syrah, and Grenache. Young enough to age well in your cellar, yet old enough to enjoy now. So many things going on your mouth that you will marvel at the feel and the sensory overload your taste buds will succumb to. A little drier than Riatta and a little more sophisticated.

This wine illustrates the harmony of a traditional Bordeaux style blend enhanced by ripe Spanish varietals.  Each variety imparts an individual personality while remaining in perfect balance.


 laurier merlot

2011 Laurier Merlot Alexander Valley $6.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Terry said this Merlot tickled her nose. Larry tasted sweet cigar and Steve agreed – cherries and tobacco. Arvin found it to be good with chocolate. Steve tried some chocolate with it and exclaimed, “The chocolate does something great to this one!”

Winemakers notes: Brick red ruby color. Bold aromas of blackberry, black cherry, dried plum, and smoked brisket with a silky, dry medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium length, cherry, boysenberry, blackberry, and vanilla finish with soft tannins and light oak. A touch of smoky cherrywood on the nose opens into soft, berry-filled flavors that are effortless to enjoy on their own or with picnic fare in the backyard.


 beuna vista

2010 Buena Vista Merlot Carneros $5.99

Elsewhere price $18.99

Joe started us off with a “Wow! That’s good”. Scott called it a mild red, fruity. Kerri tasted berry tones, said it made her feel emersed in berries, this is really good. Arvin said this wine is for sniffing, slightly dry and very drinkable.

Critical Acclaim: 89 Points from Wine Spectator“Elegant and balanced, with toasted red currant aromas and lively cherry, tomato leaf and spice flavors that finish soft, showing ripe tannins.”

Winemakers notes: Deep purple in color, the 2010 Carneros Merlot is exploding with aromas of ripe plum, cranberry and freshly baked rhubarb pie. The palate showcases flavors of juicy cherry, black pepper and allspice wrapped up in a soft mouthfeel perfectly balanced with well-integrated tannins. This complex and satisfying wine ends with a long, spicy finish.


old vine zin

2011 Reserve Lot 11 Old Vine Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $7.99

Elsewhere price $19.99

Kerri started with an, “mmmm, I like it” Arvin tasted blended berries and licorice. Joe thought it was aged in metal and called it spicy. He thought it would pair well with Prime Rib at Christmas.

2014 San Francisco Chronicle Siver Award Winner!

The Drink of Success

The Holidays can be a little disruptive to our regular routine. With the New Year, we settle down and get back in the swing of things. And for those of us that frequent the Front Porch… that means wine tasting on Wednesdays. If you think Wednesday is not an appropriate day for wine tasting, then you’re an amateur and we can’t be friends. Just kidding. Pick a night, I’ll drink with you.

Often the New Year is seen as a new beginning or a fresh start. We make New Year’s Resolutions to change ourselves for the better (I haven’t had much success with that). Instead, I like to make a list. I love making lists. I love everything about making lists. Cute little notebooks or nice paper and a smooth pen (hopefully with colored ink) to write with. Seeing my thoughts/tasks on paper makes them seem easier to get done. When you have things written down, they can be physically crossed off the list and that brings a great feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes, if I do something that is not on the list, I write it on the list just so I can cross it off. Okay, not sometimes. I do that every day. My list for the coming year, among other things, includes travelling with my husband and restoring the 1961 Baja Bug that was abandoned at my house. More (fingers crossed) on that later.

It’s gonna be a great year, worthy of many bottles of wine! It is the drink of celebration, of success and the best way to drown sorrows. We wish you much celebration and success and no sorrow in the coming year.

The four bottles we tried are from all over the world! Napa, Idaho, New Zealand and France.

four wines

Ste. Chapelle Soft White ~ Tablelands Sauv Blanc ~ Château Naudin Bordeaux ~ Pra Vinera Cab


soft white

2011 Ste. Chapelle Soft White $2.99 elsewhere price $9.99

from the Snake River Valley in Idaho

We had not seen a wine that was referred to as a ‘Soft White’ before, so the sweetness took us all a little by surprise. It reminded me of a Moscato. Steve tasted pear & melon and Caroline tasted apple as well, pink lady she said. Terry liked it with the Boursin Cranberry cheese and said it grows on you, the sweetness dissipates as it breaths. user review: ‘This wine is great. It is light and sweet it tastes like it is made from pears instead of grapes. I would definitely buy again especially at this price.’ ($7.99)

The label reads: ‘Since 1978, Ste. Chapelle has been crafting award-winning wines from grapes grown in high-altitude vineyards overlooking the famed Snake River in southern Idaho. Our region’s long daylight hours, warm summer days, crisp evenings and well-drained, volcanic ash soils are ideal for producing distinctive wines like this Soft White. Enjoy its delicate pear and melon aromas and richly textured, luscious flavors on their own or with fruit, cheese and light desserts.’


tablelands sauv blanc

2011 Tablelands Sauvignon Blanc $5.99 elsewhere price $12.99

from Martinborough, New Zealand

I am sad to say that the Front Porch Wine Tasters did not care for this wine. However, my favorite Wine Snob/blogger did.

Click this link to read his full review, here is part of it: ‘On the first night, the wine had a pleasant nose of ripe yellow melon with a little green fruit.  Palate of yellow melon, ripe gooseberry, yellow grapefruit / golden kiwi, a little minerality.  Fruit is perhaps slightly weak, as if the wine were already getting old, but the taste finishes well with acid of medium ripe pineapple.’


Pra Vinera Cab

2012 Pra Vinera Cabernet Sauvignon $5.99 elsewhere price $17.99

from the North Coast, Napa, California

This Cab was extremely smooth, the aroma made me feel immediately happy. Terry said it just flows right down. She tasted berries and Caroline tasted blackberry. Steve commented that allowing it to breath a good 30 minutes improves the plum taste.

The label reads: ‘Many thoughts arise when a winemaker gazes at a Field of Vines (“Pra Vinera”). They remember past struggles and past triumphs. They remember techniques that brought flavors to their peak. Their gaze takes in the vineyard’s potential, and ponders how best to capture the vines’ offering. In many ways, to a winemaker a vineyard is field of dreams; dreams rich with the taste of the past and hope for the future.’ (That’s fitting for the New Year!)



2012 Château Naudin Bordeaux $5.99 elsewhere price $18.99

Grand Vin De Bordeaux, France

This French Bordeaux is a perfect example of wine that is meant to go with food. At first taste, Terry said it was really dry, we all agreed. Then when we paired it with Little Smokies from the Deli, Caroline thought the wine was much juicier and we all agreed the food made the wine taste better. Weird.

 I read the label out loud: ‘Our winemaker has selected for you this Château wine from the world famous Bordeaux vineyards for its highest qualities. Perfect to be enjoyed with grilled meats, barbecues, salads and cheeses.’ Steve agreed, he thought it would go great with a grilled cheese. -_- At least he heard two of the words I said, lol.

What does it mean when a French wine is labeled with “Grand Vin De Bordeaux”?

Here’s an explanation from Dr. Vinny at Wine Spector Magazine: ‘“Grand Vin,” or “great wine,” is an impressive-sounding but unregulated term. I’ve most often seen it used with red Bordeaux as a way for a château to indicate its best wine, a step up from the second bottling. Since it denotes what they believe is their best showing, it’ll typically carry a higher price tag. It may be a terrific wine, or not. You might prefer the second bottling more. All you know with the term “Grand Vin” is that they’re marketing it as their best.