Tag Archives: wine tasting

Another Glass of Chardonnay (or Sake)

Somehow I got conned tricked into an online wine club (by accident). I discovered they were putting $40 every billing cycle on my credit card. I like wine, but I sure can’t use $40 a month! So I placed an order for the wine I had coming to me and quickly cancelled the subscription.

One of the wines I ordered was Rumpus, both because it was advertised as a popular chardonnay and because the name reminded me of “Let the wild rumpus start!” from Where the Wild Things Are.

When I first opened the bottle, I liked that the wine had no bite, no aftertaste, and was very smooth and good tasting. But the next time the wine (from the previously opened bottle) was sharp to my tongue and a bit abrasive–like a typical cheap chardonnay. The third time I drank from the bottle, the sharpness had calmed down, but it tasted like a very average chardonnay.

Notice on the back the talk of “Angel funding.” That was my $40 per month. I’m an Angel, but when I cancelled I had to turn in my wings and halo. Now I’m just a wine parasite.

A long time ago, I promised you more chardonnay reviews.  The problem is that if I don’t take good notes and if that one glass turns into 1.5 or even 2, I forget all my very important observations.

Here are some wines I’ve tried since that review last December.

Qu is another wine club offering. It was adequate. Actually adequate is not bad because that means that it is a lot better than most house chardonnays in most restaurants, right?

Cloud Break is such a pretty name for a wine. Gosh, where are my notes? That means I have to buy it all over again some day, just to see what I thought.

To my knowledge, the vineyards for this Jerome wine aren’t anywhere near Jerome, Arizona. I heard on TV the other day that there are over 30 wineries in Arizona now, but I kind of turned up my nose. I didn’t care for this Arizona wine. In fact, I thought it was pretty icky and suspect most of them are like this. (I apologize to my dear friend I gave a bottle of Arizona wine to yikes). Any Arizona wineries out there want to prove differently, email me for my shipping address. I accept free wine for review.

If I drink more than a glass or two of chardonnay a week, my stomach gets free-ranging acid. So I had to find a remedy. Most people would switch to red wine. Or vodka. Or stay away from alcohol (and chocolate).

My remedy was to switch to sake. It doesn’t seem to bother my stomach, and it’s never disappointing. I buy or order junmai sake because junmai means distilled alcohol has not been added. That assures that the wine is most likely gluten-free (the celiac has had good luck with junmais).

Fun sakes are Mura Mura: I’ve enjoyed four of its locations: river, canyon, mountain, and meadow. They are all quite different, but delicious. The most unusual is mountain: sweet, , full, rich,  and milky white. It fills the tongue beautifully.  Mountain is perfect for drinking by itself (without food). River feels and looks thinner, has a milder taste, and is pale yellow. Canyon and meadow are closer to river than they are to mountain.

Now Mura Mura makes a pear orchard sake, but I have yet to taste that delicacy.

Here are some other good tasting junmai sakes that are varying prices. Momo Kawa is intense and a bit dry. It’s very good, but not a favorite of mine. I suspect I like the sweeter sakes best. Ozeki is good, sweet, and I might add that it tastes slightly metallic–but even by putting that into words is exaggerating the characteristic.

The differences between junmai sakes are not that different from each other, according to my uneducated palate. I drink these sakes at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator. If you want warm sake, order the crap like Gekkeikan that you see in every supermarket.

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On another note, I finished the little free library memoir Monkey Mind and highly recommend it for anyone suffering from anxiety (unless you’re a kid and then it’s not appropriate!). The style is not chronological narrative as I am trying for my memoir (yes, I decided to put it–mostly–in order), but rather more thematically arranged and with a journalistic twist to it (research).

Kana’s selfie shows the best anxiety remedy: cat cuddling!

 

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More Travels with Mom

Hubby and I took Mom north of Phoenix.

We headed up to Cottonwood past hills “stubbled” with saguaro cacti.

We spent the night at the Pines Motel. I was entranced by the note pad next to the phone: it was computer paper cut up and stapled together. They pride themselves on being green. We had a great dinner at Nic’s.  Hubby and I have been there before, and they actually manage not to cross-contaminate his food with gluten. It helps that he orders simply–the crab legs, baked potato, and salad  with his own salad dressing (we carry packets of gluten free salad dressing with us). In the evening we played Bananagrams, a game that is fast becoming a family favorite.

Next day we drove up the mountain to Jerome, an old mining town. Inside a gift shop we discovered a museum of Jerome’s history. We got in for the senior bargain rate of $1 each. When we traveled in Canada and the NW US last summer, we were frequently shut out of senior discounts because they seemed to raise the bar for the senior price when we got to each destination ;). This time hubby preempted that trouble. He told the lady he was buying tickets for 3 old people so she lectured him while she took his $3, not realizing it was all part of his plan.

Inside I learned a lot about the history of mining. If you were reading my poems during the Tupelo Press 30/30 you might have read a poem I wrote about mining in Globe, Arizona. I wrote it in honor of a lady whose father was one of the early Jerome miners. Like her father, many of those early miners were Mexican.

The most fascinating part of the museum was learning about medical care provided to the miners. I began to picture what it would have been like to be stuck underground in one of those early mines and to get hurt or sick.  Take a look at the pre-printed chart below. There weren’t women miners, so the gynecological section must have been for family members or the very many prostitutes living and working in Jerome.

This is where copper comes from:

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Later we stopped at the winery for the tasting bar. (You knew that was coming, right?) We didn’t want to taste too much because of the high altitude and Mom’s heart condition, so hubby told the wine-pourer (I’m sure there is an official title; I just don’t know what it is) he wanted to buy a bottle and she let us (OK, that means mainly me) taste a few for free. I settled on the, of course, chardonnay. I will say, though, that Jerome wine is not my cuppa. I asked the wine-pourer where the vineyards are. I couldn’t imagine them so far up the mountain, but what do I know about vineyards (although obviously at least one branch of my ancestors knew a lot). She looked a little sheepish when she answered that they are outside Tucson. Hahaha. That’s a long way from Jerome! Now I feel bad that I gave a certain friend a bottle of Jerome wine.

The building that overlooks all of Jerome and is arguably the main tourist draw is the Jerome Grand Hotel. I had read that it was the original hotel in Jerome, operating when the miners needed care. You can get the best view of the building from their own website.

It wasn’t until I got there that I saw ASYLUM signs there. Note the old fashioned elevator door. I want you to know that Ms. Claustrophobia here (that’s moi) went up on the first ride all by her lonesome. I was so proud of myself. In the following view, I am riding with Mom who is examining the panel or the Otis Elevator inspection certificate.

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Before we left town, hubby bought Mom a gorgeous scarf. When it’s open it displays so many colors and looks beautiful with her coloring. Blue, green, orange, pink, purple, gold.

After Jerome we all agreed to drive up to beautiful Sedona for dunch (or is it linner?). Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a single restaurant we could trust for gluten-free dining that was open so early (about 4PM).  Luckily, we had cheese, turkey slices, crackers, and apples so Mom could eat something. We had to drive all the way back to the Phoenix area and stopped at the first P.F. Chang’s we could find.

The scarf purchase inadvertently led us to our next big adventure. That was the day I gave Mom training how to wear scarves! We had fun, and I even figured out a new way of tying for myself.

Now ask me if I’m writing? hahahahahahahaha

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Raise a Glass

Just what you didn’t expect from me (maybe): a wine review. While it’s not in time for Christmas and Hanukkah, surely you can’t drink champagne all New Year’s Eve! Mix it up with some Chardonnay, my favorite wine.

Hubby clipped coupons for Total Wine & More, a big box store around here, and we loaded up a cart with a variety of Chardonnays for me and a bottle each of vodka and port for him. Notice that Chardonnay is capitalized, but port is not. I have no idea what is correct, but that is how I view the world. And that is how you will find this review. Chardonnay from the viewpoint of Luanne who knows very little about wine.

Oops, I probably should have pretended to know a lot, so you would think I know what I am talking about. But when you read the language I use to describe the wines you will figure it out anyway.

When I go to a restaurant I never know what to order. That is only partly my own ignorance. It is also because most restaurants seem to carry some crappy wine they can mark up. Some will mix it up with a brand that “everyone” knows, such as Kendall Jackson. So when I go to a restaurant, I tend to order Kendall Jackson, not because I think it is a great Chardonnay, but because I know what I am getting and find it palatable. Note that I’m not talking about fine restaurants here, but the kind I frequent.

Standing in the aisles of Chardonnay at Total Wine it struck me that I really miss the wine store in Kalamazoo called Bacchus. They always had a big choice and it wasn’t a big box, equity company-owned store. It also struck me that there are a lot of Chardonnays I never hear about because they don’t sell them at most restaurants. I wondered if I could find something I like better than Kendall Jackson or La Crema, a brand I began to drink after a friend gave me a bottle for a gift.

If you wonder about the origins of Chardonnay, here is a brief history from Wine Access:

The best Chardonnays in the world continue to arrive from the region where the grape first emerged: the chalk, clay, and limestone vineyards of Burgundy and Chablis. While the origins of the grape were disputed for many years, with some speculating that the grape came all the way from the Middle East, DNA researchers at the University of California Davis proved in 1999 that Chardonnay actually developed, most likely, in eastern France, as a cross between a member of the “Pinot” family and an ancient, and nearly extinct variety called Gouais Blanc.

My results will follow a typical wine rating.

Luanne’s 100-Point Scale based on that used by Wine Access and other sites:

  • 95-100 — Classic; a great wine
  • 90-94 — Outstanding; superior character and style
  • 80-89 — Good to very good; wine with special qualities
  • 70-79 — Average; drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 60-69 — Below average; drinkable but not recommended
  • 50-59 — Poor; undrinkable, not recommended

But don’t expect talk of pears and apples and oak and all that rot.  I only use the word oak when I ask a server which is the most “oaky” of the less expensive chards. These are my impressions of the ones I chose.

SONOMA LOEB

This wine seemed flat, without much taste. But sour, definitely puckery. Kind of like sucking on over-sized California lemons. (You’ve probably heard that the larger the California-grown produce, the less flavor, and that’s a fact). I’d give this one a 70 to be kind.

FOUNTAIN GROVE

A screwtop worried me at first, but I shouldn’t have been. I will buy this again. The taste was very focused. Maybe what I mean is a rich flavor like when you let soup or sauce cook down. No after taste. No harshness. This one gets a 94 from me. Maybe it would be higher if I could get over the screw top. (That said, I did drink a nice box wine on vacation).

OAK RIDGE

I really disliked this one. It’s so bitter and tasted like old carpet. You know what I mean. When you find some older carpet remnant underneath old carpet you pull up. ICK. On the second night of this wine I noticed a sweet smell that quickly turned chemically. The wine seemed rotten to me. Let’s give this one a 50. Oh no, I just realized there is another bottle of this on my wine rack. I must have bought two because it was less expensive. Ugh.

RED PONY RANCH

Drank just enough of this one that I forgot to record my thoughts. I’ll give it a 90 because that must be a good sign!

OAK GROVE

This one tastes like a basic chard you might order from a mid-range restaurant. It’s a 75. Go for it if the price is right.

RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

I asked my daughter to also review this one. I was so infatuated with a name that sounded literary (like Augusten Burroughs’ memoir) that I wanted to make sure that I could give you a more objective viewpoint. Her view is that the wine the first night was light and oaky (yup, she said oaky), with an aftertaste of olives and a salty bite to it. OK, maybe she should be the one reviewing wine, not me.

What I thought about the wine was that the first sip has a pucker factor and a weak flavor, but then the taste develops and becomes richer. And it does have an olive taste to it. The second night gave me no pucker at all. There is a nutty undertaste to it, if that makes sense. I ended up thinking this was a 90-94, but I will need to try another bottle to make sure ;).

FIRE AND OAK

I bought this one at Whole Foods. What an interesting wine. This chard has a woody smell, almost like a firepit. The taste is “narrow,” meaning that there isn’t a wide range within the taste. There is no after taste and no pucker, although there is a slight bitterness. I really like this and give it a 95. Maybe Whole Foods is a better place to buy wine than Total Wine & More.

ST. FRANCIS

This one reminds me of Kendall-Jackson and La Crema, so if you like those, you will probably like this one. I particularly love this name because I have always been partial to St. Francis, with his love of animals and the poor. And also because Francis was my father’s middle name and a “family” name.

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For the record, the best Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted was made by a Temecula (my home town area for almost 20 years) winery called Leoness. Temecula is the southern California wine region. Leoness has been sold out of Chardonnay for some time and when the new year is available will be sold directly to fine restaurants instead of at their winery :(.

Most of these Chardonnays I “sampled” don’t even show up on lists of the best Chardonnays. Oh well, I sure had fun sampling. And after this whirlwind of a year it felt very refreshing.

I want to dedicate this post

to a young woman who lost her life tragically and far far too soon. Jordan Schuman was a 22-year-old TV reporter in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina and grew up on Long Island, New York. She was in a fatal car accident two days before Christmas. She was vibrant and talented and her friends are remembering her with red lipstick and high heels. Her mother, a friend of mine, has asked us to raise a glass in Jordan’s memory and hopes to “blow up the internet” with people toasting to Jordan. Her favorite wine was Pinot Grigio. Please join me in a glass of Pinot Grigio for Jordan. #cheerstojordan

cheerstojordan

 

 

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