Le Clos 2011: Guilt-Free Pleasure

Into the life of every triathlete, a little tiredness, soreness, boredom, and–trepidation about repeating the workout refrain–must* fall.  (*Must=self-inflicted)

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” Fitzgerald writes of Gatsby, the ultimate line ends the book.  At times like this (excruciating exposition withheld for brevity’s sake) I want to belly up to the bar, forget my obligations, and let oblivion bring me back to finals week in college with a little Allman Brothers playing in the background.

But, let’s face it–that “workout” is not good for training, and if you have ever met an Ironman-In-Training, you know we are like Catholics the next day after a binge-we feel a tremendous amount of guilt and repent in a self-loathing manner. Pain will not surmount memory, and thus combined, creates a bigger cycle of guilt to overcome.

But I need a drink.  Beer won’t cut it.  Deep wines to relieve the stress will be too heavy.  So I turned to a good friend, a French wine, Les Clos, 2011.

le clos

The Wine: This red, Languedoc wine drinks easy like Sunday morning (if you went to bed by 8 pm).  A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Grenache mixes up the fruit-forward flavors and light secondary notes nicely–offering a nose and palette of youthful red and black berries and spice (white pepper and vanilla oak). The alcohol-at 13%-is balanced with light tannins.  The body is light, the finish is light-to medium, and the guilt is low on the self-flagellation pole.  It’s like Weight Watchers in a bottle!

Where: I purchased this (*again) at Cleveland Park Liquor & Fine Wines shop for $9.99 (the price is another guilt-reducing benefit).  I am also slightly amused (and contented) that The Diner in Adams Morgan DC (one of my favorite go-to food joints) serves Le Clos.  This wine will drink well this summer on hot days and well on into the fall.  I would have this on hand as a go-to, a stand-by, and wouldn’t hesitate to take this to a casual dinner at a friend’s house.  Can drink, be merry, and still make the workout on this wine.

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Bullseye: Pinot & Pickles

Archery Summit Pinot

Some wines hit the mark, and some wines hit the bullseye. Archery Summit Previer Cuvee Pinot Noir is one that definitely hit the target dead center.

Mondays are difficult days, and even more so if the job feels like a job, and the limbs and spirit are tired from a weekend of workouts. With no special occasion except survival to celebrate, I held a small dinner gathering in my studio+ apartment, or what I like to call, The Lockerroom.

I perfect only a few dishes, and a pork slider with onions and apples thrown into the mix was one of these perfections. With lettuce as the wrap, and pickles, spicy mustard and mayo as the condiments, this wine seemed like it was going to be a little too big–and too expensive–to serve with the dish. But with a side of grease and stress, this Pinot Noir drinks like a robust red that can be calming like what I imagine a sunset over Kona to be;  yet has a refinement that speaks in a whisper rather than a guffaw. A beautiful clear ruby color that Dorothy herself would wear, the Archery Summit has spicy notes of rasberry and blueberry on the nose and palate. It was balanced with flavors of earth, light pepper, vanilla, oak and a touch of minerality, as if it was just dusted off of slate into the glass. The tannins were light but firm, the taste bright and lasting. I would double up the workouts to drink a few glasses of this–with or without food. We are nearing a zone 5, but no alarms of “stop” are going off in this wine workout.   If you are drinking this bottle, my guess is you need to be drinking it–the workout can wait.

I couldn’t find it in the store in DC, so I ordered it from the winery directly: http://store.archerysummit.com/. Without shipping, it will set you back around $50, but it’s cheaper than flying to Oregon!

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ISO That Special “One”

I am probably one of the few that holds Valentine’s Day at arms length–I neither love it nor hate it, but I do find a nice bouquet of flowers (even if a mandatory surprise) a nice break in the day.   While I do not begrudge all in-love couples their romantic notions, I have to say that I think of Cruella De Vil, not Cupid, as its poster child.   I wonder about the sincerity of the holiday, but more than that I think more generally: if you had a fur coat, wouldn’t you flaunt it, too?

That said, one of my favorite parts about the holiday is that my mother always sends me a Valentine’s, and while overlooked in the past, I now look forward to that most of all. I watch the mail for the card she would have purchased at Christmas or in the new year– simple, straightforward, and full–a small card that says big things, and to think of her waiting months to send a card of love, I think of one of her favorite people (to remain unnamed) who said: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  In life, I value these little things.

So, this Valentines, I also felt the obligation to open a bottle of wine to mark the holiday. (I say obligation because I am one of the masses who has been hit by a cold).  I didn’t want to spend a lot (since my tastebuds were compromised), so I picked up what seemed to be a value deal at Whole Foods.  “One Wine,” a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley was a good choice for the day, the flu season, and a nice Valentine’s Day steak dinner.  A medium-bodied, black-fruit forward wine with rich tannins and small notes of black cherries and smoke,  it cut through the congestion and held it’s own.  While flavorful, it lacked a long, balanced finish I had hoped to find in this “deal,” but at $19.99, it was exactly what I was looking for–something inexpensive, simple, and straightforward.    It line with the day, it was more homey than showy.

Even under the weather, it was a Zone 2 wine–I would definitely have a glass or two, but I don’t feel the need to overindulge.

Wine Pic-One