Drink to your health! Vaughn Duffy-Rose and Pinot Noir

“Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.”- William Shakespeare
After a time lapse, I am back.  Travel, school, a detoured summer and the search for health has brought be back to my search for good wine. If you can’t beat them, then join them, and so I join thousands of other Minnesotans who have been forced to stay inside during the winter, and now during the wet, grey and bleak summer (Yes, I am stewing a bit). What better way to drown one’s sorrows, and waiting in doctor’s waiting rooms for hours (yes, today it was the plural version) than opening a bottle (or two) of wine. 
Vaughn Duffy from California is just what the doctor ordered.
The wines: Rose of Pinot Noir, 2013, Sonoma and Pinot Noir, 2012, Russian River Valley.
Hesitantly, I picked up the Rose from Pinot Noir, Sonoma, 2013, and was bracing myself for a tart kickback that I have found in young and undeveloped Roses. The boldness–like that of a well cultivated Pinot Noir–and the fruit forwardness of fresh fruit–cherry– hit my taste buds.  It’s like picking up what you think is McDonald’s, only to find out someone substituted Kobe beef.  At $18.99, I picked up 4 bottles of the new find.  The acid was medium plus, medium plus finish and a really refreshing twist on wine.  If you like the flavor of the red, but the concept of a rose for summer, this is your wine.
Because I had the chance to taste the Rose, I not so hesitantly picked up a bottle of the 2012 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley.  Again, it was like Vaughn Duffy bottled articulate cheerleaders in wine–it was bright, zesty with a lot of fruit forward flavors of bing cherry (JUST like the winemaker described), notes of blackberry, vanilla, and a molasses meets cola undercurrent.  It had a great medium-finish (long enough to enjoy; not long enough to coat the tongue).  And my only regret is that I picked up only 1 bottle of this find.  AT $39.99, I would compare this to any Oregon Pinot and buy it any season of the year.
I found these wines at my new TC favorite, Cork Dork (but I might regret this recommendation if they run out before I get a chance to go back.)
Both are great on a hot summer day, or a cold summer day. It’s like a classic pair of shoes–they go with anything.  They especially go with days of long waiting room lines in the doctor’s offices and long periods of frustration due to the weather.
But I digress.

Blanket in a bottle: Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir

This summer I was driving from San Diego to Las Vegas, when after a two week stint in the capital of US wines I realized: I hadn’t gone to a single vineyard.

The realization hit me in San Lois Obispo County–it was hot and it was a desert.  I thought, as I frantically looked up vineyard names I didn’t recognize, it might be okay this time to ‘not seize the day’ and pass on something you might not want to discover.  The heat was cloying, and a coke sounded better in the arid air.

Fast forward to this week when the first snow in Minnesota hit, and a white blanket–and darkness from daylight savings time–dampened our spirits.  In a word, this week was hard, and as I headed home to unwrap even more boxes from my endless move, I thought: I need wine.

The wine: Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley 2011 sung to me on the shelf of Whole Foods, North Loop, MSP.  Simple packaging, a sales price and a description that said, “Coastal Terrace 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean” I started to rethink my image of “dry and brown” from this summer’s jaunt.  That close to a coastal region, the cooling effects of the Pacific would have a cooling and softening effect.  It did.

The wine photo-95couldn’t have been better for what I wanted: a sigh of relief in a bottle–that was on sale for $15.99 (Kinda like Calgon, take me away, circa 1982 prices for wine).  The taste sung of deep red cherries, clove, light oak singed with smoke,  slight pepper, and herbaceous, earthy undertones.  It entices as you lift it up to your mouth to taste–great, leaning smells of fruit and libraries.

This was beautifully balanced, fruity, complex, delicate–and a blanket all in one.  You know the day–every pore is screaming, “stop–I can’t take another moment of being wrung out.”  This blanket is a nice blend of cashmere–it wafts softly around the stress, versus a Richard Simmons “let’s get moving!!” Cabernet Sauvignon from Cali.

This wine is worth it. Buy it for a friend, your next party, or a viewing of desert pictures online–it will be a good friend for the night, and after the day I’ve had, I might very well skip the workout in the morning. Ole, dude.



I beat Comcast! Wine by Joe helped me win.

Newsflash: Moving sucks.

I know you know this, but it’s hard to move things in.  Set things up.  Get boxes down to a manageable size.  Re-wash things.  And then, there is the electronics world.

Comcast–land of the automated voice that keeps replaying on a circuit with a fake computer noise that wants you to believe it’s registering your concerns, even when you keep asking joefor customer service, only to be rerouted to the circuit or led to a representative that said you called the wrong number, “I’ll have to transfer you, but our transfer system is broken.  You gotta pen?” Tonight was that night where the automated demons walked the earth to foil all startup tech projects and eat the living for a snack. In a rush of frustration, I threw caution to the wind, threw the directions to the side, and managed to connect a TV, Internet modem and router, sync the TV with the remote, and change passwords without becoming one of the undead.  In a word, or few, I rocked the tech (knock on wood a thousand times here).

The Wine: With my new-found skills, and time on hold, I opened a bottle of “Wine by Joe” –a 2010 Pinot Noir from Oregon. Unlike a common plumber’s name, the wine was less than common, but like it’s description, not pretentious.  Good, in fact, for a light bodied, light-rubied pinot.

On the nose were earthy, aged cherries, spice of white pepper and a hint of black in the background, a touch of freshly rained on earth mixed with a hint of oak (the edge of the forest, if you will).  On the palette, the fruit came through, as did more of the spice as if an unexpected “welcome basket” showed up at your front door.  It carries with it a gift in a bottle, as It is extremely well-balanced, medium-low on the tannin and medium-high on the finish length and taste.

Bringing joe2joy down to the simplest denominator, it’s taste is like being on the childhood playground and equally balancing the teeter-totter with your best friend opposite you on a spring day.  Cue: rainbows and unicorns, this wine was that for me during a Comcast phone maze contest.

I have to miss the workout in the morning, because, as stated earlier, moving makes you her bitch and you are owned by a force greater than the sum of your zip code.  But, I would definitely pick up this bottle the next time I battle Comcast.  Or even just because I want a nice,  light, enjoyable wine.  If you would like to be rerouted to a red, press 1…or ask for Joe.




Converted: St. Innocent, Pinot Noir 2010

Last year, I spent weeks cycling all over Oregon with the rogue Super Tour group (whereabouts: all over), and saw unparelled beauty of great heights, green pastures, rolling hills and rivers that unfolded like silk. It was beautiful and freeing to be on two wheels under the big, beautiful sky for hundred of miles, sloughing off the stress of a technologically-laden world.   Unfortunately, I drank a lot of IPAs (in a region known for its Pinot Noir), and am lamenting that sport took over so much of my sipping capacity.

Tonight, opening the bottle of St. Innocent from Momtazi Vineyard in Willamette Valley Oregon (2010) brought out that feeling of beauty in a glass.  If I were bigger than myself, I would say opening a bottle is like stepping out of a limo in couture before hitting the lights of the red carpet. It is a light burgundy, but on the nose, it hits you that this wine is bigger than its color.  If art, and unlike it’s origins, I would call it a Goya: lengthy, hints of smoke and stretch wrapped around berries and leather in subtle obscurity.  In literature, I would equate it to a comfortable leather bound edition of any great piece of work, but it feels like F. Scott Fitzgerald–direct like Hemingway, but with a turn of phrase that makes one tilt the head pondering.  Whatever the equation brings you too, it is good.  And is an example of what the wine/grape should and could be.

The winestinn is deep cherries, leather, vanilla, subtle oak and a deep woods sense of flavor and smell.  The tannins are soft and the acid is medium–it can stand up to the gamey dish, fish, or something light that its paired with (for the record, I don’t need food with this wine at all!)  It’s finish is long and gentle on the palette.  The smell alone wooed me, and I want to go back to Oregon to roam among the vineyards as much as I did the road.

Priced a little higher than other everyday wines ($39.99), it is worth it to treat yourself after a hard day, to celebrate an unexpected sunset, or to remind yourself and the senses what it is like to breathe and drink something soulful and liberating.  Enjoy. Buy a case, a couple bottles or one.  But I would gladly give up a workout for this wine.