MWWC #27: The Final Phase


It’s here!  Tomorrow (Monday, September 19) is the last day to get your votes in for Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #27.

If you haven’t read the entries, head on over to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge blog where you will find all the entries as well as the instructions for the MWWC #27 voting process.

My entry into this month’s challenge is at Inside Out, Upside Down.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do so.  And then please cast your vote.  A vote for me would be nice.  LOL

Readin’, (Wine) ‘Ritin’, & ‘Rithmatic

mwwc-badge1Just a quick post to remind folks that voting for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #27 (#MWWC27) has commenced.  We have till Monday the 19th to get our votes in.

For those who may have missed it, my entry into this month’s challenge is at Inside Out, Upside Down.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do so.  And then PLEASE vote for ME.  The theme of this month’s challenge is bubbles.  I chose to write a piece (Chapter 1 of a story) focusing on a specific type of bubbles – speech bubbles. icon_bubble

To vote, click on over to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge blog and following the instructions for the MWWC #27 voting process.

Thanks in advance.  Many happy writings and winings [yes, I know it isn’t a real word] to everyone!

Inside Out, Upside Down – MWWC#27

mwwc-badge1Below is my entrance into the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #27. This is really only the beginning of a story.  If folks think it has merit, I will continue. Writing stories is not the norm for me, so I’m turning things on their head, so to speak, for #MWWC27.

Chapter One

It had been another long day making calls, fielding calls and staying on message. That’s your beat when you work PR for a national trade association, and Patrick loved it. The job was a jealous lover, though, and left little room for any others. As he made his way home late yet again, he was looking forward to a relaxed evening. Maybe he’d continue his binge-watching with a couple of episodes of DaVinci’s Demons or listen to some tunes while enjoying a glass or two of his favorite inexpensive Zinfandel.

After a quick dinner of leftovers – his parents had insisted he learn to cook for himself as a young boy – Patrick decided against the couch and settled into his caramel colored leather recliner. With a glass of Ravenswood Zin now waiting expectantly on the side table, it was time for a tougher decision: music or TV? Tonight music won the toss, and he knew exactly what he wanted to hear – Peter Himmelman’s Synesthesia, an album his father had introduced him to years ago when Patrick was sure indie roots rock was a new invention.

As the first strains of Himmelman’s street-wise tenor began to fill the room, Patrick took a couple of sips from his Zin and pushed back into the recliner. Ah, yes! Now this was relaxation. Suddenly a well of weariness opened in his soul. With one more sip from his glass, Patrick thought he would close his eyes for just a few minutes, give in momentarily. Just a few minutes.

When he woke with a jolt, lines of light laying across the floor like whale bones on a beach told him it was morning. Holy crap! he thought. Am I late for work? No, no, please no! But one quick glance at his phone told him it was still fairly early. 6:45 a.m. “Oh, man, that was close!” he said. He knew he could catch a quick shower, down some oatmeal with honey and walnuts, and still make it to the office before 8:00. That’s why he lived here. It wasn’t the biggest condo or the most luxurious building, but it was only eleven blocks from work. And, after all, less space meant fewer things he had to buy to fill it. Fine by him. Normally, of course, he would have turned on Headline News or Bloomberg to get a heads up on what the day might hold. Not today. He could check online once he got to the office.

Leaving 45 minutes later, he knew he had time to stop by Java House, his favorite coffee shop, to grab a large cup to go. Emerging onto the sidewalk through the wrought iron and glass front doors of his building, Patrick was struck by the lack of foot traffic. It was Friday morning, a normal work day, no holiday that he knew of. So where was everyone? Odd.

The good thing, though, was that when he got to Java House, there wasn’t a long line of other bleary-eyed caffeine addicts waiting to get their hands on a hot cup of liquid energy. He was able to walk straight to the counter where his favorite barista, Mary Ann, was waiting. For him Mary Ann was the perfect barista – friendly, efficient, a good sense of humor. It didn’t hurt that she was a perky blond who looked out at the world (and at him) from a set of intense blue-gray eyes.


photo by cyclonebill

He greeted her with his usual pithy repartee, “Hey, Mar, I’ll take the usual.” She smiled her bright Friday morning welcome and responded. But …

Wait!  What the heck?

As she spoke – Patrick knew she was speaking because her mouth was moving – he didn’t hear anything. No words. Nothing. Not one sound! OK, now Patrick knew this was an odd morning for sure. But Mary Ann did have that sense of humor he appreciated, so maybe she was trying to play a trick on him. Maybe she was even flirting with him. All right, then! He was willing to play along if this was some new game. So Patrick redoubled his efforts to understand what she was saying by staring at her mouth. He’d read her lips if he could. That’s when he noticed a strange white substance being extruded from her mouth as she spoke. It was like breath made liquid and lighter than air. It had to be lighter than air because it was curling up in front of her face and stretching up over her head. What kind of game was this?

As he watched, the white substance became a cloud that then began to take a more defined shape. It’s edges grew taught, almost circular, and the small tendril still reaching for her mouth tightened into a comma. Did Patrick recognize that shape? Yes, he did! He’d seen it hundreds of times in the newspaper and in some of his casual reading. Like many folks, he still read books – mysteries, biographies, and graphic novels. And that was it, you see. This thing hovering over Mary Ann was the same thing that populated every page of his graphic novels – a speech bubble. It was a speech bubble!

Just as the realization hit him, he saw her words appear inside the bubble like someone was typing as he watched. “Hey, Patrick. Happy Friday! One large dark roast coming right up.”

What was going on here!

* copyright 2016

The Wine Rangers At Screwtop Wine Bar

[An entry for the MWWC#11 on the topic “Friend.”]

The Wine Rangers is a small group of friends who get together for the enjoyment of wine and each other’s company.  On this particular outing, I was joined by fellow WR founding member Heather and ex officio WR member Patrick.  He’s ex officio because he doesn’t drink wine, but he is one of the best conversationalists I know and adds immeasurably to any get-together.

Heather and I have been friends for many years now.  We met when we were both working for the same organization a long time ago.  Although we worked in different departments, we hit it off immediately.  I think what may have solidified our friendship was our mutual involvement in the redesign of that organization’s logo.  It was a process of many, many, many meetings and long hours of discussion.  Heather was included because of her marketing expertise.  I was there because ….  Well, I guess I was there because I am willing to share my opinions freely.  Anyway, we both managed to survive the redesign.  Since then, we have moved on in our careers but have remained in contact – probably more to Heather’s credit than to mine.  It doesn’t hurt, of course, that we both have a love for the fruit of the vine.  Until recently we pursued that passion in a more informal manner – i.e. imbibing without writing down tasting notes.  When I started this blog, Heather got very excited and was eager to help.  Thus, the Wine Rangers were born.  We still don’t have official T-shirts yet.  It may be awhile because that would require the design of yet another logo!  But enough about the Rangers.  What about the wine at Screwtop?

You may recall from my previous report that our wine tasting had begun while we were waiting for a table or spot at the bar.  Yes, it was that packed on a Thursday night!  Upon sitting at a cozy table by the windows with a full view of the bustling establishment, we considered our options in earnest.  The menu is quite extensive, so the folks at Screwtop have designed a number of tastings or flights for adventurous wine enthusiasts to choose from.  Heather and I both decided on samplings from a group they called “Grapes Off The Grid.”  I went with “Weird & Wacky Whites” while she chose “The Grape Unknown.”  Does that sound intriguing, or what?

Here are some very brief notes we managed to scribble while we enjoyed the wine, company, and tasty dishes at Screwtop Wine Bar.

a view of the bar at Screwtop

The Grape Unknown

A.  grape – Lancelotta;  winery – Taking Root;  vintage – 2012
from Moldova, this red was smooth and full-bodied

B.  grape – Moristel;  winery – Bodega Bal d’Isabena;  vintage – 2011
a mild, even mellow, wine with the scent and aftertaste of rubber

C.  grape – Blaufränkisch;  winery –  Shooting Star Blue Franc;  vintage – 2011
fruity and tart, medium-bodied, cotton candy finish; by Steele Wines

Weird & Wacky Whites

A.  grape – Pedro Jiminez;  winery – Frontera Specialties;  vintage – 2013
faint bouquet, lively acidity, plentiful citrus flavor with a zippy, bitter “seedy” finish

B.  grape – Tocai Friulano;  winery – Folk Machine;  vintage – 2013
good acidity, very light-bodied, pear on the tongue with warm spice notes

C.  grape – Rkatsiteli;  winery – Boneyard “Skins”;  vintage – 2012
notes of butterscotch and tropical fruit along with some grass on the finish

All tolled, it was a marvelous evening of good friends and interesting wines.  We’re all looking forward to a return visit to Screwtop Wine Bar.  In the meantime, though, we’re busy planning the next outing for the Wine Rangers.


#MWWC11 — “Friend” theme chosen by Dracaena Wines.



The Luck Of The Draw

Trying out a new grape varietal is always a draw for me when I’m perusing my local store shelves.  In this case, I saw that the majority of this white blend was made from the Italian grape Cortese.  Never having tasted a Cortese wine, I was willing to test my luck and gamble on a new wine experience.  After all, the stakes (ante up at $6.99) weren’t too bad.

Vineyard: Azienda Giribaldi
Wine:  Winemaker’s Selection White Blend
Varietal: White Blend
Vintage: NV
Appellation: Italy
Price: $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:   This blended white is made from 80% Cortese and 20% Chardonnay.  At 11.5% alcohol, it was moving toward sweet yet didn’t strike my palate as heavy or syrupy.  The color was a very pale lemon yellow, acidity was OK, and the body was quite light.  On the nose I found primarily citrus with hints of peach and floral notes.  Flavors consisted of citrus once again, some peach, and a fleeting hint of butter with a biting, grassy finish that also echoed the floral notes (think wild flowers or daisies).  Honestly, I can’t say that I enjoyed this selection.  It didn’t taste like gasoline or road tar, but the balance of flavors across the palate didn’t create an extremely pleasant experience for me, either.

Even so, I’m not giving up on Cortese.  I may have had an off day.  This may have been an off bottling for Azienda Giribaldi.  I certainly can’t say that I lost anything, because I did get what I was looking for – a new wine experience.  If I didn’t find a selection to fall in love with on the first draw, well what are the odds?  So I’m undeterred and will keep my eyes open for another opportunity with the Cortese grape.  Who knows?  I could get lucky next time.

This post is an entry into the 8th Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC8).  Originated by The Drunken Cyclist, this month’s challenge – to write around the theme of “luck” – was issued by last month’s winner, The Sweet Sommelier.  Click on the MWWC logo at the top of this post to see details for this month’s challenge.

Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011

Another wine post about Devotion?  But of course!  We are all answering the call set out by our fellow wine blogger SAHMmelier for the monthly wine writing challenge (MWWC).  She won the gold medal last time with her entry for the Mystery-themed challenge, so now she has the honor of choosing this month’s theme!  You can read all the posts – and those from previous challenges – over at the MWWC blog by clicking on the awesome wine stain logo.  So what is my take on Devotion?

Well, first let me say that I have been well reminded what devotion means and what it can do as I watch the Olympic athletes compete.  In sport after sport, the backstory pieces about the competitor’s lives are constant reminders and shining examples of devotion.  Take, for example, the Russian pairs figure skater Maxim Trankov.  In order to train, he left his family home at 15 and had to sleep in the basement of an ice skating rink among a bunch of soldiers who were billeted there.  In addition, he received one (evidently only one) free meal a day there.  For three years!  Mr. Trankov is now the proud owner (with his partner Tatiana Volosozhar) of an Olympic gold medal.  But he is not the only athlete with this kind of story.  I’m sure we would hear many similar and perhaps even more compelling stories from other athletes competing – most of whom will not end up with a ribbon around their neck.

As I’ve been watching these Winter Games from my comfy couch, I’ve been devoting myself to a little wine exploration.  One of my recent 2014 Winter Olympics wines was the Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011 which has it’s own story of devotion to tell.  Or perhaps, more precisely, it’s label is devoted to a particular message.  Take a quick look at the picture of the bottle  Did you notice?  This wine was made with certified organic grapes.  In case you missed it on the front, it is repeated on the back label — FIVE times.  I kid you not!  In their defense, Bodegas Volver does produce a Tarima Monastrell that isn’t made with organic grapes.

Winemaker:  Tarima by Bodegas Volver
Wine:  Tarima Made With Organic Grapes
Varietal: Monastrell
Vintage: 2011
Appellation:  Alicante DO, Spain
Price:  $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Spanish Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) was a deep dark garnet color.  The bouquet held musty earth, dark red fruit, wet leather and mothball scents.  Body on this selection was fairly light with a softly plush mouthfeel.  Tannins were moderately grippy and lingering.  Acidity was good and alcohol was at 14.5%.  On the palate I tasted violets, dark plum, and black olive with a finish of bitter wood.  And that despite the fact that it was evidently fermented in stainless steel.

Now that I’ve finished getting this post up, I’ll get back to watching athletes devoted to their sports and (at an acceptable hour) my own wine exploration.  I suppose if I were more devoted —  to either/both — I could have typed this up while sitting on the couch in front of the TV and sipping wine.  Sigh!

Addendum:  As I tasted this bottle, I wondered about the possibility of cork taint.  The bouquet was fairly unusual, to be sure.  So I decided to look around and see what others have said about this selection.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find much on this vintage of the organic Monastrell besides at the Bodegas Volver web page.  The flavor profile I tasted is certainly on the darker side than what is described by the winery.  Of course, I often don’t agree with precisely what a winery says about it’s own wines.  That being said, they do mention “toasty barrel power” which agrees with my bitter wood even though they use only stainless steel.  So …  If anyone else has tasted this wine and can share their own thoughts, I’d be very interested to read your comments.