Lummi Island Wine Tasting August 20 ’11


#1.  Don’t forget we are now open Thursdays and Fridays from 4-6 pm! Two Generous Pours of our Vins du Jour plus munchies like olives, cheese, crackers, salumi, and a few surprises, hosted by notre bon ami et professeur de Francais, M. Ryan, comment dit-on, le “Wildstar.”

#2. We just stocked up on Pleasant Valley  cheeses this week, including Herbes de Provence, Farmstead, Jalapeno, Fines Herbes, Caraway, and of course the straight Gouda, so if you have been waiting for something this is the time to come by.

National Radio Day. This Saturday, August 20, is (as I am sure you all know) National Radio Day. So let’s all bow our heads, or raise our antennas (antennae?) and take a moment to reflect on how much of our lives have been spent listening to radio: news, music, talk, whatever. Talk about something we take completely for granted– yet imagine how different our lives would be without it! Maybe better, maybe worse, but definitely Different.

Somewhere out in the garage “archives” is an old Zenith short-wave radio (also AM and FM) from the 40’s (or earlier) that was in the house when I was a kid. It is in too bad shape to show an actual photo, but something like the one below. Not only did it have a good speaker and good sound quality for the time (late fifties), but it also had “jacks” in the back so you could hook it up to your hi-fi turntable and play your 45’s through its speaker. Which reminds me, around the same era the “clock radio” showed up on the market, which also had jacks so you could (I’m not making this up) hook it up to your electric coffee pot (percolator of course) when you went to bed. The alarm function of the radio would then make the coffee so it was ready when the alarm went off. Pretty cool, huh?

Nowadays we have computers and phones that tell you (and anyone who wants to know) where you are at any given time, where you have been, what you spent your money on, who you called, what you said, who you emailed, etc. etc. etc., but do ANY OF THEM make coffee for you in the morning? I don’t think so! And they call that PROGRESS? Anyway, radio is deeply embedded in our culture and in each of our personal histories (as is every technology), and it’s fun to reflect on our interdependence with it, from the distant stations we listened to in the car late on summer nights to the programs we listen to now on the way to and from work every day. It’s an amazing thing we take completely for granted, so that’s why I am happy to find this odd little “holiday”— National Radio Day…!

Wow and Whew! We don’t keep records here at Artisan Wine Gallery, except for this blog, of course, but I think last Saturday was some kind of record-breaking day. It is possible that sometime or another, particularly during Memorial Day or Labor Day Artists’ Studio Tour, we have had a day with as many visitors and as many tastings as last Saturday. All I can tell you is that after a slow beginning, the crowd ebbed and flowed (mostly flowed) all afternoon till quite some time after closing. On a typical Saturday we go through about one bottle of each wine we are pouring, sometimes two, usually about one and a half. Last week we went through three bottles of everything and I was shaking the last drops out of each one to get everyone covered. Folks, it was PACKED with revelers, and the accompanying photos do NOT do it justice–VERY festive!

NOISE HAPPENS. Oh, and yes, it was LOUD! Several times people whose faces were not more that a foot away from mine were saying words in my direction, and I didn’t have a clue what they were saying, and would just shrug and point to my ears. As if that meant something. We are exploring ways to muffle the sound reflections in our little space, maybe with some carpet (there is a ‘test carpet’ in the far corner by the “under $12” rack) that so far seems to help, so the next step will be to carpet more space to see if it makes a difference.

Great Wines Last Week! Beginning with the lovely (in a crisp, wake you up with a slap in the taste buds kind of way) Chateau Guiraud Bordeaux White (sauv blanc and semillon), all the wines were showing really well. Curiously, not many buyers on the Guiraud, maybe a little $$ at $18, but a personal old favorite nevertheless…if sauv blanc is a poem, this one is a sonnet, that’s all I’m saying. The Vinosia was Big for an aglianico, lots of layers, very intriguing. The Elena dell’ Adami Comete Rosso was a surprise hit, one of those wines we pour a couple of times before we hit it in its stride and it’s Gone, gone, gone…whoah oh oh oh. Funny how that happens. To top if off was the eye-rolling favorite of the day, the Browne Family cab sauv, a limited production wine from the super-rich owner of Precept Brands, which bought out Walla Walla’s Waterbrook Cellars a few years ago. It’s limited production, and a great example of good Washington Cabernet Sauvignon at a remarkable price. VERY limited production, and we still have a few left.

Among last Saturday’s guests…when it was REALLY crowded, there was no time to take pictures…!

This week’s wines:

Argyle Brut sparkling wine  ’07   Oregon    WA90pts    $23
Not only does this little Oregon winery make great pinot noir, it also has earned a reputation for producing terrific Old World style sparkling wine. This blend of chardonnay and pinot noir displays a bouquet of brioche, pear, apple, and white peach. Crisp, balanced, and lengthy, it’s an outstanding value.

Atalaya ’08    Spain      WA90pts       $14
A blend of Monastrell and Garnacha, 8 months in French oak. Deep crimson-colored, it displays an aromatic array of cedar, spice box, violets, blueberry, and blackberry with a hint of licorice in the background. On the palate it has layers of savory fruit, excellent concentration, and a long, fruit-filled finish.

Three Trees Cougoumeilles ’09 France WA 89pts $13
This fascinating Carignan-Grenache blend combines nutty and attractively vegetal elements – suggesting spinach, chard, and beat root – with tart-edged black raspberry and, surprisingly, red currant. Exuberant and persistently juicy, this wine’s unusual character won’t appeal to everyone, but will display deliciously distinctive, even rare versatility at table.

Dynasty Cellars DCZ zinfandel ’07 Washington $26
Sourced from the premium Walla Walla “Les Collines” vineyard, this wine is jam-packed with rich, dark, berry fruit and a long, lingering, slightly peppery finish that will leave you gasping for more.

Wine Tasting

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