Orlando, here we come……..

1:45 AM: SIGH. I know we have an early flight today but nowhere near THIS early.

This is, sadly, a common occurrence for me these days. 130 AM, 230 AM, 330AM…..just about every day. Occasionally it’s not a big deal, I am able to get back to sleep. But all too often when I wake up at these ungodly hours, I know instantly that I ain’t gettin’ back to sleep anytime soon. When I’m at home, I just get up and go clean up the kitchen or something. But here, in the hotel, I can’t risk doing much but trying to force myself back to sleep. The wife needs her rest and nobody wants or needs an early appearance by Grumpy Bear on this trip.

4:30 AM – Well it worked, I was able to get a couple more hours of sleep. Wake up feeling fairly rested. The wife’s alarm goes off shortly after I wake up. I really hate her alarm, every time I hear it I feel like I’m about to be murdered by bongo-playing pygmies.

She is feeling a tad better than yesterday, but was still up several times during the night. Sure hope that this is reaching the end point; who wants to have to get up to go to the bathroom a bunch of times on a 5 hour flight? I can’t imagine a much worse experience.

Checking out of the hotel is a breeze, as always, and we head to the airport. As I have mentioned many times before, it’s incredible how peaceful and serene this resort is, just around the corner from a busy airport. No exaggeration, it’s two right turns and then you are into the Sea-Tac parking garage. Five minutes if you have to stop for lights, at most.

6:45 – No issues getting through security and we are into one of the several Alaska lounges to relax for an hour or so until we board. Apparently they have opened a brand new “flagship” lounge here, but this one is one of the older lounges and it is right near our gate, so no reason to wander around and find the newer one. Next time.

It is SO NICE to be able to get into these lounges and just relax a bit, grab a drink or a snack, and sit in comfortable chairs. We rarely spend more than 10 minutes at our gate these days. I am SO OVER the thought of flying coach ever again.

And given that we are planning to go to Europe in a few years, we better start saving our money ’cause those flights are more expensive than the fines the NFL just levied to the Browns and Steelers for that brawl last night. It was just announced that they suspended Myles Garrett for at least the rest of this season. They should suspend him for life. Ripping off an opponent’s helmet and hitting him across the skull with it is about as bad as it gets in the NFL. Imagine if he had split the guy’s head open, or given him a concussion, or worse. I think he would legitimately be looking at jail time.

7:35 – Boarding time. Jesus H Christ there are a lot of kids on this f*****g flight. Thank God for first class and noise cancelling headphones. I must say, though, as I type this I am not wearing the headphones and I can’t hear any unruly kids, so either they are well behaved (puh-lease), or way at the back of the plane, far enough away that they can’t drive us nuts.

8:15 – This is our scheduled take-off time but we are still waiting at the gate. The pilot comes on the intercom to explain that we are waiting for traffic to clear behind us, and we should be en route “shortly”.

8:15:30 – This is a man that knows what “shortly” means, as we start to back up to prepare to head out.

We are on a ‘breakfast’ flight and have already pre-booked our meals. Alaska always serves excellent food, but I wasn’t that excited about the choices this time. Tracey is having a spinach frittata and I am having a cheese plate. The only other option was a big freaking bowl of kale. Since I don’t eat spinach or kale, my choice was obvious.

Random musing: Why is this flight a “breakfast” flight? It takes off in the morning, sure, but we are also still going to be on this plane at lunchtime. Everyone on this flight had the opportunity to have breakfast before boarding…..if not at home, then certainly there are tons of places to eat at the airport. But nobody gets the chance to have lunch, since hopping off the plane to grab a burger isn’t particularly convenient at 35,000 feet.

Having said that, if there were an In N Out Burger up here, the wife would find a way.

I’m just sayin’.

10:00 – Who knew this was a 3-course breakfast?

They start with a delicious apple-cinnamon-pumpkin smoothy. Wow. So good.

Shortly after that, our flight attendant comes by and asks us if we are ready for our appetizer. Who gets an appetizer before breakfast? I guess we do.

It’s a lot of food! A bowl of Greek yogurt, granola, a hearty bun and cranberry preserves.

People who know me really well are probably having a good laugh about now after seeing the selection of “Anti-Dean” foods on this flight.

Let’s all sing along, to the tune of “My Favorite Things”. I am channelling my inner Julie Andrews.

Granola with raisins
Or any cranberry
Yucky green spinach does not make me merry
Spoiled milk called yogurt makes my nausea sing
These are a few of my Most Hated Things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my Most Hated Things
And that makes me feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel SO MAD……..

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Well, at least the bun was tasty.

10:30 – Our flight attendant apologies in advance for our breakfast being served in the aluminum tins that they came in. Apparently the boys from catering forgot to load up the plates! LOL. I try to feign disgust, but as long as the food is good, I don’t really care if they serve it out of a doggie dish.

And it is GOOD. I made a mistake by not ordering the frittata, there was very little spinach in it. It was covered in some sort of dill-sour cream sauce, and accompanied by beautifully seasoned chicken sausage and homestyle potatoes. Luckily for me the wife wasn’t that hungry so I ended up getting about half of her food. My cheese plate is also very good, but I decided to keep most of it to have when it’s an appropriate time to start into the free Chardonnay.

10:36 – It’s time.

Our flight attendant is a terrible influence. She actually convinced me that it’s already 1:30 where we are headed, so it’s a perfectly acceptable time for wine. Can’t argue with that logic.

Now, airplane wine generally leaves a lot to be desired (although we have had some pretty good ones on other Alaska flights), but this is a perfectly quaffable Chardonnay from Paso Robles. Nothing to write home about, and not something I am going to drink a ton of, but it will pair nicely with the cheese plate.

Speaking of wine, we are sure looking forward to a brilliant fortnight of food and wine. Not only from the myriad of amazing meals we are going to enjoy at the various Disney properties, but also from the case of wine that will be waiting for us at our resort tonight. I ordered a random case of wine from Wine.com and it is scheduled to be delivered today, just before we arrive. You can expect a lot of terrific (I hope) reviews. There is some special stuff in that case.

11:05 – Wife has hit the wall and is asleep. I think we have about 2.5 hours left on the flight. With any luck, she will sleep through a lot of it.

12:15 PM – She’s awake, but only because some turbulence shook her. With about an hour and a half left in the flight, I can totally foresee her going right back to sleep.

Clearly she is having some sort of reaction to one of her many medications, as she has a huge, warm rash on her chest and under her throat. It looks like she has consumed shellfish or a lot of wine (she has had neither). She has taken so much medication in the last few days, it’s impossible to predict which one is doing this to her. It will probably pass.

She is back asleep.

And as if we haven’t had enough food on this flight, they bring around some snacks. Chips, trail mix, fruit and the like. I have not even finished my cheese plate yet!

Just noticed in the Wi-Fi details that we are traveling on one of their upgraded aircraft, which features Wi-Fi fast enough for streaming. I predict a Netflix marathon on the way home.

The rest of the flight is thankfully uneventful, as is our baggage retrieval. Off to get our rental car, which we pre-paid for months ago. We paid for a luxury car, looking for a car big enough for all of our luggage, and get offered a luxury SUV. Sounds good, until he mentions it is a Chevy Blazer. Hmm. Well, I don’t know anything about that, but he says it’s beautiful and it’s a 2020, with less than 1500 miles on it. I guess it can’t hurt to check it out.

He was right, it’s a really beautiful car. Tracey is the driver this trip since we bought this through her AMEX card to take advantage of her annual travel credit. She says it drives beautifully and it is very roomy. Of course, it’s a Chevy so it has undoubtedly been recalled in the amount of time it took me to type this paragraph.

It takes us a bit longer to get to the resort than we would have liked due to an accident on one of the highways, but we have no plans tonight other than some sort of makeshift dinner and an early bedtime.

9:20  – Safe and sound, checked in, have had dinner and are seriously contemplating going to bed. It’s not even 6:30 to our body clocks yet but holy cow are we both tired. The wife is feeling marginally better, which is a good sign for the rest of the trip.

Tomorrow, it all begins at the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

T minus 9 days to the big 5-0 as my birthday trip begins!

What would our lives be without some drama right before a vacation that we have been planning for about 2 years?

Yesterday, our dog had diarrhea. I know, that doesn’t seem particularly interesting or newsworthy. But it is, trust me.

A few months ago, we gave her a flea medication, and by midnight that day she was in severe discomfort, terrible bloody diarrhea, and we had to rush her to the hospital where she was put on an I/V, clinging to life. The vet didn’t know what had caused it – he said it was highly unlikely that the flea medication had anything to do with it, in fact – but given that the night before last we once again gave her a flea medication (not even the SAME medication, mind you), and she turns up with diarrhea, well let’s just say there was a little bit of panic in the household.

Our first concern was for the dog’s well-being, of course. I mean, this little monkey has turned out life totally upside down since we inherited her from my Alzheimer’s-stricken mother. Speaking of upside down.

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Zoey, in ‘Supergirl pose’

After that, my mind raced to what I was going to have to do if she got sicker and we had to take her to the hospital again. Last time she was in there for parts of 3 days. We were scheduled to drive to Seattle today, and stay overnight at our favorite resort near SEA-TAC. Obviously we would have to cancel that, but we would also have to cancel the flight tomorrow morning, the pre-booked parking, our nights at the Grand Floridian hotel, our dinner reservations, etc etc etc. In other words, we’d have to cancel the entire trip.

Seem excessive? Think about it. So, let’s say the dog is sick again, we take her to the vet and everything goes as well as it did last time, she’s in the hospital for 3 days and she survives and recovers and all is well. What are we going to do, drop off a dog that just almost died at our friends’ place to look after her while we hop on a flight to Florida? Not only would that be horribly unfair to them, we would spend the entire trip worrying about her. No, cancelling the trip (or postponing it for a while, anyway) was the only option.

Thankfully, she never got anywhere near as sick as she was previously. When we got up this morning, she was performing legendary poops, eating well, and generally being a total idiot (which is her trademark). All good.

So…..the trip begins…..

11:30 AM – We arrive at the dog’s second home, drop her off and hit the road. No drama (other than saying goodbye to her for 2 weeks) and no wait at the border. So far, so good.

Oh, almost forgot, we did have to make a quick stop at Save-on-Foods to pick up cheese slices for the trip. You don’t think I’m going to eat that processed American cheese garbage that they serve south of the border, do you? EWWWWWW. We also brought peanut butter, plum sauce and Kraft dinner.

If you want to have a bit of fun, next time you are in the U.S. ask them for plum sauce. They’ll probably call security. But Tabasco sauce is on every single table. These people are so weird.

2:30 PM – We arrive at Cedarbrook Lodge with very little traffic (perhaps the smoothest drive through Seattle we have ever experienced). Man, do we love it here. The resort, yes, but also the city. We don’t get down here enough.

If only their football team wasn’t such a disgrace.

A couple of people reading this just swore at me right now. I am OK with that.

We check into our suite, which has to be the best suite in the joint. Huge and ground level views of the wetlands. We were here about a month ago and brought the dog (we were not flying anywhere that trip) and had this exact room. I am definitely going to request this specific room every time we come here.

I am not sure of the perfect word to describe this resort. Majestic. Serene. Tranquil. We are only minutes from Sea-Tac but you would never know that we weren’t in the middle of nowhere. This is the absolute perfect place to bring a dog who loves to be outside and roll around like an idiot on the grass. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great last time, but we will bring her back here in the spring when we come down for a wine event for a few nights. Hopefully we get a bit more luck with the weather.

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From our trip here in August, just hanging out by a huge koi pond taking in the scenery and drinking a beautiful wine

They have a nice restaurant here and a spectacular wine list. It has a little bit of everything, focusing on the Pacific Northwest but they have a lot of odd, eclectic little bottles too. This is a bottle we enjoyed here on our last trip. Ever had wine from Arizona??

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I bet a lot of you didn’t know they made wine in Arizona. In fact, every single state in the union makes wine of some kind. This particular winery has a lot of interesting grapes in their portfolio: Tempranillo, Graciano, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and many others. I’d love to learn more about where the vineyards are that get cool enough at night to ripen the grapes. Certainly the daytime heat wouldn’t be an issue 🙂

3:15 PM – While the wife unpacks (and, actually, repacks our suitcases for tomorrow morning’s flight), I head to the lounge to pick up a bottle of wine for our evening. Room service doesn’t start until 5:30 so I have to go get it myself. I find Stephanie, our favorite server, who recognizes me instantly (I think she has served us every single time we have been here) and she remembers that we are serious wine people. She brings us special glasses to go with our wine, and even remembers that we had ordered this bottle before several trips ago. Servers like that is another reason that this resort is really special. All the staff here is terrific, but Stephanie is particularly spectacular. It probably doesn’t hurt that we tip her really, really well.

Note to servers: Treat us really well, and we will treat YOU really, really, really well. Treat us poorly or just OK, and we will treat you accordingly.

I decided to go with a nice little Rhone-style blend from Washington State that we have enjoyed here previously (Stephanie’s memory was correct).

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4:50 PM – Tracey is sitting in bed, doing a little bit of work in preparation for leaving work mostly behind for 2 weeks, and perusing the room service menu for her dinner choices. They have a bigger selection if we actually go to the restaurant, but she wants to stick to room service.

I mean, once the bra comes off, it stays off….amiright ladies???

5:30 PM – I call and order our room service, including my wife’s favorite sandwich of all time, a BLT that features, and this is no exaggeration, about half a pound of bacon. And I might be underestimating it. I am looking forward to posting a picture of it.

5:32 PM – Our phone rings. They have taken the BLT off the menu.

5:34 PM – I am successful at reviving my wife who went into cardiac arrest.

5:36 PM – She decides to order the substitute sandwich, a Squash Grilled Cheese. Hopefully it is good. I can’t imagine it will live up to the BLT but we’ll see.

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Squash Grilled Cheese with Fries
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Salmon with dill sauce

Tracey did not enjoy the sandwich at all. So disappointed that they took away that ridiculously good BLT and replaced it with this abomination. My salmon was quite good, no complaints there. The wine that went with it:

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7:00 PM – The wife is just not feeling well, still. It has been a really rough week for her. We are sure hoping she is feeling better soon; there can’t be many things worse than feeling shitty on a 5.5 hour flight. Hopefully she can get a good sleep tonight and feel better tomorrow. She is currently enjoying the lovely bath tub here, but it’s easy to see that she is not 100%. It is tough to see her like this, so often, for so long.

Tomorrow will be a better day. On to Disneyworld!!

 

 

 

 

 

Taking lunch to a new level, as well as some major, and exciting, changes to this blog!

When I started this blog in 2013, still neophytes to the expansive world of wine, it was my intent to inform and entertain; to enlighten my readers by taking them on a journey along with us, as we learned more about wine and the thing that most often, and most importantly, accompanies it: food.

What started as a food and wine blog eventually morphed into something else. As we started to taste more and more great wine, there was a lot more wine to review, and soon I could barely keep up with the reviews, let alone get into food or other informative aspects of wine culture (using the proper glasses, serving temperature, proper storage, etc).

In addition, I have kept another blog. A ‘personal’ blog that featured basically whatever-the-Hell-else-I-wanted-to-say. As time went along, that one morphed as well, and became pretty much one thing: a vacation blog. Sure, there was an occasional rant on lousy NFL refereeing, or thoughts about a great concert I just saw, but mostly, vacations.

As of now, that other blog is dead, and this blog is going to feature it all: Food, wine, travel, lifestyle, movies, etc. Anything I care to write about is going to show up here, and here alone.

For those of you who have been following along just for the wine reviews, don’t worry, those won’t go away. They may be interspersed with other things, but they will still be plentiful. For example, we are heading on vacation in a few days and the blog posts will be frequent – they won’t ALL contain wine reviews, but we don’t go many days on vacation without drinking wine.

I’m not going to change the name of the blog. After all, no matter what else happens in my life, I am still a huge wine-r.

As for the rest of today’s title, we’ve had a special bottle sitting here, just waiting for us to open it, for a month or so. We had intended to crack it open a couple times but for whatever reason, never got around to it. So, we’ve decided to do it today, and have it with lunch, so nothing in the evening derails our plans.

This was lunch: Filet Mignon strips, with two different sauces. First, a traditional Bernaise sauce, and second, a lovely Hunter gravy. This lunch was so good…SO GOOD…that we almost immediately went to the freezer and took out some more Filet to have another helping in an hour or so. I know the picture looks like there wasn’t a ton of meat, but in reality there was about double that amount, but it still wasn’t enough.

 

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And if that weren’t enough, with the second go-round of Filet, we found another beauty.

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My wife actually enjoyed this one even MORE than the Sassicaia, which has become one of her favorite wines vintage over vintage.

Up next: I will eventually find all my notes from our last Okanagan trip of the summer, but on Thursday our latest epic vacation begins, and you can expect the posts to come fast and furious. Disneyworld, here we come!

Anniversary week was quite a thing. And the wine…..OH, the wine…..

Last Wednesday was my 15th Anniversary of being married to my best friend, the love of my life, and my Own Personal Train Wreck (TM).

I guarantee a handful of people laughed out loud when they read that, including the wife 🙂

To celebrate, a surprise Anniversary party at our dear friends’ house. It was easy to get Tracey there under false pretenses, as their daughter’s birthday is the same day as our Anniversary, so we told Tracey we were going over there for a kids’ birthday party. That’s not quite what happened.

I had been planning this party for years, and had been squirreling away a bunch of wine from our wedding year: 2004. Our hosts kindly cooked a beautiful spread of dishes to pair with them. Let’s see how the wine held up at 15 years of age (spoiler alert: PRETTY DAMN GOOD). Interestingly enough, 2004 doesn’t seem to have been a really stellar year anywhere in the wine world. Oh well.

To begin the festivities, a little bit of the bubbly.

Moet & Chandon 2004 Dom Perignon Rosé

Next up, we started with the only white of the evening. This was paired with a salad that was SUPPOSED to be dressed in a Meyer Lemon vinaigrette, but some idiot (ME) forgot to bring the dressing. So we used whatever they had, and not surprisingly, it was not a brilliant pairing with Ranch or Thousand Island!!

Domaine Etienne Sauzet 2004 Puligny-Montrachet Hameau de Blagny

Up next, Chrissy Tiegen’s Rotochick Soup (if you like to cook, and you haven’t bought her two cookbooks yet, DO SO. You will thank me, even if it is just for her outstanding soups), paired with a little California Pinot.

Paul Hobbs 2004 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

At this point, I’ve honestly forgotten what we paired with what. We had some spectacular meatballs, a mushroom risotto (my only contribution to the evening aside from the wine), spaghetti cooked in red wine (DELICIOUS!), and filet mignon in a whisky pan sauce. EVERYTHING was really, really good. And the wine didn’t disappoint.

Anciano 2004 Gran Reserva TempranilloAgharta 2004 Black Label RedChateau Leoville Barton 2004 St-JulienNoon 2004 EclipseSilver Oak 2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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There were seven people in attendance, so we got a decent pour of each wine, but not so much as to be drunk by the end. Pretty perfect night all around!

But that’s not quite it, dear readers! Yesterday was the annual BC Liquor Store Bordeaux release, so we stayed overnight at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver so that I could get up realllllllly early and get into line at the store at Alberni and Bute, which is just around the corner from the hotel, to make sure we were able to purchase everything we wanted. I was successful at being first in line, but I clearly overshot things a bit, as I arrived an hour and a quarter prior to the guy who showed up #2. Next year, no need to go quite so early.

On Friday night, we finished off our Anniversary week with dinner at Market by Jean-Georges, in the hotel, and in honor of the Bordeaux release, ordered this little beauty:

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And so ends Anniversary week. After picking up 3 cases of Bordeaux yesterday, we are confident that we are going to be drinking spectacular wine well into the next decade!

Next up: Trying to find some time to wrap up our Okanagan trip from the summer!

 

 

A bunch of random stuff, including another “best of the best” Chardonnay, and an Okanagan Wine Club pack!

I know, I know, I promised that my next blog entry would be a continuation of our last Okanagan trip at Burrowing Owl. If I can ever find my damn notes, it will be next. But we’ve been drinking some great stuff this summer, and you need to know about it!

If you are not familiar with the Okanagan Wine Club (and you live in Canada), you should be.

Okanagan Wine Club Home Page

Basically, you can sign up (for free), get offers of great packs of wine from the top BC producers (some of them incredibly small and hard to get). There is no cost except for the wine that you buy, and once you buy just ONE pack, you become a VIP, which entitles you to earlier access to future packs. There is also a special Facebook group dedicated to VIP’s. Check it out.

Anyhoo, I bought a pack recently from a winery I was totally unfamiliar with, called Winemaker’s Cut. Here are my thoughts on those wines (3/4 of them, anyway, the Pinot Noir is still in my cellar), plus a bunch of other stuff. Enjoy!

Winemaker's Cut 2018 Gruner VelitlinerWinemaker's Cut 2018 RoséWinemaker's Cut 2018 Sauvignon Blanc

Some other BC beauties:

Culmina 2018 R&D RoséLariana Cellars 2012 TwelveLe Vieux Pin 2012 Equinoxe Cabernet Franc

Quails' Gate 2013 The Boswell SyrahTinhorn Creek 2012 Oldfield Series MerlotTinhorn Creek 2017 Pinot Gris

How about a couple gorgeous white Bordeaux?

Chateau De Fieuzal 2012 Pessac-LĂ©ognan BlancChateau Malartic Lagraviere 2015 Pessac-LĂ©ognan Blanc

Down the coast we go to our friends in California for some stunners:

Domaine de la Cote 2014 Pinot NoirHartford Court 2014 Fog Dance Vineyard ChardonnayHartford Court 2015 Stone CĂ´te ChardonnayRobert Mondavi 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir

Nickel & Nickel 2015 CC Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

And, last but not least, a perennial favorite ‘cheapie’ from New Zealand.

Whitehaven 2018 Sauvignon Blanc.png

That’s it for today! If I can find the Burrowing Owl notes, that will be next. If not, we will move on to the next stop on that tour, an early morning visit to Moon Curser!

A short interruption in the Okanagan trip report. Vegas calls! Some incredible food and wine was consumed!

So, you may not have heard, but there are a couple of decent restaurants in Las Vegas. And, one day, I am hoping to have eaten in them all.

OK that’s probably impossible, especially since we keep going back to our favorites. But on this trip, we did branch out a bit.

But before we even got to Las Vegas, we had a couple of hours to kill in SeaTac so we headed on over to our favorite airport haunt, Vino Volo, for a snack and a few wine flights. We were very sad to see a sign on their board informing us that this particular location is closing in less than a month! Although it is going to be replaced by another wine bar, we really like this location, which was the first Vino Volo in the country. Sad to see it go.

To the wine! All of it from Washington State.

Kerloo Cellars 2018 Blue Mountain Vineyard Grenache BlancTranche 2016 Pape BlancWT Vintners 2017 Gruner Veltliner

Rasa Vineyards 2013 Vox Populi MourvedreDoubleback 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Leonetti Cellars 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Pretty good way to spend an hour in an airport, amiright???

We actually picked up a bottle of the Grenache Blanc to enjoy in our hotel room. Since we were already through security, we were able to take in on the plane in our carry on luggage.

To Vegas now, where we had three wonderful meals, accompanied by some spectacular wine.

Meal 1: Gordon Ramsay Steak, Paris Las Vegas

I had eaten here once, many years ago, and really enjoyed it. This was my wife’s first visit.

It seems like every time to come to Vegas, we have one of the great meals of our lives. This trip was no exception, and this was the meal. It was nearly perfect, from the wine to the staff to the food. Ironically, the only food item that wasn’t perfect was Ramsay’s specialty: Beef Wellington. It was good, but I’ve had better (in fact, I have made better). The rest of the meal, however, was sublime.

This meal, in fact, featured one of the great food and wine pairings of my life.

We started off with a couple glasses of Hartford Family Winery Chardonnay, to pair with our first courses. They were their entry-level Chard, which are always the same year after year and always very good. This one sells for around $45/bottle in stores, which is about 1/3 of what most of their single-vineyard Chardonnays sell for, so there is a huge step up in quality to their best examples. Regular readers of this blog will know how highly we value Hartford’s wines.

For the main event, we ordered this beauty:

Marchesi Antinori 2015 Tignanello.PNG

What a treat. Glad that we have a couple of these in our cellar!

Earlier I mentioned the most perfect pairing I have ever experienced, and this is the wine. It was absolutely made to go with our dessert, Ramsay’s legendary Sticky Toffee Pudding. PER-FEC-TION.

Taylor Fladgate 30 Year old Tawny

So, that was a pretty good way to start the trip. I mentioned the staff, and I could not have been more impressed with our waiter and his assistant. Not only were they there when we needed them, friendly and funny, they were efficient beyond belief. There was a table of 12 right behind us; when the guests left, they had that table stripped down and re-set in about 3 minutes. And they did not HAVE to be that quick – there was nobody waiting for that table, which sat empty for about an hour. It was a level of professionalism that enhanced an already fantastic evening.

One down, two to go.

The next evening, a trip across the street to Joe’s Steak and Stone Crab, in the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops. I have previously eaten here twice, my wife just once, and neither of us have been here in years. We have always had good meals here, but with just SO many great eateries in this town, it slipped through. Until now.

Another terrific meal! My wife had chicken and I had a beautiful Filet Mignon with a lobster tail. Pretty traditional, I admit, but it paired very well with our wine choice.

Leonetti Cellars 2013 Sangiovese.PNG

For meal #3, after a long day at the pool in the scorching hot (115 degrees) sun, we stayed in the Paris Las Vegas and decided to try a little Italian place we had never been to called Martorano’s. Our waiter was a first class wine guy, and he was just as disappointed as we were when the first bottle that we ordered, a lovely 2004 Brunello, was oxidized. So, we went back to a different vintage of a new favorite:

Marchesi Antinori 2014 Tignanello

Another great meal and another great wine, although it didn’t come close to living up to the excellence of the ’15.

Well, that’s it, not a bad weekend of food and wine!

Next up! Back to the Okanagan trip, and a visit to Burrowing Owl!

 

Tasting notes from a visit to a perennial favorite, @MaverickWinery!

After the epic Carmenere tasting, we decided we had time to hit one or two more wineries before calling it a night and retiring to our beach-front Townhouse at the Watermark. Our friends suggested Maverick Estate Winery, and we hadn’t visited them for a year or so, so it was an easy choice. Let’s see how these wines turned out!

Maverick 2018 Origin

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Maverick 2018 Pinot GrisMaverick 2017 ChardonnayMaverick 2017 Pinot NoirMaverick 2016 RubeusMaverick 2016 Bush Vine Syrah

That’s it for now! Next up, we continue the tour with our last stop of the night, at Burrowing Owl!

Also, we just returned from Vegas where MUCH amazing wine was sampled! Full reviews of all of it coming up as well.

 

Black Hills Carmenere – 12 year vertical!

So this is why we didn’t have time to make a few more stops on the road up here: a 2PM appointment with this fabulous event.

The first of it’s kind! I suspect they may do this again a few times, although apparently some of the older vintages are down to their last few bottles.

2019-06-14 14.14.15
Black Hills Carmenere X 12!

 

2006: Leather, pepper, tobacco leaf and golden raisins on the nose. The palate is more herbaceous than fruity at this point, but it still shows some black plum and a touch of black pepper. This won’t get any better, but it’s still showing well. 91.

2007: Dusty sage, black raspberry, some other black fruits hanging around on the nose. The palate is juicy and still quite fresh – blackberry, raisins, licorice flavors come through. Peaking now. Delicious. 92.

2008: Red raspberry, white pepper and jalapeño on the nose. Black fruit dominates the palate which still features grippy tannins. This has more time left in it and might even get a touch better. 90.

2009: Red fruit, cigar box and leather on the nose. Strawberry, cranberry, tobacco leaf on the palate. Long finish. Peaking now. 91.

2010: Herbaceous nose, with some red fruit, vanilla and oak poking through the herbs. Dark chocolate, oak, jalapeño on the palate. Delicious now and still has lots of legs left to step up to another level. 92.

2011: Red fruit, green pepper, plum and cassis on the nose. Blueberry and cassis on the palate. Acidity seems high and the finish is fairly short. Drink now. 88.

2012: Red fruit, dusty notes of thyme and sage on the nose. Blackberry, green pepper and a touch of white pepper on the palate. Long, lovely finish. Has another 5-7 years in it. 92.

2013: Aromas of chocolate, oak and forest floor. Herbs and green pepper on the palate. Very short finish. This was the only vintage I didn’t like that much upon release, and it has not changed my mind. In fact, it has probably regressed. 85.

2014: Lighter nose of red fruit and a touch of black pepper. I actually preferred this vintage upon release, which is not to say it’s not still excellent, but it might have shut down a bit. It will be interesting to see this one in a few more years. 92.

2015: Black cherry, black raspberry, plum, smoke, black olive aromas. Menthol, herbs, red cherry and just a hint of the smoke that overwhelmed the Okanagan valley in 2015. Should still age beautifully. 92.

2016: Green pepper, funky mushroom and red fruit on the nose. Blackberry, cranberry, smoke and a hint of cigar box. Tannins are silky smooth. This one can go another 5-8 years at least. 92.

2017: This is a beast. A BEAST. Hot in every sense of the word, with thyme and sage on the nose and palate. Joined by a hint of black pepper, mint and strawberry. I wouldn’t touch this for at least 3 years, and it probably needs closer to 10. Tons of potential for a great wine, though. 90++.

 

As you can see from my scores, it wasn’t easy to pick my favorite vintage, it was a six-way tie. When it came right down to it, I went with the 2007 in a photo finish. Perhaps it was a nostalgic vote, as I had never tasted a Carmenere that was well over a decade old. What a treat!

Legendary BC wine critic and writer John Schreiner was also in attendance, and it happened that the next day we would run into him at Lariana Cellars, where he would mirror my sentiments about this initial event: A real treat for all concerned, and we should all be aging our Carmenere longer than we think !

Next up: We had one or two more wineries in us this day, and we would head up the road to Maverick Estate Winery!

Short Okanagan jaunt begins with our second visit to @LiberFarmWinery!

Finally getting around to reviewing all the wine we enjoyed on our little 3-day excursion to Oliver and Osoyoos. Driving up through the Similkameen, we usually stop at 2-3 wineries here but didn’t have time for that today, as we had an appointment to get to.

We stopped at Liber and pulled out a little picnic lunch, to enjoy while Mike, the owner, winemaker and just about everything else (he was out in the field chasing away varmints when we arrived!), took us on a tour of his new wines. Here we go!

Liber Farm & Winery 2018 Hello SunshineLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Everyday ChardonnayLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc SemillonLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Estate RoséLiber Farm & Winery 2017 Let Me Be Franc

The next two wines are not even available for sale yet; one just bottled, the other one still in barrel. Prices are approximate.

Liber Farm & Winery 2017 RebelLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Viognier (Barrel Sample)

So that’s it for today! As I mentioned last year when we visited for the first time, I highly recommend visiting these guys any time you are in, or driving through, the Similkameen.

Next up: Our “appointment” that we had to get to was a pretty special event, a first-ever 12-year vertical of Black Hills Carmenere! Stay tuned, you don’t want to miss this one!

Chateau Lafite Rothschild, anyone???

So, yeah, this happened.

Not going to go into great detail about how this bottle fell into my lap, but it did, and we were damn sure not going to let it go to waste. So, a select handful of friends and my wife’s family were invited over to enjoy this special occasion.

To paraphrase Sideways: “The day you open a 1995 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, THAT’S the special occasion!”.

Amen to that.

Since a bottle of wine doesn’t go very far 9-ways, I planned a menu of food and other wines to fill out the evening. We were calling this the third of our “big hunks of meat” nights, but it was obviously more than just that.

We started with some assorted Charcuterie, paired with two wines recently reviewed from our Fraser Valley trip.

Singletree 2017 Victory

Glass House 2018 Madeline Angevine

Next up, a recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s book called “Perfect Seared Scallops”. Were they perfect? Not sure I’d go that far, but they were pretty damn good. For this one, we pulled out the first bottle of table wine to ever get a perfect 100-point score from a major critic:

Checkmate 2015 Little Pawn Chardonnay

With our next course, Brown Butter Risotto with BC Spot Prawns (delicious!), we selected an underrated California Chardonnay, and also cracked open a Magnum of a BC Pinot that I reviewed a few years ago (and it has definitely evolved to the high end of my range!).

Girard 2015 Chardonnay

Quails’ Gate 2013 Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir

For the main event (hey, it’s OK to have the main event in the middle of the night!), I cooked Filet Mignon with a simple Creamy Mushroom Sauce (by FAR, my favorite dish of the night), and it paired beautifully with the rest of the above Pinot Noir, AND…..drumroll please……the First Growth Bordeaux!

 

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1995 Pauillac

After finishing up my review of this one, I feel like I need a cigarette.

Kidding. Kids, don’t smoke.

Kids: Also, don’t read wine blogs.

On to the next course, Balsamic Beef Short Ribs that had been developing in our Instant Pot (Slow cooker selection) for most of the day. They were pretty good, but I am just not a huge fan of short ribs. Just too fatty. To go with this, we selected a rarity: A BC Sangiovese!

Summerhill 2013 Sangiovese

Next up was some Flat Iron Steak, covered in a red chimichurri sauce. Very tasty! I didn’t even know that red chimichurri was a thing. To compliment this one, we went with two very different vintages of a BC favorite.

The oldest vintage I have reviewed a couple of times, and I stand by the fact that although it is still very good, it is on the decline.

Black Hills 2008 Nota Bene

We had never tasted the newest vintage (except as a barrel sample) until tonight.

Black Hills 2016 Nota Bene

On to dessert, a simple plate of cheese, nuts, and homemade blood orange gelato (IN-CRE-DI-BLE!!!), two very different wines!

Moulin Touchais 1997 Coteaux du Layon

Taylor Fladgate 20 Year old Tawny Port

What a night! Writing this has made the memories flood back and I think I need to lay down 🙂

Next up! Still a ton of random bottles to update you on, but last weekend we were up in the Okanagan for a few days, with two huge events to tell you about. First a 12-year vertical of Black Hills Carmenere, and then the annual Nota Bene Release Party! Not to mention we also got to tour a handful of other wineries. It was a great weekend, and I’ll start that report soon!