Follow That Cat!

Fat Orange Cat
Double Walkabout
Imperial Sour with Passionfruit, Orange, and Guava
8.7% ABV
North Haven, CT

Very thick/hazy orange and guava smoothie pour. Delightful exotic wafts of passion fruit, guava, orange, tiny squeeze of tangerine, and lemon/lime candy. Oh this is absolutely freaking delicious! Passion fruit, Valencia oranges, guava, and that lemon lime squish. This tastes like a perfect beach drink that on the other hand is really healthy and full of vitamin C, but you and I know that this “walkabout” can creep up on you and get you totally tipsy (ok maybe more than a little tipsy). And here’s the thing, I don’t care! I’m on a happy wander through the wild, just following that Fat Orange Cat wherever it leads me.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Pfffft, ack, ack, ack! Noooooo! That was worse than a hairball.

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Rose Dappled Moonlight

Chiaro di Luna Rosé
Langhe DOC
Rosato 2019
100% Nebbiolo
Uncertified organic
Roero (winery), Corneliano d’Alba (CN), Piedmont, Italy
Winemaking Family: Giuseppe “Beppe” Careglio and daughters Pamela and Carol

Delicate salmon color. Breathe in and there’s light Crème de Cassis, shortbread, then all that fades or blends into light dancing cherries and everything keeps circling and eventually chercranstrawberry enters stage right but walking in on tiptoes ever so lightly. First sip and all that tiptoeing stops. Out pops cherries, strawberries, and cranberries. This is just a happy delicious wine full of dance and life.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Not bad. Everything goes deep and dark. It’s like from day to night.

One dad, two daughters and two majestic dogs carry on the winemaking/vineyard history passed down through this family. Their beautiful land of Roero (which is part of a Unesco World Heritage site since 2014) is filled with “Rocche” which were created from erosion and are canyons, chasms, hills that are sheared off, pinnacles, and such that appear through the region. They are incredible geological wonders, and detail the history of this part of the world. Much to my delight you can still find fossils and shells. I can only imagine this place dappled by moonlight or “Chiaro di Luna”.

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Hatched in a Garage

Constantina Sotelo
Pío, Pío 2018
100% Albariño
Natural, minimal intervention, and hand harvested
Cambados, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain
Winemaker: Constantina Sotelo

Glimmering gold color. First scent that bounces out is Lemonhead candy, and next creeps out orange hint, spring flowers including a butterfly lilac, slate and grows into pear brandy. Sipping and there’s a tart start of citrus blend that heads into apples, pears (fresh and baked), as it blooms there’s honeysuckle delight, salt, baking spice, sweet tarts, and a back end hint of Poire Williams. It’s clean, fresh, delicious and an adventure in a glass.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: meh no

Constantina Sotelo’s small garage micro winery (that wants to stay small), has set out to let the wine speak for themselves, or as is said on the site “Minimal intervention to obtain maximum expression.” They may differ over vintages or even bottles from the same year, but she would rather allow nature to choose the path for the final outcome. Diverse personalities are welcome here as long as they are honest representations of the land, the vines, and grown as hands off as possible. Pío Pío 2018, definitely has a lively and unique personality as you can see from what I previously wrote. The label is adorable, but what’s in the bottle is a distinguished beauty that would easily stand out at an upper crust black tie affair and make everyone do a double take. It honestly rocked my world.

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Not At All What I Was Expecting

Beach Blvd Wine Co.
Sustainably-farmed estate vineyards
Paso Robles, CA
Canned in Bayonne, NJ

Crack the can and out pours a pretty orangey rose gold. I know there’s a fruit (probably a strawberry) in there somewhere, but I can’t believe I’m writing this…it smells like burnt rubber. No amount of off-gassing is going to save this…OMG! The taste is just the same. Oh lord! This was a gift from a friend (and I tried two cans with the same result), but I’m starting to wonder if they lost their sense of smell and taste. We are all still living with that still hanging over our heads.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: no way this is going to make it any better

Ok, so I have no more info on this can than what you see. The Beach Blvd website isn’t working. I was really looking forward to this since cans come in handy in this hot weather, but…oh well…

NOTE: I have just poured it out, and see that it was canned on 7/19/19, so maybe that’s the reason!

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A Natural Seduction

Finca Casa Balaguer
Monastrell 2019
Red Wine
100% Monastrell
Organic and biodynamic, hand harvested
Villena, Alicante, Spain
Winemaker: Andrés Carull

Deep cherry with spots of blue. Pull out the cork and immediately its creamy scents with cherry, cola, and cinnamon butter cream frosting. Channeling my inner Cookie Monster. Let it be for a bit and it’s earthy along with raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Now you’re ready to dive into that sip. There’s tart cherry tang that goes deep and later there’s that tang once again. Now here come the raspberries, some strawberry sweetness, earth, dark chocolate, and a dry woody bit like a pecan hull at the end that with each sip can turn around again to that fruit.Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Smooth and velvet

Finca Casa Balaguer is part of Andrés Carull and Marta Ribera’s small family winery Vinessens, and boy is it all natural. After a surprising encounter with a natural wine during a trip to France in 2008, they were hooked or as they say seduced by its magical power. They only work with local varieties to enhance the true feel and taste of their lands, and keep it biodynamic and organic. And they sum their passion beautifully on their site, “Immerse yourself in a world, from which you have no escape. When you enter the world of natural wines, wines made with nothing but fermented grape juice, no additives and no makeup, you won’t want to escape. There is no way back. We can tell you from experience. The lasting memory of these wines is not stored in the mind, but in the heart.” I do have a question about this wine. Can someone please tell me is the bird with the cute hat on the label a kiwi or what is it? I have a little bet running with a friend, so would love to know.

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An Empty Nest Filled with Vines

Old Westminster Winery
Franc Fizz 2020
Sparkling Cabernet Franc
90% Cabernet franc, 10% marquette
Handcrafted with minimal intervention, spontaneously fermented, unfined & unfiltered
Westminster, Maryland
Siblings: Winemaker Lisa Hinton, Farmer Drew Baker, GM Ashli Johnson

Hazy dark violet ruby natural bubbly. Let this fizz breathe and give it some space and your nose will be rewarded with strawberry, blackberry, that mellow smell of unwrapping a Jolly Rancher, and a walk through a fresh spring flower garden where someone has been digging in the dirt. Drinking in again strawberries, blackberries, and now plums (taking a big bite of the whole fruit and pit), a splash of cranberry freshness, a drop of balsamic reduction, tingle tangle fun, and as it opens more there’s a green sprout, and a pinch of dark earth, and late in the game smoke. 

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Brings more tarty to the party

This is more than a family winery, it started as empty nester winery. Jay & Virginia Baker started their family farm back in 1985, but it wasn’t till 2008, when the kids were all at college that they decided to turn it into a winery. The kids thought this was a fab idea and are now all in and in charge and their parents get to enjoy watching them work together. Note that none of this was realized overnight. The family put their heads together and carefully researched and sorted the best way to make “chasing the dream” a reality, and the first vines were planted in 2011. This is my first wine from Maryland, and what a fool I have been for not trying one before. Or maybe I’m a fool for not trying one from Old Westminster Winery, that just as the Baker’s kids, was raised with love.

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A Fresh Fragrant Sunset

La Kiuva
Rosé de Vallée
Picotendro (Nebbiolo), Gros Vien and Neyret
Valle d’Aosta
Hand harvested and all vineyard work by hand
Arnad, Italy
Cooperative winery with 50 grower members

Deep orange rose sunset. Breathing in fresh cool rained on slate, orange blossoms, roses, sweet cherries and their blossoms, and then after a bit…raspberries, and strawberries. Tasting those strawberries, raspberries, and that slate again. It’s so refreshing, clean and bright! Toward the end out pop blackberries with their bitter seeds too. You know like when you pop one in your mouth while picking them in the tangled bramble.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Lord no!

All I have to say is wow, what hard work it must be for this 50 grower co-op. The vines are nestled on high (between 380 and 500 meters above sea level) and steep hills, so everything has to be completely worked by hand. No tractors driving around up here in these vines. As for their lovely Picotendro, it’s a clone of Nebbiolo and as you can see from what I wrote above, it is so wonderfully fragrant. I am going to be so sad when this bottle ends. Adding one thing about the town (commune) of Arnad (which is a breathtakingly beautiful place). They have another gift to the world other than just their wine. Their piggies make the very special Vallée d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad DOP, which is the only lardo to have DOP status that they received in 1996. Local production has been documented to at least the 1500s, and they even have a yearly festival celebration in the last week of August called “Féhta dou lar”. Lardo, wine, cheese, and all sorts of dishes to chow down on…now that’s my type of party!

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A Howling Story of the Land

Ca’ Lojera
Lugana DOC 2019
100% Turbiana
Organic (just not certified) and hand harvested
Rovizza di Sirmione, Brescia, Italy
Owners and winemakers: Ambra and Franco Tiraboschi

Bright yellow with some green shimmer. Reminds me of the colors of my childhood bedroom. For those of you who know me, no, I did not have a goth bedroom. Beautiful scents of pears mixed with yellow apples, white peaches, honeysuckle, honeydew, a salty breeze, and wet granite. Sipping crisp and sweet pears, golden delicious apples, light peach paired with honeydew, and a small squeeze of lemon, maybe even just a wedge on the side of your glass. There’s also that salty bit again, a lick of that clean wet granite, and in the end there’s an oomph of dried sage, thyme and smoke that waves in and out

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Boom this becomes more exotic

Now this is a house with a heritage and local tales. Back in the 13th century, it was a summertime home for the Bishop of Verona, but the more interesting story is told by the locals. Once upon a time, it was a smugglers’ hangout that was guarded by wolves. Can you imagine the intrigue? So when Ambra and Franco decided to purchase the place, Ca’ Lojera (House of the Wolf) was the perfect name. From what I’m finding, they lucked out with these 30 to 40 year old vines and then fell into winemaking when they couldn’t find a buyer for the grapes. Well, seems like a perfect happy accident to me. They certainly have honed their craft over the years, and as they say on their site, “Every day we work to differentiate ourselves, be unique and innovative in our project of producing only wines that tell the story of our land.” Let that wolf keep on creating and belting out that new beautiful part of history for years to come!

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Welcome Confusion

Prairie Artisan Ales
Cocoa Berry Imperial Pastry Sour
Sour Ale with orange, lemon, lime, raspberry, blueberry, grapefruit, cacao nibs, and toasted marshmallow
7.9% ABV
McAlester, Oklahoma

Bright bubbly raspberry pour with a light pink head. Ok this keeps changing each sniff. There’s raspberries, blueberries, strawberries come flying right out and then all of a sudden hit with Cocoa Krispies marshmallow treats from childhood that have been toasted. First sip is lemon-lime-raspberry crush. It now tastes exactly what the label says (orange, lemon, lime, raspberry, blueberry, grapefruit, cacao nibs, and toasted marshmallow) and is really fun but also confusing at the same time but in a good way. It’s like a new unexpected gift with each sip.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Ack please no never ever ugh

This delicious sour ale has made a tune get stuck in my head. At least it’s an oldie but goodie classic (and still timely) or I would go insane. I had forgotten how good this song is! Love and Rockets – Ball Of Confusion.

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Happy Cows Make Happy Wines

Roter Mulatschak
Österreich Red 2019
Zweigelt,  St. Laurent
Biodynamic (Demeter), organic, hand-harvested, and spontaneous fermentation
Burgenland, Austria
Winemaking and Farming Family: The Michlits

Before we even get started…chill this baby which looks like a cranberry plum cocktail. Scents of fresh raspberries, cranberries, cherry but also cherry twizzler, and forest floor funky goodness. This is going to be good. There’s the cranberry again with a zing tingle, cherrylicious, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, a twinge of orange, and some earth depth and pepper. It’s dry yet lively with tiny fireworks of fruit bouncing around.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Oddly not what I was expecting, it doesn’t change it at all. Pair it up y’all!

This is my second bottle of happiness from Meinklang. Last was Prosa 2019 which you can see in my post “A Little Slice of Heaven” which sums up where they live and grow their vines (located inside the gorgeous WHS of Neusiedlersee). As a farming family, their 3 sons grew up working the land and each one found their calling (from wine to tractors to animals/plants), and decided not to roam far from home. In fact, they expanded the farm so all the families have space and live in harmony together and with nature. And they have a lot of nature. There’s a whole pile of animals (cows, horses, pigs, sheep, a few chickens) and they are what fuels this whole operation. Yep, their poop is the fertilizer for the whole farm, hence the proud cow prancing on the label. And as it says on the back, “Cows are dancing, bulls are jumping, the lush pastures inhaling life. That’s <<Mulatschak>>, cheerful celebrations, joyful being.” I say raise a glass, and join in on the roaming or “moooving” party!

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