Wines for Fall

Wines for Fall

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10.

Finally, in my neck of the woods it is chilly in the mornings, pleasant during the day, and chilly again at night.  Here are a couple of red wines to get you in the mood for cold nights and hearty meals.

Label of Discoveries Vineyards 09 CabernetDiscoveries Vineyards, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; under $10 at Pavilions. Vinted and bottled by Firestone Vineyard, Sonoma, California

On The Label: “It’s not always the journey that changes our lives. It’s often the discoveries we make along the way. Our first discovery is a strategically placed chair and two reclining surf boards at Pierpont Beach in Ventura. Our second discovery is this Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are calm and peaceful. Only one has black currants and cassis in the finish. Front Label: Red Chair Lookin’ South by California artist Steve Cook.”

My Take:  This was an easy-going wine, which was a surprise for a Cabernet Sauvignon. I like BIG cabs – this wasn’t. As the label said, it’s a calm and peaceful cab, good for sipping (which is rare) and goes well with food. Is it the first bottle of Cabernet I’d reach for if I had a hearty stew or steaks on the grill? No. But it’s a solid wine – the ’09, at any rate.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But nothing to write home about.

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Meritage 2007 Red Wine Yountville, Napa Valleylabel for trader joe's grand reserve meritage Alcohol 14.3% by Volume. $9.99 at Trader Joe’s

On The Label: (Not much!) “Cellared & bottled by Behind The Scene Wine Company, Napa, California.”

My Take: Some wines deserve the “Grand Reserve” label, and others don’t. In my opinion, this one didn’t, though it was a very tasty wine, indeed.  I will say I LOVED the label and it’s total lack of pretension, lol. But then, that’s par for the course for Trader Joe’s. I’m glad they are putting their own wines out.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ I’d have rated it higher, but that “Grand Reserve” title got to me.

bottle of stickleback redHeartland Stickleback Red, 2009, South Australia Alcohol 14.5% by Volume – $22 in a restaurant.

On The Label: “Cabernet Sauvignon (45%) Shiraz (38%) Dolcetto (9%) LaGrein (8%)  A dry, full-bodied red with wonderful depth of flavor, chocolate, sweet plums and blackcurrant on the palate are complemented by smooth, fine-grain tannina. Invite this fruit driven wine to your next barbecue and serve with char-grilled lamb or a juicy steak.”

My Take: Okay. Imagine this. Hubby and I are walking along in Carlsbad, headed to our favorite Italian restaurant even though neither one of us is in the mood for Italian. A cute young Aussie stops us, says they just opened their restaurant (The Australian Grill) two days earlier, and would we at least look at the menu?

We did, we sat, we ate. Hubby a lamb burger, and me a beef burger. Excellent food, excellent fries, and this wine which our waitress recommended as being “very Shirazzy”, lol.

The wine went very well with the food after it had some time to air. (Or maybe it was the second glass just tasted better, lol!) We sat on the patio, and true to our usual affect, we soon attracted other customers who didn’t know the place existed.

The restaurant was the dream of three women, all in their twenties. One was the chef, the other the Aussie hawker out front, and I’m not sure what the third did but she was bright and bubbly. I do hope they survive but I have my doubts! The next time we hit up Carlsbad, you can bet we’ll drop by and have another burger, if they’re still in business. (They also serve kangaroo burgers, but I just couldn’t take that leap of faith.)

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Okay, so I’m as susceptible to atmosphere as anyone else. I’d love to find this wine locally and give it another try, to see if it is still “Shirazzy”, lol. If you try it, let me know what you think!

As usual, these are my honest opinions and will depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?


My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!



Communing with the Sea

Communing with the Sea

 a photo of carlsbad, with Pelicans & a Kite - taken by me, February 2012

Carlsbad, California with Pelicans & a Kite – taken by me, February 2012

It has been too long since I’ve gone to the ocean. Too long since I’ve heard the waves crash onto the shore, felt the tug of the tide beneath my feet. This week, I was able to go twice. At Carlsbad, the riptide was fierce and I only went in up to my waist, not wanting to drown.

But the second time? We went to a small cove just outside of Channel Islands Harbor. Hubby has taken the kayak out onto smooth water, and he’s going out and around the breakwater instead of around the harbor itself. I’ve settled into my new beach chair, a big-brimmed hat shading my face, arms & legs covered and a book in my hands.

The sky is impossibly September blue. Two white wisps of cloud make the blue even bluer. Further out, a marine layer hides the Anacapa Islands across from the breakwater, 3 or 4 miles away. The waning moon overhead is heading west, and a crow and a seagull troll the shoreline, looking for food.

photo of three paddle surfers

Three paddle surfers at Carlsbad, California taken by me, February 2012.

The crow is cawing, disturbing my reading so I watch him for a bit. He keeps cawing, but no other crow is showing up. It looks like he got the wrong directions to the party, lol. At the crow’s feet, the water is a dull brown, with a white ruffle as a small wave laps at the beach. The water turns to a muddy green a little further out, before melting into a sweep of sweet blue. There’s a tern bobbing out there, in the middle of my oh-so-private bay.

It’s kind of amazing. On this big, wide cove, there’s only one other person and they are very far away. There’s a gentle breeze and the sand is getting hotter. The crow still caws, the seagull has launched itself into the water, the tern is in a contemplative mood. With a sudden flip of his wings, the crow flies off in a huff to find his crow-friends. I can hear seals, but I cannot see them in my part of the bay. A small white butterfly skims the edge of the beach, looking quite out of place.

I finally abandon my book and give myself up to the lure of the water. There are hundreds of sandcrab shells littering the high tide line, and as I wade into the cool Pacific ocean, more dead sandcrabs bob on the surface of the water. I strike out, get beyond the ghoulish bodies, and float on the chilly water, treading when necessary as a mere ten feet away from the shoreline has me out of my depth.

The water invigorates me. Reminds me that I am alive, and gaining in health and strength, and lucky to be able to do what I love. I have new challenges on my plate for next year, but I’m ready for them. Right now I feel I can take over the world, lol.

The hubby comes back, rhapsodizing over the pod of porpoises that swam around him, and that he followed, for about twenty minutes. We are both renewed by our time in and on the water.

Ahh. There’s nothing that a bit of salt water and a briny sea breeze can’t cure. Sometimes, I only need to get my feet wet, my hands wet, pat my wet hands on my cheeks. Other times I need the full-immersion therapy.

How long has it been since you’ve allowed yourself the luxury of going into the water at the beach?

photo of a family at sunset.

Family at Carlsbad, California at sunset. Taken by me, February 2012.

I need to note – the above picture is NOT of my family. They were strangers on the beach at sunset. I was actually going for the pretty colors in the water, lol!

~ ~ ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?