Sunday, December 4, 2016

haiku - early December 2016

not so secrets pass
along the leading edges
of this consciousness

this steady fog tickles
conversation from the ground
creating mushrooms

skyline of berries
standing well past the season
appropriate crop

crow cries warning call
“I see you, stupid monkey”
fucking tattletale

behind the glass wall
thoughts constrained by kitchen sounds
mental microwave

a man with a smile
holds an ugly woman’s hand
she turns beautiful

the birth-tide rises
heartbeat pushes warm water
I brew strong coffee

low bow silver moon
sunsets gold arc of a jet
between power lines

her art is still here
casting ripples further on
along life’s river

Friday, December 2, 2016

smidgens of Cody, selected haiku - Nov. 2016

haiku written by Cody Growe, November 2016

the snow creeps closer-
a child with hands on it's eyes
thinks we can't see it

bent but not broken
the rainbow shoots my own eye
into the real Sun

these fog and cloud breaths
rise from the earth like we do-
the wide sky breathes them

smells of old decades
not only gone, but hidden
deep inside machines

big trees slowly dance
looming close and far by turns
through the passing cloud

in the morning night
circled beneath a big fir tree
a snowless dark patch

sometimes a cloud veil
is the only sky i have
from inside the rain

there is a season
between storms, before snowfall-
hush across the sky

weave us together
under the blanket in sleep
we are family

the mask hunts the face
from darker woods at twilight-
together at last

cautious woodland birds
proud and wary in the dawn
shake off heavy sleep

damp wood in dry wind
November acting fickle-
firewood knows the truth

the dawn wind worries
clouds across a flattened sky
warm and cool twining

when my grandma died
they moved her corpse from the bed-
her warmth was still there

in the orchards ruin
here and there a ripe fruit hangs
it's taste yet unknown

clouds clawing upward
scrape across bare tree branches-
is it a rain day?

fragrance.  where am i?
long after the hike is done-
Hobart juniper

pine needles fly by
hurrying to join the dust
where are they going?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

wash and wear

macsweeney's union suit was folded and tucked away in the winter clothing box. macsweeney's union suit is now being worn again, in a different world. a new wool blend, next to the skin, scratchy and warm and red.

Monday, February 28, 2011

brief notes from the VA wine expo

i made my way to the virginia wine expo in richmond this past sunday and managed to squeeze in about an hour of light tasting before getting to work. i approached my time at the event with a narrow focus and the goal of tasting wines from producers who were getting praises and currently setting the bar for quality in the state and who's wines i had not been able to previously try. i started my run at the king family booth to try their viognier (2009 is the current release), a wine i strongly consider the best virginia wine i've tried in the last 3 years and one of the best that i've tried in the last decade. true to form, this wine was balanced, focused, elegant and had serious concentration along with a truly remarkable texture.

next stop was the barboursville booth, where they were offering a very generous vertical of 2006-2008 cab franc reserves, a merlot (forgot the vintage... 08 maybe?), a 2008 cab sauv and three vintages of their "octagon" bordeaux blend (again, i think 06-08). of the cab francs the 07 stood out as having the most to offer in this context... all were clean, focused and showed varietal typicity, plus a consistency of quality and an unnamed "italian" influence (could that have been my imagination?... sure tasted italian). the 2006 showed the most vibrancy, but the 07 had more depth on the palate and would be the wine i would recommend from their entire lineup. the merlot was plump, fruit forward, and showed great promise... the well integrated, approachable tannins and structure of this wine would lend themselves to a wide range of pairings. the octagon blends were impressive in their concentration and consistency, with a more apparent, muscular structure set behind more delicate aromatics. barboursville manages to produce food friendly, strong showing wines with a definitive style while remaining outside the realm of "stylistic".

the most impressive wines that i tried were from blenheim... a viognier, rousanne, marsanne blend was an eye opening wine in terms of what these varieties are capable of here. very deep and quite viscous, lots of oak (100% new???) and ml structure/mouth-feel without the faintest amount of vanilla, toast, butter or any of the other signature flavors/aromas that typically show up in wines receiving these cellar treatments. this wine was as intellectually stimulating as it was drinkable... really it was amazing. they offered two red blends (sorry i can't recall the compositions... pretty sure one was strictly bordeaux and the other had some syrah), the bordeaux blend was a bit more tannic and linear, but both were fruit forward, approachable and had nice depth and concentration. all of their wines were clean and well made. based on this tasting i will be making a trip to the winery to learn more about their process.

i missed my opportunity to taste a few wines that i was hoping to, but overall the experience left me feeling like virginia as a whole is getting a bit more focused and the quality bar is set higher than ever.

unfortunately these types of tasting scenarios don't usually lend themselves to contemplative or in depth experiences with the wines, but that's why we buy bottles and take them home.

on the home front there's not much to report wine-wise or other-wise. over the weekend we drank an interesting 2005 toros collio tocai friulano (a native white from northeastern italy) that was deemed "architectural"... lots of textures and sheer edges, but the aromatics and flavor profile were fairly muted. this wine didn't strike me as having purity of flavor as much as generally lacking. there were some glimpses of dried grass/hay, some early summer, dusty road minerality and a thin veil of nuttiness, but i kept expecting this wine to show up and sadly it never did. maybe it was too restrained? either way, i have little experience with this variety and would like to explore it more, but for the meals we paired it with (a mushroom, garlic, olive oil and white wine "pesto" pasta and, on day two, crab and fresh veggie sushi) i'd sooner reach for an off-dry riesling, a pinot gris, a number of alsatian/german/austrian whites, or even a vernaccia di san gimignano like the one we had a couple weeks ago.

while at a tasting in woodbridge over the weekend i got a chance to purchase some finger lakes wines (from a very comprehensive selection at wegman's) that i've been looking forward to trying for a long time but have been unable to locate... can't wait.

Monday, February 21, 2011

weekend wine tasting

friday night was a rare (ok, unprecedented) occasion, as the bird had flown off for the evening leaving me and the chick to fend for ourselves. no big deal, we were armed with pasta and chianti.

dinner was simple; spaghetti with mushrooms marinara that had plenty of time to stew while we enjoyed the warm evening outside, chasing the dog, laughing and clapping.

i opened a 2005 scopetani chianti rufina riserva stellario as we were getting ready to sit down. this wine had plenty of classic italian rustic charm... a muscular, earthy, soil scented nose with a deep, dried red fruit core and hints of mushrooms mingling with lighter cherry notes. a little bit of menthol, alcohol and a subtle oak presence, but nothing overwhelming. the wine was very linear on the palate and the tannins were tight. at first i thought that the wine could have used some more time in the cellar to allow it to relax, but it came around quickly to reveal a good amount of dried fruit and more perceptible oak "sweetness" along with some leather. the wine (particularly the acidity) did pair well with the meal, although the tannins remained a little abrasive and distracting. this seemed like a fairly average chianti, made in the more modern, extracted tuscan style... i'm not sure what 2005 was like in tuscany but this wine would have me guessing at a warmer vintage. over the next two nights i revisited this wine and it gradually(?) became a bit more dis-jointed and oxidized to the point of being labeled "an old wet stump with mushrooms growing out of it" and compared with childhood mud-based witches brews.

we traveled up to charlottesville on saturday with a plan to visit three wineries. we started the day at wintergreen where we tasted through their lineup very quickly. we tried a chardonnay, a viognier, a petite manseng/traminette blend (that they referred to as their answer to riesling), a verdelho, and a couple cab francs before finishing with an apple wine and a raspberry wine. the verdelho stood out, and the younger cab franc was a decent effort, but none of these wines made a positive impression on either of us and several were flawed (obvious so2 on the more recent vintages, VA and even oxidation on some of the older wines).

next we made our way to the flying fox vineyard's tasting room. the pace here was much more comfortable and we leisurely tasted through their chardonnay, viognier, a vidal blanc/traminette blend, a cab franc, trio (a cab franc, merlot, petit verdot blend) and their petit verdot. the wines all showed focus and were clean. the owner's of the vineyard were pouring the wines for us and were very knowledgeable and happy to talk to us about their work. they poured us a side by side comparison of the same wines that had been opened a few hours apart to help give us some insight into their oak preferences and how the wines evolve. the viognier was focused, expressive and made in a seemingly transparent style that allowed it to express delicate floral aromatics with a few lighter tree fruit accents. a well defined, lush fruit core carried the palate through seamless transitions and on into the lengthy finish. their cabernet franc was the highlight of the reds for me... a lighter style with highlighted acidity and impressive vibrancy. mostly bright cherries and a bit of tobacco and other dried leaves on the nose. the palate lacked serious depth, but was quite focused and bright with ample ripe red fruit and a shade of leafy green to the core. the tannins were present but tamed and took a back seat to the fruit in this wine. the other reds were a bit lean for their more aggressive tannin and oak profiles in my opinion, but any of these wines would be welcomed at my table. the idea of their cab franc and the suggested pairing of roasted goose has inspired the search for just such a bird.

after our visit at flying fox we were ready for lunch and decided to have our picnic up the road at king family vineyards. we brought a classic road trip lunch; italian hogies (chewy baguette with provolone, capicollo and sopressata salami) in hopes of pairing the sandwiches with a cool rose or something new. we had tried several of the king family wines over the past few months and were excited to try their current releases. all of charlottesville must have had the same idea... the parking areas were completely full save for one last spot all the way at the end of the lot. we decided to have our hogies and pickles in the car and ultimately concluded that an over-crowded tasting room was not really what the chick (who had been quite patient with us all day) deserved.

the evening was relatively quiet... a fun supper at the buffalo store in riner, paired with iced tea.

the following evening we finished off the last of the chianti (now in full blown muddy mushroom mode) with a bowl of chili over brown rice and a side of fried okra. a much more sensible pairing was the 2010 amrhein (virginia) pinot grigio, which, with it's .5% RS, approachable, fruit forward roundness and cleansing acidity made it a very complimentary match, able to stand up to (and meld with) the chili and neatly cut through the okra.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

tbilvino and the sweet trend

For a couple who rarely drink sweet wine we seem to have opened about a year's worth in the past few days. Both wines from Sunday night were sweet as were the two we enjoyed last night. Dinner was a throwback to the summer... really to childhood summers; Hamburgers! Some might have called them sliders, but we kept it "classic":

Bright's beef (one of the longest running local farms around) seasoned with s&p, garlic, parsley and of course a splash of red wine

Home made rolls (sesame semolina, 3 day ferment)

The "classic toppings": lettuce, onion, dill pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo for the bird

Served with our house version of mashed potatoes (which is so much fun to make and eat, but usually requires a meat partner) - red potatoes boiled with a parsnip until soft, then mashed together with olive oil, s&p and chopped green onion... I usually end up adding a bit of the cooking water back in to keep it "texturally sound"

The first wine was "night two" of the 2008 Manfred Breit Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett (Mosel) - I was expecting this wine to be dry or close, and while it was balanced, the sweetness was much more perceptible on the second day. Still, beautiful acidity and a very juicy style for a kabinett... loads of nectarine with some tropical hints and a strong stone quality that was the real backdrop for this wine... almost as if the stone were carved in such a way as to allow the bright, golden fruit inside to seep out and delicately coat it. The fruit had a strong presence but certainly played a supporting role in this well crafted wine. This was a great contrasting/cleansing pairing with both the potatoes and the burger, cutting right through the fat and refreshing the palate after a quick exclamation point of melding juiciness.

The second wine was a 2007 Tbilvino Khvanchkhara (sweet red made from indigenous grapes Aleksandrouli and Mujuretuli) from Georgia (the country) and I'm not sure if it's imported into this country, although there was some English on the label. I had tried a Saperavi (another native Georgian variety) not too long ago and found it very interesting and expressive, plus the geek factor was way high due to it's place of origin and the fact that it was fermented and aged (with months of skin contact) in amphorae. Based on that wine I was very interested to try the Khvanchkara. The wine had an impressive nose... not too deep or rich, but fine, with soil and earthy notes on top of an understated but well framed red fruit core. It reminded me of a Primitivo or a Portuguese table wine. This wine was clean and clear on the palate, but the sweetness was too much for me and the food. Solid cherry fruit and a bit of chocolate, but the acid and tannins (if there were any) were buried. I'll revisit the wine tonight, but don't have high hopes for a pairing... maybe it will work as dessert.

2/16, revisit

Over a relaxing dinner last night, the bird and I revisited both of these wines...

The meal was simple, arborio rice cooked with tumeric, olive oil and fennel over massaged spinach, topped with roasted root veggies (parsnips, beets and sweet potato coated with olive oil, s&p, and cider vinegar). A tiny side of cucumber and black olive salad rounded out the meal.

We started tasting the Khvanchkara while cooking... it seemed to have come into focus, showing more tree bark and what I described as "crayon box" on the nose. The tannins peeked out from wherever they were hiding and the sweetness took a step back. The wine paired well with the food, especially the beets and parsnips, making for a very complimentary match. Overall my lasting impression of this wine is that it is obviously a local style and has a solid place with appropriate food.

The first sniff of the Riesling set off the "reduction" alarm in my mind, but that blew off quickly to reveal a bit more evolution. The nectarine was joined by more obvious stone fruit notes as well as a bit of lime. Some interesting descriptors were thrown out, and for some folks these lines might sound like a turnoff - "this wine smells like dogs" - "I get wet wool" - "___ used to use puppy breath as a descriptor and I can see that in this wine" - but these qualities were more intriguing and novel than off-putting. The stone quality on the palate had diminished a bit and while I couldn't detect any overt oxidation, the wine seemed more awkward and clunky. Still a solid and enjoyable pairing with the meal, showing the versatility of low alcohol whites with good acidity.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

wine recap

Well, I'm feeling inspired so maybe we'll pick up a little steam on the blog.

I would like to recount some of the better wines we've had at home over the past few months... let's see how it goes:

Most recently we were very impressed by a 2009 Chateau Morrisette (Virginia) Viognier that was a gift from a friend. I didn't have high hopes for this wine and upon opening it initially thought it didn't have much to offer and tasted like citric acid and water. I recorked it and left it on the counter overnight, planning to cook with it. We decided to taste it again on day two and it was stunning! Hugely floral, but well balanced with just enough fruit and viscosity to be a great example of what Virginia can do with a Viognier. I'm not sure which/how many vineyards they sourced from but this was a really impressive wine and I aim to learn more about it.

We had a lovely Sancerre a few nights before that and an even better Pouilly Fume about a week ago, keeping the almost flawless track record for small production Loire wines going. Sadly I took no notes and took the bottles to the recycling. Great deals though, neither bottle was over $15.

A 2008 Benton Lane Pinot Noir First Class, was a bit of a disappointment... although plenty ripe (no surprise for the vintage), it tasted a little too unfocused, with fruit spilling out all over the place and a seemingly haphazard approach to the oak regimen. By day two the oak was overpowering the wine completely. My guess is that they jumped at the chance to release a special bottling in a special vintage but in doing so missed the mark.

A couple weeks ago we went on a Vinho Verde kick and had a blast trying a few different wines, none of which was over $8. The favorite was the current release from Broadbent (with a pretty flower on the label... ooooooh). Every wine we tried was super crisp, precise and ultimately paired well with whatever we tried it with (a beautiful piece of poached fish, an earthy massaged kale salad, pigs in a blanket with sweet potato fries and ketchup).

We drank a couple vintages (2005 & 2006) of Frederic Mabileau's St. Nicolas de Bourgueil (Loire Cab Franc) and the difference in the vintages was striking... of course, now I can't remember which was which, but I think the 05 was the riper of the two and it showed... much more extracted, bordering on jammy, which is not why we drink Loire Cab Francs, but the wines were well made and it was a great lesson in vintage variation. Both wines showed poise, but the 06 was much more lively and showed a glimpse of that tension that the Loire can deliver. If I had to lay one down I'd choose the 06.

In keeping with the Loire, a few weeks back we tried a pair of wines from Domaine de la Garreliere, a declassified Sauvignon (le Blanc) and a Cab Franc (le Rouge). I think both were from 07. I would happily try any of the wines I could find from this estate if I were to come across them again. Both were a bit rustic, but it came across as very intentional. I would guess they will smooth out in time, but as they are I really enjoyed drinking them. Again, lively and taught with very well balanced acidity.

My brother and I shared a Muscated sevre et Maine (western Loire, Melon de Bourgogne) over dinner at a fancy pants farm to table restaurant that is haunting me to this day, partly because it was great, but mostly because I have no idea who the producer was... either way, it was amazingly good for a $20 bottle at a restaurant whose list starts at about $30 and has an unusually high markup. Paired with super fresh, buttery clams and a white anchovy ceasar salad this was a knockout combo, only one-upped by the second half of the meal when we shared an older first growth Bordeaux paired with lamb shoulder and a NY strip.

Other fun wines we've tried lately were a pair of 2007 Virginia Aglianicos, one from Villa Appalaccia and one from Amrhein... we didn't get too in depth with these as they were opened at a dinner party, but they were amazingly different... the Amrhein was much more fruit forward with plenty of spice/pepper and a solid tannic backbone, but it was a bit creamy and less focused than I would like. The Villa App. was made in their classic house style with a very resinous, piney quality, restrained, bright cherry fruit and well integrated tannins... I could see the Amrhein winning in a comparative tasting thanks to it's lushness, but for dinner I'd take the Villa Appalaccia... which is what I ended up enjoying with a hearty jambalaya.

Outside of Virginia and the Loire, we've been enjoying the typical northern Italian reds, but no examples to run on about... every time we have a wine from GD Vajra (Piedmont) it's a winner, from their Pinot to their Langhe Rosso. Brigaldara has been a go to Veneto producer for us. Of course any time I come across a bottle from Elio Grasso it's a sure bet.

We did have a very (surprisingly) good Vernaccia di San Gimignano recently. This wine offered a change of pace from the typical tree fruit driven whites we tend to encounter. It was very textural but stopped just short of becoming waxy or oily on the palate and had pleasant "drying hay" and "partly cloudy sky" characters on the nose. I know it was pushing 13+% alcohol, but showed no signs of heat at all. I can't recall the producer, but I know where to find it and will be seeking it out again.

We happened upon an inexpensive bottle of red Portuguese table wine from the Dao that was earthy and engaging with great structure and fruit, a relative a steal at $8. It made me miss inexpensive Barberas.

Coming up we're planning (and in fact started last night) a bit of a Riesling excursion. We've got a Mosel Kabinette and Spatlese from the same producer (and vineyard) and an older 94 Spatlese to try out.

If anything else springs to mind the next time I open the cork drawer I'll be sure to jot it down here.