Cutting Down The Tree #LikeABoss

File Nov 28, 4 46 10 PMThe day after Thanksgiving is usually one spent in pajamas, eating leftovers, drinking more wine, and of course, shopping for things we don’t need. You know, normal American things. And usually the day after Thanksgiving is pretty cold, because you know, it’s the end of November. Well this year, the day after Thanksgiving it was a balmy 61°, so we took full advantage of the beautiful weather and like REI told us to do, we opted to go outside[1]. This was the first year I participated in actually cutting down a Christmas Tree[2]. I don’t think there’s any reason to do it any other way going forward. If you haven’t done it yet, find a local farm and get out there! They give you a saw and point you in the right direction. They even have a handy little cart if you don’t want to carry it out. An awesome experience, and totally worth the bit of extra effort.

With the unseasonably warm weather we decided to go home, put up the tree, File Nov 28, 5 40 20 PMthen open a bottle of wine[3] and enjoy it on the front porch. Given the weather conditions, I went with a Napa Petite Sirah. Since we were able to experience what it feels like celebrating the holidays in warm weather, I figured we’d drink some warmer climate wine. While this heat wave was nice while it lasted, and very pleasant while we were walking around the farm looking for a tree, I wouldn’t want to miss out on the wintery snow that’s coming our way…I can’t believe I just said that. But it’s true. #NewEnglanderForLife

_________________________________________________
To:                    Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               November 28, 2015
Wine:              2011 Madrigal Family Winery Petite Sirah
_________________________________________________
The wine itself was very nice. It poured out an inky, silky, deep plum color. File Nov 28, 5 27 32 PMOak on the nose with lots of jam. I got some smoky oak with notes of leathery tobacco. A fruity spice finish that was oh so lovely. Crazy legs that really ran down the glass as I swirled. Made by the Madrigal Family Winery in Napa, the winery is now run by the founder’s grandson. It seems like wine families really know how to keep it together and pass on their craft through the generations. Cheers to them!

This was another LastBottle selection I picked up for $15[4]. It retails online for between $20 and $30, but even at those prices I’d recommend giving it a try[5].

File Nov 28, 5 22 31 PMOn a side note, full time Christmas music has commenced in my life. It truly
makes me warm and fuzzy. Even cleaning the house is fun when Michael Bublé is crooning carols in the background. Cheers to everyone making a Christmas album at some point[6]. Keep ‘em coming!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] #optoutside
[2] And by participate, I mean I pointed and said “That one looks good.”
[3] Surprise, surprise.
[4] These bottles just keep on performing! Haven’t signed up yet? Get on it, here.
[5] #winning
[6] Some of my favorites are here, here and of course, here. You’re welcome. Also, here. Little Drummer Boy on Repeat. What.File Nov 28, 4 47 25 PM

Thanksgiving Recap

File Nov 27, 6 46 33 PMThanksgiving 2015 has come and gone. I actually behaved very well this year. There were no rolls on my plate[1], I didn’t go back for seconds[2], there were no crying fits about wanting to stay and finish watching Mandy Moore movies on TV[3], and I didn’t end up wanting to die because of how full my stomach was. #success We even took a walk around the block after dinner.[4]

File Nov 27, 7 05 48 PMThe meal was truly divine, but the wine selections were also excellent, if I do say so myself. We started with some Berberana Gran Tradicion Brut Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain. It’s always nice to start off with a wee bit ‘o bubbly, don’t you think? It was light crisp and airy, fairly dry with good bubbles. A great value from Total Wine.

Once the food was served we transitioned to still wine. File Nov 27, 6 45 49 PMThe white was the 2008 Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Milly-Lamartine, which was a lovely French Chardonnay.[5] Intensely buttery with a light citrus finish. Thick and smooth, a real white treat. One of my LastBottle Marathon picks[6], definitely wish I had more of that one.

Our red selection was the 2013 MacMurry Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley[7]. Another complex pinot that still managed to be light and delicate. A bit of fruit and spice on the nose, it paired well with our luscious turkey feast and even complemented the pumpkin pie I’d been craving all week.[8]

File Nov 27, 6 57 46 PMOn a side note, Sissies, Mom and I capped off the evening with a bout of selfie stick mania. I’d never used one before but I’ve been threatening Husband that if he doesn’t start taking photos with me I’m going to buy one and start using it. In public. Experiencing the fun first-hand last night has solidified my decision to make this purchase.

WineEsquire strikes again! Onto the next feast!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Thanks for motivating me during #winechat this week @JustTheBottle and @Viginia_Made! Not sure I’m as motivated as you two, but I thought I’d try to go low carb whenever I can…#babysteps
[2] I took a lot during round one though.
[3] That may have happened last year. #sorrynotsorry #WalkToRemember
[4] Mostly because we were all starting to fall asleep because of the food coma #cardio
[5] Full disclosure, I thought this was a red when I selected it. The label was all in French and the bottle was very dark. When we got to the Parents House, Husband asked if he should chill it and I wondered why…#amateur
[6] If you haven’t signed up yet, you’re a fool. http://bit.ly/LastBtl
[7] I didn’t know where the Russian River Valley was so I used The Google. Turns out it’s in Sonoma County, California. I think I should take one of those Master Of Wine courses so I can learn all this stuff. #taxwriteoff
[8] I may have had a second serving of pumpkin pie. With fresh whipped cream. #caloriefree

Thanksgiving Eve

File Nov 25, 6 46 05 PM’Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving…. and boy did it feel like Friday! Not sure how I would have gotten through the rest of this week if we didn’t have the holiday. I drafted what had to get drafted, prepared for Monday’s closings[1], and then I got out of the office. Phew.

Today is also known as Drinksgiving. The day people traditionally get wasted regroup with friends from high school who are all inevitably home for Thanksgiving….unless you’re WineEsquire, and then you just come home and drink a bottle of wine in peace.[2] Since I’ve been ready for pumpkin pie for days, I may just go to bed early to fast forward to pie time[3].

Cheers!

______________________________________________
To:                   Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               November 25, 2015
Wine:              2012 Banfi Rainstorm Pinot Noir
______________________________________________
Full disclosure, I received this bottle from the winery free of charge.

I didn’t have high hopes for this one. It was an inexpensive Oregon Pinot Noir. You may remember that in the past I’ve had trouble finding good, affordable Pinots from this state, but I was pleasantly surprised by this bottle.File Nov 25, 6 02 06 PM

A bit of earthy, barnyard mustiness on the nose opened up to a somewhat complex Pinot Noir. Not your typical soft easy Pinot, there’s a bit more going on, it almost has the hint of a sparkle on the end, maybe it’s a bit of spice. Notes of deep plum and dark cherries. Half hour in and the nose hasn’t changed much, still smells like barnyard. I get almost no tannins on the finish. Pairing well with my dinner of butternut and apple soup[4].

A good end of the day bottle, a decent buy from the land of Oregon.

Wine Dossier
Aged for at least 10 months in oak, this bottle is made from Pinot grapes grown in the Willamette[5] and Umpqua Valleys. It’s produced by Banfi, a wine importer with wine properties throughout the world. I always thought Banfi was a small Italian winery that made sparkling rosé, but the importing company was actually started by a New Yorker (of Italian descent) in 1919. His family still runs the operation today.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. You can pick up a bottle for between $14 and $18.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] While wearing jeans. It’s the little things in life that make you happy. #dressdownWednesday
[2] High school was overrated. Plus most of my old friends live far far away. #Kansas #theresnoplacelikehome
[3] Or I may binge watch Walking Dead while drinking this wine.
[4] Thanks Price Chopper.
[5] If Willamette Valley doesn’t ring a bell for you, think back to your days of playing Oregon Trail in computer class. Willamette was the final destination. #dystentary

Wine, Bubbly and Wee Bit o’ Whisky Across the Pond

WARNING: This is a long one, so pour yourself a glass of vino and cuddle up for WineEsquire’s European adventure!

Husband had some business Across the Pond earlier this month, and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to tag along. It was one of the better ideas I’ve had thus far.

File Nov 22, 8 17 30 PMWe started our trip at Bobby Van’s airport bar at JFK[1]. Husband had a martini. I had a glass of bubbly. This was the start of a very consistent theme throughout our trip. We were in the running for an upgrade from American Airlines, but alas, they didn’t come through. We survived our journey in Coach with the help of some jumbo bottle red wine and Disney’s Aladdin.

Our hotel stay at the Bel & the Dragon was brilliant. We journeyed from Heathrow to Kingsclere in our white Ford Focus[2]. All was well except the steering wheel was on the wrong side right side of the car and we had to drive on the wrong side right side of the road. We survived. Cue the wine.

File Nov 22, 8 20 47 PMThe first evening we were tired[3] so we decided to stay and eat at the Bel & The Dragon where we enjoyed a tasting of their private label wines produced by Olivier Leflaive, a longtime wine producer out of Burgundy, France. To start we paired the Bourgogne Blanc with some pink peppercorn squid[4] and a poached duck egg with Serrano ham[5] and avocado. The wine was light with a mineral finish. Not sweet or fruity, just like I like my whites. We followed this with a glass of the Bel and Dragon red burgundy which was also fairly light and a bit earthy.

File Nov 22, 8 24 34 PMFor dinner I had Scottish scallops paired with a glass of bubbly Laurent-Perrier Brut. Bubbles and seafood are always a good combination. Husband had roast suckling pig. To pair with this I chose the Berry Brothers Good Ordinary Claret because, one, I really liked the name, two, because you can’t really go wrong with Claret, and three because our waiter Mark told us he only had one half bottle left and that it was extremely good. We were both very happy with this[6]. It paired superb with the suckling pig and was a great drinker on its own as well.

All in all, this was probably the best “English” meal we’ve ever had in File Nov 22, 8 18 40 PMEngland[7]. Great food, excellent wine and superb ambiance[8]. The Bel and the Dragon is a 15th century inn that has been lovingly and beautifully restored. The quaint rooms came complete with a heavenly rainfall showerhead, a working heated towel rack[9], and complimentary whisky in the drawing room[10]. To top it off, it was on a quaint little street in the center of the village of Kingsclere. The whole thing seemed to have come straight off a movie set. Serenely simple and absurdly charming.

From Kingsclere we moved on to Scotland. The whole point of this trip was for Husband and his foreign counterpart to taste various Scottish whisky offerings[11]. One minor problem. File Nov 22, 8 19 12 PMApparently the Scots have had a wee bit of a drinking and driving problem in the last few years, and now there’s a zero tolerance policy. Since I’m no whisky aficionado, I was volunteered to be their personal driver. I hate to admit it, but WineEsquire’s wrong-side driving skills leave something to be desired.[12]. Husband would drive us to the distilleries before drinking had commenced. On both days, the trips to the distilleries were lovely, sunny and took place on easy to drive on highways. Without fail, as soon as WineEsquire got behind the wheel, the skies darkened, the heavens opened and the highways disappeared. Thankfully, whisky was drunk, bonds were formed, and we all survived.[13]

After two days of tasting in Scotland and we found ourselves back on a flight to London where we were able to spend the next day and a half. With the File Nov 22, 8 27 08 PMrental car safely deposited back at the airport, I could once again relax and enjoy the trip. And drink some wine. It must be something about vacation, but I kept going back to bubbly. Our digs at St. Ermin’s were divine and on our first night we ended up at the hotel bar where I ordered a glass of Nyetimber[14]. I thought it had something to do with New Year’s Eve. I was wrong. It was one of the best glasses of bubbly I’ve ever had. Tart, crisp with just a hint of apples. Effervescent bubbles that put a smile on my face. Regrettably, they don’t sell any on this side of the Atlantic yet. The only solution is to go back in the near future to drink some more!

Day two found us walking around London in the pouring rain, making our pilgrimage to Portobello Road. We eventually gave up on our quest to walk the city and Uber’d over to the famous Gordon’s Wine Bar[15]. Unfortunately, so did approximately 1 million other people. Though tears were near, we ended up inFile Nov 22, 8 45 30 PM a perfect little place where we enjoyed a French feast with a lovely bottle of Bordeaux. Having time to spare before our candlelight concert at St. Martin in the Fields, we wandered over to Neal’s Yard[16] and had a glass or two at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, a wine bar that serves only wine. Literally. No coffee. No whisky. Just wine. Impeccable! My glass of Eric Rodez Blanc de Noirs was File Nov 22, 8 19 44 PMperfect. A champagne made only from Pinot Noir grapes, it was another effervescent bubbly event that tickled my taste buds and confirmed my appreciation for all things French and bubbly[17].

By this time, our quick trip had come to an end. We had just a few hours before our flight home so we packed up our gear and headed to Kensington Palace to have High Tea at The Orangery. Not only is this little gem literally in Kate’s backyard[18], but it’s affordable, classy and simply gorgeous. Turns out we have Anna Maria Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford, to thank for the tradition of high tea. It was the mid-1840s and the aristocracy had just transitioned from File Nov 22, 8 20 03 PMtaking their main meal at noon to a bit later in the evening[19]. Anna’s servants began sneaking her pots of tea with sandwiches and cakes to stave off that “sinking feeling” she’d get in the early afternoon. She began inviting her friends to join her, and it soon became a daily event for the upper class. Though Kate rang to say she was busy and couldn’t join us, the tea and cakes were delightful. So was the bubbly.

It’s never easy getting on the plane home. The thought of returning to a land where there is no Good Ordinary Claret, Nyetimber or Eric Rodez Blanc de Noirs is too depressing to even acknowledge. But it was certainly an adventure, and one I’ll not soon forget. Thanks for reading. Until the next bottle!

Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Obviously.
[2] How’d we end up with an American car over there?File Nov 22, 8 17 50 PM
[3] Not only from the flight, but we’d just spent the day traipsing around the countryside wandering around old Roman Ruins and mediaeval castles in our highly appropriate footwear. #sarcasm
[4] Turns out “pink peppercorn squid” is also known as fried calamari.
[5] a/k/a prosciutto.
[6] I obviously had some after I finished up my scallops and bubbly.
[7] Not taking into consideration, of course, classic fish n’ chips wrapped in newspaper.
[8] We were nestled in a quiet corner next to the open fireplace.
[9] There’s nothing worse than thinking the towel rack will actually warm your towels when in fact it’s ice cold. Why do most of them never function???File Nov 22, 8 29 42 PM
[10] You read that right. Complimentary whisky. In the Drawing Room. And it was good stuff too. Craggenmore and Jura. They may have had to refill the bottles after our first night…
[11] Some serious R&D.
[12] My apologies to all those who had to pass me on the wrong side right side. My average speed was around 25mph. Better slow than dead, right? #scaredycat
[13] A few F-bombs and trips around the roundabout later.
[14] Husband had a martini.
[15] Haven’t signed up for Uber yet? Click here and get your first ride (up to $15) free.
[16] A lovely little courtyard bubbling with activity. How is it that we don’t have anything like this where I live?
[17] This is also unavailable on this side of the world. I’m beginning to think we’re missing out on a lot of good bubbly. #getmeouttahere
[18] You know, my friend Kate, aka the Duchess of Cambridge.
[19] Hello, dinner!

File Nov 22, 8 42 39 PMOur day at Highclere Castle was epic. File Nov 22, 8 44 33 PM
File Nov 22, 8 32 57 PM

Quick trip to Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. #DaVinciCode

 

 

File Nov 22, 8 40 29 PM

 

 

The same architect who designed Highclere was working on Big Ben and Parliament at the same time. And I thought I was busy. File Nov 22, 8 45 06 PM

 

Because every hotel lobby needs a photo of the Royal Wedding. Bravo, St.Ermins, Bravo.

 

 

DSC_0136

 

 

Quick walk around Buckingham Palace.