Friday, March 27, 2009

Syrah Tasting at D'Vine Wine Cafe

When you think of a vertical wine tasting, you might think that it means you have to drink standing up. Or maybe you'll walk in and see the glasses stacked one on top of the other like a purple, glass fortress. And although you're free to do both, there's more to the idea than just geometry.

On Wednesday night the 25th of March, between rain storms and wind, we gathers to find out what a vertical tasting is. In essence the term refers to sampling wines of the same grape usually from different vintages but from the same vineyards but we twisted the term a little and did the same grape but different regions completely. We chose the Syrah grape (known as Shiraz in Australia) because its flavors are so versatile and yet dramatically different. If you're going to learn about wine and learn how to recognize a certain grape, vertical tastings are a good part of your protocol.

As we entered the well appointed and plush room at D'Vine Wine Cafe, we were handed a glass of Black Bubbles; the title for this bouncy and party-starting sparkling Syrah called Shooting Star. Besides the fact that most women in the room decided to buy a bottle to take home, the audible ahhhs and oooh's were more proof of its popularity! ($15.99)

There's a lot of chatter about Americans shying away from French style wines but I think it's just because they don't know how exquisite they are with food or their palette is geared towards the wines they've always liked. Believe me, you'll like this Domaine Des Cedres, Vin de Pays du Gard, Syrah. (Cool name, eh? Oui!!) The nose is almost truffle like but with a little sun shining through to add an aroma of green plants and warm earth. The taste hands you a mouthful of fruit but it's masked in layers of different flavors that unfold for several seconds after you swallow your first sip. In fact the wine changed throughout the night and we enjoyed going back to it to give our tongue a treat. ($14.99)

Gravity Hills Base Camp Syrah took the room by storm. It's the wine you came for. Peppery and mouth filling it begs you to swish it around for as long as you can. The fruit bursts out of the glass, coating your taste buds with dark fruit and licorice. The list of foods eager to join it at your dinner table are as long as the conversations we enjoyed that night. Check it out. ($14.99)

An organic gift with a story to match, (ask Justin, General Manager of D'Vine to fill you in), the 2007 Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz has a story that will make you wanna be green. Zero filtration, zero fining and minimal intervention it tastes so much more mature that the date would convey. But while you're listening, open and enjoy a bottle of this great wine. It's natural, juicy, soft and drinkable. You'll be on bottle number two before you know it. ($12.99 - amazing!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Liquid Metaphors

As wine lovers, there is a natural curiosity about the journey of the grape to the glass aside from the pleasure it gives you when tasted. We hold wine bottles like museum treasures, admiring labels, gently inspecting the familiar indentation in the bottom of the glass cylinder, and when the cork is removed (or more and more often the top is unscrewed) we can’t help but pause in anticipation of what the liquid will look like as it cascades into our goblet.

Do we have this same fascination and yearning when making connections with other women or with potential clients, or even with the friends and acquaintances we make every day? Are we thinking about what made them who they are, what kind of a journey they have traveled to arrive at this moment in our life? We would be better off if this logic was used with every human we approach.

For Networking, Women and Wine, the vino we enjoy during our events is more than just the icing on the cake of connections, it’s the mascot of our mission. We look to formulate metaphors based on the wine experience to help define ways to create authentic and meaningful alliances, resources and friendships. We also look to the process to help uncover ourselves and the amazing value we have to offer as individuals, not as faces lost in a crowd of monochromatic followers.

If you think about wine it cannot be made alone. It is not naturally occurring but is the product of nature (the terroir and chemistry) art, (the wine maker, vineyard manager) and time.
It is one of man’s first inventions and is aligned with thousands of years of our human history.

Ancient wine drinkers, (if not inebriated most of the time!) experienced better health and reproduction, and wine is a part of many of our collective, human, ceremonial histories. Grapes are the largest fruit crop on earth and are fairly adaptable plants, growing in a wide variety of soil types, from light sand to packed clay, and flourish around the globe.

All of these combine to serve as a vehicle for us to present ourselves as women, daughters, sisters, mothers, neighbors, angels and friends. We meet as women to enjoy and learn about wine - this drink that so closely resembles our struggles and triumphs through life - to create another chapter in the history of wine and enhance the future of every women who joins us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A mini vacation by the glass

I took a trip on Sunday. I didn't have to go far but it was wonderful. On this sunny afternoon, I found myself sitting under a lemon tree enjoying the sound of buzzing bees. I was smelling the new mown grass under my toes, savoring the pungent but sweet aromas of the severed blades that were obviously thrown violently aside, like so many organic soldiers.

In my hand dripped the sweet and sticky juice of the grapefruit I was enjoying. Cutting each segment into bite sized morsels of Spring I relished the citrusy liquid on my tongue; the bright floral notes of each little exquisite sac of champagne colored liquid.

Then, just as I thought about running into the meadow for good, I was snapped into reality with the question, "would you like another glass?"Oh yeah I was really at the bar of the new Wine Shop at Rivergate on Tryon and 160, in Charlotte. And in my hand was a glass of 2008 Whitehaven Savignon Blanc from New Zealand that was fast becoming a memory, but one that would never be forgotten. (I should say so-- for $14.99 a bottle, it was a great value!)

I had labored over my choice for the afternoon sipping. Finally settling on the Spring-Fever-antedote of a good Sav Blanc. A sniff into the glass and I was smelling grass clippings, and I could taste the oily and bumpy lemon rind as though I had it in my palm. The first sip exploded into grapefruit and gooseberry, finishing with a hint of orange blossom and contentment.

This is a great place to browse the isles of well chosen wines, and the south wall is packed with boutique brews and stunning ales. The menu was hard to get through because everything looked divine. They offer cannollis and handcrafted cheeses along with flat breads, salads and soups (and so much more!).

I may not have been outside on a summer day, lulled to sleep by the sound of popping blossoms and the taste of the tropics, but it felt like it. You can discover your own sensory getaway next time you visit The Wine Shop at Rivergate. Oh, and ask for the wine steward David. He'll take good care of you.
Our wine group, Networking, Women and Wine, have planned to hold one of our events at this location so check us out!

Find them at 14142 Rivergate Parkway, Ste. 200. Charlotte, NC 28273. Or visit their original shop at Foxcroft on Fairview Ave in Southpark.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Green, St. Patrick's Tasting with Childress Vineyards

St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in 387 AD under Roman rule. After a kidnapping at 16, imprisonment, and escape he dedicated his life to his beliefs and changed the belief system of the country of Ireland forever.

I share this because much like wine, whose journey twists and turns from the vine to the tongue, our life's passions take us in many directions before our true expression is unfolded.

Take Nascar Racing icon and powerhouse Richard Childress, owner of Childress Vineyards. It's a story about following a passion that is different than your original course. It is evident that he knows surrounding himself with the best talent, attending to every detail and pleasing people will always bring success.

This passion and the perfection of it was evident during an exquisite winemaker's dinner held in the barrel room at Childress Winery, Tuesday March 17, 2009. Hosted by his talented winemaker, Mark Friszolowski, we spent an evening enjoying a completely green menu with foods harvested and grown locally.

Tasting up to 11 wines, our palettes were tickled with flavors from sea to earth. Seated at a long wooden table, decorated with stones, twigs, candles and satin and punctuated with large floral bouquets of white and green, we heard about Childress history, drank pre-release whites, sold out reds, and remarked at the mouthwatering pairings before us.

A sampling of our gastronomic adventure included the matching of a burnt red Heirloom Charred Tomato Bisque soup with their pre-release Trio white wine blend. A crisp, full mouthed and refreshing wine. Release of this new Trio blend is happening April 24th so don't miss out!

Another of our favorite taste sensations was the Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream, Chives and Caviar. Heaven on a fork for us and the smooth, velvety salmon woke up the amazing floral notes of the Rose of Cabernet Franc.

The Braised Short Ribs had been cooking all day, according to one of the chefs seated near me, to enjoy a rare night on the other side of the kitchen. She said the aroma and flavors had been filling the winery with anticipation for the evening's event. By the time the meat arrived in front of us, the collective sigh that rose from the 100 people seated at the long table seemed to flicker the lights strung above us. Paired with the NC Fair Best of Show Winning 2004 Syrah, long sold out, we knew this memory would never fade.

As the last food course was cleared, we were poised for our Irish Bread Pudding which paired with the 2008 Late Harvest Viognier, convinced us that the luck of the Irish is best celebrated with wine, and being green.

Cheers to you Mark and Richard and your staff Ron and myself, and from the women in Networking, Women and Wine!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spread the Word, Life is Good!

I don’t know about you, but the air seems positively electrified these days. Perhaps it’s fear gone wild, or our medication wearing off, but I sense a hidden optimism just waiting to be tapped.

How can we as women help spread the idea that life is good? Statistics confirm that the lion’s share of new businesses started on our country are started by women. Many of us, without fear and with dreams in hand, gather around kitchen tables, in the parking lots of our kids’ schools, in the checkout line at the store, and even on treadmills in our bedroom, to brainstorm and dare to imagine the world with our solutions in it.
It’s this kind of authenticity that we’re celebrating as this year’s theme for NWW, and it’s definitely the ingredient you need to make sure your business will grow and thrive in spite of the downturn.

I recently reached out to a woman I met in March of last year, that I had included in our Networking, Women and Wine database and hadn’t heard from. Thinking our emails were languishing in her spam folder, I called her to reconnect. She began to tell me all the good things happening in her life and the lives of her family, including her move to a new city, saying that she has decided even to stop listening to her beloved NPR to keep the bad OUT of her life and leave room for the good.

In the midst of our conversation she asked me if I had any advice to help her network in her new city, as she is a social creature like most of us here tonight. In a flash of inspiration I realized she had just created her own solution. By telling me that she has so much good news around her and she’s tired of hearing about the bad she can begin connecting on that premise alone.

I told her how NWW started; a group of business friends who wanted to spend time together and offer each other support and friendship aside from the agenda of some structured business building model. I suggested she form a her own networking group by finding a couple of people who wanted to share and concentrate on good news. Through beginning a blog, a coffee meeting or connecting it with any other passion, she can begin to promote good energy and expand her sphere of influence.

You can do this too! Give something of yourself that offers help and friendship and then others will return the goodness. And from there your authenticity will grow and begin to heal all those around you.

Spinning, Sipping and Seeing

I'm enjoying a glass of Shelton Cabernet Franc and thinking about how the world is spinning faster than I'm used to. I feel like there's no safety net and no straps to hold me in and I wonder if we all feel that way right now.

The wine slides down like I'm wrapping myself in a claret, velvet cape. My lips giggle with anticipation as each swallow glides easily past the taste buds that feel they're denied a longer embrace with the aged liquid.

Sure, the lasagna that I created tonight was a crowd-pleaser. And half of the concoction is hibernating in my freezer until the next meal calls. But it's the dance with the glass I need tonight as I hold on to what hasn't changed in the face of events that define why we wish Monday's could simply slide off the calender to be left behind forever.

I'm remembering the soothing vibration of a deep yoga breath I called forth to ease my fears, earlier today. Quelling my panic until I could measure my day against my health, my happiness, and the warmth of my bed in the morning light.

Then, as I wallowed in my own fear I recall my chance encounter with the faces and stories of women I found online. Powerful ladies who have the strength to smile through their cancer while I cling desperately to the purple glow on the skiff of snow that blankets the lawn outside my March window knowing that I must stop crying without reason for a future yet unknown.

My glass is almost empty and like the end of a visit with a friend, you realize that you feel better already and what you're worried about isn't that bad. That there are people around that still need you to be whole, and they're waiting for you to heal them when their world is rocked.

I think I'll pour another, and fill the sink with sudsy, white clouds to immerse the remnants of meat and cheese. I'll sip awhile longer and ride the ride I'm on today. Spinning as it may, in ever increasing revolutions, my world, my present moment, is still the only way to experience the life I have been given. And I'll enjoy it because I own it and it goes so well with the wine, and the sunrise that I know tomorrow will bring.