Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cork Poppers Go Italian! That's Amore!

My friend Roger's t-shirt bore a message to consider:

"I've never been in a vineyard but I'm pretty sure I've drunk one."

Cue the music! I think that's how all of us felt after our last Cork Poppers where we sampled wines of Italy. We met at Barb and Mike's house and it was a bit of a celebration and a sadness. We had two birthdays to celebrate and we also knew it would most likely be the last gathering for Pat, who is moving to Savannah.

Pat's farewell Cork Poppers. A toast.

So, I brought Incanto Prosecco to start us out. I thought it was really good and I'd buy this again -- I think it came from Trader Joe's and I bought it in the fall so I can't remember much else about it. Including the price. But time didn't age its sparkle!

We didn't discuss, we just sipped it while we were chatting, setting out wines and getting snacks.

Our first official wine was Benvolio Friuli Pinot Grigio DOC 2016. This was one hundred percent Pinot Grigio grapes and I liked its crispness.

But Cheryl didn't agree. "It smells like urine," she said, adding upon confusion from others enjoying it, "I didn't say anything bad about the taste." She was reminded that she was sitting by the dog when she made that announcement.

At this point, Barb noted that our newest member, "Bob is trying to figure a way to get out of this group," while Meredith, returning from winter in Arizona noted "I'm glad to see nothing has changed."

Bob might be wondering why he decided to join us!

Barb and I both noted we liked this (and for $10 a good buy) while Rick observed that the "apple comes and gets you from the next room." So I won't be sharing it with him. Pat, Anne and Dick, though, were happy to pose with a bottle of white!

The we tried Roger's Pino Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2016 by Kris. I noted that it seemed deeper and smoother than the other with a nice finish. Dick thought it was more tart while Anne said she liked it and Barb assessed, "This is yummy." At $15, a fair buy.

About now we were ready for more food, especially since we needed to soak up the wine that was coming! Rick brought a loaf of Italian bread he baked that morning and it was delish.

I contributed the antipasto platter, while Cheryl/Dick and Pat brought the cheese and crackers. We needed this for our red wine line-up.

Anne was first with Allegrini Valpolicella DOC 2015. The family has been making wine since the 15th century and the winery itself since 1854. Rick proclaimed this one "delicious!" (But then, it's Valpolicella -- if it's not delish, there's a problem.) He also called it "the best one yet," which made sense because whites aren't his fave and this was the first red. But then he added, "Of all the reds we've had in a long time, this is one of the best."

Someone else said it was like "picking up a handful of cherries and squishing them."  I called it "lovely" and Barb said it's "really, really good." At $20 ($17 on sale) it might not be your daily dash of heart meds, though.

At this point, Dick noted "I think this group has lost a little of its's not just a prime educational experience anymore," (which is how we started.

He then introduced Tenuta Sassoregale Sangiovese Maremma Toscana 2015 DOC, explaining the grape was usually used as part of a Chianti blend. I thought it tasted good but seemed more like a Pinot Noir to me.

Dick reminded us one should remove chilled wines from the fridge 20 minutes before serving and chill reds about the same amount of time.

Bob offered Modus Tuscana IGT 2014 by Ruffino, saying "I have no idea if it's good or not," to which Rick replied, "It's getting better by the bottle." It was an equal blend of Cabernet, merlot and Sangiovese grapes aged in oak casks.  I found it very smooth. It was Roger's favorite. Price: $21.

About now the group had disintegrated into a panoply of unique and diverse conversations and all who brought wine and presented early were grateful their wines were done so they didn't have to compete with the camaraderie.

Pat then offered up a 2013 Villa Antinori Toscana ICT ($21). Her presentation was the best of the day. "It's a red. Enjoy."

Then it was Rick's turn. When we were visiting Kevin and Molly last, we bought several wines at our favorite Italian grocery. Rick rode his bike to the tasting and said, on his way out, "Just pick one!" from his cupboard. Well, that meant we didn't do any background on it. I grabbed the first Italian I could find -- Cantins Paolini Gurgo Frappato Syrah Terra Sicilane IGP. ($14.99) Bob declared it was a good wine and Mike said, "It's real good." So, there you have it.

Our last wine was Mike's Vietti Barbera d'Asti DOCG 2015 by Tre Vigne. Dick noted "It's like Welches grape juice this first sip, and then it's really good." It's from Northern Italy's Piedmont region (my favorite) and I noted it had nice tannins and a lasting finish. It was very dark. At $18 I think it might have been one of my two favorites (the other was the Valpolicella).

On to dinner to soak up all that wine. (I make us sound really decadent but we aren't really that bad -- they are tasting sips, not whole glasses. Just had to clear that up!) Barb always sets a beautiful and colorful table.

This time we had Corkie place cards...

...and pretty flowers (which we got to take home with us!)

They were a nice accompaniment to Barb's 17 pounds of lasagna and Anne's salad.

 It was very good, but as my socks indicate...

Roger provided a birthday cake for Meredith and Barb.

And it was yummy! No candles though!

There is something wonderful about sitting around a dinner table with a group of friends, everyone having brought something to the table, sharing stories, laughing and celebrating.

And the wine was pretty good, too!

For more Cork Popper posts, see the tab above on the menu bar. Wines are grouped by category. Not all wine is available in all locations and certainly vintage years will be past from older posts. Prices may change based on region and vintage as well, but it's an idea.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Trees and Knees

Life as I know it these days is pretty darned good! And busy -- in a fun way. Last weekend we enjoyed an Italian Cork Poppers. I'll have a post on that soon with some of our favorite new tastes from Italy.

Remember the tree-removal situation a few posts back? Well, they came the other day to take some pine trees at the back of my yard. They were very tall and overshaded things -- I wasn't going to miss these guys. But I wanted to be sure they didn't overtrim the bushes or my ginko. True, the bushes in back have no leaves now, but they do provide privacy from the neighbor and that ginko is special to me!

It's pretty fascinating to watch these daredevils shimmy up these enormous trees and hang there from a rope.

That tree on the left -- they cut the top and pulled it down with ropes. When it fell, you knew!

They weren't too keen on my being out there without a hard hat but I kept my distance and used the zoom!

One guy seemed to be a little freaked and another guy went up after him. He was on the ginko which isn't exactly a tree with sturdy branches on which to get a foothold!

I will say they did a good job. I have more light in the yard which means I might even be able to grow things. And they actually were the ones that brought up replacement of my hydrangea they trampled on during their last visit and asked what I would like. So far, follow through is good. But it's still too early to plant things so I don't expect to hear from them for a bit. Still, I'm happy.

In other events, another Harry sighting. Actually, word at the Ditch is that there are two herons so I'm not sure if this is the same Harry as the last post.

Does it matter? Not to me.

I have to say, he doesn't have a friendly look, does he? I wouldn't want to mess with him in a dark alley!

This one?

The alley cat has turned into a marshmallow that purrs.

And what does all this have to do with knees? Well, I was finally moving a broken antique desk out of my garage with the intent of smashing it to pieces in the driveway to fit in my trash can. One of the legs fell off as I was carrying it (and it was solid-wood heavy!) and it went down and I went down with it. Nothing broken, though I was worried about my hand when the cut finger seemed to have affected the whole hand but all is well now.

Meanwhile, the fact that I could consider doing this outdoors is due to one big factor -- Spring is coming to our world. Slow but sure.

Just ask this one! He's been on the lookout!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Look Who's Squalking!

Harry the Heron is back!

Actually, he's been back for awhile. My first sighting was earlier this month. However, every time I had my camera with me, he was elsewhere. But a small detour on the way home from the dentist brought a sighting. I had the camera with me so I quickly parked and tried to follow him up and down the ditch. I almost missed him!

He was far from the footbridge and blended quite well with the environment.

I love a zoom!

He posed rather dutifully for awhile...

...and then he took off!

I never am ready when he starts to fly -- between digital delay and sometimes not having the camera on when he goes, I usually miss it. And he often goes the other direction! (Check out that wingspan!)

But today he was on sport-shoot and I followed him along! (Fuzzy pix -- it's hard to hit a moving target!)

I wasn't quite sure of his path, but hey, no complaints!

When Harry returns, it means spring really is here... matter how brisk it is!

Sharing with: Viewing Nature with Eileen   

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