By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 9:48 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

99 degrees in Death Valley. 7,000 feet above sea level in Sequoia National Park. Up and down in Zion National Park. It had traveled from Albuquerque to Santa Barbara across the Mojave Desert and started back East past the Funeral Mountains. At Lake Powell, it was delicious.

I don’t suppose the Pignards ever thought one of their bottles would be  subjected to such abuse. But I had kept it on ice the whole time. Was it too cold when I opened it? Of course; but it was delicious and welcome. I had changed the ice daily, but I had no control over the curves, the ascents and descents, the coyotes in the salt flats, or the heat. All I could control was the temperature in the cooler.

It was Beaujolais, nothing more, nothing less. Not even a Beaujolais Villages. Whoever insisted that wine had to be handled gingerly had never hauled a few bottles across Death Valley.

Do I recommend doing so? Of course not, and I have never dared tried treating my Bordeaux or my Napas so recklessly. But the Pignards rewarded me with a wine that appreciated my babying it across the deserts and over the mountains.

It proved once again that when traveling in country unreliable for its availability of wine, we should and can, with care, carry our own.










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By Sue Shelden   |   Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Halloween isn’t just for pint-sized ghouls, anymore. More and more grown-ups are making the most of the holiday, dressing up, partying and even trick-or-treating. Finally, the wise folks that created the wine app Vivino have come up with suggested wine pairings for Halloween candy–just in time for your big Halloween Bash!

The basic concepts are’t rocket science. White wines are best with fruity flavors, reds are better with chocolates. I’m sure it required YEARS of diligent research, blind taste tests and probably lots federal grants, but the results are finally available to the general wine-drinking public and are revealed below:

Vivino’s Ultimate Guide to Wine Pairing with Halloween Candy

Dry White Wines (White Table Wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Albariño)
Sweet White Wines (Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Malvasia, Moscato, Riesling)
Starbursts, Skittles, Candy Corn, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Rich White Wines (Chardonnay, Roussanne, Marsanne, Voigner)
Candy Corn, Butterfinger, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Sparkling Wines (Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Sparkling Rose)
Nerds, Candy Corn, Mounds, Kit Kat
Light Red Wine (St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Gamay)
Starburst, Reese’s, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Medium Red Wine ((Red Table Wine, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot)
Snickers, Kit Kat, M&M’s, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
Bold Red Wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Aglianico, Malbe, Syrah)
Snickers, Twix, Reese’s, M&M’s
Dessert Wines (Late Harvest, Ice Wine, Sherry, Port, Tawny Port, Ruby Port)
Heath, Reese’s, Snickers, Twix, Tootsie Roll, Mounds

So, Dear Readers, doesn’t this call for a celebration? Invite all your friends over for a Halloween party, complete with paired wine and candy. Happy Halloween!

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Il nous faut sillon qui porte
La promesse d’un vin nouveau.

Yes,  these words from the 1952 Extrait del’Almanach du Beaujolais remind of the necessity of the promise of new wine, especially wine from Beaujolais. I ran across the Almanac in reading a history of Beaujolais by Jean-Jacques Pignard whose family produced the village Beaujolais I had enjoyed enough to send me burrowing through my book shelves. It was a kind of total Beaujolais experience, because I had just watched Anthony Bourdain interact with Paul Bocuse on the CNN series “Parts Unknown” and recalled the times Bocuse had told me how much he liked and used Beaujolais.

As a child, the great chef said that daily consumption of Beaujolais in his father’s restaurant ran to 220 litres, the equivalent of a single barrel. And as I embark on another car trip across the high deserts of the Southwest and eastern California to the Promised Lands of Santa Barbara and Paso Robles, it will be Beaujolais that will sustain the four-or-five-day drive each way, carefully kept on ice, of course.

The biggest reason for Beaujolais is that I like it. I know it’s a wine dismissed by most connoisseurs, but few wines are as consistently friendly, so versatile, and so forgiving about provenance. Nor does Beaujolais care about food matches. Not knowing where I’ll be dining while on the road, I always carry back up provisions of which Beaujolais is a staple.

So between Bourdain and the Pignard family along with my travels, these past days have been something of a Beaujolais immersion. Sometimes things just come together for us wine lovers, and for now Beaujolais stands on my center stage.

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