Tag Archives: Sparkling Wine

Vinomoon: a Retrospective.

It’s been a year since my husband and I took our magical trip to France for our Vinomoon (ahem, our HONEYmoon). This week I happened to be doing a little spring cleaning in our apartment and found a notebook we kept throughout the trip, a compilation of the best and worst of our experiences (because we knew we’d forget them later.) So the timing couldn’t have been better for us to open the notes and relive aloud our spectacular journey to Paris, Champagne, and Bordeaux.

Before taking the deep dive down the notebook’s memory lane, we (obviously!) decided to pop open a special bottle that we lugged back with us from France: an Emmanuel Brochet 1er cru Extra Brut. (P.S. if you plan on buying wine on a trip…bring this or this lifesaving apparatus.)

The bubbly was just as we remembered it (though in France we did get to enjoy it alongside the most delicious, melty triple-creme brie cheese I’ve ever tasted). This time, we paired it with a Petit Marin breakfast cheese, which didn’t have quite the same effect. (Side note: I still consumed the 7/8ths of the wheel.) Despite our lack of gooey cheese, the Brut showed all the character that made us love it the first time, with its nose of vanilla, butterscotch, and toffee. It’s quite rich for being extra dry (with only 4 grams sugar per litre), and full-bodied without feeling over indulgent. Flavors of brioche, pear, and – with the cheese – I got baked apple cheesecake (Is that a thing? If not, it should be). It was low in acid, yet lively and fresh, with a superbly clean finish.

Whilst sipping our delicious bubbly, we ambled through the “Vinomoon” notebook, chortling and reminiscing about the trip. The most magical part of the little notebook was discovering the “interview” we gave each other on the plane back home to California.

So here it is, in all it’s glory: our fake Vanity Fair interview on the “highlights and lowlights” of our Vinomoon:

BEST/WORST TAXI EXPERIENCE:

HUSBAND: We were in the Champagne region in Reims and we missed the last train to Epernay (that sounds like a movie title.) No Ubers. No Lyfts. So we took a taxi home. Which cost a whopping 80 euro!

LEXY: BUT…it ended up being the best cab ride EVER! I got a free French lesson from a true Frenchman. (Well, I guess it wasn’t free, it was 80 euro. But, STILL!) I was crabby to have missed out train, but our Cabbie’s sweet musings about his Petite Chien (or was it his Petite Girlfriend? I’ll never know) turned my red glasses blue. It could have been the bubbly at dinner, but Cabbie and Moi really connected over the ride home.

I speak incredible French after a glass (or two) of wine.

 

CRABBIEST PERSON:

H: Lexy.

L: Moi. What?!? I’m owning it!

PERSON WHO GOT SICK THE MOST:

G: Lexy.

L: Moi. I’m owning this too! TWO separate colds, 1 stomach bug, and 1 ear infection. I couldn’t hear out of my left ear for 16 of the 17 days. SEE??? THERE WAS A REASON I WAS THE CRABBIEST PERSON!

H: I got sick one time. I re-infected Lexy for her 2nd cold. Sorry, Lex!

L: What? I can’t hear you.

ON FOREIGN COUNTRY DRIVING:

H: I only stalled one rental car once. I also got a parking ticket and didn’t even know! It was mailed to California. How did they find me? 

L: OMG did you ever pay that? We can never go back to France unless you pay it! PAY IT! Anyway, I was very impressed by Husband’s stick shift driving, but my resting heart rate in the car during the many round-a-bouts was close to 150. (Is that bad?)

H: Lexy forced me to pull over about 7,000 times to take pictures. This cow was pretty cute, though.

 

MOST LOST:

L: Gosh, it happened SO many times. But the biggie was we were unable to find the entrance to Y’quem (if you don’t know of it, Y’quem is the one of the most famous wineries in Bordeaux, and somehow I had managed to procure us a tour.) So I was having full on panic attack that we might miss our coveted appointment. Thanks to our trusty GPS guide (who I deemed “Claire Voyant”) we finally entered the vicinity of Y’quem, but ended up circling inside the vineyard for about 5 minutes till we found our way. No signs. No one spoke English. “This can’t be right” I kept repeating, over and over as our car was turning the middle of a vineyard. Heart rate: 180.

H: Lexy’s an awesome back seat driver.

L: Is that a compliment?

 

FAVORITE CHAMPANGE TASTING:

BOTH: Tarlant! With Micheline!

H: She was the sweetest older lady – the mother of the current winemaker – and it was the longest and most personal tasting we had. They are like 13 generations deep!

L: Our other favorite was at Moussé et Fils with Cedric. It was a gorgeous facility, and he really took the time to endure our (many) questions.

WEIRDEST DINING EXPERIENCE:

L: Epernay. We were sitting studying the menu at a completely EMPTY VERY LONG bar. A tipsy frenchman entered and plopped down RIGHT next to us.

H: We had asked if it was okay to eat at the bar. They had said “non.” So while we waited for a table, the drunk man was served food immediately. AT THE BAR. Before they even managed to get us a glass of wine.

L: The drunk man proceeded to ask my husband if he wanted to taste his “pig insides” and when he politely refused, Drunky forcefully shoved pig insides in my husband’s face, and continually asked us why we didn’t want to taste them. Mon dieu!

H: We were (finally) moved to a table, and asked the waiter why the Drunkard was allowed to eat at the bar while we weren’t. The waiter said: he was “an exception.”

L: Then his shoe fell off and he broke a glass. l’exception, indeed.

STINKY CHEESE MISHAPS:

H: We went to the most incredible farmer’s market in Epernay, right before leaving for Bordeaux. We bought a few things to eat on the train, one being an easy peasy normal Camembert. About half way to Bordeaux…Lexy (who has a ridiculously amazing sense of smell) got a whiff of…TRASH.

L: Something was rotten…and it was in the state of our train compartment. We started sniffing around…feet? No. My purse? No. The Frenchman across from us? No.

H: Food bag? OUI! Meat? no. Artichokes? No. Olives? No. Moldy Chevre? Like the kind that is actually covered in mold? No! Lexy’s right armpit?

L: (It’s a notoriously stinky armpit.)

H: NO! Ah HA! The “mild” camembert?

L: OUI! Nightmare New York City Subway Garbage Cheese Camembert. Even the Frenchman across from us looked faintly ill. 

BEST CHARCUTERIE (AND ACTUALLY, PERHAPS BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE COMPLETE WITH CHAMPAGNE WINEMAKER ‘CELEBRITY’ SIGHTING).

B: Au Bon Manger in Reims!

L: Everything about this little shop was magical…the hard-to-procure Champagnes lining the walls, the perfect Charcuterie plates, the people…and in waltzed Emmanuel Brochet. (Remember the bubbly I described in the beginning? That was his!) We had seen his picture in our “Grower Champagne” book (he’s very handsome!) so we recognized him immediately. He hadn’t responded to our pleas to come visit his winery…so we asked him in the shop. While he was “way way way too busy” that week, I still managed to procure his email for our next visit!

H: I was too nervous to speak so just sat there grinning like a fool. But at least I didn’t ask to have my photo taken with him like the folks at the other table did. We had just bought some of his wine so I pointed at it and gave a thumbs up. There you go! Ha.

 

MOST FRUSTRATING HOUSING:

L: Epernay: our Airbnb smelled like chocolate poop. When we arrived (on a Sunday) there was no TP or soap…and all the stores were closed since it was…Sunday.

H: Bordeaux: our Airbnb was up at least 10 flights of the tiniest castle stairs you could possibly imagine. Guess who carried our SIX bags (one of which was a full case of Champagne).

L: They were missing a WINE OPENER (this is BORDEAUX, people!), paper towels, dish soap, and hand soap, and the sponge was so mildew encrusted we had to buy another one. I was so mad about it I took all the items we had to buy back to California with us (out of principle!). Anyone want a used sponge and a roll of paper towels?

But omg: the view from our little apartment balcony!

 

MOST PLEASANT SUPRISE:

L: Underground wine museum in Paris (that Husband thought would be “too touristy”). 

H: General availability of rotisserie chicken.

MOST ROMANTIC MOMENT:

L: Ugh! So many.

H: Paris, in general. The restaurant Le Soufflé. Locking our love lock on the Pont Des Arts Bridge> 

L: Every time it rained. (I love rain!) So, definitely the picnic we had in Ay after visiting Pierre Gimmonet. We were on the grass next to a river in Ay with our picnic and a split. All of a sudden it looked like they sky was about to open up, so we bolted to the car just in time, and enjoyed the rest of lunch safely ensconced during a thunderstorm. I thought it was romantic! Scientific Fact: French rain is definitely more romantic than American rain. 

H: Mine was when bought an (overpriced) bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé, walked to the base of the Eiffel tower, found a fountain with some rocks to sit on, and toasted each other as the tower lights flashed away. 

L: It rained that night too! Sigh. Also, If you want to know how to pronounce Billecart Salmon, just ask me. I have a recording of our tour guide. So it’s official. Side note: like those in the know, you can just say “Billie.” Pronounced: Billy. As in Billy Baldwin.

H: That’s so weird, Lex.

 

BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED:

H: Trust Lexy’s gut.

L: Trust my gut.

 

Paper: The 1st Anniversary Challenge.

The Occasion: We made it all the way to our First Anniversary! A whole year! It was actually pretty darn easy. So far! Knock on wood…or paper?

The Challenge: To make each other something (meaningful-ish) utilizing paper.

The Budget: In lieu of pricey gifts (good lord…we are still recovering from our Wedding/Honeymoon, people!), I proposed a creative arts-and-crafts gift exchange, which had to involve the traditional 1st year anniversary gift: paper.

May the Most Creative Spouse Win! 

Wife’s Project:

It started as a scrapbook from our Honeymoon, but soon began to feel extremely un-creative. I remembered that I had saved all the bottle caps from our Honeymoon in Champagne, so I decided to incorporate them into my project. I found some wine barrel staves and employed my Dad and our contractor friend Dave for some help (I’ve never wood-worked, people!). We glued the staves together, drew the shape of a wine bottle, and then Dave used his fancy saw to cut the edges and sand them. While originally intended to look like a Champagne bottle, it turned out looking a bit more like a Bordeaux, but hey! I still like it! Then my dad and I made circular holes for the Champagne caps with a drill press and a 1.25″ bit. And no one lost a finger!

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Okay, okay, so I realize this isn’t paper. BUT…paper IS made FROM wood… (So it counts. Right?)

Sort of.

Feeling like I had veered a little too far off the paper-course, I then had the idea to frame our original vows (paper!), so they would never be lost (blood, sweat, tear stains and all). So I took them (along with a photo of our impromptu after-vow-handshake) to Michaels. Never having framed anything, I had no idea how pricey framing can be.

Whoops. Non-existent budget=blown. Sorry honey!

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Husband’s Project:

The Husband decided to actually utilize paper (overachiever). He decided to create a 3-D map of our first “home” together in Sausalito.

Guest Blogger (My Husband):

I found a topographic map of the area I wanted to represent online. The elevation actually goes from sea level to over 1,100 feet in the small area I picked so I figured I would make 11 layers of elevation changes.  I printed the map in the size I needed (8×8 inches) and traced each 100-foot elevation line onto its own piece of tracing paper. I went to Michaels, found some thick paper board, cut it down into twelve 10×10 inch squares, and taped a piece of tracing paper to each. Then it was just a matter of using an X-acto knife to cut into the paper board by following the tracing paper. A few more passes to cut all the way through and clean up the edges before I could stack them in a deep frame. Cutting through dense paper board was definitely the worst part and I could really use a hand massage, but I’m super happy with how it all came out.

a.) My husband knows about MICHAELS? Who is this man?

b.) Ahhhh! We almost had a crafting run-in at Michaels! Holy CRAPFT!

c.) He also wanted to know why Michaels doesn’t use an apostrophe in their name. (We both do, actually.)

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The Anniversary Challenge Winner? The Husband (duh! for actually using paper, for being the most artistic, and for sticking to the non-existent budget).

The Prize? A hand massage! And another year of marriage. (To moi!)

Next year? Cotton…My brain’s already percolating.

 

 

 

 

There’s No Use Crying Over Spilled Champagne

Or is there?

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I are coming up on our first Anniversary, and so we’ve been doing some fond reminiscing on the particulars of our magical day: the good stuff, the funny stuff, and the slightly less funny stuff.

As our wedding day was rapidly approaching, I was driving a couple hours almost daily between our home in Sausalito and our venue in Glen Ellen, which also happened to be my parent’s home and winery. Plotting the wine selection for the wedding was highly important to this geekily-wine-obsessed-couple. The selection, however, was a no-brainer: we would be using my parents amazing array of GlenLyon Winery Estate Syrah, Chardonnay, Rosé, Viognier, and (my personal!) Brut Nature and Sparkling Rosé.

(A pretty incredible line up, if you ask me!)

We did, however, want to make sure we had some other special wines laced throughout the wedding events: a classic Veuve Cliquot immediately post-ceremony, a Louis Roederer Stark Brut Nature for the next morning’s brunch, and a magnum of Schramsberg 2007 Sparkling Rosé for the wedding party joining us at the head table.

Schramsberg Winery in Napa has always held a very sweet place in our hearts: after a tour and tasting there three years ago, my husband first told me he loved me! And I told him I loved him back! Then out of a slight panic I took it back the next day…but only for a week! We went back before the wedding for another tasting (this time, our “love declarations” staying put!) and purchased a magnum of Vintage Sparkling Rosé, with the intention of starting an annual tradition.

So, back to my daily treks between Sausalito and Glen Ellen. Among a huge load of wedding-related crafts/crap, I was transporting the magnum of Schramsberg to house it safely in my parents’ cellar. Not wanting the big bottle to get hot in the car, I put her in an ancient Playmate cooler I’d borrowed from my mom, and stacked some cold packs on top of her. When I arrived at my parents house, I was a bit late for a meeting, so I jumped out of my Rav4 to run inside, then realizing I’d better take the pink Schramsy out of the car, just in case she got overheated. As I hastily opened the back door to retrieve her, the Schramsy, ice packs, and Playmate slipped out the car door and cracked all over the pavement.

Having sworn on the white of my wedding dress I would be the most easygoing and unfazed bride on Earth, I hadn’t cried or moaned about anything wedding-related…yet. But as I watched the beautiful fizz wash over the hot pavement, shattered glass everywhere, my heart sank. Little hot tears gathered in the corners of my eyes. “Don’t do it, Fridell!” I warned myself. “Don’t you cry! It’s just…our wedding wine…” Our pricey, delicious, beautiful wedding wine, which now was sizzling and sticky on the hot asphalt.

I crouched down on the ground in dismay, gently picking up pieces of glass as if I could will the bottle back together. And out came some little whimpers. “No no no!” And then then floodgate of tears. “Noooooooooo!” I imagined how disappointed my soon-to-be-husband would be. I decided to blame the evil plastic ancient Playmate instead of my hasty butter-fingers so he wouldn’t divorce me before we even got married. (I attribute this to Warped Reality Bride-Brain Thoughts.)

Just then, my father came outside (he had probably heard the whimpering moans of defeat) and inquired after the streaks of tears. We picked up the rest of the glass together as I recounted the tale of bubbly woe. “Wait here”, he said, and ran back into the house. Moments later, out he came with the nicest possible remedy I could have dreamed of: a 1983 vintage bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc, signed by Mr. Jack Davies himself!

Well, the floodgates released full-force at the thought of such a thoughtful and special gift from my Father. As he tried to hand it to me, I immediately begged him to hold onto it tightly as I didn’t trust myself to do so. I couldn’t have another butter-finger accident on the same day…and this time with a much more precious bottle of wine.

ol’ Schramsy still sittin’ pretty

My husband (of course) couldn’t have been sweeter or kinder about the situation, which reinforced one of the things I already loved about him most: his calm and accepting attitude towards any life-induced-strife. Sometimes I like to think of our relationship in terms of a good glass of rosé: me being extremely high in acid, and my husband bringing the balance of sweetness that tempers the acid. (Please don’t barf and just go with me on this; we are wine geeks so I’m allowed to use terrible wine-related metaphors.)

In the end, we decided not to open ol’ Schramsy during the wedding, but to keep the bottle (safe) for a special occasion. Not that the wedding wasn’t one, but we both wanted to give that bottle of 1983 our full and undivided attention. And open it with my Dad and Mom. It may even be flat by now, but who cares? We’ll still be tasting a little bit of history.

And, regardless of when it’s popped, just opening that ol’ Schramsy with three people I love more than anything will turn that moment into the special occasion.

 

 

The Monthly 9: July’s “It-list”

Our first wedding Anniversary is right around the corner and we can’t believe this year has flown by so quickly! News update: We are still together (score!), still actually like each other (double score!), and have tons of sage advice for newlyweds. (Joking, joking!) As I scramble to come up with a fun DIY project as a gift involving paper for the hubby (shhhhh! don’t tell him!), I’ve come across some other delightful finds. It’s most definitely wedding season, so July’s “It-list” is filled with wedding related gifts.

Our wedding color was a bright, sunny yellow, and I’ll never regret it! (Though my sweet acquiescing bridesmaids might have…thanks for going with the flow, gals. You all looked stunningly radiant, and my pop of yellow wedding dreams came true!)

View More: http://lmdphoto.pass.us/lexy-and-graham-i-do

Below are my cheerful yellow picks for the month:

 

1. This gorgeous lemon flower arrangement was created by our amazing friends Kari and Ritamarie for our wedding. And while perfect for a wedding, it’s also a fabulous summery idea to decorate and brighten your home!

2. C’est La Vie Hat: “C’est La Vie” stitched in yellow on a wide brimmed straw hat: perfect for Honeymooning!

3. Best Toasts Book:  If you’re in need of a Toast to give: look no further! This little book has all the toasts you could possibly need, for any and all occasions.

4. Yellow and White Wedding Guest Dress: A sweet dress for an outdoor wedding or shower.

5. Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne: A fun bottle to pop right after a ceremony! We had five minutes to slam a quick glass, somewhat “collect ourselves”, and jump up and down and say “we’re marrrrrried!” We used my mom’s antique crystal to enjoy the bubbles out of.(Photo evidence below.) Thank goodness I didn’t accidentally drop it in my unbridled excitement.

 

6. Choose Happiness Candle: Citrus fruit scents bring happiness to your home in this cheerful little candle.

7. Le Creuset Whistling Tea Kettle: Look no further for the perfect gift than this sunny yellow teapot! I use her daily (I’m a huge tea fanatic) and get think of my bestie who gave us the kettle every time I look at it. And they come in many colors (if, gasp, yellow isn’t your thing!)

8. Lemon Serving Tray:  A friend gave us placemats and napkins with this adorable lemon pattern, and now Kate Spade carries a whole set of plates and serving platters to match!

9. Yellow Egg Crate: A cute crate to house a dozen eggs. Also, who doesn’t love a pop of color upon opening the fridge?

Let there be love, laughter, and sunshine in your upcoming July days! Happy wedding season whether you’re a bride or a guest!

View More: http://lmdphoto.pass.us/lexy-and-graham-i-do

(All wedding photos by Laura Marie Duncan Photography.)

Date Night Proposition

The eve of “Date Night” was upon us. My husband and I decided to open a bottle of bubbly and get down to it.

Now, hang on…I know where your mind is going…SO DON’T GO THERE! Let’s be clear: this date wasn’t about anything untoward, so get your mind out of the gutter! It was actually a date to read through California’s 17 Propositions and discuss them.

Sexy, right?

Spread out before us on our kitchen table were our ballot tools: black Stabilo pens (husband’s favorite), our California Election Guide (slightly wrinkled from the rain last week), and my computer open to two websites. His choice: an NPR Station with brief snippets of information on each prop, and my choice: an emoji filled easy-to-understand-for-the-masses voter guide. Last but not least, some homemade crock-pot chicken noodle* soup (truly for our election-weary souls) and a bottle of Bubbly (of course). Which paired awfully well with the Proposition-studying if I might add (but maybe not so much with the chicken soup.)

I said it was sexy, yes?

We decided on an Iron Horse Russian Cuveé from 2007, which seemed fitting in that it has a long history with the White House, being served there through five consecutive  Presidential administrations (and was originally made for the meetings that ended the Cold War.) It was a rich and yeasty bubbly, with a nose veering on slightly stinky Red Hawk cheese, and I think in it’s age it lost some of it’s fizz. But it was a welcome and complimentary supplement to the night’s ballot activities.

Studiously, we went through each Prop, listening intently to the radio snippets, discussing and debating them, chuckling at the emoji’s (and the Porn Proposition…how is this even a thing we are voting on?), flipping between multiple sources of information to eventually arrive at our own conclusions. We stayed up past our adult bedtimes, laughing, talking, bellies full of the historically-styled Russian Cuveé…and all because we decided to make something pleasurable and fun out of what could have been just another ordinary evening.

And now here we are tonight, on the precipice of the election day that will surely change history. I’ll beg my husband one last time to whisper in my ear his nightly sweet nothings about how a certain slightly orange-hued man will not possibly be named President. Ask him to tell me we’ll go to bed Tuesday night with hope of inclusion and forward motion for this country.

That’s pretty sexy, too.

And lastly, she may not be perfect, but what an enormous thrill to fill in a certain Nasty Woman’s name on that Presidential ballot.

Let’s make history tomorrow. I’ll toast to that.

*Not noodles, quinoa. It’s a no-wheat thing. 

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