RuBen Permel – Act2Art – Wine Inspired Art

Crushed Grapes & Open Minds with

RuBen Permel of Act2Art is an accomplished artist.  He’s actually quite the renaissance man, he is an actor and dancer, a puppeteer, a costumer, a painter, a writer, a film maker….and lucky for me, my friend.

Last year we worked together on a project called “Crushed Grapes and Open Minds”.  I had this idea of finding wine that would pair with some of RuBen’s beautiful art.  RuBen, ever the overachiever, decided he would paint a piece for each wine we chose.  We chose 5 wines and he painted a piece to pair with each.

We spent an afternoon with RuBen while he painted, actually priming a canvas for what became the signature piece for the event.

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more on the details on our Crushed Grapes and Open Minds Event!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And you can find RuBen and his gorgeous art at Act2Art or on Facebook

Wine with friends – A California tasting & pairing

After our trip to the Central Coast, my friend RuBen asked if we wanted to do a wine & cheese party with him at his house.  Well of course!  RuBen is the hostess with the mostest and has a beautiful backyard.  He also knows wonderful people, who are always a joy to talk to.  So….RuBen planned the decor, the people and the over-all menu and I planned the wines and pairings.  I spent several days going through and picking wines from our cellar and then finding interesting facts about each and pairing ideas.  Here’s what I settled on…

Laetitia Brut Cuvee

We needed to start with something bubbly, so we pulled out a bottle of Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Brut Cuvee.  The winery is in the Arroyo Grande AVA which is just south of San Luis Obispo. We had recently done an Interview on their beautiful property  with Heather Muran of the SLO Wine Association.  Starting with bubbles is always a great celebratory way to start any event and it’s a great palate cleanser.  This wine is made in the Champenoise method and the winemaker says his favorite pairing with this is potato chips!  So…that’s what we paired it with.  It was fun to talk to people about this wine and have people share with me their knowledge of sparkling wines.

Tablas Creek 2014 Vermentino

Next we moved onto a white wine, but I didn’t want to do a typical Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.  Instead we did a Vermentino from Tablas Creek Vineyards in Paso Robles.  This winery is known for their Rhone Varieties, and while Vermentino is a little out of the Rhone (although it is grown there under the name Rolle) it is a variety of grape that thrives in the soils and climates you find at Tablas Creek.  It is bright and minerally and we put a jar of wet stones next to it for people to smell.  It was amazing to see people dip their nose into the glass then into the jar and watch the look of realization and surprise come across their faces.  People always think that tasting notes sound so snooty with the wild things sommeliers say they can smell in a wine.  Having it right there and smelling it opened their noses to trying to smell other things in the wines!  Vermentino pairs great with many things, but unlike so many other wines, it is great with green vegetables, so we paired this with a pesto.

Margerum 2014 Riviera Rosé

Onward now to a Rosé.  Rosés are coming back into vogue and you find them popping up everywhere.  While you can find rosés made from Pinot, Zinfandel,  and even Merlot…I love a Rhone or Grenache Rosé best, with a little watermelon and strawberry on the nose, but dry.  That is what we got with the Margerum Wine Company 2014 Riviera Rosé. This Rosé is Grenache with a little Counoise and Cinsault.  The Grenache for the most part is done in the saignee method, then a bit of Counoise and Cinsault are added as well as a little barrel aged Grenache.  As Rosés notoriously go well with anything pink, we paired it with a prosciutto.

Carhartt 2012 Pinot Noir

It was time now to go a little darker.  We pulled out a 2012 Pinot Noir from Carhartt in Santa Barbara. The Carhartt’s are the same Carhartt’s you think of with work clothes. The family owned a ranch in Santa Barbara where they raised cattle for years.  Mike Carhartt and his wife Brooke planted grapes on the land and now it is a family affair with son Chase studying wine making and assisting in the process. This particular wine is not grown on their estate but comes from Riverbench Vineyard up in the Santa Maria Valley where they grow some amazing Pinot Noir.  We paired this with cheeses; goat cheese, gouda and baked brie!

Carhartt 2012 Sangiovese

We continued with a little more robust red with a Carhartt Sangiovese.  This wine was estate grown and smells of cherry, fig, cola, all spice, sweet oak and rose petal.  I had a fresh burrata from the Downtown Summerlin Farmers Market that paired perfectly with this!

Tobin James 2009 Fat Boy Zin

I must admit that we don’t drink alot of big reds these days.  Most are just a bit too big to pair with a meal.  At one time we were members of the Tobin James wine club and we have a bunch of great big fat Zins from them, that I have not yet opened.  So…here was an opportunity to open one and see how it was.  Did it mellow with age or would it have gone flat and passed it’s peak?  We opened a 2009 Tobin James Fat Boy Zin.  It is an over the top Zin that Tobin says is “like the best friend you had as a kid; big brash and maybe slightly obnoxious, but always loved!”.  This is definitely big with the alcohol level sitting at 15.8%.  But indeed, this big boy was loved by many at the party.  We paired this with Smoked Gouda, but truly this big Jammy Zin would go best with bold bold BBQ.

Carol Shelton 2008 Black Magic

We ended the eveningstepping a little further north, with a late harvest Zin by Carol Shelton her 2008 Black Magic from Sonoma County.  Late harvest wines are those that are left on the vine to let their sugars develop and often they will leave them to raisin on the vine concentrating the sugars even further.  This dessert wine screams for chocolate and indeed we paired it with that, but also with a lovely Stilton. The sweet wine and the savory cheese are a perfect combination for finishing an evening.

This was an amazing evening with around 20 people just mingling talking about the wines and whatever else came up and meandering around RuBen’s beautiful backyard with little seating areas tucked here and there.  We enjoyed the wine, the company and conversation as the sun set and the stars came out.  Yep, wine with friends…what could be better?

Wine Party with Friends

Wine Party with Friends

My cellar and how I keep track

Wine Bottles

Often we start out as wine enthusiasts by mistake.  We head to wine country on vacation and come back with a mixed case, and while we were there we joined a couple of wine clubs.  Then we travel to a different part of wine country and do it all over again.  Before you know it we have a cellar.  Well…if you call a few cardboard boxes full of assorted wines a cellar.  Where do we go to from here?  I mean we are members of a wine club (or two or 5 or so) and more wine will be coming.  So we stick the boxes in the back bedroom.  If we are lucky, we have a spare bookshelf that we repurpose for wine storage.  Maybe just having a spare room is lucky! This blog post is to tell you my story of cellaring.  It is not in it’s completed form.   I like most of you am on a budget and can’t afford to have a special climate controlled wine cellar built into my home with the perfect temps for different varieties and electronic tags to let me stroll with my tablet and see what is ready for drinking.  So…I will share with you my story. And while I’m at it, I will do a bit of research to see where I might head next with my goal to keep and preserve the wine that I have until it’s perfect apogee.

Aha!  Apogee!  So I searched through online systems for setting up my cellar and for doing tastings and came up with Vinocella.  Vinocella has a great term that they use which is apogee.  They have a place to enter what they call “advices”.  These include “Maturity from” and “Maturity to” as well as “Apogee from” and “Apogee to” . In the program (which you can use on an I pad or I phone, you can sort your wines by Maturity so that you can find the wines in your cellar that are ready to drink.  Those wines are “Perfect…Apogee”  or at their peak.  This is of course based on the noun meaning at their farthest or highest point.

So our wine cellar has been growing since our first trip to Temecula followed by the trip to Napa and the trip to Willamette OR and then back to Temecula and to Sonoma and to Santa Barbara and back to Los Olivos, a little dabble in Virginia Wine Country and then a stop in Missouri…well we got hooked.  And as we got hooked we ended up with multiple wine clubs, plus many bottles that we returned home from trips with.

We were lucky enough to have a spare bedroom.  It had bookshelves and we cleared one out and make it work for wine.  We kept the room cool in the summer and closed the vent to keep the heat from hitting this room in the winter.  As the number of wines grew, we picked up a small wine fridge for white wines and sparkling wines that we keep in the dining room and then we realized that we need additional space.  Well for us a mounted wall rack did the trick and had plenty of room.  So…as we moved wines and filled it and updated the Vinocella database with wine placement I realized that we had all these wines but they were really difficult to sort through.  Yes, I had the iPad with the database, but would we ever keep that up to date?  And did I have maturity dates for any of my wines in there?  So I embarked on a project to research and find the maturity dates for the wines and to tag them, so when on the spur of the moment we needed a wine for dinner, we could choose one that we ought to be drinking!  The cellar as you can see is not glamorous but it is functional!

Not the most glamorous wine cellar

In doing this I searched through winery websites (some of which like Tablas Creek are full of great information and gave me everything I needed).  Sometimes I hit to find what the drinking window was according to others who owned this particular wine.  On a side note, I have spoken to many who love Cellar Tracker for keeping track of their wines.  I also find that I have a need for an app that can do tasting notes.

When I didn’t find what I needed on websites I went to the wine club notes and often found great information there (like Tobin James for instance).  When both of these options were exhausted I took to e-mailing or facebooking the wineries to see if they could provide me with their insights on cellaring and the perfect drinking window for their wines.

I received many prompt and very informative responses.  Some of these were directly from the wine makers which upon occasion made me swoon!  So now I was able to put this information into the Vinocella program and I added tags to each bottle!  We had already divided our reds going from light to heavy, similar to a tasting order in our rack.  So now I added red tags with the winery name the vintage and the wine with the drinking window at the bottom.  So even if we didn’t have the ipad out, we could find a bottle that needed drinking!

This is just the beginning.  I have completed my research on my wines, now it is time to research about cellar practices and maybe find some tips that would work for us…stay tuned!