Joe To the Max (Part 3)

Our assessment of where we stayed in Portland -The Hotel 50; it is clean, budget friendly for the location, stylistically modern, and has a friendly staff. Rooms are a bit on the small side, but have all the amenities one would expect; complimentary Wi-Fi, refrigerator, desk, ironing equipment, hairdryer, iPod/Pad attachment to clock/radio. The walk-in shower however, is an enjoyable touch most hotels do not have. A nice restaurant and lounge area on the main floor of the hotel provide comfort outside the room. Conveniently located in the waterfront area, the hotel provides walking distance closeness to the business district and Pearl District businesses.

Meeting D&V for breakfast downstairs is anticlimactic at best. We recreate some of the shared humor from the weekend, talk over what we loved best about last night’s show, the new band members, and how the show last evening compared to Joe’s past concerts we have attended together. We came to the conclusion “Each show is good in its own way. Every show is a work of art in and of itself.”

I struggle at times like these, I always have. I love the event and dislike the morning after. One moment you are completely captivated, especially being so close, in the second row, like we were for this show. Having all the senses; hearing, taste, smell, touch, and seeing – being fully engaged and sometimes even to the point of being overloaded – visualize pants legs moving, pushed by the subwoofer, blinding flashes of lights, and the volume knobs turned way to the right – if you catch my drift. I think T-Bone Burnett described it best as; “The extraordinary value of the fleeting live music moment.” The encores completed, the band stands at the edge of the stage arms around each other, bowing. The guitar picks and drum sticks summarily thrown out to the fans in front. D and V end up with a pair of sunglasses that Joe throws out.

Then, just like that with four months of anticipation and two hours of performance, the show is over. The next morning you wake up needing to get back home and “take care of household stuff.” Pick the dog up from the kennel, hope he isn’t pouting and giving you the stink eye, and all that.

We attempt to make plans for other summer activities, possibly the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival; this year is the 26th annual edition. Perhaps other things, as the concert schedule is yet to be published for most venues. Maybe we all will take a trip south in the very late summer or early fall. In front of all that planning is the need to coordinate schedules. Oh yeah, that part.

I move fork to mouth going through the motion of eating the meal I know the chef and back kitchen staff have worked hard to prepare. I am not doing justice to breakfast, even with the local pepper sauces that I would love on most any other occasion; say yesterday morning full of anticipation of what portended to be an experience unlike any other.

The realization that I am a changed person starts the process of getting me out of Bluesville. I tell D as we are settling up the breakfast bill that this was a life changing experience and he looks at me quizzically. Expounding further I tell him, “I am sure I speak for V when I say we are richer for this weekend long experience. Not often any more we get to do this together with you and the V-that-chose-you. We are poorer too, because now we owe you both a debt that we will be hard pressed to repay. Being both richer and poorer at the same time because of the same thing means you are not the same as when you started. Does that make sense?” D had no answer, maybe it didn’t make sense to him, maybe his mind was on the other things pressing at home and office, or maybe he was just too polite to disagree. Recounting the conversation to V, she was in agreement. That is how we see things through the lens of our wine glasses.

Upstairs putting the finishing touches on packing, V&I decide to stop at a winery on the way home. “Let’s stop at Smasne.” I propose. Adding, “Remember we were going to stop there during St. Patrick’s weekend but there was just too much other stuff. Remember?”

V answers in the affirmative and we have a plan.

It’s lightly raining again – that is why Portland is so green. With that thought there is the associated awareness too of having to take a little extra caution during the drive home.

Three and a half thankfully uneventful hours later, only punctuated by a compulsory stop at the Dog River Coffee Company shop in Hood River OR,

Mandatory Break

Mandatory Break

we pull into Smasne’s parking lot. This area is a bustling hub of commerce these days as there is a great deal of cars there. Once inside the winery there is elevated laughter and talking coming from the loft. There is a “Special Tasting Event” going on upstairs it seems, so some of those cars must belong to the happy folk up there. We end up being the only ones being served.

Wendy, the hostess, adeptly presents our tasting experience for the afternoon. As she describes each one just a bit before we get started, I notice an announcement on the counter that this winery has been awarded 2013 Washington Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest.

The “Clink” and then we dive into the wines:
2010 Farm Boy Viognier – Floral nose, clean on the palette, not overly sweet, with just enough mischievousness to actually earn the name on the label “Boy”
2010 ½ Ass – a White Wine blend of Viognier/Roussanne/Marsanne. Lovely white, potential for a great summer white. We’ll see and report back as we purchased two.
2011 Chardonnay. Medium color not overly oaked, approximately 6 months in neutral oak and 12 in new French oak.
2010 Grenache. Seems more and more wineries are trying their hand at this varietal and Robert does this one well.
2010 Syrah. Lighter that some of the varietals we have experienced
2010 Malbec. Lighter that some of the varietals we have experienced
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon “Old Vines” made from the product of 42 year old vines. Lighter that some of the varietals we have experienced

All the wines were at the 13.9 percent alcohol level and are from vineyards in the Columbia (Upland) and Yakima Valley (Snipes). Whenever I hear the word “Snipes” it evokes memories of high school times driving around the orchards, hop yards, and the Concord grape vineyards throughout the area and I can’t help but smile. It is the stuff that makes us who we are. Right? This is what Robert Smasne is trying to convey in his wines and it speaks volumes to both V and I. The wines all express a sense of place, so to speak. The Washington Winery of the Year award was well deserved.

I am fully out of the funk now, and it is not just the wine. It is fun to go places, but it is good to be home too. I realize at this moment this is, most likely the underlying reason why the French, Italians, the Californians, and even the Washingtonians each think their wine is the best. I declare this revelation to V and she just gives me that knowing smile of hers and all is back in place, its rightful order.

Now, to go get the dog and check off a bucket list item.


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