Valentines Day – Past, Present, and Future

It’s Valentine’s week…
A great amount of activity was planned for our life this week. We attended the Barnard-Griffin special Valentine’s dinner at their bistro on Thursday evening and courtesy of some good friends we attended the Terra Blanca release party for their 2009 ONYX red blend on Friday. I thought we were going on a little wine adventure during the Red Wine and Chocolate event weekend too. However, as it turns out the grandbabies came for a short visit and so the world revolves around them. As it should when one is that age – time enough for the reality of life later. Besides, B&V can have red wine and chocolate any time they jolly well please…

Dinner at the new addition to Barnard-Griffin, the Wine Bar and Bistro, was a four course affair and very pleasant. V&I really like what they are doing with the winery. It suits Deb’s glass artisanship and Rob’s stature as one of the premier and longest practicing winemakers in Washington. It is readily apparent a great deal of thought went into the ambiance of the wine bar as it allows for great conversation in a modern atmosphere. This time was no exception. V is presented with a calla lily upon our entrance and it seems that Elise Barnard Griffin herself is going to be presenting the meal to us. Wow!

The menu starts with an appetizer of a shrimp cocktail or a Cougar cheese and bread platter. We chose both, split them, and paired the result with the 2012 Rose’ of Sangiovese.

The ritual plays out as it always does…the visual inspection of the color, the deep inward breath of the contents in the glass, the swirl, another deep breath, and “The Clink”
“Your heart” she says
“Your spirit and your beauty” I respond
Then, I change it up a bit.
After all, life should have its surprises now and again, shouldn’t it?
As she puts the glass to her lips for the first taste I add,
“Happy 10th Anniversary of our 1st Valentines” I am nothing if not the ever hopeful romantic.
She smiles at me and it seems there is more than a bit of moisture welling up in the bottom of her eyes, threatening to spill out if someone doesn’t change the subject and quickly.

This Rose’ has consistently showed well. In fact, at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition it has won an unprecedented best of category for seven years. The 2012 seems to be just a degree sweeter and the nose more floral than it has been in previous years but still provides just the correct amount of balance, all things considered. V observes it is the perfect Valentine color. What a fantastic start!

The second course of the meal is an offering of salad or soup. The salad is a Caesar type presented on baby Romaine leaves. The soup is a rich French Onion with a floating crouton. We chose to pair those with the 2011Viognier. We clink again and I repeat the sentiment for a second time. The wine has a floral and fruit note with that pairs well with the salad and its’ curls of parmesan. However, the wine’s lightness and balanced acid after a spoonful of the soup does nothing but set one up for the next spoonful. Up until that moment I hadn’t been a fan of French Onion soup, and a song started playing in my head, the Monkees, “Hey! I’m a Believer Now.” Light brown, soft and creamy, and strands of tender, perfectly cooked onion. Oh my!

We agree at this point that Nathan and Stephanie, the chefs, have exceeded our expectations to this point.

The third course is a chicken alfredo lasagna or a thick slice of prime rib. Included with the entree’ are small red new potatoes and asparagus. It just gets better and better. V has half her glass of Viognier remaining but I choose to have a glass of the 2007 Clones 21/10 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is from a block 7 of the Columbia Valley vineyard, Sagemoor Farms. The dark fruit and mocha aromas certainly do nothing but start the anticipation of the prime rib and wine pairing. It is a “Big Cab” and the long finish works wonderfully well with the beef. Elise brought a steak knife for me to use, but I didn’t need it, the prime rib was fork tender. The food seems to be piling up, and we are reaching the point where we start talking more than we are eating.

We talk about our 1st Valentine’s wine, a Marietta Old Vine Red Blend, how we started on this journey together, and how the important times in our life were made better by a bottle shared, regardless of the price point. We reminisced about having only one bottle of red to drink, a bottle of 2002 Leonetti Merlot given as a gift, which we opened and drank with a meal of left over hamburgers grilled the night before, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and canned green beans. At that time we were completely, truly, and naively unaware of the value of that bottle. When we related the story to the couple who had gifted us the bottle and also assisted in our apprenticeship of wine education and enjoyment, laughed heartily, gave us another bottle, and said, “Try to elevate the meal you enjoy with this bottle. Please.”

I will say here that it hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows as we have dumped complete bottles down the sink at home when they didn’t meet standards. Those little speed bumps haven’t fazed us though because we open another to get us back on the right path. There’s something to getting back on the proverbial horse once you been thrown.

Back to the meal. We realize we’ve finished the lasagna but only taken one bite of the prime rib and decide to request “box that to go, please.” Because after all, a desert of a cubed cheesecake dipped in chocolate and served with fresh berries is the veritable piece-de-resistance.

Once the desert and pour of Rapport arrives we clink for the third time to seal the deal. Just in case V’s forgotten in-between courses, I also repeat what I’ve said two other times about this being an anniversary, of sorts. The desert is just enough and paired with the Rapport, is a fitting finish to an outstanding dining experience. Thanks Elise, Nathan, Stephanie – the 10th anniversary of our 1st Valentines will be well remembered. Thanks Rob, for crafting such wonderful wine all these years.

We are sated. We’ve squirreled away a reminder cork to mark and put into our big clear glass vase of other marked reminder corks. Nothing left now but to pay the bill, take the to-go box, and drive home. I am thinking during the drive “It’d be nice not to have bucket seats.” We talk about plans to attend an upcoming wedding, and our OTBN next week.

We pull into the garage, enter the house, and are summarily greeted by the dog who has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of “his humans.” We let him out. After a few minutes he’s smelled whatever and done whatever. He is ready to come in and my mind is elsewhere.

I’m thinking about breaking out a certain gifted Leonetti for leftovers tomorrow. Or, maybe we should save it for OTBN next week.

V looks at me and asks, “You wanna?”

I reply grinning, “Am I breathing?”

Cheers, Happy Valentine’s Day – B&V

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