Natura Carmenere Colchagua Valley, Chile

Hi, it’s me, long time no talk. I swear I should change the name of this blog to the “Absent Wine Blogger”. On some days, it could be the “Absent Minded Wine Blogger”.

I started this blog and my wine journey in August 2009. I needed a voice, an outlet if you will, and I wanted to explore the world of wine and expand my knowledge. Over the years, I’ve completed wine courses and obtained some pretty street cred wine certifications. I’ve also traveled to various wine regions, been wowed by some wineries and I’ve consumed a lot of wine.

The wine takes a toll when you can’t seem to just have one glass. I’m not talking the kind of toll where you find yourself in meetings, counting chips. More the kind where you find yourself in meetings, counting points…food points.

Perhaps this should be my new blog:

Confessions of a Wino

Hi, my name is Kellie and my vice, uh habit, err I mean hobby…ok, my love of wine is making me fat!

It’s been slowly creeping up on me for several years and I’ve finally had enough! So a few months ago my husband and I cut down on our nightly imbibing. At first we cut it down to just 1 or 2 glasses a night and I have to admit, I felt a little deprived. I was so used to grabbing the wine glasses and wine bottle the minute my husband walked in the door. It was just a nightly ritual, like getting ready for bed.

Soon I got use to this new routine and when we implemented another change, it really wasn’t that big of a deal, well after a week or so. That additional change, no wine during the week, gasp!

Still it wasn’t enough. On May 1, I put my big girl britches on and joined Weight Watchers Online. I immediately dropped a few pounds but still needed a little more. May 22, I joined Jazzercise, boosting my amount of exercise to two hours each day, four days a week. On Tuesdays I high tail it from Jazzercise to Yoga and I also now walk for an hour every single day.

I am happy to announce at the day of publishing this piece, I have lost 30 pounds in three months.

I have more to go and I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully, it will be a little more often!

Now let’s get to the wine.

Awhile back I received some wine samples from Banfi Wines under the Natura label. Click here to read about Natura Rosé.

Natura Carmenere, Chili

Aromas and flavors were a little tight at first and benefit from aeration.
Aromas of Bing Cherry. Flavors bursting with black cherry, plum and soft oak finish.
Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile.
Grape Variety: 100% Carmenere. 100% organically grown grapes.
Alcohol Content: 14.1%.
Total Acidity: 3.14 g/l.
Paired with hamburgers topped with slices of avocado.
That’s right, I still eat the occasional hamburger and it’s NOT ground turkey, chicken or any other substitute for beef. On the weekends, I keep it under 5 oz and I eat the bun if I want. If I order one in a restaurant, I only eat half. If I have one at home during the week, it’s 3 oz and I usually skip the bun. For the most part, the bun is just fluff. Give me the meat!

I’m still working on lowering my wine intake on weekends, this weekend I’m going to try alternating wine and water. Plus, since I have a lower caloric intake, the wine hits me a lot sooner, so the water will help to alleviate the buzz feeling.
Stay tuned for more updates.


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Natura Rosé, Rapel Valley, Chili

My husband and I recently spent time in the mountains around Asheville, NC. After a day hiking in 

the Pisgah National Forest, backpack full of granola and Kind Bars and our dog, Rooster, nearly drowning in a swelled river, we really needed a glass of wine.

Ok, really, we walked 3 miles of paved trail in the Cradle of Forestry and the closest thing to granola were the Aldi crackers we had with our artisan cheese and Boccalone Salami on our picnic. As for the dog, he walked into the clean water trough and was in about 2 feet of water. He did however need to be pulled out by my husband, as we discovered Rooster doesn’t know how to swim. So there was

Rooster after his tumble into the water trough.

some excitement.

Another exciting moment was when I checked my wine mail box before leaving for the trip and found a few samples of Natura Wines had arrived from Banfi Wines.

Fruity white peach aromas. Fresh, bright flavors of cherry and black berry. Slight tart finish with a hint of minerality.

Region: Rapel Valley, Chili
Varietals: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Inspired by nature, Natura wines are 100% organically grown and vegan friendly. Grapes are sourced from organically farmed estate vineyards in Chili. Choosing the ideal place to grow, nurturing the land allows for a healthy, organic, high quality grape.

It’s too bad people don’t practice this theory more often with their own property. My neighbors seem to be infatuated with their lawn. They mow every week, even during droughts. They have a professional come over and spray poison on their lawn once a month. Then they water at the wrong time of the day. And they wonder why their lawn always looks dry and brown in patches. Hmm, maybe you’re stressing your lawn out. Glad our well is uphill since I wouldn’t want all those chemicals in my drinking water. Don’t even get me started on the Round Up usage. I did share the natural week killer recipe with them and the wife is on board, just need to convince her husband now.

 Natural Weed Killer Recipe

1 Gallon Vinegar
1 cup Salt
1 tbsp. Dishwashing Liquid

Take caution, while the mixture kills weeds, it also will kill nearby plants you may want to keep. Works great in driveway/sidewalk cracks or rock areas.

Until next time. Remember be kind to the Earth, it’s the only one we have.



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Toad Hollow 2016 Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir – Eye of the Toad

As much as I’m in denial, the time for sitting on the porch while sipping wine has arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sitting on the porch, relaxing in our rocking chairs, watching the birds, or the bats (depending on time of day) but I still feel like Old Man Winter missed visiting my house this year.

All the same, I was delighted to find a sample of Toad Hollow’s Eye of the Toad in my wine mailbox. Anyone who’s been a long-time reader knows I adore the Toad Hollow wines and the story behind them. If you’re looking for one of those Rosé wines that come in a carafe, this isn’t it. I will confess to buying that carafe wine in my early 20’s but I really just wanted to carafe. Anyway, Eye of the Toad is a more sophisticated wine

Fruity peach and honeysuckle on the nose. Flavors of peach nectar, rose and strawberry rounded out with a dry acidic finish.

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir Alcohol: 11.5% TA: 0.66 g/100ml pH: 3.49 RS: .0.21% SRP  – $14.99

Toad Hollow was one of the first wineries in the US to make a dry Rosé and may have helped push the Rosé wines from the red-headed step-child of wines to a very respected member of the family.

I’ve covered the story and the men behind Toad Hollow many times. If you’re not familiar with their history, click here.

Now for something new. Did you know you can join the Toad Hollow wine club? Not only will they send wines directly to you, they’re affordable too. Eye of the Toad just happens to be one of the featured wines this month along with Amplexus Crémant Brut Sparkling Wine, I love this sparkling wine and 2015 Richard McDowell Selection Merlot, a wine in which I’m not familiar.

Breakdown of the memberships:

BASIC                        1 bottle each of 3 featured wines        3 bottles total    $38.37
DOUBLE DOWN    2 bottles each of 3 featured wines      6 bottles total    $76.74
JACKPOT                 4 bottles each of 3 featured wines      12 bottles total  $153.51

I think it’s time I joined a wine club again and I think this may be the one.

I guess Winter hasn’t quite given up his grip. We saw some wicked weather come through earlier this week as Spring and Winter collided. High winds, golf ball sized hail, thunder and lighting. It was quite a show that my husband and I witnessed on the porch, sipping wine in our rocking chairs until the winds picked up and the storm passed over our house. It was better than a Fourth of July fireworks show. I guess you’d say, we’re hardcore.

As always, cheers to Toad and Badger!

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Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui D.O.C.G.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that 5 years ago my husband and I sold our house in rose-regaleTampa and headed up to the NE Georgia Mountains. We didn’t have a new house yet and rented an apartment for the longest 6 weeks of my life. We found our new home within 2 days of arriving, it had land, privacy, basement and the very important fireplace, well it’s an Appalachian stove, so not quite a fireplace.

For 5 years, we’ve lived a quiet life on wooden land, no neighbors that are too close and it has been delightful. I’d often take a walk through the wooden lot that bumped up to our property. I’d walk amongst the trees, both those standing and those fallen, down to an old dry creek bed. It was peaceful and I enjoyed being in the woods.

That’s all changing now as the lot where I once walked, sold. We wanted to buy the land and expressed interest to the first owner (it changed hands after a death) but the new owner didn’t come to us. The day the for sale went up, it was under contract and now the latest land owners are building a house. They cleared an acre of land, I mean who buys a wooden lot and takes so many trees down? Now we have a mere 80-foot barrier of hard woods between us and them. At first I was angry, then sad and now I’m just trying to learn to live with what will soon come.

I’m trying to find the silver linings and the other night it was warm enough to sit on the porch and drink some wine. While looking out across our wooden lot and through the now bare lot, I saw a small piece of the Dahlonega Mountains was now in view. It’s not much and it won’t be visible once the leaves come back but like I said, I’m looking for silver linings. I also realized we’ll get a lot more light now that the trees are gone. This still won’t be our forever home but I’m hoping we can live with people being so close.

Speaking of wine, I received a wine sample for Rosa Regale Sparkling Red.

Intoxicating rose petal aroma, I seriously could not get enough of the delicate aroma. Flavors of strawberry and raspberry, sweet wine but very well balanced. This truly was a pretty wine and I need to find where I can buy.

Using 100% Brachetto grapes grown at the La Rosa Vineyard, Rose Regale is created in one of Italy’s smallest production zones, the Brachetto d’Acqui Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, also known as DOCG. Try saying that three times after a couple of glasses of wine.

Once harvested, the pressed grapes are left to soak on the skins for 2 to 3 days, giving the wine a lower alcohol content (7%). This method also gives the wine its beautiful pink color. Rosa Regale is produced using the Charmat process or Metodo Italiano (Italian Method). In this method, the second fermentation happens in large stainless steel tanks prior to bottling versus traditional sparkling or Champaign methods which occur in the bottle.

I see a lot more wine in my future as I try to get over this new change in our lifestyle. As I sit here typing, I hear the pounding of hammers and loud bangs as the framing on the house has begun…sigh…

Posted in Italy, Sparkling Wines, Wines under $20 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Taralyn Brut Sparkling Wine California

Ever have a go to wine that you can only get at one store and said store NEVER seems to taralynkeep enough in stock? Aldi’s Herres Brut is my go to, don’t need a special occasion to pop a bottle open, sparkling. At $4.99, it’s apparently a lot of people’s favorite because my local Aldi on a regular basis either has a very small supply or is completely out. When I see it, I usually grab all or at least 6 bottles at a time. If there’s say 12 bottles, I do leave some for others but if it’s just 3, it’s all mine.

I noticed I was running low on sparkling so I headed to Aldi and of course, they were out…sigh.

Feeling a little desperate I headed to Kroger knowing they would have sparkling wine on sale for Valentine’s Day. There I picked up a couple of bottles of Taralyn Brut on sale from $14.99 to $7.99.

Fruity and yeasty aroma with flavors of apple and Asian Pear. I say Asian Pear because it had a faint honey and almond finish. Certainly, not bad for $7.99 and knowing Kroger, they’ve jacked up the price to reach the normal $14.99 price tag.

I could not find any info on the vintner, only that it’s produced and bottled by International Wine Merchants, LTD, Modesto, CA. Oh, wine of mystery.

daffodilsTime to talk about the weather. I’m still feeling like we were denied a true winter. Wehyacinth-in-pot had one snowfall and looking at the remaining forecasted temps for February, I can tell you, snow is not in our future again until next winter. Who knows, maybe some freak winter storm will push its way out of Canada but I’m not holding my breath.

The daffodils have popped up and are in bloom, as well as the hyacinths in my garden. These flowers and their intoxicating scent are the only thing that make this early spring almost enjoyable. I have also noticed some of the trees starting to flower, oh it just seems way too soon.

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19 Crimes Cabernet 2015 South Eastern, Australia

It’s Ground Hog day and Punxsutawney Phil says there’s 6 more weeks of winter to come. I 19-crimes-cabsay good! It’s been too warm here in NE Georgia and I some good snow days. I want to be able to wear my winter clothes, I have some with the price tags still attached because it just hasn’t been that cold. I’m feeling gypped of winter, again.

At least there’s wine, and I’ve found a new favorite wine line, 19 Crimes, and they’re affordable and becoming more widely available.
My first introduction to the 19 Crimes line was the 2015 Cabernet. Intrigued by the label, I had to grab a couple of bottles.

Blackberry and vanilla aromas. Lush black fruits and plum roll around the palate. Medium to firm tannins with a long cassis finish.
I’ve seen this priced from $8.99-$10.99. Can be found at Costco now too.

We all know Australia was at one time a Penal Colony under British rule. What I didn’t know , or possibly forgot after some high school test, was there were 19 crimes in 1783 punishable by “transportation” where a criminal was sentenced to live in Australia, versus death.
Those that survived the voyage at sea found themselves in a new frontier where they began to form a new country and a new life. The 19 Crimes wines celebrate the rules they broke and the new born culture.

19-crimes-cab-2Below are the 19 crimes punishable by “transportation”.
1.) Grand Larceny. Theft above the value of one shilling.
2.) Petty Larceny. Thefts under the value one shilling.
3.) Buying or receiving stolen goods, jewels and plate.
4.) Stealing lead, iron or copper or buying or receiving.
5.) Impersonating an Egyptian.
6) Stealing from furnished lodgings.
7.) Setting fire to underwood.
8.) Stealing letters, advancing the Postage and secreting the money.
9.) Assault with intent to rob.
10.) Stealing fish from a pond or river.
11.) Stealing roots, trees or plants or destroying them.
12.) Bigamy.
13.) Assaulting, cutting or burning clothes.
14.) Counterfeiting the copper coin.
15.) Clandestine marriage.
16.) Stealing a shroud from a grave.
17.) Watermen carrying too many passengers on the Thames , if any drowned.
18.) Incorrigible rogues who broke out of prison and persons reprieved from capital punishment.
19.) Embeuling naval stores.

In case you were wondering, all of the inmate photos on the labels are real prisoners. Their stories can be found on the back labels.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be exploring the additional 19 Crimes varietals. I’ll also be waiting for my elusive snow fall.

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Toad Hollow Risqué, Sweet and Sparkling

The tree is trimmed, the house decorated, the great outdoors winterized and ready forrisque-2 freezing temps and that means just one thing is upon us…Sparkling Wine season baby! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the champagne corks are popping, the bubbles are flowing and all of this brings me good cheer.

My song may need a little help but you get the picture. Now if you’ve read my blog, you know I don’t need a special occasion to pop some corks. I actually enjoy sparkling twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday. Trust me, it makes the week so much better.

I recently made a trip to my wine box, it has been awhile. I was expecting nothing but a renewal notice and was contemplating whether to renew for another year. I opened the box and saw the red laminated slip which meant, I have a package. And since I only use this box for wine, I knew it was a wine sample.

I handed over my slip, got my packaged and squealed with delight when I saw who it was from, Toad Hollow Vineyards. The winery is one of my favorites, not only because I love their wines but also the story of two friends.

My next squeal came when I got home and opened the package and saw a bottle of Risqué. I knew exactly when I was going to enjoy this little bundle, while sitting in front of the fire watching Charlie Brown Christmas.

Vibrant green apple and honey aromas. Green apple and pear intermingle with sweetness. While it’s sweet, the balance is so refreshing it’s not too overpowering.

Varietal – 100% Mauzac
Alcohol – 6%
TA – 7.6 g/100mL
pH – 2.83
RS 7.9%
SRP – $15.99

Todd, Dr. Toad, Williams learned wine through a string of jobs, including the 17 saloons and taverns he worked in before starting his own winery. His goal was to strip away the mystique and snobbery equated with wine and make it interesting and inclusive. In 1993 Todd partnered with Rodney Strong to start his own winery. The legend of Toad Hollow revolves around Dr. Toad and The Dancing Badger, two friends who decided to retire to the peace and tranquility of the hollow. While viewing the vineyards one day, the two began reminiscing about the good times and good people they had known over the years. They thought a way to repay would be to make great tasting wines in an affordable manner to be shared by all.

The late Todd Williams is the brother of the late Robin Williams, both men lost too soon. I have to hope they are together somewhere on some spiritual plane this holiday season. And if they are, I hope they have lots of wonderful wine.

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Apothic Crush Smooth Red Blend, 2014 CA.

Can you believe the Holiday Season is upon us again? It seems like just last week I was apothic-crushsweating my arse off, counting down the months until the intense heat would pass. Now, just a week after Thanksgiving and I’m sitting here wearing shorts and t-shirt again. I’m not complaining, I love my shorts and t-shirts and at least now I know it’s just a few days of 70 degree weather and soon we’ll be back to chilly nights of sipping wine by the fire.

Fall was beautiful but we held onto the heat a little too long. Not to mention all of the smoke in the air due to the number of forest fires burning in the area. Now we’ve had some cool evenings and have had a few nights with a lovely fire. The house is decorated, the tree adorned with my childhood ornaments along with the hundreds I’ve purchased as an adult and the front porch is hung with wreaths and Christmas lights.

We all know I love wine but there’s something special about those twinkling lights, Christmas music and cooler air that makes it more divine. Last night I opened a bottle of Apothic Crush Smooth Red Blend, 2014 CA.

Chocolate, red berry and a hint of leather on the nose. Lush black berry jam, black plum and a long spicy finish. I found mine at a wine & liquor shop for under $8.

I’m a huge fan of the Apothic wine line. Affordable, easy drinking and widely carried, but I’m not sure I’ve ever covered any of the Apothic wines.

Below is taken from the Apothic website.
Inspired by “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe, the wines of Apothic are truly unique in style and taste.
Our winemaker, Debbie Juergenson, crafts bold, captivating Apothic blends by using only the most distinctive California grapes. From vintage to vintage, the character and flavor of the individual varietals guide the shape of each blend.
To craft Apothic wines, Debbie looks for a unique blend of grapes to create intense aromas and bold flavors. Each vintage, she lets the grapes guide the way from the vine to the cellar, crafting a collection of unforgettable wines, including Apothic Red, White, Dark, Crush and a limited selection of seasonal releases.
“I strive to tell a story with each blend of Apothic,” Debbie explains. “Whether it’s one of drama, intrigue or romance, the wines of Apothic are truly original.”

Due to the Fair Labor Standards Act that goes into effect today, I’ll no longer be working through my lunch. That means, more time to write and I can get this blog back on track. Yippee!

So, stay tuned, I promise there will be more regular postings. I’m hoping to get back to a weekly post, but will not make promises on that one just yet.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing one of my favorite sparkling wines, just in time for all the holiday hoopla!

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Piperfield Wines 5k Zinfandel Lodi 2012

I know, I’m like the absentee parent that shows up every few months, hangs out for a few 5k_zin_bottle-217x772moments and then gone for another couple of months.

I decided if after work, I stayed off social media, I would probably have more time to write. So let’s see how long that vow can last. My guess is not long, it’s like being Alice Kravitz from Bewitched, I just have to know what everyone is up to.

I received a sample of 5k Zinfandel from Piperfield Wines in July, yes this post is long overdue and finally had a chance to give it a try last month. I have to admit, it was delicious.

Lush dark berries, cherry and dark stone fruit with a long plum finish.

Grapes are sourced from Terminous Island located in the California Delta where the grapes are fed by peat-rich soil, warm days and cool evenings and San Francisco Bay breezes.

Want a wine you can feel good about? Piperfield Wines is the result of a 30-year friendship between two former waitresses whose love of wine and “balance” inspired their 5k and 1k wines. Five percent of all profits from wine sales go to local small charities. If you’d like to submit a cause you support, check out their Grateful Grapes program.


Sorry for the short post but it’s better than no post. Here’s to hoping I stick with my promise about cutting back on social media and no more falling down the rabbit hole.



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Piperfield Wines 5k Verdelho, Lodi, CA

10k_verdelho_bottle1-246x772Hi, it’s me, your Absent Wine Blogger. So here are my most recent excuses for not posting:
• It’s too hot to write – ok, this one is a little weak since I’m sitting in the AC.
• I’m too tired to write – this does have some truth in it, since I’m full-time again.
• I’m too brain dead after work to write – Yep, that is for sure.
• I don’t have enough new wines to try to write about – bingo, that’s a big one.
So maybe it’s a combo of all of the above or maybe I’ve just really lost my mojo, my inspiration, my muse… Nah, it’s the above!

So anyway, here I am, I think the last time I posted was in June when our AC went out. I remember when August arrived and all I could think was let’s just fast-forward through this month and onto September. I’m tired of the heat, the humidity and the lack of rain. This summer sucked as far as I’m concerned and I couldn’t wait for the cooler temps that September would surely bring.

Then why the hell is it still so unbearable and it’s the first day of fall. I’m started to wonder if we’re just going to skip over my favorite season and just land in winter. Cue the sigh…

Ok, I guess that just gives me a little longer to sit on the porch, with the fan on high and drink some white wines. Recently I received a sample of Piperfield Wines 5k Verdelho, Lodi, CA. I have to admit, I wasn’t very familiar with the Verdelho grape, so this was a first for me.

Aromas of mango, peach and a hint of lush pineapple. Flavors of succulent peach, hint of melon and citrus fruits with a nice crisp finish. Too bad it was so warm outside, the wine in the glass kept warming up too.

Appellation: Lodi, Ca.
Harvest: aug 15, 2014
Brix: 24
Ph: 3.35
Alcohol: 13.5%

The Verdelho grapes originate from Madeira Portugal and are now grown on 4 acres on Terminous Island, located in the California Delta. The island has the distinction of being the last island on the western edge of the Lodi Appellation. Peat-rich soil, warm summer days and cool evenings help the Verdelho grapes flourish. There are just 3 vineyards in the US currently growing this special variety.

I love wines I can feel good about. Piperfield Wines is the result of a 30-year friendship between two former waitresses whose love of wine and “balance” inspired their 5k and 1k wines. Five percent of all profits from wine sales go to local small charities. If you’d like to submit a cause you support, check out their Grateful Grapes program.

I’m crossing fingers I see cooler temps soon. I mean a break from upper 80’s would be a plus at this point. I’m hitting the Dale Chihuly Exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens this weekend. Stay tuned as I may just post some pics!

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