Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three Patios, No Effort

In my family, we call this a goof off day.

In other words, we didn't have to do anything, so we spent the day doing whatever we wanted.

A road trip took us west, providing time to debate such issues as breaking the law (some people seem to think keeping up with the flow of traffic negates speed limit signs while I beg to differ) and the purpose of artistic endeavor (I don't believe creativity must be shared in order to be considered valid).

But that's what the car ride was for, to loosen our jaws before a little winery hopping.

With nary a miscalculation, we pulled into Pollak Vineyards where an affable guy was eager to pour for us.

We were soon joined by a couple and our pourer started telling them what a fertile area it was for those who enjoy tasting.

"We've got quite the happy liquid area out here," he said, detailing cideries, breweries, wineries and distilleries.

No doubt Thomas Jefferson would be proud. Or tipsy.

The bold and dark 2009 Petit Verdot was my favorite, while my companion had a tough time transitioning from the whites to the reds.

After some wine purchasing, we settled on the patio, admiring the bucolic view of water and mountains.

Next stop: King Family Vineyards.

And once again my endless talking paid off.

Tasting the 2011 Roseland, a blend of chardonnay and viognier, I commented on the wine's floral nose, a clear indication that the 40% of viognier was making its presence known.

"Oh, so you know something about wine," our pourer exclaimed. "Well, since you like viognier, I'll give you a treat."

Despite not being available for tasting due to extremely limited quantities, she went to the back and returned with a barely started bottle of the 2010 Viognier.

The honeysuckle nose and hints of peach made this mouth-filling wine a must-have to take home.

The Crose Rose, made of 100% merlot, was an easy drinking porch or picnic wine that would go down like water on a warm day.

We met the other people tasting, including two Scottish couples and another who split their time between Northern Virginia and a local town.

Explaining their local digs, she said, "We tell visitors to take a left at the silo and another left at the washing machine. No, really."

And while that sounds charmingly scenic and all, I'd slit my wrists living out so far from everything.

I'm more the visit the sticks occasionally type.

Our pourer got inquisitive, asking me what I did and about my life in general. It sort of came out of the blue.

"I want to be you," she said randomly. "I want your life." My guess would be it had something to do with her husband not taking her our very often, a fact she admitted.

We finished with the 2010 Loreley that had brought us to King Family in the first place because I knew it would appeal to my fellow wine taster.

I'm not even going to describe the look on his face after tasting Loreley's tangerine peel and peach cobbler notes.

So we got glasses of that to take to the patio with a mini picnic of a couple of cheeses to enjoy in the sunshine

As we sat facing the polo field, the stables and the mountain.

Just another goof off afternoon in Crozet.

When we finally left with viognier and Loreley in hand, it was only because the winery's patio was shutting down.

A leisurely drive to Charlottesville put us at Mas at the perfect moment.

We initially took seats at the bar and quickly recalculated, moving outside to the patio, our third of the day.

There wasn't another soul out there with us when we sat down and we were just fine with that.

It lasted less than five minutes and within fifteen, every table was taken.

As I've been reminded on several momentous occasions in my life, it's all about the timing.

I was especially enamored of a patio-sitter's t-shirt, which proclaimed, "Loud amps save lives."

Amen to that.

We were getting the benefit of the fading sun shining directly on us, so another rose seemed in order, although admittedly it wasn't going to be Virginian at Mas.

We went Lebanese instead, ordering the 2009 Chateau Musar Rose, which suited me just fine with the late sun warming my back.

To follow up our extensive cheese course, we had the bacon-wrapped dates (cliched, I know, but so good), empanadas of mushrooms, artichokes, chevre and garlic in a flaky pastry crust and thick-sliced Chorizo.

Ignoring the gaggle of chattering girls at the next table (my companion claims he has learned to tune out that frequency, but I don't have that gift), I got more wine and we decided to share a dessert before hitting the road.

Being a sucker for a good story, I wanted the dark, bitter dense chocolate mousse because it was based on the Sephardic tradition of using olive oil from Andalusia instead of dairy.

It was incredibly dark and rich, but the oil gave the finish a different mouth feel than dairy would have.

Which was only half as big a deal as upholding a Sephardic tradition of which I'd been completely unaware.

By the time we rolled back into Richmond, it was time to go to Ipanema for another dessert, more wine, and the turnstyle stylings of the Blood Brothers.

Nothing finishes off a goof-off day quite like vintage 60s and 70s music.

Tonight's was right on point, pulling more heavily from R & B than the last couple times, delivering bass lines you could feel from within.

The place was also far more packed than previous nights where my two favorite modsters crank up the energy in the room to a fever-perfect pitch.

With glasses of Primitivo (almost time to let that grape go until cooler weather returns) and a coconut creme brulee on order, we commandeered the bench for best listening and viewing position.

The server, a friend, arrived with our dessert and asked if we wanted to move to a table to more easily enjoy it.

I told her we'd be fine sharing it on the bench and asked if she'd ever seen me unable to finish a dessert in all the years she's known me.

Pausing, she smiled. "Now that I think about it, no, I can't. You always eat all your dessert."


Which we proceeded to do while listening to the distinctive sound of music meant to be heard on vinyl.

The Blood Brothers are as dedicated to an era and sound as they are to only playing vinyl.

BB Jamie was saying that he tracks down these great songs on vinyl, only to be unable to get them because the 45 is $70.

Even without some of those rarities, what we heard was shake your booty-worthy and as ideal an ending to a goof off day as anyone could have hoped for.

I'm going to have to agree with our pourer's earlier assessment.

I know how lucky I am to be me.

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