MWWC 34: Memory

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I have often said that the best part of wine is sharing it with someone.  As such, there are some wines and/or wineries that will always and forever remind me of a specific person, like Teresa & Grape Creek or Nerida & Chandon.  Or even Matthew & Silver Oak–ironically not because we’ve consumed copious amount of Silver Oak, but because we arrived at their tasting room 5 minutes after they closed and I might have had a momentary meltdown that ended 4 seconds later with Matthew flatly informing me to get back in the car or he was going back to San Jose without me.

In case you’re wondering what this has to do with Hawaii: nothing.  What it has to do with is that this month’s wine writing challenge (#34), as selected by last month’s winner Kent of Appetite for Wine, is MEMORY.

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I was trying to figure out which wine holds the most memories for me, however, I realized that was a bit like picking a favorite child.  Instead, I decided to pick a winery.

I’ve talked about the Chisholm Trail Winery before.  I mean, any winery that can get me to love their merlot is quite special indeed–and their 1994 Merlot did just that.  But their cabernets–spectacular: fruity, but dry with just a tiny bit of spice and oh-so-smooth.

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But the wines aren’t the reason that I picked this winery.

Perhaps you might think that it has to do with winemaker, Paula K. Williamson, who is charismatic, has an infectious laugh, and is almost never seen without her signature black Stetson.  But no, while Paula is fabulous and I adore her, she is not the reason either.

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You might even think that it’s because Christi & I spent one hot August day helping Paula & crew pick grapes in the vineyard and then watched the bottling process while sampling some of the winery favorites.  It was a long, fun-filled, exhausting day, but no.  That’s not it either.

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The reason Chisholm Trail Winery holds so many memories for me has nothing to do with wine at all.  It is because the land where the winery sits used to be owned by my family.  Specifically my great-great Uncle Hugo.  Hugo was my grandfather’s uncle and we spent a lot of time at Uncle Hugo’s because he had the best fishing hole in the county.  As a young girl I spent hours and hours at the creek behind the house, which now runs long the south side of the vineyards.  I spent hours running around the old, gigantic trees scattered around the now-winery picking flowers for Granny, who rarely came with us.

It’s been probably 35 years since I last went fishing with Uncle Hugo, but every time I open a bottle of Chisholm Trail wine, memories flood back.  I feel the sun on my face, the cool water tickling my feet, and can hear Uncle Hugo’s hearty laugh.  There are many reasons to love Chisholm Trail winery and their wines.  But for me, I love it because tastes like home.

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Cheers!

 

 

Chalkboard Art: Summer in NYC

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New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I think this accurately sums up today…

A Sugary Float

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The most fun we had (in my humble opinion) on any excursion during our entire trip was visiting the Lihue Plantation, an old sugar plantation on Kauai.

I know you’re thinking: what is so fun about visiting an old sugar plantation unless it is now a rum factory?  Alas no rum–what we did was float down part of the irrigation system on tubes.

A little bit of history on the Lihue Plantation: construction started on the irrigation system in 1856 with the Rice Ditch (created by William Harrison Rice). It wasn’t quite what they needed it to be, so in 1870 the Hanama‘ulu Ditch was built–by hand (well, and shovels, sledge hammers, etc!). It is said that it took up to 1,000 workers at one time to build each section of the ditch and it took two years to finish all the sections.  All in all, the Lihue Plantation’s water system is made up of 51 miles of ditches!  You can read more about it here.

We booked our tubing tour with Kauai Backcountry Adventures, who would be guiding us down part of the Hanama‘ulu Ditch.  After checking in, we were weighed (yep….weighed!  I probably should have had less malasadas for breakfast!!).  After weigh-in, we were handed hard hats, headlamps, and gloves.  We were then herded into large vans (nicer than the ones in Ka Lae) and we drove down some tiny backroads until we reached a clearing where we were dumped out and watched helplessly as the vans drove away.

Just as we were about to panic that we had been abandoned in some Hawaiian Lord of the Flies experiment, we were greeted by a younger version of The Rock (that would be Dwayne Johnson, not Rockefeller Plaza or Alcatraz), who explained the rules:

  1. Stay in your tube
  2. If you’re having issues, let one of the guides know
  3. Stick together as a group
  4. Do NOT say the water is cold

We were then given a series of directional code words and what they meant, which were mostly for when we were in the tunnels and couldn’t see.

Everyone in the group (about 20 in total) agreed to all the rules and dutifully practiced our code words while we lined up and proceeded down a little ramp where the younger version of The Rock would select a tube for us and help us into it.

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April was the first in our group, who declared the water to be refreshing.  Although she is from Minnesota and the fact that the water was in liquid form meant that it wasn’t the c-word.

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I walked up and–with all the grace of a hippopotamus learning ballet–managed to get into my tube aaaaand HOLYFUCKINGSHIT the water is uh, uh, brisk/refreshing/invigorating/bracing.  I sounded a little like Rainman with a thesaurus, but I did not say the c-word (yay me!).

I can’t quite remember what the punishment for saying the c-word was, but when someone who looks like the younger version of The Rock tells you not to do something, you listen!

However as I floated by the younger version of The Rock, he noticed that I couldn’t get comfortable, so he called me over.  After a couple of seconds of watching me struggle to paddle back to him, he walked over and towed me back to the shore.  All of this time, mind you, no one else has gotten in the water and were all watching us.  He very politely and quietly whispers, “I think you need a slightly bigger tube.”  At which point, I start laughing hysterically.

Christi, who was next in line, had a worried look on her face “what’s wrong? what’s wrong?”

Through the laughter I roared “my ass is too big!!”

The younger version of The Rock looked slightly mortified and said “I didn’t say that!  I just think a different tube would be more comfortable.”

And he was right, of course…but I couldn’t stop giggling.

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Once everyone was in their tube, we set off–stopping periodically to let the stragglers catch up to the group.

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The irrigation system had a current moving fast enough to keep pushing us along, but not so fast that we felt like we were in white water rapids.  Along the way we came to 4 different tunnels.  At each tunnel entrance we’d turn on our lights, which afforded us to see things nearby our tube, but little else.

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We laughed, we floated, we got to know other people in our group, and along the way saw some spectacular views.  Once we were finished navigating our section of the irrigation ditch, we had a picnic lunch and were offered up in sacrifice to the mosquitos.

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All too soon, we found ourselves back in the van navigating the windy roads back to Lihue.  It was so much fun! And if you find yourself on the island of Kauai, tubing should be on top of your Things To Do List–just don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray!

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For more information or to book your tubing adventure, click here: Kauai Backcountry Adventure.

Aloha!

 

Sunday Comics: Road Rage

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I’m not 100% sure why, but this makes me laugh hysterically every. single. time.

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I am 100% sure if this happened to me, I’d have to pull over for awhile because I’d be laughing so hard I wouldn’t be able to breathe.  And a general rule of thumb when driving is that if you can’t breathe, you probably shouldn’t be driving.

See, not just funny–helpful.  You’re welcome!

Happy Sunday and if you’re out driving, please watch out for angry alpacas!

Chalkboard Art: The Simple Things in Life

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New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I mean honestly, when it’s in the mid-90’s (or mid-30s Celsius), who could ask for anything more (aside from beer and a beach, of course!)???  😉

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Crossing the Delaware

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Happy 4th of July!

I think one of the coolest things about living in New York City is the close proximity of everything you’ve ever learned about in early American history.

For example: Ann heard about a great flea market in Lambertville about a 1.5 hour drive from NYC, so one weekend we rented a car to go check it out.  It was a beautiful drive.  In fact if you drive about about 40 minutes west out of the nasty, industrialized, polluted parts of New Jersey directly across from NYC, you can actually see why New Jersey is the Garden State (and I always thought they were just being sarcastic!).

As we are getting close to the market, we noticed that we were driving parallel to a rather large river.  We pondered briefly what it might be, but being from Texas and California neither of us knew and service was sketchy at best so we couldn’t look it up.

As we’re walking around the stalls, curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of the locals.

The Delaware River.

THE Delaware River?!?!?

She looked at me like I was crazy….yes, Pennsylvania’s right over there.

I mean, we knew we weren’t far as we were heading to Philly after the flea market (which is the Golden Nugget if you’re wondering), we just didn’t realize it was so close.  As we departed the Golden Nugget and continued to follow the Delaware River en route to Philly, we see a sign: Washington’s Crossing.

THE Washington’s Crossing?!?!?  The one immortalized by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and is considered to be a pivotal turning point in the American Revolution?  Surely not.  But yes, indeed, Siri confirmed it (once we got to the interstate and had better service).

In case you’re a bit fuzzy on the details of The Christmas Night Crossing, Mount Vernon has a lot of information on it, like:

  • Washington’s aim was to conduct a surprise attack upon a Hessian garrison of roughly 1,400 soldiers located in and around Trenton, New Jersey.
  • Washington hoped that a quick victory at Trenton would bolster sagging morale in his army and encourage more men to join the ranks of the Continentals come the new year–and it worked.  The stunning victory served to rebuild American morale after a summer of defeats and setbacks.
  • After several councils of war, General George Washington set the date for the river crossing for Christmas night 1776.
  • The Delaware River is less than 300 yards (268m) wide at the point where Washington’s army crossed
  • It took the American army roughly 4 hours to march from the river crossing site to the outskirts of Trenton
  • Temperatures for the crossing ranged from 29 degrees to 33 degrees, with brisk winds coming out of the north east.
  • Future US President James Monroe crossed with the American forces and was wounded at the Battle of Trenton.
  • Washington’s attack mortally wounded Col. Johann Rall, the Hessian commander, killed 22, wounded another 83, and led to the capture of more than 890 Hessian soldiers.

If you’re interested, the Washington Crossing Historical Park does a Christmas Day reenactment of Washington’s Crossing.  And if you can’t/don’t want to make it, but do want to watch, they have kindly posted the entire ceremony on YouTube (please note, it is the FULL ceremony, not a 3 minute video highlight reel…)

Originally, that was going to be my post, however, since it IS July 4th and we did go to Philadelphia, I feel like I need to include some pictures of Philly as well.  I mean, it was the location of the First and Second Continental Congresses, the Liberty Bell, and where the Declaration of Independence was penned (along with a whole lot of other stuff not mentioned)!

On a side note, Philly is a very dog friendly place–even to the Darling Princess Adelaide, whom most New Yorkers find scary–so we stopped a lot on our walk through downtown Philly so people could say hi and pet them!

Unfortunately, we were too late to get tickets for the tour and Liberty Bell–so we just wandered around for awhile, just taking in the history of the place!

Happy 4th!

 

Sunday Comics: Beach Body

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I know I have been talking quite a bit about beaches and guess what?!?!?  I have found the perfect way to get EVERYONE–that’s right, EVERYONE–a beach body this summer!

And the best part is that it doesn’t require a crazy ass diet that turns you into a raging Cookie Monster by the end of day 1 or consuming an entire grove of grapefruit until it’s permanently on your “never eat again list” or a need to run 937 miles on the treadmill everyday.  

Because I think we can all agree that running 937 miles a day really cuts into cheese eating and wine/beer/margarita drinking time.

It’s amazingly genius because it’s so simple–you don’t need any fancy, over-priced equipment you’re going to stop using after 4 days.  You can start today–and substitutions like “pool” or “lake” instead of “beach” are perfectly a-okay!  You just need sunscreen and some tasty beverages to stay hydrated.  A swimsuit and a towel, if you want to get in the water, are also good.  And if you want to be really fancy you can bring snacks and a big umbrella.

Happy Summer-ing!

Aloha!

The Pilgrimage to (Coffee) Mecca

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Let me start out this post with a bit of house keeping:

  1. Yes, I’m technically late with this posting….although I will argue that it’s still Saturday in Hawaii and since this post is about Hawaii, I’m using that as my justification for the lateness.
  2. When writing don’t forget to click save/update frequently, lest you walk away and the iPad goes into sleep mode and magically erases the last hour of work.  I know this is basic computer 101, but I’m so used to writing on the computer–which automatically saves it–that I forgot on the App, saving is manual.
  3. I realize as I’m typing this for the second time that I suppose I should have started with our time in Oahu, since that is where we started our trip. However, given the fact that I’m retyping this all again, I’m more committed than ever to start with the Big Island. Besides, I don’t know that I’ve ever written about any of my trips in order, so why start now?
  4. Just in case it wasn’t clear in Planning To Get Lei’d, the person who insisted we go to the Big Island so that we could tour coffee plantations was little ol’ me.

Shocking, right?!?!?

I’m just going to pause here for a moment and let all the people who actually know me stop laughing.

For those of you who do not know me and/or haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with me sans coffee, the easiest way to describe my love of coffee is to say that I’m 99.9738% certain that my blood type is C for coffee–or perhaps more accurately, K for Kenya and Kona, my two favorite types of coffee.

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So there was no way in hell that I was going to fly allllllll the way to Hawaii and not go to Kona.  Period.  End of discussion.  Perhaps that is why everyone acquiesced to my suggestion of visiting the Big Island.  Of course, I could have easily made the entire trip about coffee, but I didn’t.  Since my darling friends were kind enough to agree to travel with me to the Big Island, I was kind enough to agree on visiting only one coffee plantation (the parameters set to me went something like “fine, we’ll go to A coffee plantation.  You pick.  You pick ONE.”)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m a big, fat tease and am NOT going to tell you about our trip to the coffee plantation–just yet.  First I want to introduce you to Hawaii, the Big Island.

The best part of the Big Island (aside from THE best pina colada I’ve ever had in my life) is that every where you go, Kona coffee is on the menu.  I was like a kid in a candy shop anytime we went somewhere and I saw it on the menu.  I mean, sure you expect it but when you get there and see that it is an actuality, it’s quite delightful.  Well, delightful to me–I’m not sure everyone else in the group felt the same!

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Here are some more delightful…or rather informative tidbits about the Big Island.  Most of my information comes from hawaii.com, which should be your first stop when planning to visit Hawaii.  And they’re not even paying me to say that, although I would be perfectly a-okay if they wanted to pay me to say that–and visit more often.  Just saying…

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  • Hawaii, aka The Big Island, is so named because it is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands.  Just in case you were confused, thought they were being ironic, or wanted to be argumentative.
  • It is just over 4,000 square miles and is the youngest of the islands.
  • It has 12 distinct climate zones ranging from rainforest to snowcap peaks.
  • It was formed with 5 volcanoes, although only two of them are still active.  One of which is Kilauea, the longest continuously erupting volcano in the world (this eruption phase started in 1983!).
  • One of the most fascinating aspects is how different the weather is on each side of the island.  Hilo boasts an average rainfall of 128 inches, whereas directly across the island a mere 75 miles away is Kawaihae, who only receives about 10 inches of rain a year!
  • It is home to four coffee regions: Kona, Ka’u, Puna, and Hamakua. There are approximately 790 coffee plantations (do you know how hard it was to only pick one?!?!?!) on the Big Island, however, the largest coffee planation is actually in Kauai!
  • The Big Island is home to both a green sand and a black sand beach (more about those later!).
  • The southern most tip of the Big Island is actually the most southern point in the United States.
  • And just in case you thought it was all fun and games and coffee, Captain Cook was captured, killed, and eaten at Kealakekua Bay (just south of Kailua-Kona).

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Aloha!

 

 

Sunday Comics: The Tony Awards

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As you may or may not know, The Tony Awards are tonight.  In their honor, Bizzy Coy at the New Yorker suggested some extra categories this year.  Here are a few of Bizzy’s brilliant suggestions (click on her name above to read all of them):

Best Unoriginal Score

Sweatiest Dance Belt

Most Disappointing Onstage Nudity

Best Cool New Play Based on a Dumb Old Play

Best Musical Based on a Book, Movie, or Trending Hashtag

Best Orchestration of a Scheme to Sneak Out at Intermission

Best Usher Who Doesn’t Take Shit from Nobody and Isn’t About to Start Today

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Ticket Scalping, Sponsored by StubHub

Best Sound Design of a Patron’s Cell Phone Ringing During the Emotional Climax of a Play

Best Gritty, Stripped-Down Revival of a Musical that Leaves No Fanciful Frippery to Conceal Its Glaring Flaws

Best Featured Actor Who Seems Like He Might Be a Serial Killer—I Don’t Know, It’s Just Something About His Creepy Vibe

Best Sixteen-Dollar Cocktail in a Plastic Sippy Cup Filled with Ice That Clatters Like a Rattle, Giving the Drinker the Appearance of an Alcoholic Baby

Best Choreography of a Row of Patrons Half-Standing, Pulling in Their Knees, and Shifting to the Side to Allow a Latecomer to Squeeze by After the Play Has Already Begun

Best Leading Actor on a Phone Call with His Mother Pretending He Isn’t Upset When She Asks If He’s Ever Going to Quit This Theatre Thing and Get a Real Job

Best New Play by a Genius Woman Playwright Who Has Been Working Steadily in the Industry for a Billion Years and Should Have Had Her Broadway Début Decades Ago; What Took You People So Freaking Long

Best Mom Between the Ages of Forty-five and Sixty-five Whose Full-Price Ticket Purchases Keep the Precariously Balanced Commercial-Theatre Industry from Collapsing Like the House of Cards That It Is, Whose Taste Dictates the Shows That Succeed, Who Can’t Understand Why She Is Bombarded with Broadway-Related E-mails Despite Constantly Unsubscribing from Them

Actual Best Musical that Makes You Laugh, Cry, Tap Your Toes, Hum Along, See the Human Experience from a New Perspective, and Feel Deep Emotions Stirring Inside You That Had Been Dormant for Years Because That Is the Power of Good Musical Theatre and Don’t You Forget It

🙂

MWWC #33 Once Upon A Time

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This month’s wine writing challenge (#33 if you’re keeping track or ignored the title of this post) is Once Upon A Time, which was selected by last month’s winner Wining with Mel.

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To most people, Once upon a time probably makes them think of a plethora of Grimm fairy tales or perhaps a certain tv show, but not me.  Once upon a time makes me think of college.  This is because at the time I was living with my BFF and whenever she couldn’t sleep, I would hear her yelling from down the hall: I can’t sleep, tell me a story.

All of my stories (at least that I can remember–it has been few years ago!)–started with: Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a beautiful princess named Christina.  If I were feeling loquacious, my stories would be rather long and involved, often based on my own travels.  If I didn’t, the story would be exceptionally short and sweet, like this*:

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a beautiful princess named Christina, who drank all the wine in her castle. Unfortunately, her sommelier could not get her more wine immediately, so she had him guillotined, and then cried herself to sleep.  The End.

*This story has been changed to fit the parameters of writing about wine.  It is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event (don’t panic people: no castle has been depleted of their wine stores nor any sommelier guillotined!).

Of course, because it is a wine writing challenge, I feel if I just left you with a horror story about a castle with no wine and a guillotined sommelier, I would be banned from further participation in future MWWCs.   Plus, I’m feeling a bit loquacious…so Sissy, this one is for you!

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a beautiful princess named Christina. Princess Christina lived in a big, beautiful castle overlooking a pool small and peaceful lake and sprawling lands.  One beautiful morning, Princess Christina went downstairs to find her cook distraught.  The wine cellar was empty!  The sommelier?  Gone!  Neither of these were through any fault of Princess Christina (despite a previously mentioned horror story).  However, Princess Christina decided that moving forward she would be personally checking all references on job applications.

But hiring a new sommelier was the least of her worries–SHE HAD AN EMPTY WINE CELLAR!  What is a princess to do? Not wanting to wait through the drudgery of finding another sommelier, Princess Christina did the only thing she could think of: she loaded up her carriage and set off immediately in search of great wine.

Her first stop was to find a buttery chardonnay, so she headed west to California.  While chardonnays today aren’t quite as buttery as in the days of yore, she knew she could still find something delicious at the La Crema Winery.

la cremaShe was definitely not disappointed. The 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, while not buttery per se (for definitions, click here!), is still very creamy and complex with oak and melon flavors.  It is hearty enough to pair with a meal, like Thanksgiving dinner, but is smooth enough to enjoy with a cheese course or simply paired with a good book while sitting by the pool small and peaceful lake.

As much as Princess Christina wanted to spend the day at La Crema, her empty cellar kept her on task.  With a few cases of this classic chardonnay loaded in her carriage, Princess Christina set off for Italy (she has a special flying carriage, don’t question–this is a fairy tale!).  Home of Italians, Chianti, Prosecco, Mount Vesuvius, and a delicious little thing called Montepulciano.

 

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The Tralcetto Montepulciano from Catina Zaccagnini is a great addition to the wine cellar as an Italian alternative to the traditional Chianti.  This Montepulciano is quite bold and fruity–although not as much as a zinfandel–but has a dry finish.  It is flavorful without being overbearing and because it is aged in steel then oak it is very balanced.  It drinks well with a wide variety of pastas (as any good Italian wine should!), especially venison ragù.  And in terms of pure novelty/coolness points, each bottle has a small twig of the vine tied around the neck of the bottle.

Princess Christina was very excited to add this to her carriage and as much as it pained her to leave, she still had to make at least one more stop before heading back to her castle.  There was some inner dialogue as to where her final stop would be, but she soon realized that there was only one real choice: Champagne.

IMG_2740Of course within Champagne, the possibilities were endless.  So–being ever the diplomat–Princess Christina decided to randomly pick and ended up at a quaint little house called Perrier-Jouët.  With a plethora of champagnes from which to choose, Princess Christina tried them all several times and perhaps she came home with at least a case of each.  It was hard not to do so, after all it is champagne and one can never have too much champagne on hand!  Like the Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut.  It has floral and citrus notes with a nutty, crisp finish that makes it very easy to drink.

Laden down with a carriage full of wine, Princess Christina decided that she had a very good start to restocking her wine cellar and the best thing for her to do is go back home where she could sit by the pool small and peaceful lake with a glass of wine.  Her only worry now was which wine to drink first.  And as she sat and enjoyed her glass of wine and the tranquility of the pool small and peaceful lake, she reminisced on the fun of her wine buying trip .  While she still wanted to hire a new sommelier, perhaps she needn’t hire one just yet.

THE END.