Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva 2013

W Nozzole ChiantiSangiovese from Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

100% sangiovese

13.5% alcohol by volume

els 9.1/10

Vinous 93

Wilfred Wong 90

The Italians, Ambrogio, and his son Giovanni, the seventh and eighth generations of wine makers in the Folonari family, acquired the Nozzole Estate in 1971; continuing the family tradition of producing fine Tuscany wines since the 1700s.

The Nozzole Estate, less than 20 miles south of Florence, was known as a producer of fine wines as far back as the 1300s. The immediate proximity of the estate to Florence is prima facie evidence that the winery supplied the city with a significant amount of Nozzole’s output, making a claim to the creative spirit and charm of this city.

Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance in the middle 1300s was known, from historical records, to import, during this time period, 6 to 7 million gallons of wine inside the city walls each year; estimated to have a population of 80,000 to 95,000 citizens; happily providing every person with a bottle of wine every day. It is no coincidence that the Florence of old is synonymous with the creative brilliance, magnificence, patronage of notables like Leonardo, Botticelli, and Medici: paintings, sculpture and money.

Moving into the present, estimates are that the world produces upwards to 36 billion bottles of wine every year, barely enough to give every soul a miserly bottle of wine every 2 or 3 months. It is no coincidence that the world today generates copious amounts of lawyers, guns and…money.

The Nozzole’s vineyards are  222 acres of Sangiovese grapes, grown in the Chianti Classico sub-region of central Tuscany, sunning themselves 1000 feet above sea level on the rolling hills of weathered sandstone and chalky marlstones. Mild nights, temperatures from the low to high 50s, and hot days reaching up into the mid-80s persuade the grapes to give up a full-bodied wine, nudged along with 1.5 to 3 inches of rain per month during the growing season.

This Chianti is a dark, purple to ruby-red, aromas of acidic, dark cherries and raisins, tannins just right for a long, structured finish.

An outstanding wine.

$19.99 wine.com

Bodegas Dios Baco Cream Sherry

W Dios Baco Sherry.jpgSherry from Jerez, Spain
Blend of palomino and pedro ximénez grapes
18.0% alcohol by volume

els 9.1/10

Wine Enthusiast 90

Bodegas Dios Baco, “The God Bacchus Winery”, dates back to the late 1700s, changing ownership many times over the centuries, eventually being acquired by Jose Paez Morilla in 1992.

This present winery was built in 1848, and was originally part of “The Twelve Disciples”, but today, only 3 remain; Dios Baco plus the Bodegas la Cruz and Pio XII, located in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, less than 10 miles northeast of the Bay of Cadiz.

The vines grow on the open rolling hills, from a chalky soil with the calcium content ranging from 30 to 100%, baking in the mid-year southern Spanish, cloudless skies with temperatures commonly going past 100 degrees with very little, quenching and cooling rain.  The palomino and Pedro Ximenez white grapes thrive in this climate by thrusting their roots deep into soil in search of any remnants of the plentiful autumn and spring rains, striving to survive the rigors of the dry, hot growing season.

This wine has a beautiful clear, mahogany-amber hue, powerful sweet aromas of dried fruit, sweet, deliciously thick and mild, with a begging for more finish. Pair this wine with strong soft cheese and fruit.

A outstanding wine.

$22.99 wine.com

Chateau Carlmagnus 2014

W Carlmagnus BordeauxBordeaux Red Blend from Fronsac, Bordeaux, France.
Proprietary red blend.
14.5% alcohol by volume

els 9.1/10

Wine Advocate 90-92

Wine Spectator 90

James Suckling 90

Fronsac, a wooded and hilly area, east of the Bordeaux wine region, in southwest France, is located near the northern bank of the Dordogne river, just a few miles west of the small city, Libourne; home of numerous appellations including Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, and of course, Fronsac.

Merlot is the main grape variety harvested here along with a smattering of Cabernet Franc, grown on primarily clayey-limestone soils. The vineyards sit atop a network of limestone caves, serving as the winery’s cellars. The summer climate is mild and sunny with temperatures dipping into the low 50s at night, and the days range from the mid 70s to the low 80s. Rain brings 1 to 2.5 inches of water per month.

Chateau Carlmagnus is a gorgeous dark purple, cherries and plums dance into your nose, slightly acidic but is quickly tamed.  This is a full-bodied, complex but balanced wine.

A outstanding wine.

$17.99 wine.com

Theater of Nothing

Waiting for Godot B Waiting Godot

Written by:  Samuel Beckett

First English Language Version Published by:  Grove Press

Copyright:  © 1954

Samuel Beckett, Nobel winner for literature in 1969, wrote, in a feverish 5 year period of creative over-achievement, immediately following the end of WWII, his most consequential plays and novels:  Eleutheria, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, and Mercier et Camier. The Nobel Committee praised his written creations as a new form of novel and drama; dubbed the “Theater of the Absurd” by Martin Esslin in 1962. The Committee explicitaly sited Waiting for Godot and Happy Days, written in 1960, as the definitive works for this new style of writing, exceedingly worthy of tribute and fortune.

Waiting for Godot is a play, in two acts, expressing sorrow and discontent with life’s emptiness, but has no substance beyond the existential context of one’s self providing the essence to fill the void of a barren plot, and not surprisingly, everyone does. Interpretations of existential, Freudian, Christian, sexual, political, all these forms, and more, have found their way into their perception of Beckett’s true allegorical meaning of  Waiting for Godot. Beckett provided little clarification on the play’s meaning except to restate what he had written, maybe as ploy to maintain interest in the play, but likely because he felt that the play said all that could be said, eventually, expressing his frustration with all the misinterpretations of the play, by exclaiming  “Why people have to complicate a thing so simple I can’t make out.”

Waiting for Godot will amuse you and likely, you will discover its true essence.

Baracchi O’lillo 2014

W Baracchi OlilloTuscan Red Blend from Tuscany, Italy
25% cabernet sauvignon
25% merlot
25% sangiovese
25% syrah
14.5% alcohol by volume

els 9.0/10

James Suckling 93

Wine Spectator 90

The Baracchi winery and vineyards are located on the southern, sunny slopes of the Apennine Mountains, in the eastern central area of Tuscany, just outside the stone walls of the ancient, small city of Cortona.

Legend has it that Cortona was originally established by Noah, shortly after the great flood; falling in love with the fertile soils and natural beauty of the area. Umbrians, Etruscans, Romans, Guelphs, Medici, Italians have all called Cortona theirs. The town, at approximately 1600 feet above sea level, overlooks Lake Trasimene, the setting for one of the Roman Empires great military defeats at the hands of Hannibal in 217 BC (Carnage and Culture, The Punic Wars).  When touring the Tuscany wine region this is a required stop to cherish and savor the legends, the history, the scenery, the food, and certainly, the wine.

The Baracchi Estate, winery and vineyards, a family business since 1860, is run by Riccardo and his son Benedetto, producing some of the best wines in the region. There are 4 vineyards sitting about 1000 feet above sea level, enjoying hot days, rising to the high 80s, and cool nights dipping down to the chilly low 50s. The rains, coming roughly once a week, deliver from 1.5 to 3 inches of water per month to the thirsty vines. The soils range from sandy to clayey and chalky. The wines are aged in French oak barrels.

This red blend is a brilliant ruby-red, redolent with red and black cherries and just a whisper of black pepper.  The tannins are about as smooth as a cloudless Mediterranean sky, with an enjoyable, hearty and long finish.

An outstanding wine.

$19.99 wine.com

Everyone Gets An Upgrade

The Atlantis Gene  (The Origin Mystery, Book 1) B Atlantis Gene


Copyright:  © 2013

The Atlantis Plague (The Origin Mystery, Book 2)

Copyright:  © 2013

The Atlantis World (The Origin Mystery, Book 3)

Copyright:  © 2014

All Written by:  A.G. Riddle

All Published by:  A.G. Riddle © 2014

Science Fiction is replete with original, creative and amazing stories of the future and future’s past; Herbert’s feudal future checked by a hulking nematode in his Dune series; Asimov’s stories of future doom and mitigation in the Foundation series; Card’s tales of adolescent potency and adult deception in his Ender’s series. RiddleB Atlantis Plague‘s Origin Mystery trilogy is not one of these original and creative stories.

The trilogy explores an alternate history of mans origins, portending a simple plot of who controls who and for what purpose, but quickly gets lost in extraneous details and insignificant sub-plots.  Reading Riddle is the printed expression of ADHD, character development is stunted and dribbled out in brief disconnected chapters that come back together eventually, after they have slipped from your memory, only to bifurcate again; sub-plots within sub-plots within plots, tentacles going everywhere and nowhere, impulsively going off on tangents to explore another unnecessary point. B Atlantis World

Originality and gifted writing does not live in this book.  Most of the topics and plots have been done before and usually better. Dialog and narrative are 1 and 2 dimensional.

…Dorian rushed forward and struck Ares, killing him in one blow. The Atlantean hadn’t expected it, and Dorian fought like a feral animal with nothing to lose.

Striking one blow and fighting like a feral animal are not congruent actions.

…Dorian rushed forward, killing Ares again…The cycle repeated twelve times, and twelve dead bodies, all Ares…on the thirteenth resurrection, Ares stepped out and held up his hands…Dorian rushed forward and killed Ares again.

Occasional changing up the verbs keeps the monotony away and Live Die Repeat, the movie, already did this scene – creatively better.

Steven King’s greatest achievement, The Dark Tower series is a captivating and deliciously fun 5000 pages of dystopian fantasy that will go down as one of literatures greatest creative endeavors. The punitive sin in the entire series was the creation, the introduction of a new character, Patrick, the destroyer of Mordred, in the last 100 pages of the series, solving King’s plot dilemma with an eraser.  Riddle pulls the same amateurish stunt towards the final chapters of his trilogy, introducing the god-like Sentinels, a deceitful writing ploy, but thankfully it euthanized the tale.

Riddle should have kept this to a single volume, forcing a simpler, crisper plot line.

Wild Hog Smokehouse Bar and Grill

Wild Hog Smokehouse Bar and Grill, 4410 South Washington St., Grand Forks, NDR Wild Hog.jpg
Price: $$$$$
Ambiance: 2.5/5
Service: 2.5/5
Food: 2.5/5

Our visits to the Wild Hog are becoming less frequent, less anticipatory; going there only on the spur of moment, when we are nearby.  Maybe we are getting bored with the establishment or maybe it’s the little bothersome things, that are not serious or upsetting by themselves, irksome maybe; which, over time, sum up to a disagreeable experience.

The Wild Hog is located on S. Washington to the east and across the street from the Altru’s architecturally muddled, health complex, with easy access and plenty of up-close parking. The bar and grill are separated into two equal parts with no hard dividing line or functional difference between them.  The dining area, including the bar, is a causal affair with spacious booths capable of easily seating 6 and wooden tables and chairs seating 4 or more.  There is a private room useful for parties of a dozen plus. The lounge side is furnished with a fully stocked bar surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped seating counter, and beyond that, bar height wooden tables, seating four or more. The bar does get claustrophobic and noisy when full.  The walls throughout the restaurant are hung with flat screens broadcasting sports programing of all sorts.  Most of the screens are too small, there are a few large screens, to watch for more than a few moments without incurring serious eye strain; fewer but larger screens would be an improvement.

Service is always a hit or miss adventure at the Wild Hog; usually the deciding factor in grading your visit.  Seating, usually prompt and immediate has been known to be a thumb twirling, toe tapping exercise.  Getting service once seated is never quick even when the place is sparsely populated. Once the drinks are ordered expecting to see them in a timely manner, if they involve anything alcoholic, is wishful.  This is one of the periods where you finish your texting to the unimportant people in your life.

We always start with drinks at the Wild Hog.  When in the mood for just a beer, we’re covered, the basics such as Bud, Miller, Coors and some finer brews such as Stella are here. Great, job well done, except they assume you want to drink out of a bottle if your brand is not on tap.  Of all the times I’ve had a beer at the Hog not once, let me repeat myself, not once, but I repeat myself, have they asked if I wanted to quaff that tasty beer from a frosty mug or glass. Life gets complicated if you want a mixed drink.  The Hog-tender presumes that a margarita is a girl’s name, but not to upset the customer, she concocts a drink of cheap tequila and lime juice on ice, creating the absolute, no contest, worst, dreadfully awful drink in the lower 48 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Stay clear, lime flavored bison spit is a step up.  Ordering a simple martini requires step by step instructions to the person occupying space behind the bar. My God it’s just gin and vermouth. A Gibson is impossible since cocktail onions are missing in action. The Hog bar is stocked but avoid the disappointment and order a Miller Lite.

Appetizers are always a nice addition to a meal and or drinks.  Choosing which app to nibble on can be a little tricky here; if not done properly you risk departing prematurely. The Boneless Tenders, 6 for $10 or 12 for $16 are very good strips of chicken and you certainly can make a meal from them. Try them with the Hog’s Honey BBQ sauce. Forget the Hogs in a Blanket, corn dogs from your grocery’s frozen section would be a better pick. The Burnt Ends, $10, are worth a try; one of the few new additions, along with the Fish Tacos, $13, I believe, to the menu in the last several years. The Spinach Artichoke Dip would be good if it ever came hot. After 2 or 3 orders of cold to slightly warm dip, slow learning occurs occasionally in my family, we gave up on this dish.  The BBQ Nachos or Deconstructed Nachos, $12, are not your run of the mill Mexican restaurant or even ballpark nachos.  Try the Deconstructed Nachos without the BBQ sauce; I find chips and BBQ sauce a difficult combination, although the one time I did order them deconstructed they came as constructed BBQ Nachos, so I’m a little inexperienced on advice for this one except that I know that I don’t like the non-deconstructed nachos. The overly salty Tostitos Rounds are exceptionally unremarkable chips for any restaurant; a negative everywhere except possibly for drunken party in your home. The Onion Tanglers, $8, are silly.

The main dishes are generally good, not terrific, not terrible, just good, fill you up, comfort food.  BBQ Pulled Pork, $16, is my favorite, the go-to when you can’t make up your mind, and if you want a little less volume try the Smokehouse Sandwich, $10, with pulled pork.  The Prime Rib Sandwich, $14 is tender and delicious, ordering it Philly style, $15.50, is even better. The Carne Asada Wrap, $11, The Classic Burger, $10, and the Fish Tacos, $13 are all good and worth trying, lunch or dinner.

The Wild Hog is ok; just ok.

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