Of Ravinia, Slacklining, BBQ, and Wine

Ah summer! Cloudless blue skies, verdant green grass, people laughing, birds chirping, tantalizing wafts of smoking meat.

Jeff’s over in the west coast, having run a “Fueled by Wine” half-marathon in Oregon this past weekend with his brother, and is now enjoying a leisurely road trip south to SF with his parents. I had enough to keep myself entertained.

Friday
I took the metra up to Ravinia with Eugene, where we met up with S., Emily, and Jill for an evening of Beethoven. It was such a treat, lounging back on our picnic blankets, sipping wine and munching on cherries while listening to Emanuel Ax tinker away on the piano with the CSO in accompaniment.

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Saturday
Ventured out to the lake front to play with the Chicago Slackliners Association. It was a smaller group this time around. J. had slung up her surf line again, but being that it was strung between two trees closer together, I had a much easier time balancing on the line, and was able to even try “surfing”. H., a former gymnast, came out for her only third outing with the group, but was already at home on the line. She amused herself – and amazed the rest of us – by doing 180 degree jumps on the line, cartwheels, and handstands on the line. Wow.

Afterwards, it was off to another one of Bill’s wine tastings. I arrived early, and found Bill in the carriage house, tasting 14 bottles Chardonnay from Oregon and California. They were the last batch of the 100 bottles he had had to taste for his upcoming column on Chardonnay and Terroir, and rather than pour away the wines post tasting, he wanted to let us take them home. Since no one else had yet showed up, I grabbed a glass and tasted alongside him. My favorite of the lot was the 2010 Hamachar Chardonnay – spicy, with notes of honeydew. I think I preferred the Oregon profiles in general, the wines being less citrus-y and more mellow.

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Anyway, when the rest showed up, we filed downstairs into the cozy cellar. The theme this time around was BYOB, where everyone brought a bottle to share. I brought along the 2011 Turley Duarte Estate, which I thought was ok – very fruity and soft, drinkable, but frankly none too exciting. Bill opened the tasting with a Rose Champagne from Besserat – yeasty and savory. Jumped next to a 2012 Yalumba Viognier, which I thought tasted like papaya. We followed with the 2008 Domaine Serene Jerusalem Hill. I loved this one. There was a ton of tannins in the mouth when we first opened it, but within 10 minutes it had mellowed out beautifully. Then, another Pinot Noir, this time a 2009 Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley. Where the Domaine Serene was more of a Burgundian style, this RRV wine was very fruit forward. Then my Turley, before we moved on to a 2001 Sorella Cab from Columbia Valley. Lovely wine, as was the next, a 2006 Kapsandy Family Winery State Lane Vineyard. We also tried two more reds, a Cabernet Franc from Sonoma and a Malbec from Argentina, before we closed off with another bottle of Bill’s, a 40 year old Sandeman Port that was simply divine.

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Sunday
I spent the afternoon with J&J in their new home in the surburbs, where Joe grilled up juicy hamburgers, short ribs, and sweet corn, and Jennie turned out her famous plum upside down cake. It was a warm sunny day, but it felt good to be sitting under the shade of their two tall trees in their backyard, listening to the chirping birds and admiring their gorgeous bushes of hyacinth.

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