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The Red Wines Of The Rhone Valley

May 4, 2011

I am not a wine connoisseur or a collector and, point in fact, I am simply a daily wine consumer and have been for the past fifty years.
Nor do I have a dazzling enology vocabulary that many of the nouveau wine world find even more enjoyable to articulate than the consumption of this magnificent gift from Bacchus.

I live by the philosophy of two men I greatly admire for many reasons and wine is certainly one of them. Dr. Samuel Johnson, an English writer in the seventeen nineties, was quoted as saying:

“A day without wine is like a day without sunshine”

while Ernest Hemingway succinctly stated:

“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”

My journey through the fascinating and constantly evolving world of enology started about 1960. From that time to the present I have religiously drank nothing but wine, most always with dinner, and stayed almost exclusively, by choice, in the French Burgundy and Bordeaux regions.

Toward the end of the eighties we were blessed here in Minneapolis when the D’Amico Corporation opened a restaurant downtown called The Azur. It featured French Mediterranean cuisine and the wine menu was dominated by French red wines from the Rhone valley.

These wines were a totally new experience for me as Rhone wines were still virtually unknown in the United States. It was, far and away, my favorite restaurant with an outstanding cuisine, flawless service, an ambiance that led you to believe that you were in Southern France and that newly discovered and fascinating wine list. I spent many hours talking to the manager and key staff of The Azur and they told me that some of them had been sent by the owners to France with the mission to tour the vineyards of the French Rhone region prior to the opening of the restaurant. Without any real planning, analysis or classes on the subject, I just followed my taste dictates and soon was exclusively converted to those wines.

At this juncture I will have to point out that, like many of us Americans, I am not wealthy but I do earn, and always have, slightly higher than average income, and I have had the advantage, on occasion, due to my marketing profession, to be the beneficiary of New York City style expense accounts, so I have enjoyed the best wines from most regions.

However, on a day to day basis, I look for reasonably priced wines and it’s been my experience that the red wines of the Rhone Valley are the best priced for the quality they deliver. In particular, most of the reds are full bodied, have the exclusive French “terroir” aspect to enhance them, and therefore, are, as a group more earthy, full bodied and food friendly than any other wine region.

Whether you’re at the very top of their price range ( Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape) or at the lower scale with the Cotes-du-Rhones all Rhone wines have that earthy, very real and substantial characteristic to them. I would like to single out Gigondas as my favorite when I consider price and product represented. They are in the price range of $25-35 and seldom disappoint so I would say that’s what I’ve uncovered as my choice for the best buy in wine today. They never seem to fail and it’s bite and muscularity translate into one word – real. They are almost always robust, well balanced and aromatic. A close second to Gigondas but in a slightly lower price range, and with similar qualities, is Vacqueyras.

In the $10-20 price range I’d rather take my chances with various Cotes-du-Rhone selections than the Argentine Malbecs or the Chilean reds which although adequate, on a random basis don’t match up to the Cotes-du-Rhones. American Reds in that grouping? If you’re prepared to do encyclopedic cogitation and traveling you’re blindly looking for the proverbial “needle in a haystack.”

In this “Opinion Paper” I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m focused in on Reds of the Rhone Valley. Nevertheless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover White wines. I’ve occasionally had White Hermitages and Chateauneuf-du-Papes but my favorite moderately priced white wines are still from the Chablis region. On the other hand, I never turn down, when opportunity strikes, to truly enjoy a Meursault or any of the magnificent Montrachets from the Cote-Du-Beaune region.

Regards,

CP Donly

I am not a wine connoisseur or a collector and, point in fact, I am simply a daily wine consumer and have been for the past fifty years.
Nor do I have a dazzling enology vocabulary that many of the nouveau wine world find even more enjoyable to articulate than the consumption of this magnificent gift from Bacchus.

I live by the philosophy of two men I greatly admire for many reasons and wine is certainly one of them. Dr. Samuel Johnson, an English writer in the seventeen nineties, was quoted as saying:

“A day without wine is like a day without sunshine”

while Ernest Hemingway succinctly stated:

“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”

My journey through the fascinating and constantly evolving world of enology started about 1960. From that time to the present I have religiously drank nothing but wine, most always with dinner, and stayed almost exclusively, by choice, in the French Burgundy and Bordeaux regions.

Toward the end of the eighties we were blessed here in Minneapolis when the D’Amico Corporation opened a restaurant downtown called The Azur. It featured French Mediterranean cuisine and the wine menu was dominated by French red wines from the Rhone valley.

These wines were a totally new experience for me as Rhone wines were still virtually unknown in the United States. It was, far and away, my favorite restaurant with an outstanding cuisine, flawless service, an ambiance that led you to believe that you were in Southern France and that newly discovered and fascinating wine list. I spent many hours talking to the manager and key staff of The Azur and they told me that some of them had been sent by the owners to France with the mission to tour the vineyards of the French Rhone region prior to the opening of the restaurant. Without any real planning, analysis or classes on the subject, I just followed my taste dictates and soon was exclusively converted to those wines.

At this juncture I will have to point out that, like many of us Americans, I am not wealthy but I do earn, and always have, slightly higher than average income, and I have had the advantage, on occasion, due to my marketing profession, to be the beneficiary of New York City style expense accounts, so I have enjoyed the best wines from most regions.

However, on a day to day basis, I look for reasonably priced wines and it’s been my experience that the red wines of the Rhone Valley are the best priced for the quality they deliver. In particular, most of the reds are full bodied, have the exclusive French “terroir” aspect to enhance them, and therefore, are, as a group more earthy, full bodied and food friendly than any other wine region.

Whether you’re at the very top of their price range ( Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape) or at the lower scale with the Cotes-du-Rhones all Rhone wines have that earthy, very real and substantial characteristic to them. I would like to single out Gigondas as my favorite when I consider price and product represented. They are in the price range of $25-35 and seldom disappoint so I would say that’s what I’ve uncovered as my choice for the best buy in wine today. They never seem to fail and it’s bite and muscularity translate into one word – real. They are almost always robust, well balanced and aromatic. A close second to Gigondas but in a slightly lower price range, and with similar qualities, is Vacqueyras.

In the $10-20 price range I’d rather take my chances with various Cotes-du-Rhone selections than the Argentine Malbecs or the Chilean reds which although adequate, on a random basis don’t match up to the Cotes-du-Rhones. American Reds in that grouping? If you’re prepared to do encyclopedic cogitation and traveling you’re blindly looking for the proverbial “needle in a haystack.”

In this “Opinion Paper” I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m focused in on Reds of the Rhone Valley. Nevertheless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover White wines. I’ve occasionally had White Hermitages and Chateauneuf-du-Papes but my favorite moderately priced white wines are still from the Chablis region. On the other hand, I never turn down, when opportunity strikes, to truly enjoy a Meursault or any of the magnificent Montrachets from the Cote-Du-Beaune region.

The Journey Is Complete

Regards,

CP Donly

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Is Obama-ville The Beginning Of The End For America’s Position As A World Leader?

June 27, 2009

In baseball, as most of you well know, three strikes and you’re out. In the world history of pace setting nations four strikes (times) and you’re out of the major leagues and banished back to the minor leagues with little if any chance of returning.

Our welfare as a nation requires a flourishing free market economy that is underpinned and secured by our intelligence community and military forces that are at the apex of our survival. Therefore, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to preclude the dismantling and ultimate emasculation of those forces that the Obama-ville administration is currently embarked on.

America’s ascendancy to a dominant world power status occurred right after World War II A few decades later the first strike (time) occurred in the late seventies where we started to self destruct our intelligence community as Senator Church and his committee were responsible for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 which put severe restrictions on FBI and CIA intelligence gathering and covert operations. Many military and civilian operators who should have been feted as heroes by our nation were, instead, vilified and prosecuted for, what then became, criminal actions.

The second strike (time) took place in the early eighties when Admiral Turner, head of CIA, joined forces with President Carter and destroyed our HUMINT (Human Intelligence) program with the elimination of 800 operational positions in what was dubbed the Halloween Massacre. Turner was reported to have said “what do we need them for when we’re capable of reading a license plate at 40,000 feet.” One of his critics retorted “that may be, but whoever heard of a license plate attacking us.”

The third strike (time) was in the mid nineties when Senator Torricelli led congressional efforts to handcuff the CIA’s abilities to recruit spies. This, in tandem with the Clinton administration’s policies put sever restrictions on the CIA’s ability to enlist invaluable HUMINT sources who may not have had perfect human rights credentials. As a popular commentator at the time pointed out “a goodly number of our current members of Congress couldn’t pass muster under these requirements.” That heinous act alone would have earned Senator Torricelli his career  nickname of “the Torch” for the job he did to our intelligence community.

Let us keep in mind as we move through this mind numbing sequence of near fatal body blows that we have never truly recovered from each one so from the mid-seventies through the mid-nineties the intelligence community has been periodically destabilized and rendered less effective.

And, now we come to Obama-ville time (strike four ) which is still in play but the intent is quite clear. The direction of Obama-ville ideology became quite transparent when he appointed two of Clinton’s political cronies; Holder and Panetta, to spearhead the FBI and CIA respectively. With them at the helm of those two strategic agencies Obama has transformed the War on Terror to the the War on Crime and lo and behold we are right back where we started in the mid-nineties.

Now that those two bookends are in place to abet Obama’s towering naivety it’s no small wonder that just a few weeks ago we had our first act of terrorism on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001 when two U S soldiers in uniform were gunned down by a Muslim terrorist in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nearly as appalling was the almost total lack of concern from the White House as well as the diffident news coverage of the tragedy.

As if that weren’t enough this was followed by reliable sources reporting that FBI agents were actually in the Middle East and contacting recently apprehended terrorists and making sure they were reading their Maranda rights to them. This must be a sparkling morale booster to our military who are fighting and dying in that area for what they have been led to believe is a War on Terror.

Is this opening a new chapter in which the FBI, noted for having a culture that is very conservative and risk averse, will play a dominant role? I’m sure our gallant Special Forces Warriors, who represent the very antithesis of that mind set, will be overjoyed to know that we are returning to the philosophy of the mid- nineties which set us up for September 11th, 2001.

And, in the recent successful hostage rescue where our Navy Seals pitched a 3 – 0 whitewashing of the terrorists, Obama was quick to have himself orchestrated by his adoring White House staff and the slobbering press as the hero of the episode. In fact, the real story, virtually suppressed, is that Obama was miffed that his “cops” had not got there before the Navy Seals.

Thank God the Seals got there first and “did the deed.” If not and Obama had his way the FBI, not at all qualified for this type of operation, would have flummoxed the outcome and the Merchant Marine Captain would have been kept in captivity and we would then have paid an outrageous ransom even though our alleged policy is never to do that.

If we continue to pursue this path our national security as anchored down by our intelligence community and our armed forces will have its resolve and capabilities continually downgraded by this insane policy of premeditated emasculation.

President Regan reversed the Strike One (Church) and Strike Two (Turner & Carter) while President Bush reversed the Strike Three (Clinton & Torricelli). In spite of that each Strike drove us backward rather than forward and as we lost priceless time  forty years have elapsed and we’re well behind where we should be if those self-immolating Strikes had not been delivered. Currently we are in the process of Strike Four so the paramount question of the day is what future great American Patriot will step up to reverse this Obama-ville direction and move us forward with a superior national security policy that incorporates the absolute best in (1) material resources and (2) legal and moral support for our intelligence community and active military warriors. They should expect this nation’s total and unequivocal commitment because without their loyalty, devotion and selfless sacrifice we will have nothing to look forward to other than hapless mediocrity.

Mr Prez, Please Read This, It’s Not That Difficult To Understand

June 14, 2009

Understanding the Parable of the Workers Hired late

When he sees the luxurious residence or the charming country house of a wealthy person, a poor workingman often asks himself: “Why is there such inequality in the world?”

How many volumes have been written about equality among men! how much blood has been spilled for this idea! And yet, in spite of it all, we still have the rich and the poor…

Let us imagine that one day all of the inhabitants of  the world would assemble to put into effect this sharing of all goods; and that in fact each person, granted that the world is very big, received an exactly equal portion of the wealth existing on earth.

Then what? That very night one man might say, “Today I worked hard: now I am going to take rest.” Another might state, “I understand this sharing of goods well; so let’s drink and celebrate such an extraordinary happening.” On the other hand another might say, “Now I am going to set to work with a will so as to reap the greatest benefit I can from what I have received.” And so, starting on the next day, the first man would have only  the amount given him,; the second would have less, and the third would have increased his.

Then what do we do? Start redistributing the wealth all over again?

Even if everybody began to work right away with all his might and at the same time, the results would not be identical for all. There are, in fact, different kinds of work which are unequally productive; nor do all workers enjoy the same identical capacities. This leads to a diversity of results achieved, and consequently to differences in people’s profits.

What would have to be imposed so that, once the division of goods was accomplished, people could continue to live on a basis of equality understood in this sense? All workers would have to perform the same tasks, all possess equal intelligence and ability, have similar professional training, the same degree of health and strength, and especially the same ability and desire to put forth the necessary effort. All of this is quite Utopian.

To continue this argument, even if there were only two persons in the world, they would not succeed in maintaining absolute equality; for in the whole universe there are no two things completely identical in every respect…

In spite of this, the human mind still desires to bring about certain equality among men. Is there possibility that this can happen? Yes, no doubt. Every man, whoever he is, whatever he possesses and whatever he is capable of doing, owes all this to God the Creator of the universe. Of himself man is nothing. From this point of view all of us are absolutely equal.

Furthermore we all possess free will, which makes us masters of all our actions. This too constitutes the basic equality of all men on earth. But the use made of our free will is not the same in all cases; it depends in fact on each man’s own determination, on the extent to which he make use of this precious gift; for not all do so to the same degree. It follows that not even after death will perfect equality be achieved; it will not in fact exist, because every man will receive a just reward or punishment according to his deeds, good or evil.

                                                                                                       Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Saint Maximilian (+ 1941) was a Polish Conventual Franciscan priest who was martyred in Auschwitz. 

 

Leveling the playing field only destroys Free Will and Competition. Maybe that’s why Socialist/Marxist economies have never worked and never will work.

 

c p

The Speciousness of Obama’s Pronouncements

May 26, 2009

A few weeks ago Obama employed all of his mellifluous rhetoric to distort the pages of history and use Sir Winston Churchill as a model of how to conduct an ethical war by boldly stating that Churchill never resorted to torture during WW II.

It depends on how you identify torture. Churchill’s went far beyond the quibbling verbal gymnastics we are currently engaged in to torment ourselves over the Clintonian masterpiece of parsing made indelibly clear with his thesis on “what is is?”

There are two prime examples that illustrate Churchill’s philosophy that nothing is “beyond the pale” if it leads to total victory. The first was an air campaign conducted by Air Chief Marshall Harris in which British bombers saturated German cities for several years with massive carpet bombing air raids that murdered millions of citizens in the firestorm conflagrations. In fact, the annihilation of the cities of Dresden and Cologne are two of the most horrendous stories of WW II. There was very little military or industrial damage done during these raids and, in fact, German military production increased throughout  that period.

  The second example was the Poison Gas episode that literally demolished the Italian port city of Bari on December 2, 1943. A German air raid destroyed 17 U S Merchant Marine ships anchored in the harbor, several of which were loaded with ammunition and, in specific,  one with poison gas to be deployed in the Italian campaign. The enormous explosions caused fearsome casualties and this was compounded by the spread of the mustard gas throughout the area. Hundreds of American and Allied service men were killed along with countless civilians and the final count was never determined since a cloud of high level security surrounded the British plan to introduce mustard gas. It wasn’t until the eighties that the event became declassified and details gradually emerged of that tragedy. Suffice it to say that to this very day we Merchant Marine Vets of WW II still honor December 2, 1943 as our “Little Pearl Harbor” day.

Both of these preceding epic events go way beyond our absurd parsing of words over torture. Furthermore, it is incomprehensible to believe that British Commandos and others of the Queen’s service didn’t rough up prisoners to get vital information that could save the lives of their comrades. Most of the prisoners who underwent that manhandling would have gladly endured a few sessions of water boarding in its place. And, just as recently as the seventies and eighties the techniques used by the vaunted SAS on captured IRA high level targets would, by contrast, make water boarding look like a cool refreshing shower on a summer day.

Well, for the perpetuation of a free, strong and viable country here in the U S of A let’s start blinking at Obama’s pronouncements while we can. Where is our present day two legged  TOTO who can pull away the curtain and reveal the walking and talking Telepromter Wizard for who he really is?

 

c p

Lemay and the Tragedy of War, WSJ 5/15/09 Opinion Section

May 26, 2009

For subscribers to the WSJ, one of the few newspapers worth perusing these days I call your attention to the fine article defined in my title. However, it’s somewhat misleading in that the purpose of these carpet bombings wasn’t to slaughter civilians. The true purpose was to destroy Japan’s war industry which was a cottage based program spread throughout the tightly clustered population and the death of civilians was collateral damage. Also, the estimates of 1 million American casualties and 2 million Japanese casualties was quite understated as the most probable figures would have been at least 1 1/2 million allied casualties and 6 million plus Japanese casualties.

I know because I followed this war since the spring of “43” when I became a direct participant right through to the end as we were on a ship loading supplies in Frisco for that impending invasion which would have been my fourth. I have continued to study that war and stayed in the para military service for another 16 years and, furthermore, it wasn’t possible for at least 5 to 10 years after VJ day to fully asses the amazing defense that the Japs had rigged for us. Their population, military and civilian alike, was fully prepared from the very youngest to the oldest, military and civilian alike, with no qualifications, to sacrifice their lives for the emperor.

Did Japan deserve that treatment? Again it is not common knowledge that the Japs created an Asian Holocaust in which they slaughtered 17 million Asians; Chinese, Koreans, Burmese, etc. All of this occurred in the several years leading up to Pearl Harbor and right up to VJ day. The last time I checked it was the Japs who nailed us at Pearl with the Sunday wake up call.

So, such theoretical issues as carpet bombing Japanese cities and dropping the Atom bomb can’t be taken out of context by the bleeding hearts of U.S. citizenry who accuse our country of all kinds of heinous acts. This is the same kind of sick thinking that is now trying to crucify our former Commander in Chief, his Staff and the Intelligence Services who have been fighting a winning war since 9/11/01, with the absurd allegations of torture.

God Bless America And Those Who Keep Us Safe,

c p

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May 26, 2009

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