Ogun Art + Wine Grand Opening Recap

Hey wine friends! I know I’ve been M.I.A lately. Lo siento mucho!!! Still trying to get adjusted to my new work life. It’s been crazy busy, but I promise I’ll be back to my regular blogging routine soon.

Okay, so let me catch you up on my latest wine adventure. I was invited to the grand opening of a new wine bar called Ogun Art + Wine over the weekend. I was super excited to attend. You know wine and art are two of my all time favorite things! But unfortunately that’s where the excitement ends for me. The night ended up being an epic fail for the books.

Epic fail might be a little too harsh, but let’s just say I wasn’t pleased with my experience and here’s why…

Ty’s Takeaways…

Location: So, let me start with some background about the place. Ogun Art + Wine is located off of Washington Ave and Studemont in  a little shopping strip in Houston. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Absolve Wine Lounge, but Ogun is now in that space. I’m not sure what happened to Absolve and I can’t say that I was sad to hear that it was gone. Definitely wasn’t on my list of top wine bars in the city. However, having a wine bar in that location is a nice addition to the Washington Ave area.

Parking: Parking was horrible! Perhaps it was because of the grand opening event, but the lot was packed. They had $8 valet parking available and you know the only valet I recognize is complimentary! I drove around and around trying to figure out where I could park for FREE. There’s a Walgreen’s next door, but I didn’t want to take that risk and get towed. Luckily, there was additional parking behind the building for customers. Please don’t waste your money on valet if the lot is full. I repeat DO NOT pay for valet! Besides the valet attendants were parking cars in the regular lot. They didn’t have spaces marked off, which I thought was a rip off for the person paying. Doesn’t valet mean there is a particular spot sectioned off for your car? I dunno *side eye* But, if all else fails, there’s always street parking on the street behind the shopping center.

Space: The actual space is small, but cute. You’ll find a couple of options for outdoor seating. When you walk in there are several tables and then seating at the bar. Along the wall, you’ll see lots of African art. (Sorry…this is the all I know about this place. Nobody gave any background on the concept or anything. You’ll see keep reading…)

Customer Service: The place was packed when we arrived. There was nobody at the door to greet us. All of the tables were full, as well as the seating at the bar. It took us a while to figure out how to get a drink. There were no menus in sight. There were so many people, including the people who were sitting at the bar that it was hard to squeeze in. I’m an observer, so as I’m waiting to place my order at the bar, I see men in suits that appear to be the hosts, but they’re only greeting the people that they know. Hmmm…if this is a grand opening for the community, why not speak to the people who you don’t know? Introduce yourself, welcome your guests. I don’t understand how you have a grand opening and don’t go out of your way to make your guest feel welcomed (and at least tell them about the place).

After some patience, I finally made my way up to the bar. I noticed that there were only two servers working. Mind you there were probably 10 people sitting at the bar with groups of people standing behind them trying to place orders. So, as I’m waiting I realize that I don’t even know what I can order. There weren’t any menus out. When I finally got the server’s attention, I had to ask for a menu. My cousin was with my me (hey, girl, hey), so I gave her the menu and we figured out what we were going to order. But, by that time our server had moved on to someone else. I guess you snooze, you lose in these streets. We literally waited for almost 30 minutes trying to get the server’s attention, but she never looked up…never acknowledged us. I understand it was a busy night, but one you shouldn’t have only had two people working the bar and two the servers should have acknowledged the people waiting. Like “oh I got you next,” but their heads were down most the time. Anyways, we waited 30 minutes too long and between the bar service and lack of overall customer service in general, we decided it was time to roll.

Menu: I got a chance to briefly check out the menu. Their wine selection wasn’t that extensive. If I remember correctly, there were probably 8-10 whites. The red offering was a little longer and there were a handful of sparkling wines. If I’m wrong on the amounts, it’s because I was so irritated I couldn’t see straight. Anyways, I will say that I was impressed with the types of whites on their wine list. If my order had been taken, I would’v asked for the Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc. Yes, the same Sauv Blanc that I had at Cork in Dallas. I was so happy to see it on a Houston wine list. I guess I need to go back to Dallas to try it again though.

Overall, I was not happy with this event. I thought it was not well planned at all. And sad to say, I probably won’t go back to visit either. Great concept, but service is everything!! And on a night when you’re introducing your wine bar to the community, customer service should’ve been top of mind and it wasn’t. There are plenty of other wine bars in the city that go above and beyond to make their customers feel at home and sadly I just didn’t feel that at Ogun Art + Wine. I’ll take my wine money elsewhere.

Zest in the West Recap

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This fall, I’m racking up my frequent wine event miles. #tistheseason   Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Zest in the West at Château Crystale. Imagine being stuck in a room filled with unlimited wines AND food from some of the best restaurants in West Houston. Sounds like paradise to me! Well that’s what Zest in West is…. a wino and foodie’s dream come true!

With so many wines, it can be overwhelming trying to remember which wines you actually liked. Luckily, I have these events down to a science and have discovered a method to help me keep track of my favorites. Check out my YGOM picks below.

Ty’s Takeaways…

First up at the event was the Bubbles & Brews outdoor reception. Although, I’m not a big fan of the bubbly, I discovered some new contenders that will definitely help make sparkling wine great for me again ;)

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  • IL Ugo! – This was actually my favorite wine of the evening! It reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc, but with a sparkling evanescence to it. IL Ugo! is an Italian semi-sparkling wine crafted with elderflower blossoms and wildflowers. This wine was a little sweet, but the elderflower gives it a bit of a funky earthy taste that balances it out. I’m a huge fan of elderflower, so it’s no wonder why I kept going back for more. Served chilled, this wine is so refreshing, especially with the weather still being on the warm side in Houston.  
  • Cava Proa – Most Cava sparkling wine is normally dry, but what I like about Proa is that it’s semi-sweet. Sadly, that’s the only way that I’ll drink sparkling wines. I enjoyed the citrus aromas and mild fruit flavors. This Cava would be great served as a mimosa!
  • Bottega Rosé Gold Prosecco – Can we just talk about the bottle first?! I heart rose gold, so that’s what initially drew me to this table :) This sparkling wine is a 100% Pinot Noir Prosecco from Lombardy in Italy. On the nose, you get beautiful floral aromas and summer berries. Once you take a sip, you get crisp flavors of strawberries and peaches. I don’t believe in seasonal wines. Just because it’s fall doesnt mean you have to stop drinking rosé! So, if rosé is your jam, keep the party going with this Bottega.

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After the Bubbles & Brew reception, we headed inside to the main event. Nearly 30 wineries were in attendance. Here are a couple that stood out to me:

  • 2014 Llano Cellar Reserve Chardonnay
    Located in Lubbuck, Texas, Llano Estacado is one of the largest premium wineries in the state. Still on my white wine kick, I opted to try their Chardonnay. Now I’m a born-again Chardonnay fan, sticking only to the extremely buttery and creamy Chards. Llano’s Chardonnay is quite opposite–light and airy and full of lush tropical aromas and flavors. Very unique, especially for a Texas Chardonnay. It’s fermented in stainless steel and then aged in neutral French Oak barrels for 105 days.
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This release is 100% Chardonnay

  • Fall Creek Vineyards
    I’m no stranger to Fall Creek Vineyards! Located in Texas Hill Country, it’s my favorite Texas winery. You can’t go wrong with any of their wines!
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Fall Creek is located right outside of Austin.

  • Chloe Wine Collection
    Based in Northern California, Chloe Wine Collection is the brain child of winemaker Georgetta Dane. Again, I tried the Chardonnay, which I absolutely loved! Chloe  Chardonnay is made from grapes grown primarily in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Aged in oak, this Chardonnay has clean flavors of fresh citrus, apple, pear with notes of creamy butter and a hint of vanilla.
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Super cute labels!

I had a great time at Zest in the West! I’m so excited about my new wine discoveries. And I’m so glad that you can find these brands at your local Kroger store. Be sure to check them out too and let me know what you think! Until next time…

YGOM Summer Sip Recap

Let the wine tasting begin!

‘Twas the weekend before Summer Solstice and YGOM was having its second summer wine tasting event. This year, we gathered on the rooftop of Aria at Willowick Park to taste an array of summer wines sponsored by Favorite Brands. Guests had the opportunity to try Rosé, sparkling, white, and red wines. Oh, and I can’t forget the sangria snow cones made by my girl Angie. #heygirlhey

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Everyone loved this refreshing summer treat.

Upon arrival, guests were given score cards to rate each wine. I loved that people were taking the judging of these wines pretty seriously. Some a little too serious… *side eye*

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2.6? 5ish? Really?!

Anyways, after tallying up on the scores, the 2016 YGOM Summer Sip Winner is… *Drum Roll Please*

THE WINNER
AIX, Coteaux d’ Aix-en-Provence Rosé (2015)
Region: Provence, France | Grapes: Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, Counoise

I have to agree with my people! AIX (pronounced ‘Ex’) was by far my favorite wine of the night. This Rosé is concentrated with flavors of apple, spice, and citrus that are flanked by plenty of rich, spicy notes, and a creamy finish. Chilled to perfection, I could definitely see my self sipping this Rosé by the pool.

1st RUNNER UP
Villa Rosa, Gavi di Gavi (2015)
Region: Piedmont, Italy | Grape: Cortese

This dry white is fragrant with nuances of apple and melon on the nose. Medium in body, it is complimented with fruit flavors and metal qualities that extend through the crisp,  clean finish.

2nd RUNNER UP
Laluca, Prosecco (NV)
Region: Veneto, Italy

You can’t go wrong with this Prosecco! The nose offers up bold orchard fruits, crisp pears, and lemon curd, all of which come together in a rich, creamy off-dry style that is extremely appealing. There is a touch of minerality, playing nicely against the subtle sweetness of the wine. The finish shows excellent length and fine overall balance.

Here’s the complete list of the wines featured at the YGOM Summer Sip:

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Wines below featured from left to right.

Rosé

  • Château de Campuget, Costières de Nîmes Blanc Tradition (2014) | Retailer: HEB | Price: $12.99
  • AIX, Coteaux d’ Aix-en-Provence Rosé (2015) | Retailer: HEB | Price: $17.99

Sparkling

  • Laluca, Prosecco (NV) | Retailer: N/A  | Price: N/A
  • Le Grand Courtâge, Blanc de Blanc Brut (NV) | Retailer: Spec’s | Price: $17.99

White

  • Saint Clair Family Estate, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (2014) | Retailer: Costco | Price: $17.99
  • Villa Rosa, Gavi Gavi (2015) | Retailer: Costco | Price: $15.99

Red

  • Paco & Lola, Navarra Experience Red | Retailer: N/A| Price: N/A
  • Umathum, Mittelburgenland Blaufrämkisch | Retailer: N/A| Price: N/A

This selection was fantastic! I really wanted to challenge my guests palates with wines they were not familiar with. I love that there’s something here for everyone. Plus, all of these wines are affordable!

If you missed the YGOM Summer Sip…no worries! There are more events to come!

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Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour 2016

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This week, I attended the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour at the La Colombe d’Or Hotel & Restaurant in Houston. The event featured 30 wineries and more than  120 wines from Paso Robles Wine Country. #winning

For those not familiar with Paso Robles, it is located in the Central Coast of California between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Across the city, you’ll find 32,000 vineyard acres, producing more than 40 winegrape varieties – from Spanish to Italian, Bordeaux to Rhône, including the area’s heritage variety Zinfandel.

The proximity of the Pacific Ocean, orientation of numerous canyons and valleys, and varying elevations produce many different distinct microclimates in the Paso Robles wine region. Due to cool nights, warm days, and typically late rains, Paso Robles Wine Country vines tend to have a longer growing season and grapes have more hang time compared to other wine regions, resulting in fully mature fruit whose acid chemistry is kept in balance through the area’s overnight cooling.

Growing up in California, I was familiar with the Paso Robles area, but had never tasted any of the wines there. Although, I wasn’t able to stop by all the visiting wineries (rightfully so…didn’t want to get sick), below are my top three:

Ty’s Takeaways…

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ONX Wines

I’ve been having a hard time trying to put my thoughts about ONX Wines into words. ONX was hands down my favorite winery at the event. This wine is packaged to perfection! Everything from the handout materials at the table to the stories behind each wine was so well thought out. I was super impressed. I have to give up to the ONX Team for great wine production and marketing.

Simply put, ONX Wines is how I envision God’s best for me. Everyone has this image (list of character and physical traits) of the person they hope to end up with, but I’m learning you can’t let your future love be defined by this image you’ve created. You have to stay open and allow God to reveal His best for you. #notsorryforsharingmybeliefs

I equate that to wine because we all have our favorites and these preconceived notions of what makes a good wine (region, vintage, or grape varietal). ONX Wines are a breath of fresh air that reminds me that wine doesn’t have to come from Bordeaux, France or Napa Valley (aka make six figures or have the body of an athlete) to be considered of good quality. These wines will surprise and surpass your expectations. Like in love, ONX is the one you never saw coming, but ultimately deserved.

Below is a list of the wines ONX showcased at the event. All were good, but the standout was the Rosé of Tempranillo. Yes! You read that right…Tempranillo Rosé. Just like its name, this Rosé can independently stand on its own. Beware, this is not your typical Rosé. It has an edge to it. On the nose, I got aromas of strawberry and vanilla…very dainty, but once you take a sip that’s when the party begins! On the palate, there is an abundance of tropical fruits (like pineapple). While this Rosé is dry with an acidic finish, I found it to be very good. I could see myself sipping on this at the pool or at the next YGOM summer party. In fact, I’m such a fan of ONX that I’m contemplating joining their wine club! Yes, these wines are that good!!

  • 2015 Indie (Rosé of Tempranillo)
  • 2013 Brash (70% Zinfandel, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec)
  • 2013 Praetorian (61% Tempranillo, 23% Malbec, 14% Mourvèdre, 2% Alicante Bouschet)
  • 2013 Reckoning (62% Syrah, 19% Petite Sirah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec)

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Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery

What I liked about Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery was that it’s a family affair. #familygoals

Run by the Merrill family, their grape growing history goes back eight generations. All wines produced are exclusively farmed by the Merrill’s who believe that control from planting and pruning through harvest, fermentation and cellaring is critical for success.

I thought their 2015 Picnic Chardonnay was very interesting. Most Chardonnays tend to be produced in oak barrels, but this one was made in the “naked” or non-oaked style, stainless steel. How cool is that?

Stainless steel tanks were first advocated by Emile Peynaud during the early 1960s. He observed their success in the dairy industry and thought that they could revolutionize winemaking as well. These containers are very efficient at controlling the fermentation temperature. Stainless steel is completely neutral in the winemaking process. Unlike oak barrels, these containers do not impart any characteristics into the wine. This makes them useful not only for fermentation, but also as holding tanks.

I’m not a fan of oaked Chardonnay, but I could definitely get down with it if produced in stainless steel! Pomar’s Chardonnay is fresh and crisp with hints of apple flavor. The biggest plus is that you don’t get the typical buttery aftertaste.

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Jack Creek Cellars

Jack Creek Cellars has an amazing portfolio of red wines. My favorite was their destination: WEST, 2013 Pinot Noir. Now in the past, I talked some smack about California Pinot Noirs (hangs head low). But, I’m really starting to regret those statements! This Pinot Noir was so good, I found myself asking for another pour. QUES: Blackstreet’s “Before I Let You Go.” I just needed one more sip before I said goodbye.

Aged for 13 months in french oak, destination WEST: Pinot Noir is robust and flavorful. On the palate, I got bold plum and black cherry flavors. This red’s acidity and tannins balance each other without becoming too overpowering. I found them very enjoyable…the perfect Pinot Noir for a nice Spring day in Houston or anywhere for that matter.

Overall, I found the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour to be very informative. I can’t wait to share these finds with my family and friends in California. I will definitely be making a trip up to Paso Robles the next time I’m home visiting. Until next time…

Wicked Wine Run Review

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I did it for the wine, but all I got was a t-shirt *kanye shrug*

*WHINE ALERT* Today, I participated in the Wicked Wine Run “Galveston.” I use air quotes because the run actually takes place at Haak Vineyards & Winery in Santa Fe, Texas. My friends and I decided to do the 1K Tasting Run, which included “four wine tasting stops around the beautiful Haak Vineyards.” Again, I’m using air quotes.

*INSERT ANNOYING BUZZARD* Wrong!!

Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt about the 1K at the Wicked Wine Run. So, first off the 1K was supposed to start at 6 p.m. We didn’t officially start walking until around 6:20 p.m. Second, there were THREE not FOUR tasting stops and at these stops we were given little communion size cup samples of wine. Now, wait a minute! I thought we were supposed to be wine tasting along this trail?! *scratches head* The tasting stops included a dry Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. None of the wines really stood out to me. The Cab was okay…nothing to rave about. So, as I mentioned we started walking around 6:20 p.m. and we’re literally done within 10-15 minutes. I swear it took the organizers longer to get in place to begin the walk than it did to actually walk the course. I understand that a 1K is not long, but damn Gina!! By 6:45 p.m., we were back on the shuttle to return to our cars.

The Wicked Wine Run is a waste of money! I can’t believe I paid $30 to drive all the way to Santa Fe and I have three sips of wine. I could’ve gone to HEB got the same samples for FREE…smh. If the Wicked Wine Run comes to your city don’t even bother!! I feel like I had more fun before the IK started, here are some pictures…

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Chard