We have a lonely nine-year-old Yorkie named Muhsu. Several months ago, my wife Karen started to talk about a puppy and I thought it was just that: Talk. As usual, I was wrong.
She wanted a French Bulldog, so I began researching the breed. While many people love them, I wasn’t sure it was the right breed for us (snoring, lots of gas and respiratory problems topped the list — but I kept it to myself).
Around the same time, we planned a two-week work/play trip to Naples, Florida. While there, Karen found a French Bulldog puppy in Fort Myers. We drove an hour to see him and I suspected I was in trouble; I am pretty weak when it comes to my wife and kids. Finally, I told her what I had read…and that was the end of the bulldog part of this story.
But our Florida experience with dogs was not yet over. Later that week, we met up with Buffalo friends at their condo. They had two perfectly groomed and amazingly friendly pure white dogs, which I learned were Coton de Tulears. After a wonderful evening of dinner and wine, I couldn’t get them out of my head, and while researching them another (unfamiliar) breed popped up: Havanese.
Back home, I began looking for Havanese breeders; we found several. I received a return email from a breeder in Wilson who had a girl puppy. Coincidentally, I learned the breeder also owns a winery, Victorianbourg Wine Estate, which I had previously written about in this column as part of a Niagara wine tasting. Was this a sign? We ended up seeing a wonderful puppy…and also got to taste their latest wines. (I recommend their Rieslings — delicious.)
At that point, though, we decided to wait until the end of summer when more litters would be available.
But then I received an email from Betty Peplin, the owner of Accent Havanese in Arcade. She had a 12-week-old girl that wasn’t placed due to a sudden family illness. I looked at the attached photo and I knew I was in trouble. We drove out to see her and it was love at first sight. I sat on the floor and she ran over and jumped in my lap. I wanted this puppy and we vacillated for a long time, but again decided we had to wait. I was sad, but there will be another litter coming later in the summer. What made me happiest is that Betty decided to keep “my” puppy for herself. To be continued…
In the meantime, here are wines from our Florida trip that launched our grand puppy journey. Some were purchased at retail; some ordered at restaurants, and some served at friends’ homes.
2015 Balducci Fraternity Red blend
Napa Valley, less than $50
I really liked this bottle: Dark fruit, chocolate, smoke and a smooth delicious taste and finish.
2015 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir
Oregon, around $60
I love Drouhin wines and highly recommend them. Typical of their wines, this had a lot of cherry, with sass. Very elegant.
2015 Cherry Pie Pinot Noir Stanley Ranch
California, around $50
This is one of my favorite California Pinot Noirs — delicious, with tastes of raspberries and cherries. It makes for a wonderful food wine (especially with salmon). I find these wines get better with a few years of aging.
2016 Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet
Washington State, around $15
Attention bargain hunters: this is a very good wine for a great price. I’ve enjoyed selections from this winery many times and particularly like the Cabernets, which feature plenty of dark fruit.
2017 Bougrier Rose d’ Anjou
France, $15 (give or take)
I thought my Rosé-drinking days were long over, but they’re suddenly the new “it” wine. This one featured strawberries and a little cherry — chill it and serve with almost any summer food.
2015 Beyond Ordinary Cabernet
South Africa, around $15
It’s kind of cool to try wine from the other side of the planet. This wine has lots of dark fruit and is ready to drink now.
2015 Caymus Cabernet
Napa Valley, $75 (and worth it)
Caymus has been making great wines for a long time, and I love them. Their Cabernet Special Select is awesome…but expensive. This one costs less — still not cheap, but so good. It features a smooth taste, dark fruit and an excellent finish. It’s drinking great now but has a decade or more of aging potential.
2015 Pesquera Ribera del Duero Reserve
I bought two cases of the 1995 and 1996 on a referral from my friend Burt. I didn’t love them, so they sat undisturbed for many years. I recently opened up a bottle of each and was blown away by how they taste now. (And I wish I’d bought more!)
2015 Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Tench
Napa Valley, $90
Expensive, but boy was this good, featuring dark fruit that just explodes in your mouth. I really liked the spiciness and the finish.
2014 Heitz Cabernet Trailside
California, $80 or so
I have loved Heitz for 25 years (in particular, Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, which features a eucalyptus nose and taste…I still have a bottle of 1975 that I plan on sharing). This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard, but it is an excellent Cabernet. Wonderful fruit but also a soft coffee taste. If you want to splurge for a special occasion, this is a good choice.
2015 Sheridan Cabernet
Washington State, $30
This is a better value than many California wines: hard to beat for an excellent bottle of wine.
Warren T. Colville is publisher and president of The Buffalo News.
Story topics: For the Love of Wine