In the early afternoon hours on Tuesday, February 1st, it started snowing.  And snowing.  And snowing.  Winds were gusting up to forty-five miles per hour.  Here’s what it looked like from my front door when it all started:


It finally stopped about ten the next morning, and somewhere along the line we accumulated around eighteen inches of snow.    There were drifts in my yard about four feet high.  My mailbox was almost completely buried.


Then, to top it off, the temperature dropped and we had a windchill of -5 degrees.  Roads were closed for hours.  Schools all over Chicagoland were closed for two days.  Even the store I work at shut down for a full day.  It was total insanity.

On the plus side, I didn’t have to leave my property for two and half wonderful, peaceful days.  I turned into a cooking and baking machine. There was potato soup and beef stew.  Ghirardelli hot chocolate.  Pasta Bolognese.  And cookies- chocolate chip and assorted kolackies which I shared with our awesome neighbors who helped us dig out.

Blizzard Wine

And, of course, there was wine.  The first evening I enjoyed a nice but unremarkable pinot.  During the afternoon of the second day, after the shoveling and hot chocolate, I drank a lovely moscato d’Asti, which gets a bad rap in my line of work, but can be quite a nice little treat.  But it was a fabulous little Spanish number that has truly stayed with me and will, for the rest of my life, be my 2011 Blizzard Wine.

Barbazul, by the tiny bodega Huerta de Albala, hails from Andalucia, the region in southwestern Spain known best for sherry.  It is a blend of cabernet, syrah, merlot and a varietal indigenous to the area called tintilla de rota.  It was light to medium bodied, with ripe but balanced berry flavors, notes of baking spices and a hint of sweet vanilla.  I found it deliciously spicy and zesty, especially considering its modest $13 price tag.  It was incredibly juicy and tasty, a very nice accompaniment to the pasta; but most importantly, just right for a shut-in in February.