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One of the nicer moments of every spring is when a big box arrives from Carlton Cellars, the lovely Willamette Valley winery that is owned by friends of mine - Dave Grooters and Robin Russell - and where I am a member of the wine club.

That box is always filled with wonderful bottles of wine that get me ready for the warm weather and spiritually prepare me for my annual summer adjunctivity at Portland State University. It's not that I need to be prepared, but it is nicer with wine.

The box came a week or so ago, and so far we've enjoyed two of them ... the 2016 Auxerrois Reserve, which is a kind of sibling to Chardonnay that comes from a grape that originated in Alsace (which happens to be where one wing of the Coupe family originated) ... and the 2015 Pinot Blanc. We enjoyed the Auxerrois with a spicy shrimp-and-pasta dish, and the Pinot Blanc with Chinese food, but I think they'd both be great with pretty much anything, or by themselves.

I'll have to get more when I get to Oregon. You can get them by going here.




As I mentioned yesterday, I had the opportunity last weekend to attend the Atlanta Braves-Washington Nationals game at the new SunTrust Park in Atlanta. It was a way of once again being able to say that I've been to every major league ballpark ... I achieved this longtime goal last fall when on one weekend I managed to attend games in both Miami and Tampa, the two stadiums that I'd missed. But then, the Braves moved to a new ballpark in the suburbs, 10 miles from downtown, and the game once again was afoot.

I'd give SunTrust mixed reviews. The park itself is nicely designed with good sight-lines, though it loses points for not being able to walk the entire circumference of the ballpark and always see the field. The hot dogs were great (with delicious onions as a topping), and the beer extremely cold - and neither was as expensive as they can be in such ballparks. The out-of-town scoreboard was very good, for the most part - there were some score glitches, but most of the time it had every game being played that day. (This is a big deal for me.)

So that was all good.

I wasn't nuts about the location, to be honest - I like ballparks where you can walk there from downtown. But when we passed Turner Field, where the Braves played for less than two decades before decamping for the 'burbs, I realized that it was not as close to downtown as I'd remembered, so maybe it isn't as big a deal as I thought. And I really like what the Braves have done with the plaza outside the stadium, where there are lots of restaurants and pubs and soon-to-be-opened retail shops; it sort of reminded me of Patriot Place, in Foxboro, and should be a magnet for locals and tourists.

I'd rank SunTrust somewhere in the middle - it wasn't memorable enough to make my top ten, but a lot better than the ballparks that were in the bottom ten. I'm still working out the specifics, but I'd certainly go back. It was good fun.
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