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Day 91: Break On Through To The Other Side . . .

barbed wireThree months ago, we had this wild idea of tasting and writing about 365 different wines in 365 days.  Oh sure, when you’re all in the rage, it’s easy to say, “C’mon, we can DO this!”  But, as time begins to flow through the hour glass, one realizes that perhaps we’ve bitten off just a bit more than we can chew.  But, here we are 90 days plus one into our drive to try an amazing 365 different wines.  For those of you who have been reading with us from the beginning, we have — for the most part — stayed true to our word.  Yes, we’ve had a few days where the post was JUST  A BIT late – through no fault of our own, of course.  But, if you look at the calendar, there have been 91 days since this whole thing started and there are –soon — to be 91 different wines.  It’s like negotiating through a barbed wire fence.  If we stop for even a moment to lift our heads up to see where we are going, who knows what kind of havoc we could wreak!

Last night’s Naked Chardonnay post garnered a lot of attention – it seems that a gauntlet thrown at the feet of Kathryn W. garnered us a few readers – thanks for posting up.  And, another one from earlier this week, received a nod from our good friend (and resident Kerrville historian) Joe Herring, Jr.  Thanks for sending the poster of the “Fab Four” . . . great memories.  Over the past 90 days, we’ve tried some amazing wines – both red and white.  We’ve also had some DOGS!  Before the 365th day has come and gone, we’re pretty sure that there will be more dogs, probably some cats and who knows what other animals that may be out there!

Tonight we opened and tasted a 2010 Barbed Wire Meritage . . . thus the previous mention about the barbed wire — ;-)–everything ties back to something, right?  Anyway, this little doozie came to us from our recent visit to Max’s Wine Dive in San Antonio.  You probably would never guess that this wine is from the folks at Sutter Home – that’s right, the same folks who bring  you the immortal, Sutter Home White Zinafandel!  Overall, this wine has a beautiful color; dark purple, very thick and juicy.  The nose gave us toasted oak – almost an almond scent which partnered with an earthiness.  The initial taste was green peppery but that gave way to a fruitiness of black cherry, raspberries and currants.  The finish was, well, it was just there.  Nothing to write home about.  In fact, as we researched more about this wine, the 2009 reviewed almost identically to the 2010.  For a wine that retails right at $20 a bottle, we’d probably opt for something else, especially if we could find something from a boutique winery as opposed to a monolith.  Don’t get us wrong, the wine tasted fine, but for the investment, we’d probably opt for something bigger, bolder and NOT as well known.  A nice Zinfandel from Adelaida is a good starting point.  Anyway, this wine is yet another reason why we feel compelled to sample so many different wines . . . we won’t even scratch the surface in 365 days compared to the sheer number of wines on the market.

However, should you run into the proverbial “brick wall” or as we’re calling it tonight, the “barbed wire fence”, then having a wine that recognizes what’s ahead is very important.  This Meritage is worth trying; especially if you’ve never had it before.  We think that if you’ve had it in the past, you’ll probably opt for something different–which we’ll deal with tomorrow night.  Thanks for being with us during the past 90—we mean, 91 days.  Three months down and ONLY nine more to go!  We can do this with your help–please feel free to pass this blog on to folks you know that enjoy wine.  We aren’t saying that we know a lot about wine, but we ARE saying that we’ll tell you exactly how we feel about a specific wine.  It’s a tough job, but SOMEBODY’s got to do it!

Until tomorrow, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 90: For Kathryn . . .

Today was a GREAT day – mainly for Jean because of the way a late afternoon work meeting fell she was home not only before dark, but well before 5:30 p.m. – YEAH!!!!!  This is a rare occasion given her daily commute to Austin.  Even better was the fact that Brian shut his office down early to make the Chamber parking lot available for “Sights and Sounds of Christmas” here in San Marcos.  Indeed a great way to start a Thursday evening – a prelude to the weekend.

As you have probably figured out, we like wine – specifically red wine – but, we know that sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone and try something new – for the team . . . or in this case, Kathryn.  You see, Jean’s boss’s wife is a HUGE fan of white wine and has been known to in recent months to give us a rasher for not trying enough white wine.  In fact on Day 17 we featured a requested wine by Kathryn (after a throwdown challenge of putting on our big boy and girl panties and tasting a white wine – still waiting for your input on another – perhaps at Vino Vino later this month?) and decided that tonight we should venture back into the land of white wine.

We plucked a 2009 Four Vines Naked Chardonnay out of the rack to sample this evening.  We must admit, we’ve had this one before on numerous occasions and actually consider it one of our all-time favorite white wines.  Kathryn – you should try this one, although it might be a little non-too sweet for you.  Scouts honor, we will sample a major sweet type wine for you before Christmas arrives.

So, back to tonight’s WOC (new term – Wine Of Choice) – when we made our first trip to Paso many, many years ago we discovered Four Vines winery – in fact if memory serves us, it was our FIRST stop on the trip and most memorable.  As mentioned, we are not fans of sweet and buttery wines – so this wine caught us a bit off guard since it was a Chardonnay.  “Naked” as we quickly learned meant the wine was aged in stainless steel barrels and not oak – thereby giving it a non- theater popcorn “buttery taste” and much more of a crisp note on the palate.  The nose on this little gem is best described as a crisp, concentrated Chardonnay with all its natural acid.  The taste is pure apple, white peach, and pear, finishing long with hints of citrus and mineral.  It won’t disappoint whether serving with food or just sipping on a warm afternoon.  Make sure you chill it beyond belief and then enjoy as the flavors change as it warms up.  This is a great little wine for the deck, the dining room table or even the living room couch – it just works anytime – anywhere.  We’ve sampled it with pizza, fish, beef and just cheese and crackers – anything goes.

The cost for this wine is very reasonable – we find it at World Market for under $11 a bottle, and with our nifty thrifty discount card the price goes down even more.  So, our advice to you is pick up a couple of bottles to keep in the fridge and have handy when the “white wine” mood strikes you – we promise you it’s a refreshing wine that  you won’t regret buying, opening and pouring.

As we wrap up Thursday and zip into Friday and the end of the week, please remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.  And more importantly – be willing to take one for the team and raise a glass to good friends who encourage you to try new things – tip of the hat to you, Kathryn!


Day 89 – Join The Band . . .

One of Brian’s favorite albums (we’re dating ourselves) of all time is The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band-released in June 1967. . .it is–in one simple word–a classic!

Back in the mid-2000’s, our good friend, Joe Herring, Jr. who was a part of a statewide consortium–kind of a think-tank for well-connected people–asked about putting on a street dance in the heart of downtown Kerrville–on the Star–so when the team from all over the state of Texas came out from their evening’s meeting would see a downtown alive with music, people and fun!   Being no wall flowers to a challenge, we jumped at the opportunity; after all, the once famous Harvest Moon Dance was history and we needed something to light the place up.

After a meeting with the good folks from local radio station, ‘The Ranch 92 FM’. . .they were on board to help bring a band that would be remembered for a long time to come!  There are a ton of “tribute” bands whether for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles–you name them, chances are there is a tribute band to imitate them.  When the call came that we might be able to get ‘The Beatles – A Tribute” which included band members who had performed on Broadway. . .the die was cast.

It was a weekend to remember.  The guys were picked up in San Antonio–complete with a hand-made sign, and, thanks to Schreiner University, a van for all of their equipment!  They came from various points on the East Coast–New York, New Jersey, Maryland–each of them talented, easy to talk with and wondering what the heck they had agreed to by coming to Kerrville, Texas!  We–on the other hand–wondered what the heck did we buy?  Could these guys deliver on anything close to the sound of the original ‘Fab Four’?  We shouldn’t have worried. . .when they took the stage as the original ‘mop top’ band and started playing the old classics like “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “Hard Days Night”, we were hooked.

When they took a break and disappeared for 30 minutes and came back as Sgt. Pepper–looking, acting and sounding EVERY bit of the part, those of us in attendance were blown away.  It was indeed a night to remember.  These guys played longer than they had to and stayed around way past their contract because the good folks who cared enough to come out and hear them were truly entertained.  Tonight’s wine brought back this terrific memory…

So, we were at Trader Joe’s (yes, this WAS at Trader Joe’s) back on November 18th, and we came upon this little noticed label from Sonoma County, California. . .a 2010 The County Fair  The One Man Band Zinfandel which is 80% Zinfandel; 15% Petite Sirah and the other 5%–Who Knows???!

Wow–this is one that has never made the radar, so we felt “obligated” to try it!  The wine is produced by HDD LLC; the wine group owns several wineries and vineyards in California and are responsible for many Trader Joe’s exclusive wines.  The wine is a raspberry red in color. The nose is blackberry, coffee with vanilla  and cherry juice. It starts out with blackberry and blueberry, followed by a hint of coffee and black cherry. The mid palate brings in some spice, vanilla  a slight bite from the tannins in the back of your mouth. The finish is fairly strong and does linger. This is a Zinfandel that is not drinking badly now, but probably could have benefited from some more aging time in the bottle.  A good tasting, quality Zinfandel from Sonoma County that sells for $8.99 is a very good thing. Rich flavor, nice depth and cheap, what else can ask for. Dust off the BBQ grill and pour yourself a glass.  After a good laugh and some tortilla crusted tilapia and roasted potatoes with red onions and red peppers, we agree that it’s a nice little bottle of wine.

However, it’s start was suspect to say the least.  Jean had some Roasted Garlic Triscuits which seemed to mellow out the initial tasting and helped it go down as the wine opened up.  Would we serve this to the boss for dinner? (wouldn’t do that to ya Scott)  Probably not!  Would we open this with a fire in the pit?  Most definitely.  With a price point of $9.00, you’re probably not going to be disappointed in this wine.  Not the best – but definitely, not the worst.

While the guys from the Beatles Tribute band were playing some of the most listened to music in the history of rock n roll, Joe and his crew from all over the state, came out from their meeting to see a downtown full of people–music engulfing the streets and buildings–folks dancing to the beat.  It was a night to remember.  We haven’t forgotten and it was this wine that helped bring us back to a great night!

No matter what brings out your great nights, when you enjoy your favorite wine, please enjoy it responsibly.  And, remember to recycle whenever possible!

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Day 88: One Step Forward – Two Steps Back . . .

Ok, so for the second night in a row we have to make a correction . . . a friend that Jean works with said she got a chuckle of out us getting our days mixed up (shout out to Margaret!) – and tonight we have to correct the location of where we purchased last night’s wine – it was not Trader Joe’s, it was Max’s Wine Dive in San Antonio (apologies to Julie – she asked what Trader Joe’s).  Albeit – regardless of what day it was or where it was purchased – it was a really nice bottle of vino.  All of these miscues just go to show that we are human and do make mistakes – but, as Baby’s Dad said in Dirty Dancing – ” when I’m (we) are wrong, I (we) say I (we) I’m (we) wrong” – – whew, did that make sense . . . if you’ve seen the movie, you get the line.  For the record – we also don’t put Baby in the corner . . . thank you Johnnie (love, love, love Patrick Swayze).

Now that the record is set straight – let’s get to the day’s happenings.  What a great treat we had to day at lunch – the chance to “meet in the middle” and enjoy a noontime gathering for a meal together.  Since we work about 40 miles apart, the chance to meet midday and enjoy one another’s company is a special treat.  We enjoyed some BBQ midway between office A and office B.  As the day wrapped up, we arrived home to do some work on a painting project that is underway and connect with daughter #1 and daughter #2 via text and phone – a rare treat indeed.  A sit down with the latest episode of Chopped and bamn it’s 10:00 p.m. and soon we will turn into pumpkins – that’s what happens when no children are at home to keep us in line.  We tend to fall asleep on the couch – or recliner, take your pick.  We are truly the last of a dying breed – “empty bedroomers” – surely not “empty nesters” as #1 and #2 are still on the payroll.

So for tonight – yes, all facts have been validated – so no typos . . . we selected from the wines we purchased at World Market in College Station a cute little wine called Los Dos from Spain.  This wine is a 2011 Grenache – Syrah from Campo De Borja, Spain.  Sorry, you will have to provide your own map if you need to know exactly where Campo De Borja is located.  The wine has a screw top (no, that doesn’t mean anything – some of our favorite with are screw tops) – and had an interesting nose.  Well, interesting in that we were overwhelmed by the scent of coffee.  Lots of coffee . . . in fact we thought that Juan Valdez was in the room with us – which gave way to blueberries and cranberries as it opened up and there was a hint of vanilla after it had been open for about 30 minutes.  On the taste, well, maybe it’s just us, but whenever we taste blends with Grenache – this one is 85% Grenache and the balance is Syrah – we get a sweet and sour combination that doesn’t always taste like we think it should taste.  As with the nose, as the wine opened up, the flavors of the fruit and the subtle taste from the oak started to come through.  For a bottle of wine that cost less than $10, you probably would want to try it for yourself to decide if it’s worth buying more.  As it’s a 2011, the wine is still very young and there may continue to be some bottle aging but we feel like it’s got a relatively short life span.  In the long run, there are probably other, better, value-priced wines on the market – we’ve got more to go so keep reading–than this one.  But, if you’re looking  – (as Monty Python used to say, “And now for Something Completely Different”) – then have a go at it!  For the price ($8.49 on sale) it’s a bargain.

While we won’t hang our heads in shame at our mistakes, we know that you want accurate information, and while we’d like to use the reason for the error as we just didn’t see it coming – in all reality, the more feedback we get, the better our facts will be.  Last night’s wine was really good and tonight’s wine was, well, really – not so much.  We look forward to tomorrow night and another tasting; until then please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


Day 86 – Call In The Guards. . .

 We couldn’t help but notice, and since no one else even bothered to comment, we blew the whistle on ourselves.  Yep.  Yesterday, we were out of sequence.  It happens to the best of folks; when you’ve made the commitment to sample and write about 365 different wines in the same number of days, it was going to happen.  We didn’t write a disclaimer before we started, so now is probably as good a time as any to note that, occasionally. . .and we mean occasionally. . . there may be discrepancies in the numbers of days reported compared to the actual number of days reviewed.  Through no fault of our own, the “numbering system” gets flawed and we may, inadvertently, skip or duplicate a number–which is EXACTLY what happened last night!  So, just to be clear–tonight is Day 86 and tomorrow will be Day 88–it’s all part of the NEW MATH!  Any questions?

So, the sales totals for the first full weekend of shopping for Christmas is starting to come in and the numbers are pretty impressive.  We really wonder how many people actually hit the streets to shop on Black Friday or Saturday or Sunday, or the real number of people who wait until – – – CYBER MONDAY – – – to do their shopping.  Since all we’ve heard about today is the amazing number of deals available for cyber-shoppers, we thought that maybe online sales could eclipse in-person sales this year.  We saw an estimate this morning that seemed to conclude that today’s sales could exceed $1.5 billion!  On the one hand, that is an impressive amount of business–tough to imagine anything but success with those kinds of sales.  However, the pie is only so big which means that sales from traditional ‘brick and mortar’ retailers is probably going to suffer.  It only stands to reason that if you buy something from Retailer A online instead of buying it from Retailer A’s store in your town, that Retailer A does just fine but the store and the sales tax to the local community – – well, NOT SO MUCH.

We wanted to have some fun on a Cyber Monday, so we chose a blend that we bought at Trader Joe’s . . . tonight’s wine is a 2009 Guard Shack from Sonoma County, California. . .it’s a blend from DC FLYNT MW SELECTIONS who specialize in varietal blends from Napa and Sonoma Counties.  This particular wine delivers a blend of spice, sweet, rich, black and red notes that range from cassis to wild red berries all deftly supported by the smell of warm earth and tannins.  What we immediately noticed was the amazing nose of fruit, smoke and cedar that was parlayed into a taste of all of the above and then some.  We were pleasantly surprised by, not only the amazing taste on the palate, but the long beautiful finish. Certainly not what you’d expect from a relatively ‘no-name’ wine available at Trader Joe’s.  We like big, inky red wines and this one fills the bill.  Just to be sure, we grilled some beef with sauteed mushrooms and red onions along with garlic mashed potatoes.  Needless to say, the food and the wine paired exceptionally well together.

The hardest part for most wine lovers is to break outside of their ‘box’ – a comfort zone of two or three labels of wine that are just too ‘easy’ to give up (please note, this is not to be confused with BOXED WINE).  We encourage you to “call in the guards . . .” and try this 2009 Guard Shack.  It’s a nice little change of pace from your ‘normal’ varietals and you may just like it.  If wine places like, Max’s Wine Dive, has it on their menu, one of two things comes to mind – A).  They must like what Guard Shack has to offer in value and taste. . .or. . B).  They are looking for a few good suckers to buy something that will make them extra money.  The cynics will opt for ‘B’, but the answer is clearly ‘A’ which is your cue to give this wine a taste.

And, whether you’re a Cyber Monday freak, geek or sheik . . . the key is to ALWAYS remember that life is too short to enjoy BAD wine.  Until tomorrow, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 87: Thanksgiving Was a Winner – by a Landslide . . .

The votes are in – tallies have been counted – it’s official by a landslide . . . another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Just like that – the leftovers are eaten or made into a yummy looking soup (Cathy – the pictures made us hungry!) – out-of-town guests are all back home safely – daughter #1 and daughter #2 are tucked in at their respective universities.  Most folks are ready for a new week of work.  (OK, that may be a stretch!) And, we’ve settled in for another night of Sunday Night Football, The Amazing Race and The Food Network!

We’ve previously mentioned our trip to Napa and Sonoma back in 2008 and one of the places we visited was Simi Vineyards, and it is still one of our favorites to this day.  In fact the day we visited, the temperatures were ideal for an outdoor picnic and so we enjoyed a terrific lunch under huge trees in a garden setting.  Of course, we enjoyed our dining with some wine from Simi!  Over the years, we’ve enjoyed Simi Cabernet Sauvignon as well as other varietals.  Because Simi is so readily available in stores, you might think that it’s just another commercialized wine–and nothing could be further from reality.

We still remember Thanksgiving 1984 – we’d moved into our first home–9607 Poynes in Houston to be exact–and we were hosting Thanksgiving for both sets of parents and other family members as well as new neighbors.  The day was your typical south Texas November–a cool morning followed by a beautiful afternoon.  The turkey was on the “Old Timer” smoker and the rest of the food was coming together.  As the afternoon progressed, the bird cooked pretty well considering the wind, but it was obvious that this bird was going to need some additional attention before it was set to be carved!  Unfortunately, as the day wore on, Brian began feeling less than healthy and after taking the turkey off the smoker and putting it in the oven ( in a roasting pan), he ended up curled up in a ball on the bed–not sure what the bug was that day–and the turkey was left to be finished in the oven.  As the heat of the bird mixed with the heat of the oven, the juice of the turkey spilled into the roasting pan creating a smoky mess–at the exact moment that the turkey juice was meeting the hot surface of the roasting pan, Brian was carrying Bob the Cat down the hall to the litter box.  There is NOTHING worse than holding a cat when the smoke detectors go off.  We’re not 100% sure why it went off the way it did but Bob’s claws went deep into the skin (prompting a quick release) and the house filled with a heavy odor of turkey smoke!  Unfortunately, Jean was left to fend for herself with the help of family members.  To this day, we really don’t know what caused Brian to get sick on that Thanksgiving day, but all well that ends well, and the food from family and friends was terrific.  Unfortunately, in those days, we had NO idea how good wine could taste, so when we got to this point of the day, it was our decision to open our favorite bottle of German white wine–a Spatlese that we thought was ‘the bomb’!  Little did we know at the time that this was actually a DESSERT wine!  Long story short, the dinner went really well, Bob the Cat was no worse for the wear and health returned to the family.

Not that tonight was like the evening back in 1984, but we’ve learned a few things about wine in the past 20+ years.  Tonight’s 2008 Simi Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon is and has been one of our favorites.  The 2007 vintage was off the charts phenomenal, and the 2008 while having a huge reputation to live up to from the previous year, still managed to satisfy those of us who really enjoy good wine!  Upon opening this bottle, the most remembered scent was a “mustiness” that doesn’t ring true to what we are used to – warm and inviting aromas of sweet black cherry, cassis, plum, blackberry, raspberry, dark roasted coffee, brown sugar, vanilla, and smoky mineral notes. On the palate, dark berries and plums meet up with roasted coffee accents. The entry is big, full, and rich, followed by a focused middle and a youthful finish with a slight grip and dark roasted offering. So, although we were disappointed, we would both buy and try this wine again in a heartbeat – maybe we just got a bad bottle – sadly that happens some time.

Although the wine for tonight fell short – our Thanksgiving did not – it was a grand time to see family and friends alike.  To our family – thanks for a wonderful couple of days – hope to repeat next yer!

After you’ve packed away the Turkey – please remember to celebrate responsibly and recycle when you ever possible – by the way . . . heads up, the Christmas season is here in full force!

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Day 85 – Live Life to the Maximus

So, back in 2008 when we made our first trip to Napa and Sonoma – the very last place we stopped to taste and enjoy was at Bennett Lane in Calistoga, California.  While we were there, a number of cyclists had pulled off the Silverado Trail (or so we thought) and had been enjoying some of the “local offerings”.  We had a terrific tasting and ended up buying a couple of bottle of their wine – this one was among them.  After the tasting, we ended up at the Wine Garage which was a cool place for small batch wineries and other varietals . . . we ended up with a number of delicious finds from that stop as well.

Anyways, we digress.  Bennett Lane was a really cool place with a lot of really good wines – the king of which is their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon which has a Wine Spectator rating of 91 points and a price tag of $95.  Sorry friends – we DIDN’T taste this wine!  However, tonight’s wine is the 2006 Maximus Red Feasting Wine which given the fact that it’s the Thanksgiving weekend, and that we’ve been feasting since Thursday . . . it seemed an appropriate selection for tonight’s blog.

This little beauty comes to us from our friends at World Market where the retail price (and confirmed at the winery) is $35.  It was on sale for $16.99 and because we are wine club members, the price dropped an additional 10% – knocking off an additional $1.70 for an amazingly low price of $15.29!  But, what’s really cool about this wine – get some if you can find it is how incredibly accurate their tasting notes are to the real thing.   This wine begins with aromas of cocoa, cherry and plum. Subtle floral aromas develop in the glass.  On the palate there are rich flavors of dark cherry and raspberry that lead to an elegant finish, with layers of rich texture and incredible length.  We also found an aroma of anise and a definite scent of leather.  The palate was rich, fruity and absolutely the finish was amazing.  Quite frankly, we’re still shaking our heads about this one and how it ended up in our basket.  WOW, it’s really good and worthy of a holiday celebration.  Get in your car and buy some of this wine – with Christmas around the corner, you’ll make a significant impression on the folks around you if you roll this baby out with guests.  What a winner!

Having spent the holidays with folks whom we love and cherish, it’s good to come home to a wine with spectacular lineage.  Add to the fact that this wine was actually bottled in June of 2008 and we enjoyed it in the middle of its’ perfect enjoyment timelinee – every once in a while it’s cool to luck into a good find at a great price.  We know after eating lots of turkey and dressing and then a full blown shrimp boil that good food and good wine were meant to be enjoyed together and this wine is definitely one to enjoy with food.  The Bennett Lane folks recommend a Lamb and Feta Cheese Burger with tonight’s wine.  After reading the recipe, we agree that not only does is sound delicious, but more importantly, this wine was made for food.  So, find your favorite meal and bring this wine along.

Traveling to wineries in California or Texas or wherever you may choose to enjoy is something that brings two of our favorite things together – good wine and good friends.  We hope that as the holiday season begins, you’ll stop to enjoy both good friends and good wine together!  They are a terrific combination and like this 2006 Maximus Red Feasting Wine, they are meant to be shared together.

Until tomorrow, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.