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Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 121 : Brought to You by the Letter E . . .

EYou know that time is flying by when you headline your article with, “brought to you by the letter ‘E’…”  So, it wasn’t that long ago that we had two little, precocious girls who happened to love Christmas, Sesame Street and Elmo!  And with all due respect to current events, their parents agreed on all accounts!  Yep, we have terrific memories of a cup of cheerios and some juice in a ‘sippy’ cup and a Sesame Street video entertaining not one, but both kids.  Yes, we admit that perhaps we weren’t the best parents in the world; however, the lesson taught in those Sesame Street videos teaches all of us a lesson!!!!

The single hardest part about all of that is knowing that our kids grow up.  It’s what’s supposed to happen.  If we’ve done our job, then they will make their mark in time.  While both of them are still carving their niche in time, we can say–unbiased, of course, that these are two amazing young women.  Regardless of the curves that life will throw at them, we’ve grown to understand and believe that they will not only handle the curve but also drive it into the gap!  This only comes from THEM finding the confidence in themselves.  All of this being said, we still have fond memories of watching Sesame Street–especially the end of the show when they tell us that the show was brought to us by the numbers. . .(whatever) and the letter, ‘E’. . . which is where we begin tonight’s wine blog!

We opened and enjoyed, from Orin Swift, a bottle of ‘E’ which is from Spain; this wine is a cousin to a previously reviewed wine, ‘F’. . .unlike its’ cousin, ‘E’ is a fruit bomb waiting to explode.  You’ll love this wine if you love lots of fruit from your wine; lots of tannins with plenty of oak, fruit and earthiness to go around for everyone!  If you’re the kind of wine lover that likes to try new varietals, the Orin Swift’s ‘E’ needs to be on your radar.  We’ve had the opportunity to taste a number of wines from Swift, and this one may be at the top of the chart.  Swift’s winemaker, Dave Phinney has gone above and beyond the call of duty in creating a Spanish wine with depth, breadth, and taste.  Our tastes seem to have been confirmed because according to ‘’, “The wine has a vibrant ruby color. The aromas are a blend of ripe berry, fruit, spice, and a hint of oak. An intense and concentrated mid palette that leads to a lingering finish of ripe, soft tannins will leave you longing for the next sip. This juice is well balanced and is ready to be drunk. This wine is incredible, and..was going to give it a five-cork rating and mention that it was more deserving of a six-cork. Orin Swift never seems to let me down.”  We picked this little gem up at Central Market on North Lamar – way to go Andy!  The price was good – and on sale made it less than $14 – we will buy this again.

Yep, we couldn’t agree more; but this wine is a terrific wine with food as well. . .tonight we had a spicy, shrimp stir-fry with rice and the wine was a terrific complement to the dish.  In fact, we agreed that for the money, this wine could be paired with a variety of food and it would continue to hold up well.  We love wines like this; they’re delicious, fruity, structured and value-priced.  If you’re craving a wine that delivers on all cylinders, then, this is your bottle. . .’E’ is more than just another letter, it’s a new way to enjoy great wine, and regardless as to whether your day is brought to you by the  numbers 1, 2 or 3 or the letter ‘E’, you’ll want to get a bottle of this wine.

Now that the kids have advanced beyond Sesame Street, we still have videos (yes, as in tapes) of many episodes of their shows.  It’s kind of funny, but they NEVER get old!  Kind of like good wine–it only gets better with age.

As the year winds down and the New Year is on the horizon, we hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly–we really want you to continue following us in 2013.  Recycling is as easy as returning your empty bottle to a location that offers recycling–we’re extremely fortunate to live in a community that offers single stream recycling. . .regardless, please try to recycle whenever possible.

Until tomorrow – and our FINAL blog for 2012–CHEERS!

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Day 120 – Sometimes You Need to Chill. . .

First TimerNope . . . not us.  We are NOT first timers!  But, anytime we see a wine that catches our eye, chances are good that we’re going to pick it up and give it a shot.  Turns out, we’ve been down this path before, but we’ll try it one more time.

Do you remember the first time you tasted a really good glass of wine?  You know, the one that gave you the ‘aha’ moment?  Or, do you remember your first dance?  Was it in high school?  Or maybe — if you were ahead of the curve — middle school?  How about your first kiss?  Was it in the gym?  Or your parents’ sedan?  There are so many ‘first times’ in our lives that we sometimes forget to stop and appreciate them.  We’ve become a media-driven society and the drive seems to have cheapened the ‘first timer’ mentality.  We don’t think so . . . in fact, we love first timers . . .

When we started this blog, we were first timers – never blogged before, but now, we love it.  Since we’ve started this blog, we’ve helped sort grapes at a winery in California, we’ve helped make our house more of a home and we’ve tried to become better stewards of our time together with our family . . . okay, that’s not a first timer thing, but we think it’s really important.  It’s all good; we know that, even at our ‘advanced age’, there are still plenty more ‘first timers’ yet to be  had, and we’ll appreciate them as they’re given to use!

Tonight, from the same folks that brought us Chain Gang and Guard Shack, we have our 2011 First Timer blend . . . It was a really nice little bottle of wine–young, but it had a lot of pinot noir traits to it – light, fruity and a wine that gets better as it opens up.  There isn’t a lot of structure to the wine, but its’ muscle is in the taste and the finish.  Even though it’s  a young wine, it still has the chops to be a decent wine, and we both agree that, as it gets older in the bottle, it has potential to be better.  In fact, we laughed at the description about the wine, “This won’t be the last time you give in to this captivating blend of classical California varietals.  You’ll find that the deep, dark, intense flavors of blackberry, black cherry and cassis combine with zesty notes of pepper and sweet vanilla to imprison your senses and lock down a finish of lush pleasure.”  What makes it funny is that the other two wines we’ve tried and blogged about have virtually the same description.  So, we’ve learned that labels aren’t always what we think they are, and some wine makers love to put the same product in the same bottles with different labels.  While we can’t “comment”, we can only observe the similarities and wonder . . . D.C.Flynt M.W. Selections has a vast array of labels, varietals and blends from all over the world, and while they are different in name, we can’t help but wonder why they insist on producing lackluster product with the same themed-names.  They’re hardly first timers from our perspective . . . Thanks to HEB for carrying this great wine – and for selling it for under $11.

So, we remember the LAST dance at Homecoming . . .  you know, Stairway to Heaven – a Led Zeppelin classic – back in our day, it was the song to wrap up any dance!!  Yeah, first timers are fun to remember.  As we get close to wrapping up 2012 and are staring the new year smack in the face, we hope that you’ll have a year filled with ‘first timer’ moments – from first kisses to first steps and from first houses to first child and everything in between.  So, you see, even if the wine is less than a home run, the name gives us something to write about!

Enjoy your ‘first timer’ wine tonight – or your multiple-timer wine tonight, but please enjoy it responsibly–we want you reading well into next year–after all, 365 days is quite an endeavor and without you, it won’t be nearly as fun!  Also, when you recycle whenever possible, you help make our world just  a little bit better than it is today!

Until tomorrow. . . Cheers!

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Day 119: That’s What Friends Are For . . .

Campos De RiscaSo, today we (Brian, Jean and Daughter #2) hopped in the car and headed west (isn’t there a famous line that says – “go west young man, go west”? – well, yes there is and being us –  we had to look it up – “Go West, Young Man, Go West” was an expression first used by John Babsone Lane Soule in the Terre Haute Express in 1851. It appealed to Horace Greeley, who rephrased it slightly in an editorial in the New York Tribune on 13 July 1865: “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” When the phrase gained popularity, Greeley printed Soule’s article to show the source of his inspiration. The phrase captured the imaginations of clerks, mechanics, and soldiers returning from the Civil War, many of whom moved west to take up a homestead.)

Ok, so back to today – we got in the car and headed west to Kerrville for a multitude of reasons.  D#2 had lunch plans with a high school friend, Brian was meeting HVAC tech at our rental house and Jean was meeting a friend to help with a project – so you see, we had to go!  D1 was already there visiting friends for a few days – but, alas our paths didn’t cross except for a quick passing with D#2.  We wrapped up our chores by around 1 p.m. and hooked up with some other friends at one of our all-time favorite spots in Ktown – – – Grape Juice.  We’ve mentioned Patrick and Keri Wilt a number of times, and always want to give them a shout out whenever possible – mainly because they are such great people and we really think the world of them.  If you ever get the chance – go visit them or if you can’t go visit them–go visit their website.

As we ordered lunch, Patrick plopped a 2008 bottle of Campos De Risca on the table and said we’d love it – – – – well, as usual – he was right.  This is the second bottle of Monastrell that we’ve talked about in our blog, and the more we try it, the more we like it!  Spanish wines are making names for themselves because winemakers know that there is a limitless potential with Spanish vineyards.  Some of the best wines in the world are coming from or about to come from Spain – if you haven’t tried any lately, you’re missing the boat!  Tonight’s wine is sneaky . . . like a fox!  It starts out, as Pat so perfectly described it, with a lot of tobacco.  We got it on the nose and in the taste – very noticeable.  But, after this wine had some time to open up, the fruit and earthiness really makes it a fine wine.  A beautiful deep, dark purple color gave the impression of a richness that would normally be reserved for varietals with much stronger lineage.  We thoroughly enjoyed this wine and even added an extra one to take home and add to our wine rack.  A quick look around the internet confirmed that this wine is a great value for the money and reviews at 88-90 points from Parker and Wine Spectator.  While not all reviews from these esteemed publications are  on target, with this 2008 Campos De Risca, all are on point!

The only thing worse than enjoying a great bottle of wine and seeing the bottle become empty is having to get back into the car and head home.  It’s always an adventure when we stop at Grape Juice . . . there aren’t a lot of places to hang out in Kerrville, Texas, but GJ is a great place to start!  And, when you can combine good food and good wine with good friends, it sets the table for a winning combination.  We know that each time we visit the place, we’ll find something that will satisfy our palates without breaking the bank!

As you settle in with your favorite wine–tonight or any night–remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 118 – Que Syrah, Syrah. . .

Castoro SyrahWhat ever will be, will be.  And, as we begin the countdown to the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, we take a moment to recognize and thank the men and women who have volunteered their time to give back to their country.  Yep, we’re talking about the thousands upon thousands of men and women who are a part of the United States Military.  From the Army to the Navy, and from the Air Force to the Marines and Coast Guard–and everything in between, we appreciate your sacrifices for the country.  We pray that your family also appreciates your sacrifices–especially when you get home!

With Daughter #1 safely nestled in Kerrville and Daughter #2 still here in San Marcos, we pray that you’ll have a terrific Christmas season.  We know that there are LOTS of wines to choose from and lots of places to buy that wine.  We hope that you’ll consider this wine and the others that we blog about as opportunities to try something new and delicious while at the same time being ready to start the new year off on the right foot.

One of our favorite vineyards from the trip to California back in October was to Castoro Cellars. . .the home of ‘Damn Fine Wine.’  We couldn’t agree more!  Tonight’s selection is a 2009 Castoro Blind Faith Syrah–this is some serious wine.  This particular wine is special for a number of reasons.  First, it’s from their ‘Blind Faith’ vineyards, and the grapes that source out of this area tend to make sensational wines–we hope the trend continues.  Secondly, the year–2009, was a stellar year for grape growers in that part of the state.  We’ve noticed the trend on a number of wines we tasted.

This wine exhibits all of the characteristics you’d expect from a big syrah.  It has a beautiful dark purple, inky color and swirling it in the glass you get the feeling it’s ‘thicker’ than normal wine.  On the nose is subtle hints of anise and plum combined with a smokiness from the oak, it leaves one salivating for a taste…which we did!  The flavors are full, and the finish is long and delicious.  We noticed that the wine had just a hint of chocolate flavor with it which is a nice touch as wine with dessert–especially a chocolate dessert!  What you DON’T get from this wine is a lot of ‘lost potential’–you know, a wine that has all of the makings of something special, but when you actually get to the wine, it leaves you wanting more!  Not this Castoro gem. . .it’s made for pure enjoyment–we sampled it with a spicy kung pao chicken tonight, and it was a winner from start to finish.

As your holidays continue, we encourage you to stretch the limits of your tastings.  There truly are some incredible wines from California, Australia, Spain and other parts of the world that are just waiting to be tasted and enjoyed.  While not every wine you’ll taste is going to send you to the ‘stratosphere’ of good wines. . .you have to try them before you can ‘like’ them!  We really ‘like’ this 2009 Castoro Syrah.

As the weekend is upon us, take some time to enjoy your favorite wine with friends, family or just as a treat for yourself, but no matter how you care to sample your favorite, please do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 117: A Night at The Roxx . . .

Moss Roxx ZinThe Day AFTER Christmas!  We have to admit, it’s hard getting excited about the day after any holiday–it’s worse when it’s the day after Christmas.  The ‘let down’ of all the build up and excitement leading to the ‘big day’ and then “WHAM” it’s over in the blink of an eye.  Well, that means we’re only 364 shopping days until Christmas!

Today, after an early start we loaded Brian’s Mom in the car and made a return trip to Houston after a terrific visit.  Traffic was bearable for  the most part–unlike some areas of the country dealing with rotten weather, we had beautiful (but cold) weather and made it back to her apartment in slightly more than three hours with a stop in between.  It’s visits like this and having Jean’s Dad over that help us keep things in perspective.  Family is where it’s at.  You can have all the friends in the world, but without family, it’s a long haul through life.  Seeing how each of our parents’ have coped with their soulmate’s losses over the years has been a study in true love.  We’ve often remarked that we should be as fortunate as they–it’s the stuff that’s missing from a LOT of this country.  Love, Commitment, Passion and Family.  We see it in their eyes; we live it in the presence and we’ll miss it when it’s not available to us any longer.

Love of family came home in a different way as we learned this morning that one of Brian’s cousins in Canada had passed away on Christmas Day.  Paul was a young man by today’s standards; a devout Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus.  We’ll NEVER forget the weekend the Knights had a bowling tournament in Collinsville, Illinois during the years we were living in St. Charles, Missouri.  It was the same weekend as Palm Sunday.  These guys were not your ordinary bowlers–they came prepared!  So, when we arrived to visit with them at their hotel, it caught us completely off guard that they had brought their own Priest with them.  We proceeded to have Mass in the hotel room–even as the ice was shifting in the bath tub as it cooled the beer!  It was one of the most memorable and fun nights we’ve EVER had.  Paul, his twin brother, Pat, their brother Roy, sister Mary, her husband Carr, and a host of other family members were there and are still to this day in our hearts.  So, it’s with a heavy heart that we opened a bottle of wine to appropriately remember Paul and at the same time continue the celebration of the Christmas Season.

We tasted a 2007 Moss Roxx Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California.  We picked this up at World Market for just under $18 and thought of two things: first, it’s a Zin, so probably worth trying and second: it’s from 2007, which in that part of California that year was pretty good for zinfandel grapes.  But, it was a name that we weren’t familiar with, so there was some trepidation involved in trying it.  The description that we found online sums up better than we could ever put into words about the beautiful wine we tasted. . . From, “The 2007 Moss Roxx Ancient Vines Lodi Zinfandel, comes from the oldest operating vineyards in Lodi, California.  This zinfandel is full body with a big flavor, with lots of fruit and is meant to be drunk with a hearty meal.  The wine comes in a very impressive bottle, so heavy it gives  the feelof more wine in the bottle than it really is, but in fact you are getting a 750ml bottle of wine and no more.  In the glass the color is dark and inky, with herbal and earthy aromas, on the palate that all changes, bursting with ripe dark fruit, blackcurrant, ripe plums and a hint of walnut and old fashion fruitcake.  With 14.5% alcohol, it’s perfectly balanced and the finish is silky and smooth.”  Like we said, they summed it up perfectly!  It’s a really superb bottle of wine and is the kind of wine that you could lay down for two or three more years and it would get better.  It’s no secret that we love a good Zin, so finding this little treasure was worth the trip!

And because family (and friends) are an important part of enjoying wine (reference last night’s blog!), we hope you’ll stop during the busy holiday season and spend some time with those people who are important to you.  Cherish each moment as if it was your last with them.  Share a glass of wine or a glass of milk — but share.  It does the heart good to share and spread the love.  We’ll miss Paul– A  LOT!  He was present at most of our family’s major milestones.  Even though he never married or had a family of his own, Paul was–in every sense of the words–a family man.  May God Bless His Soul.

Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 116: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh . . .

Christmas 2012So, here we are at the end of another Christmas Day.  We must admit, this one makes the Top Ten list for us.  Not only were we blessed to have Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 here with us, we had Brian’s mom (aka Grams) under our roof for the past couple of days.  This was the first time in a long, long time that we had others with us on Christmas morning to share our quirky traditions.  It takes a special person to understand why the cars (as in the vehicles parked outside the house that we drive to work daily) give each daughter a calendar and have done so for as far back as we can remember, or how the dogs are able to make it to the store and pick out gifts for everyone in the family – including Grams.  Boy, oh boy, those are some smart hounds – even get sizes correct!

An added bonus for today was the early afternoon arrival of Jean’s dad (aka Bill), Jean’s sister Mary and her husband Tom (for the record they all also got gifts from those crazy dogs of ours).  They ventured through Austin and arrived safe and sound in our neck of the woods.  So – the day was by all means – a home run!  Brian battled the winds, but managed to produce some yummy smoked ribs, pork tenderloin and shrimp on the barbie and Daughters whipped up a green bean casserole.  If you went away hungry tonight – it was your own fault.

As with any feast and celebration – today we celebrated Jesus’ Birthday – there’s never a better reason to roll out some of our best wines.  We went into the wine fridge and pulled out a couple of seriously delicious wines.  With eight people in the house, we wanted to start things off light, we opened a 2009 Dry Creek  Fume Sauvignon Blanc . . . crispy, fruity and very clean, this wine was perfect with the variety of cheeses and crackers put out for snacking.  It’s rich in lemon, lime and pineapple flavors, with intense, zesty acidity for balance, and the finish was spicy.  A perfect way to begin our dinner celebration.  This was followed by an amazing 2009 Sea Smoke “Ten” Pinot Noir.  Now, earlier this year, we blogged about the Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir, and this wine is it’s bigger cousin.  We commented back then that it was much bigger than your ‘typical’ Pinot, and this ‘Ten’ is in our book, well, at 10!  Consistently rated in the lower to mid-90’s, the 2009 Sea Smoke Ten begins with notes of chocolate cake, dried blueberry and lavender, then cassis and dusty black berries.  Firm, mature tannins are followed by a long, velvety finish. We couldn’t have picked a better wine, and as a beginning to our smoked ribs and pork loin, it was delicious.  It was our second phenomenal wine to enjoy for Christmas.

Finally, we had opened our 2008 Bodegas El Nido “Clio “Jumilla from Spain.  This has been laying down in our fridge for a couple of years, and Christmas with family in the house seemed the perfect time to break it out!  We decantered it for an hour before serving and the air time made a great wine even better!  This wine scores 94 points Robert Parker’s scale.  We’ve had Clio before, but wanted to know more about it and discovered that the 2008 Clio is made up of 70% old vine Monastrell sourced from a vineyard planted in 1944 and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyard planted in 1979.  Fermented in oak followed by malolactic fermentation in new barrels and aging for 24 months in new French and American oak.  A rich deep purple color caught our eye and it gave us a “wow” nose of earth, blueberry, and blackberry fruit leading to a full bodied, juicy wine with great savory flavors, and a lengthy finish – we really didn’t want the bottle to be empty, but alas it was.  What we can tell you is that this was a scrumptious bottle of wine befitting a celebration as big as Christmas!

Each member of our family was able to taste and compare their tastes and aromas on all three wines which was both fun and interesting to hear differing viewpoints . . .  yet another great reason to enjoy great wine!  We aren’t always “wise”, but when it comes to history, we know that Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were pretty special gifts.

While the food was an integral part of today’s wine sampling, each of the can stand firmly on their own.  Some wines are just better with food.  And, as Christmas 2012 comes to an end and we look ahead to “After Christmas Sales” and “Year-End Blowout Sales”, it’s nice to know that there are good reasons to enjoy good wine.

We hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


Day 115 – T’Was The Night Before…

Wine GuerrillaT’was the night before Christmas, and quiet in the house — The wine blog was written, with the click of a  mouse.

The wine corks were strung near the chimney with care; in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled complete with iPhones, while watching their movies on blue ray on loan.

And Jean with her wine glass and Brian with one too — had just tried some juice that made us woo-hoo!

We opened  a bottle from 2009 — a Shiraz from down under — mmm, mighty fine

We swirled our glasses to show off its’ legs, hoping to taste we wanted to beg!

When out on the front porch there arose such a clatter, we sprang from our cheese tray to see what’s the matter.

And what to our wondering eyes should appear, but good friends had arrived we shouldn’t have feared.

In tow with a Zin we needed to buy–they knew in a minute we’d be dyin’ to try.

A Guerilla Zin they said with no sweat, from 2009 it’s a good one, I’ll bet

Now Oaky, Now Fruity, Now Cedar and Cherry

On Pepper, On Leather, On Tobacco and Berry!

A salute to the season and a taste to the lips–we knew in a moment we’d need more than just sips

As we cherished our time while enjoying the wine, we were aware of the presence of really great vines!

Was Santa here with a bundle of toys on his back? We thought he’s a peddler just opening his sack —

He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like it was really grape jelly!

A great wine we’d shared before springing away – good friends and good wine, it’s a great double play!

But we  heard them exclaim as they drove out of sight, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly (and enjoy reading a story to a child or grandchild) and remember to recycle whenever possible