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Day 212: Easter Sunday, A Day to Unwined . . .

Unwined CabWell, here we are – another Easter Sunday.  From the time we’ve been kids until now, it’s always a family day.  Mass to celebrate our risen Lord – Alleluia!, Easter Egg hunts, looking for Easter baskets . . . they are a lot of fun, but nothing compares to the opportunity of spending time together as family.  It’s when we pause to realize how fortunate that we are that it all sinks in . . . and today was no different.  Having Daughter #1 here was terrific and because she’s ‘close’ we’ve been able to see here a lot more lately; however, Daughter #2 was still up “north” and wasn’t able to join us, SO, we had a way to connect with her even though she was 1,000+ miles away.

Last year, we unveiled cascarones . . . beautifully colored eggs stuffed with – confetti!  Oh My Gosh . . . who would have thought that they could be so much fun, but we didn’t just have a dozen of them – NO – we had three dozen cascarones!  Yep, 36 beautifully colored eggs and ALL of them stuffed with confetti and just waiting to be broken on someone’s head or back . . . or?  Last year there were about ten of us around the table and one can imagine the shear mayhem that took place when 10 people are cracking 36 confetti-filled eggs in a confined dining room!  We were finding confetti until Thanksgiving!!

Since Daughter #2 wasn’t going to be able to join us this Easter, we sent her “basket” of goodies ahead of time with a carton of her own cascarones.  Now, we aren’t completely certain, but we’re thinking that Boston has no idea what cascarones are . . . let alone the folks in the sailing fraternity house!  And, not that Daughter #2 has a devious streak in her, but we could only imagine who her first ‘victim’ would be and how well (or not) it would be taken.  Reports came in early this morning when the “Easter Bunny” arrived – and, hopefully, whomever was the ‘first’ can still laugh about it.  We hope Daughter #2 isn’t worried about ‘revenge’!!

So, tonight as we enjoyed Daughter #1 and her boyfriend as well as our nephew from San Antonio and Jean’s Dad, Bill, we celebrated with our traditional Easter dinner of Kung Pao Chicken – – – yes, this has been an Easter staple since the kids were little and has continued to this day . . . some traditions are made to last.

After dinner came a 2009 Unwined Cabernet Sauvignon from H-E-B, and at less than $12 a bottle, you might be inclined to try this North Coast cab.  While the nose was appealing, the body of this wine was medium–almost light-compared to other cabs we’ve enjoyed.  And, while the tasting notes say this about the wine, “Fresh red fruit, pepper spice and a hint of vanilla also shine through enhancing the overall impression of the wine. Medium bodied with fruit forward components of fresh cherries, blackberry preserves and a subtle pepper-spice that mingles with vanilla oak and just the slightest amount of smokiness that is almost reminiscent of fine pipe tobacco and floral seasonings.”  Our tastes were missing most of this.  It just didn’t satisfy . . . either on the palate or on the finish.  There was very little fruit and a prevalence of alcohol on the finish.  While overall the wine was smooth, it just didn’t make us want to crack a cascarone on it!  Having tasted several value-priced cabs in this price range before, we’d probably look elsewhere next time.

It’s always fun to start, pass on, keep going and appreciating family traditions.  Whether they’re at Easter or any other holiday, the time spent together makes the traditions even more enjoyable . . . and when you can crack an egg – filled with confetti – on someone you love . . . well, it could be a tradition worth keeping for years to come.

Speaking of traditions, enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 211: A Quiet Day . . .

FLOR DE VETUSToday was a quiet day.  Not too much activity, some – but nothing over the top.  As we waited for Daughter #1’s boyfriend to arrive, we spent some time doing chores in preparation of family arriving on Sunday to celebrate Easter.  That’s what Holy Saturday is for – quiet reflective time in anticipation of a really wonderfully day tomorrow.  Again, nothing over the top – but enough to keep up busy until the appointed hour of arrival.  In many ways doing our outdoor “chores” are fulfilling – a chance to do some good manual labor and even break a sweat.

We chuckled the other day when discussing yard work and how our lives have evolved over the years . . . we deduced it had been over 10 years since we had owned a lawnmower and had to actually get out every week and attack the St. Augustine.  When we moved back to Texas in 2001 we moved to the coast and had over 1.5 acres to mow – and mow we did on our lawn tractor . . . miss those days!  We also had a self propelled mower for the front section of the yard.  When we moved to Kerrville – we sold the lawn tractor  (boy, some fun times with that contraption – had a cart that the girls could sit in as we could tow them around the place) and kept the other mower.  Soon we discovered that the small patch of grass there could be rocked in with the rest of the yard – sold the mower and paid for the rock . . . never mowed or watered grass another day in Kerrville.  Here is San Marcos, we have grass – but no mower . . . easier to hire a lawn service to tend to those needs – but we do some raking and other outdoors tasks just to keep our green thumbs active.  But in many respects miss the yard work!

Tonight’s wine is brought to us by D#1’s boyfriend – and a nice surprise . . . 2009 Flor de Vetus Tinto Toro.  If you’re a Spanish wine freak, like we are, you’ve seen that “Flor de . . . ” name attached to some pretty $$$ expensive bottles in the past, most specifically the “Flor de Pingus”, the second label of a ledendary Ribera del Duero wine, Pingus, whose price tag runs well over $400 – a bottle. Like the Pingus, this Flor de Vetus is the “little” brother of the towering “Vetus”, a 100% Tempranillo from Toro, where the grape is called – by law – “Tinto de Toro”. “Flor” is only “little” as compared to Vetus.

It’s a big, generous,exciting bottle of pure glee that explodes out of the glass, into your nose, and across your palate. Flor is a fairly new wine, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard if it . . . but do not miss it if you’re a fan – like we all are – of Spain’s sunny, serious wines.  Deep purple in color, it offers up a combination  of tar, chocolate, espresso, spice box, and assorted black fruits.  Heavy on the palate with layers of fruit, this yummy wine could be laid down for a year or two – bu very drinkable now.  This wine has the perfect combination . . . beautiful color, awesome nose and terrific finish.  We liked this wine from the minute we smelled and tasted it!  A dinner of smoked baby back ribs, fresh green beans and roasted red potatoes was the PERFECT complement to the wine.  An amazing taste of vanilla and blue berry, we were impressed with the ‘end result’!  We will track this one down and partake of again!!

In anticipation of a wonderful day tomorrow both at Mass and around the dinner table – going to call it an early night!  Hope your day went well – see you tomorrow and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 210 – Friday, Uncensored!

geyser peak uncensoredWhat do you get  when there’s a Friday off from work, a need to visit a store in Austin, AND the store is next to an H-E-B with a great wine selection?  Yep, you get a Friday, Uncensored!  Well, not really, but thanks to a lot of personal attention from Crystal at H-E-B at the Westlake Market, we came away with a wide variety of wines for blogging purposes.  Typically, we’ll walk into a large store and not even get the time of day, but today was different.   Crystal engaged us the minute with hit the wine aisle with our cart.  And, she wasn’t just another clerk. . .clearly, this lady knew her wine and had an appreciation for value-priced varietals.  It’s a special person who takes the time to not only help us find wines to write about, but to listen to our stories about trying this wine or that wine.  It’s obviously a prerequisite for the job – – “Must be able to listen to large fish–er, wine stories and smile!”

The problem with a place like H-E-B Westlake Market is that the selection is extensive and impressive – some of our favorites, Kathryn Hall, Opus One, Frank Family–all in one spot, but we also noted ample supplies of Yellow Tail, Cakebread and Beringer White Zinfandel . . . not so much!  We made an impressive haul thanks to Crystal, and she ‘insisted’ that we try a couple of their wines, and being the supportive souls that we are, well, we didn’t want to just ‘buy and run’ . . .  so tasting we did, and we learned that they have tasting classes at that location . . .  Hmmm, looks like a solid opportunity for the future!  In addition, daughter #1 arrived home safely from school today which means the celebration for Easter is “on” . . .  now, the only thing missing is daughter #2.

We went off the charts tonight and opened a 2010 Geyser Peak Uncensored . . . which is a blend from California and we have to tell you that this wine kicks butt.  It’s got a load of fruit on the nose accented by blackberries and toasted almonds.  The taste is equally delicious; however, the initial taste will cause you to pucker up . . . BUT, we promise that this wine will open up and deliver some incredible tastes.  We are constantly amazed at the quality and the production of blends for the market, and thanks to H-E-B for carrying them.  At less than $12 a bottle, this Geyser Peak delivers on body, structure, taste, smell and overall, it’s a great value.  If you’ve ever tasted any of the Geyser Peak wines, you’ll immediately know that these are good wines.  Uncensored is no different!

With it being Good Friday, we stop to give thanks for the sacrifice that Christ made for us – for without that sacrifice our world would ever so different.  We also want to stop and give birthday shout outs to Sharon and Liz – family and good friends remind us how blessed we are.

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

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Day 209: Ain’t Misbehaven . . .

Peachy CAnyonToday some of our best friends landed in Argentina for two weeks of searching for the perfect Malbec.  Have to admit, wish we were with them . . . oh, the trouble we could get in to – on, second thought . . . perhaps it’s best we are not there.  Those that know these two know they are quite capable of misbehaving all by themselves – we might just complicate the situation.  One of these days, we hope to hop on a plane and head to Argentina ourselves, among other places – but for now, will let our friends enjoy the adventures and return to us with samples and stories of their travels.

So, tonight in honor of these worldly travelers, we opened a wine that unfortunately one can only purchase at the winery – “sorry about that Chief” – there it is another classic TV show line.  Anyhow, back to the wine – –  tonight we popped the cork on a 2010 Ms Behave Malbec from Peachy Canyon Winery.  Peachy Canyon is on the “favorite list”.  We have been to this Paso Robles winery twice and have yet to be disappointed with their offerings.  A trip to Paso is incomplete without a stop by Peachy.

The wine itself is a deep, ruby-red color that wants to just jump out of the glass.  At first sniff we were a bit complexed – – – the nose was rich and nutty with hints of oak and white pepper but tossed in with black cherry and vanilla – a real “soup kitchen” of amoras.  On the palate, it slipped into notes black cherry flavors with a hint of blackberry.  The finish is quite dry and sticks around on for quite some time – more roasted nuts and citrus zest, like a great espresso.  The espresso is a game changer – it just hangs on forever and ever.

This was truly a “deck” wine – we are saddened by the fact that there is a burn ban in effect – otherwise, we would fire up the pit and sit around it while enjoying this spectacular wine.  We pray for rain – and the opportunity to “light our fire”.  As mentioned earlier, one can only order this wine at the winery or via their website – a bit pricey . . . by oh, so worth the price.

So tonight, we won’t linger.  As we head into three special days in the Church, we will say a prayer or two for all of you and can’t wait until Easter Sunday and the Resurrection!  Just love this time of year – even though we know the story, and the ending – it is a wonderful time to be alive and a member of any faith community.  Easter blessing to one and all!

Please remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible!

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Day 208: Ohhh, solo mio . . .

barbera del monferratoOh, man. . .there is NOTHING like a really good Italian wine.  Yes, there are excellent French wines.  Of course, there are big, bold Australian wines.  Understandably, there are amazing Argentine wines.  BUT, when it comes to  ‘old world’ taste at new world prices, Italy and Spain clearly get it!  Yes, there are wines from these countries that can cost a lot of money and we’re pretty sure they’re awesome wines, but what we had in mind was something a little different.  We were thinking of a wine that was young, affordable, tasty and easy to find.

“HOLY COW” . . . as Harry Caray used to say on Cubs’ broadcasts–you mean that we’re asking for the big 4?  We want a wine from Italy that’s young.  Okay, this is a 2011 Barbera that has a lot of fruit–not a lot of structure–but a nose that says fruit salad!  And, we want a wine from Italy that’s affordable.  Let’s face it, when you buy an Italian wine in the middle of the week that costs (retail) less than$15 . . . it will grab your attention!  As it should. . .c’mon, this is an Italian wine – value should be its middle name!  It IS–and the price is well within most folks’ wheelhouse; we like this wine because it retails for under $13 a bottle and when you can combine a young wine with a lower price-you’ve got a nice combination!

But wait–you want taste?  You gotta be kidding us?  Really. . .?  It’s not enough to bring you a young, affordable wine?  You want taste?

YEAH, we completely understand!  This wine is sneaky–it’s got a great nose on opening, but the initial taste will cause you to pucker up!  HOWEVER, if you’re willing to decant and wait, this wine will be a winner.  We were really impressed by how much the wine opened up when decantered.  The wine took on different characteristics, taste and nose once we poured it from the bottle to the decanter—AMAZING!  Which leaves us with ‘easy to find’–UM, yeah!  So, if you are a ‘regular’ shopper at full line H-E-B stores, there’s a good chance that the 2010 Barbera del Monferatto is available.  IF?  Well, sometimes the variety is available and sometimes-not!

Simply put, this wine “is a lively and brilliant dark ruby-red. The perfume is fresh and intense with clean scents of wild berries, currants and sour black cherry. A light hint of vanilla and toasted oak. The flavor is warm and robust, full-bodied, pleasant and balanced. This Barbera’s sensory attributes make it an outstanding accompaniment for imposing first courses and main-course, meats boiled or roasted.”    Not sure what that means to those of us who just like to enjoy a good wine, but we’re guessing that it means–this is good wine!  Which is OKAY with us!  Having enjoyed a number of good Italian wines over the years, we’ve learned that when you have a wine with “Intense aromas of wild summer berries, red currants, and cassis, with a hint of licorice. Restrained on the palate, offering black currant and raspberry over light notes of toasty vanilla oak”. . .you’d better grab a hold of it!

We DID!  More importantly, we are excited to bring an ‘Old World’ wine with a great, fruity taste to the ‘New World”.  But, wait–NOW, it’s YOUR turn!  Yep, that’s right!  We’re interested in your opinion. . .so let us know.

Thanks for reading–thanks for enjoying wine–thanks for caring about the community, and thanks for being willing to bring this wine to your friends!!

Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine with responsibility, AND recycle whenever possible.

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Day 207: I Spy . . .

eye spy cabWow!  So many memories . . . I Spy was a television show that ran in the late 1960’s starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.  Yes, the same Bill Cosby who has entertained audiences for almost 50 years – can you spell JELLO!  Bill Cosby had two albums out before we even knew he existed.  Brian’s brother, Tim had both of them . . . and Brian can still remember getting a hold of those albums and listening to some of his bits . . . The ‘Lone Ranger’ & ‘Tonto’ after a little too much to drink!!  Driving in San Francisco . . . and having to shift gears!  Going to the dentist and having the novocaine wear off!  If ANY of these relight a fire from your past, you’ve probably watched, I Spy.

I Spy was also the name of a book series that was aimed at children.  These books featured AMAZINGLY DETAILED photos of things in a child’s room or things in a play room and the object was to find – among all of the items in the picture specific things that may or may not be easy to see with the ‘naked eye’.  We bought several of these books for the girls when they were growing up and can tell you that we literally spent hours looking at them.  It’s a part of childhood missing for too many kids – that quality time before bed when a book and the pictures with the book, tell hundreds of stories.  Even as adults, we marvel at the detail in books – something that gets lost in today’s ‘translation’.

“I spy, with my eye, something that is . . . ” a familiar sound in car road trips across the country.  It didn’t matter if you were half way across the state of Kansas or in rush hour traffic outside of Denver, when you played “I Spy”, all you had to do was look around – observe your surroundings–to find the ‘right’ answer.  Driving vacations – yet another American institution on the brink of extinction–sad, because driving trips were part of the ways we bonded as family.

So, tonight – purely by accident . . . we came across at H-E-B – and opened a 2010 Eye Spy Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley of California.  Um, this wine isn’t going to take home ANY gold, silver or bronze medals.  BUT, it will bring home some amazing fruit flavors – a nice combination of light and dark fruits here – but a lot of fruit nonetheless!  The finish on this wine is right out of a jar of maraschino cherries . . . it’s scary how after you’ve tasted the wine the aftertaste is . . . well, you have to try it to believe it!  Beyond the finish, we loved the deep, dark color . . . for a Cabernet, it’s a beautiful thing.  It’s not the smoothest wine you’ll ever taste, but still not a bad bottle of wine for the price !

Interestingly, we’ve searched numerous websites trying to find out more about this wine and uncovered an Australian wine maker utilizing the exact bottle design.  Further digging yielded few if any clues as to where this Cabernet Sauvignon is actually made–the bottle clearly says, ‘Napa’ but the websites clearly don’t agree.  It must be a ‘big-name’ winery using a little known name to unload some of it’s product.  This wine is not more than $12 a bottle . . . in fact, you can probably get it on sale for $10 a bottle.  And, if you’re looking for something a little different, but with a good taste and finish, then “Eye Spy” is worth checking out . . . otherwise, you can miss this one.

Whether it was a television show, a book series, a car game or something else, I Spy or Eye Spy is synonymous with past culture.  Keeping it alive for future generations may not be as easy as it was previously, but there are opportunities for families to reconnect – whether it’s through games like “I Spy” or some other means, the time spent together as family – actually helps BUILD family.  But, hey, what do we know . . . we’re just wine bloggers on a mission of our own!

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

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Day 206: Smooth as Silk . . .

silk oak zinWhoa!  Something happened between yesterday and today. . .and we could feel it!  It was an even more noticeable difference between Saturday and today.  Just when you think that the Spring weather is here to stay and that all that cold weather is moving north, Mother Nature finds a way to have the ‘last laugh’. . .Okay, so 40 degrees isn’t freezing, but at the end of March in this part of the world, it might as well be!  Factor in a north wind and you’ve got wind chills in the upper 20’s to low 30’s.  For our readers in the northern tier, we understand the laughter coming from you. . .having spent 13 years in the St. Louis are, we GET cold weather.  It’s a big part of the reason we’re ‘down south’.  But, it’s still a wake up call when the wind blows from the northwest and the temps drop into the 40’s. . .or below.  It’s yet another reminder that we aren’t in charge and that winter hits the road on ITS’ terms not ours!  No matter how many “named” storms the Weather Channel comes up with for winter, they’ll quit coming when nature is ready for the spring time.

Speaking of named storms, now we have to wonder if they’ll name the spring storms. . .will each tornado get its’ own name?  Will there be Super Spring Storms?  And who–who is the person naming those storms and WHY?  And, what ever happened to Storm Stories?  You know, people who get in their cars to hit the road in search of “The Perfect Storm”. . .oh, wait, we’ve already had two of those!

Tonight, even though it’s Monday, we started off the week with a Zinfandel that caught us completely off guard.  An H-E-B gem that until yesterday, we had no idea it even existed.  From the Zinfandel wine growing region of Lodi in California comes this 2009 Silk Oak Zinfandel from Oak Ridge Winery–the same folks that make, OZV Zinfandel.  This wine is a killer.  The nose–man, the nose is pure zinfandel. . .lots of pepper and spice as well as dark fruit. . .it’s so amazing and yet hard to believe.  The taste is still classic zin, but–aerate the wine. . .give is some time. . .swirl it around and you get a finish that isn’t expected.  Normally, when we taste Zins. . .they finish with a classic, peppery taste, but this Silk Oak threw us for a loop. . it was vanilla.  As plain as day. . .a vanilla finish.  Subtle at first and then much more pronounced!  As the wine opened, the vanilla came through more and more . . we were blown away.  This was delicious, surprising, affordable and one that could be bought in quantity and saved for a great deck wine.  Priced at less than $15 a bottle, you won’t pay more for less–instead, you’ll pay LESS for MORE!  Yeah, it’s that good.  Now, we aren’t talking — lay this vintage down for 15 years — then drink it. . .we’re saying, for a ‘here and now’ wine, this Zin is a clear winner.

And, whether your weather is clear and sunny or you still have snow on the ground, in order to hit the ground running this spring, you need a good Zin to make everything right.  Silk Oak is the answer to that calling.  And, if you’ve been dealing with cold, nasty weather, we understand, empathize and hope that yours turns warm and sunny.

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.