casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 273 – The Pico Bunch…

picos tempranilloAhh, Friday.  Coming off of a three-day weekend meant cramming five days of work into four days.  Add to the mix an event in San Marcos–the Chamber’s 6th Annual Luau–and you have a reason to be happy it’s Friday.  To start the day, Brian visited our local Taco Cabana to bring breakfast tacos to the ladies who sit at the front desk. . .without their smiling faces and knowledge of the area, the Chamber would be hard-pressed to take care of all visitors, callers and questions received in a given day.  So, with bag in hand, he arrived with said tacos and had put some pico de gallo into one of the cups at the salsa bar. . .the perfect compliment to a bacon and egg breakfast taco!

When Jean brought home tonight’s wine from a really cool place in Austin–we’ll talk more about this place tomorrow night–we immediately thought about pico–pico de gallo!  However, there is a huge difference between Picos del Montgo and pico de gallo. . .but because Brian’s brain works in strange and mysterious ways, he thought that there was a common denominator.  This wine is surprisingly bold. . .at 90% Tempranillo and 10% Syrah–we expected a lighter wine with a bolder taste.  Instead we got a big wine with a bigger taste!   Aromas were all dark fruits that were newly ripened. Black cherry, blackberry. Nose was actually very abundant, very strong. On the palate was black cherry, dark chocolate, cassis, coffee, giving way to a woodsy-taste on the mid-palate with a lot of the fruit dying off, leaving mostly dark chocolate, caramel, coffee, roasted figs.  It has been said that Tempranillo is Spain’s answer to Cabernet……… Is it true?  Certainly it has the spine for it. It is thick-skinned. It is deeply colored. It often exhibits the aromas that we associate with Cabernet, like spice, tobacco, olive, herb. But unlike Cabernet, Tempranillo can also have exuberant fruit. The Tempranillo we’ve found is grown in Castilla-La Mancha, the “Spanish Meseta”, in central Spain, at 1650-2300 feet above sea level. This is Spain at its most extreme! Insufferable summers, gruelingly cold winters. For a vine to flourish there it must have grit, character, a strong sense of self.

At less than $10 a bottle, tonight’s wine is a lot like last night’s wine. . .it’s all in the nose and the palate because the finish for us, left us wanting more!  Don’t get us wrong–it’s a great value and for the money that you’ll pay for this wine, you’ll be amazed.  Good wine.  Good price.  Fair value.

We are ready for an early morning as daughter #2 heads back east. . .it’s been a pure pleasure having her around the house for the past-almost-month. . .but the combination of a summer job and summer school are calling.  As we’ve seen one graduate from college this spring and another one embarking on junior year, we understand everyday what people told us years ago–they’ll grow up before your eyes!  Yep, that’s exactly what happened.

Thank you Sir, I’ll Have Another. . .and we’ll be back here tomorrow evening. . .until then remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 272: Lewis & Clark Were On To Something . . .

1805 Cab1805 is a new wine venture that pays tribute to one of life’s great expeditions and the need that each of us has to explore. For some individuals, the need to explore comes from the great outdoors. For others, it is the need to acquire a new interest or language. And for others, it is the discovery of wine. The folks at 1805 Wines have based their brand on the principle of discovery that is rooted in the great tradition of America’s foremost explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. In 1804 Lewis and Clark were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase and undertake a scientific expedition across the American continent to the Pacific Coast. On this legendary 18-month expedition with Lewis and Clark were Sacajawea and a host of characters who explored, fought, and mapped the lands and rivers westward from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. The expedition’s “Corps of Discovery” included the Missouri River, the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia River, and finally in 1805, the corps’ ultimate prize, the Columbia Valley in what is now eastern Washington. Within twenty years of Lewis and Clark’s expedition, a hardy group of erudite pioneers had “discovered” the ideal climate and soil of Columbia Valley. This stalwart band recognized the value of the valley’s high-desert plains and well-drained soils for the cultivation of the vine and planted the area’s first grape vines.

You gotta love wines that take their name from a date in the past; and this 1805 is going to grab your attention!  It’s a wine that borders on the line of seduction, but clearly doesn’t follow through in practice.  You’ll be mesmerized by the nose. . .a true cab aroma backed by terrific fruit from Washington.  The essence of blackberries and raspberries are really prevalent when first pouring the wine and with hints of cedar and an earthiness that kind of hides in the background, we were excited for what the taste was going to be like!  The first sip is all about anticipation. . .we thought there was a nice balance of fruit with the tannins, but the finish is where the honeymoon came to an end.  We both were disappointed by the finish of this wine. . .or lack of finish. . .or ANY finish.  For the most part, after tasting fruit on the front of the palate, the finish was nonexistent.  Here we had a really nice wine–good color, good nose, good taste in the mouth–but in the end?  There was no end.  We understand this. . .some wines just can’t deliver all of the keys to a mind-blowing tasting.  This 1805 is an example of hitting on all cylinders until the final call–as most who read this know, we like a wine that will finish long and smooth.  This wine finish short and short!  Now, in fairness to the wine and the wine maker, it’s a 2010 wine and some of these cabs from Washington take a little more time to mature than others. . .could be an opportunity for 1805 to shine in the future.  We picked this wine up while shopping at HEB in Kyle for less than $11 -not quite the expedition that L & C had – but will do in a pinch.

History is pretty cool.  American history is even cooler as far as we’re concerned.  When we think about our country back in 1805; we realize that in a little over 200 years, we have come a LONG way.  One of those long ways is in wine production; wine sales and wine consumption.  But, we said one of those long ways. . .yes, but the key word is wine!

We hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and please remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 271: Sometimes It Takes a Dead Bolt . . .

dead bolt blendHave you ever installed a deadbolt lock?  If the door frame has already been prepped, it’s actually pretty easy.  But, if you have to drill the frame to make the cylinder for the bolt to fit, it’s not as easy a proposition.  We can say that we have NO experience drilling for dead bolts!  Over time, there have been a number of scenes where dead bolts were prominently displayed and used.  When the movie, Young Frankenstein was made, the front door to Frankenstein’s (pronounced–Fronc-en shteen) castle was dead bolted.  Thank goodness for Marty Feldman as Igor (pronounced ‘Eye-gore’) who was jolly on the spot to open the door and escort the guests into the castle.  (I thought the hump was on the other side?)  It’s one of Mel Brook’s most successful and best loved movies to this day!

If you’ve seen any horror movies, you know that the dead bolt is a required part of the film.  Whether running from the zombies or trying to get out, if you can’t get past the dead bolt, you’re not going to make it!  If you’ve watched any action movies, it always seems that someone is hiding behind the door with a dead bolt lock OR is trying to get into the room but can’t get past the dead bolt lock!  Action movies, horror movies, comedies. . .they all have a reason to use dead bolts.

Okay, so we don’t really have a set theme for tonight, but with the wine we opened and tasted, it made us think about dead bolts; especially since the wine has the exact same name.  We opened and tasted a 2010 Dead Bolt blend from California.  The 2010 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah, among others. Deep ruby with a glint of purple. Bold red fruit. Hint of oak. Black cherry, brown spice, mocha. All you’d want in a glass of red. Smooth. Full. Satisfying.  Yep, this wine is big and bold and for less than $10 a bottle, you’re going to have a tough time finding a better wine in the category.  As blends go, the color is magnificent, the taste is amazing and the nose will knock your socks off!  But because of the price, many wine lovers will turn their collective noses up at this wine because of its’ price. . .you know, too low, so it can’t be any good.  Served with shrimp stir fry, the bold taste of the wine worked amazingly well with the spiciness of the shrimp and vegetables.  Bigger than a Zin, bolder than a Syrah and smoother than most blends, we really enjoyed this wine.  It’s one of those wines that you can pull out with company and they’ll think you’ve opened the ‘expensive’ stuff instead!  Since blends are becoming the ‘rage’ in California, jump on the bandwagon and try this one.  At its’ price point, even if you don’t like  it, you’ll have spent far less than other wines with more “recognizable names”.

The name of the wine is what motivated us to write about it tonight.  Dead Bolt. . .the name alone caused us to stop and look at the label!  And you don’t have to be watching Young Frankenstein or any other zombie film to get a bottle of this wine and give it a try!  As for us, we’ll continue to sample varietals, blends and other wines in pursuit of good values, good deals and a bottle of wine that goes well with food.

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


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Day 270 – When Monday Is On A Tuesday…

Zorzal MalbecWe love those three day weekends!  In fact, we’ve asked friends and family over the years, and the best part about holidays is a three day weekend. . .especially when the third day happens to fall on a Monday.  Take Memorial Day for example. . .we ALL know it’s celebrated on the last Monday in May. . .so, no matter what the number is on the calendar, if it’s the last Monday, you KNOW it’s going to be a holiday.  Such was the case yesterday with Memorial Day falling on the 27th of the month.  The earliest that Memorial Day can be celebrated would be the 25th of the month, and the latest that the holiday could be celebrated would be the 31st.  As a couple of folks who’ve had a few holidays over the years, we have a slight preference for earlier in the month rather than later.

Let’s face it, when you have Memorial Day on the 29th, 30th or 31st. . .you’re up against the End of the Month!  Anyone in business knows that the end of the month is a killer time and the LAST thing you want to deal with–if you’re trying to make your month–is a holiday that eats up those precious last few days!  If you’re in sales, you KNOW exactly what we’re talking about. . .those end of the month deadlines are tough to meet when you lose a Saturday, Sunday and Monday to the holidays, so instead of ending your month on the 31st. . .you’ve ended it on the 28th. . .three days of potential business—sent downstream.

The upside to three day weekends is the time spent with family.  We wrote about some of this over the past three days of blogs, but more importantly, it provides the opportunity to do things together, and no matter what age of you kids or their ‘status in life’ the opportunities to spend time with family are rare indeed.  Call it quality time or anything else, we’ve  had a lot of great Memorial Day weekends. . .and other three day weekends with the girls that we’d NEVER trade.  Trips to the zoo, trips to see family, trips to see friends, folks visiting us. . .all happen under the guise of three day weekends.  While we stop and remember our fallen men and women in uniform (reference Day 269), we also stop to enjoy the best part of living in America. . .the freedom to see, do, visit, try, play and go where ever and when ever we want!!!

Tonight’s wine has NOTHING to do with Memorial Day. . .it has nothing to do with three day weekends. . .it has no family influence or friends that are coming over!  Tonight’s wine is a really, really nice 2011 Malbec from Zorzal. . .this is a young wine but it’s a jammy delight!  The nose blew us away (no pun intended)     . . .sweet, lots of blackberries with a hint of tobacco was a warm welcome from the minute the wine hit the glass.  The first taste was equally impressive. . .we fell in love with the smoothness of this Malbec, so we wanted to know more about where this wine was made.

Founded in 2007, ZORZAL is devoted to the production of luxury wines.  The winery is on prime land in the heart of the Uco Valley, 80 km south of Mendoza.  The 2011 Malbec comes from a 15-year-old espalier vineyard and is fermented with natural yeasts and aged in concrete tanks rather than wood.  It has what you might call a “naked” nose disrobed of oak, but it is very pure and vibrant. The palate is fresh and vibrant embroidered with brisk, fine tannins. We’d never guess this is from Argentina, and it is just downright, delicious.  Rated at 93 points by Robert Parker, this wine retails for less than $16 a bottle and for the money, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Malbec.

Coming off of a three day weekend, the hardest part about going back to work is that it’s TUESDAY and not Monday. . .so now the goal is to get five days of work into four before the next weekend arrives.  Summer has ‘officially’ begun. . .gas prices are on their way up as the ‘driving season’ has begun. . .airlines now want to charge you for carry on luggage and people wonder why it’s better to stay home and drink a good bottle of wine than battle the hordes of sunseekers skimming the river’s waters with their tubes and coolers.  Sometimes it’s safer to stay home–enjoy your family–enjoy your food–and enjoy your wine.  Until tomorrow, enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Dat 269: A Salute to All Veterans . . .

Rare Find Memorial Day. . .a time to stop from shopping, swimming, camping, driving or hiking to pay respects to the thousands of men and women who have paved the way for us to enjoy what we enjoy each and every day.  Looking back over history, we’ve seen so many changes in our world–many of them brought about by armed conflicts–that have made a difference in our lives.  Rare indeed is the soldier who comes back from battle to a job, a home, a family and a way of life that was close to the same existence before being deployed.  Rare indeed is a society that on the surface supports our men and women in uniform, but when it comes to providing a livable income upon return, the tendency is to turn the other cheek.  Rare indeed is the family unit–held together by a spouse on the homefront–so precious to the long term survival of this country.  We live in changing times–change that has been good and change that hasn’t be so good, but change that has been made possible by the sacrifices made by veterans of armed conflicts.

As baby boomers, we grew up with the stories of heroism from World War II, and from our parents mouths we heard first hand of the bravery in the fields, in the air and under water of people who drew together for a common goal.  A common goal.  Hmmmm, something totally missing today.  We’ve lost the ability to seek a common goal.  Unfortunately, as Memorial Day 2013 draws to a close, we’ve become a country that is deeply divided.  We have leadership that seeks to polarize the citizenry and a media that exploits it at every turn.  Soldiers who have come and gone before us seem to have fought and died in vain because we no longer (as a general rule) espouse the values of a country united for a common purpose, but instead have become a nation forged on ‘what’s in it for me’.  Not to be on a soap box, but Memorial Day provides us the perfect back drop of historical significance, patriotic prowess and determination to succeed–all of it compliments of those who have come before us.  And, how do we recognize their contributions?  We minimalize their accomplishments by getting bogged down in rhetoric and shying away from substance.  We’d rather see sound bytes than deal with reality.  We’d prefer to see everything packaged neatly in an Entertainment Tonight segment rather than deal with the fact that the middle class is shrinking; the poor are growing in numbers and the skilled workforce is being replaced by the unskilled without a drive and determination to do better than their predecessors.  It’s a curious predicament. . .but we can’t blame the contributions of our veterans!

So tonight we opened a really nice wine from Paso Robles, California. . .a 2011 Rare Find Cabernet Sauvignon.  We picked this wine up at the HEB Plus in Kyle, Texas as we watched a “Chopped” showdown between the cooking team from the Kyle Fire Department and the Buda Fire Department. . .the event was held in the store and was an appropriate tribute for the hard working first responders in our area.  This wine–while inexpensive to buy–tastes like wines that are two to three times its price.  The nose was one of sweetness–kind of like trying a raspberry cobbler or blueberry pie. . .a la mode. . .very jammy.  We tasted the wine and were immediately greeted by the berry flavor; a nice oak finish and a long, pleasing after-taste were a surprising combination for this wine.  While still young in the bottle, we felt like it was better than many in its’ price range and could easily be enjoyed in six to nine months without issue.  All in all it was a decent wine to break out on Memorial Day.

As we all head back to our homes for the week ahead, we can’t help but think about–with gratitude–the men and women who have served our country in the past.  The ideals and values that they fought and died for were as real then as the are today–so hopefully, we won’t lose sight of our values and ideals. . .because in losing them,  we do a tremendous disservice to their contributions to our lifestyle.  To the men and women of our country who continue to serve, thank you.  You are shining stars on otherwise cloudy skies of society, and we respect you and wish you godspeed to return home to your families, your friends, your communities and your careers.  YOUR leadership will prove to be the difference in the future and for that WE are a nation that is grateful.

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


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Day 268 – Fiesta San Antonio

Messina Hof ShirazAfter leaving our good friends in Aransas Pass today, we kept an eye on the sky to make sure that the rains (though VERY welcome) didn’t dampen the rest of our weekend with the girls and their boyfriends!  It’s been an amazingly fun weekend with the girls, with friends and enjoying what mother nature has to offer…be it wind, rain or sun…the weather isn’t as important as the friendships!  We understand through well placed sources that the fishing TODAY was much better than the fishing YESTERDAY.  At least one source has confirmed that the Redfish in the Bay were biting today — unlike yesterday.

We did make a stop in San Antonio and hit the Alamo, the Riverwalk and the Mercado – the best part (other than us all just being together) was the people watching.  Amazing how many people were out and about on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after a Saturday full of rain and flooding.  It was special to sit and have a snack on the Riverwalk and just spend time with the girls, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.  What a treat to laugh the afternoon away before heading home to San Marcos and eventually a late dinner and more laughing around the dinner table – these are precious times.

T0night’s wine is a 2010 Shiraz from Messina Hof and features a great nose, full-body flavor and extras smooth flavors.  You can’t go wrong with this fabulous flavor display of rich, dark blackberry and spice with lingering vanilla tones. Grown in the Red River Valley. Double Barrel Aged in European and American oak, this Shiraz demonstrates the grandeur of Texas and is perfectly suited for our Texas climate. It’s hearty and robust, yet well-balanced. This Shiraz is wonderful with beef, lamb, pork and even grilled salmon. It is a Double Gold medal winner at the Tasters Guild International Consumer Wine Judging, winner of the Grand Star of Texas at the Lone Star International and a gold medal winner at the Indy International Wine Competition.  According to the wine maker, “Planted in 1988 in Denison, Texas. The elevation is at 619 feet , and this vineyard has sandy-loam soil that is four miles from the Red River. A very unique wine featuring smooth and silky flavors of rich berries. Gold medal winner. Perfectly complements beef, lamb, and fowl.”  Needless to say, this wine is a winner and is meant to be enjoyed!

The wine exhibits a terrific nose of fruit and spice; we couldn’t believe how smooth this wine SMELLED!  That’s right—smooth!  The taste was equally as impressive, but restrained because, Texas wines just seem to miss out on what the fruit can actually taste like!  The finish and body of this wine are both top notch.  We can’t imagine a better looking, better tasting bottle of wine from our fair state!  The wine went with kung pao chicken tonight and was a terrific complement to sitting on the deck and enjoying the fruits of mother nature’s rainfalls. . . It’s a wine meant to be shared with family, friends or all of the above – which we did in abundance over the past several nights!!!

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


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Day 267 – A Quick Trip to Sisterdale . . .

Sister CreekWhat a day!  Someone once said, a horrible day fishing is better than any day in the office.  Today, truer words were never spoken!  Having arrived last evening here in Aransas Pass to visit with the Deases’ clan, we were up at 4:30 this morning for an early call and the opportunity to hit the water for some fishing in the bay!  Thanks to Fred’s advance planning, there were two boats going out this morning…thank you, Monty Scruggs…and with the two boats means that Daughters 1 & 2 and their boyfriends got the opportunity to go fishing with Fred while we fished with Fred’s brother, Mike and his wife, Jean (aka Jean #2 as mentioned last night).

A quick stop for breakfast tacos and we were on our way to the docks—one of the first things we noticed was the wind.   Yeah, it was blowing out of the south–yeah, that meant lots of waves.  After securing bait, we were on our way and looking forward to a day of fishing.  After getting beat up by waves, catching  trash fish and losing bait to bad water, we got the text message from Daughter #1 that two trout fish were on board and both were caught by her!  Oh man, going to be an interesting afternoon as the gauntlet has been laid down!  Our boat did however have a unique experience – – – Jean #1 (aka blog Jean) hooked a seagull and actually landed it – no fear, the bird was hooked and was “reeled in” and subsequently was released unharmed.

Actually, we were excited that the girls were together with their boyfriends. . .and had an opportunity to learn from the “Trail Boss”!  The day was absolutely spectacular – all the obstacles may have limited our “haul” – but bottom line is that we had a marvelous day!!!

It seemed appropriate after a very long day of fishing–it certainly wasn’t a long day of catching–that we’d enjoy a “three bagger” from Sister Creek Vineyards in Sisterdale.  For us, a three bagger means that three different grapes were used in the production of the wine.  . . Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Merlot make up this wine and — once again — this Texas wine is a winner.  The nose gave us hints of oak and a smokiness that wasn’t expected from this wine.  A nice array of dark fruit, a little leather and a slight breath of kerosene.  The taste was every bit as good as the nose…the fruit really comes out especially as the wine opens up, but it’s the finish that kicked our tails!  It was superb with lots of fruit lasting long, long, long after the taste.  This is the way wine is supposed to taste–good nose, great  first taste. . .superb finish.  This 2009 Sister Creek blend is the right combination of taste and flavor!  We have purchased this wine on a regular basis and have extolled it’s virtues numerous times – yep, it’s a keeper!!!!

Our faith, fishing, good food and good friends are the things that sustain us – every day!!

But, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.