casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 323: A Trip Down Memory Lane . . .


While Brian and D#1 continued to stay with Grams in Houston for the weekend, Jean decided to spend some time going through boxes and deciding what could really be thrown out.  For the record, this is no easy task for Jean – although not quite hoarder status, she does tend to hang onto some things for a long time (just don’t ask about the tubs of Happy Meal toys in the garage).  It’s usually best that nobody is around when she decides to go on a binge cleaning spree.  The side benefit of days like this is coming across pictures from the past.  It’s safe to say that a good majority of her day was spent taking pictures of pictures and sending them to Brian, D#1 and D#2.  It is really fun to take a trip down memory lane – as they say, you can’t live in the past – but it’s a good place to visit from time to time.  There were stacks of photos from college, from pre-marital times, pre-children times, births, weddings, kids growing up, and of course our menagerie of pets over the years – clippings, yearbooks and a bunch of other things gone through – all in all, it was time well spent, and yes some things were discarded.  Not much else was accomplished, in fact the car never left the driveway . . . wow ! (a load or two of laundry did get done and the vacuum cleaner made a surprise visit), but other than that – nuthin’.  As a matter of fact – – – it was a great day!

As result of her Twin Liquor visit yesterday, Jean was able to open up a bottle of “on sale” wine (translation under $12).  She popped the cork on a bottle of Balius 2009 Chardonnay – yes, a Chardonnay . . . don’t see many of those around these parts, but it just seemed like the thing to do today.  When checking out the winery website, Jean discovered there was a great story (yep, there’s ALWAYS a story – but this one is kinda neat).

Apparently, Achilles and his two immortal horses, Balius and Xanthos, were legendary and heroic figures on the battlefields of ancient Greece.  The warrior and his fearless horses were often depicted with black paint on clay wine vessels, or amphorae, as a celebration of their heroic triumphs.  The Balius label is a nod to the fabled heroes represented by the black figure pottery of ancient Greece, and all Balius wines are reflections of the world-renowned appellations throughout California.  So, who knew what Achilles horses names were? – probably something learned way back when studying Edith Hamilton’s famed book on Mythology . . . think that was a must read in high school. At any rate, it is a fun fact to know and tell – we will plan to toss that one out at the water cooler in the office come Monday.

So, we’ve mentioned before that the reason Chardonnay’s don’t get invited to Casa del Vino very often is because of their buttery, sweet taste.  We do very much like the “unoaked” Chardonnay’s.  Which is the reason Jean even picked this one up – 42% of the blend was aged in 100% French oak barrels, 16% new. While in barrel the wine was kept on its lees and hand-stirred two times per month. The balance of the blend was aged in stainless steel. All of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation and was fined and polish filtered before bottling.

The cork popped right out and the nose was a very intense aroma of pear, pineapple, and a smidge of vanilla. On the palate the wine was fairly beefy with a great combination of  peach, nectarine, and pineapple.  The finish was super – it was mineral-laced and was the perfect balance to all the sugary sweet fruit.  The bottle is pumped up and back in the fridge waiting for Brian’s return so he too can enjoy.

Chilled and served with some nice cheeses, this wine would make the leap to the Bondy Deck Wine List – Top 20 on a hot summer day.  Boy, it is going to be tough to narrow down the list.  This is a must buy again wine.

As we slip into Sunday, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 322: Gnome Alone . . .

Gnome GrenacheMuch like Kevin McCallister (movie quiz . . . name the movie that this character was in), Casa del Vino is down to one human occupant this evening.  Brian and D#1 are on a trip to see Grams and check on her well-being given a recent health scare.  That means that Jean is all by her lonesome – well, not really . . . with four dogs in the house – it is anything but lonesome.  Yeppers – Pepper and Andie and Jasmine and Bridget are all making sure that Jean is staying out of trouble while everyone is gone.

Overall it was a quieter than usual night – one nice thing about flying solo is that you get to partake in whatever dietary indiscretions your little heart desires.  In Jean’s case, the leftover Chicken Marsala from Carino’s came in mighty handy.  And you get total control of the remote – ahhh, the rare chance to watch LMN without shouts of discourse from fellow TV watchers . . . LIFE IS GOOD!

Making an ever so slight detour in Kyle tonight on the way home seemed the order of the day – one might think the destination would be the super great H-E-B they have there – indeed it is a sight to behold . . . but alas, (there’s that Yorick fella popping in for a visit – yes, knew him well) H-E-B was not the final destination.  Tucked in the corner of the shopping center is a nice little Twin Liquor – the call of the Sirens was much too great and Jean had to stop.  Once inside, she discovered numerous closeout (aka . . . too good to be true prices) bottles of wine.  One of the little numbers was tonight’s blog wine – – – The Gnome Knows Grenache – – – the picture on the label was too good to pass up.

The Gnome Knows Grenache comes from selected vineyards in the Languedoc region in the south of France not too far from the Southern Rhone Valley where Grenache is the key grape varietal that makes up Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape.  Ok, not really being a fan of French wines, it was a tough decision to plunk this puppy down on the counter – but que sera . . . quick, queue the music – where’s Doris when you need her . . . Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be – The future’s not ours, to see – Que Sera, Sera – What will be, will be.

As usual, we digress – back to the wine . . . not too much of anything on the nose – think that part was off looking for mushrooms to hide under in the forest – but perhaps a hint a berry . . .the color was very nice, a deep, rich hue.  The palate was quite refreshing – lot’s of black cherry and other red fruits mixed in with a dash of spice.  It had good finish with just enough of a vanilla and nutmeg note to smooth it out.

Would have to say – this could actually make the Bondy Deck Wine list – at least the top 50.  Jean put a cork in it and pumped it up so Brian could sample upon his return.  Normally, one would not think that such a silly name and label would generate much interest – of course, the $10 price tag didn’t hurt in the initial hunting process – but overall, not a bad little wine.  Guess one could say – “to Gnome is to love me” – sorry about that . . . just couldn’t resist (well could have, but why?)

Who knows what tomorrow will bring around these parts – could be an interesting couple of days.  As the weekend unfolds . . . enjoy yourself, make the most of it and as always remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 321 – Sometimes It’s Just Good Stuff

seghesio old vine zinClassic baseball movies. . .The Monty Stratton Story; The Babe, The Sandlot, The Natural, Field of Dreams. . .Bull Durham.  Yeah. . .there are probably fifty or sixty more movies that we missed.  Baseball and the cinema have gone together with each other for more than three quarters of a century.  There’s something about a young pitcher or hitter who is finding  his way through the streets of small town America while working his way up to the “show”!  We love baseball. . .we love baseball movies; in fact, not that long ago, there were a bunch of articles about the 25th Anniversary of The Sandlot. . .“You’re killing me, Smalls!” 

It’s one of those movies that we’ll STOP dead in our tracks and watch.  It doesn’t matter what part of the movie is showing. . .the happy part or the sad one; the reality is that  good pitching stops good hitting all the way to the bank!  You can show all of the home run hitters you’d care to show, BUT,  at the end of the day, it’s the pitching that gets you out of the jam.  It’s the pitching that clinches the win and it’s the pitching that keeps you in the game–(or costs you the game, the pennant and/or the season).  Rest assured that if the pitcher is ‘bringing it’, then you’re probably on a one way ticket to “The Show”!

Tonight–being Thursday night–we felt obligated to bring out the Good Stuff. . .sitting there watching Bull Durham, it was calling our names!  Oh how the baseball gods were smiling even as the night wore on an the All Star Break didn’t end until tomorrow!  The good stuff came to us earlier this year during an amazing cooking school demonstration at Central Market North in Austin.  Pete Seghesio was in town with family recipes and family wines, and none of them were singles hitters–they could ALL ‘bring it’!  One of the wines–served with dessert–was a 2008 half bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel from Seghesio’s original zinfandel vines.  This is a 91 point wine and every single drop of it is the ‘good stuff’; we can’t believe how good a wine can taste, but it all comes from excellent fruit!  Review after review of this wine raves about its character, its’ flavor, its’ body–one of the reviewers had this to say, “Lots of juicy fruit. Black fruit and big mouth feel. Would buy more in a heart beat. Luscious and decadent.”  Yeah, we couldn’t agree more!

Wine like this doesn’t come along everyday.  It’s meant to be enjoyed with good food, good company, good times.  You’d expect that when you break out the good stuff, and Seghesio—by definition—is the good stuff!  With as many of their family of wines that we’ve enjoyed, we’re hard-pressed to be critical of their selection.  Maybe their pricing–which tends to be a little on the high side–but at the end of the day, the quality and taste offset the cost.  Sitting here watching Bull Durham, chewing on some homemade chicken fajitas with fresh pico de gallo and homemade guacamole, well it just seemed right to bring out the good stuff!  And, whether you’re nickname is “Meat” or “Nuke” or some other crazy moniker, remember that the good stuff gets its name for a reason!!

As we embark on the last day of the work week, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 320: A Time to Celebrate . . .

domaine napa Good things happen.  No matter how you slice it, no matter how tough things may be or have been…good things happen.  And, when good things happens, it’s always nice to celebrate the moments.  Over the past–almost–year, we’ve celebrated holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, summer jobs, and life’s little victories.  In the window of life, these are glimpses into everyday living.  But, we tend to celebrate and move on rather than stopping for a moment-stepping back and appreciating what has taken place.  Taking a line from the TV show, Cheers when Norm walks into the bar and says to Sam, “Hey, Sammie, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear!”  Well, unfortunately, it IS a dog eat dog world. . .and regardless of underwear, the impact of hard work, dedication and a little bit of perspiration is cause for celebration.

No, we aren’t the only people in the world to feel this exhilaration.  In fact, it happens to a LOT of families each year. . .twice a year in most cases.  Today, daughter #1 received her official Teaching Certificate from the State of Texas.  Near as we can tell, it’s a level ABOVE getting a driver’s license!  You see, in this state. . .probably in most states, you can’t teach without that state’s license.  So, after her four years of work at college–and even though she had already been offered employment–nothing was official until today. . .this moment in time.  Finally, the dogs stopped chewing for a moment and we were able to celebrate a major accomplishment in life.

Those of you who are teachers, know teachers, love teachers or want to become teachers will know that all the hard work in class–all the hard work in your internships–all the hard work in your student teaching–all that and more can go away in a heartbeat without that certificate.  We may have a bigger smile on our faces than she does!  It’s very cool to graduate from college. . .it’s extra cool to graduate from college, get your diploma and then get your license to teach.  James Bond “aint got nuttin’ on a teacher!!!!

With good news like this, we  had NO choice but to head out for dinner tonight to Carino’s in San Marcos.  A place with better than usual fare, good service and decent prices, we didn’t have too difficult of a time getting a table and Joseph our waiter was attentive, helpful and even managed to open our wine of the night.  Since we ‘lucked’ into half-price bottles tonight, we opted for a 201o Domaine Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Cellars.  This is a young wine even with its’ 2010 vintage and the fruitiness came across loud and clear. . .it offers very distinct aromas of dark cherry, currants, and plum with hints of peppery spice. Its’ ripe berry fruit flavors enhanced by subtle oak nuances lead to a long, lingering finish–we can only imagine what the wine could taste like in another year!  Still, there was a tartness to the wine that made us pucker more than we’d care to, but overall it’s not a bad bottle of wine.  At a retail price around $20 a bottle, you won’t feel like you’ve been taken, but probably won’t go back to it again.  From wine maker, Ed Moody, “With its full body, smooth tannins and lengthy finish, this wine will complement a variety of rich, flavorfulfoods such as prime rib, wild game and Italian fare.”  Hmm, imagine that–we enjoyed chicken Marsala, roasted chicken romano and pasta dishes with our wine and it stood up to the full garlic and spiciness of the food.

We know we’re kind of proud of our kids.  They each have talents that will take them far in life.  It’s fun to celebrate the moments that are now important in their world.  We hope that you’ll take the time to celebrate the moments in your family’s lives.

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

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Day 319: The Well Runs Dry . . .

pascual toso malbecWhat a day. . .a ‘quick’ trip to Kerrville to have an appliance repaired turned into an all day–wait and see–and thus absolutely killed what promised to be a busy Tuesday.  You know those days. . .they start full of promise and high energy.  You’re focused on what needs to be done.  You’re “relatively” excited about getting them done, and you know that the sooner you get them DONE, the sooner you get to go home.  Today was that day. . .Brian and D#1 were going to meet a repair technician with a window of 8 am to Noon.  Since very rarely does a repair person actually arrive at 8, we knew that there was some time to kill before getting to the house.  A very good use of time was stopping at Rita’s for some awesome breakfast tacos.  Yep, nothing better than starting your day with a couple of bacon-egg-potato and beans breakfast tacos washed down by a cup of coffee!

Getting to the house a little after 9:45, we knew that the window of waiting was only going to be a few hours more–of course,there’s always a chance that the repair person came before, but highly unlikely!  When 10:00 gave way to 10:30, we suspected that something was up. . .a quick call to the customer service hotline confirmed that they were running behind schedule. . .new time was 1:00 pm.  So, it gave us the opportunity to run some errands and make lunch arrangements.  Daughter #1 with a friend from high school and Brian with good friend and former co-worker, Guy.  It’s always a good meal at Mike’s Mencius Chinese Restaurant, where the conversation was dominated by the upcoming NFL season and the approaching fantasy football draft.  We were joined by Guy’s son, Connor who has become a fine young man–graduating from college and getting ready to move forward with his life.

After a delicious lunch compliments of Guy (always love it when ‘debts’ are paid off!) and back to the house by 12:45. . .we figured that gave us plenty of time before the repair tech would be arriving.  1:00 came and went and so did 1:30…now the day was bordering on being lost.  A 3:00 appointment had to be rescheduled because even with perfect conditions, we weren’t going to be back in San Marcos in time.  2:00 came and went and finally at 2:30 the knock on the door.  They immediately went to work; they knew what needed to be done and had all of the tools to get the job done, BUT, this unit is not the easiest unit to repair so it took longer than anticipated to pull it out of the wall, make the necessary repairs, test the unit to make sure it worked before putting it back in the wall.  It’s now 3:30 and the afternoon has just about disappeared.  We jump in the car–make a quick stop to see L–and we’re on the road again.  About this time the rains and winds hit the interstate and when you’re driving a Jeep, wind is the LAST thing you want!  We finally drove into the driveway at 5:30–but for the repairs on the appliance, the day was kind of like a well running dry…

And tonight, we wrap up Malbec Week with our final Malbec (of the week – chances are another will sneak into the basket before August 31st and we put a bow around this puppy!)  Now, we’ve had this one several times before over the past couple of years and it has a really great track record of flavor, full-body and quality for the price.  Previous vintages that we’ve enjoyed include the 2009, 2010 and 2011, and tonight we sampled the 2012 Pascual Toso Malbec from Mendoza Argentina.  Priced below $10 a bottle, you might be fooled into passing it by on the grocery shelves. . .those who only prefer high-priced wines from wine or liquor stores might want to stop–look around to make sure no one is looking–and drop a couple of bottles into your cart!  The Reserve is amazing but this wine is still one of the highest rated malbecs under $20.  Pascual Toso is one of the oldest wineries in Argentina and has a long history of making excellent wine. For the Malbec, the winery combined its efforts with legendary winemaker Paul Hobbs whose wines usually retail in the 100s.  The nose of this wine greets you with notes of plums and a hint of oak. The wine is fruit forward with a finish that brings blackberry, licorice and vanilla towards a sweeter, soft finish. Words like smooth and elegant spring to mind as you contemplate having another glass. It does go down easy so you might as well pick up a bottle or two.  But, at the end of today. . .there are no more malbecs for the reviewing. . .at least not for Malbec Week!

While we accomplished one goal, many were left untouched which brings us to the end of another day.  Ultimately, we’ll either get the others done tomorrow or not, but it’s a reminder that we don’t always get everything we want–or need.  We hope that as your Tuesday night fades to black, you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 318: Just When You Thought it was safe . . . Malbec Week Continues!

santa julia malbecDun-ta—Dun-ta—Dun-ta, Dun-ta, Dun-ta. . .AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH — okay, a bit melodramatic, but it illustrates another week of working our way through the Malbec wines that currently are living on the the blog wine rack.  Ya see, as we are out and about we pick up wines that either look interesting, sound interesting or just catch our eyes (yes, sometimes price points and sales do play into our decision to purchase).  As it turns out, we have apparently collected a number of Malbecs – we must admit we don’t necessary keep a record when we purchase . . . but from time to time our history does catch up to us and we find ourselves in a predicament such as this.  Regardless,  we plow forward and make the best of the situation.

So, today wasn’t anything other than just a plain ol’ Monday.  The heat of the last several days came to a short-term end and with wonderful afternoon rains came lower temps – a welcome relief.  Our plans to cook up some fajitas on the grill were dampened by the wetness – but again . . . no complaints – we need this moisture.  It was a great sight to see water rushing down the creek and even a waterfall upstream.

As usual, we digress and spend more time talking about the day than the wine of the day – tonight we opened a 2011 Santa Julia Malbec.  There is no doubt that we love a good Malbec and this little number from Mendoza, Argentina is 100% Malbec.  On the nose it had pleasant aromas of plum, ripe fruit, a little spice and a bit of floral.  On the palate, the wine shows lots of blackberry and plum flavors to create a real fruit bomb.  It’s a pretty soft and smooth wine with a finish that ends with a bit of spice along with lingering blackberry and chocolate notes that seem to go on for an incredibly long time – the chocolate was enhanced by munching on a couple of Hershey’s best.   As it aired out, the flavors – especially the spices seemed to get better and more pronounced.

The price was the best part – under $10.  Again, while it was a good little number – and we’d pick it up on sale – not so sure we’d drive a mile or more out of our way to repurchase.  But – – – if at HEB and it’s still on sale . . . yup, would pick up a bottle or two and share with friends and family.

Welp, more rain on its way and we’ve got an early and busy Tuesday in store.  Have a good evening, and as always, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.



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Day 317: Hi Ho Silver . . . Away

altosur malbecMalbec Week continues!  Yep, we’re cleaning out some wines from the blog wine rack (bwr – NOT to be confused with the BRWC at P & L’s) P&L know ALL about the BRWC!  Anyway, unlike a broken record, we’ve enjoyed staying with the Malbec varietal and tasting different wine making interpretations of the grape.  Admittedly, we’ve tasted and written about some pretty tasty Malbec wines over the past week, and we’ve also tasted and written about others that step in line with Malbec grapes.

Speaking of varieties . . . we met up with Jean’s Dad, Bill for a movie and dinner today.  Before that however, we had the ‘unique’ opportunity to not only clean out the dog’s private area (we call it the poop patio) but also landscape it just a little more than usual.  With rains anticipated later this week, today was a good day to add some gravel and clean out where the dogs take care of their business–yeah, we live an exciting life, don’t we!–and cleaned of the front door step from all of the leaves…this done before 10:30 this morning.

We decided to see “The Lone Ranger” with Johnny Depp and unlike the reviews from Hollywood, we thoroughly enjoyed the film.  Yes, the beginning was a little slow, but it quickly got better and better.  The jokes were numerous and you HAVE to be paying attention because they come and go QUICKLY!  The story line is classic good versus evil, but the acting and the cinematography are superb.  The reviewers can say what they want; we heartily give this film two thumbs up!

With the movie comes wine and so we decided to open yet another Malbec  . . . this one a 2012 Altosur Malbec from Sophenia in Mendoza, Argentina.  A very respectable Argentinian Malbec. This one has as much style and completeness.  It just seem richer than typical. That may be the result of maybe slightly higher altitude than usual, or more time in new oak, or maybe longer lees treatment, or something else, but this is not one dimensional value-priced Malbec. Even the fruit profile leans more towards ripe black cherry than typical. Respectable mid palate. More tannins than usual. Not much oak. The finish shows some spicy black fruits and really nice balance.   Another way to look at this wine is to say, “Attractive red color with violet hues. Aromas of intense ripe fruit: cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and fresh plums, combined with spicy and floral hints. In the mouth the sweet and round tannins increase its fruit sensation and balance. Wine of good intensity, concentration and long after taste.”  We really enjoyed this wine with some Yarlsberg and Medium Cheddar cheese as well as crackers.

After watching The Lone Ranger with his ‘assistant’, Tonto (Depp), we have a new appreciation for ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humor.  From Depp, to Silver-the horse–and from the supporting cast…which is HUGE, we think that the reviewers were looking for a little too much like the television show and not allowing for the creativity of the writer and director of this movie.  It’s really GOOD…in fact, we’re ready to see it again just to see and hear the jokes we missed the first time around!

Whether you’re enjoying Malbec or a varietal that suits you better, we hope that as Monday turns the corner, you’re ready to be at your best.  As we close in on 365 wines in 365 days, we also hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 316: Does Anybody Have the Time . . .


Well, you’ve heard of Shark Week – well at Casa del Vino . . .  it’s Malbec Week – BTW, apologies for some typos in Thursday nights blog – our spell checker now knows how to spell Malbec!  But, like most nights, we digress – – -Yes, we’ve enjoyed several Malbecs this week – albeit without shame or regret.

And, after a Saturday of 103 degree heat, we’ve come to the conclusion that summer is NOT for whimps, but it’s for the strong!  Several days of plus 110 degree temperatures with humidity will get your attention any day.  We spent most of the day with Daughter #1 in Austin – the big purchase of her day was a watch.  Ya know, it’s funny that when you get out of college and start to realize that you have to make “adult” decisions.  Something after graduating from college 32 years ago we’ve forgotten about and had a few chuckles over today.  Think about it – how hard is it to buy a watch . . . they are just for telling time, right?  Jean got to thinking about her first watch – as a rite of passage growing up in her family . . . when you turned 12, you got a watch.  Ok – dating ourselves here, but the best and the “coolest” watch was a Disney one that came with a little statue.  While her older sisters got the Cinderella one, Jean went straight for the Mickey Mouse one.  During the process, both Brian and Jean commented that they had the timepiece they currently wear for a long time.  Jean got her Seiko for $115 at Sears like 23 years ago – she gets a new crystal about every 3-4 years and it just keeps ticking away.  Brian has his Eddie Bauer watch that was purchased about 20 years ago for about the same amount – it too just keeps ticking away.  Our advice today was – buy a classic . . . it will never go out of style – D#1 did and made a great purchase.  Pay for quality and you will be rewarded with a long term purchase.

Well, sadly wine is not a long term purchase in our house.  We did however discover a new little gem this evening.  We opened a 2010 Septima Malbec.  This wine is a beautiful red wine from the esteemed Uco Valley of Argentina.  Malbec vineyards, planted in the upper region of the valley, are located 3,600 feet above sea level. Hand harvested in the cool morning hours, the Malbec fruit is crushed and placed in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Brian smoked some Salmon on the grill along with some fresh asparagus – what a great combination.

The wine was intense red with traces of violet – you know, the Harold and the Purple Crayon look.  The nose was  fresh cherries and raspberries with hints of strawberry and maybe a dash or two of vanilla.  The palate was very nice – hints of oak and those berries making their presence known.  The finish was a little tart for Jean, but Brian found the strong tarty fruit flavor a delight. We found this wine on closeout at Twin Liqours and will be tempted to find it again – maybe not Bondy Wine Deck first round choice, but a distant runner-up.  Gotta be honest, gonna be tough to narrow down the list to the Top Ten . . . only 49 to go and then we’ll let you know who makes the cut.

Have a great night – sleep well, count your blessings, tell the people you love that you do!  And as Red Skeleton used to say . . . Good Night and God Bless.  And as always, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible. 

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Day 315: We’re Just Not That Into It . . .

into zinFriday nights are great nights for kicking back, firing up the grill and relaxing after a long week.  Part of the challenge with that ‘process’ this time of year is that it’s still 100 degrees plus at 8 o’clock at night . .  not exactly the kind of weather that’s conducive to deck time on a Friday night.  The grill part, on the other hand, is always a good option and after finding some steaks on sale at our local H-E-B, we decided that tonight would be a good reason to cook them up.  We like to fix roasted potatoes when we grill steak . . . using some nice red potatoes well cut them into bite-size pieces and cut up some red onion and we like adding red, yellow or orange sweet peppers.  Mixing all three together in a bowl with some olive oil and seasoning, put them into a 9 x 12 baking dish – – or if you’ve got stoneware, like is offered from Pampered Chef, use that – a great tool for cooking, and finally into the oven at 375 degrees for–initially–20 minutes.  After the first 20 minutes, stir them up, turn the dish around and put another 25 minutes on the timer.  In the meantime, we’ve picked up some beautiful, fresh green beans…long, great color and they have a great snap – – after cleaning them and soaking them in some water, we like to add just a hint of bacon grease or two or three slices of bacon to the pan with some water just covering the top of the beans.  After bringing them to a boil, we’ll simmer them on medium to low for 15 minutes at which time, we’ll pour in a third of a bottle of Italian salad dressing.  Put the lid back on, turn down the heat to low and let cook for another 20-25 minutes.

These two vegetables combined with the steak made for a nice way to wrap up the week – along with daughter #1 and Bruce Wayne(who is in for a weekend visit) –  but it wouldn’t be complete without some wine, and tonight we opened at 2011 Into Zin Zinfandel from Oak Ridge Winery…the same folks that make one of our favorite everyday Zins, OZV and Maggio!  They’re located in Lodi, California…a superb part of the state for growing zinfandel grapes.  While this Zin isn’t going to set any records for awards or get rated by Parker, it did earn a gold medal at the 2012 Alameda County Fair…not sure if that means anything, but even as a value-priced entry, it’s not bad.  But, it’s probably not going to make us go out and scoop up mass quantities of it either…the nose is certainly typical zin…peppery, dark fruit, a little leathery.  The taste was –well, just a little too tart for us.  We like a zin to have that warm, spicy taste and a finish that allows you to taste the fruit and other characteristics of the wine.  Even as the wine had some time open up, it didn’t deliver anything that made us jump for joy.  So, while some of the Oak Ridge products are among our favorite everyday-type wines, this one won’t be joining them.

Fortunately, good food is just that…good food and we enjoyed the meal immensely, but the wine, while disappointing, is a great way to enjoy good food.  We hope you have a terrific weekend and as you enjoy your favorite wine, we hope that you’ll do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 314: Dora the Xplora . . .

exploradorOk, so who out there has kids and is a fan of Dora the Explorer?  Ah – come on now . . . you can’t fib to us – we KNOW you love Dora.  We mean, Dora is the BEST friend ever and she never, ever quits – – – because it’s always “the best day ever”.  This festy youngin’ is always ready for an adventure – guess that comes along with wearing bright pink shorts.  Whether she is swingin from the vines or waiting to give a helping hand, this pint size Indiana Jones is always on the go – thinking it is the purple backpack that gives her strength.

Sorry, we digress – today is just a regular ole Thursday leading into a Friday when means . . .WEEKEND (almost, but not quite, time to get giddy).  Tonight we have a number of things rattling around in our brains, but will choose to rest on just a couple of them –

  • Major SO (shout out) to Dr. V and Kay . . . turns out someone (who is on vacy) and his sister in-law are spending some quality time imbibing in a glass or two on a regular basis and reading this here blog.  Nice, nice, nice is just about all we can say!  Oh, and enjoy the land of the Apple Blossom, Painted Turtle and Dwarf Lake Iris (see we did some research!) – looking forward to your return to the salt mines.

  • 12 years ago we lost Brian’s Dad, Hugh – he was a wonderful man and sorely missed by family and friends.  A glass was raised in his honor.

Tonight we decided to open a bottle of 2011 Malbec from Xplorador. So, these wines go waaay back – like 1883 way back.  A fella named Don Melcher Concha y Toro started messin’ with french bordeaux grapes in the valleys of Chili – ok, a lot more to the story . . . but you’ll have to read for yourselves.  But let’s just say – they really know how to produce great wines in Argentina and we really enjoy the fruits of their labor.

We picked this little number up at one of the newest Twin Liquors – used to be The Main in Kerrville owned by good friends Peter and Cynthia – but, Twin came in made them a great offer and the rest is history . . . this wine was less than $12 on clearance and turned out to be quite the bargain.

After popping the cork and noticing the deep red color, we just knew we were in for a our own “explore”.  The nose tempted us with it’s fruity invitation to dive right in – so, we did.  The fruity and ever so smooth palate double dog dared us to savor a sip or two – so, we did.  The finish told us this wine had been aged in oak and lingered long enough to make an impression and tell us to go back for seconds – so, we did.  This was really a delightful wine and will definitely be added to the Bondy Deck Wine List – might even break into the top 10 list.  We paired it with sautéed vegetables and pasta – great combination.

Drinking this wine is just another reminder that we need to get to Argentina and enjoy some of the wonderful wines they produce . . . definitely on the bucket list.  Will just have to make a point to get there one of these days.  Perhaps like Dora, we will don pink shorts and purple backpacks and head out – knowing it will be a wonderful “explore”.

So, as we round third and head towards home – hope it’s been a great week so far for you – has been an eventful one for us . . . but aren’t they all.  Have a good one and as always, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.