Author Archives: bjwine365
Day 356: It’s About Time . . .
And here we sit–T-Minus 9 . . . about 12 months ago, we got this hair-brained idea that we, yes . . . we, the then 53 old, self defined “old farts” decided that we should do a wine blog . . . you know, we’d watched Julie & Julia one too many times and, oh, what a great idea – blog about a different wine EVERY night for a year. Yeah, we know . . . blah, blah, blah – but, truth be told – we were gamers. Yup, we thought silently — and then aloud. . . . oh, heck – this will be easy, doing something we enjoy (tasting wine) . . . we are so in!
BUT…like all things in life, the truth of the matter is . . . we’ve just ’bout run out of the will to finish. It was fun in September. . .even better in October when we took a trip to Paso Robles, California. November was a delight but December just wasn’t right. . .January came and went and February seemed spent. March roared in like a lion but by April we’d begun cryin’. May and June weren’t easy and July made us feel queasy. So here we are in August and the finish line is just ahead, all we’re hoping is that when we get there, no one’s feeling dead!!
Tonight we opened a 2009 Tempranillo from Alicante, Spain. “The Tapas Wine Collection” Tempranillo–it’s got an imposing name and an equally graphic label. Tempranillo is a variety of red grape that is widely grown in Spain to produce full-bodied red wines. It has been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since Phoenician times. Tempranillo wines are often characterized by a dark ruby color with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla leather and herbs. Interesting fact: Tempranillo is the most widely planted red grape variety in Spain. And while the preferred foods would be red meat, spicy foods, cured meats and cooked vegetables, we opted for a more traditional Dominos Pizza! On a Thursday night, after a Business After Hours for Brian and extended office time for Jean, the thought of cooking something to match the wine–well, it JUST wasn’t happening! However, that said, the pizza turned out to be the perfect complement to the wine. A Dominos Extravaganza which DID have cured meat and cooked vegetables was the ideal pairing for us with this wine. Priced at around $11 a bottle, you’re NOT going to confuse this wine with a bottle of Clio from the same year. . .OH NO, not even close; however, you may think you’ve stumbled upon something because it has a 2009 vintage, and those year’s wines are getting harder and harder to find. A pick up from our recent visit to World Market, if you’re in the mood for a nice, smoky Tempranillo, then by all means get a hold of this bottle. However, if you looking for long and smooth to be a part of the conversation, with all due respect, you’ll probably look elsewhere.
So, maybe–just maybe–we’re a bit melodramatic in our journey. Surely, if it was that BAD, we’d have abandoned our quest long ago. And the short answer to that would be ‘you’re right’. There have been a number of times when we thought that it would be best to stop it in our tracks and be done with it. What motivated us to continue? What motivates anyone to continue? Never quitting! By golly, we’re going to make this happen! It’s like the character of General Custer in the movie, “Night At The Museum, Battle of The Smithsonian”…”We’re Americans, we don’t think, we DO!” Yeah. . .kind of like that!
We hope you’ll stay with us for the rest of the blog. . .actually, you can help us by passing it on to friends and family. . .we’d love to get more folks reading just in time to stop! No! Not really, but it sounded good! AND, if you’ve been with us from the start or any portion of the journey, help us by sharing your thoughts about a Top Ten List-if you’ve enjoyed some of the wines we’ve written about, tell us about your thoughts and which ones should be on the BJWINE365 Wall of Fame!
Thanks for staying with us; enjoy your next bottle of wine responsibly and remember to recycle when you’re done.
Day 355 – All The World’s A Stage. . .
…and we are but players! Well, not exactly how it’s written but the point is that we’re a blip on the radar screen of civilization. The time spent in our lives doesn’t even register on the time clock of the planet, solar system or galaxy. Yep, just like the song, we are like dust blowing in the wine! Ooops! We meant blowing in the WIND! Yes, of course! But, we’re also reminded that time is always moving forward. So, tonight we spent some time watching the Little League World Series playoffs, and were struck by their similarities to real life–shaking hands after a job well done. This is the kind of baseball we know and love!
So tonight we opened a 2011 Cline Mourvedre. . .and WOW, what a wine! Very tasty; loads of fruit, a terrific finish and all for a closeout price of $10 at Twin. Ancient Vines Mourvedre offers a hint of Eucalyptus on the nose, distinct chocolate characteristics and a luscious deep plum flavor. This surprisingly and unusually delightful wine has a substantial mouth-feel followed by soft tannins.. . like we said…lots of wine and not a huge investment. We enjoyed it with smoked center cut pork chops, some garlic pasta shells and a romaine lettuce salad. All of these were perfect compliments to the wine.
Even as we close in on the end of our blog series, we’re amazed at the wines that are available for a good price and a great taste. This wine fits the bill to a tee and because it’s a varietal that most people don’t (or won’t) go to look for and try, those of us who have tasted and believe are going to snatch them up! It’s a great wine for the price; it’s a flavorful wine for your palate and you can amaze your friends and family with your vast knowledge! Okay. . .so that last part was a REAL stretch!
As you know, the Mourvedre grape is rarely bottled as a wine by itself. Typically, this grape is used in blends–most blends that we’ve enjoyed have Petite Syrah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in them, so this grape is probably used to soften the wine against the big and bold of the other grapes. What we never expected was a wine with great taste and body and a smooth finish. It’s yet another example of trying something out of our ‘wheelhouse’ (remember an earlier post?) and being rewarded for trying it!
As the week begins a tilt towards the weekend, we can’t tell you the number of comments and likes we’ve enjoyed knowing that the blog is quickly coming to its conclusion. We especially like the folks from Sweden, Japan, Germany and other countries who have accidentally (yes, we’re not so vain as to think we have a world-wide following) stumbled upon our blog. And, after looking at the variety of search terms used, we’re convinced that most folks have no clue what they’re looking for!! But, hey, we’re glad they stopped by and checked us out. Enjoy your Thursday, and prepare for the weekend. We’re now in a T-Minus mode starting tomorrow, we’ll be at T-Minus 10 and counting. If you’re in the mood to try new, value priced wine, then stay tuned for some great stuff; and if you’ve come to expect great information…don’t miss the last 10 days!
Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.
Day 354: Sometimes things are better left alone . . .
Yeah, so we’ve already talked about the Santa Julia Malbec and tonight we’re going a little crazy because we’ve found a white wine from the same folks. The only catch is that this wine is from a torrontes grape. Torrontés is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromatic wines with moderate acidity, smooth texture and mouth-feel as well as distinctive peach and apricot aromas on the nose. Keep that in mind…we’ll come back to it later.
We are closing in on the final days of our quest to taste and write about 365 different wines in 365 days. While we are deeply appreciative of the following that has grown over the past eleven and a half months, we know that the world isn’t sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the next blog! However, Doug – one of our followers asked ever so sweetly – and we paraphrase . . . “what, you can’t stop – i love your blog . . . can’t you just go on forever”.
Simply put, we have found an AMAZING number of wines over the past 353 days that reminds us of how many varietals, labels, wine makers and vintners there are in our world. We thought that we’d scratch the surface of wines in a year’s time, but sadly, we aren’t even close. Thank you to the comments that have asked us to continue on past our 365 days! While we appreciate the comments and support, the budget isn’t as willing. After reading a fair number of other blogs, we can tell you that all but one of our reviews have been wines purchased by us. No freebies, no giveaways, no tainting the process; everything that we’ve smelled, tasted, reviewed and written (other than the one bottle) has been purchased by us. SO, if you wonder why we’re wrapping this puppy up in 10 days, well, the coffers are thin and we’ve accomplished our goal.
However, the best part of this journey (other than the wine) has been the comments, the followers and the friends who have stood up and joined us on our journey. . .from all over the country and the world! It’s a medium like this that provides platforms for promoting something we love very much. . .good wine, good food and good friends! Tonight’s wine is an extension of that very thought process. Torrontes–a grape variety from Argentina. Santa Julia, a wine maker from Mendoza, Argentina. We previously tasted and wrote about their Malbec, but we had no idea about their home grown varietal until purchasing this Torrontes from Twin Liquors.
Three Torrontés varieties exist in Argentina: Torrontés Riojano, the most common, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino. It is primarily Torrontés Riojano that has received attention for the quality of its wines, and is the variety used for most Argentine wines simply labeled Torrontés. Our wine tonight, a 2010 Torrontes was very tart from the beginning to the end. Like biting into a granny smith apple, this wine had ‘pucker power’…yeah, it wasn’t a smooth and elegant wine. It was more like an in-your-face-kick-butt wine! Wines like this are tough to review because they have a flavor and aroma about them, but they aren’t necessarily big dog wines that you’d keep on your shelf for periods of time. After plenty of tastes and sniffs, we pretty much decided that the wine is ‘nice’ but there is NO WAY that we’d consider adding this to our deck wine favorites. For the record, Kathryn – aka www.teamwhitaker.org – we have conquered the white . . . be proud!
In a perfect world, we’d keep right on writing. But, let’s face it, ours is NOT a perfect world. We have been reluctant (or scared) to tally up our “investment” in this past year’s blog. When we write our final piece on August 31st, we’ll have talked about a LOT of wine that is available all over the State of Texas. What happens after that. . .well, who knows but YOU will have a terrific opportunity to take the journey with us. . .try some of the wines and who knows, you may want to venture out on your own.
For us, we’re closing in on a finale. For you, we hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.
Day 353: Tribute to a Wonderful Woman . . .
Back on Day 19 we blogged about a wine called Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir. This bottle had been given to us by Jean’s Dad – by now you know him as Bill. As it turns out, this Pinot was a favorite of Bill and Jean’s Step-Mother Pat – needless to say this is one of the best bottles of wine we had ever tasted . . . smokey and yet smooth as a rock tossed about in the sea . . . so we weren’t surprised that this wine was special to the two of them.
Today is the second anniversary of Pat’s passing on the a much better place (ironic that it’s the 19th of August and we blogged about her favorite wine on Day 19) – she had been part of the family for over 16 years and was Nana to D#1 and D#2 (as well as the other five cousins on Jean’s side). It goes without saying that Pat is missed by many – she had a sense of humor to beat the band, a twinkle in her eye that told you she was up to something mischievous – and a laugh that was infectious. Oh the stories we could tell of her life adventures.
She was a strong woman of faith and held others accountable for their actions – something we should all do. Never afraid to speak her mind, but always willing to listen to the “other” side of the story. In a nutshell, she was a wonderful woman and role model to many – missed and loved by those who knew her.
So tonight in honor of Pat, we opened a 2010 Angeline Winery Pinot Noir Reserve. This wine is a “county blend” – with 36% of grapes coming from Sonoma County, 34% from Mendocino County and 30% from Santa Barbara – all CA, yet another reason Pat would love this wine. Produced at the Martin Ray Winery which has an interesting history – Martin Ray Winery’s Founder Courtney Benham acquired the historic Martini & Prati winery in July, 2003. The tasting room structure, which dates back to the 1900’s, used to serve as a stable and bunk house where Italian immigrants stayed during harvest. Established in 1881 as the Twin Fir Winery, the historic site is distinguished as the oldest winery in continuous operation in Sonoma County and one of the oldest wineries in California. The winery was able to stay in operation during prohibition by selling sacramental wines by train to San Francisco and points beyond. Martini & Prati Winery, which was established in 1902, was run by five generations of the Martini family until July of 2003, when Martin Ray Winery’s founder and proprietor Courtney Benham purchased the facility.
According to their website, the 2010 harvest was one of the strangest growing seasons on record. The long, slow, cold season had the winery about 3–4 weeks behind schedule, with a small window of time to bring in all the fruit. Although the season was bizarre, it was the harvest of “super berries.” Due to moderate ripening at cool temperatures, the grapes retained good levels of acid and are very balanced fruit that has achieved ripeness at lower brix…you know, the amount of sugar. Therefore, they had lower yields of fruit, with lower alcohol and sugar levels, great color and amazing flavors.
This wine was surprisingly beautiful from the nose to the finish. Popping the cork produced a nose full of toasted oak . . . wow! On the palate – toasted oak with hints of berries, green pepper and a slight note of pepper. The finish was just long enough – nothing over the top – but plenty for us. For a blended Pinot, we were amazed at the flavor and the finish. We enjoyed it with smoked chicken leg quarters and corn on the cob and we have to tell you that it was a perfect pairing! But, with a versatile wine, you can work with just about anything! We picked this one up at Twin Liquors for less than $20 – always a great place to pick up a bargain.
It’s a good wine . . . a good value . . . and for the money, you’ll be glad you tried it. Remember to hug those you love the most tonight, and every night – for they make us who we are and most days even more than that! As we ease from Monday into Tuesday, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!
Day 352: In the Wheelhouse . . .
So here we are, winding down yet another busy weekend and Sunday. Feel a little bit like Carol Burnet’s Theme Song – “I’m so glad we had this time together . . . seems we just get started and before you know it . . . it’s time to say so long” – yessiree Bob, that about sums up the roller coaster we’ve been on for the last three months. Now, do not (“I say, I say . . . Do Not” – name the cartoon character….) get us wrong – we have had the best blessing that parents could ask for — time with our children.
As we all know. Time is truly a ‘Dog Eat Dog’ competition (Who’s wearing milkbone underwear?) and before you know . .. BAM, they grow up, go to school, graduate, go to college, graduate, move back home, move out … and start their own career! It just doesn’t get any better than that! NOW, we know how our parents felt–some 30+ years ago–it wasn’t JUST the financial reward of a child graduating, but it was the emotional “paycheck” of knowing that you’d done your part to make a difference in our world. AND, if what we’ve seen over the past three weeks is ANY indication—wooooooo, watch out second graders–you’re going to be in for an AMAZING ride!!!
The roller coaster always goes up, down, side to side — and that’s the way life goes too. We never know what turn is coming up. . .we don’t know when there is going to be a drop that we didn’t expect, and who would have thought that all of a sudden we’d be heading up, up and away? When professional athletes ascend to the next level, they call it getting into the zone. When we get to the next level, we call it ‘being focused’. Whether it’s getting ready to teach second graders, getting ready to take courses for our Junior year in college, helping another school reach their admission numbers or selling out a networking golf tournament, we ALL find a way to navigate through the turns, dips and inclines of life’s roller coaster. . .we call it–being in the wheelhouse of life.
Funny that we’d call it that! Tonight we opened a 2010 Wheelhouse Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. And, for all the fancy wines that come out of Napa, who would have thought that we’d find this little beauty for less than $15 at World Market? We didn’t see it coming, but that’s probably because we were too busy looking at the wine racks on display for $10 – yes, we bought one . . . heck, for $10 it was a deal and potential could hold 144 bottles of wine . . . Yeah, the World Market in North Austin next to Dave & Buster’s was clearing out their wooden wine racks and–you know–it’s REALLY hard to pass up a deal–so now, although it’s NOT a BRWC–it IS a major wine rack that will store MANY of our POST-BLOG wines!
This 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine of structure and finesse, with blackberry and cassis fruit aromas and flavors, backed by subtle notes of chocolate and anise. Its suppleness lends it to drinking now, but it will age gracefully over the upcoming decade. The wine lends itself to classic Cabernet fare: Filet Mignon with Wild Mushrooms or a simple grilled New York strip steak. . . BUT since we didn’t have such fancy fare, we opted instead for stir fried chicken with roasted veggies and steamed white rice. It was a nice combination to go with the wine!
For a wine at less than $15 a bottle, it’s got all of the things you want in a big wine–dark fruit, smooth taste and finish and a lot of flavor. We were impressed enough to buy multiple bottles of the wine and still can’t believe that it’s available for such a low price. Hmmmmm, the list is narrowing for the Top Ten Bondy Deck Wine List.
Wines like this don’t come along every day, and whether you care to buy this wine or enjoy your favorite wine, please do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.