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Day 347 – For The Love of the Game

Aglianico Terredora DiPaoloWoof!  It’s an understatement to say that the dog days of summer are upon us.  We’re only a few short weeks/days away from the start of another school year and even though the calendar says it’s time, the weather indicates differently.  We’ve been watching pictures in the paper and footage on the news of young men in high school and college working out on the football field–soaked in sweat–they are chasing the dreams of thousands of young men who have come before them. . .the elusive championship.  It’s an interesting contrast to the “training camps” of the NFL, whose star players are pampered beyond means and whose contracts have all but eliminated ‘two-a-days”. . .workouts for those of us who are “football challenged.”

There was a time back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s even the 90’s when players played football during the season and played everywhere else during the offseason.  When training camp started, it literally was training all over again.  But today’s athletes are finely tuned machines. . .they exist on meals of carbs, proteins and other essential nutrients.  They are primped, pampered, coddled and cared for because instead of being viewed by the owners of the team as athletes. . .they are now possessions.  And, these possessions can’t return on the investment unless they are at peak performance.  So, it’s kind of ironic that more and more professional athletes who used to do ‘two-a-day’ workouts and made it through Pee-Wee football, Pop Warner football, high school football and college football without nary an incident, suddenly find themselves on injured reserve with a torn medial collateral ligament.  A coincidence?  Who knows. . .but, the dog days of summer have descended upon us and as the Rattlers and Bobcats gear up for another season in the sun, it’s good to know that some traditions can stand the test of time.

Tonight we enjoyed a superb–yet young–Italian wine.  A 2010 Terredora di Paolo Aglianico from our friends at East End Wines in Austin.  Priced under $15 a bottle, this wine is good now. . .and we mean really good now. . .but, if you lay it down for another 3-4 years, it’s going to be spectacular.  This2010 Aglianico is a gem of a wine. Wild cherries, dark raspberries, spices, leather and licorice come together beautifully in a medium-bodied red. Floral notes waft out from the glass on the finish. There is nothing fussy here, just a flat out delicious bottle of unoaked Aglianico. Even better, from where we sit, this is a terrific value.  It’s a great wine with food as well. . .believe it or not, we had chicken fajitas with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo, grated cheese and spanish rice.  The wine stood up to the spice and the finish was a great palate cleanser!  Great Italian wines are easy to find. . .Spectacular Italian wines are a gem to locate, buy and save for special occasions.  Add this one to your list!

We know that when school starts, football season is just around the corner.  In spite of our commentary on the pros, it’s still pretty good entertainment, but not as enjoyable as the pure passion of high school or college athletics.  There is something to be said to enjoy a sport . . .’for the love of the game’!

As your Tuesday gives way to Wednesday, please enjoy YOUR favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 346 – An Offer We Couldn’t Refuse. . .Again!

la querciaFunny thing. . .we’ve gone almost an entire year of trying new wines, different wines, red wines, white wines, California wines, Australian wines, French wines, Italian wines–you get the picture.  Each night has been totally different, but it seems that there has been some repetitiveness during our timeline.  It seems that we’ve visited a familiar topic at some point in the past.

Tonight was one of Brian’s all time favorite movies. . .Francis Ford Coppola’s, The Godfather.  Every once in a while, AMC Network has “Mob Week” which will feature films having to do with–you guessed it–The Mob!  With so many brilliant actors and actresses, in today’s movie world we doubt that ‘The Godfather’ would ever get made.  The credits are like a Who’s Who of Hollywood royalty. . .from Brando and Pacino to Keaton and Duvall. . .there wasn’t a bad performance in the picture.  To have been an audience member in 1972 when the movie debuted must have been a rude awakening. . . even by today’s standards, the violence is gratuitous yet believable, mild and, it never gets old.  The Godfather is a timeless classic with a classic story line, and it’s written and directed with such precision that surely audiences were on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The legend was enhanced two years later when The Godfather Part II came out.  With many of the same cast members, it really was two movies in one–a continuation of the original picture and a historical account of the rise of ‘the family’ in America.  The American History alone makes them both worth watching. . .it’s cinematography and story-telling at its’ best.  Watching ‘The Godfather’ turns out to be the perfect way to wrap up the first day of the week. . .it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.

To enhance the movie-watching experience, we opened a 2010 La Quercia Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. . .a wine we picked up at East End Wines in Austin.  For just under $14 a bottle, this young, fruity wine has some aging to do in the bottle; however, if you MUST enjoy it now, you’ll find a full flavor profile but with hints of tartness that keeps it from being an amazing wine.  Hopefully, this wine will get better with age; we’d suggest you buy the wine and cellar it for about 4-6 years.  It’s a little musty on the nose; the palette is fine but nothing stands out. . .there is some earth, dark fruit, maybe even, lead.  The fruit shows more with food, dark dried raspberry and black cherry. Dry but short finish.  Yes, there are better wines out there, but for the money, this is a good buy, and the folks at East End Wines really know how to pick winners!

So, if you’re a DIE-HARD blog reader of ours, your job is to tell us what day and what wine we last wrote about ‘The Godfather’. . .we’ll enter all of the correct answers into a hat for a chance to wine–you guessed it–a bottle of wine.  That’s all for today. . .enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 345: A Rose’ By Any Other Name . . .

Charles and CharlesSo – to be blunt . . . we’ve had a day, and are tired.  Up at 7:30 a.m. and kinda like the Beverly Hillbillies .  .  . we packed and headed to Austin.  Thank Goodness that Bruce Wayne had a truck that could handle D#1’s “stuff”.  Yep, key possessions were packed and strapped in the truck.  Since it was Sunday, the trip to Austin was short, sweet and to the point.  Yes – lock and load . . . moved in and headed to school for balance of requirements.  Upon arriving, the morning was spent “going through stuff” – and the afternoon was reserved for “memory” time – for those who have been there – we will connect before week is out.

So – on to the wine.  Gotta be honest – we purchased this from Trader Joe’s – way back when . . . since it was a Rose’, we have been stalling night after night – trust us, it’s been there in the Fridge waiting – waiting for the call.    As previously mentioned . . we have to continue our “imagination” and keep looking for the best wines we can.  Well, the mere fact that we’ve had this wine for several months should tell you something – just sayin’ . . .yes, we opened a 2011 Rose’ from Charles and Charles . . . no doubt in our minds – this is about as nasty as a wine can taste.  Not trying to offend anyone . . . but, nasty is just the term that comes to mind here. Obviously, we are not huge fans of Rose’ – but, we DID purchase the wine with the intent to blog.  This wine did hit #42 in the Wine Spectator list of 100 (seriously?) – but, it just didn’t do it for us.  According to one review – “The aromas of watermelon, grass, wet stones and citrus still dominate and they carry through the palate, but in a more dynamic way finishing with bright acidity”.  Our review – was much more along the lines of sweet, sweet, sweet – and too sweet—kinda reminds us of when you are making jello and you boil water, then add the “jello mix” – you let it sit and “simmer” then stick in the fridge.  As a child, the taste was appealing – kind of a warm, mushy sweet concoction that was really tasty – but as a wine “not so much” . . .

In summation, we came – we saw – we conquered . . . alas, poor Yorick . . . here we go again – down the drain we go.  Realistically, you can’t make up  bad wine.  Either it’s good and you enjoy the taste or it’s bad and  you wonder how they ever made this stuff!  For us, it just didn’t happen!  Our blog is short tonight – not only because the wine was “not so much”, but also because . . . we are just plain tired.

Another long day of classroom prep and helping D#1 move into her new home – furniture packed, loaded and headed north by 9:30 a.m.  We hope you have a terrific night and wherever you are . . . whatever you are doing – make sure you give it your all . . . as Red Skeleton used to say – “Good Night and God Bless”.

Until tomorrow – remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible . . .

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Day 344 – Lending A Hand

la manoSo, we have to say . . . it’s a little weird.  When you raise your kids and see them off to college, you’re pretty much ‘done’ with raising them.  Well, it sounds good in practice but not so much in reality.  There are always going to be moments when they need some advice, direction, an opinion, a shoulder or an ear.  We aren’t even close to perfect, but we strive to give both girls the opportunity to talk with us; tell us what’s on their minds; offer advice or suggestions when asked to do so and every once in a great while, we get the chance to impart a little life’s moment on them.  It’s one of the gifts of having children–watching them grow up, blossom and spread their wings.  We are now understanding more and more every year how our parents must have felt (other than relief) when we were moving out of the nest after graduating from college.

As we told you last night, we’re in the process of helping D#1 get ready for her first teaching position.  This means all hands on deck!  Yep, painting white here and there; painting red over there; moving books; cleaning, sweeping, vacuuming, it’s a lot tougher job being a teacher than teachers let us see!  The amount of preparation leading up to the first day of school is immense.  The physical transformation of the school and classrooms leading up to that first day of class is the stuff that legends are made of!  After seeing the commitment of professionals who have been a part of education for a lot long than D#1 has, we understand why there are issues in education today.  These folks put  in long, long hours–and are compensated at (if you really want to figure it out) maybe a little above minimum wage.  The women and men who are charged with educating our future workforce earn peanuts while professional athletes earn hundreds of millions of dollars even AFTER having needles put into them.  Talk about a screwed up system!

The classroom is a mecca for kids and their teacher, and we’re hoping that as the time winds down before classes start, that you’ll not only thank a teacher, BUT lend a hand to a teacher. . .you’ll learn more than you ever dreamed!  And, it’s with this spirit of helping a teacher that we opened and tasted a Spanish wine this evening.  A 2009 La Mano Mencia Roble–had a nice, crisp nose when we opened the bottle–which kind of surprised us.  Actually, we weren’t sure exactly what we were getting with this wine- -but the nose turned out to be very nice.  It has a deep crimson-color, and it delivers aroma of earthy notes, mulberry, and blueberry. On the palate, it has extraordinary depth and concentration for its humble price of less than $9 a bottle. Surprised?  Don’t be!  We’ve been fortunate enough to uncover some amazing wines at less than $10-$11 a bottle–wines that would cause your friends to think you’ve spent far more!  The wine is an interesting cross-section.  A spicy, smooth-texture and it’s clearly intended for pleasure…however, the finish–well, the finish was nothing to write home about.  It just kind of disappeared.  No fruit, no spice, no leather or cedar. . .it was a tasty wine up until the finish.

At the end of the day, one of the best parts of seeing our teacher get ready for school is our ability to lend her a hand–or two.  It may not necessarily happen every year, but there is something special about the first year.  It’s a clean slate; a new beginning; a fresh perspective.  And, when those kids march into class on the first day, they’re going to meet someone who has passion in her heart and a lot to offer them.  We’re a LOT biased, but will refrain from outright bragging!  And, with this wine tonight, well, you should try it to see if you like it.  Obviously, you’re not going to break the bank. . .it’s another wine from the folks at East End Wine in Austin.  They really know how to stock their shelves.

By the way, Kudos to Bruce Wayne for coming over and helping out get things moved and organized – means alot to us and D#1!  Enjoy your night, remember to taste your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible. 

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Day 343: Show Me The Money . . .

Shatter Yeah, we did watch Jerry Maguire tonight!  It’s a perfect way to start the football season. . .really, it’s a lot better than watching preseason football.  There are preseason games on Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. . .and for the first few weeks, they are nothing more than auditions for ‘The Show’.  Even though every sportswriter, every television commentator, every radio mouth-piece and most fans are jaw-jacking about glaring weaknesses here and glaring weaknesses there.  Really?  Have you looked at the rosters of these teams?  In Pro Football, training camp starts with 90 players.  AND, roughly half of them will NEVER see the field of dreams.  So, the preseason games really are auditions for a future. . .either in professional football or in the REAL WORLD.  We suspect that most guys on these rosters would much rather be football players than dealing with the  REAL WORLD.

So, in the movie, Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays Rod Tidwell of the Arizona Cardinals…we don’t have to go into the plot since the movie has been out since 1996, but it illustrates the cut-throat nature of representing professional athletes, it represents the greed of take it all now mentality and the obvious…”what’s in it for me” mentality that professional athletes have been groomed to expect.  And, it doesn’t matter what sport–translated loosely to business–they’re in.  Basketball, Football, Baseball, Hockey–it’s ALL about showing them the money!  We all know why–because the OWNERS are filthy-rich, spoiled and get exactly what they want.  At some point, in the not-too-distant-future, professional sports will collapse on itself–under the weight of drug abuse, greed and lack of trust.  Baseball is probably the first to go. . .

Fortunately, when it comes to enjoying a nice wine, you don’t always have to show the money.  In fact, as we’ve been able to show over the past 342 days, there are AMAZING wines available for only a few dollars a bottle that offer amazing taste, structure, finish and value.  Tonight, we add yet another nice wine to the stable – actually it runs around $30 per bottle, but we found it on sale for half that at our Kyle HEB.

This wine was first tasted in the land of the BRWC – aka Casa de P&L.  It is a 2010 Shatter Grenanche – now we must admit, and have several time throughout this blog, that we are not big fans of French wine . . . it’s nothing personal, some of our favorite foreign exchange students are from France – heck, even the Coneheads are from Remulak (somewhere in France, right?).  When we first popped open the cork, we knew immediately that it needed some air time.  After decanting for about 30 minutes, the nose opened up to strawberry, pepper, cherry, black plum and vanilla notes.  The palate continued down the path of dark berries, plum and cherries. The strawberry notes there, but less noticeable. Barreled in french oak helps this wine – but the pepper balances it out nicely.  The finish is nice enough, smooth yet a bit of a bite – but overall very nice.  We’d buy it again at the sale price, but not at a regular price of $30 plus.

Let’s face it. . .there are literally hundreds of sports stories out on the silver screen. . .from Monty Stratton to Gale Sayers and from the US Olympic Hockey team to the US Ryder Cup Championship, if there’s a way for Hollywood to make a buck–they’ll make a picture.  Jerry Maguire was a mere glimpse into the world of sports agents. . .OZV Zinfandel is a mere glimpse into the world of truly value-priced wines that taste good, look good and are worth every penny.

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

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Day 342: Getting Ready for School . . .

red splashYou can see it. . .parents carting kids into the big box retailers and clothing stores.  You can hear it. . .radio and television commercials extolling the virtues of back to school sales.  From college campuses to elementary school hallways, the return of teachers, custodial staff and administration personnel are signalling the start of a new school year–just around the corner.  There was a time (a long time ago) when we collectively didn’t like this time of year.  Whether it was shopping for school supplies (mainly crayons, pencils and paper) or the dreaded clothes shopping — “stop growing, we can’t afford to keep you in pants!”, when the calendar turned to the middle of August, we knew it was ‘BACK TO SCHOOL TIME’!

Now, granted while most public schools don’t start until the end of the month — many private and parochial schools will be starting in the next couple of weeks.  This means that the teachers for those schools are prepping their classrooms now.  They’re cleaning up, fixing up, decorating up, prepping up and doing just about anything they can to create a superb learning environment.  In our household, we have our first teacher preparing for her first class and we’re not too sure who’s more excited–us or her!  When you walk into a classroom as a student or parent, you see things with eyes that are –well more consumer-oriented.  What we’ve learned is that when you walk into a classroom with a teacher, especially one who is fresh from the student-teaching experience–the things you see or should see are about creating a way for kids to feel safe, secure, and ready to learn.  It’s about creating space for learning; it’s also about creating space for teaching.  It’s about removing barriers that send the wrong messages to kids who aren’t quite sold on the idea of being back in school–yet!  Colors, shapes, desk layouts, bulletin boards, lights–they all play a vital role in the education of young people and teachers are the driving force behind all of it this time of year.  There are still a couple of weeks left before the first bell rings, but we can state beyond the shadow of a doubt that we’ve learned more from our teacher, than we ever dreamed!

With a glance to the start of school and kind of ‘jumping in with both feet’, we opened a really nice 2007 Red Splash from St. Francis Vineyards in Sonoma County, California.  Surprisingly, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Old Vine Zinfandel that’s aged 18 months in oak and then 8 months in the bottle is unbelievably affordable at less than $10 a bottle.  It’s a wine that has a gorgeous nose. . .with hints of pepper and allspice as well as dark fruit and leather.  Food & Wine Magazine called it “One of the Best American Wines under $15” and the San Francisco Chronicle named it a “Top 5 Hearty Red $15 and under”. according to  Red ripe fruit flavors with spicy aromas make this a wine that pairs well with a variety of foods. Great with grilled foods–we enjoyed it with grilled ranch burgers and it’s probably awesome with pizza or pasta dishes with red sauce. We think that it would be the perfect wine to serve at a cocktail party or backyard barbecue.  So, here’s a great example of a sub-$10 bottle of wine coming from a well-known wine maker and absolutely dazzling with taste and finish.  Having previously enjoyed and blogged about St. Francis Zinfandel, we’re not surprised by the taste of its’ low-cost cousin.

As we head towards a weekend, around these parts, it’s ‘Sales Tax Free’ Weekend–which around here means…..CHA-CHING!!!  It also means stay away from the shopping malls, the big box retailers. . .go somewhere and enjoy some wine.  You’ll be glad that you did.

When you head out, remember to enjoy your favorite vintage responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 341: Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger . . . Raft!

heart & soul moscatoOn this day in 1947, Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft captained by Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, completes a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti. Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian islands by drifting on ocean currents.  Heyerdahl and his five-person crew set sail from Callao, Peru, on the 40-square-foot Kon-Tiki on April 28, 1947. The Kon-Tiki, named for a mythical white chieftain, was made of indigenous materials and designed to resemble rafts of early South American Indians.  While crossing the Pacific, the sailors encountered storms, sharks and whales, before finally washing ashore at Raroia.

WHAT?!?!?  Are you serious?  A Balsa Wood raft?  Today’s explorers ain’t got nuttin’ on those from yesteryear!  Before there was carbon fiber . . . before there was even fiberglass . . . before there was GPS, and so much more – there were explorers who literally risked their lives on the open water.  Think about it . . . Peru to Tahiti.  Daunting even in a Carnival Cruise Ship – hopefully the power stays on, but imagine the trek in a raft.  Amazing . . . heroic . . . and CRAZY!  We understand that Hollywood has latched on to this story and will be bringing another version of the story to the big screen.  While we’re skeptical, we’re looking forward to the story they tell – Jean likes to collect old books and has a first printing of the novel recording these historic events and has been a huge fan of this story for years.

With 25 days left in our blog goal of trying 365 different wines in 365 days, tonight we’ve locked into a wine that brings out the sweetness in life.  A birthday gift from Misty at Jean’s office – who like us, sometimes picks wines for their names.

A non-vintage moscato from Southeastern Australia called Heart & Soul.  Think of fresh grapes and that’s what Moscato tastes like. The color is pale yellow and there are very fine bubbles. The palate is fruity with a crisp finish.  We enjoyed it as a ‘before dinner’ wine . . . and after a day of 104 degrees, we thought that it was delicious.  Priced at less than $12 a bottle, this crisp, smooth wine will be a perfect welcome for guests dropping by or sitting out back — preferably when the temperature is much lower.  This wine could equally be served with light fruit and dessert.  One of the things about this wine is its crispness in the finish.  Very clean and little or no aftertaste.  All this being said, we’re not totally sold on the varietal; however, if they are starting to make wines like this, we’re going to sit up and start noticing them.

Imagine for a moment that you and four of your friends have just started out on a deep sea adventure on only a raft crafted from balsa wood.  All you have at your disposal are your navigation skills, a compass, some rations and water and the moon to be your guide.  Even the most salty veterans of the ocean will tell you that the voyage of Mr. Heyerdahl is beyond legendary – it’s historical!  So tonight . . . as we continue to enjoy – not Malbec Week, but Shark Week, think about a true explorer, a true adventurous spirit who 66 years ago today landed — for the most part — where he wanted to, just to prove a point.

Kind of like trying 365 different wines  in 365 days–sometimes we have to do things to prove a point!  Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 340: Shark Week . . .

Bass Creek

*Note:  Due to technical difficulties, we weren’t able to publish last evening; so here is the Tuesday evening blog–and we’ll be back tonight with another!

So, do you hear the theme from JAWS playing in your subconscious??? dadadadadada – BOO!  Yessiree Bob – it’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel…OMG, it’s Shark after Shark after Shark.  Must admit, having Daughter #1 under our roof has literally hooked us on SHARK WEEK!!!  What a fun time watching all the movies and docudramas playing out on our TV.

We SO remember going to see JAWS at the theater – Jean had read the book and was mentally prepared for just about every scene……EXCEPT (if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want a spoiler . . . leave the room).  So – onto the scene . . . yes, Jean was so prepared for everything except the head popping out in the middle of the underwater boat scene.  And, Brian went to see it by  himself and was fine until the kid next to him grabbed his arm when the underwater boat scene came around. . .which in turn caused his blood pressure to spike. . .which in turn created a huge rush of adrenaline. . .and the rest of the movie was — well — predictable.

There aren’t many films that end up with their own attraction at Universal Studios–but we’ve been on the ride and had the experience of meeting “Bruce” aka Jaws first hand–it’s actually kind of cool because the exact place where the tram took us was the exact place where “Moses parted the Red Sea” in the 10 Commandments with Charlton Heston.  BUT, in this case we were stranded tourists on a tram from the studio and we got an up close and personal visit from ‘JAWS’!  Brian was holding the camera as we rode through the waters and the picture–while timeless–doesn’t give full appreciation to the moment of ‘impact’!  You can’t make this stuff up!

And so tonight we busted open a fine Zinfandel from the state of California! Yep, who would have thought that we’d open a Zin route, but there seemed to be enough demand that we moved on to different sort of zin…one that isn’t quite as big and bold but still had some flavor.  And since it’s Shark Week, we decided that it was ‘appropriate’ to try Bass Creek Zinfandel from California!  Yep…and you can almost here the theme from JAWS playing in the background.  The wine isn’t going to set you on fire. . .at least it didn’t do that for us.  The nose was a bit bitter. . .not what we’ve come to expect from good Zinfandels.  The initial taste was a bit tart…even tangy…and with little or no fruit to the taste.  As the bottle stayed open, we noticed a green pepper taste packaged with some earthiness and a bit of cedar.  Maybe it was just us but we also picked up on a serious chocolate note. . .and so, we had to pull out some dark chocolate covered almonds!  Ahhh, what better way to enjoy a so-so wine than to enhance with chocolate covered—ANYTHING!  Overall, not the greatest bottle of wine, but at the same time, it did get better as we enjoyed it.

Whether it’s SHARK WEEK or just another manic Tuesday, you’ll want to surround yourself with family and friends and share the good times.  Here in our part of the world it’s hotter than blazes. . .104 today and upwards of 107 to 109 before the weekend. . .whew. . .take a break and enjoy the coolness of the air conditioning!

Remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible – and don’t leave your wine in the car during this heat wave ….. not good for it.

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Day 339: Stumping On A Monday . . .

the stump jump GSMOne thing that seems to be certain. . .Mondays come and go really fast–all things considered.  As we departed for work this morning, Jean was heading north to Austin and Brian was heading south to his office in San Marcos, the realization of our weekend-in-the-rearview-mirror was evident.  Yep, another weekend had come and gone before our very eyes and we were left wondering what exactly happened.  We had wrapped up work on Friday afternoon with a lot of excitement and thoughts about what we could do over the weekend.  Yes, we sat outside at the picnic tables provided by East Ends Wines and enjoyed a variety of new wines and couldn’t help but think how fun it was going to be with TWO days off! 

As we have detailed in previous blogs–and we WON’T go into them here–, there has been a pretty fair amount of work to be done on the house in Kerr-patch, but we’re on task and ready to make something happen, so whether it’s re-grouting the tile, any time you have new tenants moving into your property, the right thing to do is give it a complete–top to bottom–cleaning.  So, that’s how we spent yesterday (as previously noted)!

When Monday comes along, we’re either glad to have the ‘break’ of a new work week, or we’d wished that we would have hired someone else to take care of the necessary work at the house!  You know what we mean. . .you have the BEST intentions that get derailed.  However, this weekend we didn’t get derailed. . .we worked hard–painting, touching up walls, cleaning windows, sweeping, dusting, covering nail holes and a lot more.  It was the stuff that made Monday look really good!

And so,  tonight we opened a really nice 2011 Stump Jump from McLaren Vale in Australia,  It’s a blend that includes Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre’–it’s young, tart and it’s loaded with grenache.  Not being one of our favorite varietals, we kind of turned our noses up at it, but with a great pricing deal from Twin Liquors at less than $9 a bottle, we felt the obligation to “take one for the team!”  And so, we taste the 2011 Stump Jump blend.  And, it tasted about like we thought it would. . .A Sensational value, not too simple but; rich, savory, and brimming with ripe, spicy fruit flavor.  Endearingly honest and unpretentious, the ideal everyday red. ”  And, according to our friends at,   The Stump Jump GSM is a rich, flavorful red produced in the traditional McLaren Vale style. Mulberry and plum flavors from the Grenache combine with the blackberry, spice and white pepper of the Shiraz. Best served at room temperature, this wine will gain added complexity with careful cellaring over the next two to five years. Composed of 46% Grenache, 39% Shiraz and 15% Mourvedre.

We just couldn’t make this one work for us.  Probably too much Grenache, but regardless, we’re probably looking elsewhere for our next blog deal.  It’ s nothing against Stump Jump–in fact this is our second bottle to blog about.–but it’s more about the taste and this one just didn’t bring it home.  We know that really, really good wines come from McLaren Vale in Australia, and unfortunately, this one isn’t among them.

As your week unfolds, remember to drive safely-stop and taste the wine and get home all in one piece…Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 338: God Winks . . .

Rockus DockusWhat a whirlwind . . . as we’ve mentioned before, we own a house in Kerrpatch (aka Kerrville) – we’ve had this house for almost 10 years and haven’t lived in it for the last two.  We were very fortunate with our initial “renters” – they took care of our house as if it were their own . . . sadly they had in-laws move to town and needed a bigger place.  Incoming family #2 – well, suffice it to say “not so nice” to our house.  We’ve uncovered a few things that even a week later are still shaking our heads at.  So, decision time – #2 decided to return to the Panhandle, so this was a good thing.  But . . . do we sell or do we lease?????  We hooked up with an old and trusted friend to handle our “listing”.  After a busy, laborious week of painting, cleaning and prepping – – back on the market we went.  Truth be told, we would love, love, love to sell – like most of us, cash flow is equally important and the thought of making two house payments didn’t excite us – so, we knew leasing might be an option.

House went “live” on August 1st – with some minor technical difficulties with the listing – but, BAM . . . August 2nd . . . we had an inquiry – August 3rd . . . we had a lease and an opportunity to have a positive impact on a family that kinda sorta needed a break.  August 4th (aka, today) . . . we have turned our home over to a really great family who we know will take great care of our place.  Funny, how God works . . . He just knows what we need to do – it works best when we just get the heck out-of-the-way and let Him run the show.  We feel so very strongly that things have worked out the way they were supposed to all along.  No doubt, we have what we need . . . someone occupying our house and generating cash flow – and no doubt, they have what they need . . . a place to call home in a short period of time!  Wow – we call these occurances “God Winks” . . .  again, things just fall into the place they are destined to.  We are secure in knowing this is good – no doubt, selling the house would be best in our minds, but God had a different plan and to be blunt . . . it’s perfect.

After another long drive, hard day of “prepping” and a long drive home . . . we are just plain wiped out – who knew a hot shower could feel so great?  Upon arriving home around 7 p.m., we fed the “gang of four” and decided we too needed some substance.  So, Brian fired up the grill and tossed on some Portobello mushrooms that we picked up at HEB yesterday, added in some fresh corn on the cob and opened a super great bottle of wine.

Tonight we opened a wine that we picked up at our Friday Night Fun Night with Margaret, Lance, Greg and Laura at East End Wines in Austin.  Called Rockus Bockus, the wine was a blend of Cab Sauv, Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec,  Merlot and Petit Verdot from Sonoma.  WOW, WOW. WOW – great lineage and equally great neighborhood to grow up in – we really liked this one.  On the nose . . . hello Mr. Fruit Bomb – dark fruit, but fruit nonetheless.  Through the Looking Glass – deep red and ready for some action.  On the palate – Whoop, there is the fruit we know and love . . . we are talking bold and juicy Blackberries with a dash of spice and perhaps a sprinkle of chocolate (will say that it paired nicely not only with dinner, but the Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups tucked away in the kitchen cabinet).  The finish was super – just enough of the spice carryover to make it interesting, but super all the same.

The winemaker used to be part of the GunBun group of wines, but understand he’s now off on his own.  We are very partial to GunBun due to dear friend John K.  John introduced us years ago and although he isn’t with us here on earth, he lives on in our hearts daily.  He is truly our original wine mentor – Love Ya, John!

So, here we are wrapping up a busy weekend and are gearing ourselves up for a new week fun of promise!  We hope you have a great night and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.