casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 357: Five is a Great Number . . .

Five WiseToday was a great day, especially for Jean – she got to play golf . . . AND support San Juan Diego Catholic High School in Austin – WHAT a GREAT job!  She and two co-workers (Lisa and Scott) plus a wonderfully supporter and friend (Ron) took to the links in order to help raise funds for the school.  Now, normally the idea of playing golf and not being in the office would be tough for Jean, BUT – her boss (aka Scott) pretty much said she HAD to play . . . so, rule of thumb in our house is NEVER go against what the Boss has said.  Ok, ever so slight exaggeration there . . . Jean signed up and coerced Scott and the others to play (for the record . . . the arm twisting really wasn’t all that tough).  Nonetheless, a wonderful time was had by all – yes, it was a wee bit hot – but as the saying goes . . . a bad day on the golf course beats a good day in the office.  Anytime she plays golf, Jean is reminded of the days as a young girl heading to the course on Saturday mornings with Bill (aka Dad) and his buddies to play a round – Jean was allowed to hit a ball with a shortened 3 Iron – to this day, one of the clubs she hits the best.  She would be negligent if she didn’t mention all the fun times she and sister Sara have had on the course as well (yes, Jean can hit a tee shot further than Sara – just setting the record straight).

Ok, on to other things – – – the number FIVE(5) is a really important number at Casa del Vino – ya see, we are BOTH (or as D#1 and D#2 like to say BOLTH – gotta love those inside family jokes) the FIFTH (5th) child in their families.  We think that’s pretty special . . . BUT WAIT – it doesn’t stop there —- we were born on the same day / same year (approximately 45 mins apart . . . . yes, for the record, Jean is older).  Brian was born at St. Joseph’s and Jean was born at St. Mary’s (pays to be Catholic to make that connection) – we were baptized on the same day – both our Dad’s worked for Shell Oil their entire careers and finally (yes, just one more – sorry P&L . . . didn’t mean another bottle) – when they got married that both had sisters who were nurses living in Denver.  Call it what you will . . . we call it both Divine Intervention and a God Wink.  Makes for lively conversation, especially when doing legal work and date of birth is involved.  Oh, and one last coincidence – we were married on the same day.

So, as you can see the number Five (5) is a big deal ’round these parts.  So tonight we opened a Five Wise Meritage Blend.  A wonderful combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  We picked this little number up at World Market last weekend – during halftime at Dave & Busters – it was less than $12 and a BARGAIN.

This wine has some really nice characteristics.  The nose is pure fruit. . .lots of berries with hints of tobacco and plums.  The palate opens up to a nice oak and tobacco taste along with some black raspberries and black cherries.  The finish is long, smooth and memorable. . .all of the flavors stay on the finish making this wine smooth to the taste from start to finish.  We enjoyed this with some smoked sausage and potatoes as well as a spinach salad. . .all in all a really nice find for not a lot of money.  We’re intrigued by the wine because there isn’t a lot of information available about it.  From Greenfield, California which is in Monterrey County; Greenfield is located in one of the developing wine grape growing regions of California with over twenty vineyards and wineries within a thirty mile radius, several of which have tasting rooms and offer a wide selection of wines for sale. Some of the Vineyards and Wineries located nearby are Hahn Estates Smith & Hook, San Saba, J.Lohr, Hess Select, Estancia, and Graff Family Vineyard.  Having driven through this area back in October, we learned that it’s also the area know as the “Salad Bowl” for the country.  There was an unbelievable amount of produce being harvested at that time. . .truly amazing.

This wine is different, unique and not on a radar screen, and it’s for these reasons, you should try it.  Might just sneak onto the BOndy Top Ten Wine List . . .

With so many commercial labels (heck this may even be a commercial label), it’s kind of refreshing to find one that doesn’t have 91 points or lengthy vintages in its’ history.  We’re open to hear from you; maybe you know something about Fivewise Meritage that can shed some light for us.

Anyway, it’s Friday!  Time to enjoy the weekend and your favorite wine.  Please do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 356: It’s About Time . . .

Tappas Wine CollectionAnd 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.


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Day 355 – All The World’s A Stage. . .

cline mouvedre…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.

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Day 354: Sometimes things are better left alone . . .

santa julia torrontesYeah, 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 – 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.

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Day 353: Tribute to a Wonderful Woman . . .

Angeline Pinot Noir

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!


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Day 352: In the Wheelhouse . . .


WheelhouseSo 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.




Day 351 – Saving One for The Girls

3 GirlsSo much coming and going.  Up early in the morning; many times, home late.  New people and other things in the house.  When you’re a dog, we think that life is built around routine.  For our girls, the routine is up around 6 every morning to take care of business. . .followed by breakfast. . .followed by taking care of business. . .followed by their infamous, early morning nap!  By any human account, it’s a schedule made in heaven.  Food, sleep and relief and it’s all repeated in the evening.

Over the past three months, the routine has been somewhat skewed.  As D#1 has settled in with her dog, the routine became–well, less routine, and more like a circus.  Consider that for the past 90 days, we have gotten up at our usual time to try and be as ‘routine’ as possible; however, her dog has begun to adopt our dogs’ routine hours.  So, guess who gets up at the same time?  Yeah. . .the only problem with this is that the puppy wants to play and our brood wants to go back to sleep.  In the evening, the energy level of the puppy was so great that Jean figured out that they could have a certain amount of play time together followed by alone time.  Once this plan was hatched and started, routine started becoming a reality in our house–again!

Now, that D#1 and the puppy have moved to their own digs, we’re left with the 3 girls.  They know something is different and are pretty sure it has to do with that DOG that had been here, but they’re not quite sure.  We know that it will take a few days for them to ‘let their guard down’, but until then we’ll be watching to see if they start to get back into their routine–come to think of it, we’ll probably be up around 6 tomorrow, so we guess that all is right in the dog world!

To mark the moment of returning to the three dogs, we found at World Market a 2011 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvigon from Lodi, California.  It’s from a familiar place in our wine blogs, Oak Ridge Winery.  This wine isn’t going to set the world on fire.  It’s your basic cab–medium body, dark ruby color; earthy, tart cassis, tart plum nose; tart currant, earthy palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points—in case you missed it, it’s tart–but good.  It actually rates higher than we would have thought because it’s so young.  And a mass-produced wine like this typically isn’t one that you’ll cellar for 10-15 years, so buy it and try it. . .available exclusively at World Market, here’s what they say about this wine, “Ripe, dark fruit, smoke and vanilla notes add to the full-bodied sweet fruit and creamy texture of 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon. Sourced from Lodi, California, which is ideally situated between the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Francisco Bay, the climate features warm days and cool evening breezes. An instant customer favorite, try it with burgers, meat-lovers pizza or simply on its own.”  Priced below $10 a bottle, it’s probably worth at least a try because there are a lot of more expensive options that may not offer the taste of this wine.

Our girls are exhausted. . .after their early morning nap, they had to take a mid-to-late morning nap followed  closely by an afternoon nap.  That was interrupted by a potty break outside and then a late afternoon/early evening nap. . .fortunately, we rescued them from the routine and they enjoyed a full dinner with chew sticks for dessert!  It just doesn’t get much better than this—if you’re a dog!  For us, after a day of shopping at the Outlets in San Marcos, a stop at Target, a run for some furniture shopping, stopping at D#1’s apartment and unpacking — followed by dinner at Dave & Busters—which brought back some serious memories from when the kids were growing up–for us, it’s time for “lights out”.

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

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Day 350 – The Return of ‘Malbec Week’!

Colome' MalbecJust when you thought it was safe to go back to your favorite wine shop, tonight we bring you another episode of ‘Malbec Week!’ Yes, and with a crazy week like we’ve had, finding a good Malbec was just what the doctor ordered!

Probably the single best thing that happened this week was last night and today. . .rain!  Funny how something as simple as a good old fashioned down pour gets people in a good mood.  Now we’re keeping an eye on a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that has a slight potential to develop into something tropical and could head towards our part of the Texas coast.  While we wouldn’t want to see flooding, when it comes to systems like this, beggars can’t be choosers, and with water levels in area lakes and reservoirs continuing to drop, a wholesale rain event from a tropical system is realistically the fastest way to refilling them.  But, that’s what lies ahead, and we have no control over it!

Another thing that we don’t have control over is how fast the month is screaming by. . .here it is, the middle of August. . .summer has really flown by and school is about to start again.  With the summer winding down, we decided to open a nice, but young 2010 Colome’ Estate Malbec from Salta, Argentina.  A closeout at Twin Liquors, this one is priced right at $15, and while we’ve other Malbecs that were better and cost less, this one had its’ moments.

The color is deep, dark red. This wine is layered on the nose with aromas of black and red fruits (blackberries and blackcurrants, raspberries and cherries) and a floral scent abounds on its complex nose, with hints of spices and minerals. It is an elegant wine with round velvety tannins. French oak and toast flavors are fully integrated through the mid-palate and well into the finish, which is very long…we enjoyed it with some ‘surf & turf’. . .grilled salmon and sirloin steak served with fresh green beans. . .and the food and wine were perfect companions.  This Malbec is rated by all of the respected authorities between 90 and 92 points; earlier vintages exceed 92 points, so you’re getting a really nice tasting wine at a closeout price.  Just how good is the closeout price?  If you paid regular retail for this wine,  you’d typically pay $30; on sale, you’d be looking at somewhere around $25. . .so a closeout price of $15 for a 92 point wine is something you should think about jumping on!  And, as we said, we’ve had better Malbecs that cost less, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one of this lineage at this price!

We’re looking forward to the weekend. . .as most people do. . .helping D#1 finish here preparations for starting school and helping get her moved in and settled.  It’s what parents do. . .we guess!  We hope that you enjoy your weekend–open up and enjoy your favorite wine–responsibly, of course.  And, remember to recycle when done!

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Day 349 – Thinking Outside The Box

chocolate box cabSo, back in November, we thought that we had the perfect Thanksgiving gift. . .yep, how nice is it to get the gift of chocolate?  We actually enjoyed a very nice bottle of Chocolate Box Shiraz from Australia.  Looking back on that night, we were amazed at the fruit, the finish and the name!  It was the stuff that has kept us searching for new and tastier wines. . .yeah, November. . .like a really, really long time ago!

If there is one thing we’ve learned over the years it’s that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. . .and with Chocolate Box we learned that there is definitely fire after the smoke!  BUT, before we even get close to that, we need to talk about today. . .here we are on August 15th and amazing things are happening all around us!  Today, we learned that Brian’s nephew and his wife became parents to a baby boy named Dean Louis.  The miracle of life is that when given a chance, adoption is so much better for the mother, the baby and the parents who have adopted.  It’s a labor of love that can’t be measured.  So, tonight we raise a glass and toast Kevin and Jenny–welcome to parenthood!  Let the fun begin!

On top of that awesome news, we also are excited about D#1’s first day of school coming up on Monday.  If awards were given out for classroom decoration, preparation and style, well, we KNOW who’d win!  Yeah, we’re very biased.  Beyond the obvious has been a couple of weeks of hard work, intense preparation and desire to help these young students feel welcome.  Geez, wouldn’t it be nice if that was the way it was in every class–in every school?  Clearly, we’re proud parents of a teacher.  Taking the gifts that God has given and developing them is absolutely no different than an athlete who goes from high school to college to professional ball.  Why?  Because talent plus desire plus effort equals success. . .and it doesn’t matter whether you’re earning millions in the NFL, MLB or NBA or you’re teaching 2nd Graders somewhere in Austin, Texas.  It’s all the same–the compensation is what’s different!!!  In the case of D#2, we’re really looking forward to a visit later this month–sailing lessons, regattas, summer school, traveling down the coast. . .so much going on, sometimes our heads start spinning, but then again she is a fine young lady who is getting better and better EVERY DAY!!!  And today wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to Jean’s sister, Sara.  Sara is an exceptional professional with an national grocery store company based in Cincinnati who is working in the Seattle, Washington area.  All we’ll say is that a nice note to a colleague, helped a young man who just graduated from San Marcos High School get his first job.  You gotta have a PASSION for people to be successful in life.  It doesn’t matter what you’re calling–teaching, human resources, medical. . .it’s always going to be about the people.  Thanks, Sara. . .we already know that your kindness has made a DIFFERENCE!!!

Tonight, we stepped outside the Box!  Yep, we’d been down this path before but when Twin Liquors started their Closeout Sale, we found an old friend with a different varietal!  Chocolate Box is a label from Australia. . .back in November, we tasted and blogged about Chocolate Box Shiraz and it was very tasty.  So, imagine our surprise (and delight) when at the Twin Liquors in San Marcos, we found a 2009 Chocolate Box Cabernet Sauvignon on closeout for $10!  Yeah. . .we thought so! Rated at 88-90 points from Wine Spectator, we already know that we’re dealing with a big, bold wine!  One liquor emporium, Argonaut Liquors put it this way, “Color: Deep Ruby Red with Crimson Hues. Bouquet: Ripe Black Currant with subtle vanilla oak lift. Palate: Beautiful ripe cassis fruit, lifted by minty chocolate and silky oak finish. Food Matches: Roast legs of lamb infused with garlic and rosemary.”  From our perspective, yes, yes, and YES!  All of the above and more!  This is delicious wine. . .this is amazing wine. . .this is Australian wine!  We have to give them credit, the Aussies, they know how to make big, tasty wines!

Thankfully, tomorrow brings about a weekend in the middle of August.  Students are returning to San Marcos in droves. . .and schools are gearing up for the 2013-2014 school year.

For us, we hope that you’ll find enjoyment and responsibility in your favorite wine, and remember to recycle the bottle when finished!!

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Day 348: Dracula May Have Been On To Something . . .

munte vinuWe were never fans of the horror movies from the 60’s and 70’s,  Nope.  Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, and the rest of the horror film actors weren’t on our radar screens.  You know they never made Tiger Beat, Seventeen, Sports Illustrated or Popular Mechanics!  In other words, they were stars for a different audience.  When Brian was growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, every Saturday night on WGN, there was a show called, ‘Creature Features’, and inevitably one of the Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolf or other horror shows was televised.  Not his cup of tea.  Looking back on those films of yesteryear, we laugh (respectfully, of course) at the make-up, the costumes, the sets and the cinematography.  Really?  We shouldn’t have been concerned.  While a couple of generations were scared out of their wits by these monsters of the past, compared to the stuff out there today, those movies seemed like Laurel and Hardy comedies.  Well, not really, but it sounded good!

As the story goes, Dracula was from Transylvania; which according to modern Geography, means that he was from Romania.  There have been profiles of the area in Romania that was the origin of Dracula and many a scary movie has been filmed in the same area.  The whole concept of drinking blood. . .well it’s kind of out there, and not really appealing.  Seriously, we thought that enjoying a different bottle of wine every night for a year was strange. . .compared to drinking someone else’s blood, the wine seems pretty tame in the big picture.

Which is what brought us to tonight’s wine. . .a 2010 Munte Vinu Feteasca Neagra wine from Romania.  Yes ladies and gents…this wine is from romania! It reminds us a bit of a California Merlot, with its lush dark fruit, raisin, and vanilla notes.  It finishes very dry with hints of black pepper and smoke….on the other hand, it’s extremely tart on the first tasting, it warms up but not enough to salvage the bottle and even though it’s priced competitively at less than $9 a bottle, it’s still over-priced.  Okay, let’s face it, if the Romanians are going to make wine, one could assume that the vines have been around for a long, long time.  One could also assume that wine making techniques of the 21st Century would have improved the product quality produced from grapes harvested from older vines.  Not so much.  Here is a case of a value-priced wine that gets left at the starting gate.  The nose, taste, finish and overall product quality just don’t measure up.  Having previously tried 347 different wines, we felt really good about trying this, the 348th different wine, however, the end result was disappointment.

So, Dracula may have been forced into a life of drinking blood because the wine–having been the only other choice–was just too bitter and disappointing to consume, and let’s face it, if there isn’t good wine, then why bother!  In some respects, tonight’s wine was a lesson in history.  When the wine is bad, people will drink just about ANYTHING other than BAD wine!  On a more serious note, you can do a LOT better than Munte Vinu for your next wine purchase; even with an attractive price tag, we’re pretty sure that you’ll find something better.

But, remember to enjoy your ‘something better’ responsibly and recycle whenever possible.