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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 325: Spicing Things Up . . .

spice blockAs the countdown to the final 40 days of Casa del Vino tick away, we’re reminded that not spending time with the ones we love is probably one of the most regretted things in our lives.  As Jean covered the blog over the weekend while Brian was spending time with his Mom, it was all brought into focus.  We’ve been extremely fortunate, even though we’ve each lost a parent, to spend some amazing time with our remaining parent.  Jean’s Dad and Brian’s Mom have had the opportunities to watch our girls grow up, graduate from high school, one has graduated from college and the other isn’t too far behind.  We stop and smile every time the girls get a moment to visit with these terrific people. . .their body of knowledge and wealth of life’s experiences keep us grounded in knowing that we still don’t know as much as we thought we did!  We hope that as you enjoy your wine tonight or the next time you open a bottle that you can draw on the experiences of a close family member.  Their eyes have seen things before us that we can only read about.  Their ears have heard things that today can only be reproduced.  Their hearts have been through more than ours and our kids’ combined.  They are a treasure trove of memories.  Stop and cherish them. . .and if you’ve got some strains in those relationships, now’s as good a time as any to patch them up.  We’ve learned that their history is our history and their grandkids’ legacy. . .good stuff when you stop for a moment and soak it in!

Mondays are good days in that we get back into the swing of things after a weekend. . .and whether visiting family or staying home, when we’re off in different directions, it kind of messes up the ‘body clock’.  We’re happy that the weekend was fruitful from a bigger family perspective, but very happy that the weekend is over and we’re back under the same roof.  And so, while he was gone, Jean had some extreme success at Twin Liquors–finding some great closeouts and other deals for the tasting.

Tonight’s selection is a 2010 Spice Block Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.  This wine exhibits noticeable flavors of blackberry, black cherry compote with a slight hint of mocha yielding a velvety finish of very fine and supple tannins refined by oak aging of 9 months. It had a very nice roasted aroma combined with an almost nutmeg scent.  It’s dark purple color was beautiful to look at and swirl in the our glasses.  This Spice Block Malbec is definitely suited to compliment grilled beef — which Argentina is so famous for!  Unfortunately, we opted for tasting only tonight after a nice break at Garcia’s for tortilla soup, chips and queso and chicken fajita quesadillas!  Oh well, so much for “perfectly” pairing food with wine!!  As value-priced wines go, this Malbec has some chops!  Priced around $12 a bottle, you’re going to find a wine that has very nice appeal now, and if  you can hang on to it for another 6-9 months will probably be even better!

Love to be around family.  Yes, we know that not everyone does.  But, when you spend time around those who are related to you, you’ll be amazed at what you learn and who you’re related to!  Family is the spice of life and we hope that you’ll shake some into yours every once in a while.  When you share your favorite wine, you have a common denominator with those who are part of your world.

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly (hopefully with family) and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 314: Dora the Xplora . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day 204: Rounding the Bend . . .

Clos de los liete

For some reason sharing a glass or two of wine with good friends enhances the flavor – no matter how questionable the vintage may be – with friends wine tastes better!  Today, we got a text from our good friends Pat and Liz urging us to come to Kerrville for lunch and a visit not only with them, but expectant parents Elaine and Sam (aka Pat and Liz’s daughter and son-in-law in from the Dallas area).  A quick glance at our social calendar revealed we were available – so once our chores were done for the day into the jeep we hopped and off we went.  We must admit the drive between San Marcos and Kerrville is a nifty one – about 1.5 hours, but a drive of hills, twists and turns.  We could take the highway, aka 35 – but nope, we enjoy the back roads.  It was a grand day once the sun warmed up – we didn’t take the top off the jeep until our return trip.  Beautiful night – deep blue sky that morphed into a wonderful display of stars – a bit chilly, but nothing that the heater and a jacket couldn’t overcome.

The day was just plain grand – you see, Elaine and Sam have announced they will become parents in October.  Loving these two the way we do makes us feel that we are adding to our family and will be grandparents yet again (for the record, Elaine has two sisters with wee ones that we consider our grandkids – that would be McKenzie and Noah – isn’t it great that we have grandchildren without Daughter #1 and #2 having kids!).  Sitting on the patio embracing the sun makes for a glorious day – add in a fantastic spread for lunch and one can honestly say – it doesn’t get much better than this.

Grandpa Pat pulled out a super wine from Argentina – not sure if in honor of Pope Francis or the fact that he and Liz will be travelling there for a vacation later this week.  Regardless of the reason – the bottle retrieved from the BRWC (Big Red Wine Cabinet) was a 2008 Clos de los Siete and was a wonderful wine from fifty miles south of the city of Mendoza.  From what we can gather, the valley of Tunuyan feels less like a valley and more like a vast, kneeling supplicant to the immediate, looming bulk of the Northern Andes mountains. Though the valley floor is massive — sweeping away from the jagged, snow capped peaks in every possible direction as if it were trying to get out of the way of their falling bulk — you never get the sense that it is very flat. No matter where you stand, the world seems to be constantly tipping up towards (or down away from, as the case may be) the peaks above, leaving the uneasy feeling that somehow if you stopped walking or closed your eyes for a moment, you’d fall over — nudged off balance by a world pushed aside by the Andes.

Dark, opaque ruby in color, this wine has a nose of  blackberry, cherry, and a nice complement of slate – ok, what does slate taste like you may ask – well . . . it adds a bit of mineral taste – enhances the wine flavor.  In the mouth, this wine continued the combination of cherry and blackberry that while enjoyable weren’t too overpowering.  The finish wasn’t overally long – but long enough to make an appearance and remind us that it was there.  Overall this was just a fun little wine – went well with the ribs, beans and coleslaw that Liz “threw” together.

We are hoping that during their upcoming trip that Partick and Liz will visit the region that this wine came from and perhaps find out more about its origin and possible bring home one or two new wines for us to try.  But, we have to admit – it was a fun little wine that we will have to add to the “do over list” – you know, the list of wines that we are gonna have to try again.

As we close up for the night, we can’t say enough about those special people we care so much about – we are blessed with wonderful family members and a few dear close friends – both segments are high on our list of just plain special people . . . look around, bet you’ve got a few around you as well!

Ok, enough for tonight – have a super evening and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible!


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Day 194: Where There’s White Smoke . . .

la puerta malbecThere’s a Pope!  What a great day to be a Catholic – our Church has a new Shepard to lead the flock!  Or simply put, history was made today.  It’s hard to wrap your arms around a concept like—Pope Francis will be the first ever from the Western Hemisphere.  That he takes a name that has NEVER been taken before.  That he will leave his mark on millions of pilgrims looking for his leadership, guidance, acceptance and spirituality.

No wonder when he stepped out this afternoon (or evening if you happened to be in Rome) it was almost like a ‘deer in the headlights’.  As we now know, he was waiting for the band to finish playing before addressing the crowd.

Clearly, there are challenges before any leader of a massive population.  And, whether you’re leading a great nation or a church of the people, one thing is crucial–the ability to be firm, yet decisive and the desire to be fair but true to your roots and convictions.  It’s a leadership concept lost in society.  Our hope and prayer is that this leader can truly set the example of servant leadership. . .of and for the people.  If his humble roots are any indication, we’re in for a spectacular run.

Okay, our next conversation settled on what wine could we open to celebrate the New Beginning?  Let’s see there’s St. Francis wines. . .their Zinfandels are pretty tasty; or how about Franciscan?  They have a couple of Cabs that have previously knocked our socks off.  Hmmm, the only catch with either of those two options was a trip to actually purchase them.  Not exactly on the radar screen. SO, a scan of the blog wine shelves uncovers one of our latest Twin Liquors’ Dollar Sale purchases.

In honor of the first Pope from the Western Hemisphere, and more significantly, the Country of Argentina, we opened and tasted a 2012 Valle de la Puerta ‘La Puerta Malbec’ from Famatina, Argentina.  At $10 a bottle, it isn’t a wine of the ‘upper crust’ but more in keeping with the humble roots of the new Pontiff.  La Puerta is a very young wine with lots of energy and potential.  There is a load of fruit on the nose and on the palate that really transcends what a good Malbec is all about. . .the fruit and living for today!  This wine took some time to open up, but after about 30 minutes or so, it offered up a terrific bouquet of fruit, floral and earth that, for Malbec lovers, is at the heart of what the grape is all about.  We did some research on earlier vintages of this wine, and found that they are typically rated at or above 85 points and noted for their fruit forward aroma and taste!

Perhaps more significant than the grape is the growing region where the grape is grown! From our friends at, “Famatina is a remote wine-producing valley in the La Rioja region of Argentina. Concentrated in a river valley in the foothills of the Andes, Famatina’s vineyards follow the course of the meltwater river closely, as it flows north to south towards the lower-lying lands in the east.  The Famatina valley is surrounded on all sides by mountain peaks of between 3,000 and 9,000 ft (1000 to 3000m). This topography creates a rain shadow, making the valley’s agriculture and viticulture highly dependent on irrigation from local rivers.”  Among some of the most fertile areas of the country for growing grapes, La Rioja (not to be confused with its’ Spanish cousin of the same name) is much smaller than the heavyweight region of Mendoza and despite being the longest-established of Argentina’s wine growing regions, La Rioja produces less than a 1/10th of wine compared to Mendoza.

For us, this wine was a pleasure to try and enjoy.  Very fresh and fruity.  It has an earthy essence to it.  And, the finish is in true Malbec fashion. . .lots of fruit.  As vintages go, there are probably better wines out there, but as prices go, you could enjoy a lot of this wine without breaking the bank!  Since being frugal seems to be an initial part of Pope Francis’s lifestyle, perhaps La Puerta is an ideal wine to not only open and sample tonight, but one to hang onto for the months and years ahead. . .only time will tell.

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

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Day 143: Puff The Magic Dragon . . .

Cigar BoxHa . . . remember the song made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary?  It was the classic 60’s anthemn . . . puff, the magic dragon . . . yeah, right!  If you were a teenager or even a twenty-something, you KNEW exactly what they were talking about . . . right ;-)?  When we were in school, this song was one of the songs that “got away” with talking about drug use.  In fact, according to Wiki, “After the song’s initial success, speculation arose — as early as a 1964 article in Newsweek — that the song contained veiled references to smoking marijuana. The word “paper” in the name of Puff’s human friend (Jackie Paper) was said to be a reference to rolling papers, and the word “dragon” was interpreted as “draggin’,” i.e. inhaling smoke; similarly, the name “Puff” was alleged to be a reference to taking a “puff” on a joint. The supposition was claimed to be common knowledge in a letter by a member of the public to The New York Times in 1984.”

However, the research piece goes on to say, The authors of the song have repeatedly rejected this urban legend and have strongly and consistently denied that they intended any references to drug use Peter Yarrow has frequently explained that “Puff” is about the hardships of growing older and has no relationship to drug-taking.  He has also said of the song that it “never had any meaning other than the obvious one” and is about the “loss of innocence in children”.  It’s tidbits like these that make conversation (and wine blogs) so much fun to talk about and read about!

We thought about that tonight when we opened a 2011 Reserve Malbec called Cigar Box from Mendoza, Argentina.  Although still relatively young, this Malbec can stand up to anything it’s got a terrific nose and lots of cranberry, earthiness and just a small hint of vanilla on the nose.  The taste to us was full bodied and fruity . . . something that we’d enjoy on the deck with a roaring fire or with good, spicy food.  Tonight’s dinner was homemade pizza and the wine paired exceptionally well – especially with the jalapenos on Brian’s side of the pizza!  One of our favorite comments was from which posted, “Drink with grilled meat or salmon, or alone in your room with the door locked… you are the boss!”  Something strange yet funny about recommending one to enjoy it in a room alone with the door locked . . . let your minds wander!

Cigar Box is yet another fine example of the quality wines coming from Argentina–especially Malbecs.  We’ve come to really enjoy Malbecs ever since Patrick from Grape Juice introduced us to Alamos Malbec way back when!  Since then, we’ve learned to appreciate this beautiful grape and the wine that is made from it.  We also remember when staying at Barr Estate this past fall and they were harvesting Malbec grapes for the 2012 vintage.  Wine making is hardly like ‘puffing on the magic dragon’!  No, we’re just kidding, but still remember it like it was yesterday.  The music back then spoke to a cause–and with all do respect to music today, that tends to be focused on doing one thing only–at least it was music with REAL musicians and lyrics that could actually be UNDERSTOOD!  Sorry, we’ll get off our soapbox!

Enjoy this wine. . .at less than $14 a bottle, you’re going to have trouble finding a better Malbec for the price.  In terms of value for the dollar, the 2011 Reserve Cigar Box Malbec is above the competition and worthy of an addition to your wine closet–or wine garage–or wine shelves.

Regardless, enjoy this wine or any others you really like – responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 73: Open the Door for Your Mystery Date . . .

So, when selecting tonight’s wine Jean couldn’t help but zip back to her childhood and remember the Milton Bradley game, “Mystery Date”.  For those not old enough to remember, the original version was introduced to the world of teenage girls in the early 1960’s (yes, sadly we were alive and kickin’ way back then).  The purpose of the game was to spin and move your marker around the board until you got to open the door and discover who your “mystery date” would be.  The good-looking surfer?; the hunk all dressed up for the prom, the bowler or heaven forbid “the dud”.  The game provided fun and anxiety – who knew who you would “get”.  Advertised as “a game of romance and mystery for one and all – Fun and surprising – that’s Mystery Date” – wow, nowadays this would be called or perhaps even Speedating. Although it was a simple game – it did provide hours and hours of fun – because, you just NEVER knew who would be behind that door.  Jean did chuckle out loud when she confessed to Brian that nine times out of 10 she got “the Dud”, otherwise known as the Plumber.  Fortunately for her, her real “Mystery Date” turned out to be a pretty swell guy that she met in college and will celebrate 30 years of marriage with in January.  Please let us know if you remember this game.

So, onto tonight’s wine – this is yet another gem that we picked up in College Station during “the voyage to Lufkin: a weekend or two ago.  We found this wine at World Market for a mere $10.19 (originally $12.99 – see it really pays to join “clubs” and get those discounts!).  The wine is a young Mountain Door 2011 Malbec from Mendoza (some dear friends are traveling there in the Spring and might have to check this place out for us – surely they won’t mind having to sample a wine just for us!).  As young as this wine is, it has a lot of flavor . . . we sensed it on the nose where there was a hint of vanilla mixed in with a smell of raspberries.  Upon tasting, both of these were confirmed along with a finish of cherries.  We were surprised by the mellowness of the wine on the palate and the finish.  It seemed like a much older bottle of wine given its’ structure and tannins.  We enjoyed this wine with a spicy leftover chili and the combination was perfect.  You may want to try it with some grilled steak or salmon . . . sure to be delicious together.  The color is magnificent and the wine is clear and ready for enjoying.  As we mentioned earlier, the price is outstanding and now after tasting, the value is off the charts.  We are constantly amazed by the quantity and quality of wines coming from the Mendoza, Argentina appellation.  For wine lovers, this represents some uncharted territory in wine selection and enjoyment.  We have been and continue to be impressed with wines, especially Malbecs, coming from this region.  Knowing that the Argentina wine growing region has some impressive  altitudes, these grapes are probably sourced from older vines where the fruit is darker and riper giving it the beautiful color we saw in the glass.

This is a really nice ‘cheap’ wine.  And, let’s face it, for $10 a bottle, you can decanter it and show it off to your best friends .  .  . they’ll never know!  Or, you can open a bottle and pour a couple of glasses and go out on the deck with a fire in the pit and relax after a hard day’s work. You choose the moment, but you really owe it to yourself to try this wine.  We’re going back to buy a few more bottles of it to have around as we get closer to the holidays.  It’s amazing how, after 70+ days, we’re really starting to learn more about and enjoy different wines that we’d never otherwise try, so we want you to try them too .  .  . let us know what you think.

But more importantly, remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible and be sure to open the door – you never know who your mystery date will be!