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Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 171 – Monday, Monday

hahn gsmDoesn’t matter your age.  The Mamas and The Papas defined the ‘California Sound’ of the 1960’s.  With Mama Cass, Denny, Michelle and John, they were the definitive San Francisco band of the era. . .and their sound is still as true today as it was almost 50 years ago.  WOW, the sounds of the 60’s have been a part of our culture for a half century.  For a good portion of our world, that was a time only learned from history class. . .much like it was for our generation learning about World War II.  Depending on your age, do you ever stop. . .step back. . .and think for a moment about what has transpired in your lifetime?

We have really enjoyed having Jean’s Dad, Bill back in Texas since last summer.  First of all, the fact that he’s been back in the State since last June is amazing by itself, but on top of that is the amazing wealth of knowledge, history and life that has gone through his eyes.  Here’s a man who was born at the front end of the Great Depression and as a young boy growing up in St. Louis witnessed, first hand, the sheer magnitude of what was happening all around him and his family.  To grow up during that time and then to witness the onset of World War II–with all that it entailed, must have been an amazing time to be a young man.  Factor in the death of President Roosevelt after winning FOUR elections; the decision by President Truman to drop the BOMB on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the Soviet build-up; the election of John F. Kennedy; the Bay of Pigs; the assassination of JFK; the build-up in Viet Nam; the transition to Richard Nixon; the Arab Oil Embargo; Watergate; Gerald Ford; Long gas lines; Jimmy Carter; the Iran hostages (reference the movie, ARGO for those of you who missed this part of history); Ronald Reagan, Challenger. . .WOW, time marches on.

As a society, we’re somewhat caught up in the ‘here and now’ and tend to forget about what’s happened in the past.  And yet, it’s in the past that we learn the most about how to handle the future.  We think–and it’s just our opinion–that the past gets lost in today’s leadership because as a rule (and it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on) folks don’t connect with the past the way that folks did back in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.  Now, for some of you, the response could be–SO, what does that have to do with ME?  Right?  And, the answer is–if we’re talking about YOU the individual—ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!  If we talk about you–collectively, as a generation–history has repeated itself for centuries.  If you are someone born in the new millennium, then history should be your guide–to avoid the challenges of the past.  History continues to be one of the BEST teachers of the future; the key is to sit up and pay attention!!!

Okay…off the soap box and back to the day…Monday.  Ugh, doesn’t matter if it’s 2013 or 1973–Mondays are still tough days.  You’re coming off of a weekend and just after you’ve gotten comfortable with a couple of days off–BOOM, here comes Monday!  Which is why we thought that we’d enjoy something from a familiar vineyard for tonight’s tasting but at the same time it was a totally different varietal.  Tonight we’re sampling a 2010 Hahn G-S-M; which stands for Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre; three different grapes with three different tastes blended into one amazing wine and all of them put together by the folks at Hahn.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to sample wines from Hahn, here’s a hint…go to Gabriel’s, Twin Liquors and/or H-E-B, because they have these wines and you’re going to want them.

BUT–to get this gem, you’ve got to belong to the Hahn Wine Club, and while you may think– “No Way”, after you try these wines, you’ll be a changed person. . .straight from the source, here’s what’s said about this wine, “In 2009, winemakers Paul Clifton and Greg Freemen created their first GSM red wine blend as a fun experiment. With a tiny block of Grenache located in the Smith Vineyard, and the best Syrah in the Santa Lucia Highlands growing in Hahn’s Doctor’s Vineyard, the two intrepid winemakers went to work. Through many trials, combined with the addition of a modicum of Mourvedre gifted to them by friendly Paso Robles vineyards, the two men created Hahn’s first vintage of this traditional Southern Rhone style red wine. Everyone was immediately hooked on this exotic, yet classic wine. Now after two successful vintages, we release this limited production GSM red wine blend specifically for our club members. Sourced from cool and foggy Monterey County, this wine boasts an intensity and depth that beautifully contrasts with the bright fruitiness of our main production. With a medium ruby hue, aromas of wild raspberry, dried potpourri and rose petal come to the fore. Tucked away in the background lies a savory mix of dried herbs that mixes nicely with the bramble fruit flavors in the mid-palate. Firm tannins lead to a long fleshy finish. An incredibly versatile wine at the dinner table, we love this wine with a slowly roasted chicken in a savory gravy.”  As mentioned, the combination of grapes is amazing and the percentages–53% Grenache–41% Syrah–6% Mourvedre make this wine one for the ages.

If it’s Monday, Monday. . .or Sunday, Sunday. . .you’ll want to enjoy a good wine.  If you’re looking for a wine under $25, then Hahn’s GSM Red Wine Blend from the Central Coast of California is worth a try. . .at less than $15 a bottle, you’ll get some amazing fruit at a fraction of the cost, BUT, we’d recommend you join the club–you’ll get the good stuff AND get recipes from Chef Brian. . .it’s a winning combination.  Oh, and YES, we talked about a Hahn Syrah a couple of weeks ago, and we noted that as Wine Club members you’d get that wine too. . .hmmm, maybe there’s something to this Wine Club deal. . .think about it!

Have a great Tuesday and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 92: Contra to Popular Belief . . .

Boony Doon ContraToday was an early morning for the house – like o’dark thirty kinda early.  Jean and Dr. V had trip to Bryan to meet with a school and Brian, well, he had a date with roll of blue tape and a paintbrush – kinda makes you stop and wonder who got the better end of the deal.  Hmmmmmm – 4 plus hours in the car or taping, spackeling, sanding, priming and painting . . . the car ride is sounding pretty awesome.

Albeit long,  the day was productive on all fronts – good validation for why we do the things we do – both work related and home stuff.  Jean would admit that she and the good Dr. had a wonderful day – the best part being listening to Broadway show tunes and trying to figure out a) who was singing b) who performed on stage and c) who performed in the film version.  Much to her surprise, Jean knew quite a few – but fell well short of Dr. V’s knowledge of musicals.  It was a good day, a great lunch and wonderful to get home.

Brian performed a yeoman’s effort on the painting project, and by the time Jean arrived at Casa del Vino, he was ready to pack it in for the day – “whew” was about all Jean could say . . . and “hey, let’s go sit out on the deck”.  Brian was a willing victim (only after he visited the “wine blog rack” and selected tonight’s sampling). It was a beautiful night – watching the sun go down and the deer come out always makes for a great finish to daylight.

So, remember when we went on our western adventure to Paso Robles in October?  Well, one of the first places we stopped at was Bonny Doon Winery on our way down from San Francisco to Monterrey – we blogged about this adventure on Day 42 – WOW, can it really be 50 blogs ago?  Funny, our days are now counted as blogs – not days . . . so, anyway – back to the story.  On Day 42 we stopped in a Bonny Doon and tried some really good wines – so, when we made that cross-country trek several weekends and ended up at World Market in College Station we happened across a wine from Bonny Doon (isn’t that a song – “come into my arms Boony Doon?” – oh no, wait –  it’s “Jean, you’re young and alive!!  Come out of your half-dreamed dream  –  And run, if you will to the top of the hill – Come into my arms, bonnie Jean” – what a great song) it’s a 2009 blend called, CONTRA.  We must admit given our age – all we could think about was the Iran Contra affair involving Lt.Col. Oliver North . . . think we slept through it – but that’s a whole different story.

The wine was a blend of 55% Carignane, 15% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 7% Petite Sirah, 5% Zinfandel and 3% Syrah – it had a pretty soft nose with lots and lots of sour cherry, (almost reminded us of the Michigan Cherries you got out of a vending machine in the 70’s) a little earth and some spice notes. A little short on the palate the wine tasted again of lots and lots of sour cherry and maybe even some purple plum tossed in. The finish is smooth and short but the lingering of sour cherry is there – do we sense a theme of sour cherry???  Not sure we would go out of our way to hunt this wine done for a do-over, but for the price of less than $12 it was worth trying.  The added ambiance of the deck improved the smell, taste and finish for us.  If you find a bottle,  well, it’s your call–you can pick it up and give it a whirl–or let it go and try something else.

Enjoy your Saturday night – chance are we will sack out early in preparation of a busy day tomorrow – it’s the start of the Christmas Season which means, Advent . . . time to get focused on the reason for the Season.  Until tomorrow, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 50 – Sometimes We Miss One

We had a chance to watch a movie today that was part of our past.  Back in 1979, when we were both in college, we watched as Americans were taken hostage in Iran.  The anger and frustration of the time caused Brian to write an editorial for the campus newspaper, The Pine Log. –  we still have a copy.  The movie was “Argo”, and if you get a chance – go see it.  It’s amazing as fast as time goes by how things that happen in our lifetime become historical events by the time we get older.

Jean was a part of the editorial staff of the campus paper and Brian was a part of the advertising staff.  We had some mutual friends that were part of the Journalism program at Stephen F. Austin State University, but other than that, we had nothing in common.  So, the mere fact that an ad man’s editorial got printed in the paper (on approval from the faculty advisor, bless Dr. Francine Hoffmann, and the fact that Jean vouched that he was a good guy!) was nothing short of amazing.  Who would have known that at that moment a die was cast for a relationship that would span more than 30 years and growing.

So as the movie unfolds, it focuses on six Americans who escape out of the US Embassy during the tumultuous rioting and they end up in the residence of the Canadian Ambassador.  And as we talked about the events after the movie, neither of us could remember this  happening – other than a faint remembrance of people being “released” and thinking that it was a ‘goodwill gesture’ on the part of the “students” holding our fellow Americans captive.  Sometimes we miss one.

Tonight’s wine is right up there with the story line of the movie – sometimes we miss one.  Having just returned this past Wednesday from Paso Robles, California, we drove past a winery called Niner Wine Estates on two or three occasions.  It was a beautiful building and easily accessible off the highway, but we either had a place we needed to be, or we were on our way back from somewhere we were supposed to have been.  Bottom line is that we didn’t take time to stop.

Regardless, the wine we tasted tonight is a 2007 Niner Wine Estates Twisted Spur – a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petite Syrah and Carmenere and oh, what a blend it is!  With hints of juicy blackberry, smoky mocha, caramel on the nose these aromas transitioned into beautiful flavors of cedar, forest floor. Firm tannins and ideal structure are a great combination in this wine from Paso Robles that we didn’t taste while there.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that there are moments in our lives that we seize and take to the next level and there are moments that we leave on the table and miss the opportunity.  Gladly, we seized the moment while on the campus newspaper staff 30+ years ago to get to know each other and have it lead to something special to this day, but like the events of 1979 and 1980, we sometimes miss one – just like missing out on a great tasting wine.  This 2007 Niner Wine Estates Twisted Spur was purchased at Gabriel’s Outlet in San Marcos for $14.99 and even Nathan, the store manager hadn’t tried it – now we can tell  him that it’s a winner and worthy of enjoying after a great movie or great meal or simply sitting around enjoying each other’s company!

Don’t forget to enjoy the ones you miss responsibly and recycle whenever possibly.