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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 336: Summer Breeze . . .

saint lafayetteIt was a perfect way to start the weekend.  Brian met up with Jean and friends at East End Wines up in Austin off of 11th Street.  It’s a great old house that has morphed into a terrific wine shop featuring labels from all over the world at prices that make wine tasting enjoyable.  Tonight, the crew was sampling wines from the Bordeaux region in France.  This is one of the most renowned growing areas in the world, and there were great prices to boot!  We tasted a white, two reds, and a semi-sweet white as well.  And, after perusing walls and walls of wines, we settled on one of the wines that we sampled.

This 2011 Saint Lafayette Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc was a real pleasant surprise!  What they said, “Juicy, clean, light. Fresh & grapefruity palate, more apple on the nose. Focused bouquet goes from citrus to more tropical fruit like lychee & mango. Crisp acidity.  Light bitterness of grapefruit pith & mineral makes it finish very clean and fresh. Lengthy, fruit filled finish.”  What we said, “Crisp, fruity and clean on the finish.  A refreshingly, tasty wine on a warm summer evening.’  However, thanks to a really nice breeze, we sat outside and enjoyed some lively conversation with Margaret and Lance and their family.  It was a terrific way to spend an early Friday evening.  With a price point on this wine under $13.50 a bottle, you’ll get a lot of taste for the money; you’ll probably want to stock up on it for really hot afternoons.  It was a nice change for us!

With daughter #1 off on the road to the coast, we’re officially dog-sitting the grand-puppy, which with our trio of hounds presents a whole new opportunity to ‘train’ her!  Well, not really but it sounds good.  Funny thing about dogs . . . they respond to repetitive things.  Saying something over and over or doing something over and over, they catch on pretty quick.  Bridget (the grand-dog) has mastered several important commands . . .”Give Me Your Paw” is good . . . “Shake” is better.  Usually with ‘Shake’ you get both paws and a flying leap in your general direction . . . you may end up getting her ‘zombie attack’ where she stands up on her back legs and reaches for you in full stretch with her front paws.  She’s a sight to behold.

Anyway, we digress, tonight’s effort is short sweet and to the point – it’s been a long week of road trips, birthdays and more road trips . . . time to unwind for a couple of days.  We really recommend you try East End Wines . . . Matt, Sam and Bill have loads of wine experience and they have brought in a significant variety of wines at really good prices.  If you’re a wine lover in or around Austin, you really should check them out . .  .they are located at 1209 Rosewood Avenue.  You can get more information by logging on to their website at http://eastendwinesatx.com. 

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


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Day 200: So Much to Look Forward to . . .

St Francis ZinWell, well, well . . .isn’t that SPECIAL!!!  Who could POSSIBLY have chosen THIS wine on THIS day?

Could it be  . . . ???

You remember the ‘Church Lady’ on Saturday Night Live?  Dana Carvey was amazing . . . his timing, facial expressions, voice inflection – ALL were perfect!  Finding humor in things seems to be a lost art.  We’ve listened to and watched the likes of Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld and yet we still can’t laugh about life around us.  It’s gotten to the point where PC doesn’t even come close to politically correct – or even personal computer . . . NO, instead it’s come to symbolize “Past Caring”.  Yeah, kind of sad . . . there’s a large and GROWING population that is fed up with media, fed up with politics and fed up with excuses.  There is a coming generation – our kids included – that are so disconnected from what’s going on in the world that it’s kind of scary.

Imagine – millions upon millions of voting age adults opting to stay home instead of going to the polls to cast a ballot.  Imagine – millions upon millions of voting age adults being turned off, tuned out and turned off by what’s happening in society.  Imagine?  It’s already happening . . .

So, today–Jean set the alarm for 3 a.m. to be sure and watched the initial Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.  Unfortunately, Brian was more like a bump on a log and didn’t make it out of the sack, but Jean was there through it all.  And, as the Mass unfolded, perhaps the most telling and important comments came from Pope Francis himself – reminding that we need to take care of the poor as well as our own environment.

As we’ve mentioned previously, we were both in college when JPII was ordained and his reign/tenure as leader of the Church coincided with our life together – how awestruck we were when, in 1999 while living in St. Louis, JPII came to our home city in JANUARY!!  OK, in case you haven’t watched the Weather Channel lately, January in St. Louis is not exactly a ‘Carnival Cruise’!  Actually, WINTER would be better than a CARNIVAL cruise!!!  That year–and we’re serious – for the two days that he was in the city, the temperatures were in the 50’s and  the sun was shining . . .  Shortly after the visit, bitter cold, freezing rain and lots of wind – coincidence?  We think NOT . . . just sayin’!

No coincidence that tonight we’d open a 2009 St. Francis Zinfandel from Sonoma County in California.  Two things come to mind – first, isn’t it cool that we’re enjoying a wine from ‘St. Francis’ on the day that Pope Francis is installed as Pope . . . and secondly, how coincidental is it that our wine would end up with the same name as the new Pontiff – ok, must admit . . . planned.  When at Twin a conscious decision was made to purchase this wine just for this day!

A classic old vines Zinfandel that pays tribute to its heritage, this wine offered up a great nose . . . so spicy and truly pepper – a bit of cigar box, pepper and spice!  The flavors on the front of the palate are cherry, vanilla, and tobacco. . the finish is a bit “puckery” but still full of flavor.  Imagine this wine in a decanter to 1-2 hours?  Yes, it’s got that kind of potential!  For the price of $16 it is so very worth it!!!  We decided this wine is much like our new Pope – calm looking on the outside – but once opened is full of spice, smooth and cordial, and full of a Bamn on the finish.  Will be buying lot’s of this wine in the future.

We know that not everyone is interested in or pays attention to things going on in the World.  The Mass, celebrated by Pope Francis started around 3:30 a.m. today – our guess is that moost of America was asleep “at the wheel”, but there were a number of Americans that stayed up, got up or were awakened to watch History this morning.  The Pope’s message is clear and simple  – take care of those in need.  This is something we can all get our arms around regardless of of faith.

So, needless to say it was a historical day – a new leader of the Catholic Church installed – and we finished Day 200 – only 165 to go!!!!  Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!


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Day 112: No Place But Texas . . .

Woodrose wineryYep, living in Texas is like a whole different lifestyle.  It can be as frenetic as the metro areas of Houston, Dallas, Austin or San Antonio or it can be laid back like Luckenbach, Fredericksburg, Kerrville or Stonewall.  There is a mystique about the State because Texas is way more than meets the eye.  We both “grew up” in the Houston area – products of, you guessed it, the oil boom of the early 70’s.  Jean grew up on the west side of town and Brian grew  up on the northwest side of town.  We were in the majority back then – the majority of us had parents transferred to Houston from other areas because of their involvement with oil.  When you come of age in a place like Houston, you adopt certain places, things, ideas, and other parts of life as part of your own.

One of the favorite places for barbecue in Houston is Goode Company.  Jim Goode started his business in an old gas station on Kirby Road.  It was small, cramped and the parking was atrocious, but the barbecue was (and still is) out of this world.  A lunch at the picnic table with a cold bottle of beer or two and back to the office – yep, those were the days when it was acceptable to enjoy a ‘beverage’ at lunch . . . for that matter, we can still remember the “three martini” lunch – it’s gone by the wayside, but it was a real and expected part of business back in the day.  Houston was a great place to grow up in the 70’s – construction was going on everywhere – from Memorial at Dairy Ashford to FM 1960 and Champions Forest Drive, there was something new almost every week.

Back before the baseball season ended, we drove to Houston after work to catch the Cardinals playing the Astros.  Coming in on I-10, we both were kind of blown away – 8 lanes on each side of the freeway!  When we were growing up, especially Jean on that side of Houston, I-10 was two lanes in each direction and three when you got closer to 610!  Times change – today’s I-10 eats up a tremendous amount of real estate that used to be service roads or businesses.  Such is the price of progress . . . that day we drove in for the game, we left San Marcos at 4:28 p.m. and walked into Minute Maid Park at 7:05 p.m.–not bad for a ‘congested’ freeway, and one of the best parts about living in Texas!

So, tonight – on the recommendation, and a gift,  from Cheryl at Steel Branding, we are sampling a 2010 Lone Barrel Reserve from Woodrose Winery of Stonewall, Texas.  Woodrose is one of a significant number of wineries that have opened along the 290 corridor from Fredericksburg to Austin.  It has become it’s own little wine zone which brings people from all over the State to the region.  This bottle of wine is a blend of Merlot and Tempranillo.  An interesting combination – and when you open the bottle, you’re going to be a little surprised.  It’s not deep dark purple.  It’s not a beautiful burgundy.  It’s not even mildly pink.  The wine’s color was almost copper which in typical wine-speak means bad wine.  But, a sniff of the nose cued us into the fact that this wine had some chops.  It’s fruity nature has long since passed – a nose of tobacco and oak was the prevailing aroma with the wine.  A sip and swirl on the palate reveals an amazing amount of dates, the tobacco comes through as does the oakiness.  It’s not a full-bodied wine but it’s not light or medium either – the swirl in the glass showed virtually no legs (sugar).  Clearly, this wine has spent a significant amount of time in oak barrels and for us, oak is a great way to enjoy good wines.  At $21.95, you’re probably going to find a better wine from California, Washington, Oregon or France – BUT, because it’s from Texas, you should at least give it a try.  After all, the Eyes Of Texas Are Upon You!!  Guess we are going to have a make a visit to Woodrose and check it out for ourselves.

Cheryl, many thanks for the gift and recommendation – we were not disappointed.  Until tomorrow, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly, and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 100: Savor Your Freedom . . .

Mother's Milk!

Well, here we are at day 100!  It doesn’t seem possible that WAY back on September 1st, we started this blog as a way to talk about 365 different wines.  We laughed and we joked that we could do it without thinking about what really lay ahead.  In the scope of the world, 365 days is a mere blip on the radar screen.  After taking in Steven Spielberg’s, Lincoln with Dad/Bill, today, we totally believe that our blog isn’t even a blip on the radar of history.  From now until the end of time, only those whom we’ve touched or have touched us will ever know that this blog ever happened, BUT Abraham Lincoln – wow, he answered to a much higher calling and after watching Spielberg’s mastery in story telling, we are convinced that history got it right for him.  Lincoln was the “people’s President” even though his contemporaries refused to see it that way, and because of an assassin’s bullet, history never knew what could have happened in Lincoln’s administration post-Civil War.  We, as wine lovers – hope that our current President will take two and a half hours out of his day to see this film to give himself a better perspective of the cliff that he’s looking off . . .

While we don’t want to nor choose to get into political discussions, if you haven’t seen Spielberg’s picture, you really owe it to yourself . . . Daniel Day-Lewis is a show-stopper as Lincoln and Sally Field – well, let’s just say that if Mrs. Lincoln had a twin, Sally Field was IT!  But perhaps the most dramatic, well-acted, and believable part belonged to Tommy Lee Jones.  His talents are beyond most of us.  He is an actor of the highest regard – even if he did room with Al Gore!!!!  We won’t give away the story; nor will we divulge the characters, but rest assured that if you care the LEAST about our country’s history, you’ll spend the time to see this most OUTSTANDING movie.

And, a movie that is as outstanding as Lincoln, deserves a wine that is equally outstanding.  While we searched high and low for a wine from the State of Illinois in his honor, we came up empty, so we did the next best thing.  We went to the land down under, Australia to find a Shiraz that paired with our history and passion!!  Okay, so “Mother’s Milk” doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of wine you’d bring home to enjoy with family, BUT this is an Australian Shiraz – those two words typically mean –  “Big Wine”!  Now, we are a bit biased after enjoying a number of nice wines from Australia – which is exactly why we bought this wine at Central Market in Austin(yo Andy – this one’s for you) this weekend.  You gotta love the name, right?  But, wait until you taste the wine . . . this is 93 points-type wine.  Yep – serious Shiraz with boldness and beauty on  it’s side.  The raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry on the nose and the front of the palate are gorgeous as are the spices and ‘woody spice’ on the finish.  It’s amazing how a wine can offer such supple tannins with incredibly robust fruit flavors.  This was a $20 bottle of wine before the Central Market discount which brought it down to $17.  We’ve decided that with the holidays coming up; we’re going to get over to Central Market before the end of the day this Tuesday, December 11th and get some more of this wine (good thing Jean works in Austin and about 5 miles from Central Market on N. Lamar).  WOW. . so much flavor packed into one bottle of wine.  It’s like our taste buds have been set free!

As students of American history, we have a deep appreciation for films that connect with our past.  Whether you’ve seen Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 or Lincoln, each of these films offer a glimpse of our past.  Part of growing our future – as we’ve been taught – is understanding our past and not repeating the mistakes of that past.  We certainly hope that our current leadership has a bigger vision than personal or political gain for the future of our country.  Lincoln had the “big picture” in mind when he fought for what he believed in – let’s hope and pray that our current leaders are able to do the same for our children, grandchildren and beyond.

So, tonight as you settle in with your favorite wine, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible!


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Day 98: T.G.I.F.

barahonda barricaYep.  It’s Friday and not a moment too soon!  We’re a mere 18 days from Christmas and perhaps more importantly, only 25 days away from a New Year.  Wow. . .we don’t know about you, but every time we start thinking about this year, we shake our heads in disbelief.  It’s disbelief in how fast it has disappeared; disbelief in all that has taken place–but here we are on the the cusp of another holiday season.  Doesn’t seem possible!

As you know, we strive to find deals, steals and other ways of trying new wines without putting a hole in your wallet.  After a quick stop at Central Market on North Lamar in Austin, we reloaded with some amazing wines from all over the world without even coming close to a $20 price point.  Yep, we’re a little overwhelmed too, because we’ve spent so much time on California wine that we’ve ignored some wines from South Africa, Spain, Italy, France, New Zealand, Germany . . .  and today’s jaunt helped bring us back to what’s important – finding good wine that is affordable and accessible.  We’ve found some winners, thanks to Andy at Central Market.  He’s one of those ‘wine guys’ that gets it – can easily make recommendations from $10 bottles of wine or $100 bottles of wine.  Not sure, but we think he really loves recommending those $100 bottles!!

Tonight’s wine is a 2010 Barahonda Barrica from Spain–a blend of 75% Monastrell and 25% Petite Syrah . . . and it’s gorgeous!  The color is intoxicating–beautiful dark purple hues give this wine a look and feel of substance and body.  And, we really didn’t know what we had purchased until we poured it into our glasses.  The nose was beyond belief – oak, oak, oak.  The label told us that  the wine had been aged in a combination of French and American oak for six months.   Upon tasting  we got lots of blackberry and fruit combined with hints of camphor, licorice and spicy oak.  The finish was long and the lingering of oak, pepper and fruit was fantastic.  From our perspective, this wine is perhaps understated! Tucked away on the shelf you may want to walk past – but don’t.   It’s an amazing wine at an amazingly low price of $17 but with a great sale going on at H-E-B, we secured this wine find for $14.44!

This is a wine meant to be enjoyed with food – and we followed suit by sauteing a combination of beef, zucchini, summer squash, red pepper and snap peas and serving with roasted potatoes.  The wine is a perfect complement to the food and its’ taste was enhanced by the food.  We really struck gold with this Spanish delight, and we think that it’s a hidden gem worth exploring over and over.  Give this 2010 Barahonda Barrica a try, you’ll be amazed and your friends will be impressed with your choice of sophistication!

Until tomorrow, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 78 – The Secret Is In The Formula

We’re a little late posting tonight – we know, you’ve been waiting up all night and couldn’t go to sleep until you read today’s blog – okay, we’re sorry.  .  . we went to a fund \raising dinner in north Austin tonight for St. Dominic Savio with Dr. Ned and Judy ?  If you don’t know about this high school, you should do some research – seriously well-run and their academics and fine arts programs are the envy of the area, and the school has only been in existence for four years!  There are some remarkable people who commit their professional lives to the education of young minds, and in a setting like Savio, the minds are cultivated, mined and polished.  We sincerely hope they did well tonight.  One of the formulas to success is building an event where people feel comfortable and they see opportunity.  We think they did both!

The other thing that has the entire region buzzing is the arrival of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) Formula One Race in East Austin.  Depending on which news report you hear, there are either 100,000, 200, 000 or 300,000 more people in town as a result of this race.  A visit to the San Marcos Airport on Friday confirmed that more than 70 planes will eventually be parked on the tarmac of this facility – they all will need fuel and other items which is good news for San Marcos.  Today we went to the world famous Outlet Mall in San Marcos–it’s actually two separate companies: Tanger Outlets on the south side and Premium Outlets on the north side.  Together they encompass more than 1 million square feet of retail shopping bliss.  Today’s trip included learning about the variety of cultures involved in COTA and that they love shopping in America.  This was confirmed when we visited with an employee at the Polo Factory Outlet who told us that yesterday (Friday) they had a sales goal of $90,000, but they ended up DOUBLING it to $180,000 – in ONE DAY!  Today, the place was a zoo and with the kick off to the holiday season coming up at the end of the week, this is good news for San Marcos.  Another formula for success is being in the right place at the right time, and San Marcos is most definitely in the right place.

Our wine tonight came from a trip to H-E-B and it’s yet another excellent value under $20 – this one was $18 and is from the Silverado Trail outside of Napa, California.  Some of the wine country’s best wines come from this exact area.  Tonight we opened a 2010 Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wow, what a beautiful color . . . deep, dark purple – so dark as soon as you poured it in the glass, you couldn’t see the bottom of the glass!  The nose was fresh – young and smoky (asked for an id to make certain it was of age).  It definitely is a wine that could benefit from laying it down – 6 months, a year maybe a little longer.  The wine tasted good – lots of black cherry, currants, spice and toasted oak, but the tannins weren’t as smooth as they could and should be.  Thus, the need to probably lay it down for a while.  One thing we did notice was that the longer it was open, the better the nose and the better the finish.  What’s kind of interesting is that this was a small operation–family owned and operated–until 2010 when the Indelicato Family bought the winery .  .  . they make many kinds of wine and are a much larger company.

While the wine has potential, it’s not there yet.  We think that it will be delicious by this time next year, and if you’re in a position to try something new – buy this one and put it away in your closet until next fall; we think you’ll be glad you did!  The formula for success in wine-making is starting with great fruit and letting nature take its’ course.

So, whether you’re going to a fundraiser for your favorite organization or church, or you’re heading to the track to watch the race, be sure to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.  Until tomorrow night, cheers!