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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 321 – Sometimes It’s Just Good Stuff

seghesio old vine zinClassic baseball movies. . .The Monty Stratton Story; The Babe, The Sandlot, The Natural, Field of Dreams. . .Bull Durham.  Yeah. . .there are probably fifty or sixty more movies that we missed.  Baseball and the cinema have gone together with each other for more than three quarters of a century.  There’s something about a young pitcher or hitter who is finding  his way through the streets of small town America while working his way up to the “show”!  We love baseball. . .we love baseball movies; in fact, not that long ago, there were a bunch of articles about the 25th Anniversary of The Sandlot. . .“You’re killing me, Smalls!” 

It’s one of those movies that we’ll STOP dead in our tracks and watch.  It doesn’t matter what part of the movie is showing. . .the happy part or the sad one; the reality is that  good pitching stops good hitting all the way to the bank!  You can show all of the home run hitters you’d care to show, BUT,  at the end of the day, it’s the pitching that gets you out of the jam.  It’s the pitching that clinches the win and it’s the pitching that keeps you in the game–(or costs you the game, the pennant and/or the season).  Rest assured that if the pitcher is ‘bringing it’, then you’re probably on a one way ticket to “The Show”!

Tonight–being Thursday night–we felt obligated to bring out the Good Stuff. . .sitting there watching Bull Durham, it was calling our names!  Oh how the baseball gods were smiling even as the night wore on an the All Star Break didn’t end until tomorrow!  The good stuff came to us earlier this year during an amazing cooking school demonstration at Central Market North in Austin.  Pete Seghesio was in town with family recipes and family wines, and none of them were singles hitters–they could ALL ‘bring it’!  One of the wines–served with dessert–was a 2008 half bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel from Seghesio’s original zinfandel vines.  This is a 91 point wine and every single drop of it is the ‘good stuff’; we can’t believe how good a wine can taste, but it all comes from excellent fruit!  Review after review of this wine raves about its character, its’ flavor, its’ body–one of the reviewers had this to say, “Lots of juicy fruit. Black fruit and big mouth feel. Would buy more in a heart beat. Luscious and decadent.”  Yeah, we couldn’t agree more!

Wine like this doesn’t come along everyday.  It’s meant to be enjoyed with good food, good company, good times.  You’d expect that when you break out the good stuff, and Seghesio—by definition—is the good stuff!  With as many of their family of wines that we’ve enjoyed, we’re hard-pressed to be critical of their selection.  Maybe their pricing–which tends to be a little on the high side–but at the end of the day, the quality and taste offset the cost.  Sitting here watching Bull Durham, chewing on some homemade chicken fajitas with fresh pico de gallo and homemade guacamole, well it just seemed right to bring out the good stuff!  And, whether you’re nickname is “Meat” or “Nuke” or some other crazy moniker, remember that the good stuff gets its name for a reason!!

As we embark on the last day of the work week, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to 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 188 – A Crack of the Bat and Pop of the Glove

ozv zinfandelWhen February gives way to early March, few things capture the attention of a winter-weary world than baseball.  It’s that magical time of the  year when everyone has a clean slate; when everyone is undefeated, the pitching looks great and the hitting looks even greater.  It’s the time of the year when kids who were in high school last spring are now playing for roster positions in “The Show”.  For the fans, it’s an amazing time to watch spring training, watch spring training games and seek autographs from players who may or may not become the next Hall of Famer.

About a dozen years ago, before we left St. Louis, we remember the spring training that changed the Cardinals . . . there was a young hitter in the Cardinals organization who played third base, the outfield and first base.  He was living in the Kansas City area, and even though he didn’t have a tremendous amount of minor league time under his belt, what experience he did have was used very effectively.  It wasn’t his glove that made the coaches, manager and other players take notice.  It was his BAT.  At a tender age of 21, he wasn’t even supposed to be at the major league club’s spring training.  But, one of the true beauties of American professional sports is the rite of spring training.  It truly is a time when veterans and rookies can work in a totally different environment than during the regular season, and with that different environment, legends have been born.

And so it was . . . back in the early part of the 21st century when a young Cardinals hitter stepped up to the plate in spring training and within a short period of time cemented himself as a true Major League ballplayer.  During his inaugural spring training, he tore up Grapefruit League pitching–singles, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in, high batting average.  Each article that ran in the paper heralded this player as someone who could make a difference.  That year. . .a legend was born in the Cardinals spring training complex in Florida.  Albert Pujols was barely a blip on baseball’s radar screen before that amazing spring training, but by the time it was over, “King Albert” had already started the process of rewriting the Cardinals record books.  Who would have known that in 11 seasons, he would go on to hit well over .300; slam more than 400 home runs and drive in thousands of runs–things like this ONLY happen in the movies, right?  He was a big man with a bold swing and he lifted an entire roster onto his huge shoulders and for a dozen years, they rode the wave!

In deference to spring training and the refreshing start that it represents, we went back to an old favorite–only because we’ve enjoyed this wine before–and it was part of the big sale recently at Twin Liquors!  Tonight we opened a 2009 Oak Ridge OZV (Old Zin Vines) Zinfandel.  We’ve enjoyed this wine for many years–enjoying vintages in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and really enjoying the 2009 vintage.  It’s a Zin-lover’s delight—lots of fruit on the nose and on the palate; gorgeous deep, dark purple color and a superb taste on the finish.  For a $10 bottle of wine, you’re not going to stand up to the finest wine makers in Europe or even California, but with OZV, you’re getting a very drinkable, fruit-forward wine that’s both affordable and relatively easy to find.  We paired ours with a homemade pizza complete with ham, green olives, yellow peppers, red roma tomatoes, fresh basil, prosciutto ham and a huge helping of grated cheese.  It’s a great combination when enjoyed with a glass of wine!

Who knows what this year’s spring training class of rookies will yield down the road.  It could be as simple as–no talent, no hit, no pitch and we’re done, or it could be a future fire-baller from the bullpen; a pinch-hitter deluxe or a position player with a great glove and a greater bat!  And, because it’s spring training, we’re counting on the fact that during this magical time of the year–‘hope springs eternal’ as every major league ball club hopes to have all of the players it needs to win a Championship!

Before we get too far along in the spring training and World Baseball Classic season, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 158: In A Word . . .

Alexander BeckNo – not gonna happen. . . sometimes you just know it’s not right.  From the minute we popped the cork on this bottle, we knew something wasn’t on the up and up.  As all good wine drinkers know, “musty” is a no-no . . . albeit, there are times when “earthy” is misconstrued as “must” and once a bottle is uncorked and sits while the wine has a chance to open up a whole new taste unfolds.  Sadly, tonight the hopes of “musty” turning into “earthy” just wasn’t there.  We could ramble on about the wine – but just can’t do it – it’s just a waste of time.  Summation – Don’t waste your time or money.

So, we’ll have to find something to jabber on about to kill time (and word count) – today was a quiet day, Jean has battled a sinus headache to beat the band since yesterday, so stayed home and succumbed to medicine, napping and not even straying out of pj’s.  Was a good, quiet day and hopefully with a weather change, this too shall pass.  Forecast calling for rain tomorrow which means whatever cedar pollen is left out there gets washed away – yes, yes, we need it badly!!!

So, one small advantage of not driving to / from Austin is the fact that we were able to eat dinner at a reasonable hour and well before dark…Brian picked up some fresh Portobello’s from HEB and tossed them on the grill after a light layer of olive oil and his secret spice, and some garlic sautéed veggies in the cast iron skillet.   Add in a spinach salad with home concocted ranch dressing and winner, winner chicken dinner (no chickens were harmed in the making of this dinner) – it was a home run.  Sadly, the wine didn’t add anything to the meal…come to think of it, the wine didn’t make it to the meal, it ended up down the drain!!

So, this blog could go down in the record books as the shortest in the books – but you just knew we’d find something to chat about – and this is kinda big to us given our passion for baseball – On this day in 1934, Henry Louis Aaron Jr., the baseball slugger who broke Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers, is born in Mobile, Alabama.

Aaron began his professional baseball career in 1952 in the Negro League and joined the Milwaukee Braves of the major league in 1954, eight years after Jackie Robinson had integrated baseball. Aaron was the last Negro League player to compete in the majors. He quickly established himself as an important player for the Braves and won the National League batting title in 1956. The following season, he took home the league’s MVP award and helped the Braves beat Mickey Mantle and the heavily favored New York Yankees in the World Series. In 1959, Aaron won his second league batting title.

Season after season, Aaron turned in strong batting performances. “Hammerin’ Hank” hit .300 or higher for 14 seasons and slugged out at least 40 homers in eight separate seasons. In May 1970, he became the first player in baseball to record 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Aaron is best known, however, for breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs, which he established in 1935. On April 8, 1974, in front of a crowd of over 50,000 fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Aaron hit his 715th career home run in the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sadly, in the months leading up to the new record, Aaron received piles of racist hate mail and death threats from those unhappy about seeing the Babe’s record broken, especially by a black man.

Aaron, who played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 to 1965 and the Atlanta Braves from 1966 to 1974, spent the final two seasons of his 23 years in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers. When he retired in 1976, he left the game with 755 career home runs, a record that stood until August 7, 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Aaron still holds the records for most career runs batted in (2,297), most career total bases (6,856) and most career extra base hits (1,477). After retiring as a player, Aaron became one of baseball’s first black executives, with the Atlanta Braves. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982…and still very much alive at 89 years of age.  Now THAT is hitting it out of the park!!

Ok, there you have it – it was, after all a historical day!

While waiting on whatever tomorrow shall bring, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


Day 152: Adding it all up . . .

Cuatro PasosSo, here we are – 30 years of marriage + one day, and . . . yes, we are still together!

When we awoke this morning, we got to talking about all the “stuff” we had witnessed in our lifetime – in fact, we started a list in order to see what we had accomplished (or at least thought we had!).  Ready, Set, Go –

Since January 29, 1983 we have at minimum and in no particular order:

  • Seen albums come and go; cassettes come and go; compact discs come and go – along with pay phones, fax machines and typewriters

  • Watched the Redskins in Miami win Super Bowl #XVII  and see Mrs. Blake (Jean’s third grader teacher) at Walt Disney Florida during honeymoon

  • Experienced Hurricane Alicia

  • Watched the Challenger explode after liftoff & Columbia explode over Texas

  • Given birth to two beautiful daughters

  • Had two cats – Bob and Elliott

  • Seen five presidents elected to office

  • Been to the Baseball Hall of Fame twice

  • Brian has been to two World Series games in Texas – different years

  • Had five dogs (gone are Calvert and Hershey) – still have the three (Pepper, Andie and Jasmine)

  • Had 19 cars – three got wiped out along the way, thankfully no injuries

  • Lost seven immediate family members – many more on the extended side

  • Lost four dear friends

  • Had 17 employers

  • Lived in two states

  • Moved nine times

  • Owned five homes

  • Watched the Cardinals play in 3 World Series – won 2 of them (2006, 2011)

  • Been to five different zoos – but love the St. Louis Zoo the best!

  • Watched the Rams win the Super Bowl & lose the Super Bowl–Hmmm, Spygate???

  • Witnessed first-hand the McGwire / Sammy Sosa slugfest . . . still can’t stand Barry Bonds

  • Watched Kurt Warner in two Super Bowls with two different teams–which team does he wear going into the Hall of Fame?

  • Caught and eaten well over 100 redfish and trout

  • Each caught one sailfish on the SAME trip

  • Been to CA wine country three times

  • Been to Mexico twice

  • Been to Canada five times

  • Been on two cruises

  • Been to at least ten baptisms

  • Been to at least 20 weddings

  • Been to at least 15 high school graduations

  • Been to at least five college graduations

  • Been to more than a few high school reunions

  • Flown over 100,000 miles

  • Driven over 900,000 miles – must be why we’ve had 19 cars !

Whew – makes us tired just thinking about it – can’t even begin to count the number of wines we’ve tried.  So, tonight in honor of “numbers”, we decided to open Cuatro Pasos 2008 from Spain.  Cuatro Pasos means 4 steps. It is made 100% from Mencia and brought to us by Bodegas Martin Codax in Cacabelos (Leon) and is part of the Bierzo DO (denomination of origin) in Northwestern Spain.  Calling it ‘old vines’ would not be an exaggeration since the grapes come from 80-year-old stock.

When we poured it into a glass – it was deep, dark red with a hint of violet . . . but mostly ruby-red.  On the nose it was so-so, nothing to write home about, but you got the whiff of cherry and fruits with a dash of toasty cedar – again not a nose bomb, but enough to peak your interest.  Taking a sip took you down a path of rich fruit – not overpowering, but fruity and flavorful – smooth and balance, but again not overpowering.  The finish was also smooth – went very well with Brian’s Kung Pao Chicken – spicy, but not overly so and the wine really balanced everything out.

Jean picked this wine up during a midday stop at HEB in Austin for under $12 – haven’t seen it here in San Marcos, but if we do find it – would definitely purchase again.  Seems to go well with food (and Thin Mints courtesy of the local G.S.’s).  We could see this as a great deck wine – wishing it wasn’t so dry here so we could even put a fire in the pit.

So, as we take one final look at our “list” – we do realize that it “adds up” to a wonderful life thus far – we have many more years together ahead of us – but up to this point, it’s been pretty darn spectacular.

Please remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible . . .

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Day 141: Stan the Man . . .

Adobe Red

Tonight we just had to break out a good wine to salute a wonderful baseball player.  Yes, by now you know we are fans of the game – true to our Redbirds, but love them ‘stros.  Today baseball lost a legend – Stan Musial.  Now we’d like to tell you that we’ve met him, or even watched him play an inning or two – but truth be told, we’ve done neither.  But – We did see him riding on the Anheuser Busch Beer Wagon at many a Cardinals games at the old Busch Stadium.

He won seven National League batting crowns, was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals capture three World Series championships in the 1940s (just a wee bit before our time).  He spent his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals and made the All-Star team 24 times – baseball held two All-Star games each summer for a few seasons.  There is no doubt he was “Mr. Baseball”.  From what we hear, never a bad thing was said about Stan – something we should all aspire to.  He loved the game, played it with dignity and no doubt will be missed.  There is a statue outside of Busch Stadium – home of the Redbirds – as a tribute to a man that lived a good life and played the game of baseball.

Musial’s versatility was immortalized in verse, by popular poet of the times Ogden Nash, who in “The Tycoon” wrote of the Cardinals star and entrepreneur:

“And, between the slugging and the greeting,

To the bank for a directors’ meeting.

Yet no one grudges success to Stan,

Good citizen and family man,

Though I would love to have his job

One half tycoon, one half Ty Cobb.”

Stan, you will be missed – heard there is quite a ‘pick-up game’ in heaven – it’s where the REAL field of dreams exists – we think they’ll pick you for the team in a heartbeat.

To give ourselves comfort tonight, we returned to an old friend.  Clayhouse “Adobe Red” has been around the block a few times.  We first tried it more than 5 years ago – and always know that it will not disappoint.  Of course, it’s a blend. . .Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petite Verdot make up this fun, medium body wine.  Let’s face it, this wine won’t win too many awards, BUT it will win the hearts of wine lovers looking for something that’s easy to pour and easy to taste.  This wine has aromas of cherry spice, blackberry and pepper, with hints of brambles and plum. Cherry/berry flavors are dominant on the palate.  The finish is fruity but quick.  We enjoyed the wine with a variety of cheeses including an habanero gouda that was out of this world with the wine!  What’s good to know about Clayhouse Adobe Red is that from year to year, you know you’re getting a good wine for the money.  Clearly, some vineyards give you home runs one year and double plays the next.  With Red, whether it’s 2007, 2008, 2009 or today, the wine stands up each year and the value holds the same.  It’s one of the reasons we like a wine like this.

With a true baseball legend gone, many of the greats of the game’s past are slowly disappearing.  In fact, in addition to the passing of Musial was former Baltimore Orioles manager, Earl Weaver – the manager you loved to hate!!!  “The” team upstairs just keeps growing.  It is interesting to note that no one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this Year – but that’s another topic we’ll address at a later date.

Unfortunately, thanks to steroids, players who have finished playing and will – most likely – be feeling the effects of their actions, won’t be around as long as Stan.  You see, Stan WAS The Man!  A man who played hard and didn’t need an injection to help him play better.  From high school to college to the professional sports, athletes should stop worrying about putting up numbers and start learning  how to play – within their ‘God-given’ talents.  They just don’t realize that their cheating themselves, their families, their fans and ultimately . . . making it to age 92 isn’t likely to happen.  Sleep well, Stan for tomorrow you’re in the line up – and Earl is the manager.  Do us a favor – say hello to “Mark S.”, number one Cardinal Fan!

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

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Day 126: Drive For Show, Putt For Dough . . .

Ben HoganNow that we have your attention with our headline and the bottle of wine that we’ll talk about in a bit, we’d like to take a moment to remember six years ago when Daughter #2 was in junior high in Kerrville, Texas.  On first inspection, not all that important—however, as she points out, that year, she–and a number of other junior high kids ran track at the middle school.  It turns out that one of the kids running track with all of the others was one of the football players named, Johnny Manziel.  Just to be clear, there are no skeletons in the closet from this story other than a tangible reminder that we ALL come from humble beginnings and what makes US great is what WE do.

With tonight’s Cotton Bowl shellacking of the Oklahoma Sooners, the rest of the country had the opportunity to see why the Heisman Trophy went to a redshirt freshman from Kerrville, Texas.  The kid can flat out play.  BUT, one of the side notes from the game was that Manziel was a three-sport player in high school—football, baseball, and golf.  Golf?  Really?  Some research has uncovered a common denominator in athletes; many football, baseball and basketball players in high school and college have an affinity for golf.  Go figure.  As many times as we’ve been on the course and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings–spoiled by the little dimpled ball, who would have thought that athletes love this game.

Golf is a game of honor and honesty; it’s also a game of skill and mental toughness.  It’s a perfect game for those who aren’t built like a brick wall, but it’s also a game that can be played by people built like brick walls.  As we have followed major league baseball players, it’s amazing the number of guys who love to play golf on their days off.  The same goes for hockey players and football players.  We still remember playing in a charity golf tournament in St. Louis and former St. Louis Blues hockey player, Kelly Chase was on the course–the whole place couldn’t wait to see him. . .and he was a pretty cool guy to talk with.

Anyway, tonight we broke out one of our favorites from our trip to Paso Robles this past October.  It seemed appropriate for a number of reasons–mentioned above–and for the fact that today was the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.  Unfortunately, for today’s players, rain washed out the round and it will be played from the beginning starting tomorrow, but our wine was good from the start–today!  The 2008 Ben Hogan Carnoustie Tribute Series wine seemed like a perfect fit for the first Friday in January, and the minute we opened the bottle, we knew that this was a special wine.  A beautiful cork unveiled a beautifully scented wine – the pour yielded a deep, dark purple and the nose was amazingly fresh with a hint of oak.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot, and each offered its own attribute to the blend. Syrah is rich, ripe and forward with a mouth-filling texture while Cabernet lends strength and ‘backbone’ to the wine. The addition of Merlot binds this wine together with its ripe middle palate weight and length of flavor.  The finish was smooth as glass and just melded into your palate.  What makes it special from our viewpoint is that it’s a big, bold, flavorful wine that–until today–was only going to get better!  Accompanied by a garlic pasta, roasted red pepper and chicken dish, the wine seemed to melt its way around the food for a perfect compliment to the meal.

Wow, a great way to start the weekend.  A great game of football at the Cotton Bowl–Johnny ‘Football’ proved to the country that his Heisman Trophy wasn’t a fluke–this kid’s the REAL DEAL.  But, he’s also just a kid whose enjoying a ride on the ‘game of life’ and whether he played high school football or ran middle school track, he’s just another kid.  He also happens to love playing golf, and with the start of the 2013 PGA Tour season, another challenging tournament schedule is underway.  We certainly enjoyed our salute to all of the above with our 2008 Ben Hogan Carnoustie Series wine and hope that if you have the opportunity to drive for show and putt for dough, you’ll make it happen.

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

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Day 96: Pick Me Out a Winner, Bobby . . .

Peachy Canyon - Petite SirahAfter hearing a comment repeated by a number of our readers, we decided to take action.  Yep, a number of you have noted that we’ve hit a bit of a “bad spell” when it comes to our evening wine choice. So, we drew inspiration from one of our all time favorite movies “The Natural” and as Brian headed to “the shelf” to find a tasting for tonight he was urged on by Jean quoting Roy Hobbs telling bat boy Bobby Savoy to ” pick me out a winner, Bobby.”  As you’ve probably figured out by now there are a few “sacred cows” in the household – let’s see . . . dogs, the St. Louis Rams, the St. Louis Cardinals, Chopped, movies and of course – BASEBALL.  So, when you combine movies, baseball and to Jean’s delight, Robert Redford – you get the trifecta – yep, it just doesn’t get much better than that.  For the record, the addition of Glenn Close in the movie is an added bonus.  The movie is a classic – if you haven’t seen it, you should – if you have seen it, watch it again.  There are such wonderful movies lines – and not to mention, Robert Redford.

Truth be told, we think there is a perfect movie line for almost any situation – think about it.  What can you say when something you do goes a bit too far over the top – “think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch“.  What do you say when a project is larger than you expected – “think you’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What do you say when somebody just doesn’t get what you are explaining to them – “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”  Enough already – you get the picture – and a prize of a great bottle of wine to the first person who can name all three movies.  So next time you encounter a situation of any kind – stop and try to come up with a movie line to sum up the situation.

As usual, we digress – so on to tonight’s “winner”.  Knowing we needed something good – we went back to an old standby – Paso Robles – one of our favorite wineries from both our first trip to Paso AND our second trip was from Peachy Canyon.  Tonight’s wine is a 2010 Petite Sirah and we have to tell you . . . this wine is NOT for the faint of heart.  It’s as big and bold as they come, and as much as we enjoyed it, this one could lay down for another two or three years and be even better.  There is lots of oak on the nose, which if you love those big, oaky wines, you’ll absolutely love this one.  If you don’t, well you may want to pass the bottle on to a friend.  You’ll get some nice cherry fruit on the front of your palate . . . and you’ll definitely finish with it as well.  We noticed that the longer the bottle was opened, the sweeter the cherry taste.  If you like spice,  you’ll love this Petite Sirah.  If you like fruit, you’ll like this Petite Sirah.  If you like a dark, inky purple color that is thick with juice, you’ll love this Petite Sirah.

The bad news is that this wine (the 2010 vintage) is priced above our threshold for preferred wines . . . at about $30 a bottle.  The good news is that you can find Peachy Canyon Petite Sirah at Gabriel’s Outlet in San Marcos for less than $25 a bottle and it’s an older vintage!  We’re big fans of Peachy Canyon; their Zinfandels rock and this year we’re also going to be tasting their 2011 Viognier.  A winner . . . picked out – not by Bobby – but by Brian (who does bear a resemblance to Robert Redford in Jean’s eyes)!  Until tomorrow, “turn out the lights, the party’s over…”

No matter who picks out the winner or what your favorite wine may be, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 52 – Sometimes You Win and Sometimes You Lose – the Elements Don’t Always Help . . .

Well, it happened .  .  . and NOT in a good way.

You knew we’d have to write about this regardless of the outcome, so let’s get it over with!  The Cards blew a three games to one lead in the NLCS to the hard-charging, good pitching San Francisco Giants.  Their comeback is the stuff that legends are made of – down to a ‘must win’ game or go home.  As fans of the game for the past 40 plus years, we’ve learned (though reluctantly) that good pitching typically stops good hitting.  And in the case of this series, it’s a fact.  When your pitcher can move the ball around the strike zone, change speeds and keep hitters off balance, the chances of the pitcher’s team winning goes way up.  What we’ve seen over the final three games of the NLCS has been nothing short of amazing.  Dominating pitching performances from three different pitchers–admittedly combined by three listless line-ups of hitters who lost their patience at the plate and seemed to be swinging at anything and everything thrown at them with dismal results.

Now, this blog isn’t going to be about baseball, but as the game was coming to an end, it was cool to see the rain begin to change the dimension on the game.  Weather has a way of doing that in sporting events .  .  . baseball, football, soccer – all of them are weather-dependent sports, so when the elements change, so do the results.  How many times have you watched an NFL game in late November or December and it’s snowing like crazy?  You think the passing game is going to be the same in a blizzard as it would be in sunny weather?  Not a chance.  You think the footing for a running back is going to be the same on artificial turf in snowy or rainy weather as it is in sunny weather? Nope.  The elements will always play havoc with you when you least expect them.  Kind of like driving home at rush hour when it starts to rain .  .  .  you think traffic is going to pick up speed when it starts raining and is starting to get dark?  We become very dependent on the weather and knowing whether or not the elements are going to be influencing our day – or our team.

Tonight, we opened a bottle of 2006 Elements from Artesa Vineyards in Napa.  This is a blend from Napa and Sonoma that has been one of our favorites for a long time.  In fact, we first tried it after visiting with some friends in Kerrville and realized how delicious the wine was, and after finding it at Gabriel’s for less than $15 a bottle, we’ve enjoyed tasting this wine with friends and on the deck.  Amazingly, the wine has an awesome nose – lots of vanilla and black cherry.  As you taste it, you’ll find the fruit coming through loud and clear but the vanilla finish is a big winner.  It’s not a full-bodied wine – probably more medium bodied but full of flavor and a great finish that keeps going and going and going – making the ‘bunny’ seem slow in comparison.  Another thing about this wine is its’ value price .  .  . you can spend A LOT of money and not get a wine with this kind of taste or you can spend less than $15 and get something that you’d be glad to share with friends or family.  It’s your call, but we won’t steer you wrong – nor were we steered wrong by Ed and Lori who introduced us to this wine last January when we spent the night at their home – thanks again for a wonderful time!

And so, for those of us who love to follow Cardinal baseball another year has come to a close – no repeating as World Series Champions, but in a transition year, they proved their mettle and were not influenced by the elements (or the loss of a certain ego that now plays ball for a team in CA).  We sometimes sit back and marvel at the privileged world of professional sports until those days when it’s raining cats and dogs or snowing, windy and cold – then we realize that sometimes it’s better being a fan who watches from the “cheap seats” rather than having to deal with the elements.  Unlike professional sports, our wine tonight is a great way to enjoy the Elements.  We hope you’ll give this wine a try the next time you’re looking for something with structure but not so big that it overwhelms.  The 2006 Elements from Artesa is a great way to beat the weather at its’ own game!

Please remember to enjoy your wines responsibly and recycle whenever possible – and for what’s it’s worth . . . GO TIGERS!