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Where wine is on the table everyday

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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 44: Reunited and It Tastes So Good . . .

The  best thing about being reunited with old friends is the feeling of comfort knowing that you’re back where you belong.  Five years ago when we ventured to Paso Robles for the first time, we enjoyed some wines from RN Estate wines.  Now, to completely understand our tasting and story of RN Wines, you have to understand that these wines are not commercially available.  First, you must make an appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas, and second you must be on time for said appointment!  Five years ag o. . . thanks to Rebecca, who used to work at Peachy Canyon, we had that appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas.  However, five years ago, we were NOT on time for the appointment and to this day, we remember the “tongue lashing” we received from Roger about being on time and having to catch up with the others in the tasting.  Of course, five years ago it all ended up for the better because we enjoyed some amazing wines and learned A LOT about the wines he made by hand.  It was, in short, an education in wine and life!  On top of the wines, when you taste wines from a winemaker’s home, you are literally coming into his space and are subject to his environment.  Five years ago, Jean was sitting at Roger’s dining room table that looked out over beautiful vineyards and rolling hills and felt a hot breath on her face which was followed by a lick on the face from Diego!  To imagine this picture, think of sitting in a chair and having a large dog looking at you face to face as you sit there.  Diego was (is) Roger’s Great Dane and he was definitely more than just a house dog . . . HE was the ‘announcer’ of all people coming to Roger’s house!

Fast forward to today and we have revisited RN Estate, Roger greeted us outside the house as we arrived EARLY for our 11 a.m. tasting.  Of course, the barking from the courtyard came not only from Diego who was still a part of Roger’s clan but also a 14 month old “puppy” Great Dane who was still learning the “social graces” of being a dog!  You have to love that if you love dogs!!  We never did get to meet the “puppy” but heard from him early and often as he barked every time the wind blew a leaf in the wrong direction!!!

Today’s wines from RN Estate were nothing short of spectacular.  We tasted two different Pinot Noirs that Roger has crafted and with different grapes from different parts of Paso Robles, it is truly amazing how they can be so incredibly different.  Both tasty, the one from totally, Paso Robles fruit was AMAZING!  This led him to tastings of his blends which are masterfully made by hand with primarily Paso Robles fruit.  You can taste in each of his wines and “old world” style that is counter to today’s “bigger is bolder” style of wine making.  As a Frenchman, Roger has the lineage to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.  His wines are designed to fit with food and food fit with his wines, and it was obvious from our tasting that the care and nurturing that it takes to make great wine has come through loud and clear with his latest vintages!  We were not just impressed and  excited, but we anxiously wanted to  add his wines to our list of favorites  . . .  which we DID!

Finding Roger’s wines isn’t easy.  When and if you can get a hold of them – lay them down for at least six months or longer.  Because he makes his wines in the Rhone and Bordeaux tradition, these wines have a life of five to ten years beyond today.  Wines like his are meant to be enjoyed today, tomorrow and in the future.  These wines feature a lot of fruit on the nose and a lot of structure on the taste.  You get amazing scents and tastes even without food, but the mind plays tricks on you because the thought of a rack of lamb or smoked pork loin are on your mind as you sample this delicious wine.

We have gathered and continue to gather GREAT stories on this trip from people and wines we’ve met and tried.  Roger is but one of a huge number of people that make a trip to Paso Robles a MUST DO for any wine afecionado.  We’ll continue to share these stories with you and your job is to continue enjoying our stories.

We also made a trip down memory line by visiting Preachy Canyon and Castoro Cellars (where they make Dam Fine Wine – we blogged about Zinfusion on Day Three).  In addition we made some new friends at Ben Hogan (yes, you can even hit a bucket of balls while tasting wine!!), Croad and  L”Adventure.  The crazy part is that you can visit as many, or as few wineries as you want in a given day.  As they say, “so much wine, too little time”.

So. . .please enjoy that bottle of wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!

Dam Fine Wine

Angela and Jimbo make our return trip to Castoro Cellars a wonderful experience.

With grapes like this, you know the wine has to be GREAT!

Shout Out to Lea at Ben Hogan Winery