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Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 160: Birthday Wishes . . .

Castiglioni ChiantiHistory.  It teaches us.  It reminds us. It brings us back.  It also makes us smile.  Twenty-two years ago today . . . yes, that would be 1991 . . . we welcomed the newest member of the family.  (No. . .it wasn’t another dog–or a cat for that matter!)  Daughter #1 came into this world 22 years ago today and for the record – Motown was cranked up in the background, and as parents go – just being a little biased – we were smitten from the moment she came into this world.  She doesn’t know it, but Brian was there to hold her first . . . to weigh her . . . to help put her next to her Mom.  It was in one word – AWESOME!  It brings tears to his eyes to this day.  For Mom, the incredible joy of holding a daughter – gave her a sense of  what it must have been like for her Mom 31 years before.  Life Is Amazing when you sit back and think about it.

And, what becomes of a young lady who clearly and completely stole our hearts?  Who was clearly in control as a baby – but didn’t know it?  With both parents working, memories flood back to rocking in the chair with the bottle in hand while one gets ready for work and then the roles are switched as we prepare the diaper bag, plenty of bottles for the day, all of the ‘In Case of Emergency’ notes . . . and then, BAM off to daycare.  Could it be that six weeks went by like a blink of an eye?  Yes it did – and so did the next 22 years.  Rolling over, crawling, the first steps  . . . they all come so fast – and ONLY ONCE!!  Special moments?  You’d better believe it.  Little things like that are taken for granted – maybe even ignored today, but we craved the chance to see the one or two things that – once they happened – we’d NEVER see them again.  If you stop and think about it, the number of these amazing – once in a lifetime opportunities that our children give us-are lost in the day-to-day living and GONE forever.  Learning how to use a spoon, learning how to take her first steps, learning to talk (at 10 months and it hasn’t stopped yet!!!!) these are the little miracles that are laid before our feet as parents and what we CHOOSE to do with them, remains in our hearts for the rest of our lives.  And that’s before BARNEY!!!

Because what happens next is life – yep, kindergarten, grade school, girl scouts (thanks, Mom), middle school, boys . . . and then CELL PHONES, iPods, parties, friends,high school, jobs, driver’s training, driver’s license (YIKES!), cars, boys, dates, concerts, and suddenly – – – graduation!  The train gets going so fast that we forget to enjoy the ride.  We forget to let the horn blare out – – – this is OUR KID!  And–so we stop and take a deep breath and SMILE.

Today, 22 years ago . . . our family started . . . and THE FAMILY is getting better and better each and every day!

We needed to break out a wine that was special for today, so we found a really nice, but young (funny how that works!), 2010 Castiglioni Chianti, in honor of Daughter #1’s birthday and a remembrance of her trip to Italy this past May.  Since the wine was so young (hmmm, common theme developing here), we decided to decanter it while we created an amazing feast of corn tortillas, lightly fried in oil to give them a fine crunch; paired with the finest of prepared cheese and diced tomatoes with green chiles.  It was a feast that could only be made better by a fine wine.  Funny as it may seem, this wine was delicious.  It was fruity–as you’d expect from a young chianti, but it also had structure and body that reminded us of bigger, bolder wines.  Decantering the wine gave it a chance to open up and the aroma was superb.  From the wine maker, “The color is a purple red with violet reflections. On the nose, cherry is prevalent followed by strawberry and raspberry with floral sensations of rose and classic sugared almond. The palate is soft, warm, vinous, pleasantly balanced. The finish is persistent, with round notes that return to cherry in the aftertaste.” 

Normally,  we laugh at reviews like this, but in the case of this wine – SPOT ON! At a price less than $15 a bottle ( on sale) you’ll be  hard-pressed to find an Italian wine that’s this good and yet so young.  We’ve enjoyed big-dog Barolo’s for way more money, but in the short term they couldn’t measure up to this Chianti.  You might want to get a hold of this wine before it gets better as it ages – and that means the price will keep going UP!

Birthday wishes . . . to Daughter #1.  You came into our lives at the perfect moment in time – – as laid out by the Good Lord.  And, even though your parents brought you home from the hospital – laid you down on the couch (next to Calvert The Dog) and proceeded to look at each other and wonder when the parents were going to come home to claim you!  YOU have grown into an AMAZING young woman with a passion for life and a gift that can only be appreciated by those who LOVE YOU.  Cheers Lo!  We Love You!

If you have a son or daughter, raise a glass to them, because they are our future – your future – and you gave them your world!

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

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Day 127: A River Runs Through It . . .

Three RiversOne of the most beautiful parts about living in San Marcos, Texas is the San Marcos River.  Historians have pegged life along its’ banks back 10,000-12,000 years ago.  It’s natural waters flowing out of the ground at a constant 72 degrees and it’s some of the clearest water you’ll ever see.  A famous tourist attraction from San Marcos’ past, Aquarena Springs, used to avidly promote rides in their glass bottom boats.  The attraction has long since gone away–now part of Texas State University–but the glass bottom boats remain and for those who care enough to see natural springs bubbling up from the floor below, amazing turtles, fish, wild plants and a look at an eco-system that works, then you owe it to yourself to take a look.

Beautiful rivers like the San Marcos are a rapidly dwindling commodity in our country.  The ability (or inability) to balance recreation, consumption, commerce and protection is what can define a healthy river or a sick one.  As water pours out of the headwaters, we quickly realize fresh water is one of the benchmarks of a healthy civilization.  The San Marcos River is a terrific place to go floating in a tube or just sitting on the banks watching the water go by. . .it’s the sound of water moving slowly by that is mesmerizing.  However, the same river can be mean and nasty and impossible to contain when nature puts forth heavy rainfalls.  A river is a true study in ebbs and flows. . .some days its running wild and others it’s just flowing by.

Tonight we travel to the Columbia Valley of Washington State for a red blend that we found at Gabriel’s.  Priced under $15, this Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah blend is a 2005 Three Rivers Winery River’s Red.  It kind of sneaks up on you. . .a medium body wine, it’s tannins were soft and the fruit was almost hidden.  The wine got better as it opened up, but we were a little concerned initially because the nose was ‘missing’ and the initial taste was bland.  However, as time wore on, the wine definitely began to show its’ strength with an earthy–almost herb and spice kind of taste and the fruit–mainly black cherry–really came through.  The color was a dense maroon. . .almost bordering on coppery, but the cork was soft, supple and had held the wine nicely.  We paired it with a veggie pizza loaded with extra cheese and garlic. . .the wine went very well with it!  At the end of the bottle, we both liked it, but wouldn’t go so far as to say we loved it.  Chances are, we’d opt for a different bottle in the future, but worth a try at the price.  Clearly, Washington has some amazing wines at very attractive prices, but we’ll probably keep on sipping past this one.

The beauty of the river is tough to beat.  When we lived in Kerrville, the Guadalupe River ran through the middle of town as well. . .it was a beautiful river when flowing normally, but we’ve also seen how mean and nasty is can be when rainfall is heavy.  Floating the Frio River in the southwestern part of the state, you learn immediately: A) It’s very clear and B) It’s very cold. . .they don’t call it the “frio” for nothing (translated: cold in Spanish).  They are a key part of what keeps us going; their fresh water provides many of us drinking, bathing and washing water.  It’s something that we can’t take for granted.

On a separate note, tomorrow (Sunday) will be Jean’s Dad’s (Bill) birthday–there’s something special about being able to celebrate a parent’s birthday– especially as we get older and our children become adults themselves.  Be sure to cherish your parents’ birthdays. . .you’ll miss them when they aren’t there to celebrate any longer.  Happy Birthday, Bill!!

As we settle into the first weekend in 2013, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle and reduce trash whenever possible.

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Day 123: A New Beginning . . .

Dreaming TreeSo, here we are – 2013.  Wow, seems like just yesterday was 2012 and a dozen years since we sweated the Y2K scare – reminds us of an old Barry Manilow song . . . “Looks like we made it” – there we go, dating ourselves again – but for the record . . . we aren’t really Barry Manilow fans – whew, that felt good to say that.  But, for the record . . . we are Dave Matthews fans (even more now that we’ve found out he is into making wines – more on that in a minute).

Ok, as we said – we’ve survived another year and are looking forward to a new one at our doorstep – we haven’t made alot of resolutions that we aren’t going to keep – that was our resolution this year.  We are going to stick it out with this wine blog and make it to August 31st come rain or shine.  We know the year has some milestones ahead – shortly, Bill aka Jean’s Dad will clock in birthday #85 – this hardly seems possible and we are so blessed to have him a bit closer; in a few weeks, we’ll hit the big 30 (nope, not in age, but in wedded bliss) – that’s a big accomplishment these days and truth be told we’re pretty proud of that; also looming on the horizon is Daughter #1 graduating from college – it is amazing to us that she has gotten older, but we are frozen in time . . . truly a miracle.  We are certain that there will be all kinds of exciting things out there waiting for us, and we know that we are equipped to handle whatever comes our way.

So, to kick start the new year we opened a bottle of wine suggested by Cheryl at Steel Branding (by the way, if you need a great PR/Website/Marketing firm – give them a call) – we really, really like Cheryl because like us, she enjoys good wine (especially reds).  Tonight we opened a North Coast 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Dreaming Tree.  As it turns out Dave Matthews is very involved with this wine (which as mentioned above, makes us like him even more).  In collaboration with Steve Reeder, Dreaming Tree Wines is producing the Cab, a Chardonnay and a blend.  This Cab is value-priced at around $15 a bottle–less if you can find it on sale–but don’t let the low price fool you.  It’s a full-bodied red wine built with food in mind–specifically, grilled food or oven-fired pizza.  We enjoyed it with Brian’s chicken fajitas – a definite bonus!

The nose is subtle, but noticeable, with hints of nutmeg and spice along with bright fruits–primarily, raspberries and cherries.  The taste is smooth, fruity and delicious and the finish is quick, dry but still pleasing.  We’ve had wines that cost double this bottle and don’t deliver the flavor or aroma that Dreaming Tree enjoys.  Clearly, this is a wine that we’ll stock for deck time or family time.  It’s easily available from a wide array of retailers and is now one of our favorites for an everyday wine.  Here is another example of trying a wine that we’d probably never give a second look at, but after trying it, we’ve found another one to really enjoy.

As your New Year gets off to a fast (we hope) start, one of the things that keeps us grounded in not looking too far ahead is in remembering the past.  As mentioned above, there a number of milestones slated for this year, but in order to achieve milestones, we know that you have to “put in your time”.  Translated:  nothing comes quickly or easily.  It’s a hard lesson to learn, but when we turn the page on another year, it’s a great thing to remember.  Enjoying wine is something that we’ve grown to do. . .it wasn’t that way in our younger years, and we’ve visited with a lot of other folks who say the same thing.  So, here’s to 2013 – put on some Dave Matthews Band, open a bottle of 2010 Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, and remember how you got to where you are today – along with where you hope to go tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, we’ll be back with another wine and a story or two leading into it (bound to be one or two since we both have to go back to work after a nice break).  In the meantime, enjoy your wine responsibly and please remember to recycle whenever possible.