casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 203: Spring Is In The Air . . .

amavi syrahSpring breaks are over, and the REAL Spring time has begun.  Spring officially arrived earlier this week, but with this being the first official weekend of Spring and with Daylight Saving Time in full swing, we had to acknowledge that ‘Spring Is In The Air’!  Spring in these parts means cloudy mornings and sunny afternoons.  Throw in some drizzle and fog and you’ve got a true Texas spring morning.  Rain – the stuff that falls from the sky –  is once again at a premium in our part of the world.  While the Midwest and Northeast have been covered in snow and rain, the southwest has gone virtually untouched by significant rainfall.  Normally, December, January and to a lesser extent , February are wet months in our part of the world; however, for the third time in five years, we’ve seen WAY below average rainfall in our normally rainy period.  Not a good sign for Spring.

Another harbinger of Spring in Texas are the wildflowers.  Texas has been blessed with some of the most magnificent wildflowers . . . bluebonnets, mexican hats, wine cups, black-eyed susans, and many more dot the landscapes of the roads in our state.  The lack of rainfall affects the quantity and length of beauty of the wildflowers.  It’s a reality that is being played out too many times over the past decade . .  .too little rainfall equates to too few wildflowers.  Texas is one of the few states that rejoices in its wildflowers on the side of the road . . . especially our State Flower, the Bluebonnet.  It’s a majestic flower but it relies on a colder than normal winter and lots of cold, wet rainfall to help it become prolific in the Spring.  Other than a year ago, it  has been a challenge for our State Flower to continually show up and represent our great State because of the lack of moisture.

It’s kind of appropriate that tonight we open a wine from Walla Walla, Washington . . . a 2009 Amavi Syrah, and we have to tell you that this wine will win you over–quickly!  This is a BIG wine . . . the taste is pure jam and lots of dark  fruit (one of the fun things about enjoying good wine is recognizing the difference between the taste of light and dark fruit . . . yes, there is a difference!) — a hint of cigar . . .  kind of like a quick puff on a nice cuban cigar, tobacco and cedar — along with the prevailing oak . . . in our minds you can never have enough toasted oak because wine was fermented in French and American oak, the quality of  the barrels makes all the difference.  Wines like this aren’t always easy to find; like a superb Spring night, it’s availability is short-lived but fruitful!

With a retail price point at $21-$24 a bottle, we were fortunate to get this wine on sale at less than $15 a bottle.  While others watch, Amavi grows and becomes more bold.  This wine is consistently rated between 88-90 points from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate.   Wines as big and bold as they Syrah normally aren’t coming from Washington, do it creates a whole new market for these ‘cool weather’ wines.  When we make our trek to Walla Walla – this vineyard is one we will make a point to seek out – oh, and hang out with S/S who now live in the area.

We hope that you’ll enjoy this or any other wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!


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Day 192: Spring Forward . . .

spanish quarterAh yes. . .Monday night.  The start of a new week; the start of Daylight Saving Time, and that means really dark in the  morning but lighter in the evening.  It’s a trade off, really.  Last fall we lamented about the time change because the evenings would be dark and it would be light in the morning.  There’s something welcoming about ‘springing forward’ each year. . .it’s a sign that Spring and Summer are just around the corner, a sign that Winter is all but gone.  Let’s face it–in this part of the world, we didn’t have much of a Winter.  In a few weeks when the wildflowers start blooming (some have already shown themselves), we’ll have a better idea of Winter’s impact.  Typically, a dry and warm winter doesn’t produce an overly abundant array of wildflowers compared to a cold, wet winter.

Last year, for example, (2011 into 2012) the rains in December, January and early February combined with the colder temperatures in mid-30’s resulted in some spectacular displays of wildflowers–especially bluebonnets–in the Texas Hill Country.  On a driving trip in the Jeep last spring, the fields of solid blue were awe inspiring; truly majestic especially as the winds blew them back and forth.  For those who’ve never seen wildflowers in the Texas Hill Country–we strongly recommend that you put it on your ‘bucket list’.  The drive north of Fredericksburg around an area called the Willow City Loop is THE drive to make to see nature’s wonderment.  On a Sunday afternoon with a convertible or a Jeep, and a picnic with a bottle of wine, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than that!

Speaking of a bottle of wine, we uncovered a nice, little blend from Spain on a recent visit to Twin Liquors.  Now, if you haven’t tried Spanish wines, you’re going to need to add them to your lists of wines to experiment with over time.  There are some delicious Tempranillo wines that originate there and other varietals are becoming increasingly popular, and because the market is rebounding, there are some extreme values in Spanish wines, so you get a good bottle of wine without breaking the bank.  Tonight we sampled a 2010 The Spanish Quarter, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.  The combination of these grapes is a deep purple-red color with a nose of dark cherry and blackberry, and hint of spice and chocolate. The full palate reveals layers of juicy ripe berry fruit, dark chocolate, and a touch of sweet oak on the finish.  This is a wine that was made for sitting on the deck as the sun goes down and the warmth of the day starts to give way to the cool of the evening.  It’s a trait of this time of the year when the days are warm and the nights cool off quickly, but this wine makes the transition easy.  Whether enjoying it with a full meal of beef or pasta or sipping it while snacking on cheese and crackers, it’s a wine with some real body, and at around $10 a bottle, you’re going to be surprised how good it tastes for the money.  In fact, according to ‘, “Recommendation:  Grab this if you see it.  A great introduction to Spanish wine, and one that is sure not to disappoint, and not last long in your wine cellar.”  Simply put–a great way to start the week.

A quick glance at the forecast indicates some seriously awesome Spring weather is on the horizon for the next 7-10 days.  It means a great chance to get out and do some driving–maybe even some wine tasting, and hopefully, Mother Nature puts on a show–it’s one of the BEST free things around.

As you enjoy your favorite wine, please remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.