casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 303: Time for a Trip to Washington . . .

snoqualmieWe love Sundays.  We especially love Sundays when it rains.  We especially love Sundays when it rains in the morning.  Today. . .was one of those Sundays. You know. . .you wake up and it’s just getting light.  You figure–hey, I’ve still got at least an hour or two before I have to get up!  So, like anyone, you fall back asleep, but wake up 45 minutes later, and it’s darker than when you woke up the first time!  Hmmm, not exactly sure what’s going on here, but just to be on the safe side you check your clock–and, yes, the time IS later than previously noted.  A little lightening. . .a little thunder. . .and a little wind gust tells us it’s about to open up.  Add to the mix three dogs who would rather NOT deal with bad weather and you have the makings of a Central Texas early morning thundershower.  A perfect way to start the day. . .oh, and eventually ending up watching a classic movie like Rudy on AMC! (Come on now – who doesn’t blubber like a baby at the end of Rudy?)

After yesterday’s 108 degrees, we figured that the rain could only help keep a lid on the high temperatures–and thankfully, the forecasters were calling for ONLY a high of 97 degrees…oooooo….break out the sweaters!  Yeah, kind of funny when you stop to think about it–an eleven degree drop in most places would cause folks to be a little concerned.  You know if you go from 92 degrees to 81…there’s a pretty good weather event about to take place. And, if you go from 70 degrees to 59–well, that cold front has made it through.  BUT, when it goes from 108 to 97–we’re sorry, you CAN’T tell the difference!  Hot is hot no matter how you slice it.

And because of the unbelievable heat, we decided to take a trip to the Great Northwest. . .to the lands of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. . .Washington state.  Recently, Jean’s sister, Sara sent us a 2013 Washington State Wine Guide, and one of the coolest parts of the book was a wine time line.  It seems that in the 1970’s, there were less than 50 wineries and growers in the state of Washington.  Today, there are more than 750 and growing!  An industry that had pretty much set up shop and cornered the market in California had now made its’ way north into Washington. . .and Oregon for that matter.  Literally, some of the BEST wines in America are coming out of Washington.  There are some amazing wine makers and growers who are changing the face of wine making in our country–and for the BETTER!  Since Jean is Sara’s favorite sister, we’ve been planning a trip to get together.

Tonight we went down a familiar road to enjoy a different variety from a previously blogged wine maker. . .Snoqualmie.  We thought the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was good earlier this year?  Well, with all due respect, it had NOTHING on the 2009 Syrah we enjoyed tonight.  Admittedly, when we opened the bottle, it had a beautiful aroma of black berries and oak, but the first taste was, well, less than enticing.  However, after about 30 minutes of air time, we noticed that the wine not only opened up but was becoming full-bodied and with loads of structure.  It was becoming a complete wine.  Rich blackberry and blueberry fruit aromas with subtle smoky impressions, same followed on the pallet with soft tannins and sweet oak flavors.  Another part of the wine making that we’ve come to appreciate is the process. . .under the leadership of Joy Andersen, winemaker since 1991, Snoqualmie has become a leader in sustainable and organic winemaking in Washington.  Great wines and attention to the environment . . . a winning combination.

With a price point under $10 a bottle, we think that Snoqualmie may be one of the best hidden secrets of Washington wine.  Yes, we know that there are 749 other vineyards out there that  are competing for attention, but as of right now, we are sold on Snoqualmie!  We hope that you’ll agree when you try this wine.  If not, remember to  enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 67 – Fasten your seatbelts . . .

We’re sitting here watching the election returns enjoying another taste of the 2009 Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon from Michael David Wines .  .  . not today’s wine for discussion because we’ve already talked about this one, but certainly worth drinking considering we’re watching the election returns.  Given the results of the day – we had to open a second sampling to calm ourselves and prepare for the next four years – as Bette Davis’s character said in All About Eve – “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Yep – we voted.  We actually voted early and regardless of who wins or who loses, the good news is that we voted.  Like so many other Americans, we cared enough to cast a ballot.  The entire voting process causes one to stand back and begin to think – what was it that made you a voter?

Did you get so upset with an incumbent that you vowed to vote the opposite next time?  Did you feel the rush of siding with a winning candidate and decide that this was the way you were going to vote in the future?  Did you feel a sense of ownership in helping solve a particular issue?  We’ve learned over the years that people vote for a myriad of reasons.  Some of those reasons make sense – and some, not so much.  As the 2012 Elections have unfolded, Brian was recalling a memorable event 16 years ago while still a part of the Northwest Communities Chamber of Commerce in suburban St. Louis.  Dr. Tim O’Rourke, Professor of Citizenship Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis came to his office to discuss a new and potentially dynamic program.  It was called Kids Voting USA that had originated in Arizona in the 1988 elections and had seen a significant increase in visibility during the 1992 elections.  Kids Voting USA was built on concepts learned by several key Arizona businessmen in the mid-1980’s when they watched voters in the Central American country of Costa Rica (one of the most democratic countries in the world!) take their children to the polls on election day and allowed those young people to cast a ballot along side their parents.  Costa Rica, at the time, had voter turnouts above 80%.

When Dr. O’Rourke came to the organization in 1996 armed with the Kids Voting USA program, it represented a number of diverse business/residential communities near Lambert St. Louis International Airport, so the opportunity to engage the student population with the business community in an open dialogue prior to the election was a welcome sight.  Adding to the value of the program was the curriculum that had been established and approved by the national organization as well as the local school district – imagine, talking about the elections in Math class, or running the equivalent number of steps it would take to win a presidential election or bouncing a basketball to replicate the number of Electoral College votes needed to win and election – in gym class, and creating a way for students to engage, participate and understand in a process that even their parents didn’t always understand.  The real question was – would Kids Voting USA help create more voters in an area that had traditionally poor voter turnout??

On election day, the answer was clear .  .  .  it made a difference.  The area voting population where the school district was located saw a 5 % increase in voter turnout attributed directly to the Kids Voting program.  Officials sat at school administration offices and watched parent after parent showing up with their children and when mom or dad or aunt or uncle went to cast their ballots, the kids had their opportunity to cast a Kids Voting ballot as well and while it’s in the history books today, those kids were pretty adept at what they had learned.  What caused this idea to come up was because, first, tonight is election night, but more importantly,  because those “kids” are now in their early to mid 20’s.  It causes one to stop and think about the impact of Kids Voting USA and whether or not they voted in this years election.

Tonight we enjoyed tasting a blend from a winery that we visited in 2008 while in the Napa region.  When we entered the Ferrari-Carano tasting room, we were immediately transported to Italy and the beautiful Tuscan villages – rich, opulent marbled bar areas were accented by long, graceful corridors and archways leading to patios and other parts of the winery.  It was the stuff that legends are made of!!  But, tonight’s wine is a 2010 Siena red table wine, and while it’s not the biggest wine we’ve enjoyed, it has some memorable characteristics.  Since it has Sangiovese roots, we immediately picked up on the fresh, fruitiness on the nose and initial taste.  Because this is a young wine, we allowed it some extra time to open up after the initial smell and taste.  What we found was a beautiful wine with an amazing bouquet – lots of smokiness to go with black raspberries and vanilla – almost a hazelnut finish.  We enjoyed this wine with some tortilla crusted tilapia and roasted potatoes with red peppers and onions.  It was a beautiful match.  These blends are becoming more and more accepted in wine circles because their nose and taste are far more structured than anticipated or expected.  We just loved the taste!

So, whether you’ve been voting for years and years or you’ve just started, we salute you for taking time out of your day or evening to go to the polls and vote.  You and we didn’t sit on the sidelines and watch the parade pass us by – you got out in front for the best view.  And, isn’t it kind of cool to know – regardless of how your preferred candidate(s) did, that YOU had a decision in the process?  It’s just ONE of the MANY things that makes our country the best place in the world to live, work, play, learn and raise a family! We are all in this together and need to stop and say a prayer for our nation because there is no doubt in our minds that we are going to need all the prayers we can get over the next four years.

Enjoy this and all wines responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!