casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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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 324: A Gentle Reminder . . .

Silver Oak 2006

Tonight’s blog was written by Jean’s co-worker, Scott.  Scott has guest blogged for us before and meets all the requirements we have – aka . . . he appreciates good wine and partakes on a regular basis.  For the record, on Day 63 we did blog about 2004 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley – but tonight’s wine was a 2006 from Napa Valley – BIG difference. If you are a constant reader of our blog, you will recognize tonight’s theme as it has played out time and time again – bottom line  . . . every day is the perfect day to open a bottle of “the good stuff”, or as Partick says . . . “Life’s too short not to drink good wine – – – ya just never know”.  So, thanks again to Scott for “taking one for the team” – and to Margaret and Lance for hitting the road and checking out parishes in the Diocese of Austin . . . we are waiting for you to come our way – we’ll open “the good stuff” for you as well

Today was a good day!

It’s not often that we say that anymore. Usually life is filled with getting from one party to another, some sort of sporting event, or even a summer camp. Life at our house is generally fairly busy with five kids.

Today was a good day because it felt like we got a few things done and topped it off with some good family time, good friends and some good wine.

The day started with pancakes for the kids our niece, who is visiting from Alabama. There is just something American with pancakes and a cup of coffee in the morning.

I was able to finish that lingering bathroom project, mow the lawn, talk to my boys on the front lawn about sports and attend Mass this evening at our local parish.

Mass was special, it always is though with Jesus present, but tonight was way cool since my office assistant and her husband made it to Mass at our new church. It was great to see their smiles when we walked into the sanctuary. After a brief hello after Mass, we caught them on the way out and asked if they wanted to come over for a drink. Uh…..YES!

We arrived back at our home and immediately opened up a bottle of 2006 Silver Oak. Yeah, Yeah….we know this is a good bottle of wine and we all know what people say about it…it’s pricy….probably would make the Bondy deck wine list (if you could find it on sale)…you can really taste the spiciness…it lingers on the palate…

This post is not about the wine tonight but more about the sharing of good wine with good friends. You see, wine is meant to be consumed…preferably with friends. In the brief moments we shared together, the wine was really an afterthought, it was all about LIFE! We told stories, laughed, talked about the kids, discussed Aggie football, shared our faith and just enjoyed our time together.

So please, don’t save that good bottle of wine for a special day. Today is good day…open that bottle of wine some friends and enjoy life. It is always way too short.

Scott, thanks again for your help – remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.  Look out Monday, here we come . . . ready or not!

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Day 307: Red, White and Blue . . .

Four score and 237 years ago, a group of men got together and laid out a plan for the birth of a new nation–for the home that we call The United States of America.  These patriots of the day were so convinced that Great Britain was the enemy of freedom loving men and thus we must separate ourselves from them sooner rather than later.

Reading the Declaration of Independence, which to this day is one of the best pieces of prose ever written. . .and it’s been well-documented that Thomas Jefferson — author of the Declaration — went through draft after draft before arriving at the version presented.  Looking at the signers of the document, illustrates how difficult it must have been to sign a document that would ultimately lead to a war for Independence.  Great stuff!  However, we digress because on this Independence Day, we jumped in the Jeep and headed for the coast to track down our own versions of the Redcoats. . .well, actually, Redfish!  After a terrific evening on the water watching some amazing fireworks over Port Aransas. . .yep, we were sitting in a boat on the water relaxing and watching the show–not a bad way to spend the 4th!  Next up is a fishing trip with Trail Boss to see what the Bays can give us tomorrow morning.

Our wine tonight seemed appropriate, and coming from the Hope Family Winery…makers of Treana and Troublemaker varieties, we felt like it was the perfect choice!  Tonight we opened a 2010 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California.  Yep, we stopped at the Hope Family Winery during our visit there this past October, but strangely enough, we never tasted the Liberty School wines. At the end of the day, the wine isn’t too shabby.  Yes, we know, that’s hardly an endorsement of the wine.  Well, it’s true. . .it’s a nice little wine. . .good nose, good fruit on the palate and a nice finish.  It’s not going to cause you to seek your own Independence, but it will help you salute the Stars and Stripes.  In all fairness, we decided on this wine because — well, because of its’ name.  How could we blog about a wine on Independence Day that didn’t have something in its’ blood about our country. . and Liberty is what we’re all about!

The hardest part about enjoying this 2010 Liberty School Cab is that we got in from the fireworks after 11 p.m. and tomorrow, the boat is leaving the dock at 5:30 for some –hopefully — excellent bay fishing!  Would we buy this wine again?  Possibly, under similar circumstances; would we recommend this wine, yes, because if you need a value priced wine that comes from a good family and displays characteristics of wines that cost significantly more, than this is a wine to try.  With a price point under $12 a bottle, the cost won’t set you back and you’ll enjoy a bottle of wine that has gotten a lot of press!

We hope you’ve had a terrific Independence Day.  With Friday on the horizon, we hope that whether you’re working, retired or have the day off, that you’ll continue to thrive on the spirit of independence–which is what makes our country such an amazing place to live.  Please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 215 – Bookmark This One

BookmarkHard to imagine living in an area where it rarely rains.  After watching weather reports all winter of these monster (named) storms (Thank You Weather Channel),  we wondered if our part of the world was ever going to see any measurable precipitation.  Those who live in the west, midwest and certainly, northeast have been inundated (pardon the pun) with wet winter weather this year.  Moisture in the winter time is the baseline for a spring growing season. . .more rain=a longer spring growing season.  Less rain= a shorter spring growing season or in some cases, no growing season.  As is the case here in San Marcos, the drought of 2011 had a profound affect on trees in this area.  Numerous long-time growing live oak trees have died as  a direct result of the drought.  2012 brought rain in the early part of the year followed by hot, dry temps in the summer. . .and virtually no rain in the fall.  This winter has been drier and warmer than expected. . .similar to 2011.  The impact?  Again, more trees–stressed to the max–are showing signs of succumbing to Mother Nature’s wrath.  And all the while, other parts of the country are buried in snowfall, have rain storm after rain storm to deal with and are greener than green heading into spring.  Amazing

One of the wine regions of the country we have yet to visit it Washington State.  And, before we started this blog, you could count the number of times we had Washington wines on our hands.  Not so much!  Since we started; however, we have tasted some amazing wines from that state and are really starting to enjoy trying new, tasty varietals.  It also means that at some point, we’ve got to have a road trip to the Great Northwest!  Until then, we’ll keep trying something different and, at least until August 31st, we’ll keep writing about them!  And tonight’s wine is a wine that you will want to bookmark!!  Oh, wait, that’s the name of it, tonight’s wine is the non-vintage Bookmark Red from J. Bookwalter Wines in Columbia Valley.  This wine–available at H-E-B–is less than $12 a bottle and it’s worth every penny!  The color, the nose, the taste, the finish–all of these are amazing for a wine in this price point.  But beyond the technical aspects of the wine, it’s just plain nice to drink.  We can see this as an everyday wine–you can serve it with big dishes or cheese and crackers, you can break it out for a party or keep it for a special evening.  This is a versatile wine that–along with others–is why we’re doing this blog…to talk about wines that aren’t on most folks’ radar.  Bookmark Red absolutely needs to be on your radar. . .hey, the price alone is a trigger for many wine lovers, but the taste–oh the taste, wow, what a cool wine!

The wine has toasty notes followed by espresso, chocolate, red fruit, dark fruit, and cracked pepper. The nose are attention getting indicating an oak program obviously intended for a much more expensive price point. And, as we mentioned before, the palate is soft and silky, lush, rich and fruit filled with ripe dark fruit and abundant chocolate flavors and a sweet, lingering finish. It’s a GREAT combination of grapes. . .33% Syrah, 31% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% mixture of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Roussanne.  Seriously, have you ever tried a blend like this for a price like this?  We didn’t think so. . .find out where it is in your local area and try Bookmark Red.  It’s a wine worth noting. . .a wine worth bookmarking!

Please enjoy your favorite wines responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


Day 198: Wine – Texas Style . . .

Becker Reserve Cab-SyrahWeekends do tend to fly by . . . especially weekends where travel from one place to another and back again is involved.  Driving eats up chunks of time and driving in Texas is about large chunks!  Being centrally-located in San Marcos really helps a lot.  We’re 3 1/2 – 4 hours from most places . . . the Coast, D/FW, Houston, etc.  As we mentioned last night, the wedding of our friends in Aransas Pass, meant a drive to the coast yesterday and a return trip today . . . with Daughter #1 in tow, and she needed to head back to school today after her spring break trip.  What’s it all mean?  Driving.  Lots of driving!  The last time we bought a car (used), the dealer–whom we’ve purchased from previously–commented that we drive a lot.  This comment was based on odometers of cars traded in over the years.  Yep . . . we drive a lot.

We like to be able to get in the Jeep and slide the top down to soak up some of that warm Texas sun and head north, south, east or west.  We’ve been driving a lot for the 30+ years we’ve been together.  From 4,200 mile round trips to spur of the moment road trips to visit family, there is something magical about putting some gas in the tank and hitting the road.  Unfortunately, as gas prices have risen, the number of trips and length of trips has diminished significantly.  However, the call of the open road is alive and well and this weekend was one of those “just gotta go” moments – kinda like the Southwest Airlines commercial – – – “Wanna Get Away?”.

It seems appropriate – since we’re talking about driving in Texas – that we zero in on a Texas wine that has gained some significant notoriety . . . tonight we enjoyed a 2011 Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet-Syrah.  The first thing about this wine is that it tastes really good!  Yep, we know it’s hard for us to even type that, but this wine has character, body, beautiful color and best of all a great taste . . . on the front palate and a terrific finish.  Made of 70% Cabernet and 30% Syrah, this wine really has rich, wonderful deep, dark fruit, with hints of tobacco and caramel and aged in French and American oak barrels.  Clearly, the Syrah grapes, gives the wine a nice berry flavor.  For the $22 price, we’d suggest some other wines from Australia and Washington that may be just as good, but priced less; however, as Texas wines go, this one is clearly a winner.   And, in fairness to Becker, at its’ existing price point, this wine outshines some higher priced wines we’ve tasted previously.  Like most wines, it comes down to taste and preference.

As for our experiences at Becker — another driving trip — we’ll save that for another day; however, when you visit this place, you’ll love the tasting room, the grounds are superb and who knows, you may end up getting your picture taken and published in a book about wineries without your permission!  The area where Becker is located has been populated by an ever growing number of wineries . . . some of these make wine from grapes grown on their property and some make their wine from grapes sourced in west Texas . . . many of them are opting for fruit purchased from California or other parts and still others are simply buying the juice and making wine without all of the “mess”!!  It’s still an amazing process for us to watch!

We hope that you’ve had a good weekend.  With temperatures in the upper 70’s and low 80’s, it’s been one of the nicer spring break weeks in recent memory.  For us, it ended with a nice wine with a good taste and our hope that you enjoy your favorite wines responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 186: Partners In Everything . . .

blackburn cabTonight we were tracing crosses from a template and cutting them out; sanding the wood to a smooth finish in preparation for a coat of paint.  It’s actually a ‘business’ started by Daughter #2 as a way to make some money on the side (not a small amount when you take out the “donated” items from Parents, Inc.) while at the same time, help develop her creative abilities.  While tracing from our template, that we’ve had for probably four or five years, it was obvious that this one was worn out.  The ends of the paper were frayed; the paper itself curled and the corners had been run into by a pencil so many times that instead of coming to a point, the corners came to a circle!  Stepping outside so Jean could have a few more to cut and prep, Brian came back into the house to toss together a late dinner.

We were both doing what we were doing and before dinner was ready, Brian was going to take the dogs out for a ‘break’.  Before he could step forward to get their leashes, he notices three mechanical pencils on the floor . . . they had been previously placed on the table.  A quick look to the other side of the table, and all at once – the air came out of the balloon . .  .there on the floor was the five year old cross template.  Eaten.  Chewed.  Left like a paper wad on a blackboard.  Curiously, two of the THREE dogs were still hanging around; however, one of the them was NO WHERE to be found!

A little loud talking at this point puts all three dogs on notice that we “AREN’T HAPPY”!  While Andie, the middle dog squints her eyes, as if to say, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it; I didn’t do anything, but I’m SO sorry”; Pepper, the elder stateswoman of the crew looks around like, “Really?  You DON’T think for a moment that I, the Queen, had ANYTHING to do with this?”  In both instances, the tails were wagging at a ‘normal’ pace.  However, no where to be found was the youngest . . . Jasmine.  A quick search of the down stairs bedrooms, and there she was . . . sunk in the bed for as low as possible – her ears had disappeared from her head as if to illustrate “if they don’t see me, they won’t yell at me!”  As usual, when trouble abounds, dogs band together and NEVER talk.  They never give up each other; they never ‘rat out’ one or the other and they ALL stare at you with ‘innocent’ brown eyes . . . HA!  Do they think we were born yesterday?  YES!!!

Tonight we opened a 2010 Blackburn Cabernet Sauvignon from  – you guessed it . . . Paso Robles.  No, we didn’t visit this boutique winery; however, after trying their Cab tonight, we are intrigued to learn more about this winery.  What they say about this wine, “A very nice affordable Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Kevin Riley It is a dry full-bodied fruit-foward driven wine. Everything you love about Paso is in this bottle! 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petite Sirah, 2% Mourvedre This rich, intensely flavored Cab is filled with fruit & spice. The nose, dominated with flavors of ripe cherry, stewed berries and cinnamon, carries on through the palate. Layers of toffee, savory herbs, and currant unfold and lead you to a long, persistent finish with lush, juicy tannins.”  What we say, the nose is like opening a jar of blackberry jam; so fruity that we had to stop for a moment and collect our noses!!  The taste is very fruit forward with very little oak . . . it’s fruit-and more-fruit!  The finish was the best part – long-lasting and delicious; however, it had just enough of a ‘bite’ on the finish to cause us to question the quality.  At the end of the day, for a $15 bottle of wine, it has ‘MOXIE’ . . . and we like wines with moxie.

Blackburn reminds us of our three ‘loyal’ followers – our dogs that never question where we’ve been; are never mad that we’re late; are happy to have food in their bowls and always have time to wag their tails!!!  This wine is fruity and fun and we hope you’ll give it a try.

Remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


Day 180: Where Angels Goes, Trouble Follows . . .

lock & key meritageWe knew we were in trouble.  It started with an email that Jean received on Monday.  She forwarded it to Brian at work and to the house.  Oh, this wasn’t going to be good . . . not at all!  It intensified Monday night.  Yep, we had just turned on the television to catch the late, local news, and there was the second sound (aka our good friend Sandra) of trouble.  It got worse on Tuesday morning; when the alarm went off and the third sign that we were in trouble played on the radio.  The message was repeated on the television — not once but twice — we were doomed.  To make matters worse, it was happening over THREE days.  They already knew that they had us.  All we could do is raise a white flag, throw in the towel, walk away from the ring, hang up our cleats . . . and give in.  It was like – we could hear the theme song from the movie, “Jaws” playing in the background and getting louder and louder (“think you’re gonna need a bigger boat”)  . . . What are we talking about?Twin SaleUh yeah!  The folks at Twin Liquors really know how to sucker punch a couple of wine lovers!  Oh, no . . . it’s not good enough to just have a 75th Anniversary Sale last August . . . NOOOOO! They had to go out and create a ‘Dollar Sale’ for three days in February.  So, they mark down their product to the lowest price; add a dollar for margin and sell it.  For wine lovers, it’s the difference between three bottles and eight bottles.  For amateur wine bloggers, it’s like a gift from above!  We can “unlock” some great values in different wines, and the “key” is to save some cash!

So, tonight, we “invested” at Twin Liquor in San Marcos and found this 2009 Meritage from St.  Helena, California in the heart of Napa County.  Most places have it priced between $13 – $16 a bottle, but tonight we made off with it for less than $11.  In terms of pricing, score a big one for the bloggers.  When we opened it up, the cork was fresh, moist and the smell was fruity with hints of oak.  This wine, we learned, is from the Trinchero Family of wines . . . which means, it comes from a BIG operation!  This wine is a true Meritage blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc and the grapes are sourced from some of the best vineyards in Sonoma and Lake counties.

To be honest, at first we weren’t too sure about this bottle . . .  The nose was heavy with prunes or dates – not sure which ones because it was overpowering.  The color was oh so close to copper but still held a dark burgundy tone.  The taste upon initial opening wasn’t good at all.  It was more like ‘pucker time’ than wine time!  However, like most wines with a good heritage, the key to unlock the flavor of this wine was time . . . the longer the bottle stayed open, the better the wine began to taste.  Even as we type tonight’s blog and sip on the wine, it’s changing . . . the flavors are now deepening and becoming much more pronounced.  A richer, deeper flavor that seems to be much more advanced than the wine that we smelled and tasted upon opening.  Again, it was soft and supple with a pleasant combination of black cherry cola, dark spices, sandalwood and tannins making it a tremendous value at this price point.  In other words, the wine works – – even though it was slow to open, the wine is extremely enjoyable and delicious and for the price point under $11 a bottle, we could be convinced to buy a few more of these and save them for “later”.

For the record, there is a golden oldie movie classic with the same name as tonight’s blog.  Name two of the actresses who starred in the movie and have gone onto much higher levels of fame.   A bottle of tonight’s wine goes to the first one who chimes in with the correct answer . . . pretty sure there are a few Freitag’s out there who can “name that tune” . . .

Regardless of whether you lock your wine or open it with a key, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!