casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


Day 351 – Saving One for The Girls

3 GirlsSo much coming and going.  Up early in the morning; many times, home late.  New people and other things in the house.  When you’re a dog, we think that life is built around routine.  For our girls, the routine is up around 6 every morning to take care of business. . .followed by breakfast. . .followed by taking care of business. . .followed by their infamous, early morning nap!  By any human account, it’s a schedule made in heaven.  Food, sleep and relief and it’s all repeated in the evening.

Over the past three months, the routine has been somewhat skewed.  As D#1 has settled in with her dog, the routine became–well, less routine, and more like a circus.  Consider that for the past 90 days, we have gotten up at our usual time to try and be as ‘routine’ as possible; however, her dog has begun to adopt our dogs’ routine hours.  So, guess who gets up at the same time?  Yeah. . .the only problem with this is that the puppy wants to play and our brood wants to go back to sleep.  In the evening, the energy level of the puppy was so great that Jean figured out that they could have a certain amount of play time together followed by alone time.  Once this plan was hatched and started, routine started becoming a reality in our house–again!

Now, that D#1 and the puppy have moved to their own digs, we’re left with the 3 girls.  They know something is different and are pretty sure it has to do with that DOG that had been here, but they’re not quite sure.  We know that it will take a few days for them to ‘let their guard down’, but until then we’ll be watching to see if they start to get back into their routine–come to think of it, we’ll probably be up around 6 tomorrow, so we guess that all is right in the dog world!

To mark the moment of returning to the three dogs, we found at World Market a 2011 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvigon from Lodi, California.  It’s from a familiar place in our wine blogs, Oak Ridge Winery.  This wine isn’t going to set the world on fire.  It’s your basic cab–medium body, dark ruby color; earthy, tart cassis, tart plum nose; tart currant, earthy palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points—in case you missed it, it’s tart–but good.  It actually rates higher than we would have thought because it’s so young.  And a mass-produced wine like this typically isn’t one that you’ll cellar for 10-15 years, so buy it and try it. . .available exclusively at World Market, here’s what they say about this wine, “Ripe, dark fruit, smoke and vanilla notes add to the full-bodied sweet fruit and creamy texture of 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon. Sourced from Lodi, California, which is ideally situated between the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Francisco Bay, the climate features warm days and cool evening breezes. An instant customer favorite, try it with burgers, meat-lovers pizza or simply on its own.”  Priced below $10 a bottle, it’s probably worth at least a try because there are a lot of more expensive options that may not offer the taste of this wine.

Our girls are exhausted. . .after their early morning nap, they had to take a mid-to-late morning nap followed  closely by an afternoon nap.  That was interrupted by a potty break outside and then a late afternoon/early evening nap. . .fortunately, we rescued them from the routine and they enjoyed a full dinner with chew sticks for dessert!  It just doesn’t get much better than this—if you’re a dog!  For us, after a day of shopping at the Outlets in San Marcos, a stop at Target, a run for some furniture shopping, stopping at D#1’s apartment and unpacking — followed by dinner at Dave & Busters—which brought back some serious memories from when the kids were growing up–for us, it’s time for “lights out”.

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

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Day 315: We’re Just Not That Into It . . .

into zinFriday nights are great nights for kicking back, firing up the grill and relaxing after a long week.  Part of the challenge with that ‘process’ this time of year is that it’s still 100 degrees plus at 8 o’clock at night . .  not exactly the kind of weather that’s conducive to deck time on a Friday night.  The grill part, on the other hand, is always a good option and after finding some steaks on sale at our local H-E-B, we decided that tonight would be a good reason to cook them up.  We like to fix roasted potatoes when we grill steak . . . using some nice red potatoes well cut them into bite-size pieces and cut up some red onion and we like adding red, yellow or orange sweet peppers.  Mixing all three together in a bowl with some olive oil and seasoning, put them into a 9 x 12 baking dish – – or if you’ve got stoneware, like is offered from Pampered Chef, use that – a great tool for cooking, and finally into the oven at 375 degrees for–initially–20 minutes.  After the first 20 minutes, stir them up, turn the dish around and put another 25 minutes on the timer.  In the meantime, we’ve picked up some beautiful, fresh green beans…long, great color and they have a great snap – – after cleaning them and soaking them in some water, we like to add just a hint of bacon grease or two or three slices of bacon to the pan with some water just covering the top of the beans.  After bringing them to a boil, we’ll simmer them on medium to low for 15 minutes at which time, we’ll pour in a third of a bottle of Italian salad dressing.  Put the lid back on, turn down the heat to low and let cook for another 20-25 minutes.

These two vegetables combined with the steak made for a nice way to wrap up the week – along with daughter #1 and Bruce Wayne(who is in for a weekend visit) –  but it wouldn’t be complete without some wine, and tonight we opened at 2011 Into Zin Zinfandel from Oak Ridge Winery…the same folks that make one of our favorite everyday Zins, OZV and Maggio!  They’re located in Lodi, California…a superb part of the state for growing zinfandel grapes.  While this Zin isn’t going to set any records for awards or get rated by Parker, it did earn a gold medal at the 2012 Alameda County Fair…not sure if that means anything, but even as a value-priced entry, it’s not bad.  But, it’s probably not going to make us go out and scoop up mass quantities of it either…the nose is certainly typical zin…peppery, dark fruit, a little leathery.  The taste was –well, just a little too tart for us.  We like a zin to have that warm, spicy taste and a finish that allows you to taste the fruit and other characteristics of the wine.  Even as the wine had some time open up, it didn’t deliver anything that made us jump for joy.  So, while some of the Oak Ridge products are among our favorite everyday-type wines, this one won’t be joining them.

Fortunately, good food is just that…good food and we enjoyed the meal immensely, but the wine, while disappointing, is a great way to enjoy good food.  We hope you have a terrific weekend and as you enjoy your favorite wine, we hope that you’ll do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


Day 288 – Whatever Happened to the Truant Officer?

truant-fourvinesWhew…what a day!  After a terrific early morning with coffee and bacon and eggs. . .we headed north to Austin to take care of some ‘Father’s Day’ business.  Of course, we couldn’t go to the north and NOT stop at an Austin landmark for a bite of lunch–so–we ended up at Threadgill’s for lunch and Wow–what a cool place.  For those of you born,raised or transplanted to Austin, you already know about the myriad of amazing places to eat, drink and enjoy great music–BUT, if you’ve never been to Threadgill’s–well, you haven’t been to Austin!  While a Saturday afternoon is hardly prime time for an establishment with historic roots, just being there conjures up memories of artists, looking for a break, playing for pennies just for a chance to be ‘discovered’!

Having spent a fair number of years in the Kerrville area, we always appreciate this time of the year–well, actually, we’re a little past this time of year–the Kerrville Folk Festival concluded LAST weekend, and the three weeks of music there was something to behold.  What we like most about the Festival–isn’t the musicians–or the campground–or the parking–it’s the theater where much of the music is played—-it’s the Threadgill Theater, and we wondered if it was the same Threadgill as the Austin landmark. . .anyone care to help a friend???

We’ve made two trips to Paso Robles, California, and to this day, one of our favorite labels is Four Vines.  There was a split–a change in ownership–a change in personnel–a change in direction a few years ago, so the wine maker has changed, but our love for Four Vines has never wavered.  So, when we came across a Four Vines, Truant at the Twin Liquors in Kyle not too long ago, we were mesmerized.  Could it be that they were embarking on something new and different?  With a price point under $9 a bottle, this was reminiscent of the Old Vines Cuvee’ that they had marketed for years.  Even then, the wine had great taste for a little amount of money!

So, tonight, we get to introduce the newest member of the Four Vines family – Truant Zinfandel!  What many over the years simply called their OVC—now, has a name and wine character just like Biker, Maverick and The Sophisticate. Truant, blended from multiple appellations throughout California, now has its an identity. The name Truant describes someone who slips away from the confines of everyday routine, and also refers to their wine making style which is not limited by geographical confines. Not only is it blended from vineyards around California, but it is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese. . . in short, it’s a PERFECT blend for those of us who have grown to LOVE blends. On the nose there are dark berry notes and spicy notes from oak aging. The wine drinks of juicy blackberry, ripe plums and a touch of blueberry. Generous in fruit flavors, plenty of structure and a velvety finish.  It’s a wine that could be enjoyed on the deck after a long day–or poured with some excruciatingly spicy food for dinner.  Regardless, don’t let the low price fool  you, this is a wine that is worthy of a second, third and fourth look!

As Saturday gives way to Sunday–Father’s Day–we stop to salute and thank all of the Dads’ out there who care enough to play a crucial role in the development of their children.  While most folks agree it takes a village to raise a child—conventional wisdom still tells us it takes parents to raise a child.  So, remember tomorrow—DAD—hug your kids, kiss your kids, thank the Good Lord for what you have, and let your family shower you with attention.  Strong Dad’s are in short supply–stand up–be counted–Love your family.  Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 257 – What Is Your Quadrant?

quadrantHave you ever been to the Four Corners?  Do you even know what or where the four corners are?  Back in 1990, (BC=Before Children) we made a trip out to the southwestern part of the US–a driving trip where part of the time we spent on the Durango-Silverton Railroad–a narrow gauge train that hugged the mountains between the two cities–and the other part was finding our way to some of the most beautiful parts of the great Southwest.  From Wiki, “The main line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, now operated by the BNSF Railway, passes along the southern edge of Four Corners. The area is home to remnants of through railroads that are now heritage railways. These include the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad, which connects a power plant with a coal mine near Kayenta comes near the Four Corners.”  And ultimately, where we stopped (not necessarily a beautiful part) was the Four Corners,

The Four Corners represents the exact intersection of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.  If it wasn’t painted in stone and had a monument on it, you’d drive past it like it never existed.  There are so few distinguishing marks in the landscape that if it wasn’t for the homemade staircase where one could ascend to take a picture of the ‘four corners’, then the spot would go nameless, faceless and without fanfare!

Our trip enabled us to not only stop, take pictures and take in the vast emptiness of our surroundings but also the handful of vendors selling jewelry, gum and various artifacts.  A tourist trap you ask?  Yes, to some degree, all that the Four Corners turned out to be was a tourist trap. . .but a fun one at that!  Think about it–you can stand in four states–if stepping foot in all 50 states is on your bucket list, stopping at the four corners, covers almost 10% in one stop!!  For Geography lovers, the fact that the Four Corners represents the only spot in our country where four states’ boundaries simultaneously come together is the stuff that text books are written about!  For those of us with regular jobs, it’s potty stop on the way to somewhere else…just sayin’

Which is why tonight we thought about and found the PERFECT wine!  Yep, we hadn’t really thought much (at all) about the Four Corners until we opened the 2010 Quadrant from Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles, California.  This is an interesting wine. . .seriously.  The nose was less than spectacular–more like commercial wine than a boutique variety.  Kind of a green pepper meets kerosene nose.  Not the best combination in the world.  BUT, the taste is what caught us off guard–a little sweet, a little smoky, a little sultry–the wine got better and better as it opened up!  This was not what we had expected, but the Quadrant–a blend of Viognier, Syrah, Petite Syrah and Grenache.  An interesting blend made lighter because of the viognier and the grenache–made richer by the syrah and petite syrah.

Grenache, the main grape used in a variety of French blends, brings a delicate fruitiness to this blend. Syrah, who has long been the star of the Rhone Valley, lends its powerhouse combination of color, flavor and tannin structure. Petite Sirah, most often well known for its deep blue-black color, brings a luxurious, velvety texture that will knock your socks off. And finally, Viognier, the highly aromatic white, is the subtle surprise in this blend that, though only a small percentage, uses its charm to pull all the other components together in perfect harmony. The complexity of this wine lends itself well to a multitude of food pairings.  We enjoyed it, but weren’t overwhelmed with it.  A good wine at a decent price, but probably not going to make into the top 20 over 365 days.  Multiple Gold medals from a variety of places in California tells us that people like the blend of grapes.  And, as time goes on, this wine will get better in the bottle. For us, it was worth a try, but we’ll leave it at that!

Just curious how many of you have been to the Four Corners?  Before reading this could you have even named the four states whose borders meet at the corners?  Useless trivia or good geography lessons?  You be the judge as you enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and when you recycle whenever possible.


Day 220: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions . . .

Concannon ConvervancyJust before hopping into the Jeep (note to self – don’t trust weather forecast of sunny and warm and leave the top down – it was a misty ride to Austin today . . . we’ll just leave it at that) to head home this evening, Jean got a text from a good friend and colleague who asked “what wine are you blogging about tonight?”.  Wow, not even home and the mind starting churning . . . many labels passed through her mind (kind of like visions of sugar plums on Christmas Eve . . .).  Since Brian had a late meeting, Jean took it upon herself to pre-select some options from “the wine blog rack” – with the intent to make the decision easier.

Once everybody was home it was decision time – – – which actually led to a fruitful (pun fully intended) discussion on how many decisions we have to make in one day and in due course, our entire lives.  As babies, we really don’t consciously make decisions – or do we? . . . we quickly learn that if we cry – we get attention . . . if we soil our diaper – we get attention – – – perhaps this is where is all starts.  As we get a bit older we have to decide to learn things . . . tie our shoes, wear socks that match (or not), pick out our own outfits, pick our friends – then we move into picking our classes, picking our hobbies, picking our favorite show to watch in lieu of another – then comes the big one . . . college or no college, if yes – then where? (and we’re not talking just burnt orange versus maroon) . . . if no – what’s next?  After that span of time zips by it’s on to  . . . date that cute guy or girl?  Marry that same cute guy or girl?  Start a family with that same cute guy or girl?

Seems like the list just goes on and on – we neglected to mention all the little decisions that we make all the time . . . eat breakfast?, make the bed (why, just gonna be back in it shortly)?, take lunch or go out to eat?, talk to the person in the cubicle next to ours – or ignore? Watch TV or go to the gym? Change jobs to explore a new opportunity or stick with where I’m at because I’ve still got something to contribute and “get done” before I leave for my next career move?  Wow – kinda wears one out when you stop to think about it.  Our lives are a second by second adventure laced with opportunities known as decisions.  As our daughters grew up learning, it’s really about choices and consequences – sometimes we make good decisions and sometimes they aren’t so hot and don’t work out so well.  Regardless, we have to make them or we will be frozen and unable to function . . . we can attest to the fact that we’ve made good and bad on all the aforementioned fronts – but are still alive and making the most of the short-term situation called life – so, if you have a tough decision to make – make it, move on and don’t look back . . . chances are if you think you lost out on something by your decision, you actually grew from it and will be better off in the long run.

So now, take a deep breath and decide or not decide to read on and see what we chose to blog about tonight.  Hmmmm, red or white – dry or sweet – Cab or Zin . . . see, these are the daily perils we face – so tonight the lucky winner is . . . Concannon Conservancy 2010 Crimson & Clover.  Nope we aren’t going to break into song, but we just might jump and shout.  This is really a nice little wine for the price – another one of our great finds from HEB.  For under $12, we were glad this little gem snuck into our basket – still not too sure who made the decision, but – – – it was a good one!  Straight from the Livermore Valley in CA – which is located on the eastern edge of California’s San Francisco Bay Area –  this wine treated our noses to aromas of nutmeg and mocha – kind of like coffee and hot cocoa all rolled into one.  Next stop – fruitsville – what a great combination of cherry and blackberry topped off with a pinch of plum – warm and inviting on the palate.  The loooooong smooth finish of vanilla and oak is what really won us over – this one will be on the “do over” list when Day 365 finally arrives.

As we wrap up – here’s a toast to Louisville  for bringing home the NCAA Men’s trophy. . . it was an outstanding game – however, we have to say – – GO BIG BLUE . . . Kristy, this one’s for you – can’t wait to wait the ladies tomorrow night!  Could Louisville bring home both trophies?  The scene is set and the die is cast. . .let’s see how the baskets fall!!

While you root for your team, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 213 – Monday’s for the Dogs

Vinum petite sirahAs Sunday gave way to Monday, we noticed that our three “girls”—Pepper, Andie and Jasmine–were a little more subdued than usual.  Pepper was kind of walking around with a limp.  Jasmine didn’t want to eat her dinner (which Andie all too gladly took care of) and Andie–well, Andie just couldn’t decide where she wanted to sleep.  These are serious things when you’re a dog!   We often joke that after their morning routine of taking care of business, eating and taking care of business, their ‘rest of the day’ routine consists of an early morning nap, a mid-morning nap, a noon nap followed closely by the important early afternoon nap and wrapped up with the late afternoon nap until we get home!  Oh, the torture it is in being a dog in this house!

We’ve learned over the years that our dogs are creatures of habit.  Hmmmm, we wonder how that came to pass!  Anyway, they get up when we get up–well, that isn’t TOTALLY true–WE get up when they wake up!  A stop outside followed by breakfast followed by a stop outside (you get the picture?).  What’s funny is that EVERY morning after this routine has taken place, Andie and Jasmine head to their crates.  Usually, we don’t have to say a word; they just walk in and lay down.  Why?  Because of routine–they ‘know’ that it’s time to settle in for the day and their crate is ‘home’ for the day.  We laugh, but at the same time we smile at their incredible intelligence.  How is it that they know to go lay in their crates?  Why is it that they choose to go and lay down without a word being uttered?  We’ve decided that routines are as good for humans as they are for dogs.  And THAT is why we’re writing again tonight–it’s our ROUTINE!!!

So tonight we opened a selection from a recent trip to H-E-B, this 2009 Vinum Petite Sirah out of California is an interesting wine.  Surprisingly, “this inky plum-colored wine displays ripe plum and juicy blueberry fruit right up front and is backed with cassis and spice. The mid-palate is full bodied with blackberry and over-ripe huckleberry that is cloaked in generous, integrated French Oak that coat the palate and finish with a velvety texture.”  This is one review that we actually agree with their interpretation.  The color of this wine is magnificent; if you love that deep, dark and royal purple, then this wine is going to get your attention.  We’d suggest decantering it for 30-45 minutes before serving; this wine clearly gets better as it’s opened and  has time to breathe.  At less than $12 a bottle, you won’t break the bank with this wine, and you’ll impress your wine friends who never thought you’d try something so “out of the box”!  And, if for no other reason, we opted to try this wine because it has a black labrador retriever on the label!  Sorry, we’re suckers for black labs having had a very loyal and good friend in ‘Hershey’ as the girls grew up from babies to young ladies.  Yeah, dogs help define our lives. . .we remember them like snippets of time in our lives.  Hershey was part of the family from shortly before Daughter #2’s first birthday until she was 14 years old.  They truly become part of the family and really good friends.

Anyway, this 2009 Vinum Petite Sirah–while not the most luxurious wine you’ll ever consume–has character, structure, taste and body–but it will give you a brief respite from some of the boring wines that are on the market!  We’d be tempted to buy a few more bottles of this wine, if for no other reason than, to enjoy on the deck with the grill going or the fire pit in full flame or just enjoying the sounds of the evening after a long day at work. . .kind of like a Monday–one for the dogs!

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

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Day 202: Another One Bites the Dust . . .

Castoro Primotivo

Wow – who’d a thunk it . . . 202 days of blogging about wine!  When we decided to pursue this adventure we hadn’t really thought it through.  There is something to be said about purchasing a different bottle of wine every day for 365 consecutive days (for the record, Jean’s not so good with consecutive day stuff – just sayin’). BUT, here we are. . .moving ahead and staring into the face of yet another weekend.  Weird, but this weekend is the first one of Spring!  Yeah, so this has been happening since last September 1st. . .granted it was late summer, but it means we’ve made it through fall and winter and now we start blogging during the Spring!  Time sure flies–when you’re having fun!

It’s been a long week–same number of days, but just a long week.  You know how that goes—a couple of early mornings combined with several long evenings. . .and the end result is a long week!  Fortunately, we have Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 to keep us ‘entertained’. . .this past week had Daughter #2–camping and sailing along the Eastern seaboard of the US. . .now, before you get too impressed, remember–in THAT part of the world, it’s still winter.  Yeah, like in cold temperatures and cold rain and wet snow.  In fact, that part of the world could go into late April with cold and wet. . .exactly why we chose not to live in them thar parts!!  That said, she’s had a great time sailing and being a part of something that she’ll remember for the rest of her life. . .c’mon, sailing on Spring Break for your College?  How cool is that?

Daughter #1 was back in the classroom this week as Spring Break ended and reality began to sink in–yep, in less than eight weeks, that college experience is DONE!  We’re looking at graduation, new employer and starting fresh.  It brings back amazing memories of our graduation from SFA–how awesome is it to share that same experience with our daughter?

Tonight, we enjoyed a wine from one of our favorite Paso Robles wineries–Castoro Cellars—-as THEY say it, puts out some “Damn Fine Wines”.  From OUR perspective, they are spot on!  From Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels to amazing blends and Petite Sirahs, Castoro has become our favorite ‘house’ wine.  We love their varietals, their wine makers and yes, their wines!  So, in keeping with their really good wine, we opened a bottle of 2009 Primitivo from the Castoro Cellars Whale Rock Vineyard in Paso Robles, California.  We learned last night that Primitivo is the Italian version of Zinfandel in America.  No wonder we like it so much!!!  This is a BIG wine. . .and not for the faint at heart.  From the Castoro website, “The last two years our Primitivo has been the top selling wine in our tasting room and after just one sip you will understand why. From our organically farmed Whale Rock vineyard, this clone of Zinfandel is a fruit-filled wine crafted in an Italian style.”  The grapes for this wine come from the Templeton Gap.  As this vineyard matures the grapes are developing more character and layers of flavors which you’ll notice in the aromas and the mouth.  Primitivo is a clone of zinfandel imported from Italy, thus some of zinfandel’s characteristics will be found in the wine. It’s a lively, fruit-filled wine that has a touch of earthiness that is associated with northern Italian wines.

What we know is that this wine is a terrific option for Zin-lovers.  It’s got lots of body, structure, taste and finish. . .which we’ve come to expect from Castoro!  Whether enjoying with gourmet food or sitting back on a Thursday night after a long day at work, Castoro knows how to make good wine, AND make it ready to show!

Until tomorrow, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!