casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 313 – Cheers to a new job!

castoro due mila ottoEvery once in a while you gotta celebrate.  There are moments in life when you know you’re going to need to have a glass of wine handy to toast.  In many cases, the need to toast comes after  a long and arduous journey.  Tonight we have two reasons to lift our glasses in celebration!  While we’ve shared over the past year the exploits of daughter #1 wrapping up her four years of college culminating with graduation back in May.  We haven’t yet had the opportunity to raise a glass in toast to her first professional position in education.  Now–we could-as parents-shamelessly yell and shout that we’ve finally got one off the payroll!  Woo-hoo!  But, that would be self-serving and unprofessional. . .hmmmmm, SORRY—wooooo-hoooo!!!!!!  How cool is that?  We’ve got a reason to ‘think’ about retirement!  And, just as important–daughter #2 has officially ended her teenage years by celebrating #20!  We only wish that we could have been with her to celebrate!  Next year–count on it!!

Yeah, so education is a tough field right now.  With the Legislature nose deep in funding every two years, finding teaching jobs isn’t like it used to be.  Time was a person could get a degree and a certificate, interview a few times and boom, a job offer loomed.  Today, well, teachers tend to stay longer which means fewer opportunities for those who are graduating.  Add to that the number of graduates from large schools like UT, Texas State, Texas Tech and others–guess what?  Those positions disappear—-quickly!  Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities for teachers to ‘cut their teeth’ at private schools.  And, for many of them, not having to deal with state mandates and overly burdensome testing dates is a relief.  Imagine actually being able to TEACH and not to the test!  We are exceptionally proud of daughter #1’s new opportunity and wish her the BEST–because the kids she’ll be teaching will be getting the BEST!!! (Just a little biased!)

It’s never easy having one of your kids living so far away that you can’t be there for milestones in their lives.  Yes, we get the fact that they have to grow into their independence, but as parents it’s never easy.  We’ve been to visit her–within the last 10-12 days–and while that helps in the short term, it doesn’t do a whole lot for the long term.  All that being said, we are so proud of daughter #2 and wish we could have been there to help blow out all of those candles!  As a side note, it’s also Brian’s Mom’s 87th birthday, so when you start adding up all of what’s going on in our world, today has been a pretty good day!

So, since we were in the celebratory mode, we opened an amazing bottle from our friends at Castoro Cellars…a 2006 Due Mila Otto–a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  We  have to say that this was a truly spectacular bottle of wine.  Whether it was the fact that it was 7 years old or whether it came from Castor Cellars or the variety of grapes used in the blend, this wine was delicious.  From the nose–full of dark, rich fruit, oak, smoke, and a mellowness that had to come from 7 years in the bottle, to the taste, full frontal fruit!  Holy Smokes!  There was more fruit on the front end of this wine than a whole lot of others we’ve had over the past 312 days.  The finish is where this Castoro wine wins BIG.  To say that it was long-lasting is an understatement.  To say that it kept going like the “Everready Bunny” is a gross misrepresentation.  No the finish on this Castoro gem–goes on and on and on and on!  Yep, it’s that good!  It was the perfect wine to celebrate with tonight!

Whether it’s a professional accomplishment or a family-member birthday, a good wine helps make the moment just a little more special…we found that out this week!  As your Wednesday gives way to Thursday, we hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 245: Comfort from an Old Friend . . .

CastroFriends are such an important component of our lives – yes, we love family . . . the blood tie is indeed thicker than water, but friends are just downright special.  The work week is finally over – for some reason it seemed like such a long one then all of a sudden . . . BAMN – it was over.

The past seven days have been a roller coaster for us – – both D1 and D2 took ill in their respective locations . . . always tough when your kids are sick and you can’t be by their bedside to provide that extra special medicine – love; a good friend lost a nephew to a personal tragedy and a sad reminder to us all that no matter how bad things get – there are options and family is there to help; a sister-in-law had a similar tragedy  – another reminder that life is too short.

Once Brian got in from a golf tournament, we headed over to bid farewell to some friends here that are taking off for Colorado and the chance for new adventures – we’ll miss you guys, but now have a reason to visit the mountain state.

So in light of all of the happenings of this week – we turned to the company of a trusted companion and an old friend.  We popped the cork on a Castoro Cellars 2010 Ventinove, Italian for 29.  This is a special wine for the folks at Castoro because it marks their 29th anniversary as a winery.  This wine is only available at the winery and slightly above our usual price post – but, heck . . . . sometimes you just have to get outside the box.

The nose on this wine is as Mark F. would say “phenomenal” – it’s like it was saying – “come on, I double dog dare you to drink me” . . . the color – bada bing – bada boom . . . yes, that gorgeous.  So . . . onto the taste – oh, so perfecto combination of the usual Zin suspects . . . a bit of fruit, a dash of pepper and maybe come currants tossed in for luck.  Just an all-around super combination.  The finish is one that says – savor me, oh won’t you stay . . .just a little bit longer (apologies to Jackson Browne).  Although, not purchased for everyday consumption – this wine is one for your cellar.  Buy three – one to try, one to tuck away and one to share . . .

So, as we wrap up this portion of the work week – and bid Friday adeiu we are reminded of the song made famous by “The Sound of Music” –

So long
Farewell
Aufwiedersehn
Adeiu
Adeiu Adeiu
To yieu and yieu and yieu

Here’s to the chance to wake up and start all over again tomorrow – for the sun will come out!

Remember to enjoy responsibly and 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!


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Day 118 – Que Syrah, Syrah. . .

Castoro SyrahWhat ever will be, will be.  And, as we begin the countdown to the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, we take a moment to recognize and thank the men and women who have volunteered their time to give back to their country.  Yep, we’re talking about the thousands upon thousands of men and women who are a part of the United States Military.  From the Army to the Navy, and from the Air Force to the Marines and Coast Guard–and everything in between, we appreciate your sacrifices for the country.  We pray that your family also appreciates your sacrifices–especially when you get home!

With Daughter #1 safely nestled in Kerrville and Daughter #2 still here in San Marcos, we pray that you’ll have a terrific Christmas season.  We know that there are LOTS of wines to choose from and lots of places to buy that wine.  We hope that you’ll consider this wine and the others that we blog about as opportunities to try something new and delicious while at the same time being ready to start the new year off on the right foot.

One of our favorite vineyards from the trip to California back in October was to Castoro Cellars. . .the home of ‘Damn Fine Wine.’  We couldn’t agree more!  Tonight’s selection is a 2009 Castoro Blind Faith Syrah–this is some serious wine.  This particular wine is special for a number of reasons.  First, it’s from their ‘Blind Faith’ vineyards, and the grapes that source out of this area tend to make sensational wines–we hope the trend continues.  Secondly, the year–2009, was a stellar year for grape growers in that part of the state.  We’ve noticed the trend on a number of wines we tasted.

This wine exhibits all of the characteristics you’d expect from a big syrah.  It has a beautiful dark purple, inky color and swirling it in the glass you get the feeling it’s ‘thicker’ than normal wine.  On the nose is subtle hints of anise and plum combined with a smokiness from the oak, it leaves one salivating for a taste…which we did!  The flavors are full, and the finish is long and delicious.  We noticed that the wine had just a hint of chocolate flavor with it which is a nice touch as wine with dessert–especially a chocolate dessert!  What you DON’T get from this wine is a lot of ‘lost potential’–you know, a wine that has all of the makings of something special, but when you actually get to the wine, it leaves you wanting more!  Not this Castoro gem. . .it’s made for pure enjoyment–we sampled it with a spicy kung pao chicken tonight, and it was a winner from start to finish.

As your holidays continue, we encourage you to stretch the limits of your tastings.  There truly are some incredible wines from California, Australia, Spain and other parts of the world that are just waiting to be tasted and enjoyed.  While not every wine you’ll taste is going to send you to the ‘stratosphere’ of good wines. . .you have to try them before you can ‘like’ them!  We really ‘like’ this 2009 Castoro Syrah.

As the weekend is upon us, take some time to enjoy your favorite wine with friends, family or just as a treat for yourself, but no matter how you care to sample your favorite, please do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 83 – Giving Thanks . . .

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What a day!  We don’t know about you, but this is one of our favorite holidays . . . what a better opportunity to enjoy family, friends, food and football along with a beautiful warm day!  After a short drive to Stephenville, we enjoyed the afternoon at Cathy and Steve’s place where a big bird had been on the smoker since 8 a.m. and a spiral sliced ham waited for an easy carving.  Add in the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yams and all the trimmings, and we truly enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends – some had traveled from the West Coast and some from the East coast – it was kind of like a mini reunion.  We ate, drank and were merry – a highly competitive game of Trivial Pursuit rounded out the afternoon.

Tonight’s wine is from one of our favorite wineries following our recent trip to Paso Robles.  Castoro Cellars, home of “Dam Fine Wines”, delivered a little gem earlier this month – a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is simply delicious.  We love the deep, smoky smell that the wine evokes upon opening.  In fact, this is one of the few wines, that we hate to actually sip the wine – instead preferring to smell it.  The aroma of fruit is also very pronounced . . . black cherry is the most prevalent, but we also picked up hints of raspberries and black berries.  In addition, there is a certain leathery taste as well.  For a $15 bottle of wine, it’s a LOT of wine.

We know that you’re supposed to enjoy Thanksgiving turkey with a Pinot Noir . . . and we did enjoy some of that as well, but decided after eating that we needed something with a little more stamina.  Thus, the Cabernet.  It really drank well – better than expected and it went fast!  Of course, with our crew, the wine disappears quickly and so does the food!  We have been really pleased with ALL of the wines that we’ve received from Castoro Cellars, and have no problem recommending them if you can get your hands on a bottle or two.

As Thanksgiving winds down, we hope your day has been what you wanted it to be.  We have a lot to be thankful for this year – our girls, each other, our family and friends and those around us.  There is sometimes so much to be thankful for that we forget to say, ‘thank you’. Safe travels to those heading home tonight and tomorrow – we will miss you at the shrimp boil!

So as we wrap up tonight . . . try some really good Castoro wines and when you do, please enjoy it responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 44: Reunited and It Tastes So Good . . .

The  best thing about being reunited with old friends is the feeling of comfort knowing that you’re back where you belong.  Five years ago when we ventured to Paso Robles for the first time, we enjoyed some wines from RN Estate wines.  Now, to completely understand our tasting and story of RN Wines, you have to understand that these wines are not commercially available.  First, you must make an appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas, and second you must be on time for said appointment!  Five years ag o. . . thanks to Rebecca, who used to work at Peachy Canyon, we had that appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas.  However, five years ago, we were NOT on time for the appointment and to this day, we remember the “tongue lashing” we received from Roger about being on time and having to catch up with the others in the tasting.  Of course, five years ago it all ended up for the better because we enjoyed some amazing wines and learned A LOT about the wines he made by hand.  It was, in short, an education in wine and life!  On top of the wines, when you taste wines from a winemaker’s home, you are literally coming into his space and are subject to his environment.  Five years ago, Jean was sitting at Roger’s dining room table that looked out over beautiful vineyards and rolling hills and felt a hot breath on her face which was followed by a lick on the face from Diego!  To imagine this picture, think of sitting in a chair and having a large dog looking at you face to face as you sit there.  Diego was (is) Roger’s Great Dane and he was definitely more than just a house dog . . . HE was the ‘announcer’ of all people coming to Roger’s house!

Fast forward to today and we have revisited RN Estate, Roger greeted us outside the house as we arrived EARLY for our 11 a.m. tasting.  Of course, the barking from the courtyard came not only from Diego who was still a part of Roger’s clan but also a 14 month old “puppy” Great Dane who was still learning the “social graces” of being a dog!  You have to love that if you love dogs!!  We never did get to meet the “puppy” but heard from him early and often as he barked every time the wind blew a leaf in the wrong direction!!!

Today’s wines from RN Estate were nothing short of spectacular.  We tasted two different Pinot Noirs that Roger has crafted and with different grapes from different parts of Paso Robles, it is truly amazing how they can be so incredibly different.  Both tasty, the one from totally, Paso Robles fruit was AMAZING!  This led him to tastings of his blends which are masterfully made by hand with primarily Paso Robles fruit.  You can taste in each of his wines and “old world” style that is counter to today’s “bigger is bolder” style of wine making.  As a Frenchman, Roger has the lineage to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.  His wines are designed to fit with food and food fit with his wines, and it was obvious from our tasting that the care and nurturing that it takes to make great wine has come through loud and clear with his latest vintages!  We were not just impressed and  excited, but we anxiously wanted to  add his wines to our list of favorites  . . .  which we DID!

Finding Roger’s wines isn’t easy.  When and if you can get a hold of them – lay them down for at least six months or longer.  Because he makes his wines in the Rhone and Bordeaux tradition, these wines have a life of five to ten years beyond today.  Wines like his are meant to be enjoyed today, tomorrow and in the future.  These wines feature a lot of fruit on the nose and a lot of structure on the taste.  You get amazing scents and tastes even without food, but the mind plays tricks on you because the thought of a rack of lamb or smoked pork loin are on your mind as you sample this delicious wine.

We have gathered and continue to gather GREAT stories on this trip from people and wines we’ve met and tried.  Roger is but one of a huge number of people that make a trip to Paso Robles a MUST DO for any wine afecionado.  We’ll continue to share these stories with you and your job is to continue enjoying our stories.

We also made a trip down memory line by visiting Preachy Canyon and Castoro Cellars (where they make Dam Fine Wine – we blogged about Zinfusion on Day Three).  In addition we made some new friends at Ben Hogan (yes, you can even hit a bucket of balls while tasting wine!!), Croad and  L”Adventure.  The crazy part is that you can visit as many, or as few wineries as you want in a given day.  As they say, “so much wine, too little time”.

So. . .please enjoy that bottle of wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!

Dam Fine Wine

Angela and Jimbo make our return trip to Castoro Cellars a wonderful experience.

With grapes like this, you know the wine has to be GREAT!

Shout Out to Lea at Ben Hogan Winery