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Day 321 – Sometimes It’s Just Good Stuff

seghesio old vine zinClassic baseball movies. . .The Monty Stratton Story; The Babe, The Sandlot, The Natural, Field of Dreams. . .Bull Durham.  Yeah. . .there are probably fifty or sixty more movies that we missed.  Baseball and the cinema have gone together with each other for more than three quarters of a century.  There’s something about a young pitcher or hitter who is finding  his way through the streets of small town America while working his way up to the “show”!  We love baseball. . .we love baseball movies; in fact, not that long ago, there were a bunch of articles about the 25th Anniversary of The Sandlot. . .“You’re killing me, Smalls!” 

It’s one of those movies that we’ll STOP dead in our tracks and watch.  It doesn’t matter what part of the movie is showing. . .the happy part or the sad one; the reality is that  good pitching stops good hitting all the way to the bank!  You can show all of the home run hitters you’d care to show, BUT,  at the end of the day, it’s the pitching that gets you out of the jam.  It’s the pitching that clinches the win and it’s the pitching that keeps you in the game–(or costs you the game, the pennant and/or the season).  Rest assured that if the pitcher is ‘bringing it’, then you’re probably on a one way ticket to “The Show”!

Tonight–being Thursday night–we felt obligated to bring out the Good Stuff. . .sitting there watching Bull Durham, it was calling our names!  Oh how the baseball gods were smiling even as the night wore on an the All Star Break didn’t end until tomorrow!  The good stuff came to us earlier this year during an amazing cooking school demonstration at Central Market North in Austin.  Pete Seghesio was in town with family recipes and family wines, and none of them were singles hitters–they could ALL ‘bring it’!  One of the wines–served with dessert–was a 2008 half bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel from Seghesio’s original zinfandel vines.  This is a 91 point wine and every single drop of it is the ‘good stuff’; we can’t believe how good a wine can taste, but it all comes from excellent fruit!  Review after review of this wine raves about its character, its’ flavor, its’ body–one of the reviewers had this to say, “Lots of juicy fruit. Black fruit and big mouth feel. Would buy more in a heart beat. Luscious and decadent.”  Yeah, we couldn’t agree more!

Wine like this doesn’t come along everyday.  It’s meant to be enjoyed with good food, good company, good times.  You’d expect that when you break out the good stuff, and Seghesio—by definition—is the good stuff!  With as many of their family of wines that we’ve enjoyed, we’re hard-pressed to be critical of their selection.  Maybe their pricing–which tends to be a little on the high side–but at the end of the day, the quality and taste offset the cost.  Sitting here watching Bull Durham, chewing on some homemade chicken fajitas with fresh pico de gallo and homemade guacamole, well it just seemed right to bring out the good stuff!  And, whether you’re nickname is “Meat” or “Nuke” or some other crazy moniker, remember that the good stuff gets its name for a reason!!

As we embark on the last day of the work week, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 290 – ‘X’ Marks the Spot

Red XWhen we were younger, watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was a right of passage.  When you were old enough to stay up and watch Johnny, you had ‘arrived’!  As kids growing up in the Houston area, watching the Tonight Show meant staying awake through the boring late night news casts…KPRC to be exact.  Prior to Ron Stone’s arrival from Channel 11, KPRC was just another boring local station. . .it didn’t have the dynamic Dave Ward who called the news on KTRK, Channel 13.  BUT, when Ron Stone arrived at KPRC in the mid-1970’s, things really changed for that station; teamed with Doug Johnson on weather, they brought new life into a boring station.  We often wondered what ever became of those guys…

However, the main reason to watch them was that their newscast led into the Tonight Show.  Johnny Carson was to American television what Neil Armstrong was to the Space program. . .the LEADER!  When he retired in the early 1990’s, someone made a comment to him about how many generations of viewers were ‘raised’ on the Tonight Show.  It had to be an incredible number.  Brothers, sisters, cousins–we all wanted to see who was going to be on and especially, how good was his monologue going to be?  Was he going to play ‘Stump The Band’ or ‘Carnac The Magnificent’ or ‘Floyd R. Turbo’?  His writers–were superb.  His delivery–was almost always spot on.  He was the consummate professional, and to this day is remembered as such.

What caused us to think about the Tonight Show and more specifically, Johnny Carson was his entrance.  When Ed McMahon uttered the immortal words, “Heeeere’s Johnny!”, the audience went crazy, the music from Doc Severinsen was playing loudly, a curtain was pulled back by an invisible stagehand and out walked Johnny.  Ahhh, the anticipation of that night’s jokes—one could hardly wait for the band to finish playing. . .the audience to settle down. . .and Ed McMahon bowing to Mr. Carson.  But, in all of the excitement, one thing became a constant over the years. . .one thing made sure that ALL was right with the show and that the star knew EXACTLY where to go!  YEP, Johnny walked to the SAME ‘X’ on the floor of the studio every single night.  You could even see the spot before he walked to it during his introduction.  OH BABY, when Johnny walked to the ‘X’, all was good and we were in for some great comedy.

Tonight we opened a bottle of Red ‘X’ that we found at Central Market South in Austin this past weekend.  Normally a $16 bottle of wine, it was marked at $15 plus we secured a 10% discount so our final cost was $13.50; we were blown away by this wine.  A blend of 56% Syrah, 17% Petite Sirah, 16% Dolcetto and 11% Malbec, from X Winery in Napa, California.  The wine maker’s intent is to create unique wines without the ‘stuffiness’ of corporate or over-hyped wines.  “The most obvious question with respect to X Winery and proprietor Reed Renaudin is how can these wines be this good at these prices? Everyone is looking for good values today, and here are some exceptional bargains” – Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate.  

Yep, that is exactly how we felt about it.  An amazing nose upon opening offered up loads of dark fruit, soft tannins and a certain sweetness that we didn’t expect.  Was it maraschino cherries?  Or was it a sweet liqueur?  The longer the wine stayed open-the more subtle and complete the wine became.  We found ourselves looking at the bottle for clues as to why it was so delicious.  You have to appreciate a wine maker that throws the rules out and sets out to make wines that people actually enjoy drinking. . .well, that’s Red ‘X’ and we are now among their biggest fans.  In addition to Red ‘X’, the winery makes a White ‘X’ blend as well as wines under the “Amicus” label including their 2011 Syrah that is rated at 92 points.

It tells us that, yes, indeed, ‘X’ marks the spot, and in the case of wine maker, Reed Renaudin, he has created a terrific option for those of us who love blends but don’t like to spend a lot of cash.  We think you’ll be hooked on this one as well.  Just like when Johnny Carson used to find his ‘X’ on the studio floor before beginning his monologue, X Winery has found its’ ‘X’ with great wines sourced from amazing vineyards all over California.  We’re ready for more!

And, as Monday gives way to Tuesday, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 285 – Cover This One!

Cover Drive CabIn the sport of cricket, batting is the act or skill of hitting the cricket ball with a cricket bat to score runs or prevent the loss of one’s wicket. A player who is currently batting is denoted as a batsman, while the act of hitting the ball is called a shot or stroke. The terms batsman or specialist batsman are also used generically to describe players who specialise in batting (as opposed to e.g. bowlers who specialize in bowling).  During an innings two members of the batting side are on the pitch at any time: the one facing the current delivery from the bowler is denoted the striker, while the other is the non-striker. When a batsman is out, he is replaced by a teammate. This continues until the end of the innings or 10 of the team members are out, whereupon the other team gets a turn to bat.

Forward and Back, Leave, Vertical Bat Strokes, Defensive Shot, Glance and Drive are a few batsman terms that describe different batting techniques.  A drive is a straight-batted shot, played by swinging the bat in a vertical arc through the line of the ball, hitting the ball in front of the batsman along the ground. It is one of the most common shots in a batsman’s armory and often the first shot taught to junior cricketers. Depending on the direction the ball travels, a drive can be a cover drive (struck towards the cover fielding position, an off drive (towards mid-off), straight drive (straight past the bowler), on drive (between stumps and mid-on) or square drive (towards point). A drive can also be played towards midwicket, although the phrase “midwicket drive” is not common usage. Drives can be played both off the front and the back foot, but back-foot drives are harder to force through the line of the ball. Although most drives are deliberately struck along the ground to reduce the risk of being dismissed caught, a batsman may decide to play a lofted drive in order to hit the ball over the infielders and potentially even over the boundary for six.

You know. . .we’ve read this over and over and still don’t get it.  Cricket may the be forerunner to our American baseball, but we ‘Yanks’ don’t get it.  The terminology, the equipment, the scoring. . .it’s, well, tough to cover!  And, because of that exact reason, we found and tried a 2008 The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon from Jim Barry out of Coonawarra, Australia.  Surprisingly, this wine is well-known among wine lovers with ratings consistently in the upper 80’s.  Parker’s rates this wine a solid 90 points which explains a lot. . .the fruit for The Cover Drive comes from 50% Clare Valley and 50% Coonawarra. Deep garnet-purple colored, it gives pronounced aromas of eucalyptus, blackberry and blueberries with some cinnamon and cloves plus a hint of cedar. Medium to high level of finely grained tannins support the ample body in the mid-palate of this full bodied style.  We were impressed with the nose…a very full aroma of scents, but were disappointed with the initial taste.  A little too much green pepper for our tastes; however, the finish was classic Australian Cab. . .big, bold and full of fruit!  Normally priced around $20 a bottle, this one was available at Central Market for $15.  If you can grab a bottle of the 2008, you can enjoy it now through 2018.  And, the good news is that the 2009 and 2010 are both rated at 90 points or above!  Not bad for a value-priced wine from down under!!

We’re typical Americans. . .give us baseball any day!  You know, the St. Louis Cardinals kind of baseball!  Yes, yes, we know–the “Muts” beat us tonight, but over a 162 game season, we like our chances.  Whether they hit a straight drive in the gap or loft a line drive to the power alleys, we’re all about baseball.  However, we respectfully tip our caps to the thousands of cricket players here and across the pond. . .and whether you’re setting up a slog or a slog sweep—or—a scoop or reverse sweep, you’ll be batting away and trying to score runs!

As we wrap up the middle of the week, and with only 80 days left before we complete 365 days of different wines tasted and talked about, we hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 238: Calatayud On A Hot Tin Roof . . .

Pieza El CollSo, here it is . . . Friday night – Wow . . . this is one that just couldn’t get here soon enough.  Or, as they say in Jean’s family – Freitag gott sei dank (Thank God it’s Friday in German) Freitag is Jean’s maiden name and many years ago her whole family had t-shirts made up with that saying . . .  in fact, Jean still has one buried deep in a tub in the garage.  Regardless of how you say it – we are glad this week is over.

As an aftermath to last week’s tragedy’s in Boston and West, this week seemed to be one of closure.  Boston has reopened its doors for business and three funerals were held to bury those killed at the marathon – prayers for those families.  The community of West held a memorial service yesterday attended by dignitaries of national proportion and close to 10,000 people.  Jean had the honor of attending a Rosary last night for one of the firefighters killed in West – and the chance to extend condolences and hugs to family members.  Events such as these are gentle reminders that we are not in control and should not take anything (or anyone) for granted.  Life indeed is too short.  Collectively, our country and communities will heal and store our reserves of resolve for the next event that sadly is lurking around the corner – we ARE the land of the free and the home of the brave and can overcome ALL adversity – we are proud to be Americans!

Even in sadness there are events that bring a smile to our face – last night Jean and co-worker traveled north and since they had events scheduled up that way today had the opportunity to stay at a somewhat isolated retreat center in Belton.  Knowing they would pretty much be the only inhabitants of this remote space didn’t cause any alarm until they started chatting about scary movies as they headed to the mostly dark facility.  Laughing about movies such as Bunnyman (ok, just curious if anyone but us has actually seen this movie – – – anyone, anyone . . Bueller?), Friday the 13th, Maximum Overdrive and Candy Cane seemed quite humorous until they found themselves solo and tucked into a one bedroom, two bed cabin.  Not that they are chickens by any stretch of the imagination – but both did sleep with one eye open and more than likely would have had to been peeled off the ceiling should a knock happen on the door or window (for the record, Jean slept by the window and neither Bunnyman nor any of his creepy counterparts showed up).  The light of day couldn’t come any too soon – both will no doubt sleep like logs tonight to make up for last nights lack of.

Tonight’s wine hails from Spain – a 2008 Pagos de Familia Langa Calatayud – ok, now that’s a mouthful!  Our eyes were drawn to the great color – deep dark ruby-red.  On the nose you could tell that it had potential – nothing overpowering, but certainly tickled our fancy.  Truth be told, this was a fun little wine – lot’s of fruit, but yet some backdoor pepper.  We found that as it aired out it lost a bit of the fruit and mellowed into a nice little treat for a Friday night.  It would most likely fall into our “deck wine” category – big enough to hold its own, but would certainly enhance just about any meal it was served with.   The price was right in our wheelhouse – under $11 a bottle – another gem that we plucked off the shelves at Central Market.

Reading the label, we noted that the wine is from the Aragon region, which upon a google search was found to be rich in history, and once the home of celebrated 16th century royals Ferdinand and Isabella and their daughter, Catherine of Aragon, maligned first wife of England’s King Henry VIII. Aragon is spread between the Pyrenees at the French border to the central Iberian plateau. Because the climate ranges from cool, mountainous conditions to warmer climates in lower elevations, many different styles of grapes are grown.  Calatayud is located in southwest Aragon and known for big, bold wines.  We wouldn’t classify this as overly big or bold – but certainly a wine that can stand tall among some of our other tastings thus far.  We are going to have to try to locate more wines from this region – or perhaps pack a bag and go check it our for ourselves . . . sounds like a road trip in the making!

So, as we wrap up another week, we hope that you and yours have had a good one and are ready for a weekend of some much-needed R&R – we know we are!  The forecast calls for some rain – but never fear . . . that won’t stop us from some type of adventure over the next 72 hours!

Get some rest tonight – and 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!


Day 201: It’s Better In Person . . .

Seghesio ZinSo, back in 2008, we had the opportunity to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma.  Yeah, that’s a LOT of territory to cover in a few days, but we forged ahead regardless of the mileage.  Anyway, we stayed at a Best Western in Healdsburg, California for our first leg of the trip and learned that there were several wineries within walking distance of the hotel!  Imagine that . . . walk to some of the best wines in the country – enjoy them without having to drive ‘home’.

Tonight we spent the evening at Central Market in North Austin.  We’ve been there before for a cooking school when Chef Brian from Hahn Winery was in town.  Cooking school is kind of a misnomer in this case because the cooking has already been done, and the school is on paper!  In other words, you’ve got the recipes but here’s what the recipes taste like.  For most folks, going to the cooking school is about the food  –  for us, it’s about the wine!  So, for example, when Chef Brian was in town from Hahn, we knew the food would be good, BUT we knew the WINE would be fantastic.  And, from start to finish, it was all that and more!  Going to Central Market on a Wednesday night . . . hmmm, not a lot of fun when you’re traveling from San Marcos north to Austin; however, being the foodies and wine-lovers that we are it was ‘onward through the fog’ or simply put, we’re dealing with traffic!

Pete Seghesio is the grandson of the founder of Seghesio Vineyards . . . great stories tonight about how the business got started way back in 1895.  Who would have thought that in the early part of the 20th Century, 90% of Napa and Sonoma was planted with Zinfandel grapes!  Who would have known that in the early years of the Seghesio history, Italian Swiss Colony was the primary producer of wines from the grapes grown on their land.  Who would have known that Seghesio is to Zinfandel what Opus is to Cabernet Sauvignon?  Yeah – we’re talking about family ties, lineage and generations of family . . . something that the Seghesio’s are still involved in – family wine making!  The stories that Pete shared about his Mom and his grandfather; his cousin, the wine maker, another up-and-coming family member . . . even his own sons ages 10 and 13, it’s the stuff that American business legends are made of!

Pete’s family recipes were the basis of the food tonight and of course, Seghesio Family wines were the heart of the dinner.  However, Chef Christina from Central Market and Chef Vance were the stars of this evening’s cooking school.  We first met Christina during Chef Brian’s visit back in January – this lady can flat out cook!  AND, she knows how to bring the recipe down for those of us who need step by step instructions to make it happen!  A former Four Seasons Chef, Christina totally gets the customer experience at Central Market and we are really appreciative of her talents and customer service skills!!  Jean had a meeting that ran late tonight so she showed up towards the end of the dinner, and thanks to Cheryl from Steel Branding who hooked Jean up with the full dinner and all the wines thanks to Chef Vance.  These folks bent over backwards tonight – on a night when they were clearly exhausted having back to back nightly events–but it didn’t stop them from putting their best foot forward.  We even learned about becoming volunteers with the Cooking School – whoo hoo!!!

This is what wine blogging is all about!  Yes, the wine is important, but the EXPERIENCE is what makes the wine even more enjoyable.  Eric, who represents Seghesio wines here in Central Texas area was an awesome resource . . . and actually selected the menu for tonight’s dinner – yeah, this is what we mean by a total customer service experience.  We already knew that the wines were going to be outstanding since we’d been to Seghesio before . . . OH, yeah, the hotel that we stayed at in Healdsburg was a Best Western and the winery that we walked to and from was . . . you guessed it, Seghesio!!

Tonight, one of the wines we samples was their 2011 Zinfandel.  Don’t let the young age fool you . . . WOW, this is a Zin for Zin-lovers!  At 25 brix, this wine has the chops to become one of the best!  Harvested when the grapes were at their peak, the 2011 Zin is magnificent . . . “it’s spicy, lush black fruit flavors of Sonoma County. Big raspberry flavors are present, along with structure of the cooler Dry Creek Valley area.”  At just under $25 a bottle, this wine rates consistently at 90+ points . . . previous vintages have gone as high as 94 points.  The fact of the matter is, when it comes to Zins in Sonoma County, Seghesio is THE name!  Our 2011 was superb with the food served tonight. . . and, it’s also a great ‘deck’ wine . . . perfect for enjoying by the fire or after a hard day’s work.

Central Market has a flair for bringing great wines together with great food.  But, it’s the people at Central Market and their suppliers that make the whole package work!  Having been to Seghesio back in 2008, we knew and loved their wines.  Visiting with Pete Seghesio and hearing about his family tonight–brought us full circle.  We hope you’ll give this wine a try . . . you won’t be disappointed.

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

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Day 181 – A View from the Top of the Hill

shotfireSix months.

Not that long in terms of a lifetime.  Not that long in terms of adulthood.  Not that long in terms of waiting for NFL training camps to open!

Six months does equal a lot of TIME . . . 181 days equals 4, 344 hours . . . 181 days equals 260,640 minutes. . .181 days equals 15,638,400 seconds, BUT 181 days also equals 181 DIFFERENT bottles of wine – tasted, reviewed and shared!  AND, the best is yet to come!  Yep, we’re now on the downhill side of BJWine365 – and we’re on a roll to try, taste and blog about a different wine every night. . .we’re heading strong for August 31st and it’s going to be here before we know it!

In the past six months, we started right out of the box with a set of amazing wines from Twin Liquors‘ 75th Anniversary Sale.  That sale gave us an affordable foundation for the first 45-60 days of this blog.  By visiting and talking with Patrick from Grape Juice and Peter from The Main in Kerrville; Nathan from Gabriel’s in San Marcos; Andy from Central Market in Austin and several others, we’ve amassed a wide variety of wines, varieties, flavors and countries in our first six months.  Our challenge is still ahead and our resolve is strong . . . no duplicate wine in the next six months. . .only new wines–some from the same vineyards (hey, it helps spread the word!)–some from brand new sources and some from–well, places we’ve never been to before!  A roller coaster you ask?  You bet–but, if the next six months are as fun as the first six months, you’ll be reading about this blog for years to come!  Each day, more and more of you are kind enough to pass along our blog or a link or a Facebook post, and that helps us garner more views and attention.  We’ve been fortunate enough to hear from some of the wine makers who make the wine that we’ve written about, and our hope is to engage even more as time goes on.

Tonight, we went to the land down under . . . being BIG fans of Australian wines, we came across this one at Twin Liquor‘s Dollar Sale.  Since we’ve had good success with wines from the Barossa Valley – they tend to be big and bold – we thought that the 2010 Shotfire Shiraz would be a good way to wrap up the first six months of our blog.  Their comments, “Deep red color, with a lifted and intense nose of blackberry fruit, sweet spice and dark chocolate. The palate is very rich and flavorsome with blackberry and plum fruit.”  Our comments, Yes, the color ws superb–rich, dark red–and the nose was fruity but had a subtle hint of smokiness.  The taste was rich, full of fruit, a slightness of chocolate, but the finish – well, it just didn’t quite measure up to the rest of the wine.  No, it’s a very tasty wine, but don’t expect a “marching band” on the finish.  It’s big, but not so big that you melt into your chair as your sipping on this wine.  We have enjoyed numerous wines from Australia, and we’ve been pretty upfront about our love for the big, bold, in-your-face wines of not only the Barossa Valley but also McLaren Vale.  Since this wine was on sale for less than $15 at Twin, in spite of its’ finish, this one was a winner.  We’d buy it again, but the sale price is about the value we’d place on it. . .much more than that and it has competitors that are better.  Since it’s a 2010, it’s also younger than some of its’ 2009 cousins, so look, taste and decide!

We hope that you’ll stay with us for the next six months.  We’ve searched the blogosphere as well as the wine internet and haven’t found a wine-lover site that has reviewed 365 different wines in 365 days.  The BIG question is, how are we going to find the next six months worth of wine?  Well, we guess you’ll have to keep reading–and hopefully commenting–to see what wines we find to settle our fancy.

Until then, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 135: Shake, Rattle and Roll . . .


It’s no big surprise that we love a good Zinfandel.  The pepper, the spice, the fruit . . . it’s a terrific combination and probably the true American varietal.  We’ve reviewed a variety of Zins in the first 134 days of this blog and some have been good and some not so much.  Having spent last night (Saturday) at the Central Market Cooking School with Chef Brian Overhauser from Hahn Winery in California, we learned a LOT about this family run business and the far-reaching parts of it that includes multiple wine labels with vineyards in several places in California.  What made the cooking school so incredibly special was getting to see Chef Brian again. . .yep, when we visited California back in October of last year, one of our first stops was at the Hahn Winery in Monterrey County.  It was a beautiful afternoon, and after some terrific wines in the tasting room, we were invited to stay for Chef Brian’s, “Wine Country Tapas” Menu for lunch.  All six of us were absolutely blown away by the amazing pairing of food with wine.  It zeroed in on the beauty of good foods with good wines.  So, when Jean found out that Chef Brian was coming to Austin for a Central Market Cooking School, she found the perfect Christmas gift for husband Brian.  And it was perfect.  From the Pinot Gris with a cold watermelon soup to the Estate Chardonnay with a lobster salad–and three more dishes paired with Hahn Wines, we were treated–once again–to an amazing combination of food and wine.

The final course of this cooking school was a stuffed pork tenderloin served with a new Zinfandel from the Hahn family.  It wasn’t available in Texas until last night, and OMG, this one is a beauty.  Now, it’s young; it’s a 2011 Boneshaker Zinfandel from their Lodi, California vineyards, but if it’s THIS good while being so young, we are really fired up to enjoy it when it’s a little older.

We had heard that 2011 was a terrific year in that part of California, which for us Zin lovers, is magic to our ears.  Boneshaker is a “rock on” style of Zinfandel. Deep purple in the glass, this wine has an aroma that reaches out of the glass and grabs hold of you with notes of ripe plums, hints of vanilla and blackberries. A taste shows off dark flavors of chocolate and black cherries underscored by a hint of sweet tobacco. This Zinfandel is as full-bodied as they come, with fine-grained tannins on the mid-palate and a long finish made up of subtle notes of spice and coffee. This wine is great on its own, but it truly shined along side the pork tenderloin prepared by Chef Brian. We learned that the wine is from Lodi’s old Zinfandel vines, this vintage of Boneshaker is big and bold.

It’s one thing to visit a winery and their chef and come home and resume your ‘normal life’.  It’s completely different when the chef comes into our backyard and prepares something out of this world–and focused on Texas citrus fruits–and pairs the dishes with some awesome wines.  We’ve become big fans of Hahn’s wines, and a big part of the reason for the shout outs to them is because of Chef Brian.  In fact, he told us that he’s working on a cookbook and hopes to have it out by around this time next year.  We know who will be waiting to get a copy of that bad boy!!!  So, we have some recipes and cooking techniques and wines so the next step is to try some of them ourselves. . .but it sure is cool to watch the pro’s do their work.  And, we have to give big-time kudos to the cook team at Central Market. . .Chef Christina and her group worked their tails off and at the end of the night, you could tell they were ready for a break . . .or a drink!!!

Boneshakers is now available at Central Market for less than $20 a bottle, so if you’re looking for a Zinfandel with the ‘chops’ to bring home the bacon, then grab some bottles of this wine.

And, regardless of your wine of choice, please enjoy it responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 134 – Trust In The Wine

honoro vera monastrellIt’s been a long day, so tonight’s blog is going to be short, sweet and to the point.  We enjoyed a night of good food and good friends at the HEB Central Market, but what really made the night so special was getting home and sharing terrific stories with friends.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years is that good friends and good wine go hand in hand and tonight was no different.  We enjoyed a 2011 Honoro Vera  Monastrell.  And, OMG, this is a beautiful wine.  The nose alone will catapult you into the stratosphere–the aroma is amazing–fruit, kerosene, leather–it kind of depends on your mood, but they are all there and pronounced.  Amazing!

Did you know that, “Bodega Juan Gil has hired Aussie winemaker Chris Ringland to do some of their winemaking; however, he doesn’t make this particular wine. The Ozzie-influence certainly comes through the other wines from Juan Gil i.e. in their fruit-forward approach. Some would argue this isn’t necessarily “staying true” to their regions of origin…but hey….to each their own…”  As huge fans of Chris Ringland wines, we can tell you that regardless of where he makes them, they’ll be amazing.  And this year’s wine is NO exception.

With a superb price point under $15 a bottle,  this wine is deeply colored with aromas of sweet herbs and spices, and the lush palate is bursting with ripe raspberries, blackberries, and cherries. Backing all of these aromas and flavors are firm tannins; which makes the wine a great match for braised lamb and pork dishes, as well as a plate of figs and aged cheeses  From our standpoint, it’s a wine that was meant to be shared with friends. . .which is EXACTLY what we did tonight.

Here’s what we’ll tell you . . .this wine has some serious life.  From a great nose to a great taste on the palate, we could tell that this wine was going to be special.  And, it was!  The more we tasted this gem; the better i tasted.  The More we tasted the wine; the better we liked it.  The bottom line is that—at 2:35 a.m. on January 13th,—we really like this wine and hope that you’ll give it a try.  Wines from this part of the world with flavor, structure and a history are tough to find.

As we settle into Sunday, we hope that  you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 111: Sometimes, We Just Don’t Get It . . .

Bere Toscana 2009Do you remember when you were younger and someone would tell you a joke, and they got to the punchline and you just kind of stood there . . . expressionless?  You’re supposed to be laughing, but you just don’t get it.  Then they explain the joke to you, and . . . you start laugh – albeit reluctantly since you still don’t get it.  Or how about this – you’re sitting in class and the teacher/professor is going on and on about a subject and everyone around you is nodding their heads, and you kind of look off into space because- . . . you just don’t get it.  This type of class is usually followed by a visit to the said teacher’s office for a more ‘detailed’ explanation, but you walk out of the office and – you just don’t get it.  Or some half crazed lunatic with a plethora of guns breaks into an elementary school and shoots as many as possible before taking the easy way out and shooting himself – we just don’t get it.

Maybe it’s age . . . maybe it’s education . . . maybe it’s environment, or a combination of all of them or none of them but in our ‘new and improved’ electronic communications era, we’re seeing more and more things that we just don’t get.  Why do we have to get a phone with 4G today, when yesterday the most important thing on the market was 3G?  Why do some places require you to have a PERMIT to have a garage sale?  Really?  A permit?  To sell your junk?  Oh, and of course no dissertation on ‘not getting it’ would be complete without what some neighborhoods call, “The Lawn Police”- – yep, your blades of grass get too long and you get a gentle reminder that it’s time to trim those little beauties.  Ignore that and the warning becomes a little more stern and focused on consequences.  Ignore that and get a citation . . . look we know that we need to maintain our landscapes but a ticket?  We just don’t get it.

How appropriate that we’d talk about this tonight after opening a 2009 Fattoria Viticcio Bere.  It’s from Italy, but you’ve probably already guessed that, and we were a little concerned when we pulled the foil off the top and the cork is synthetic.  It’s not a BAD thing, but when we think of Italian wines, we think long traditions of winemaking, bottling and corking . . . so a synthetic cork seems out of place.  Anyway, after an initial jolt on the nose, the wine actually opens up quickly.  Pouring into the glass, you’ll see a beautiful, full-bodied wine.  A swirl of the glass followed by the first sniff – and – and – “Houston, we’ve got a problem!”  Not sure what it was, but this wine didn’t smell right and when we tasted it and most definitely, it didn’t taste right.  Sour – bitter with little to no fruit and no finish – other than sour!  So, we looked up the wine online and here’s what the professionals said, “Boasting dark cherry and berry aromas and flavors, this polished red is vibrant and harmonious. Lingers on the finish, with a tight, fruit- and spice-filled aftertaste. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2013.”

Wow, we just don’t get it.  Wine Spectator gives this wine 90 points.  We’d give it less than 10.  Robert Parker gives this wine 88 points.  We’d give it less than 8.  Now, it could have been the bottle we bought – yet another deal at Central Market where the regular price was $13.99 but because of the sale, we paid $11.89.  So we were left scratching our heads and doing something we rarely (if ever) do.  We dumped the wine.  Yep, we just didn’t get it and so BECAUSE we didn’t get it, there was no reason to try.  Since the price point is excellent, we glad to have someone buy, taste and review this wine, but if not, no big deal!

Do you have 4g?  Did you absolutely HAVE to  have it?  Of course, it’s WAY faster than 3G–even though most of the world is still on 3G–but like this wine, you’ll want to be careful before you try it, and when you do – enjoy it responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.