casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 157: Short, Sweet & To The Point . . .

hahn syrahTonight won’t be too long – after a busy weekend with friends and family, and both feeling a bit under the weather with allergy fog – hopefully not the flu – we decided to wrap up early tonight, take some meds and hit the sack.  Hopefully, a new morning will find us back on the upside of things.

Having previously raved about Hahn Winery’s Executive Chef, Brian Overhauser – especially after his cooking school trip to Austin last month – we thought that we’d actually sample some Hahn wine for tonight’s blog.  With it being the Monday after the Big Game . . . we needed something with zip, pizzazz and a kick! Don’t know about you but we’re guessing the talk around the water coolers today wasn’t about the game.  Oh, it was entertaining as we mentioned last night with the victors holding on in the final seconds to win the game, but between the commercials and the power outage, we think there were more than a few discussions being held.

Interestingly, some of the commercials resonated better with older viewers than younger and some hit their mark more with women than men and really only a couple hit on all cylinders and left enough of a lasting impression that could actually help their company’s business.  The first is of course the Clydesdales from Budweiser – now, selling beer is an art and the folks at InBev/A-B have refined it to perfection, but the Clydesdales’ spot was just flat out awesome.  But, the Jeep/USO spot at halftime was probably one of the best filmed and most emotional of the evening.  Watching a football game is something we do every fall into winter.  We take it for granted . . . from high school to college to the professionals . . . we don’t think twice about watching a football game, and yet, like the Jeep spot said, ‘you’ve been missed, you’ve been needed, you’ve been prayed for – all for the women and men of our Armed Forces.  We can’t even begin to appreciate the sacrifices made by these heroes – sacrifices in their jobs, their families, their hobbies and their lives.  Children have grown up with one or both parents shipping out on tours of duty.  We were touched by the spot and although there were a bunch of good ones . . . this one helps remind us that we’re all still in it together.

So, heading back out to the Central Coast of California . . . we visited the beautiful winery of Hahn Estates.  As previously mentioned these wines are spectacular, and getting better.  Our bottle of 2010 Syrah from their Santa Lucia Highlands vineyard is a great example of a good wine getting better.  This “Winery Exclusive” Syrah was made in small lots specifically for Hahn wine club members. Sourced from their Doctor’s Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, this wine bears all the character of cool climate Syrah, dense blueberry and white pepper aromas and a smoky hedonistic character on the palate that is reminiscent of a Cote-Rôtie from France’s Rhône valley. Only 228 cases produced.  From our perspective, you should join the Hahn Wine Club to get a hold of this wine.  The color is spectacular – deep, dark purple, the body is medium to full and the nose is classic syrah.  We loved the taste – so much fruit and a toasty note that was just amazing.  Wines like this are reasons why wineries have clubs, you appreciate their special attention to details and get to benefit from them.  We found it to be the perfect wine to start the work week  . . . or wrap-up the football season.

Grab a glass of wine and sit down at your computer and enjoy re-watching the commercials from yesterday.  Sure it’s a bit indulgent to just sit back and watch them again, but hey, you deserve a little indulgence – and wine helps with that as well! Safe travels to S and S as they leave the land of sunshine and 80 degrees and head back to rainy, gloomy Seattle.  Hope to see you soon!

Just remember to enjoy it 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.