Wow, who would have thought going back to work after a restful vacation would be so . . . so . . . challenging? No, there weren’t any ‘fires’ to be extinguished, but – okay, do you remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait for Christmas vacation to start? It seemed like it took four years to get from Thanksgiving to Christmas . . . and THEN, freedom for the best time of the year. Oh, how we relished those days – they went by so SLOW! Each day getting us closer to the magical day of Christmas, and then POOF, that part of the vacation was over – BUT, we still had the New Year’s celebration to look forward to and still no school. But, like it always does, the day comes – it’s New Year’s Day!! Woo-hoo . . .parades, football, dinner, bed, time to get up for the first day of school.
Oh my gosh, those were the WORST days to be a kid – c’mon, you know that you dreaded having to go back to school after the Christmas break. Well, okay, maybe not ALL of you, but we did. So, it was with our break this year. We both enjoyed time off starting at the end of the day on December 21st until the end of the day yesterday. Oh, it was like magic had somehow transported us back to our school days – don’t have to get up and get ready. Don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time . . . and then Christmas came – and went – and POOF, that part of the vacation was over . . . BUT, we still had the New Year’s celebration to look forward to and still no work. But, like it always does, the day comes – it’s New Year’s Day!! Woo-hoo . . .parades, football, dinner, bed time to get up for the first day of work.
We’ve always been taught that the more things change, the more they stay the same . . . so even as time has flown by, some things in life are still the same. And since we’re talking about things changing (or was it staying the same?), we decided that tonight would be a perfect night to enjoy a Pinot Noir. Yep, the same folks who love those big Australian wines, those big California Cabs and Zins are breaking down and sipping on some beautiful Pinot Noir. We decided to open a 2009 Snap Dragon Pinot Noir from Snap Dragon Winery of Sonoma, California. Challenge #1: the winery has no website of its’ own. So, those in the business can probably tell us the reasons why; however, those of us NOT in the business call this a bit of a problem when trying to help the wine gain some identity. This wine is fruity. Pure and simple. It’s light, airy and ready for easy drinking. At less than $12 a bottle, it’s not going to be lining the racks of your wine closet, but for something that’s out of the ordinary, fresh, fruity and easy to sip, it’s not a bad choice. Would be buy it in quantity? No, probably not, but for our friends who enjoy Pinot Noir, is it something worth trying – sure, why not. It’s best described as, “Juicy and fruity with ripe raspberry, fresh strawberries and spicy oak notes. This wine gets along with pretty much any dinner companion – from roast chicken to spicy pasta to difficult in-laws.” Put in that context, pretty decent!!!
In the big picture, we’d probably find a different Pinot to enjoy. There are some AMAZING wines from California, Oregon, Washington and other areas, that would and should offer better Pinot Noir’s than this one, but at least we’re ‘branching out’! And, speaking of branching out, as your New Year unfolds, we hope it’s easier getting back in the saddle whether you’re going back to work, back to school or back to the basics. Having gotten today out of the way, it ‘should’ be easier getting up tomorrow . . . and we both know that there will be plenty of work to do once we get back into the swing of things.
We hope that you have plenty to keep you in the swing of things as well, and as you enjoy your favorite wine, please do so responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
The Day AFTER Christmas! We have to admit, it’s hard getting excited about the day after any holiday–it’s worse when it’s the day after Christmas. The ‘let down’ of all the build up and excitement leading to the ‘big day’ and then “WHAM” it’s over in the blink of an eye. Well, that means we’re only 364 shopping days until Christmas!
Today, after an early start we loaded Brian’s Mom in the car and made a return trip to Houston after a terrific visit. Traffic was bearable for the most part–unlike some areas of the country dealing with rotten weather, we had beautiful (but cold) weather and made it back to her apartment in slightly more than three hours with a stop in between. It’s visits like this and having Jean’s Dad over that help us keep things in perspective. Family is where it’s at. You can have all the friends in the world, but without family, it’s a long haul through life. Seeing how each of our parents’ have coped with their soulmate’s losses over the years has been a study in true love. We’ve often remarked that we should be as fortunate as they–it’s the stuff that’s missing from a LOT of this country. Love, Commitment, Passion and Family. We see it in their eyes; we live it in the presence and we’ll miss it when it’s not available to us any longer.
Love of family came home in a different way as we learned this morning that one of Brian’s cousins in Canada had passed away on Christmas Day. Paul was a young man by today’s standards; a devout Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus. We’ll NEVER forget the weekend the Knights had a bowling tournament in Collinsville, Illinois during the years we were living in St. Charles, Missouri. It was the same weekend as Palm Sunday. These guys were not your ordinary bowlers–they came prepared! So, when we arrived to visit with them at their hotel, it caught us completely off guard that they had brought their own Priest with them. We proceeded to have Mass in the hotel room–even as the ice was shifting in the bath tub as it cooled the beer! It was one of the most memorable and fun nights we’ve EVER had. Paul, his twin brother, Pat, their brother Roy, sister Mary, her husband Carr, and a host of other family members were there and are still to this day in our hearts. So, it’s with a heavy heart that we opened a bottle of wine to appropriately remember Paul and at the same time continue the celebration of the Christmas Season.
We tasted a 2007 Moss Roxx Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California. We picked this up at World Market for just under $18 and thought of two things: first, it’s a Zin, so probably worth trying and second: it’s from 2007, which in that part of California that year was pretty good for zinfandel grapes. But, it was a name that we weren’t familiar with, so there was some trepidation involved in trying it. The description that we found online sums up better than we could ever put into words about the beautiful wine we tasted. . . From queenbwine.com, “The 2007 Moss Roxx Ancient Vines Lodi Zinfandel, comes from the oldest operating vineyards in Lodi, California. This zinfandel is full body with a big flavor, with lots of fruit and is meant to be drunk with a hearty meal. The wine comes in a very impressive bottle, so heavy it gives the feelof more wine in the bottle than it really is, but in fact you are getting a 750ml bottle of wine and no more. In the glass the color is dark and inky, with herbal and earthy aromas, on the palate that all changes, bursting with ripe dark fruit, blackcurrant, ripe plums and a hint of walnut and old fashion fruitcake. With 14.5% alcohol, it’s perfectly balanced and the finish is silky and smooth.” Like we said, they summed it up perfectly! It’s a really superb bottle of wine and is the kind of wine that you could lay down for two or three more years and it would get better. It’s no secret that we love a good Zin, so finding this little treasure was worth the trip!
And because family (and friends) are an important part of enjoying wine (reference last night’s blog!), we hope you’ll stop during the busy holiday season and spend some time with those people who are important to you. Cherish each moment as if it was your last with them. Share a glass of wine or a glass of milk — but share. It does the heart good to share and spread the love. We’ll miss Paul– A LOT! He was present at most of our family’s major milestones. Even though he never married or had a family of his own, Paul was–in every sense of the words–a family man. May God Bless His Soul.
Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
So, here we are at the end of another Christmas Day. We must admit, this one makes the Top Ten list for us. Not only were we blessed to have Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 here with us, we had Brian’s mom (aka Grams) under our roof for the past couple of days. This was the first time in a long, long time that we had others with us on Christmas morning to share our quirky traditions. It takes a special person to understand why the cars (as in the vehicles parked outside the house that we drive to work daily) give each daughter a calendar and have done so for as far back as we can remember, or how the dogs are able to make it to the store and pick out gifts for everyone in the family – including Grams. Boy, oh boy, those are some smart hounds – even get sizes correct!
An added bonus for today was the early afternoon arrival of Jean’s dad (aka Bill), Jean’s sister Mary and her husband Tom (for the record they all also got gifts from those crazy dogs of ours). They ventured through Austin and arrived safe and sound in our neck of the woods. So – the day was by all means – a home run! Brian battled the winds, but managed to produce some yummy smoked ribs, pork tenderloin and shrimp on the barbie and Daughters whipped up a green bean casserole. If you went away hungry tonight – it was your own fault.
As with any feast and celebration – today we celebrated Jesus’ Birthday – there’s never a better reason to roll out some of our best wines. We went into the wine fridge and pulled out a couple of seriously delicious wines. With eight people in the house, we wanted to start things off light, we opened a 2009 Dry Creek Fume Sauvignon Blanc . . . crispy, fruity and very clean, this wine was perfect with the variety of cheeses and crackers put out for snacking. It’s rich in lemon, lime and pineapple flavors, with intense, zesty acidity for balance, and the finish was spicy. A perfect way to begin our dinner celebration. This was followed by an amazing 2009 Sea Smoke “Ten” Pinot Noir. Now, earlier this year, we blogged about the Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir, and this wine is it’s bigger cousin. We commented back then that it was much bigger than your ‘typical’ Pinot, and this ‘Ten’ is in our book, well, at 10! Consistently rated in the lower to mid-90’s, the 2009 Sea Smoke Ten begins with notes of chocolate cake, dried blueberry and lavender, then cassis and dusty black berries. Firm, mature tannins are followed by a long, velvety finish. We couldn’t have picked a better wine, and as a beginning to our smoked ribs and pork loin, it was delicious. It was our second phenomenal wine to enjoy for Christmas.
Finally, we had opened our 2008 Bodegas El Nido “Clio “Jumilla from Spain. This has been laying down in our fridge for a couple of years, and Christmas with family in the house seemed the perfect time to break it out! We decantered it for an hour before serving and the air time made a great wine even better! This wine scores 94 points Robert Parker’s scale. We’ve had Clio before, but wanted to know more about it and discovered that the 2008 Clio is made up of 70% old vine Monastrell sourced from a vineyard planted in 1944 and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyard planted in 1979. Fermented in oak followed by malolactic fermentation in new barrels and aging for 24 months in new French and American oak. A rich deep purple color caught our eye and it gave us a “wow” nose of earth, blueberry, and blackberry fruit leading to a full bodied, juicy wine with great savory flavors, and a lengthy finish – we really didn’t want the bottle to be empty, but alas it was. What we can tell you is that this was a scrumptious bottle of wine befitting a celebration as big as Christmas!
Each member of our family was able to taste and compare their tastes and aromas on all three wines which was both fun and interesting to hear differing viewpoints . . . yet another great reason to enjoy great wine! We aren’t always “wise”, but when it comes to history, we know that Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were pretty special gifts.
While the food was an integral part of today’s wine sampling, each of the can stand firmly on their own. Some wines are just better with food. And, as Christmas 2012 comes to an end and we look ahead to “After Christmas Sales” and “Year-End Blowout Sales”, it’s nice to know that there are good reasons to enjoy good wine.
We hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
Those of you who read this blog with any kind of regularity know that we’ve mentioned Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 . . . their names are protected to save them from “embarrassment” but other than that, they’re pretty awesome kids. When we were both growing up in our respective worlds, we remember the transition from high school to college, and at Christmas time how much our parents actually looked forward to seeing us. Truth be told, we actually looked forward to seeing them too! Something about being in our own surroundings . . . and just long enough to enjoy the visit, but short enough to get back to school . . . Or, was it the other way around?
Funny thing about getting older. We went through school, got married and found ourselves really, really enjoying the company of our parents. When we bought our first house in 1984, we distinctly remember having both of our parents over for dinner. It’s the stuff memories are made of . . . Bill and Hugh with Brian out on the patio while Bea and Margaret were in the house with Jean getting things ready for the table. It all happens so fast, and now as we look back on it as fond memories, we now begin to understand the same feelings our parents had when we came home from school. There is a wholeness that comes from your children coming home for the holidays. There’s an anticipation that’s like an itch needing a scratch. We clean the house, get the rooms in order, buy food that we only buy when they are coming home! Even the dogs know that something is going on . . . they have NO idea what–but they’re pretty sure something is happening because ‘mom and dad’ are going crazy!!! Needless to say, we’re very excited that Daughter #2 made it home safely this afternoon – a little tense this morning because of weather delays but all worked our well in the end. Now, we await the arrival of Daughter #1 and then a certain Mom and Dad are going to be pretty happy having their kids back under one roof!
Tonight, we opened – from our trip to Central Market – a really nice, young Malbec. This is a 2011 Tapiz from the vineyards of Fincas Patagonias S.A. in Mendoza Argentina. For those of you tracking costs, this little gem retailed at $12.95; however, with our sale discount, we ended up spending $11.00. Two things: if you love a nice, dark purple and fruity Malbec and if you don’t mind a young wine that has lots to offer, then you need to stock up on Tapiz. We really liked this wine. Upon opening, a beautiful toasted oak aroma encircled the glass . . . further swirling produced raspberry and blackberry notes to go along with the toasted oak. The taste was very fruity and the raspberry flavor came to the forefront and we picked up subtle hints of cedar, earth and plums. For us, this was a terrific wine to enjoy with grilled tenders in hot sauce and barbecue sauce – a boneless wings bonanza for a Tuesday night. The wine paired nicely with the spiciness of the tenders. With Christmas a week away, this is a wine to stock up and bring out for family and friends. We think it’s got a lot to offer a Malbec lover. The price is manageable and there are a lot of other wines on the market that cost a lot more and don’t deliver the flavor of this 2011 Tapiz Malbec.
Yep, there is something special about coming home for the holidays. From our perspective, there’s something really special about our kids coming home for the holidays. We’ve learned to cherish them — one at a time — because they become a blur as the years go by. And, whether we think about or reminisce about the past or think about and dream about the future, we know that family coming home for the holidays is where our heart is and it’s made special by their arrivals!
It’s also a GREAT reason to open a bottle of our favorite wine – tough to chose because we have SO many – but we promise that we’ll enjoy responsibly, and we’ll even remember to recycle–because here, it’s possible.
Here we are . . . 22 days until Christmas. That means that there are only 21 shopping days left. We were talking last night that you don’t see commercials for some of the classic Christmas ‘gifts’ anymore. Norelco – not sure if they’re even still in business – used to advertise their electric shaver with Santa riding down the ski slope on one of their razors . . . with the tagline, “Even our name (Noelco) says, ‘Merry Christmas’!” And, although we’re dating ourselves, we still remember Joe DiMaggio pitching the latest advancement in brewing coffee with the Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker. Now, they cost $9.99 at “Discount-Mart” BUT, you can get a one cup per portion, Keurig for ONLY $129. At Christmas, we rarely, if ever, saw car commercials. It was almost a joke to advertise a car for Christmas, so most of the automakers – back in the day – turned over the airwaves and the pages of print to consumer goods. Today, you’ve got “The Reason for the Season” Sales Event, the “December To Remember” Sales Event, the “Sign Then Drive” Sales Event . . . and countless others. Don’t know about you, but the thought of putting $30k or $40k into a Christmas present, well, it doesn’t ring our bell.
Wine . . . on the other hand, makes a terrific gift. It’s important to know your recipient – what they like and don’t like – but even winemakers’ offers can get out of hand. Gift baskets with cheeses and crackers and sausages and chocolates with a bottle of wine for ‘only’ $300. Nice. $20 worth of food items and a $50 bottle of wine . . . that’s a NICE basket! Sorry, sometimes we get just a bit cynical. What we do know is that as the years go by, we become less and less consumed with consumerism and more and more appreciative of friends, family, good food and good wine. What makes this kind of weird is that this now means that as the years go by, we’re becoming more and more like our parents – which is something we SWORE we’d never do! In the circle of life, everything does come back – some with more of an impact than others!
Well, tonight we were kind of at a loss as to which wine to sample and write about. Truth be told, the sample menu is getting a little thin, so we pulled out the one of the wines that we bought from Max’s Wine Dive in SA . . . it’s a 2009 Wire Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s from the same folks that brought us Guard Shack and Chain Gang Wines . . . and this wine is probably the best of the lot. It’s from their Paso Robles appellation and it’s aroma upon opening was pleasant, fruitful but with a hint of spices and kerosene. It warmed up very quickly and really turned fruit-forward. The taste was smooth, luscious and long-lasting. While we didn’t sample it with a specific meal; suffice it to say that we enjoyed it with some excellent snack items so theoretically, it should be terrific with beef, pork or salmon! Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any reviews, tasting notes, comments or other postings about this wine in any of our online research . . . which means, if you’re willing to go out on a limb and try something without proven appeal – then this is your opportunity. While we probably wouldn’t go out and buy a case of this wine, we wouldn’t mind having a bottle or two available for either enjoying on the deck or some other “special occasion”. At less than $22 a bottle, there are some better wines for less and some really bad wines for more!
We know that the holidays are about bringing the family together to share good times and memories. We also like to think that the holidays are about enjoying something you really like and sharing that with your closest loved ones. Hopefully, you’ll have some ideas of wines to try since after tonight we’ll have talked about 95 different wines. Thanks for catching up with us tonight and we’ll look forward to another tasting tomorrow.
Until then, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
We couldn’t help but notice, and since no one else even bothered to comment, we blew the whistle on ourselves. Yep. Yesterday, we were out of sequence. It happens to the best of folks; when you’ve made the commitment to sample and write about 365 different wines in the same number of days, it was going to happen. We didn’t write a disclaimer before we started, so now is probably as good a time as any to note that, occasionally. . .and we mean occasionally. . . there may be discrepancies in the numbers of days reported compared to the actual number of days reviewed. Through no fault of our own, the “numbering system” gets flawed and we may, inadvertently, skip or duplicate a number–which is EXACTLY what happened last night! So, just to be clear–tonight is Day 86 and tomorrow will be Day 88–it’s all part of the NEW MATH! Any questions?
So, the sales totals for the first full weekend of shopping for Christmas is starting to come in and the numbers are pretty impressive. We really wonder how many people actually hit the streets to shop on Black Friday or Saturday or Sunday, or the real number of people who wait until – – – CYBER MONDAY – – – to do their shopping. Since all we’ve heard about today is the amazing number of deals available for cyber-shoppers, we thought that maybe online sales could eclipse in-person sales this year. We saw an estimate this morning that seemed to conclude that today’s sales could exceed $1.5 billion! On the one hand, that is an impressive amount of business–tough to imagine anything but success with those kinds of sales. However, the pie is only so big which means that sales from traditional ‘brick and mortar’ retailers is probably going to suffer. It only stands to reason that if you buy something from Retailer A online instead of buying it from Retailer A’s store in your town, that Retailer A does just fine but the store and the sales tax to the local community – – well, NOT SO MUCH.
We wanted to have some fun on a Cyber Monday, so we chose a blend that we bought at Trader Joe’s . . . tonight’s wine is a 2009 Guard Shack from Sonoma County, California. . .it’s a blend from DC FLYNT MW SELECTIONS who specialize in varietal blends from Napa and Sonoma Counties. This particular wine delivers a blend of spice, sweet, rich, black and red notes that range from cassis to wild red berries all deftly supported by the smell of warm earth and tannins. What we immediately noticed was the amazing nose of fruit, smoke and cedar that was parlayed into a taste of all of the above and then some. We were pleasantly surprised by, not only the amazing taste on the palate, but the long beautiful finish. Certainly not what you’d expect from a relatively ‘no-name’ wine available at Trader Joe’s. We like big, inky red wines and this one fills the bill. Just to be sure, we grilled some beef with sauteed mushrooms and red onions along with garlic mashed potatoes. Needless to say, the food and the wine paired exceptionally well together.
The hardest part for most wine lovers is to break outside of their ‘box’ – a comfort zone of two or three labels of wine that are just too ‘easy’ to give up (please note, this is not to be confused with BOXED WINE). We encourage you to “call in the guards . . .” and try this 2009 Guard Shack. It’s a nice little change of pace from your ‘normal’ varietals and you may just like it. If wine places like, Max’s Wine Dive, has it on their menu, one of two things comes to mind – A). They must like what Guard Shack has to offer in value and taste. . .or. . B). They are looking for a few good suckers to buy something that will make them extra money. The cynics will opt for ‘B’, but the answer is clearly ‘A’ which is your cue to give this wine a taste.
And, whether you’re a Cyber Monday freak, geek or sheik . . . the key is to ALWAYS remember that life is too short to enjoy BAD wine. Until tomorrow, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
It’s the middle of the week . . . already. Do you ever stop and think about how fast the days and weeks go by? When you stop and think about how fast they are going by, do you ever remember being a kid and thinking that the days could never go SO slow? It was especially true this time of year. You know, the days are getting shorter and it gets dark a lot earlier than it should – we’re just a week and a half away from the end of daylight saving time for another year. When you’re a kid this time of year, you’re looking ahead to the BIG 3 . . . Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas! Yep, when you get towards the end of October, things start looking pretty good. School’s not as tough – there’s plenty of football to watch (or baseball) and all you can think of is your costume, where you’re going trick or treating and then thinking about turkey, dressing, Santa – whew, it’s overwhelming to think about all of that as a kid.
BUT, when you’re a kid, each DAY lasts for, like a week! Seriously, it’s like you wake up in the morning, and the day goes on and on and on . . . and from today, October 24th until Halloween on the 31st – it’s like a YEAR! It can’t get here fast enough. Oh, but wait, then you get through with Halloween and you have the three weeks until Thanksgiving and multiple days off! This is when, we’re convinced, that time stands still. And, it stands still in groups of three weeks. The three weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving AND the three weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas! When you’re a kid, time doesn’t fly by, it doesn’t whiz by, it barely crawls by!
When you grow up (We use the term loosely), things change. Priorities change. Demands on your time changes. The amount of time you actually have to yourself changes. And, time goes by at a break neck pace. Now, you wake up in the morning and it’s Monday, and by the time you get home from work, it ‘s Thursday. The weekend jumps up on you and just as you’re getting comfortable with that, bamn – it’s time to start with Monday all over again. The fact is with Halloween next Wednesday – we’ll close my eyes for an hour or two and it will be time to visit family for Thanksgiving. What a difference between then and now.
Tonight we sampled a 2010 Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon from Varner Wines of San Miguel, California. This is a young wine and when it was uncorked we were somewhat overwhelmed with the aroma of green pepper. The first tasting left much to be desired; it had a lot of fruit, cedar, earthiness on the front palate, but non-existent taste on the finish. It was like the taste evaporated before it got to the back. After 45 minutes, the wine had opened up and the nose was much clearer; we definitely got a nice medium toasted oak with some beautiful fall fragrance – very earthy. The taste improved as well – it mellowed considerably almost smooth and silky, but the finish left us wanting more. Sampling it with a nice Extravaganza Pizza from Domino’s didn’t help either. It’s a nice wine with beautiful color, but for us it didn’t deliver like a large number of the wines we’ve sampled thus far. Perhaps a bit overpriced at $13.99 – and as they say, you win some, you lose some and some slip away as quick as a fox!
So, as our Wednesday is about to bleed into our Thursday, and the weekend is on the horizon, you may or may not want to try the 2010 Foxglove for yourself. Obviously, we’d love to know your thoughts about it. We’re not experts – we just enjoy wine, and as some feedback we’ve received from others indicate, we aren’t too far off in our comments. (Lady Luck smiling in our corner perhaps?). Just remember when Halloween gets here next week and then your close your eyes at the end of that day and you open them again and it’s Thanksgiving, don’t say we didn’t warn you! It just happens that way – quick as a fox! Or as we used to have to type in “Typing Class” – yes, we learned to type not on a keyboard, but an actual typewriter – “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”.
Please remember to enjoy this wine and all others responsibly and recycle whenever possible.