casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 60 — 60 Seconds Make a Minute

Day 60, WOW – almost two months into our 12 month sojourn of trying 365 different wines in 365 days.  We have to confess, this started out as a passion for wine, but after two months, it could be a labor of love!  60 – sixty seconds in a minute.  60 – sixty minutes in an hour.  60 – the number of home runs hit by Babe Ruth during a 154-game season; it’s been broken three times since by Roger Maris, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.  60 – the age for a senior citizen in some cultures, clearly not ours where Social Security qualification keeps going up and benefits keep going down.  60 – the common speed limit for a large number of highways in our country – but NOT the new Highway 130 in Central Texas where the speed limit is 85 – – – YES, that’s right the posted speed limit is 85.  60, as in 60 Minutes – that show has been on the air since 1969; it has seen more reporters than most television stations and keeps on “going” like the Eveready Bunny!  60-the number a car accelerates to from zero to show performance “The car went from 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds.”

We could go on and on – the fact is that 60 is a significant number no matter how you describe it.  When we started this blog on September 1st, we weren’t thinking about 60.  We were thinking about August 31 of NEXT YEAR!!!  But, in order to get to that date, we’ve got to make it through tonight, tomorrow night, next week, next month, the Holidays, the Spring, the Summer—whew, it wears us out thinking about what we’ve signed up to do!

So tonight we’ve called in the heavy artillery .  .  . one of our stops in the recent trip to Paso Robles, California was at Croad Winery. Who could pass up an invitation that offered, “Come on up for a visit down under!”?  Not us–a beautiful tasting room (complete with the Cowboys playing the Ravens in Baltimore on the big screen), and the weather was magnificent.  We learned a lot about Croad wines and vines…for example, their “wines are produced primarily from estate fruit surrounding the winery. The vineyards are planted on south facing hills, maximizing sunlight exposure while minimizing the chances of frost damage. Planted in this special micro climate, rooted within calcareous soils and nestled in the center of the “Templeton Gap” area, brings unique fruit characteristics to the wine. The vineyards consist of Zinfandel, Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Petite Sirah vines.”

We opened a 2009 Syrah from Croad Vineyards, and we have to tell you–this is AWESOME wine.  The smell of the cork was the first indication that we’d hit a grand slam with this wine.  It exhibited beautiful oak and black cherry notes–and this was before pouring the first tasting.  The wine poured out like velvet with long legs and deep purple hues.  Putting our noses to the glasses and we were immediately entranced by aromas of toasted oak, big blackberries, a beautiful rolled cigar from fine tobacco – the essence of a great wine is in the nose, and this Croad didn’t disappoint!  Next came the initial tasting–somewhat reluctantly because the aroma was so beautiful we didn’t want to be disappointed by the taste!  Good News–the taste OUTDID the nose!  Yep, what a smooth, silky, incredible tasting experience we had with this wine.  To be totally honest, we’re not sure if this wine is available commercially or only at the winery, but this is a MUST TRY wine.  When we tasted it at the winery, we thought it was good, but not THIS good.  Perhaps because we combined it with a meal of sauteed chicken breast in garlic and olive oil combined with pasta shells and garlic, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and black olives for a beautiful complement to the big wine taste.  We both agreed that the addition of capers and artichoke hearts the next time would intensify the flavors even more.

You know how it is–try different wines and who knows what can happen.  Sixty days into our odyssey, we’ve tried 60 different wines and been mesmerized by some (like tonight) and disappointed by others.  The beauty of this journey isn’t just to taste wines that we already know and like; our goal is to really try a huge variety of wines with the knowledge that some are going to be good, others great and still others–not so much!  And, as we wrap up day 60, thank you to all who have hitched their wagons to our stories.

With 305 days to go, it’s going to be a fun ride, but always remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and 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