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Day 344 – Lending A Hand

la manoSo, we have to say . . . it’s a little weird.  When you raise your kids and see them off to college, you’re pretty much ‘done’ with raising them.  Well, it sounds good in practice but not so much in reality.  There are always going to be moments when they need some advice, direction, an opinion, a shoulder or an ear.  We aren’t even close to perfect, but we strive to give both girls the opportunity to talk with us; tell us what’s on their minds; offer advice or suggestions when asked to do so and every once in a great while, we get the chance to impart a little life’s moment on them.  It’s one of the gifts of having children–watching them grow up, blossom and spread their wings.  We are now understanding more and more every year how our parents must have felt (other than relief) when we were moving out of the nest after graduating from college.

As we told you last night, we’re in the process of helping D#1 get ready for her first teaching position.  This means all hands on deck!  Yep, painting white here and there; painting red over there; moving books; cleaning, sweeping, vacuuming, it’s a lot tougher job being a teacher than teachers let us see!  The amount of preparation leading up to the first day of school is immense.  The physical transformation of the school and classrooms leading up to that first day of class is the stuff that legends are made of!  After seeing the commitment of professionals who have been a part of education for a lot long than D#1 has, we understand why there are issues in education today.  These folks put  in long, long hours–and are compensated at (if you really want to figure it out) maybe a little above minimum wage.  The women and men who are charged with educating our future workforce earn peanuts while professional athletes earn hundreds of millions of dollars even AFTER having needles put into them.  Talk about a screwed up system!

The classroom is a mecca for kids and their teacher, and we’re hoping that as the time winds down before classes start, that you’ll not only thank a teacher, BUT lend a hand to a teacher. . .you’ll learn more than you ever dreamed!  And, it’s with this spirit of helping a teacher that we opened and tasted a Spanish wine this evening.  A 2009 La Mano Mencia Roble–had a nice, crisp nose when we opened the bottle–which kind of surprised us.  Actually, we weren’t sure exactly what we were getting with this wine- -but the nose turned out to be very nice.  It has a deep crimson-color, and it delivers aroma of earthy notes, mulberry, and blueberry. On the palate, it has extraordinary depth and concentration for its humble price of less than $9 a bottle. Surprised?  Don’t be!  We’ve been fortunate enough to uncover some amazing wines at less than $10-$11 a bottle–wines that would cause your friends to think you’ve spent far more!  The wine is an interesting cross-section.  A spicy, smooth-texture and it’s clearly intended for pleasure…however, the finish–well, the finish was nothing to write home about.  It just kind of disappeared.  No fruit, no spice, no leather or cedar. . .it was a tasty wine up until the finish.

At the end of the day, one of the best parts of seeing our teacher get ready for school is our ability to lend her a hand–or two.  It may not necessarily happen every year, but there is something special about the first year.  It’s a clean slate; a new beginning; a fresh perspective.  And, when those kids march into class on the first day, they’re going to meet someone who has passion in her heart and a lot to offer them.  We’re a LOT biased, but will refrain from outright bragging!  And, with this wine tonight, well, you should try it to see if you like it.  Obviously, you’re not going to break the bank. . .it’s another wine from the folks at East End Wine in Austin.  They really know how to stock their shelves.

By the way, Kudos to Bruce Wayne for coming over and helping out get things moved and organized – means alot to us and D#1!  Enjoy your night, remember to taste your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible. 

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Day 336: Summer Breeze . . .

saint lafayetteIt was a perfect way to start the weekend.  Brian met up with Jean and friends at East End Wines up in Austin off of 11th Street.  It’s a great old house that has morphed into a terrific wine shop featuring labels from all over the world at prices that make wine tasting enjoyable.  Tonight, the crew was sampling wines from the Bordeaux region in France.  This is one of the most renowned growing areas in the world, and there were great prices to boot!  We tasted a white, two reds, and a semi-sweet white as well.  And, after perusing walls and walls of wines, we settled on one of the wines that we sampled.

This 2011 Saint Lafayette Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc was a real pleasant surprise!  What they said, “Juicy, clean, light. Fresh & grapefruity palate, more apple on the nose. Focused bouquet goes from citrus to more tropical fruit like lychee & mango. Crisp acidity.  Light bitterness of grapefruit pith & mineral makes it finish very clean and fresh. Lengthy, fruit filled finish.”  What we said, “Crisp, fruity and clean on the finish.  A refreshingly, tasty wine on a warm summer evening.’  However, thanks to a really nice breeze, we sat outside and enjoyed some lively conversation with Margaret and Lance and their family.  It was a terrific way to spend an early Friday evening.  With a price point on this wine under $13.50 a bottle, you’ll get a lot of taste for the money; you’ll probably want to stock up on it for really hot afternoons.  It was a nice change for us!

With daughter #1 off on the road to the coast, we’re officially dog-sitting the grand-puppy, which with our trio of hounds presents a whole new opportunity to ‘train’ her!  Well, not really but it sounds good.  Funny thing about dogs . . . they respond to repetitive things.  Saying something over and over or doing something over and over, they catch on pretty quick.  Bridget (the grand-dog) has mastered several important commands . . .”Give Me Your Paw” is good . . . “Shake” is better.  Usually with ‘Shake’ you get both paws and a flying leap in your general direction . . . you may end up getting her ‘zombie attack’ where she stands up on her back legs and reaches for you in full stretch with her front paws.  She’s a sight to behold.

Anyway, we digress, tonight’s effort is short sweet and to the point – it’s been a long week of road trips, birthdays and more road trips . . . time to unwind for a couple of days.  We really recommend you try East End Wines . . . Matt, Sam and Bill have loads of wine experience and they have brought in a significant variety of wines at really good prices.  If you’re a wine lover in or around Austin, you really should check them out . .  .they are located at 1209 Rosewood Avenue.  You can get more information by logging on to their website at 

Have a great weekend and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


Day 277: The Big Woop – Not, so Much . . .

Big Whoop

Last Friday, Jean had the opportunity to visit a new place in Austin called East End Wines located off 11th street and I35 (thanks to Margaret and Lance).  Here she met Sam – Sam, is half of the East End team and Matt is the other.  Together these two have put together a wonderful wine shop, tasting room that is described as “East End Wines is chock-full of obscure bottles just waiting to inspire anyone who loves wine. – Wes Marshall, Austin Chronicle” and “The shop’s inventory is like a restaurant wine list compiled by an obsessive savant, peppered with labels you’ve never heard of and some you’ve heard about in breathless conversations with wine people – Mike Sutter, Austin American Statesman”

Have to admit, when she opened the door of the old house that the shop resides in – she stepped back in time to Ingram and the original location of Grape Juice owned by Patrick and Keri Wilt.  In fact, Sam reminded her of Patrick – Sam’s love and appreciation of wine came through loud and clear . . . he got his Sommelier degree in 2005 and on that Friday was sporting a shirt with SAMMELIER written across his chest (gotta just love anyone with that sense of humor).  The shop has a huge (and we mean HUGE) inventory ranging in price from under $10 waaaaaaay over $10 – truly something for every palate.  Here is a sampling.  Jean picked up a few labels for the blog – we wrote about one on Day 273 – and we look forward to sampling the others in days to come.

Tonight’s wine is one that she picked up for $12.57 (plus a 10% discount when one buys four bottles of wine at East End – nice touch) – 2008 Big Woop Red Wine from Southeastern Australia.  Being huge (and we mean HUGE) fans of Australian wine, expectations were pretty darn high for this wine.  This wine comes from the Woop Woop Wine line. Apparently “woop woop” is an Aussie expression that means “somewhere in the middle of nowhere”.  So that would make a big woop what happens when one’s GPS dies and they have to navigate with a REAL map!  Actually, if you add the “h” into woop, you get an expression that means “no big deal”.  As in, “What’s the big whoop? It’s one tiny scratch on the car, Mom.” 

Big Woop Red is a blend of grenache, shiraz, and petite verdot in a 1 liter bottleSince she was with a group of folks at an offsite retreat, Jean decided to take the wine to the masses and get their input.  Thanks to Renee, Rachel, Scott, Dave and Rosie for offering themselves up – we know, a dirty job, but someone had to do it!  All agreed that although a bang for your buck – the wine was a disappointment.   The color was a deep red and set an expectation.  What’s the flavor factor you ask?  Well, the nose was pretty healthy with pencil shavings, wet cedar, leather and red fruit . . .  Really?  What’s going on here – an inexpensive wine, all these aromas used to be the exclusive right of the expensive stuff.   The mouth feel was kinda sorta full – but more medium body, a bit of an explosion of dark fruit with a dose of Shiraz spice . . . the finish is not so much, nothing that really set the world on fire . . . not great, but not bad or as one might say – “Big Woop is no Big Whoop”. 

While a return trip to East End Wines in no doubt in order, a return trip to Big Woop is not.  We do look forward to popping the cork, or in some cases unscrewing the cap, on the other bottles that await us.

Have a great night and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible as you go out on a limb and try something new!