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Day 195 – There’s Always a Better Half

Eberle The Better HalfThere was a commercial–not too long ago–where a Mom with twin boys had just enough peanut butter left to make one sandwich.  And, the concept was that she gave one of the boys the responsibility of choosing where the knife cut on the sandwich went. . .(he, of course, was thinking that he would get ‘the better half’).  But, like good Mom’s do, she throws a curve ball and let’s the second twin choose which piece.  A classic piece of marketing and a small case study in fractions!

From the time we’re born and raised, the stakes have always been getting the bigger (better) half.  Whether it was a piece of birthday cake, a helping of mashed potatoes or something else, the premise was the same–getting the bigger slice, the more preferential treatment, the larger dollop of food.  It’s a competition.  Right?

It’s been a long Spring Break week.  While we’ve enjoyed ‘watching’ Daughter #1’s dog, we have to admit, puppies flat out wear us–and our older, lazier dogs–out!  We should have expected this. . .it’s really not that big of a surprise.  Puppies have more energy.  It’s like the cell phone commercial…which is better less or more?  Which is better high energy, bouncing off the wall or laying on the floor like a piece of carpet?  Puppies are much better at bouncing off the wall.  Not only are they good at it, but they are USED to it!  So, when Daughter #1 comes to retrieve her ‘prized possession’, we’ll be sad to see her go, BUT our dogs–the three of them–will be anything but SAD to see her go~

As Thursday winds down and the weekend is at the front doorstep, tonight we opened a bottle of Eberle “The Better Half” from 2010.  Recall that Eberle was one of the stops we made during our trip to Paso Robles last fall.  This wine is something to behold.  A perfect combination of 51% Zinfandel and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon!  It’s a match made in heaven—This is a little fruit explosion waiting to happen; complete with lots of crush; we couldn’t believe how delicious this wine was for such a young age.  Raspberries, blackberries, dewberries. . .all of them coming at us at one time!  An amazing picture of wine growing and harvesting excellence.

More and more Eberle Wines are finding their way to liquor and wine stores across the country.  They’re still family owned and operated, which gives them a leg up on their corporate competitors. The small, boutique winery is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  But, with Eberle, you still get world class wines without the huge volume of tasteless wine!  Their wine selections and pairings are things of beauty.

So, as your weekend unfolds, find yourself a bottle of Eberle Wines or select your favorite wine to enjoy.  Remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle your bottles and other items whenever possible.



Day 152: Adding it all up . . .

Cuatro PasosSo, here we are – 30 years of marriage + one day, and . . . yes, we are still together!

When we awoke this morning, we got to talking about all the “stuff” we had witnessed in our lifetime – in fact, we started a list in order to see what we had accomplished (or at least thought we had!).  Ready, Set, Go –

Since January 29, 1983 we have at minimum and in no particular order:

  • Seen albums come and go; cassettes come and go; compact discs come and go – along with pay phones, fax machines and typewriters

  • Watched the Redskins in Miami win Super Bowl #XVII  and see Mrs. Blake (Jean’s third grader teacher) at Walt Disney Florida during honeymoon

  • Experienced Hurricane Alicia

  • Watched the Challenger explode after liftoff & Columbia explode over Texas

  • Given birth to two beautiful daughters

  • Had two cats – Bob and Elliott

  • Seen five presidents elected to office

  • Been to the Baseball Hall of Fame twice

  • Brian has been to two World Series games in Texas – different years

  • Had five dogs (gone are Calvert and Hershey) – still have the three (Pepper, Andie and Jasmine)

  • Had 19 cars – three got wiped out along the way, thankfully no injuries

  • Lost seven immediate family members – many more on the extended side

  • Lost four dear friends

  • Had 17 employers

  • Lived in two states

  • Moved nine times

  • Owned five homes

  • Watched the Cardinals play in 3 World Series – won 2 of them (2006, 2011)

  • Been to five different zoos – but love the St. Louis Zoo the best!

  • Watched the Rams win the Super Bowl & lose the Super Bowl–Hmmm, Spygate???

  • Witnessed first-hand the McGwire / Sammy Sosa slugfest . . . still can’t stand Barry Bonds

  • Watched Kurt Warner in two Super Bowls with two different teams–which team does he wear going into the Hall of Fame?

  • Caught and eaten well over 100 redfish and trout

  • Each caught one sailfish on the SAME trip

  • Been to CA wine country three times

  • Been to Mexico twice

  • Been to Canada five times

  • Been on two cruises

  • Been to at least ten baptisms

  • Been to at least 20 weddings

  • Been to at least 15 high school graduations

  • Been to at least five college graduations

  • Been to more than a few high school reunions

  • Flown over 100,000 miles

  • Driven over 900,000 miles – must be why we’ve had 19 cars !

Whew – makes us tired just thinking about it – can’t even begin to count the number of wines we’ve tried.  So, tonight in honor of “numbers”, we decided to open Cuatro Pasos 2008 from Spain.  Cuatro Pasos means 4 steps. It is made 100% from Mencia and brought to us by Bodegas Martin Codax in Cacabelos (Leon) and is part of the Bierzo DO (denomination of origin) in Northwestern Spain.  Calling it ‘old vines’ would not be an exaggeration since the grapes come from 80-year-old stock.

When we poured it into a glass – it was deep, dark red with a hint of violet . . . but mostly ruby-red.  On the nose it was so-so, nothing to write home about, but you got the whiff of cherry and fruits with a dash of toasty cedar – again not a nose bomb, but enough to peak your interest.  Taking a sip took you down a path of rich fruit – not overpowering, but fruity and flavorful – smooth and balance, but again not overpowering.  The finish was also smooth – went very well with Brian’s Kung Pao Chicken – spicy, but not overly so and the wine really balanced everything out.

Jean picked this wine up during a midday stop at HEB in Austin for under $12 – haven’t seen it here in San Marcos, but if we do find it – would definitely purchase again.  Seems to go well with food (and Thin Mints courtesy of the local G.S.’s).  We could see this as a great deck wine – wishing it wasn’t so dry here so we could even put a fire in the pit.

So, as we take one final look at our “list” – we do realize that it “adds up” to a wonderful life thus far – we have many more years together ahead of us – but up to this point, it’s been pretty darn spectacular.

Please remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible . . .

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Day 126: Drive For Show, Putt For Dough . . .

Ben HoganNow that we have your attention with our headline and the bottle of wine that we’ll talk about in a bit, we’d like to take a moment to remember six years ago when Daughter #2 was in junior high in Kerrville, Texas.  On first inspection, not all that important—however, as she points out, that year, she–and a number of other junior high kids ran track at the middle school.  It turns out that one of the kids running track with all of the others was one of the football players named, Johnny Manziel.  Just to be clear, there are no skeletons in the closet from this story other than a tangible reminder that we ALL come from humble beginnings and what makes US great is what WE do.

With tonight’s Cotton Bowl shellacking of the Oklahoma Sooners, the rest of the country had the opportunity to see why the Heisman Trophy went to a redshirt freshman from Kerrville, Texas.  The kid can flat out play.  BUT, one of the side notes from the game was that Manziel was a three-sport player in high school—football, baseball, and golf.  Golf?  Really?  Some research has uncovered a common denominator in athletes; many football, baseball and basketball players in high school and college have an affinity for golf.  Go figure.  As many times as we’ve been on the course and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings–spoiled by the little dimpled ball, who would have thought that athletes love this game.

Golf is a game of honor and honesty; it’s also a game of skill and mental toughness.  It’s a perfect game for those who aren’t built like a brick wall, but it’s also a game that can be played by people built like brick walls.  As we have followed major league baseball players, it’s amazing the number of guys who love to play golf on their days off.  The same goes for hockey players and football players.  We still remember playing in a charity golf tournament in St. Louis and former St. Louis Blues hockey player, Kelly Chase was on the course–the whole place couldn’t wait to see him. . .and he was a pretty cool guy to talk with.

Anyway, tonight we broke out one of our favorites from our trip to Paso Robles this past October.  It seemed appropriate for a number of reasons–mentioned above–and for the fact that today was the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.  Unfortunately, for today’s players, rain washed out the round and it will be played from the beginning starting tomorrow, but our wine was good from the start–today!  The 2008 Ben Hogan Carnoustie Tribute Series wine seemed like a perfect fit for the first Friday in January, and the minute we opened the bottle, we knew that this was a special wine.  A beautiful cork unveiled a beautifully scented wine – the pour yielded a deep, dark purple and the nose was amazingly fresh with a hint of oak.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot, and each offered its own attribute to the blend. Syrah is rich, ripe and forward with a mouth-filling texture while Cabernet lends strength and ‘backbone’ to the wine. The addition of Merlot binds this wine together with its ripe middle palate weight and length of flavor.  The finish was smooth as glass and just melded into your palate.  What makes it special from our viewpoint is that it’s a big, bold, flavorful wine that–until today–was only going to get better!  Accompanied by a garlic pasta, roasted red pepper and chicken dish, the wine seemed to melt its way around the food for a perfect compliment to the meal.

Wow, a great way to start the weekend.  A great game of football at the Cotton Bowl–Johnny ‘Football’ proved to the country that his Heisman Trophy wasn’t a fluke–this kid’s the REAL DEAL.  But, he’s also just a kid whose enjoying a ride on the ‘game of life’ and whether he played high school football or ran middle school track, he’s just another kid.  He also happens to love playing golf, and with the start of the 2013 PGA Tour season, another challenging tournament schedule is underway.  We certainly enjoyed our salute to all of the above with our 2008 Ben Hogan Carnoustie Series wine and hope that if you have the opportunity to drive for show and putt for dough, you’ll make it happen.

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

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Day 72: Chili Today – Hot Tamale . . .

You knew it was a matter of time before we brought back another one!  We gave you a glimmer of hope with a review of a really nice white wine earlier this past week.  But, no – back to Zin!!  There is a common bond with Zin lovers; it’s almost impossible to separate us from our passion.  We just can’t help ourselves – we’re hooked.

After a busy day of chores, errands and laundry (and of course some FOOTBALL tossed in there, tonight, we settled in to watch another episode of The Amazing Race, and we don’t know about you, but there is an inner nagging for us to attempt this show.  Okay, as long as there is NO eating of insects or other raw creatures of the earth, we think we can make this.  From the physical tests to the mental tests and from the cultural tests to the cultural tests .  .   . this is a show made for couples.  We qualify beyond the shadow of a doubt – and if the stars of the world ever aligned with the planets, then we might have something going!!  Seriously, it’s always been a ‘dream’ of ours to make that show – we’ve watched every episode of this show almost without fault and believe that we are destined to be a part of it.  We have even gone as far as downloading the application when they “interviewed” in Austin a few years back – but didn’t think our respective employers would give us time extended time off needed – maybe one day!

Tonight’s wine is a 2009 Zinfatuation from Trinchero.  This is a decent wine. Nothing about it is over the top. A smooth to medium-bodied effort with good fruit, nothing overly ripe or concentrated. it had some cherry and raspberry, light to moderate tannin structure, and slightly better than average length.  It’s a simple wine for folks who need a simple wine.  You won’t be tasting huge amounts of fruit with this wine.  Trinchero has an excellent reputation as a wine maker that is willing to stick its’ neck out for the product being made or the customer making the purchase.  Zinfatuation is an alright product; we enjoyed it this evening with homemade chili complete with soda crackers and a relaxing dinner hour.  We picked them little gem up in College Station at World Market for under $10 on sale – so for the money, it was a tasty treat.  No matter how you slice it, this wine isn’t a bad addition to your holiday collection; for us, it’s a step closer to realizing our goal of reviewing 365 wines in 365 days.  Enjoy this product with the understanding that it’s probably going to get better as time gos by.

Here’s to the start of a hopefully less hectic week at Casa del Vino in preparation of T’day – which means a meeting of the three F’s – – – – Family, Food and FOOTBALL!  There will be lots to be talking about next week.  Chances are good there will be a pinot or two on the horizon and we are looking forward to a “cool” snap – about all we can hope for in these parts of Texas.

Zinfatuation is but one step on the wine journey of life; remember to enjoy YOUR wine responsible and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 65 — Only 300 more to go!

The first night after the end of Daylight Saving Time is always a little strange .  .  . it feels like 7 p.m. but it’s really 6 p.m.  It’s not that late, but it ‘s dark outside.  we’re tired, but it’s only 7 o’clock .  .  . what’s up with that?  When friends come to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we kind of expect that they’ll be here for a long afternoon of football, fire in the pit and good wine, but not leave until – say, tomorrow.  What a beautiful afternoon it turned out to be, with clear blue skies and a light wind to go with warm temperatures.  We call this kind of day, ‘Chamber of Commerce’ kind of weather, and judging by the number of people out and about, we’d say it was exactly THAT.

Kris and Veronique came from Kerrville today and we really enjoyed seeing them.  We’ve known these guys a long time – and really love when they come to visit.  They make an afternoon of watching football a fun time – First Down! Our “girls” love to see them as well – greeting them with tag wags and kisses and even a jump into the lap.

So, today, they brought an  American Merlot from the winery of a friend of ours.  The 2009 American Merlot from Kerrville Hills Winery is a treat and a bit of a surprise for those of us who have come to  love California wine.  In our world the combination of ‘Texas Wine and Merlot typically is met with a turned up nose and a glance to the side as to admit that we’d be sampling something inferior.  When we popped the cork; however, we were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful aroma.  We immediately enjoyed a nose of oak and lots of black cherry.  The pour was intriguingly beautiful – a dark purple hue that seemed almost too dark for a Merlot.  The nose was awesome for  this little Texas wine and the legs on the glass confirmed that our taste buds were going to be enjoying something completely different.  The taste was full-bodied and finished with a nice smokiness that we weren’t expecting.  The wine was bigger and bolder than we expected – both for a Texas wine and for a Merlot.  Very enjoyable – Wayne, ya done good!

Kris does incredible work with the Hill Country Chapter of the American Red Cross – we both remember when she took over a dying chapter that was living on  fumes and since her arrival to the organization, we’ve seen huge steps in response to crises as well as community members stepping up to support the chapter.  Like so many non-profit organizations that we’ve been a part of or have supported, a large part of their success is the people who run them – as donors and supporters, we ‘buy’ into the mission of the organization NOT because of the mission of the organization but because of the PEOPLE who are a part of the organization.  Those people are what gives the MISSION A FACE.  Unfortunately in our society, and we’re already seeing this on the East Coast – certain nonprofit organizations struggle to get their aid to the right people because the people in ‘charge’ have to be the ones at the forefront even though – in most cases – the ones at the ‘top’ haven’t lifted a finger in a long, long time.  We feel that organizations with national roots, like the Red Cross, need to let their local chapters run the show in disasters and put their collective egos in check when it comes to ‘taking credit’ for getting supplies or aid to those in need.  Veronique is a classic example of someone who is taking their skills on the road – she has created a company who is teaching Red Cross life saving skills – no better teacher can be found – if your company is in need of such skills, let us know –  we will put you in touch.

The next time that you care to make a donation or contribution to an organization with national ties, we’d like to suggest that you specify that your contribution be used specifically for the local area where you live.  Once your contribution becomes ‘restricted’, then it can only be used for the purpose which you – the donor – intended for it to be used.  Which in most cases means it won’t be used by a large national organization to fund their large national organizational salaries.  Many organizations in Texas are working hard to take care of emergency needs and deal with life saving situations .  .  .  isn’t it nice to know that when you make a contribution to one of these groups that the money stays here and does EXACTLY what it was intended to do?  We couldn’t agree more – thank you Kris and Veronique for joining us today and thank you to Wayne for a really nice American Merlot from Kerrville Hills Winery.

The next time you enjoy your favorite wine; please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 64 — From the Hands of many…

First of all, thank you to the numerous comments and shout-outs received regarding last night’s blog.  We all have people in our lives who leave us far too early, and the best and most important things they give us are the memories from when they were here.  We also want to give a shout-out to Rick Koch with BobcatFans Magazine .  .  . thanks to Rick, we are mentioned in the November, 2012 issue of his magazine and we’re talking about – of all things, our wine blog.  Take a few minutes to look up BobcatFans Magazine on the web – it’s not just for college students!

Today was a long but productive day – we were up and on the road by 7:30-ish this morning on our way to Nacogdoches to see daughter #1 and deliver some much needed information and equipment left over from last week.  Our goal was to get to Nacogdoches by lunch time; deliver the stuff, have lunch with her and be on our way for adventures.  Our meeting location was in downtown Lufkin, Texas at a new retail store that has opened up there.  The parents’ and family of a friend of daughter #1 opened a gift shop called, Twisted Sister and if you EVER get to Lufkin, you owe it to yourself to stop at this store.  There Brian got to meet Robin and her sister (thus twisted sisters???) where Jean proceeded to support the Lufkin economy.  While there, Jean’s phone needed a car-charger for the battery and because we know the newspaper publisher, Greg Shrader and his wife, Laura who live there, we sent a message to them which led to a visit after lunch.  It’s always amazing catching up with people who end up playing a role in today’s blog.

So in the end, the people that were instrumental/crucial for today’s road trip include Brian, Jean, Robin and her sister, Greg and Laura and daughter number 1 – seven people = 14 hands and thus the carma for today’s wine was set by – the events of the day!!  We opened at 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from 14 Hands Winery of Patterson, Washington and were immediately impressed with this wine.  Most of our previous wine tastings from Washington wines were blends, Pinot’s and Merlots–none of which inspired us to switch our allegiance from California.  This wine was different – in a good way.  A nose of cranberries, vanilla and earth were completely unexpected.  The taste was fruitful but structured and well-balanced.  The taste stayed true from palate to finish.  Lots of fruit, black cherry, cranberries – and the vanilla was so spectacular, we thoroughly enjoyed this wine, and with a price well under $20 a bottle you can enjoy it without breaking the bank.

After getting back to the house around 9:30 p.m., there is no doubt that it has been a LONG day.  Lots of storms between Livingston and Huntsville made for treacherous driving for Jean, but an excellent job nonetheless.  We stopped outside of Huntsville before College Station to view a spectacular sunset complete with a rainbow as a result of the rain that we had driven through; the clouds reflected gorgeous colors of red, orange and maroon and the unique cloud shapes were a clear message to ‘stop and enjoy the beauty’ which is exactly what we did.  Even with taking some pictures, they don’t do the beauty justice, but it was yet another reason for today’s wine – it takes many hands to enjoy the fruits of the vine!

Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.  One final note, remember to ‘fall back’ one hour tonight and enjoy that extra hour of sleep.  Cheers–until tomorrow.