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Day 171 – Monday, Monday

hahn gsmDoesn’t matter your age.  The Mamas and The Papas defined the ‘California Sound’ of the 1960’s.  With Mama Cass, Denny, Michelle and John, they were the definitive San Francisco band of the era. . .and their sound is still as true today as it was almost 50 years ago.  WOW, the sounds of the 60’s have been a part of our culture for a half century.  For a good portion of our world, that was a time only learned from history class. . .much like it was for our generation learning about World War II.  Depending on your age, do you ever stop. . .step back. . .and think for a moment about what has transpired in your lifetime?

We have really enjoyed having Jean’s Dad, Bill back in Texas since last summer.  First of all, the fact that he’s been back in the State since last June is amazing by itself, but on top of that is the amazing wealth of knowledge, history and life that has gone through his eyes.  Here’s a man who was born at the front end of the Great Depression and as a young boy growing up in St. Louis witnessed, first hand, the sheer magnitude of what was happening all around him and his family.  To grow up during that time and then to witness the onset of World War II–with all that it entailed, must have been an amazing time to be a young man.  Factor in the death of President Roosevelt after winning FOUR elections; the decision by President Truman to drop the BOMB on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the Soviet build-up; the election of John F. Kennedy; the Bay of Pigs; the assassination of JFK; the build-up in Viet Nam; the transition to Richard Nixon; the Arab Oil Embargo; Watergate; Gerald Ford; Long gas lines; Jimmy Carter; the Iran hostages (reference the movie, ARGO for those of you who missed this part of history); Ronald Reagan, Challenger. . .WOW, time marches on.

As a society, we’re somewhat caught up in the ‘here and now’ and tend to forget about what’s happened in the past.  And yet, it’s in the past that we learn the most about how to handle the future.  We think–and it’s just our opinion–that the past gets lost in today’s leadership because as a rule (and it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on) folks don’t connect with the past the way that folks did back in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.  Now, for some of you, the response could be–SO, what does that have to do with ME?  Right?  And, the answer is–if we’re talking about YOU the individual—ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!  If we talk about you–collectively, as a generation–history has repeated itself for centuries.  If you are someone born in the new millennium, then history should be your guide–to avoid the challenges of the past.  History continues to be one of the BEST teachers of the future; the key is to sit up and pay attention!!!

Okay…off the soap box and back to the day…Monday.  Ugh, doesn’t matter if it’s 2013 or 1973–Mondays are still tough days.  You’re coming off of a weekend and just after you’ve gotten comfortable with a couple of days off–BOOM, here comes Monday!  Which is why we thought that we’d enjoy something from a familiar vineyard for tonight’s tasting but at the same time it was a totally different varietal.  Tonight we’re sampling a 2010 Hahn G-S-M; which stands for Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre; three different grapes with three different tastes blended into one amazing wine and all of them put together by the folks at Hahn.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to sample wines from Hahn, here’s a hint…go to Gabriel’s, Twin Liquors and/or H-E-B, because they have these wines and you’re going to want them.

BUT–to get this gem, you’ve got to belong to the Hahn Wine Club, and while you may think– “No Way”, after you try these wines, you’ll be a changed person. . .straight from the source, here’s what’s said about this wine, “In 2009, winemakers Paul Clifton and Greg Freemen created their first GSM red wine blend as a fun experiment. With a tiny block of Grenache located in the Smith Vineyard, and the best Syrah in the Santa Lucia Highlands growing in Hahn’s Doctor’s Vineyard, the two intrepid winemakers went to work. Through many trials, combined with the addition of a modicum of Mourvedre gifted to them by friendly Paso Robles vineyards, the two men created Hahn’s first vintage of this traditional Southern Rhone style red wine. Everyone was immediately hooked on this exotic, yet classic wine. Now after two successful vintages, we release this limited production GSM red wine blend specifically for our club members. Sourced from cool and foggy Monterey County, this wine boasts an intensity and depth that beautifully contrasts with the bright fruitiness of our main production. With a medium ruby hue, aromas of wild raspberry, dried potpourri and rose petal come to the fore. Tucked away in the background lies a savory mix of dried herbs that mixes nicely with the bramble fruit flavors in the mid-palate. Firm tannins lead to a long fleshy finish. An incredibly versatile wine at the dinner table, we love this wine with a slowly roasted chicken in a savory gravy.”  As mentioned, the combination of grapes is amazing and the percentages–53% Grenache–41% Syrah–6% Mourvedre make this wine one for the ages.

If it’s Monday, Monday. . .or Sunday, Sunday. . .you’ll want to enjoy a good wine.  If you’re looking for a wine under $25, then Hahn’s GSM Red Wine Blend from the Central Coast of California is worth a try. . .at less than $15 a bottle, you’ll get some amazing fruit at a fraction of the cost, BUT, we’d recommend you join the club–you’ll get the good stuff AND get recipes from Chef Brian. . .it’s a winning combination.  Oh, and YES, we talked about a Hahn Syrah a couple of weeks ago, and we noted that as Wine Club members you’d get that wine too. . .hmmm, maybe there’s something to this Wine Club deal. . .think about it!

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


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Day 159 – It’s Just Ok. . .

route stock cellarsIt’s Wednesday night, and that means Date Night with Dinner and a Movie!  You know, one of the parts about having daughters away at school is that we now have time to drop what we’re doing and go to the movies.  As a matter of clarification, we love the girls very much, and want them to be successful in school–and ultimately, in their careers.  However, it’s really nice to look at the movie times and decide. . .let’s plan for this show at this time. . .and then, BAM, we’re there!  Tonight was an opportunity to see a movie that, well, we really weren’t sure what to expect—BUT it had De Niro in it, so–we were ALL IN to see “Silver Lining Playbook”.

Silver Lining Playbook, with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and of course, Robert De Niro…interesting show.  It reminds us of some cartoons that we used to watch and our kids used to watch. . .Looney Tunes!!!  Seriously, it’s not anything we expected, but Brian did appreciate the passion for Philadelphia Eagles football.  Anyone who is ‘connected’ to his/her hometown football team—whether it’s professional, college or high school—can relate to this movie.

We hadn’t seen any of the movies with Jennifer Lawrence–fresh from ‘The Hunger Games’,  so tonight we saw a star with a lot of opportunities ahead of her.  Bradley Cooper, best known for his “Hangover” movies was equally impressive in the lead role.  However, this particular movie started at around 6:45 p.m. and wasn’t over until almost 9:00. . .the length didn’t bother us–BUT, it took until almost 8:30 for the storyline to move into high gear in order to enjoy the show.  We understand about character development.  We understand about developing a story line, but come on, the writers and directors spent more than 2/3 of the movie ‘developing’ the story.  The end result was an ‘okay’ movie.

How perfect was it then to come home and try a 2009 Route Stock Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley region of California.  We opened the bottle and the cork and nose were quite spectacular.  A huge amount of cranberries, raspberries and blackberries were forefront on the nose.  We got hints of cinnamon as well as oak. . .the wine was gorgeous upon opening.  We poured our first glass and were equally impressed with the color.  One of  the things that we’ve come to appreciate with wine is the initial aroma of the wine upon opening and the color of the wine when first poured.  After seeing the wine tonight, we thought we were going to be singing the praises of this little known Napa Valley Cab.

And then we tasted it. . .hmmmm, not exactly what we thought it was going to taste like.  It was tart, tangy, and downright puckery!  Okay…puckery isn’t a word, but you know that feeling you get in your mouth after eating a lemon drop candy?  Yep, this wine is going to give you that feeling.  As it opened up, yes, it mellowed out some, but overall the wine was nothing more than, okay.  In fact, even after it had been open for more than an hour, the taste was the same, okay.  It really wasn’t what we expected from a wine that we bought at Gabriel’s on a “Two-For” deal—yep, buy one at $20.99 or a “Two-For” at $23.99–no brainer, right?  Hey, like the song says. . .”sometimes you win and sometimes you lose!”

Wrapping up tonight, the movie was okay—the wine was okay—and for the term ‘okay’ we need to thank Martin Van Buren.  Yep, according to our search results. . .the Oxford Dictionary best put it this way, “The oldest written references result from its use as a slogan by the Democratic party during the American Presidential election of 1840. Their candidate, President Martin Van Buren, was nicknamed ‘Old Kinderhook’ (after his birthplace in New York State), and his supporters formed the ‘OK Club’. This undoubtedly helped to popularize the term (though it did not get President Van Buren re-elected).”  And, so our response is . . . OK!!!

Please continue to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 154 – History In The Making

Redemption ZinWe never know when we’re in the midst of greatness.  Whether it’s a cooking demonstration from a fantastic Priest/Cook from the Baltimore, Maryland area or a former United Nations Ambassador and former Mayor of Atlanta, greatness is an opinion offered up by those who care to leave an opinion.

Last week in this space, we wrote about a Catholic Priest from the Baltimore Diocese whose cooking prowess landed him in front of one of America’s Iron Chefs’.  Yep, Father Leo Patlinghung bested Bobby Flay in a fajita throwdown and the rest—they say–is history.  Today, in San Marcos, we had the opportunity to meet andm hear from former United Nations Ambassador and Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, Andrew Young.  Yep…the man who was THE MAN in the  1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.  Time has mellowed the statesman, but you can tell that the fire still burns.  He’s a man who’ll be 81 in March, but his voice and his memory are anything but old.  To the 80+ people who cared to come out at 7:30 a.m. on a Friday morning on the first day of February, the moment was sweet and the memories will forever be imparted in our brains.  Forget about the politics. . .we were in the presence of a statesman and his daughter.  You don’t get many opportunities to visit with folks who’ve put on Olympic Games  in their cities, or folks who’ve been a part of a movement that changed the world.

Today we had a chance at redemption–the opportunity to meet an iconic figure from our not-too-distant past and relish in the stories he recanted.  As a person who stood by at our meeting and watched–not the speaker–but the audience, we can tell that people were mesmerized; interested and engaged.  Not a bad combination for a Friday morning!

Tonight we sampled a 2007 Redemption Zinfandel from Alexander Valley Vineyards in Healdsburg, California.  We’ve previously written about wines from AVV, so you know that they are among our favorites.  This 2007 Zin is a nice combination of fruit and spice.  It has lots of blackberry, a little vanilla, traditional Zinfandel spice and a long finish.  With some left over kung pao chicken, it was the perfect wine to enjoy with the spicy food.  It’s amazing how a good wine can pair so perfectly with good food.  At a normal retail price of $21 per bottle, you can usually find it on sale for around $16-$17 a bottle and it’s been rated as high as 93 points!  We love the spicy taste of this wine.  The pepper on the finish is classic Zinfandel and the fruit on the front is something worth tasting over and over.  There are wines that cost two to three times this amount and don’t deliver the flavor that this Zin delivers!  Of course, we’re biased because we LOVE good Zinfandels, but beyond that is a commitment to quality and production that we’ve come to expect from Alexander Valley Vineyards.  Here’s the deal, you can spend a LOT of money on a good wine or you can spend a LITTLE less money on a BETTER wine. . .do the math and find your Redemption.  At Gabriel’s, you won’t be disappointed.

As we wrapped up today, the visit with Ambassador Young was a true revelation of the country’s past.  Here was a man who fought the fight.  We sat there in full awareness that 40 years ago, very few in attendance would have cared or wanted to be there.  Times change and when they do, history changes with them.  Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.