casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 302: Another day at the Chateau . . .

chateau st jean…Or in other words, we drove by the house today to check and make sure that it was still there…of course, it was.  For the better part of the past two years, we’ve had other people living in our house, while we live  here, so it’s with mixed feelings when we drive by and see junk on the front porch and overflowing trash cans by the garage.  Home ownership is a source of pride for the both of us.  Even as report after report is coming out and saying that home ownership is becoming less and less of a part of the American dream.  We stand by the premise that there is nothing better than owning your own home.  It allows you the freedom to do with it in any way you’d care to.  It gives you the opportunity to landscape it; paint it; decorate it; make it your own.  When we drive by our house–and the folks living there aren’t taking care of it the way that we would–we wonder if we’ve done the right thing by renting it out.  It’s a hard decision in a challenging economy to forgo the cash flow of renting in favor of selling especially when the length of time needed to sell the property tends to run 6-9 months.  As we drove by today, we got a little bit closer to deciding what direction we want to go.

But, what got us there was a haircut for Jean, and a visit with P&L at Grape Juice for lunch…and a bottle of wine.  It’s always nice to stop in and see how things have changed; grab some grub and enjoy a bottle of grape juice.  For the record, if you’re ever in the Kerrville area and need a great place for lunch, Grape Juice has a terrific lunch menu at reasonable prices – a tip of the hat to Patrick and Keri…but it’s the wine that brings us back.  While we were sitting there, it was great to see a good friend–they recently sold their business in town and looked terrific.  We decided to try one of their menu wines, a 2010 Chateau St. Jean Signature Red wine from California.  The wine was pretty rough when first opened. . .you know, that puckery feeling you get in the back of your jaw when something sour hits it.  While this wine was quite that bad, it was pretty close; however, there was a really nice tasting of fruit left on the finish that gave hope as the wine opened up. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah, Syrah, and Malbec which shows plush notes of blackberry, mocha, and spice. Wine displaying a sensuous, deep purple in the glass, this fruit showcases the sophistication of the five varietals in style along with a nice roundness and a spice element.  Priced at around $18 a bottle, it’s actually a little overpriced for what you get.  We’ve enjoyed better wines for less money during our 302 days thus far, but on the upside this wine got better as the afternoon wore on.

At the end of the day, we’d probably opt for a different selection, but are glad that we’ve tried it. . .around these parts it was HOT today!  Driving back to SM, the car thermometer showed 108 degrees outside!  And, really, does it matter if it was really 102 or 104 degrees instead of 108?  Could you really even tell the difference?  Probably  not!  We really enjoyed seeing some good friends again today and sharing wine with them.

We hope that as your weekend winds down tomorrow that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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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!

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Day 119: That’s What Friends Are For . . .

Campos De RiscaSo, today we (Brian, Jean and Daughter #2) hopped in the car and headed west (isn’t there a famous line that says – “go west young man, go west”? – well, yes there is and being us –  we had to look it up – “Go West, Young Man, Go West” was an expression first used by John Babsone Lane Soule in the Terre Haute Express in 1851. It appealed to Horace Greeley, who rephrased it slightly in an editorial in the New York Tribune on 13 July 1865: “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” When the phrase gained popularity, Greeley printed Soule’s article to show the source of his inspiration. The phrase captured the imaginations of clerks, mechanics, and soldiers returning from the Civil War, many of whom moved west to take up a homestead.)

Ok, so back to today – we got in the car and headed west to Kerrville for a multitude of reasons.  D#2 had lunch plans with a high school friend, Brian was meeting HVAC tech at our rental house and Jean was meeting a friend to help with a project – so you see, we had to go!  D1 was already there visiting friends for a few days – but, alas our paths didn’t cross except for a quick passing with D#2.  We wrapped up our chores by around 1 p.m. and hooked up with some other friends at one of our all-time favorite spots in Ktown – – – Grape Juice.  We’ve mentioned Patrick and Keri Wilt a number of times, and always want to give them a shout out whenever possible – mainly because they are such great people and we really think the world of them.  If you ever get the chance – go visit them or if you can’t go visit them–go visit their website.

As we ordered lunch, Patrick plopped a 2008 bottle of Campos De Risca on the table and said we’d love it – – – – well, as usual – he was right.  This is the second bottle of Monastrell that we’ve talked about in our blog, and the more we try it, the more we like it!  Spanish wines are making names for themselves because winemakers know that there is a limitless potential with Spanish vineyards.  Some of the best wines in the world are coming from or about to come from Spain – if you haven’t tried any lately, you’re missing the boat!  Tonight’s wine is sneaky . . . like a fox!  It starts out, as Pat so perfectly described it, with a lot of tobacco.  We got it on the nose and in the taste – very noticeable.  But, after this wine had some time to open up, the fruit and earthiness really makes it a fine wine.  A beautiful deep, dark purple color gave the impression of a richness that would normally be reserved for varietals with much stronger lineage.  We thoroughly enjoyed this wine and even added an extra one to take home and add to our wine rack.  A quick look around the internet confirmed that this wine is a great value for the money and reviews at 88-90 points from Parker and Wine Spectator.  While not all reviews from these esteemed publications are  on target, with this 2008 Campos De Risca, all are on point!

The only thing worse than enjoying a great bottle of wine and seeing the bottle become empty is having to get back into the car and head home.  It’s always an adventure when we stop at Grape Juice . . . there aren’t a lot of places to hang out in Kerrville, Texas, but GJ is a great place to start!  And, when you can combine good food and good wine with good friends, it sets the table for a winning combination.  We know that each time we visit the place, we’ll find something that will satisfy our palates without breaking the bank!

As you settle in with your favorite wine–tonight or any night–remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.