casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 309: Nothing Better Than The Coast . . .

Yard DogWhat a way to spend a holiday weekend!  Good friends, good fishing, good food and some beverages.  Even though it felt like Sunday, we knew it was Saturday and thus had some time to kill before heading back home.  A trip to Rockport was followed by a trip back to the bays to make sure that Fred’s boat was working correctly.  Those of you who have outboard and inboard motor boats know that they can be finicky . . . just when you think you’ve fixed a problem, another one pops up.  Sometimes, things ‘seem’ to be fixed at the point where we are launching only to find out that the same problem exists.  It’s not good for a boat owner and it’s an embarrassment for a boat mechanic.  If even one boat leaves a shop and isn’t working properly, the nation of boat owners knows that there are problems.

Trail Boss thought he had fixed the problem by replacing a fuel bulb, and before launching in the water, all tests were positive to have solved the problem.  However, once the boat was put in the water, the problem was back.  Not good news when just launching a boat.  Not good news when you wanted to go and see the sights and cast a few fishing poles into the grassy areas to try and flush out some redfish—only to have the boat malfunction.  Grrrrr….BAD DOG!

But, no worries – we were able make our way around the Lighthouse backwater trails – where let’s just say . . . the redfish are a sight to behold!  Although a bit gimpy, we managed to stay on the water all afternoon and have a great time.  After a super dinner at Pepitos, we headed back to Casa del Vino a wee bit later than planned, and with the top off the jeep were able to see the stars all the way – landed home after a terrific holiday weekend, we were greeted by ‘the girls’ . . . aka our four-legged children who ‘watch’ the house while we’re away.

One of the best parts about having dogs is that when you’ve been gone for an hour, a day or even a weekend, they are — as a general rule — so excited to see us.  Which is why, tonight we opened a  2011 “Yard Dog” from Australia.  This wine is actually a blend — 62% Cabernet Sauvignon – 34% Petit Verdot – 4% Touriga Nacional.  Pretty tart on the nose and taste – but full of cherries on the finish; it was surprisingly delicious. There isn’t much of a finish, but what finish we DID taste was full of cherries!  It did get better as it stayed opened and actually made for a nice “unwind” wine after 3 plus hours on the road.  We picked this little number up at Grape Juice during our visit there last weekend – it was $15 and should be shared with food and friends . . . plain and simple as that.

We will relish our ‘vacation’ to the coast . . . got to see some great friends, enjoy some amazing seafood and kick back and enjoy the water.  We hope that as your holiday weekend comes to a close that you’ll find a wine that is your favorite, and that you’ll enjoy it responsibly.

Remember to recycle whenever possible–it just makes for a better environment.


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Day 237 – Brought To You By The Letter ‘I’

ISo, tonight’s blog is going to be about a wine we tried when P&L were here recently.  Jean is out of town and that leaves Brian to write the blog.  The headline is an attention grabber–especially if you grew up watching Sesame Street or had kids growing up watching Sesame Street.  Brian’s first ‘experience’ with the show was way back in the late 1970’s when visiting his sister, Sharon and her family in the Denver area.  At that time, the oldest was 4 and the youngest was almost 1…it was his first experience in the beauty of afternoon naps!  Not just for the kids. . .there is a tremendous amount of energy expended on young children and in many cases, when they go down for naps, so do the parents, grandparents, care-givers, etc…

He recalls a particular day when after a busy morning of playing inside and outside and up the stairs and down the stairs…stopping for lunch…and then, the MOM-edict…”we can watch Sesame Street, but when it’s over, it’s nap time!”  Okay…that sets the stage–the 4 year old understands the ground rules…the baby could care less!  Back in those days, it was Bert, Ernie, Oscar, Cookie Monster, Grover and Big Bird as the  main  characters.  An occasional visit from ‘The Count”–Brian’s favorite…and that was about it.  BUT, you knew that it was “nap time” when at the end of the show, the announcer would say something like, “Sesame Street was brought to you today by the numbers 4 and 9 and the letter ‘I’.  Boom–off to bed for the little ones and time for a little shut-eye for the adults!  Great stuff!

When P brought out this bottle, we were extremely excited having enjoyed Orin Swift’s other Locations wines, E and F and we’ve previously blogged about both of them.  By way of recap… E is for Spain (Espana); F is for France and tonight, we break into Italy!  You may not know that Italy boasts more than 2000 indigenous grape varieties.  Diverse components were meticulously assembled that represent the finest from each region. The result is a vibrant wine that captures the spirit of Italy with a touch of new world bravado.  This wine features a blend of Negroamaro, Nerod’Avola, Barbera, and native varietals from Puglia.  This wine was magnificent. . .from the minute the cork was pulled, the aromas of earthy goodness came out…lots of cherry and leather on the nose, but it needed about 45 minutes of air time, and as we poured the first glass, the color was gorgeous.  It wasn’t quite as dark as we would have thought with a blend, but it looked silky pouring into the glass.  If you like fine Italian wines, then this is worth getting in your cellar.  Without question, tonight’s blog is definitely brought to us by the letter ‘I’…it’s a wine worth celebrating!

Speaking of celebrating. . .tonight we give a birthday shout-out to our good friend Kris from Kerrville. . .Happy Birthday, Kris. . .we’re sorry Big Blue didn’t win the NCAA Championship, but you should still be proud of their efforts—even at your age!!!  All the best.

Remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.  Speaking of recycling, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a plug to a San Marcos event coming up on May 11th–the 4th Annual Texas Green Home & Living Show runs from 10 am to 4 pm and offers great ideas for saving green by going green–and recycling is just one of the answers!


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Day 221: ‘Trust The Twins’. . .

langetwins zinBack in the summer of 2012 – late August to be exact – we started ‘collecting’ wines for this blog by attending the 75th Anniversary of Twin Liquors.  They had some tremendous deals on everyday wines and superb collectible vintages.  Several of the bottles purchased at that time are still sitting in our wine fridge.  Since that time, we have scoured, not only Twin Liquors, but also, The Main Liquor, Grape Juice and Grape & Grain in Kerrville, H-E-B in multiple locations around Central Texas, Central Market in Austin, Specs Liquor & Finer Foods, Gabriels Outlet in San Marcos and World Market.  Who would have thought that there would be so many choices from so many different retailers.  It’s clear to us that there are thousands of wine labels out there – many of them just waiting to be tasted, talked about and remembered.

Here we are at Day 221, and after a recent visit to Twin Liquor in Austin at one of their West Austin stores, we came upon a wine on special for $11.99, yes – that caught our attention.  A 2010 Zinfandel from Lodi, California – one of the GREAT Zin growing appellations in California – named LangeTwins.  Okay, a new name to us . . . so let’s do some research.  Hmmm, for five generations their family has been growing sustainable wine grapes in the Lodi Appellation and in 2006 they opened a winery to showcase their passion for growing wine grapes – because, as wine lovers and bloggers, we continue to learn everyday, great wine starts in the vineyard.  And, since opening in 2006, they have continued to expand their state-of-the-art winery to keep up with the demand for their LangeTwins wines as well as private labels.

And we also learned tonight that they’ll be participating in the 2013 Austin Wine & Food Festival on April 26th and 27th as they introduce ‘Caricature’ at the H-E-B booth and offer signed bottles!  It’s always cool to come upon something relatively new in the market – or relatively new for us – to taste and talk about.  We opened our 2010 Lodi Zin and immediately fell in love with the nose . . . oh, wow, such peppery-goodness and fruity deliciousness . . . it’s a ‘zin-lovers’ delight!  Raspberry, blackberry and even black cherry consume this jammy zin with a sneaky black pepper finish.  MMMMM, GOOD!  A truly luscious wine and a Silver Medal winner at the 2012 California State Fair.  All we know is that the stop we made at Twin Liquors was yet another reason why we ‘Trust The Twins’!  Considering that this winery will be represented at the Austin Food & Wine Festival later this month – and in the Dallas/Fort Worth (Deb and Mark – can we book a room?) area as well, if you’re in Texas, you’ll want to get your hands on some of this wine . . . we predict that it will sell FAST!

One of the really amazing aspects about 221 days of wine is that we are continuously finding new labels and vintages that amaze us.  Without the benefit of this ‘labor of love’, we’d probably still be trying the same 10-15 labels we’ve always loved.  Instead, we’ve uncovered some real gems from creative wine makers and clever marketers!  And, we’ve found some duds in the mix as well.  There are still way, way, way too many wines to try in the days we have left, but our goal remains the same–good wines at affordable prices for wine lovers of all shapes and sizes.  Pass the word on about LangeTwins – it’s a wine worth noting now and in the future . . . hey, they’ve been growing wine grapes for FIVE generations – you think they know a thing or two about quality fruit?  Enjoy your bottle of LangeTwins . . . we sure did!

Quick shout out on the NCAA Women’s game – we were pulling for the Cardinals to “twin up” with their male counterparts, but ya gotta give the Huskies a high five for a job well done.  Hate to see Pat Summit’s record for victories matched, but credit given where credit due.

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


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Day 181 – A View from the Top of the Hill

shotfireSix months.

Not that long in terms of a lifetime.  Not that long in terms of adulthood.  Not that long in terms of waiting for NFL training camps to open!

Six months does equal a lot of TIME . . . 181 days equals 4, 344 hours . . . 181 days equals 260,640 minutes. . .181 days equals 15,638,400 seconds, BUT 181 days also equals 181 DIFFERENT bottles of wine – tasted, reviewed and shared!  AND, the best is yet to come!  Yep, we’re now on the downhill side of BJWine365 – and we’re on a roll to try, taste and blog about a different wine every night. . .we’re heading strong for August 31st and it’s going to be here before we know it!

In the past six months, we started right out of the box with a set of amazing wines from Twin Liquors‘ 75th Anniversary Sale.  That sale gave us an affordable foundation for the first 45-60 days of this blog.  By visiting and talking with Patrick from Grape Juice and Peter from The Main in Kerrville; Nathan from Gabriel’s in San Marcos; Andy from Central Market in Austin and several others, we’ve amassed a wide variety of wines, varieties, flavors and countries in our first six months.  Our challenge is still ahead and our resolve is strong . . . no duplicate wine in the next six months. . .only new wines–some from the same vineyards (hey, it helps spread the word!)–some from brand new sources and some from–well, places we’ve never been to before!  A roller coaster you ask?  You bet–but, if the next six months are as fun as the first six months, you’ll be reading about this blog for years to come!  Each day, more and more of you are kind enough to pass along our blog or a link or a Facebook post, and that helps us garner more views and attention.  We’ve been fortunate enough to hear from some of the wine makers who make the wine that we’ve written about, and our hope is to engage even more as time goes on.

Tonight, we went to the land down under . . . being BIG fans of Australian wines, we came across this one at Twin Liquor‘s Dollar Sale.  Since we’ve had good success with wines from the Barossa Valley – they tend to be big and bold – we thought that the 2010 Shotfire Shiraz would be a good way to wrap up the first six months of our blog.  Their comments, “Deep red color, with a lifted and intense nose of blackberry fruit, sweet spice and dark chocolate. The palate is very rich and flavorsome with blackberry and plum fruit.”  Our comments, Yes, the color ws superb–rich, dark red–and the nose was fruity but had a subtle hint of smokiness.  The taste was rich, full of fruit, a slightness of chocolate, but the finish – well, it just didn’t quite measure up to the rest of the wine.  No, it’s a very tasty wine, but don’t expect a “marching band” on the finish.  It’s big, but not so big that you melt into your chair as your sipping on this wine.  We have enjoyed numerous wines from Australia, and we’ve been pretty upfront about our love for the big, bold, in-your-face wines of not only the Barossa Valley but also McLaren Vale.  Since this wine was on sale for less than $15 at Twin, in spite of its’ finish, this one was a winner.  We’d buy it again, but the sale price is about the value we’d place on it. . .much more than that and it has competitors that are better.  Since it’s a 2010, it’s also younger than some of its’ 2009 cousins, so look, taste and decide!

We hope that you’ll stay with us for the next six months.  We’ve searched the blogosphere as well as the wine internet and haven’t found a wine-lover site that has reviewed 365 different wines in 365 days.  The BIG question is, how are we going to find the next six months worth of wine?  Well, we guess you’ll have to keep reading–and hopefully commenting–to see what wines we find to settle our fancy.

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


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Day 151: Do The Math – Is 30 is the new 15?

krupp brothers veraisonOkay, so here we are on January 29th in the year 2013.  So, all you trivia moguls – here’s your first trivia question . . . now remember, you’re going to have to put on your thinking caps for these questions – here comes number one: We were married on January 29, 1983, the very next day was the Super Bowl – who WON Super Bowl 17?

Alright, so we go to question number two, in April of 1983, the University of Houston (Go Cougars) played for the NCAA National Basketball Championship . . . who won that game.  (Hint: Brian turned the television off in total disgust after a Guy Lewis “5-minute stall offense).

One of the fun parts about being newlyweds back in 1983 was finding a place to live.  Brian had lived in an apartment for a while and Jean had been living at home, so the key was finding a place that would be perfect for both!  We ended up in a two bedroom apartment off of Hollister and Tidwell.  It was a relatively new property off of Hwy. 290 and it was close to both Jean’s and Brian’s work, so home it became.  Probably one of the most memorable moments in their first year together was August 18, 1983 when Hurricane Alicia came calling from Galveston right up along Interstate 45.  With the eye eventually passing right over the apartment complex, we took a short drive in the middle of the ‘fun’ followed by more fury from the opposite direction – a lesson in single pane glass – NOT a good idea for a hurricane – but we survived.  Our wedding cake did not (tradition was to keep the top layer to be eaten for one’s first anniversay – with power outage – cake thawed and served as sister Sara’s birthday cake instead).

1983 was an AMAZING year to be married – did you know that in 1966 Dick Shulze founded his stereo store, ‘The Sound of Music.’ In 1983, he renamed it “Best Buy” and started the current chain of home electronics stores.   And you only thought 1983 was in the ‘Dark Ages’!  Those of you who know us remember (to this day) that we LOVE going to movies, and in 1983, the top movies of the year –  Here You Go:

1. Return Of The Jedi
2. Terms of Endearment
3. Flashdance
4. Trading Places
5. WarGames
6. Octopussy
7. Sudden Impact
8. Staying Alive
9. Mr. Mom
10. Risky Business

Wow – several ‘classics’ among this list – several of which are still playing today on Turner Classic Movies and American Movie Classics.  Funny, back then  they didn’t seem like classics!  Which is the PERFECT lead-in for tonight’s wine of choice.  We felt that it was very important to enjoy a special bottle of wine in honor of our 30th Wedding Anniversary, SO we decided to GO BIG.  Yep, after attending a tasting of wines from Krupp Brothers back when Grape Juice was in Ingram, we tasted some AMAZING wines from this winery in Napa.  But the best of the best was the Veraison – and tonight’s wine is a 2007 Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon.  Three letters sum this wine up:  O   M   G!!!

First of all, we have to tell you that this is WAY out of our normal price range.  Thanks to the amazing 75th Anniversary Sale at Twin Liquors back in August of last year, this little gem has been lying down in our wine fridge waiting for the right opportunity to become part of the party!  Well, tonight was the perfect reason to open a stellar bottle of wine.  Bottles like this are few and far between, and with ratings in the 91-95 point range, we knew that we were getting something special.  This wine was powerful  . . . from opening with the deep, dark purple encircling the cork to the nose that was overwhelming with fruit and oak–to the taste that was rich, structured, full-bodied and thick as the day is long.  We absolutely loved this wine.  It was every bit as good or better than when we tasted it back at the “old Grape Juice” in Ingram, Texas.  Those of you who follow this blog know that we love our big, bold wines, and this one may be the Granddaddy of them ALL!!  It’s not cheap – typically above $60 a bottle, but if you pay attention to sales, you can get for much less . . . BUT not very often!

We know why this is an amazing wine.  So much going on in the bottle.  Add in food and it’s an overwhelming experience.  We found it the PERFECT way to enjoy our 30th Wedding Anniversary.

1983, was for us, was a GREAT year.  We look back over the past 30 years and smile at the blessings that have been given to us – two gorgeous, smart, loving daughters; opportunities to see places we’d only read about; seeing our extended family grow and mature and become awesome, right before our eyes – it’s a marvel of life that we stopped to enjoy and hope that you’ll stop to enjoy your marvels as well.

We enjoy sharing our wine stories with you and hope that tonight, and every night–that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

Hears to 30 years together and the promise of another 30 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!