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Day 338: God Winks . . .

Rockus DockusWhat a whirlwind . . . as we’ve mentioned before, we own a house in Kerrpatch (aka Kerrville) – we’ve had this house for almost 10 years and haven’t lived in it for the last two.  We were very fortunate with our initial “renters” – they took care of our house as if it were their own . . . sadly they had in-laws move to town and needed a bigger place.  Incoming family #2 – well, suffice it to say “not so nice” to our house.  We’ve uncovered a few things that even a week later are still shaking our heads at.  So, decision time – #2 decided to return to the Panhandle, so this was a good thing.  But . . . do we sell or do we lease?????  We hooked up with an old and trusted friend to handle our “listing”.  After a busy, laborious week of painting, cleaning and prepping – – back on the market we went.  Truth be told, we would love, love, love to sell – like most of us, cash flow is equally important and the thought of making two house payments didn’t excite us – so, we knew leasing might be an option.

House went “live” on August 1st – with some minor technical difficulties with the listing – but, BAM . . . August 2nd . . . we had an inquiry – August 3rd . . . we had a lease and an opportunity to have a positive impact on a family that kinda sorta needed a break.  August 4th (aka, today) . . . we have turned our home over to a really great family who we know will take great care of our place.  Funny, how God works . . . He just knows what we need to do – it works best when we just get the heck out-of-the-way and let Him run the show.  We feel so very strongly that things have worked out the way they were supposed to all along.  No doubt, we have what we need . . . someone occupying our house and generating cash flow – and no doubt, they have what they need . . . a place to call home in a short period of time!  Wow – we call these occurances “God Winks” . . .  again, things just fall into the place they are destined to.  We are secure in knowing this is good – no doubt, selling the house would be best in our minds, but God had a different plan and to be blunt . . . it’s perfect.

After another long drive, hard day of “prepping” and a long drive home . . . we are just plain wiped out – who knew a hot shower could feel so great?  Upon arriving home around 7 p.m., we fed the “gang of four” and decided we too needed some substance.  So, Brian fired up the grill and tossed on some Portobello mushrooms that we picked up at HEB yesterday, added in some fresh corn on the cob and opened a super great bottle of wine.

Tonight we opened a wine that we picked up at our Friday Night Fun Night with Margaret, Lance, Greg and Laura at East End Wines in Austin.  Called Rockus Bockus, the wine was a blend of Cab Sauv, Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec,  Merlot and Petit Verdot from Sonoma.  WOW, WOW. WOW – great lineage and equally great neighborhood to grow up in – we really liked this one.  On the nose . . . hello Mr. Fruit Bomb – dark fruit, but fruit nonetheless.  Through the Looking Glass – deep red and ready for some action.  On the palate – Whoop, there is the fruit we know and love . . . we are talking bold and juicy Blackberries with a dash of spice and perhaps a sprinkle of chocolate (will say that it paired nicely not only with dinner, but the Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups tucked away in the kitchen cabinet).  The finish was super – just enough of the spice carryover to make it interesting, but super all the same.

The winemaker used to be part of the GunBun group of wines, but understand he’s now off on his own.  We are very partial to GunBun due to dear friend John K.  John introduced us years ago and although he isn’t with us here on earth, he lives on in our hearts daily.  He is truly our original wine mentor – Love Ya, John!

So, here we are wrapping up a busy weekend and are gearing ourselves up for a new week fun of promise!  We hope you have a great night and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 315: We’re Just Not That Into It . . .

into zinFriday nights are great nights for kicking back, firing up the grill and relaxing after a long week.  Part of the challenge with that ‘process’ this time of year is that it’s still 100 degrees plus at 8 o’clock at night . .  not exactly the kind of weather that’s conducive to deck time on a Friday night.  The grill part, on the other hand, is always a good option and after finding some steaks on sale at our local H-E-B, we decided that tonight would be a good reason to cook them up.  We like to fix roasted potatoes when we grill steak . . . using some nice red potatoes well cut them into bite-size pieces and cut up some red onion and we like adding red, yellow or orange sweet peppers.  Mixing all three together in a bowl with some olive oil and seasoning, put them into a 9 x 12 baking dish – – or if you’ve got stoneware, like is offered from Pampered Chef, use that – a great tool for cooking, and finally into the oven at 375 degrees for–initially–20 minutes.  After the first 20 minutes, stir them up, turn the dish around and put another 25 minutes on the timer.  In the meantime, we’ve picked up some beautiful, fresh green beans…long, great color and they have a great snap – – after cleaning them and soaking them in some water, we like to add just a hint of bacon grease or two or three slices of bacon to the pan with some water just covering the top of the beans.  After bringing them to a boil, we’ll simmer them on medium to low for 15 minutes at which time, we’ll pour in a third of a bottle of Italian salad dressing.  Put the lid back on, turn down the heat to low and let cook for another 20-25 minutes.

These two vegetables combined with the steak made for a nice way to wrap up the week – along with daughter #1 and Bruce Wayne(who is in for a weekend visit) –  but it wouldn’t be complete without some wine, and tonight we opened at 2011 Into Zin Zinfandel from Oak Ridge Winery…the same folks that make one of our favorite everyday Zins, OZV and Maggio!  They’re located in Lodi, California…a superb part of the state for growing zinfandel grapes.  While this Zin isn’t going to set any records for awards or get rated by Parker, it did earn a gold medal at the 2012 Alameda County Fair…not sure if that means anything, but even as a value-priced entry, it’s not bad.  But, it’s probably not going to make us go out and scoop up mass quantities of it either…the nose is certainly typical zin…peppery, dark fruit, a little leathery.  The taste was –well, just a little too tart for us.  We like a zin to have that warm, spicy taste and a finish that allows you to taste the fruit and other characteristics of the wine.  Even as the wine had some time open up, it didn’t deliver anything that made us jump for joy.  So, while some of the Oak Ridge products are among our favorite everyday-type wines, this one won’t be joining them.

Fortunately, good food is just that…good food and we enjoyed the meal immensely, but the wine, while disappointing, is a great way to enjoy good food.  We hope you have a terrific weekend and as you enjoy your favorite wine, we hope that you’ll do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 262 – Monday, Monday

Meiomi Pinot NoirMondays. . .immortalized by the Mamas and The Papas in March 1966 and the lyrics are as true today as they were almost 50 years ago. . .“Monday Monday, can’t trust that day, Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way — Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be — Oh Monday Monday, how could you leave and not take me.”  Okay, so we’re not sure what that means other than a). you can’t trust Mondays; b). you get NO warning of what’s coming your way and c). It always helps to keep those you love in the loop. . .corny?  Yeah, we thought so!

On a sadder note, we pause in writing tonight to pray for the families of those who have lost loved ones in the State of Oklahoma.  The tornadoes that have carved huge paths of destruction across the southern parts of Oklahoma City have scarred the landscape and families for years to come–even on the heels of the 1999 tornadoes that devastated the exact same areas of the state, today’s twisters affected more children than recent memory.  It’s a clear reminder that no matter how much we think that we’re in control, the reality is — we aren’t.  Call it a force of nature or a reckoning with The Almighty, but make no bones about it–we don’t really know when it’s “our time”.  May those who lost their lives today rest in peace and may the families and friends of those taken find comfort in having known, loved and been together with them.

We aren’t huge fans of Pinot Noir.  We tend to like the bigger, bolder wines, but this one was a recommended wine from Crystal at H-E-B out in West Austin after a recent trip there. . .we’ve had it laying down and really hadn’t had the opportunity to open and try it until tonight.  Okay, so the blog wine rack is looking pretty barren and we had this one sitting there and decided–let’s give it a try.  Oh my–the first thing we noticed was its’ beautiful dark, purple color. . .we’re talking inky purple–not filtered so it’s cloudy and dark in the glass.  It’s the kind of dark reserved for Sirah or Petite Syrah wines.  The nose was typical Pinot Noir–a little fruity; somewhat non-descript; an interesting aroma, but in a good way.  The taste–wow, the taste blew us away.  SO smooth and full of delicious fruits, anise, caramel and vanilla and a finish of raspberries.  We were really excited about this wine— young but full of flavor and one of those wines that you could easily lay down for 5-8 years and enjoy in that time frame and the wine would be even better!  It’s not very often that we recommend a Pinot Noir, but for less than $18 a bottle at H-E-B, you are going to be really happy with your purchase.  The wine is magnificent for the price, and the experience is worth the price.  What makes the wine really special is that it blends grapes from three of California’s premier grape growing coastal regions–Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Monterrey Counties.  While this wine is rated at 92 points by Wine Spectator, it still has value written into the price point.  Watch for it to go on sale at H-E-B, but look for the 2011 vintage.  Very good wine.

Mondays can be pains in the butt, and the best part about Monday nights is that they give way to Tuesday mornings.  We hope that you’ll continue to enjoy your favorite wine–on this Monday–responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 255 – Stairway to Heaven

slow dancerBeing products of the 70’s, we still remember Homecoming dances and others that always—repeat—always ended with Stairway to Heaven.  By the mid-70’s, Led Zeppelin was at the forefront of rock in America.  Even though Stairway to Heaven debuted in late 1971, it was the mid-to-late 70’s before it really caught on with the ‘disco’ generation!  And, with all due respect to the composers, it was one of the most difficult songs to dance to–especially if you’re a high school senior!  The song, running eight minutes and two seconds, is composed of several sections which increase in tempo and volume as the song progresses. The song begins as a slow acoustic-based folk song accompanied by recorders before electric instrumentation is introduced.  As rock-n-roll songs go, it’s one of the classics.  What is remembered most about this song is that you’d start out slow dancing–shoes were checked at the entrance so it was socks and stockings–but the tempo ramped up and you’re left hanging there like–OKAY, what am I supposed to do now???  Since it was usually the LAST song of the night, we were caught in a crossfire of dancing. . .fast? slow? close? apart?  C’mon man, this isn’t easy when you’re geeky teenagers!!  BUT, if you stop—and listen to the music, listen to the lyrics, it’s an amazing song.  Often referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and company put this song in the stratosphere of music legend.  To this day, we can’t hear this song and stop to reminisce about days gone by. . .it’s that GOOD!

Looking back over the years, who would have thought that a song first introduced by Neil Sedaka would become an anthem for classic rock?  It’s really not the stuff legends are made of–unless the music rocks and the lyrics kick butt.  Thanks to the guys in Led Zeppelin, this song does BOTH!  The problem with a song like this is that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to dance to!  We love the tune, but from slow to fast to an amazing guitar crescendo…we remember dancing to the music but it really wasn’t dancing to the music!!  Ahhh, the past, it’s a wonderful excuse to talk about the things we were a part of but didn’t quite see eye to eye!!

Which is why tonight we opened a really nice bottle of Slow Dancer Cabernet Sauvignon…we bought this at our local H-E-B and while we thought it was going to be a cheap; lousy tasting wine–we were surprised!  Think about this—-close your eyes—Slow dancing in the moonlight, that’s what this Cab is all about. Put on the soft music and let this tango of cassis, plum and vanilla-caramel flavors sway you.  Yeah, it’s got a really nice nose and a really nice taste, but the finish–oh, the finish is really amazing.  Lots of fruit–lots of oak–lots of mellow goodness that should be reserved for a wine much more expensive than this.  We really enjoyed Slow Dancer.

Led Zeppelin defined a generation of rock – n – roll lovers.  Stairway to Heaven defined a generation of rock – n – roll lovers that loved Led Zeppelin!  We still remember the lights coming on in the gymnasium after school dances because this song was the LAST SONG of the night.  BUT, more importantly, we know that whether it’s wine or music or both—when you let your senses take control—anything is possible!

Thanks for reading our blog and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!

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Day 242: A Little Too Sweet . . .

Fratelli MochettoToday was a good, crazy day – – between a cracked windshield, a binder clip poking a hole in the bottle of a styrofoam cup of Coke (for the record – the cup holders in a Jeep can hold up to 20 oz of liquid – what can your car’s hold?), and checking with dear friends who just opened a B&B here in San Marcos – it was a busy, but good one.  D#1 is days away from her final college exam before graduation coming up soon and D#2 is fighting a cold preparing for her final college exams before coming home for a visit from the East.  Looking forward to some time with all four of us together under one roof.   Life is just zipping by – can tomorrow really be May 1st?  Wow!!!

So . . . tonight was a stretch for us.  We knew that we’d be faced with one of these situations.  It’s like you’re driving and you look ahead and see really dark clouds, and that’s when you know that you’re going to have to drive through a thunderstorm.  Or you know you’ve got a test in a tough class, and you’d really rather be doing anything other than studying for the test but you know that you’re going to have to study in order to take the test.  It’s like having a client who you know is not a happy camper, but you have to go and face the  music by visiting that customer in person.  Tonight–for us–is all of these things wrapped up into one wine.

Now, don’t get us wrong.  We don’t mind trying new wines.  Shoot, we’ve probably tried 220 new wines of the 241 tasted so far, but as we’ve been told and even noted ourselves, we tend to focus more on red wines than anything else.  We’ll sprinkle an occasion white wine in there to keep some folks reading . . . but a rose’? We’ll have to confess that this one was going to be – if you’ll pardon the pun . . . tough to swallow.

Tonight we opened a 2011 Vino dei Fratelli Mochetto — a dessert wine made from moscato, muscat and delle venezie varieties and hails from Northeast Italy.  Believe it or not, Wine Enthusiast rates this wine at 85 points which to us seems high for a dessert wine.  The taste is very fruity and sweet–almost syrupy sweet.  It’s a pale pink sparkling wine that offers easy aromas of sweet raspberry and pink grapefruit. It’s a rosé sparkler that will pair well with fruit ice cream or panna cotta with fresh forest berries.  Priced around $15-$17 a bottle, it’s not a ‘throwaway bottle of wine’.  IF you like dessert wines, you’ll like the freshness, the crispness and the sparkle it gives off in the glass.  We served it chilled but could easily see it being served as just a bit cooler than room temperature.  For red wine lovers, it’s not going to make it on the top 10 list–let along the top 365 list!  Have to give our friends at HEB some credit – they told us we had to blog about this wine – just because . . .

We can officially say that we’ve tasted and blogged about a dessert wine, and if we were fans of dessert wine, this one would be a winner.  BUT, we just don’t care for the sweetness of it.  It didn’t stand a chance when we realized  we were going to be faced with trying a dessert wine.

Well, chalk it up to experience. . .and try to enjoy YOUR favorite wine responsibly.  Please remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 234 – Have You Any Wool?

Le Grand NoirThere is enough ‘seriousness’ in the world to go around the globe WAY too many times.  After the events of the past week, we’re ready for some levity and a chance to kick back and have a few laughs.  No, we aren’t going to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep, as the title of tonight’s wine might suggest.  No, we’re thinking about something that was a long time ago but still has humor today.  We’ll paraphrase the actual recording, but suggest that if you want to hear the real thing, you can google it, iTunes it or some other server-it until you find IT!

When Brian was growing up, his brother had a couple of Bill Cosby albums.  For those of you missing for the last couple of decades, albums were made of vinyl and with one continuous groove, music was embedded into the vinyl and played via a diamond stylus on a record-player.  You may have seen a renaissance of record players at Best Buy and other places, but few will compare with the turntables of the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Anyway, we digress. . .after we had been married for about three years, we had the opportunity to see Bill Cosby in person at the Music Hall in Houston.  The year was 1986 and he was in the middle of his ‘Fatherhood’ tour.  If you’ve read the book or seen the video, Cosby is at his all time best!  This was right around the time his show, The Cosby Show, debuted on Thursday nights on NBC.  We don’t think we can remember laughing as hard as we did.  The biggest part of his routine was talking about being a parent–which we weren’t and wouldn’t be for another five years–and all of the trappings associated with parenting from birth on—

One of his first albums was ‘Why Is There Air’?  As a Physical Education major at Temple University, Cosby was quickly cast as the typical ‘coach’ in training–his line, “Ha, ha Phys. Ed. you’re dumb!”  Well  it made an impression.  But, so did his routine about driving in San Francisco, going to the dentist and waiting for the novocaine to wear off, and playing football against Hofstra—“Don’t Touch Certain Parts of Your Anatomy”!!  If you have never downloaded, bought, played, listened to or seen this guy in action, Cosby brings life into focus!

Which is why we decided to focus on something fun and different tonight.  Look at the label. . .notice anything wrong?  If wine labels were like minted coins, we’d be ‘in the money’ with a simple little mistake.  But, we digress. . .The Black Sheep. . .From a country renowned for its wine-making tradition, Le Grand Noir wines offer non-traditional blends from traditional French varietals. In a world where so many things look the same, a wine that doesn’t sheepishly follow the herd.  The select vineyards used to produce the wines of Le Grand Noir are located in the notable regions of Minervois and Carcassone. Situated among rolling uplands and broad plateaus between the Pyrennes and “Black” mountain ranges, the diverse soils are comprised of limestone, chalk, clay, granite, and schist. The mild Mediterranean climate provides ideal conditions for producing high quality fruit.  What we LOVED about this wine–in true French fashion–it got better and better as it stayed opened.  For less than $15 a bottle, you’re going to find this wine a little addicting.  It’s got loads of fruit paired with lots of earthy goodness.  This is a wine that should cost a lot more than offered by our friends at Twin Liquors or H-E-B!

Comedians have come and gone over the past 40 years.  Few, if any, have the staying power of Bill Cosby.  His routines transcend time to this day.  His message isn’t lost among multiple generations and his humor is as clean today as it was back in the mid-1960’s.  Yeah, he can deliver an entire routine–have you busting a gut laughing–and not a blue word among his dialogue.  Kind of makes you wonder about today’s comedians who rely on profanity to generate laughs.  Not much material needed.  We think that taking some time to enjoy a good laugh is crucial to maintaining a level of calmness and sanity.  So, the fact that our wine has a black sheep on its’ label should give you a reason why we chose tonight’s title.

We hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly–because if you enjoyed it irresponsibly, there’d be consequences we don’t want to deal with–and please recycle whenever possible.

(BTW—If you stare at the label on the wine bottle, there is a closed parenthesis missing under the black sheep—worth millions?  NOT!  Have a great evening and we’ll talk with you tomorrow!!

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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.