Memorial Day. . .a time to stop from shopping, swimming, camping, driving or hiking to pay respects to the thousands of men and women who have paved the way for us to enjoy what we enjoy each and every day. Looking back over history, we’ve seen so many changes in our world–many of them brought about by armed conflicts–that have made a difference in our lives. Rare indeed is the soldier who comes back from battle to a job, a home, a family and a way of life that was close to the same existence before being deployed. Rare indeed is a society that on the surface supports our men and women in uniform, but when it comes to providing a livable income upon return, the tendency is to turn the other cheek. Rare indeed is the family unit–held together by a spouse on the homefront–so precious to the long term survival of this country. We live in changing times–change that has been good and change that hasn’t be so good, but change that has been made possible by the sacrifices made by veterans of armed conflicts.
As baby boomers, we grew up with the stories of heroism from World War II, and from our parents mouths we heard first hand of the bravery in the fields, in the air and under water of people who drew together for a common goal. A common goal. Hmmmm, something totally missing today. We’ve lost the ability to seek a common goal. Unfortunately, as Memorial Day 2013 draws to a close, we’ve become a country that is deeply divided. We have leadership that seeks to polarize the citizenry and a media that exploits it at every turn. Soldiers who have come and gone before us seem to have fought and died in vain because we no longer (as a general rule) espouse the values of a country united for a common purpose, but instead have become a nation forged on ‘what’s in it for me’. Not to be on a soap box, but Memorial Day provides us the perfect back drop of historical significance, patriotic prowess and determination to succeed–all of it compliments of those who have come before us. And, how do we recognize their contributions? We minimalize their accomplishments by getting bogged down in rhetoric and shying away from substance. We’d rather see sound bytes than deal with reality. We’d prefer to see everything packaged neatly in an Entertainment Tonight segment rather than deal with the fact that the middle class is shrinking; the poor are growing in numbers and the skilled workforce is being replaced by the unskilled without a drive and determination to do better than their predecessors. It’s a curious predicament. . .but we can’t blame the contributions of our veterans!
So tonight we opened a really nice wine from Paso Robles, California. . .a 2011 Rare Find Cabernet Sauvignon. We picked this wine up at the HEB Plus in Kyle, Texas as we watched a “Chopped” showdown between the cooking team from the Kyle Fire Department and the Buda Fire Department. . .the event was held in the store and was an appropriate tribute for the hard working first responders in our area. This wine–while inexpensive to buy–tastes like wines that are two to three times its price. The nose was one of sweetness–kind of like trying a raspberry cobbler or blueberry pie. . .a la mode. . .very jammy. We tasted the wine and were immediately greeted by the berry flavor; a nice oak finish and a long, pleasing after-taste were a surprising combination for this wine. While still young in the bottle, we felt like it was better than many in its’ price range and could easily be enjoyed in six to nine months without issue. All in all it was a decent wine to break out on Memorial Day.
As we all head back to our homes for the week ahead, we can’t help but think about–with gratitude–the men and women who have served our country in the past. The ideals and values that they fought and died for were as real then as the are today–so hopefully, we won’t lose sight of our values and ideals. . .because in losing them, we do a tremendous disservice to their contributions to our lifestyle. To the men and women of our country who continue to serve, thank you. You are shining stars on otherwise cloudy skies of society, and we respect you and wish you godspeed to return home to your families, your friends, your communities and your careers. YOUR leadership will prove to be the difference in the future and for that WE are a nation that is grateful.
Please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.
We are constantly amazed at the wines available today that are priced well under $15 a bottle and absolutely catch us off guard. After 234 days, we’re pretty sure that we’ve tried almost 200 new, different wines that wouldn’t have been given a second thought before this year. Don’t get us wrong. . .not everything that we have sampled has been a home run. Come to think of it, we’ve had a lot of singles, doubles and triples–a few home runs, but we’ve also had our fair share of strike outs, pop outs and failures to play! What it tells us as wine consumers, there are so many labels, so many wineries, so many varietals, so many regions, so many appellations. . .so, if that’s the case, the try something different. Yes, we know ALL about buying our favorites–we were in World Market in College Station, Texas a few weeks ago and they were ‘closing out’ one of our all time favorites (Thank You, Patrick at Grape Juice)…Tait’s Ball Buster. An almost $20 bottle of wine for $9.47 a bottle? Are you serious? Yes, we managed to get our fair share. BUT, we also found a huge number of wines that have found their way into this blog. Why? Because we are staying true to our goal of not only trying and writing about a different wine every night for a year, but we’re also very focused on finding wines that those of us without deep pockets can enjoy without breaking the bank. Even as we get further into the year, the call for finding wines with a good flavor, good nose, good palate range and finish — in combination with a good price tag is getting more and more difficult. Jean has commented that each time we go to a store to find the next set of wines to taste and write about, it’s a case of done it, done it, done it, done it…too expensive, done it…etc. The challenge continued this evening…
Following a Leadership San Marcos event that saw Brian and nine other team members graduate through the program, we were faced with trying something new! The story on the label is certainly impressive. . .(sorry, you’ll need to find it or buy it, we won’t tell you that story) but the wine in the bottle, that IS the question. As we’ve grown to enjoy delicious Cabernet Sauvignons, when we come upon new, young wines, we get a little nervous. But, we shouldn’t have worried, deep purple in color, the 2010 Leese – Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon blend jumps from the glass with aromas of juicy blackberries, ripe blueberries, dark chocolate, and toasted walnuts. A lot of great Cab flavor in the mouth; currants, blackberries, dark cherry, milk chocolate, espresso, clove, vanilla and oak tastes. The finish is truly lingering with a lot of dark fruit notes as well as some great structure and integrated French and American oak flavors. Oh yeah, this one is going to catch you off guard. . .AND, with a price tag around $13 a bottle, you may want to keep some to drink now and save some to drink in a couple of years. Even though it’s labeled as a Cab…the actual concentration is a blend…79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Alicante Bouchet, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, 4% Sirah, 1% Carignane and 1% Petite Sirah…talk about a wine-lover’s blend! WOW!
Instead of taking ‘the road more often traveled’–trying wines that were well known or had pedigree; we’ve opted to take the ‘road less traveled’ or as our title suggests, ‘the long and winding road’ of new and different wines. . .these Leese – Fitch wines fit the bill to a tee and are priced right, taste right and ready for enjoying now!
Whether or not you try this wine is up to you, but just remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
Thanks to Scott for pinch hitting for us tonight!
So my friend and co-worker Jean and her husband Brian came up with this idea to try a wine a day for 365 days and blog about it. She has been bugging (Jean note here – gently asking, not bugging!) me for about 200+ days to guest blog….I guess one can get tired of a wine a day every day…nah, not Brian and Jean.
So while they were out in Waco tonight for ANOTHER Catholic school gala, I decided to surprise them and give them the night off!
Today was one of those days that you looked at on the calendar and thought, Whoa Nelly! It is a classic Saturday at my house! I have five children twelve and under. The weekend started with a 14 twelve-years-olds at our house for an Avengers party. It was great and I was so happy to see my oldest son cling to his childhood just a bit longer.
Saturday started off with first communion practice for my 9-year old. She is so excited about it next weekend. Then I took two of the kids with me to the ordination of 11 men to be Deacons. What an awesome moment in time to see these Holy men take their vow of obedience and pledge to serve this diocese. Our Bishop remarked on our Holy Father, Pope Francis and his words about service. “Let us never forget that authentic power is service,” he said. “Only those who serve with love are able to protect.”
My wife, Kathryn, met me in the parking lot and we exchanged kids. My second son, John Paul, changed into his baseball clothes in the car and we were off to this game. He went 2-2, 2 singles, scored twice, and 1 2/3 inning of middle relief. He was very happy. Meanwhile, Kathryn, headed off to our daughter’s soccer game that started about an hour later. They ended up in a tie 2-2. Mom said she played great…but she always says that!
We all ended up at home about 4:30 and we all looked at each other and said, “Wanna order pizza?” I ran off to grab the pizza and found this nice little 2011 Cabernet from McManis Family Vineyards at HEB for $9.99. It looked like the perfect compliment for a family pizza night.
Immediately upon opening and the first pour I was impressed the color. Can’t you just tell from the color if the wine is going to be good? It just looked rich and the color was dark maroon (then again, everything is maroon to this Aggie!) Did I mention the Aggies played in the Maroon and White spring football game today? Only 140 days until college football…..but I digress….
I immediately experienced smoke and pepper on the nose. I did sense a hint of berry but not as much as the wine maker said. It had a nice finish and lingered on the palate a good amount of time. All in all, it was a great pairing with pizza and for under $10 a bottle; I could definitely classify this as a deck wine according to the Bondy standards.
Thanks Jean and Brian for letting me crash your party for a few minutes. Y’all have a blessed week and visit www.teamwhitaker.org for more details about this crazy life we lead.
Scott – we are very thankful for the help tonight – one more gala on the docket tomorrow night and our string of four are finished for at least a little bit! If you get a chance, check out the site above that Scott mentioned – the Whitaker clan is a super neat family and we are blessed to know them!
Enjoy the remaining minutes of this Saturday night and as always – remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible!