casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 59 – So Many Plunged Into Darkness . . .

We hate beating a dead horse, but you have to admit that today’s storm was pretty amazing to watch.  Whether you had your television on CNN, MSNBC, Fox or the Weather Channel, you couldn’t miss the ‘Sandy Effect’.  Everything from Wall Street to Main Street was affected.  We’ve never seen so many Tweets than coming from the Mayor of New York’s office or the Governor of New Jersey’s office, but at the same time, were blown away by the coverage of this storm.  With a daughter in Boston and a niece in Washington D.C. and more family in New Jersey, to say that we were keeping a watchful eye on things may be an understatement.  Having been through a hurricane, a tropical storm or two, a snowstorm and a flooding event, we feel like we can relate to what has been going on up on the East Coast.

When we got married in 1983, we spent an August day at home in our little apartment watching horizontal rain fall as Hurricane Alicia came on shore.  We lost power for a few hours, but Jean’s Mom and Dad lost power for more than a week, and so our wedding cake in the freezer became Jean’s sister’s birthday cake!  When Daughter #2 was born, we had endured massive amounts of rain and even watched farmhouses being swept away by rising river levels . . . after the floods that year, someone told us that the confluence of the Illinois River and the Missouri River had moved north by 20 miles!  Never confirmed that, but you have to admit, nature is POWERFUL!  When we moved to Aransas Pass down on the Gulf Coast by Corpus Christi, we had a couple of close encounters of the tropical kind and we still remember buying sheet after sheet of plywood to cut window openings in case we needed to board up our windows.  Instead, we were inundated with 20 inches of rain which yielded mosquitoes the size of 767 airplanes!

The plain reality is that Mother Nature is always going to throw you a curve.  How you handle it is entirely up to you!  After talking with our daughter and hearing from Brian’s sister about how the kids were faring, we figured that we were more stressed – by a long shot – than the kids were.  Confirmation of that came when we found out that Domino’s was still delivering in the Nation’s capital, and classes were back on for Tuesday at Tuft’s in  Boston.  So, it seemed kind of like a no-brainer to select tonight’s sampling  .  .  .  a 2008 Plungerhead Zinfandel from Lodi, California – the heart of serious Zin Country!!  This wine was a great choice for a long Monday – a great nose – we mean SERIOUS Zin-like qualities, lots of pepper not only on the nose, but also on the taste.  A great, fruit flavor of black cherries and currants with a hint of spices and leather.  For a $14 bottle of wine, you may want to grab more than a bottle of it.  We enjoyed ours with some pan-fried salsbury steak and roasted potatoes with red peppers and red onions.  The food went really well with the wine, and the win – well, the wine went well.  Period!  We picked this wine up for under $15 at our local haunt – Gabriel’s, but you can find it at a number of places.

Unfortunately, according to the latest news from several sources, over 3 million homes are without power along the Eastern Seaboard .  .   .which kind of bites.  Losing power is no fun.  Whether its from a hurricane, a snow storm,  a thunderstorm or other causes, and it forces us to take drastic action .  .  . do we open the refrigerator to try the bottle of white wine we’ve been holding out to try?  Or, do we go ahead and open the red wine and keep the refrigerator door shut?  With a bottle of 2008 Plungerhead Zinfandel – we’d opt to keep the door shut.  If you’re on the East Coast, no worries, we’ve got your back and understand the hardships today and potentially in the days ahead.  If you’re elsewhere in our great country, keep these folks in your thoughts, and prayers .  .  . natural disasters are tough, and when you enjoy your wine, please do so responsibly–especially if the power has gone out.  And remember, recycle whenever you can.


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Day 58 – Hunkering Down. . .

Not sure about you, but we’ve been watching the weather maps pretty  much all weekend.  A hurricane in the Gulf or in the Atlantic isn’t news.  A hurricane in the Atlantic at the END of October is BIG news.  Add in the ‘big dog’ cold front working its’ way to the East Coast and you have the makings for a nasty storm.  The media have drubbed it “Frankenstorm” .  .  . and after watching ‘The Perfect Storm’ with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg (way too many times), to say that we’re concerned might be an understatement.  You see, one of our own, daughter # 2 is up at a university in the Boston area, and our experience with weather and Boston hasn’t exactly been great.  In 2011 when we packed up the car and took her to school for the first time, we were greeted by the arrival of Hurricane Irene.  Yep, the EXACT same weekend that the students were to move in to their dorms and begin orientation, the hurricane put an end to that.  We literally sat in a hotel room without power during the storm (enjoying wine, of course – what a surprise to find out that the licqour stores are open on Sunday, and during a hurricane . . .) while the daughter was safely on campus with power and plenty of things to keep her occupied.  Brian’s return flight to Texas was cancelled that Sunday night which meant trying to get a different flight out on Monday – Jean drove home solo and saw virtually no impact from the hoopla.  Irene turned out to be a minimal bother in the Boston area which is why we’re really watching to see what unfolds over the next few days.

One of the first pieces of good news was a forwarded email that classes have been cancelled for tomorrow which gives a certain piece of mind knowing that students won’t be walking (or blown all over) to classes.  The next part of the equation is watching how the storm unfolds and what kind(s) of precipitation falls or how bad the wind blows.  Actually, that’s the part that we think about the most – the wind.  It’s a ‘crap shoot’ because you don’t know how bad the gusts will be; how prolonged the wind speeds will be and what kind of damage the combination of the two will evoke.  So, for us, there is comfort in tasting and talking about a really great bottle of wine that we originally tasted on our recent trip to Paso Robles, California.

We had a great meeting of Robert Hall’s wine maker-extraodinaire, Don Brady, and he took us on a terrific tour of their wine making facility in Paso Robles.  At every turn, there were oak barrels – some from France, some from America and some from Eastern Europe.  Each of them have specific purposes in the wine making process.  Some of them have been a part of the Robert Hall wine making for a decade!  At Robert Hall, not only is the wine delicious but the tasting room and grounds are beautiful and relaxing.  Today’s wine is the 2009 Robert Hall Pape de Robles – a gorgeous blend of Petite Sirah. 35% Grenache, 28% Syrah, 20% Petite Sirah, and 17% Mourvedre.  While wines with Grenache, tend to be on the lighter side, this wine with its’ four big-grape cousins is an awesome blend with a beautiful, fragrant nose of cranberry, vanilla and spices combined with a fruit-filled finish of black raspberries, currants, cedar and spices.  It ends up being the perfect wine to wrap up this weekend .  .  . a weekend full of family, fun and food.  We’ve sampled other Robert Hall wines previously, but this 2009 Pape de Robles is a special wine from a special wine maker .  .  . Don Brady has roots here in Texas, so we’re happy to not only enjoy his wines but also to give him a shout out as well!

As the weather unfolds over the next few days, we’ll be keeping an eye on the Boston area as well as the Washington D.C. area – no, not because of any last-minute campaigning, because we also have a niece attending American University there.  The East Coast has OUR full attention this week, and if it doesn’t have yours, that’s okay .  .  . break out a bottle of your favorite wine and when you do, please enjoy it responsibly.  Please remember to recycle whenever possible.

We’ll be back here tomorrow night with a follow-up to the weather and thanks to all who have called, sent a text message or left a Facebook post asking about how things are going up there.  Until tomorrow, Cheers!