casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


Day 198: Wine – Texas Style . . .

Becker Reserve Cab-SyrahWeekends do tend to fly by . . . especially weekends where travel from one place to another and back again is involved.  Driving eats up chunks of time and driving in Texas is about large chunks!  Being centrally-located in San Marcos really helps a lot.  We’re 3 1/2 – 4 hours from most places . . . the Coast, D/FW, Houston, etc.  As we mentioned last night, the wedding of our friends in Aransas Pass, meant a drive to the coast yesterday and a return trip today . . . with Daughter #1 in tow, and she needed to head back to school today after her spring break trip.  What’s it all mean?  Driving.  Lots of driving!  The last time we bought a car (used), the dealer–whom we’ve purchased from previously–commented that we drive a lot.  This comment was based on odometers of cars traded in over the years.  Yep . . . we drive a lot.

We like to be able to get in the Jeep and slide the top down to soak up some of that warm Texas sun and head north, south, east or west.  We’ve been driving a lot for the 30+ years we’ve been together.  From 4,200 mile round trips to spur of the moment road trips to visit family, there is something magical about putting some gas in the tank and hitting the road.  Unfortunately, as gas prices have risen, the number of trips and length of trips has diminished significantly.  However, the call of the open road is alive and well and this weekend was one of those “just gotta go” moments – kinda like the Southwest Airlines commercial – – – “Wanna Get Away?”.

It seems appropriate – since we’re talking about driving in Texas – that we zero in on a Texas wine that has gained some significant notoriety . . . tonight we enjoyed a 2011 Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet-Syrah.  The first thing about this wine is that it tastes really good!  Yep, we know it’s hard for us to even type that, but this wine has character, body, beautiful color and best of all a great taste . . . on the front palate and a terrific finish.  Made of 70% Cabernet and 30% Syrah, this wine really has rich, wonderful deep, dark fruit, with hints of tobacco and caramel and aged in French and American oak barrels.  Clearly, the Syrah grapes, gives the wine a nice berry flavor.  For the $22 price, we’d suggest some other wines from Australia and Washington that may be just as good, but priced less; however, as Texas wines go, this one is clearly a winner.   And, in fairness to Becker, at its’ existing price point, this wine outshines some higher priced wines we’ve tasted previously.  Like most wines, it comes down to taste and preference.

As for our experiences at Becker — another driving trip — we’ll save that for another day; however, when you visit this place, you’ll love the tasting room, the grounds are superb and who knows, you may end up getting your picture taken and published in a book about wineries without your permission!  The area where Becker is located has been populated by an ever growing number of wineries . . . some of these make wine from grapes grown on their property and some make their wine from grapes sourced in west Texas . . . many of them are opting for fruit purchased from California or other parts and still others are simply buying the juice and making wine without all of the “mess”!!  It’s still an amazing process for us to watch!

We hope that you’ve had a good weekend.  With temperatures in the upper 70’s and low 80’s, it’s been one of the nicer spring break weeks in recent memory.  For us, it ended with a nice wine with a good taste and our hope that you enjoy your favorite wines responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 142: ‘Win One for the Gipper’. . .

saddlehorn barn redIn our part of the world, today was a beautiful Sunday with sunny skies and warm temperatures.  It was the kind of Sunday where after Church  you pack the Jeep and head out on a road trip.  With a rough idea of where we wanted to go, we set out around 10 this morning, and after driving through Martindale, we turned on Hwy. 142 with Smithville as our intended destination . . . Smithville, Texas was where the Sandra Bullock movie, Hope Floats was filmed.  As we made our way towards our destination, we turned on to Farm Road 535 and found ourselves going past the Rockne Museum in Rockne!  Whoa, is that a bust of Knute Rockne?  We turned the Jeep around and pulled into the museum parking lot and lo and behold, it was!  So, we then asked ourselves, was Knute Rockne from Texas?  We sure didn’t think he was, and a little research confirmed that he was actually born in Norway and moved to Chicago when he was five years old.  Okay, so what’s the deal?

As we left the museum, we drove next door to the historical marker in front of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.   And, here’s what we found out, “Rockne has been known by several names. First called Walnut Creek because of its proximity to the stream, it was known as Lehmanville when the Lehman Post Office was established in 1900, and as Hilbigville after William Hilbig opened a store here. In 1931 the children of Sacred Heart School were given the opportunity to permanently name their town. A vote was taken, with the children electing to name the community Rockne in honor of Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame University football player and head coach who had died in a plane crash in 1931.”  How about that?  A Sunday drive – AND – we learned something!

After stopping and scouring Smithville for antiques (good thing we had the Jeep – all the stuff we liked wouldn’t fit in the back), we hit the road for LaGrange, and found our way to a winery just northeast of town, called Rosemary’s Vineyard & Winery where we met Emmett.  No worries, we’ll talk more about them at a later date.  Continuing on our trip we drove through Round Top – which may be the ‘Antique Capitol’ of Texas.  When we stopped at a roadside antique shop, we learned that in the Spring, there are 25 miles of antique shops, vendors, booths, tents and such but only for two weeks.  We’ll keep you posted on that!  After driving, what seemed to be forever, we stopped at the Windy Winery and sampled a little of their wine . . . and, more about them later as well.  Back on the road, and heading towards Brenham, home of Bluebell Ice Cream . . . not open, GRRRR!!  Heading back on 290 West and just outside of town is a beautiful red barn, that when you turn on the road, you can’t miss it!  Inside this former horse barn is the Saddlehorn Winery.  The tasting room is beautiful – complete with clear windows to see through to the wine making operation.

Tonight’s wine is from Saddlehorn, it’s their Barn Red.   Those who know us, know that we aren’t huge fans of Texas wines.  As a rule, they’re either too sweet, too expensive or in many cases, both.  So, we’re naturally skeptical when it comes to a blend, and Barn Red is a blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Zinfandel. The wine showcases rich berry fruit with a touch of oak.  It’s a light to medium body wine with a fresh nose of dark berries and a  hint of spice.  As wines go, it was better than some of the wines we’ve talked about in our first 140 days of the blog, but we’re not quite ready to go full boar into Texas wines.  Steve Morgan and his family are building a nice business, and as tough as the wine making business is, we like to see folks like them succeed, so here’s a shout out to Barn Red from Saddlehorn Winery!  If you’re looking for that special Texas wine with a great name and a nice blend, then this is your chance.  And, if you’re looking to make a trip to the “Bluebonnet Country” this Spring, then stop in and visit Steve.

And, if you’re lucky, you’ll drive through Rockne, Texas on the way!  More research on the plane crash that killed Rockne turned up the following, “After visiting his two sons in Kansas City , Mo. , Rockne boarded Transcontinental-Western’s Flight 599 to Los Angeles on March 31, 1931. Shortly after takeoff, one of the plane’s wings separated in flight and the aircraft plummeted into a wheat field near Bazaar, Kan. There were no survivors. Rockne was 43 years old.”  Sad passing of a notable person who left their thumbprint on the world – and can you imagine having a town that you have no connection with named after you by a group of school children – what an honor.  A great reminder that we touch lives each and every day, some we know and many we don’t.

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.