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Day 350 – The Return of ‘Malbec Week’!

Colome' MalbecJust when you thought it was safe to go back to your favorite wine shop, tonight we bring you another episode of ‘Malbec Week!’ Yes, and with a crazy week like we’ve had, finding a good Malbec was just what the doctor ordered!

Probably the single best thing that happened this week was last night and today. . .rain!  Funny how something as simple as a good old fashioned down pour gets people in a good mood.  Now we’re keeping an eye on a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that has a slight potential to develop into something tropical and could head towards our part of the Texas coast.  While we wouldn’t want to see flooding, when it comes to systems like this, beggars can’t be choosers, and with water levels in area lakes and reservoirs continuing to drop, a wholesale rain event from a tropical system is realistically the fastest way to refilling them.  But, that’s what lies ahead, and we have no control over it!

Another thing that we don’t have control over is how fast the month is screaming by. . .here it is, the middle of August. . .summer has really flown by and school is about to start again.  With the summer winding down, we decided to open a nice, but young 2010 Colome’ Estate Malbec from Salta, Argentina.  A closeout at Twin Liquors, this one is priced right at $15, and while we’ve other Malbecs that were better and cost less, this one had its’ moments.

The color is deep, dark red. This wine is layered on the nose with aromas of black and red fruits (blackberries and blackcurrants, raspberries and cherries) and a floral scent abounds on its complex nose, with hints of spices and minerals. It is an elegant wine with round velvety tannins. French oak and toast flavors are fully integrated through the mid-palate and well into the finish, which is very long…we enjoyed it with some ‘surf & turf’. . .grilled salmon and sirloin steak served with fresh green beans. . .and the food and wine were perfect companions.  This Malbec is rated by all of the respected authorities between 90 and 92 points; earlier vintages exceed 92 points, so you’re getting a really nice tasting wine at a closeout price.  Just how good is the closeout price?  If you paid regular retail for this wine,  you’d typically pay $30; on sale, you’d be looking at somewhere around $25. . .so a closeout price of $15 for a 92 point wine is something you should think about jumping on!  And, as we said, we’ve had better Malbecs that cost less, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one of this lineage at this price!

We’re looking forward to the weekend. . .as most people do. . .helping D#1 finish here preparations for starting school and helping get her moved in and settled.  It’s what parents do. . .we guess!  We hope that you enjoy your weekend–open up and enjoy your favorite wine–responsibly, of course.  And, remember to recycle when done!


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Day 317: Hi Ho Silver . . . Away

altosur malbecMalbec Week continues!  Yep, we’re cleaning out some wines from the blog wine rack (bwr – NOT to be confused with the BRWC at P & L’s) P&L know ALL about the BRWC!  Anyway, unlike a broken record, we’ve enjoyed staying with the Malbec varietal and tasting different wine making interpretations of the grape.  Admittedly, we’ve tasted and written about some pretty tasty Malbec wines over the past week, and we’ve also tasted and written about others that step in line with Malbec grapes.

Speaking of varieties . . . we met up with Jean’s Dad, Bill for a movie and dinner today.  Before that however, we had the ‘unique’ opportunity to not only clean out the dog’s private area (we call it the poop patio) but also landscape it just a little more than usual.  With rains anticipated later this week, today was a good day to add some gravel and clean out where the dogs take care of their business–yeah, we live an exciting life, don’t we!–and cleaned of the front door step from all of the leaves…this done before 10:30 this morning.

We decided to see “The Lone Ranger” with Johnny Depp and unlike the reviews from Hollywood, we thoroughly enjoyed the film.  Yes, the beginning was a little slow, but it quickly got better and better.  The jokes were numerous and you HAVE to be paying attention because they come and go QUICKLY!  The story line is classic good versus evil, but the acting and the cinematography are superb.  The reviewers can say what they want; we heartily give this film two thumbs up!

With the movie comes wine and so we decided to open yet another Malbec  . . . this one a 2012 Altosur Malbec from Sophenia in Mendoza, Argentina.  A very respectable Argentinian Malbec. This one has as much style and completeness.  It just seem richer than typical. That may be the result of maybe slightly higher altitude than usual, or more time in new oak, or maybe longer lees treatment, or something else, but this is not one dimensional value-priced Malbec. Even the fruit profile leans more towards ripe black cherry than typical. Respectable mid palate. More tannins than usual. Not much oak. The finish shows some spicy black fruits and really nice balance.   Another way to look at this wine is to say, “Attractive red color with violet hues. Aromas of intense ripe fruit: cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and fresh plums, combined with spicy and floral hints. In the mouth the sweet and round tannins increase its fruit sensation and balance. Wine of good intensity, concentration and long after taste.”  We really enjoyed this wine with some Yarlsberg and Medium Cheddar cheese as well as crackers.

After watching The Lone Ranger with his ‘assistant’, Tonto (Depp), we have a new appreciation for ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humor.  From Depp, to Silver-the horse–and from the supporting cast…which is HUGE, we think that the reviewers were looking for a little too much like the television show and not allowing for the creativity of the writer and director of this movie.  It’s really GOOD…in fact, we’re ready to see it again just to see and hear the jokes we missed the first time around!

Whether you’re enjoying Malbec or a varietal that suits you better, we hope that as Monday turns the corner, you’re ready to be at your best.  As we close in on 365 wines in 365 days, we also hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 314: Dora the Xplora . . .

exploradorOk, so who out there has kids and is a fan of Dora the Explorer?  Ah – come on now . . . you can’t fib to us – we KNOW you love Dora.  We mean, Dora is the BEST friend ever and she never, ever quits – – – because it’s always “the best day ever”.  This festy youngin’ is always ready for an adventure – guess that comes along with wearing bright pink shorts.  Whether she is swingin from the vines or waiting to give a helping hand, this pint size Indiana Jones is always on the go – thinking it is the purple backpack that gives her strength.

Sorry, we digress – today is just a regular ole Thursday leading into a Friday when means . . .WEEKEND (almost, but not quite, time to get giddy).  Tonight we have a number of things rattling around in our brains, but will choose to rest on just a couple of them –

  • Major SO (shout out) to Dr. V and Kay . . . turns out someone (who is on vacy) and his sister in-law are spending some quality time imbibing in a glass or two on a regular basis and reading this here blog.  Nice, nice, nice is just about all we can say!  Oh, and enjoy the land of the Apple Blossom, Painted Turtle and Dwarf Lake Iris (see we did some research!) – looking forward to your return to the salt mines.

  • 12 years ago we lost Brian’s Dad, Hugh – he was a wonderful man and sorely missed by family and friends.  A glass was raised in his honor.

Tonight we decided to open a bottle of 2011 Malbec from Xplorador. So, these wines go waaay back – like 1883 way back.  A fella named Don Melcher Concha y Toro started messin’ with french bordeaux grapes in the valleys of Chili – ok, a lot more to the story . . . but you’ll have to read for yourselves.  But let’s just say – they really know how to produce great wines in Argentina and we really enjoy the fruits of their labor.

We picked this little number up at one of the newest Twin Liquors – used to be The Main in Kerrville owned by good friends Peter and Cynthia – but, Twin came in made them a great offer and the rest is history . . . this wine was less than $12 on clearance and turned out to be quite the bargain.

After popping the cork and noticing the deep red color, we just knew we were in for a our own “explore”.  The nose tempted us with it’s fruity invitation to dive right in – so, we did.  The fruity and ever so smooth palate double dog dared us to savor a sip or two – so, we did.  The finish told us this wine had been aged in oak and lingered long enough to make an impression and tell us to go back for seconds – so, we did.  This was really a delightful wine and will definitely be added to the Bondy Deck Wine List – might even break into the top 10 list.  We paired it with sautéed vegetables and pasta – great combination.

Drinking this wine is just another reminder that we need to get to Argentina and enjoy some of the wonderful wines they produce . . . definitely on the bucket list.  Will just have to make a point to get there one of these days.  Perhaps like Dora, we will don pink shorts and purple backpacks and head out – knowing it will be a wonderful “explore”.

So, as we round third and head towards home – hope it’s been a great week so far for you – has been an eventful one for us . . . but aren’t they all.  Have a good one and as always, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 244: What Happens in 120 Days . . .

Tilia MalbecIt’s kind of cool…for the past several days, we’ve been tasting and writing about wines from places other than California.  It’s amazing to sip wines from Spain, Italy, France, South Africa, Australia. . .and other wine growing regions.  This blog has helped us expand our tastes, grow our library of wines and improved our abilities to sample and note good wines and not-so-good wines!

On a separate note, just when we thought it was safe to go into the water–because it was getting warm and that’s what we DO this time of year–Mother Nature threw a curve ball at us today with a windy, blustery day and falling temperatures.  When Jean got ready for an early trip into Austin this morning, the temperature was 66 degrees…when Brian got ready for work and trekked to the office, the temperature was 59 degrees, and when we both checked the temperature prior to starting tonight’s blog, it was 49 degrees with a forecast of 39 in our part of the world.  We laugh because we’re chilled, but we know that August isn’t that far away and neither is the high temperatures that comes with the dog days.  So, we’re content to listen to the howling wind, see the clouds moving at a blistering pace, and know that it’s going to be chillier than normal for a couple of days.  Uncomfortable?  You bet.  Can we live with it?  Without a question!

And so 120 days from today will be Day 364–which means we’ll be on the eve of our final blog in our year long quest.  We anticipate a very fast summer, so if we stop and sound a little nostalgic…it’s only because we’re still not believing how fast the year has gone by.  To complicate matters is tonight’s wine is a 2011 Tilia. . .oh, it’s from Argentina!  Oh, it’s a MALBEC!  Yeah, we know, but this wine has some chops.  This wine is LESS than $10 a bottle and is rated at 90 points by Robert Parker.  Let us be perfectly clear. . .a $10 bottle of wine—from Mendoza, Argentina. . . .90 points!  How is this possible???  The 2011 Tilia Malbec, from Eastern Mendoza and Uco Valley aged in oak for six to nine months; has an attractive, comparatively complex bouquet of blackberry, crushed stone and black pepper. The palate is medium-bodied with tense, edgy tannins on the entry that counterpoise the tight ball of blackberry, briary and minerals with style. This is an excellent wine for the money.  What we like is this Tilia Malbec has a dark, blackish purple color. The nose offers ripe black fruits, black pepper spice and floral notes. The mouthfeel is full yet soft and supple, with black raspberry and currant flavors mingled with notes of sweet spice and a touch of leather. The finish is long and persistent with soft, sweet tannins.

Yep. . .the weather may change in five minutes around here but finding a 90 point Argentine Malbec under $10 a bottle and we’ll call the deal even.  Bundle up. . .if that’s your choice or turn on the furnace on LAST time, but stay warm and enjoy your favorite wine responsibly, and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 215 – Bookmark This One

BookmarkHard to imagine living in an area where it rarely rains.  After watching weather reports all winter of these monster (named) storms (Thank You Weather Channel),  we wondered if our part of the world was ever going to see any measurable precipitation.  Those who live in the west, midwest and certainly, northeast have been inundated (pardon the pun) with wet winter weather this year.  Moisture in the winter time is the baseline for a spring growing season. . .more rain=a longer spring growing season.  Less rain= a shorter spring growing season or in some cases, no growing season.  As is the case here in San Marcos, the drought of 2011 had a profound affect on trees in this area.  Numerous long-time growing live oak trees have died as  a direct result of the drought.  2012 brought rain in the early part of the year followed by hot, dry temps in the summer. . .and virtually no rain in the fall.  This winter has been drier and warmer than expected. . .similar to 2011.  The impact?  Again, more trees–stressed to the max–are showing signs of succumbing to Mother Nature’s wrath.  And all the while, other parts of the country are buried in snowfall, have rain storm after rain storm to deal with and are greener than green heading into spring.  Amazing

One of the wine regions of the country we have yet to visit it Washington State.  And, before we started this blog, you could count the number of times we had Washington wines on our hands.  Not so much!  Since we started; however, we have tasted some amazing wines from that state and are really starting to enjoy trying new, tasty varietals.  It also means that at some point, we’ve got to have a road trip to the Great Northwest!  Until then, we’ll keep trying something different and, at least until August 31st, we’ll keep writing about them!  And tonight’s wine is a wine that you will want to bookmark!!  Oh, wait, that’s the name of it, tonight’s wine is the non-vintage Bookmark Red from J. Bookwalter Wines in Columbia Valley.  This wine–available at H-E-B–is less than $12 a bottle and it’s worth every penny!  The color, the nose, the taste, the finish–all of these are amazing for a wine in this price point.  But beyond the technical aspects of the wine, it’s just plain nice to drink.  We can see this as an everyday wine–you can serve it with big dishes or cheese and crackers, you can break it out for a party or keep it for a special evening.  This is a versatile wine that–along with others–is why we’re doing this blog…to talk about wines that aren’t on most folks’ radar.  Bookmark Red absolutely needs to be on your radar. . .hey, the price alone is a trigger for many wine lovers, but the taste–oh the taste, wow, what a cool wine!

The wine has toasty notes followed by espresso, chocolate, red fruit, dark fruit, and cracked pepper. The nose are attention getting indicating an oak program obviously intended for a much more expensive price point. And, as we mentioned before, the palate is soft and silky, lush, rich and fruit filled with ripe dark fruit and abundant chocolate flavors and a sweet, lingering finish. It’s a GREAT combination of grapes. . .33% Syrah, 31% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% mixture of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Roussanne.  Seriously, have you ever tried a blend like this for a price like this?  We didn’t think so. . .find out where it is in your local area and try Bookmark Red.  It’s a wine worth noting. . .a wine worth bookmarking!

Please enjoy your favorite wines responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 194: Where There’s White Smoke . . .

la puerta malbecThere’s a Pope!  What a great day to be a Catholic – our Church has a new Shepard to lead the flock!  Or simply put, history was made today.  It’s hard to wrap your arms around a concept like—Pope Francis will be the first ever from the Western Hemisphere.  That he takes a name that has NEVER been taken before.  That he will leave his mark on millions of pilgrims looking for his leadership, guidance, acceptance and spirituality.

No wonder when he stepped out this afternoon (or evening if you happened to be in Rome) it was almost like a ‘deer in the headlights’.  As we now know, he was waiting for the band to finish playing before addressing the crowd.

Clearly, there are challenges before any leader of a massive population.  And, whether you’re leading a great nation or a church of the people, one thing is crucial–the ability to be firm, yet decisive and the desire to be fair but true to your roots and convictions.  It’s a leadership concept lost in society.  Our hope and prayer is that this leader can truly set the example of servant leadership. . .of and for the people.  If his humble roots are any indication, we’re in for a spectacular run.

Okay, our next conversation settled on what wine could we open to celebrate the New Beginning?  Let’s see there’s St. Francis wines. . .their Zinfandels are pretty tasty; or how about Franciscan?  They have a couple of Cabs that have previously knocked our socks off.  Hmmm, the only catch with either of those two options was a trip to actually purchase them.  Not exactly on the radar screen. SO, a scan of the blog wine shelves uncovers one of our latest Twin Liquors’ Dollar Sale purchases.

In honor of the first Pope from the Western Hemisphere, and more significantly, the Country of Argentina, we opened and tasted a 2012 Valle de la Puerta ‘La Puerta Malbec’ from Famatina, Argentina.  At $10 a bottle, it isn’t a wine of the ‘upper crust’ but more in keeping with the humble roots of the new Pontiff.  La Puerta is a very young wine with lots of energy and potential.  There is a load of fruit on the nose and on the palate that really transcends what a good Malbec is all about. . .the fruit and living for today!  This wine took some time to open up, but after about 30 minutes or so, it offered up a terrific bouquet of fruit, floral and earth that, for Malbec lovers, is at the heart of what the grape is all about.  We did some research on earlier vintages of this wine, and found that they are typically rated at or above 85 points and noted for their fruit forward aroma and taste!

Perhaps more significant than the grape is the growing region where the grape is grown! From our friends at, “Famatina is a remote wine-producing valley in the La Rioja region of Argentina. Concentrated in a river valley in the foothills of the Andes, Famatina’s vineyards follow the course of the meltwater river closely, as it flows north to south towards the lower-lying lands in the east.  The Famatina valley is surrounded on all sides by mountain peaks of between 3,000 and 9,000 ft (1000 to 3000m). This topography creates a rain shadow, making the valley’s agriculture and viticulture highly dependent on irrigation from local rivers.”  Among some of the most fertile areas of the country for growing grapes, La Rioja (not to be confused with its’ Spanish cousin of the same name) is much smaller than the heavyweight region of Mendoza and despite being the longest-established of Argentina’s wine growing regions, La Rioja produces less than a 1/10th of wine compared to Mendoza.

For us, this wine was a pleasure to try and enjoy.  Very fresh and fruity.  It has an earthy essence to it.  And, the finish is in true Malbec fashion. . .lots of fruit.  As vintages go, there are probably better wines out there, but as prices go, you could enjoy a lot of this wine without breaking the bank!  Since being frugal seems to be an initial part of Pope Francis’s lifestyle, perhaps La Puerta is an ideal wine to not only open and sample tonight, but one to hang onto for the months and years ahead. . .only time will tell.

Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 175: Katie – Barr The Door . . .

barr estates cab

Ahh, Friday.  The last bastion of work before relaxation!  A time to kick back and let go of the work week worries (just try saying that fast three times!) Not sure if you’ve been paying attention, but a week from today is March 1st!  Yeah, funny how it sneaks up on you . . . January – well, with 31 days, it’s already a known quantity – especially after December which also has 31 days, so February is kind of  kickback for two consecutive 31 day months — it’s like a tax refund — of days, but the only problem is that we get seriously short-changed.  Come on,  – 28 days?  It’s like the month just starts and then it’s over.  And, to make matters worse, we HAVE to go into March . . . kicking and screaming because we just got used to February and SOMEONE pulled the plug on it!

Surviving February is much easier this year . . . it’s been in the high 60’s and mid-70’s pretty much all month.  While the midwest and northeast have enjoyed a, ahem, substantial winter – our part of the world has seen above average temperatures and below average precipitation.  Lot’s of snow fell yesterday in and around our old stomping grounds in St. Louis, and the same storm is heading towards the New England area where daughter #2 is’ battening down the hatches’ (so to speak) and ready for a third consecutive weekend of winter weather.  Uhhh, yeah, we’ll just sit here and enjoy some wine ON THE DECK because we CAN, and know that at some point between February, March or April, we’ll probably get OUR just rewards . . . so much for being smug about it!

Since it’s a Friday–the last Friday in February 2013–we decided to make a trip back to Paso Robles, and more specifically, to the family vineyards we stayed at during our trip there.  The good folks at Barr Estate treated us to beautiful surroundings, the opportunity to lend a small hand to their operation and, most importantly, the pleasure of trying their wines.  Now, we’ve previously written about and raved about their Malbec, so tonight we broke open our bottle of their 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is no ordinary Cab.  It’s been aged in oak barrels for three – count ’em three–years!  The minute we opened the bottle, we could tell that this was going to be a big wine.  Crush encircled the cork and bottle rim; the aroma was permeating the kitchen . . . we had a feeling that this was going to be a tasty wine–just by the smell!  Lots of tobacco, cedar, raspberries and blackberries on the nose–a veritable cornucopia of scents that combined with the subtleties of the oak barrels.  It was a magnificent nose–leading, of course, to our first taste–and OMG! this was a big wine.  It was like a meal in a wine glass!! (Well, not really, but it sounds so impressive!)  We enjoyed this wine with a beautiful homemade pizza loaded with garlic, italian seasoning, red onions, red peppers, mushrooms, black olives, lots of cheese, sliced roma tomatoes and fresh basil.  Yeah, it was a big meal to go with a big wine and we really liked both of them.  As the evening progressed and wine opened up, it was amazing–almost like a dessert wine.  The structure, the flavors, the tannins . . . these folks hit a ‘grand slam’ with this wine and ‘Katie Barr The Door’ we’ve got to get some more!!  We loved their description, “Rich, intense, chocolaty aromas are layered with nuances of stewed black currants, tobacco and leather in this classic Cabernet.”  NO?  Really?  We NEVER would have guessed that!  Priced a little higher than our normal price range . . . at less than $30 a bottle, you’re probably going to want to get ahold of this gem – if it’s still available – because they don’t miss on their wines, and after seeing the time and effort put into the harvesting, we’re sold!

We hope your weekend is relaxing and gives you the opportunity to enjoy your favorite wine(s).  Regardless, please remember to enjoy them responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 155 – Trying Something Different

 graffigna malbecIt’s always nice to meet up with friends for a glass of wine or two on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  Such was the case today with an opportunity to try a new Malbec, taste some good food at Cody’s Bistro in San Marcos and enjoy a warm, sunny afternoon.  For a Groundhog’s Day, it was about the best February 2nd we’ve seen in a long time.  So, if the groundhog saw his/her shadow today and supposedly that means six more weeks of winter, then we guess we’ll take whatever comes our way.  Sitting on the back deck late this afternoon, we had to wonder if the groundhog has any relevance in our part of the world?  Think about it. . .if you live in the northeast or midwest, the emergence of the groundhog could ‘prognosticate’ the potential weather for the next six weeks.  BUT, living in the south and west, we submit that it’s really not applicable.

Consider that for the month of January, we’ve enjoyed multiple days in the 70’s and a few in the 80’s and today’s beauty at 75 degrees was tough to beat.  Yes, we’ll still get hit with at least one more winter blast before turning the corner on Spring, but for the most part–around these parts–once the calendar turns to February, the chances of more winter begins to diminish.  Two years ago, this wasn’t the case.  After a beautiful late January, a very cold front swept through the area on February first followed by snow and a month of way below normal temperatures.  We’re talking highs in the 30’s and lows in the upper teens. . .pretty unusual for this time of year, but not out of the realm of reality.  On February 2nd that year , the groundhog didn’t see his/her shadow which indicated that an early spring was on the horizon.  Yeah, right.

So, it’s even more appreciated when two years later (today) when the temperature hits 76 degrees and there is no wind and lots of sun that we can open a bottle of wine and enjoy it out on the deck.  Our 2011 Graffigna Malbec Reserve is a young wine with a heritage of good quality for a good price.  Available for less than $15 a bottle, this wine has a great nose that screams fruit, cedar and cigar box.  The taste on the front palate is fruity and balanced.  However, the wine falls apart after that with virtually no mid or back palate taste and the finish is flat–almost nonexistent.  It’s a pretty wine with a deep, dark color and when poured into a wine glass we got the sense that this young wine was going to be something worth sampling.  A swirl or two seemed to confirm the initial observations, but the taste just didn’t measure up.  Unfortunately, even as the wine opened up over the course of an hour, the taste didn’t open up with it.  We tasted it with tomato basil soup, a couple of different salads and roasted garlic and chicken pita sandwiches. . .the food was great but the wine didn’t come along for the ride!  Fortunately, this Malbec, like many from Argentina, are low in cost.  This one just misses the mark on taste.  We know that there are a load of different Malbecs to choose from with some being exceptional for the price, we’ll attempt to locate them for future discussions, but for today’s selection, we’d probably suggest finding a different wine.

While the groundhog may have seen his/her shadow today in our part of the world, winter is slowly turning to spring.  As we mentioned, there is still time for one or two more blasts of cold air and even frozen precipitation, but the further into the month we go without this, the less likely it is to happen.  We’ll just sit back and soak up the sunny skies and warm temperatures for as long as we can and do that with our favorite wines.  Please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 109: Coming Home for the Holidays . . .

tapiz malbec

Those of you who read this blog with any kind of regularity know that we’ve mentioned Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 . . . their names are protected to save them from “embarrassment” but other than that, they’re pretty awesome kids.  When we were both growing up in our respective worlds, we remember the transition from high school to college, and at Christmas time how much our parents actually looked forward to seeing us.  Truth be told, we actually looked forward to seeing them too!  Something about being in our own surroundings .  .  . and just long enough to enjoy the visit, but short enough to get back to school . . . Or, was it the other way around?

Funny thing about getting older.  We went through school, got married and found ourselves really, really enjoying the company of our parents.  When we bought our first house in 1984, we distinctly remember having both of our parents over for dinner.  It’s the stuff memories are made of . . . Bill and Hugh with Brian out on the patio while Bea and Margaret were in the house with Jean getting things ready for the table.  It all happens so fast, and now as we look back on it as fond memories, we now begin to understand the same feelings our parents had when we came home from school.  There is a wholeness that comes from your children coming home for the holidays.  There’s an anticipation that’s like an itch needing a scratch.  We clean the house, get the rooms in order, buy food that we only buy when they are coming home!  Even the dogs know that something is going on . . . they have NO idea what–but they’re pretty sure something is happening because ‘mom and dad’ are going crazy!!!  Needless to say, we’re very excited that Daughter #2 made it home safely this afternoon – a little tense this morning because of weather delays but all worked our well in the end.  Now, we await the arrival of Daughter #1 and then a certain Mom and Dad are going to be pretty happy having their kids back under one roof!

Tonight, we opened – from our trip to Central Market – a really nice, young Malbec.  This is a 2011 Tapiz from the vineyards of Fincas Patagonias S.A. in Mendoza Argentina.  For those of you tracking costs, this little gem retailed at $12.95; however, with our sale discount, we ended up spending $11.00.  Two things: if you love a nice, dark purple and fruity Malbec and if you don’t mind a young wine that has lots to offer, then you need to stock up on Tapiz.  We really liked this wine.  Upon opening, a beautiful toasted oak aroma encircled the glass . . . further swirling produced raspberry and blackberry notes to go along with the toasted oak.  The taste was very fruity and the raspberry flavor came to the forefront and we picked up subtle hints of cedar, earth and plums.  For us, this was a terrific wine to enjoy with grilled tenders in hot sauce and barbecue sauce – a boneless wings bonanza for a Tuesday night.  The wine paired nicely with the spiciness of the tenders.  With Christmas a week away, this is a wine to stock up and bring out for family and friends.  We think it’s got a lot to offer a Malbec lover.  The price is manageable and there are a lot of other wines on the market that cost a lot more and don’t deliver the flavor of this 2011 Tapiz Malbec.

Yep, there is something special about coming home for the holidays.  From our perspective, there’s something really special about our kids coming home for the holidays.  We’ve learned to cherish them — one at a time — because they become a blur as the years go by.  And, whether we think about or reminisce about the past or think about and dream about the future, we know that family coming home for the holidays is where our heart is and it’s made special by their arrivals!

It’s also a GREAT reason to open a bottle of our favorite wine – tough to chose because we have SO many – but we promise that we’ll enjoy responsibly, and we’ll even remember to recycle–because here, it’s possible.

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Day 73: Open the Door for Your Mystery Date . . .

So, when selecting tonight’s wine Jean couldn’t help but zip back to her childhood and remember the Milton Bradley game, “Mystery Date”.  For those not old enough to remember, the original version was introduced to the world of teenage girls in the early 1960’s (yes, sadly we were alive and kickin’ way back then).  The purpose of the game was to spin and move your marker around the board until you got to open the door and discover who your “mystery date” would be.  The good-looking surfer?; the hunk all dressed up for the prom, the bowler or heaven forbid “the dud”.  The game provided fun and anxiety – who knew who you would “get”.  Advertised as “a game of romance and mystery for one and all – Fun and surprising – that’s Mystery Date” – wow, nowadays this would be called or perhaps even Speedating. Although it was a simple game – it did provide hours and hours of fun – because, you just NEVER knew who would be behind that door.  Jean did chuckle out loud when she confessed to Brian that nine times out of 10 she got “the Dud”, otherwise known as the Plumber.  Fortunately for her, her real “Mystery Date” turned out to be a pretty swell guy that she met in college and will celebrate 30 years of marriage with in January.  Please let us know if you remember this game.

So, onto tonight’s wine – this is yet another gem that we picked up in College Station during “the voyage to Lufkin: a weekend or two ago.  We found this wine at World Market for a mere $10.19 (originally $12.99 – see it really pays to join “clubs” and get those discounts!).  The wine is a young Mountain Door 2011 Malbec from Mendoza (some dear friends are traveling there in the Spring and might have to check this place out for us – surely they won’t mind having to sample a wine just for us!).  As young as this wine is, it has a lot of flavor . . . we sensed it on the nose where there was a hint of vanilla mixed in with a smell of raspberries.  Upon tasting, both of these were confirmed along with a finish of cherries.  We were surprised by the mellowness of the wine on the palate and the finish.  It seemed like a much older bottle of wine given its’ structure and tannins.  We enjoyed this wine with a spicy leftover chili and the combination was perfect.  You may want to try it with some grilled steak or salmon . . . sure to be delicious together.  The color is magnificent and the wine is clear and ready for enjoying.  As we mentioned earlier, the price is outstanding and now after tasting, the value is off the charts.  We are constantly amazed by the quantity and quality of wines coming from the Mendoza, Argentina appellation.  For wine lovers, this represents some uncharted territory in wine selection and enjoyment.  We have been and continue to be impressed with wines, especially Malbecs, coming from this region.  Knowing that the Argentina wine growing region has some impressive  altitudes, these grapes are probably sourced from older vines where the fruit is darker and riper giving it the beautiful color we saw in the glass.

This is a really nice ‘cheap’ wine.  And, let’s face it, for $10 a bottle, you can decanter it and show it off to your best friends .  .  . they’ll never know!  Or, you can open a bottle and pour a couple of glasses and go out on the deck with a fire in the pit and relax after a hard day’s work. You choose the moment, but you really owe it to yourself to try this wine.  We’re going back to buy a few more bottles of it to have around as we get closer to the holidays.  It’s amazing how, after 70+ days, we’re really starting to learn more about and enjoy different wines that we’d never otherwise try, so we want you to try them too .  .  . let us know what you think.

But more importantly, remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible and be sure to open the door – you never know who your mystery date will be!