casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.