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Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 177: And the Award Doesn’t Go To. . .

Serendipity SyrahWe love going to the movies.  Over the past 30+ years we’ve been to literally hundreds of shows, consumed what seems to have been tons of popcorn, slurped down gallons of sodas and opened a whole bunch of candy packages.  We’ve seen some of the best that Hollywood has to offer and some of the worst.  We’ve seen Academy Award winners and losers and some that should have been.  As we sat at dinner last night, we ran through (with Daughter #1 calling out the information) all of the Best Pictures in Oscar’s history starting way back in 1929 with Wings.  One thing is certain, having the most nominations is NO guarantee of victory; in fact, as we talked through some of the movies that had multiple nominations going into the Best Picture category – very few made the clean sweep.  The other interesting thing that we learned was the number of times Steven Spielberg’s films were nominated but never won from Star Wars in 1977 until winning with Schindler’s List in 1993.  It clearly illustrates the bias in voting; when a director of the story-telling ability of Spielberg has to wait 16 years from his inaugural hit movie to his winning movie. The topic was much publicized leading up to those awards in 1993; up to that point it really was a case of, “And the Award doesn’t go to…”

As we sit and watch the Oscar’s tonight, we’ve be watching to see if ‘bias creep’ comes back; since ARGO is a film largely based on the entertainment industry’s ability to help a historical situation or will Spielberg dominate once again with his amazing bio-pic of ‘Lincoln‘?  Duh . . . of course, Hollywood ALWAYS sides with HOLLYWOOD!!!  Congrats to Director Ben Affleck (we REALLY liked ARGO), but please don’t confuse him with “Best Director”, Ang Lee . . . HUH?  Seriously?  What do those folks smoke, drink or consume?  How – how do you give a best directing for a film that had virtually NO live action?  It was almost ALL special effects?  Directing?  And Spielberg never got an Academy Award for Star Wars because it was almost ALL special effects . . . What’s up with that???

Sorry we get off of our soap box to talk about wine . .  .and the good news or the bad news depending on your viewpoint is that the 2oo5 Serendipity Syrah is LOUSY!  No, we’re being nice.  It’s rough . . . like, “how am I going to finish this glass”, rough!  We’re not sure why it’s priced (before being on sale) at almost $12 bottle.  Not much to report here . . . way too much green pepper and ‘unharvested’ fruit.  The nose was harsh and the taste was even more harsh . . . it’s like, why even bother to bottle this stuff.  Ordinarily, we could come away with something positive about a wine in this situation, but when we have to call it names and pour it down the drain – – we are dealing with a dog . . . a loser . . . and an award “recipient” that won’t be around at the end of the telecast – in other words, “a box office flop”.

There are so many EXCELLENT wines to choose from on the “menu” of local wine and liquor stores.  It’s amazing to us to see the lack of quality in locally produced and other areas-produced wines.  Even though this wine was a 2005 Syrah, it didn’t fill the bill in terms of smell, taste, finish or any other wine loving categories.  It didn’t do anything but just SIT there.

We hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly, and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 50 – Sometimes We Miss One

We had a chance to watch a movie today that was part of our past.  Back in 1979, when we were both in college, we watched as Americans were taken hostage in Iran.  The anger and frustration of the time caused Brian to write an editorial for the campus newspaper, The Pine Log. –  we still have a copy.  The movie was “Argo”, and if you get a chance – go see it.  It’s amazing as fast as time goes by how things that happen in our lifetime become historical events by the time we get older.

Jean was a part of the editorial staff of the campus paper and Brian was a part of the advertising staff.  We had some mutual friends that were part of the Journalism program at Stephen F. Austin State University, but other than that, we had nothing in common.  So, the mere fact that an ad man’s editorial got printed in the paper (on approval from the faculty advisor, bless Dr. Francine Hoffmann, and the fact that Jean vouched that he was a good guy!) was nothing short of amazing.  Who would have known that at that moment a die was cast for a relationship that would span more than 30 years and growing.

So as the movie unfolds, it focuses on six Americans who escape out of the US Embassy during the tumultuous rioting and they end up in the residence of the Canadian Ambassador.  And as we talked about the events after the movie, neither of us could remember this  happening – other than a faint remembrance of people being “released” and thinking that it was a ‘goodwill gesture’ on the part of the “students” holding our fellow Americans captive.  Sometimes we miss one.

Tonight’s wine is right up there with the story line of the movie – sometimes we miss one.  Having just returned this past Wednesday from Paso Robles, California, we drove past a winery called Niner Wine Estates on two or three occasions.  It was a beautiful building and easily accessible off the highway, but we either had a place we needed to be, or we were on our way back from somewhere we were supposed to have been.  Bottom line is that we didn’t take time to stop.

Regardless, the wine we tasted tonight is a 2007 Niner Wine Estates Twisted Spur – a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petite Syrah and Carmenere and oh, what a blend it is!  With hints of juicy blackberry, smoky mocha, caramel on the nose these aromas transitioned into beautiful flavors of cedar, forest floor. Firm tannins and ideal structure are a great combination in this wine from Paso Robles that we didn’t taste while there.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that there are moments in our lives that we seize and take to the next level and there are moments that we leave on the table and miss the opportunity.  Gladly, we seized the moment while on the campus newspaper staff 30+ years ago to get to know each other and have it lead to something special to this day, but like the events of 1979 and 1980, we sometimes miss one – just like missing out on a great tasting wine.  This 2007 Niner Wine Estates Twisted Spur was purchased at Gabriel’s Outlet in San Marcos for $14.99 and even Nathan, the store manager hadn’t tried it – now we can tell  him that it’s a winner and worthy of enjoying after a great movie or great meal or simply sitting around enjoying each other’s company!

Don’t forget to enjoy the ones you miss responsibly and recycle whenever possibly.

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Day 37 – Trouble With The Curve

This afternoon we went to see the Clint Eastwood/Amy Adams film, Trouble With The Curve, with Jean’s Dad ( you’ve met Bill before – he’s a pretty neat guy), Sister and Brother-in-law (these two are great – retired and fulltime RVers) . . . as mentioned in previous blogs, we’re baseball fans, so the picture piqued our interest.  If you haven’t seen the movie, we won’t spoil the fun, but suffice it to say, it’s about an old-school baseball scout and his daughter, whose only real desire is to have a life with her dad.  There is some baseball, and business and relationships stuff in the middle, but we particularly enjoyed the baseball footage.

So, on the way home, we started a “name a Clint Eastwood film” game – the first one for Brian was easy, Firefox, because that was the film he and Bill went to see when he asked Bill for permission to marry Jean way back in 1982!  Jean immediately fired off, ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly‘( 1966)  – one of Clint’s trademark, spaghetti westerns.  Now, this led to a broader discussion about how these movies got their identity as ‘spaghetti westerns’ ( we really should get a life – but these discussions pass the time on the hour drive from Georgetown to San Marcos).  Italian director, Sergio Leone made a name for himself and a lot of actors back in the 1960’s with pictures, largely made in Italy, about the old West.  A quick check of the facts, and did you know that between 1960 and 1980 over 100 of these films were made?  Some of the most memorable included “A Fist Full of Dollars” and “Once Upon A Time In The West“.  Initially, the term, spaghetti western, was a derogatory term for the film genre, but because of their incredible popularity, it rapidly became an accepted form of picture direction.  Eastwood’s western success was parlayed into cult hero status with the “Dirty Harry” movies – one of the most famous being “Magnum Force” which was the follow-up to “Dirty Harry” and the movie with the now immortalized line, “Go ahead, make my day!”  What was/is amazing about Eastwood was/is ability to reinvent himself.  Back in late 1970’s he mad a movie with Clyde the Orangutan, called “Every Which Way But Loose” and it showed Clint’s comedic talents . . .  about as “redneck” a movie as you’ll ever see!!  He has continued to evolve as an actor, as a director and now he has the luxury of choosing roles that he wants (including a rather interesting appearance at the RNC).

As most of us know, movies, television and news shows are produced in two places – for the most part they are either produced in New York or the majority of entertainment is produced in California – affectionately known as the “left coast”, so while tonight’s wine has NOTHING to do with California or Clint Eastwood and it might go really well with REAL spaghetti, we thought it was appropriate to break open a bottle of 2009 The Left Bank from the South African vineyard of Neil Ellis Wines.  Opening a bottle of South African wine can be exciting and tasty or it can (and has) turn out to be a big waste of money!  You’ll be glad to know that this wine is, as a general rule, pretty good.  When we opened it, we were less than excited and the first taste was unimpressive; however, the more this wine has time to air out and open up, the better it became.  We began to smell and taste lots of berries and spice with a hint of licorice, and while the finish left us wanting more taste – over time, it delivered.  We probably would recommend decanting this wine for 30-45 minutes before serving, but the final result is a beautiful, dark purple wine that is a blend of five different grape varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), Shiraz (34%), Merlot (13%), Malbec (4%) and Cabernet Franc (3%).  Being fans of blends, we thought that this wine would be really nice with, ahem, Italian food!  You should probably try this one for yourselves, but let us know your thoughts because we think for a $12 (or less) bottle of wine, we could start to like this one – A LOT!  The price was right (remind us to share more on Brian’s claim to fame on that game show at a later date).

Which brings us back to the movie today – Trouble With The Curve has two really, really good actors in it, Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams.  Heck, part of the reason we’re doing this blog is because of Amy Adams role in ‘Julie and Julia’ and writing the blog of Julia Childs’ cooking recipes.  So, go see the flick, enjoy a bottle of The Left Bank and tell us what you think.

We’ll be back here tomorrow with another sample and thoughts, so until then please enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!