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Day 307: Red, White and Blue . . .

Four score and 237 years ago, a group of men got together and laid out a plan for the birth of a new nation–for the home that we call The United States of America.  These patriots of the day were so convinced that Great Britain was the enemy of freedom loving men and thus we must separate ourselves from them sooner rather than later.

Reading the Declaration of Independence, which to this day is one of the best pieces of prose ever written. . .and it’s been well-documented that Thomas Jefferson — author of the Declaration — went through draft after draft before arriving at the version presented.  Looking at the signers of the document, illustrates how difficult it must have been to sign a document that would ultimately lead to a war for Independence.  Great stuff!  However, we digress because on this Independence Day, we jumped in the Jeep and headed for the coast to track down our own versions of the Redcoats. . .well, actually, Redfish!  After a terrific evening on the water watching some amazing fireworks over Port Aransas. . .yep, we were sitting in a boat on the water relaxing and watching the show–not a bad way to spend the 4th!  Next up is a fishing trip with Trail Boss to see what the Bays can give us tomorrow morning.

Our wine tonight seemed appropriate, and coming from the Hope Family Winery…makers of Treana and Troublemaker varieties, we felt like it was the perfect choice!  Tonight we opened a 2010 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California.  Yep, we stopped at the Hope Family Winery during our visit there this past October, but strangely enough, we never tasted the Liberty School wines. At the end of the day, the wine isn’t too shabby.  Yes, we know, that’s hardly an endorsement of the wine.  Well, it’s true. . .it’s a nice little wine. . .good nose, good fruit on the palate and a nice finish.  It’s not going to cause you to seek your own Independence, but it will help you salute the Stars and Stripes.  In all fairness, we decided on this wine because — well, because of its’ name.  How could we blog about a wine on Independence Day that didn’t have something in its’ blood about our country. . and Liberty is what we’re all about!

The hardest part about enjoying this 2010 Liberty School Cab is that we got in from the fireworks after 11 p.m. and tomorrow, the boat is leaving the dock at 5:30 for some –hopefully — excellent bay fishing!  Would we buy this wine again?  Possibly, under similar circumstances; would we recommend this wine, yes, because if you need a value priced wine that comes from a good family and displays characteristics of wines that cost significantly more, than this is a wine to try.  With a price point under $12 a bottle, the cost won’t set you back and you’ll enjoy a bottle of wine that has gotten a lot of press!

We hope you’ve had a terrific Independence Day.  With Friday on the horizon, we hope that whether you’re working, retired or have the day off, that you’ll continue to thrive on the spirit of independence–which is what makes our country such an amazing place to live.  Please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Dat 269: A Salute to All Veterans . . .

Rare Find Memorial Day. . .a time to stop from shopping, swimming, camping, driving or hiking to pay respects to the thousands of men and women who have paved the way for us to enjoy what we enjoy each and every day.  Looking back over history, we’ve seen so many changes in our world–many of them brought about by armed conflicts–that have made a difference in our lives.  Rare indeed is the soldier who comes back from battle to a job, a home, a family and a way of life that was close to the same existence before being deployed.  Rare indeed is a society that on the surface supports our men and women in uniform, but when it comes to providing a livable income upon return, the tendency is to turn the other cheek.  Rare indeed is the family unit–held together by a spouse on the homefront–so precious to the long term survival of this country.  We live in changing times–change that has been good and change that hasn’t be so good, but change that has been made possible by the sacrifices made by veterans of armed conflicts.

As baby boomers, we grew up with the stories of heroism from World War II, and from our parents mouths we heard first hand of the bravery in the fields, in the air and under water of people who drew together for a common goal.  A common goal.  Hmmmm, something totally missing today.  We’ve lost the ability to seek a common goal.  Unfortunately, as Memorial Day 2013 draws to a close, we’ve become a country that is deeply divided.  We have leadership that seeks to polarize the citizenry and a media that exploits it at every turn.  Soldiers who have come and gone before us seem to have fought and died in vain because we no longer (as a general rule) espouse the values of a country united for a common purpose, but instead have become a nation forged on ‘what’s in it for me’.  Not to be on a soap box, but Memorial Day provides us the perfect back drop of historical significance, patriotic prowess and determination to succeed–all of it compliments of those who have come before us.  And, how do we recognize their contributions?  We minimalize their accomplishments by getting bogged down in rhetoric and shying away from substance.  We’d rather see sound bytes than deal with reality.  We’d prefer to see everything packaged neatly in an Entertainment Tonight segment rather than deal with the fact that the middle class is shrinking; the poor are growing in numbers and the skilled workforce is being replaced by the unskilled without a drive and determination to do better than their predecessors.  It’s a curious predicament. . .but we can’t blame the contributions of our veterans!

So tonight we opened a really nice wine from Paso Robles, California. . .a 2011 Rare Find Cabernet Sauvignon.  We picked this wine up at the HEB Plus in Kyle, Texas as we watched a “Chopped” showdown between the cooking team from the Kyle Fire Department and the Buda Fire Department. . .the event was held in the store and was an appropriate tribute for the hard working first responders in our area.  This wine–while inexpensive to buy–tastes like wines that are two to three times its price.  The nose was one of sweetness–kind of like trying a raspberry cobbler or blueberry pie. . .a la mode. . .very jammy.  We tasted the wine and were immediately greeted by the berry flavor; a nice oak finish and a long, pleasing after-taste were a surprising combination for this wine.  While still young in the bottle, we felt like it was better than many in its’ price range and could easily be enjoyed in six to nine months without issue.  All in all it was a decent wine to break out on Memorial Day.

As we all head back to our homes for the week ahead, we can’t help but think about–with gratitude–the men and women who have served our country in the past.  The ideals and values that they fought and died for were as real then as the are today–so hopefully, we won’t lose sight of our values and ideals. . .because in losing them,  we do a tremendous disservice to their contributions to our lifestyle.  To the men and women of our country who continue to serve, thank you.  You are shining stars on otherwise cloudy skies of society, and we respect you and wish you godspeed to return home to your families, your friends, your communities and your careers.  YOUR leadership will prove to be the difference in the future and for that WE are a nation that is grateful.

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


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Day 257 – What Is Your Quadrant?

quadrantHave you ever been to the Four Corners?  Do you even know what or where the four corners are?  Back in 1990, (BC=Before Children) we made a trip out to the southwestern part of the US–a driving trip where part of the time we spent on the Durango-Silverton Railroad–a narrow gauge train that hugged the mountains between the two cities–and the other part was finding our way to some of the most beautiful parts of the great Southwest.  From Wiki, “The main line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, now operated by the BNSF Railway, passes along the southern edge of Four Corners. The area is home to remnants of through railroads that are now heritage railways. These include the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad, which connects a power plant with a coal mine near Kayenta comes near the Four Corners.”  And ultimately, where we stopped (not necessarily a beautiful part) was the Four Corners,

The Four Corners represents the exact intersection of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.  If it wasn’t painted in stone and had a monument on it, you’d drive past it like it never existed.  There are so few distinguishing marks in the landscape that if it wasn’t for the homemade staircase where one could ascend to take a picture of the ‘four corners’, then the spot would go nameless, faceless and without fanfare!

Our trip enabled us to not only stop, take pictures and take in the vast emptiness of our surroundings but also the handful of vendors selling jewelry, gum and various artifacts.  A tourist trap you ask?  Yes, to some degree, all that the Four Corners turned out to be was a tourist trap. . .but a fun one at that!  Think about it–you can stand in four states–if stepping foot in all 50 states is on your bucket list, stopping at the four corners, covers almost 10% in one stop!!  For Geography lovers, the fact that the Four Corners represents the only spot in our country where four states’ boundaries simultaneously come together is the stuff that text books are written about!  For those of us with regular jobs, it’s potty stop on the way to somewhere else…just sayin’

Which is why tonight we thought about and found the PERFECT wine!  Yep, we hadn’t really thought much (at all) about the Four Corners until we opened the 2010 Quadrant from Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles, California.  This is an interesting wine. . .seriously.  The nose was less than spectacular–more like commercial wine than a boutique variety.  Kind of a green pepper meets kerosene nose.  Not the best combination in the world.  BUT, the taste is what caught us off guard–a little sweet, a little smoky, a little sultry–the wine got better and better as it opened up!  This was not what we had expected, but the Quadrant–a blend of Viognier, Syrah, Petite Syrah and Grenache.  An interesting blend made lighter because of the viognier and the grenache–made richer by the syrah and petite syrah.

Grenache, the main grape used in a variety of French blends, brings a delicate fruitiness to this blend. Syrah, who has long been the star of the Rhone Valley, lends its powerhouse combination of color, flavor and tannin structure. Petite Sirah, most often well known for its deep blue-black color, brings a luxurious, velvety texture that will knock your socks off. And finally, Viognier, the highly aromatic white, is the subtle surprise in this blend that, though only a small percentage, uses its charm to pull all the other components together in perfect harmony. The complexity of this wine lends itself well to a multitude of food pairings.  We enjoyed it, but weren’t overwhelmed with it.  A good wine at a decent price, but probably not going to make into the top 20 over 365 days.  Multiple Gold medals from a variety of places in California tells us that people like the blend of grapes.  And, as time goes on, this wine will get better in the bottle. For us, it was worth a try, but we’ll leave it at that!

Just curious how many of you have been to the Four Corners?  Before reading this could you have even named the four states whose borders meet at the corners?  Useless trivia or good geography lessons?  You be the judge as you enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and when you recycle whenever possible.


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Day 219: Coastal Yearnings . . .

coastline cabSo, after two days of road trips we hung pretty close to home today and took care of some of the chores we’d slacked up on.  You know, important stuff like laundry and grocery shopping – not to mention, not one – but two trips to Lowe’s . . . and sadly, almost a third.

Ah, a project in the making you ask?  Yes, after spending yesterday morning reorganizing the garage before heading out to play and hunt bluebonnets (yes, first we work – then we play) today we pulled two items out for some R & R – as in repair and restoration!  Yep, we’ll be busy the next couple of week doing some refinishing – more details as we make progress.

No doubt our favorite place is the coast – whether it’s East Coast, West Coast or even the Third Coast located right here in Texas.  We miss living on the Third Coast, miss Daughter #2 who lives on the East Coast, BUT really miss visiting wineries on the West Coast.

Tonight’s wine, a 201 Coastline Cabernet Sauvignon is from, like our all time favorite place, Paso Robles!  And while not ALL wine from Paso Robles is high-end, vintage quality; tonight’s wine is the definitive tasty, save some money-wine!  The nose on this wine isn’t going to light you up, BUT the taste will completely catch you off guard.  Smoky berry, cocoa, and cedar with a supple fruity medium body and a chocolate covered cherry and spice finish. . .oh yeah, it’s all that and more.  The longer this bottle was open, the better the wine tasted and finished.  For a price point of $8.99, we’ve found another hidden gem from our friends at H-E-B.  Most wine-lovers will turn up their noses at wines that cost under $10 a bottle, and we’ve been known to shun a few ourselves, but after tasting and enjoying this Coastline wine, we convinced that wines need to be tasted REGARDLESS of price points!  A little digging confirmed that this wine has been rated as high as 87 points and is bottled to be enjoyed now!  We completely understand.  It’s a wine that’s got food, or the deck on its’ mind!!  Coastline is made by Adler Fels Winery in Santa Rosa, from vineyards that are a straight shot inland from the famed Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Try it with a cheese platter and some nice rustic breads for a little lighter meal.

Yeah, we love the coast.  Fishing in the bays or offshore down in Aransas Pass; visiting daughter #2 in the Boston area – near so many historic landmarks; or wine tasting in California – either in Paso Robles or Sonoma County!  Each coast is defined by different areas of influence.  We know that Texas and Massachusetts will never be confused with California when it comes to wine production.  In a similar vein, California and Massachusetts will never be confused with Texas when it comes to great barbecue.  Ultimately, it’s a given that Texas and California will NEVER be confused with Massachusetts when it comes to New England Clam Chowder!  Each coast has its own specialty, but Coastline Cabernet Sauvignon is a winner from the start.

As Sunday rolls into Monday, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 195 – There’s Always a Better Half

Eberle The Better HalfThere was a commercial–not too long ago–where a Mom with twin boys had just enough peanut butter left to make one sandwich.  And, the concept was that she gave one of the boys the responsibility of choosing where the knife cut on the sandwich went. . .(he, of course, was thinking that he would get ‘the better half’).  But, like good Mom’s do, she throws a curve ball and let’s the second twin choose which piece.  A classic piece of marketing and a small case study in fractions!

From the time we’re born and raised, the stakes have always been getting the bigger (better) half.  Whether it was a piece of birthday cake, a helping of mashed potatoes or something else, the premise was the same–getting the bigger slice, the more preferential treatment, the larger dollop of food.  It’s a competition.  Right?

It’s been a long Spring Break week.  While we’ve enjoyed ‘watching’ Daughter #1’s dog, we have to admit, puppies flat out wear us–and our older, lazier dogs–out!  We should have expected this. . .it’s really not that big of a surprise.  Puppies have more energy.  It’s like the cell phone commercial…which is better less or more?  Which is better high energy, bouncing off the wall or laying on the floor like a piece of carpet?  Puppies are much better at bouncing off the wall.  Not only are they good at it, but they are USED to it!  So, when Daughter #1 comes to retrieve her ‘prized possession’, we’ll be sad to see her go, BUT our dogs–the three of them–will be anything but SAD to see her go~

As Thursday winds down and the weekend is at the front doorstep, tonight we opened a bottle of Eberle “The Better Half” from 2010.  Recall that Eberle was one of the stops we made during our trip to Paso Robles last fall.  This wine is something to behold.  A perfect combination of 51% Zinfandel and 49% Cabernet Sauvignon!  It’s a match made in heaven—This is a little fruit explosion waiting to happen; complete with lots of crush; we couldn’t believe how delicious this wine was for such a young age.  Raspberries, blackberries, dewberries. . .all of them coming at us at one time!  An amazing picture of wine growing and harvesting excellence.

More and more Eberle Wines are finding their way to liquor and wine stores across the country.  They’re still family owned and operated, which gives them a leg up on their corporate competitors. The small, boutique winery is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  But, with Eberle, you still get world class wines without the huge volume of tasteless wine!  Their wine selections and pairings are things of beauty.

So, as your weekend unfolds, find yourself a bottle of Eberle Wines or select your favorite wine to enjoy.  Remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle your bottles and other items 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 166 – Project Runway . . . Really?

project pasoDid we get your attention?  C’mon, you can admit it . . . the title grabbed you and there was something inside of you that said, ‘hmmm, maybe it’s about fashion or something like that.’  In reality, it WAS designed to grab your attention.  Headline writers have been doing it for years–some successfully and some, well, not so much.  When you think of headlines that missed, the one that stands out in our mind was from the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948, “Dewey Defeats Truman”.  Even if you’re not from that era, you didn’t pay attention in history class, or you’ve been living in a cave, this headline is one of the most iconic ‘goofs’ in recent journalistic history.  BUT, think about the times, no satellite technology, no internet, no cell phones, no microwave transmission lines . . . nope, just a ticker and a ‘modern’ phone system that relied on people pulling cables from one board and switching them into another . . . yeah, “real hi-tech”.

Another one that got our attention was, “Passengers Safely Moved and Steamer Titanic Taken in Tow” According this headline, the entire movie Titanic is a complete lie. Who’d have thought it? The headline was published on April 15, 1912 in the Christian Science Monitor, which is a newspaper published in Massachusetts. This headline reports that all who were on the Titanic were rescued, and even the boat itself was still floating along the ocean, not under it. I guess this leaves way for more conspiracy theorists. In any case, the Titanic did sink, and around 1,500 people died.

One last one – – just to prove that it even happens in the ‘communications age’, “Kerry’s Choice: Dem picks Gephardt as VP candidate” Published on July 6, 2004 by the New York Post, readers were told that U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry had picked Dick Gephardt as his running mate. This information was in fact incorrect. Kerry did not pick Gephardt, instead, he chose John Edwards to run with him.

How did we get sidetracked by headlines?  Well, we got your attention with one, but now we’re going to change gears and talk about wine!  Actually, tonight’s wine of choice is a 2010 Zinfandel called ‘Project Paso’!  AHHH, now you get the connection!!! An interesting wine from a wine making family with deep roots in California vineyards.  Don Sebastiani and Sons make a huge variety of wines for American markets.  We loved this description, “With more then 30 years of experience tending to Zinfandel vines in Paso Robles, the Sebastiani family is proud to present a yummy red for the everyday that asks only that you enjoy drinking it. Share it with friends, family or keep it for yourself, Project Paso Zin is the pure definition of Tuesday night wine.”  Well, darn, it’s Wednesday night, but we opened it anyway!

The nose is classic Zin – – spicy, fruity – – even bold, but when we poured the wine, it’s clearly a medium-to-light body wine . . . almost looking like a Pinot Noir.  But, swirl your glass and take a good long sniff and you get pure Zinfandel.  It’s got a nice peppery nose with oak-notes and a big berry scent.  How could a wine that is so light in color and texture possibly deliver anything resembling a zinfandel aroma and taste?  The Project got our attention!  Yes, indeed, this one has all of the flavor you’d expect from a bigger Zin and it’s a fraction of the cost for some of the more “well-known” labels from the Paso Robles area.  At less than $15 a bottle, you’re getting a good food wine (we had grilled salmon and roasted vegetables) or a nice after-work, sit-on-the-deck wine.  Regardless, for a ‘mass produced’ wine, this one is a nice little addition to the blog family of wines.

Okay, so we weren’t forthcoming with tonight’s headline . .  .sorry.  But, we’re glad that we have your attention, because it IS Wednesday which means the middle of the week and we’re two days away from the weekend!  So, enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!