casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

Leave a comment

Day 260: Waltz Across Texas . . .


So, today when we awoke we were not in the comfortable confines of Casa del Vino – instead we were at the Comfort Inn in Nacogdoches.  As mentioned last night, we drove over after work in order to eliminate a back and forth today in conjunction with relocating Daughter #1 and all her worldly possessions back to San Marcos and under our roof.

The sun was shining bright and we were glad that we opted to start early – that big blue sky at 8 a.m. was a good indicator of the heat the day would bring.  Thanks to a limited gaggle of help which included Daughter #2, Zach, Christine, Daughter #1 and us two – we were able to get all belongings from upstairs to downstairs (OK – – – – Movie Trivia Contest for a bottle of special wine – – – Who started in the movie “Up the Down Staircase”??), get carpet cleaned and shampooed, clean bathrooms and get trash to the dumpster all before 11:30 a.m.  After a great lunch and a quick stop to get a few “wearables” at the bookstore, we headed out of town.

Brian took the lead in the 16 ft moving truck, D#1 and D#2 were close behind in the red Rav4 sag vehicle – Jean was the caboose on the trip and after a quick redezvous at Buccee’s in Madisonville, the group headed West.  Brian remembered that this was wine pick up weekend at Saddlehorn and called Jean on her cell – his idea was that she could take an alternative route and head to Burton and all would reconnect in San Marcos.  Well, not wanting to be a negative Nancy – Jean somewhat reluctantly agreed.  Think about it – everyone else would be at home unpacking while Jean could be sitting at the winery and enjoy a glass of their special red wine – Barn Red . . . well, needless to say it was a dirty job, but someone HAD to do it – that’s just how Jean is – – – always thinking of the next person . . . . it ended up that vehicle one and two beat Jean home by at least an hour – – – but the trip was worth the trouble.

All arrived home well before dark – Dominos was the order of the day – and because it had been a long, tiring, sweaty day, we dug deep into our  wine vaults for a superb, young wine from Peachy Canyon . . . their 2011 Vortex Zinfandel is poetry in motion.  Imagine enjoying a wine at a young age or saving it – – laying it down and enjoying it 2-4 years from now.  The wine that makes all of that possible is this 2011 Vortex Zin . . . the nose is blueberries and tobacco; the palate includes hints of black berry, anise as well as the blueberries and tobacco.  The finish incorporates all of these plus adds a hint of vanilla.  How does a winemaker do this?  Clearly the folks at Peachy Canyon in Paso Robles know a thing or two about Zinfandels . . . they have multiple vineyards growing primarily Zin grapes but also have Petite Sirah and others.  Their tasting room is nestled under beautiful trees in a picturesque backdrop.  As mentioned, another feature of Peachy Canyon wines is their ability to be cellared and opened in two-four years – amazing how good wine gets better!

So, here we are all together again – thinking all will sleep really well tonight.  We hope you rest well and as always, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


1 Comment

Day 209: Ain’t Misbehaven . . .

Peachy CAnyonToday some of our best friends landed in Argentina for two weeks of searching for the perfect Malbec.  Have to admit, wish we were with them . . . oh, the trouble we could get in to – on, second thought . . . perhaps it’s best we are not there.  Those that know these two know they are quite capable of misbehaving all by themselves – we might just complicate the situation.  One of these days, we hope to hop on a plane and head to Argentina ourselves, among other places – but for now, will let our friends enjoy the adventures and return to us with samples and stories of their travels.

So, tonight in honor of these worldly travelers, we opened a wine that unfortunately one can only purchase at the winery – “sorry about that Chief” – there it is another classic TV show line.  Anyhow, back to the wine – –  tonight we popped the cork on a 2010 Ms Behave Malbec from Peachy Canyon Winery.  Peachy Canyon is on the “favorite list”.  We have been to this Paso Robles winery twice and have yet to be disappointed with their offerings.  A trip to Paso is incomplete without a stop by Peachy.

The wine itself is a deep, ruby-red color that wants to just jump out of the glass.  At first sniff we were a bit complexed – – – the nose was rich and nutty with hints of oak and white pepper but tossed in with black cherry and vanilla – a real “soup kitchen” of amoras.  On the palate, it slipped into notes black cherry flavors with a hint of blackberry.  The finish is quite dry and sticks around on for quite some time – more roasted nuts and citrus zest, like a great espresso.  The espresso is a game changer – it just hangs on forever and ever.

This was truly a “deck” wine – we are saddened by the fact that there is a burn ban in effect – otherwise, we would fire up the pit and sit around it while enjoying this spectacular wine.  We pray for rain – and the opportunity to “light our fire”.  As mentioned earlier, one can only order this wine at the winery or via their website – a bit pricey . . . by oh, so worth the price.

So tonight, we won’t linger.  As we head into three special days in the Church, we will say a prayer or two for all of you and can’t wait until Easter Sunday and the Resurrection!  Just love this time of year – even though we know the story, and the ending – it is a wonderful time to be alive and a member of any faith community.  Easter blessing to one and all!

Please remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible!

Leave a comment

Day 202: Another One Bites the Dust . . .

Castoro Primotivo

Wow – who’d a thunk it . . . 202 days of blogging about wine!  When we decided to pursue this adventure we hadn’t really thought it through.  There is something to be said about purchasing a different bottle of wine every day for 365 consecutive days (for the record, Jean’s not so good with consecutive day stuff – just sayin’). BUT, here we are. . .moving ahead and staring into the face of yet another weekend.  Weird, but this weekend is the first one of Spring!  Yeah, so this has been happening since last September 1st. . .granted it was late summer, but it means we’ve made it through fall and winter and now we start blogging during the Spring!  Time sure flies–when you’re having fun!

It’s been a long week–same number of days, but just a long week.  You know how that goes—a couple of early mornings combined with several long evenings. . .and the end result is a long week!  Fortunately, we have Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 to keep us ‘entertained’. . .this past week had Daughter #2–camping and sailing along the Eastern seaboard of the US. . .now, before you get too impressed, remember–in THAT part of the world, it’s still winter.  Yeah, like in cold temperatures and cold rain and wet snow.  In fact, that part of the world could go into late April with cold and wet. . .exactly why we chose not to live in them thar parts!!  That said, she’s had a great time sailing and being a part of something that she’ll remember for the rest of her life. . .c’mon, sailing on Spring Break for your College?  How cool is that?

Daughter #1 was back in the classroom this week as Spring Break ended and reality began to sink in–yep, in less than eight weeks, that college experience is DONE!  We’re looking at graduation, new employer and starting fresh.  It brings back amazing memories of our graduation from SFA–how awesome is it to share that same experience with our daughter?

Tonight, we enjoyed a wine from one of our favorite Paso Robles wineries–Castoro Cellars—-as THEY say it, puts out some “Damn Fine Wines”.  From OUR perspective, they are spot on!  From Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels to amazing blends and Petite Sirahs, Castoro has become our favorite ‘house’ wine.  We love their varietals, their wine makers and yes, their wines!  So, in keeping with their really good wine, we opened a bottle of 2009 Primitivo from the Castoro Cellars Whale Rock Vineyard in Paso Robles, California.  We learned last night that Primitivo is the Italian version of Zinfandel in America.  No wonder we like it so much!!!  This is a BIG wine. . .and not for the faint at heart.  From the Castoro website, “The last two years our Primitivo has been the top selling wine in our tasting room and after just one sip you will understand why. From our organically farmed Whale Rock vineyard, this clone of Zinfandel is a fruit-filled wine crafted in an Italian style.”  The grapes for this wine come from the Templeton Gap.  As this vineyard matures the grapes are developing more character and layers of flavors which you’ll notice in the aromas and the mouth.  Primitivo is a clone of zinfandel imported from Italy, thus some of zinfandel’s characteristics will be found in the wine. It’s a lively, fruit-filled wine that has a touch of earthiness that is associated with northern Italian wines.

What we know is that this wine is a terrific option for Zin-lovers.  It’s got lots of body, structure, taste and finish. . .which we’ve come to expect from Castoro!  Whether enjoying with gourmet food or sitting back on a Thursday night after a long day at work, Castoro knows how to make good wine, AND make it ready to show!

Until tomorrow, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!

1 Comment

Day 96: Pick Me Out a Winner, Bobby . . .

Peachy Canyon - Petite SirahAfter hearing a comment repeated by a number of our readers, we decided to take action.  Yep, a number of you have noted that we’ve hit a bit of a “bad spell” when it comes to our evening wine choice. So, we drew inspiration from one of our all time favorite movies “The Natural” and as Brian headed to “the shelf” to find a tasting for tonight he was urged on by Jean quoting Roy Hobbs telling bat boy Bobby Savoy to ” pick me out a winner, Bobby.”  As you’ve probably figured out by now there are a few “sacred cows” in the household – let’s see . . . dogs, the St. Louis Rams, the St. Louis Cardinals, Chopped, movies and of course – BASEBALL.  So, when you combine movies, baseball and to Jean’s delight, Robert Redford – you get the trifecta – yep, it just doesn’t get much better than that.  For the record, the addition of Glenn Close in the movie is an added bonus.  The movie is a classic – if you haven’t seen it, you should – if you have seen it, watch it again.  There are such wonderful movies lines – and not to mention, Robert Redford.

Truth be told, we think there is a perfect movie line for almost any situation – think about it.  What can you say when something you do goes a bit too far over the top – “think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch“.  What do you say when a project is larger than you expected – “think you’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What do you say when somebody just doesn’t get what you are explaining to them – “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”  Enough already – you get the picture – and a prize of a great bottle of wine to the first person who can name all three movies.  So next time you encounter a situation of any kind – stop and try to come up with a movie line to sum up the situation.

As usual, we digress – so on to tonight’s “winner”.  Knowing we needed something good – we went back to an old standby – Paso Robles – one of our favorite wineries from both our first trip to Paso AND our second trip was from Peachy Canyon.  Tonight’s wine is a 2010 Petite Sirah and we have to tell you . . . this wine is NOT for the faint of heart.  It’s as big and bold as they come, and as much as we enjoyed it, this one could lay down for another two or three years and be even better.  There is lots of oak on the nose, which if you love those big, oaky wines, you’ll absolutely love this one.  If you don’t, well you may want to pass the bottle on to a friend.  You’ll get some nice cherry fruit on the front of your palate . . . and you’ll definitely finish with it as well.  We noticed that the longer the bottle was opened, the sweeter the cherry taste.  If you like spice,  you’ll love this Petite Sirah.  If you like fruit, you’ll like this Petite Sirah.  If you like a dark, inky purple color that is thick with juice, you’ll love this Petite Sirah.

The bad news is that this wine (the 2010 vintage) is priced above our threshold for preferred wines . . . at about $30 a bottle.  The good news is that you can find Peachy Canyon Petite Sirah at Gabriel’s Outlet in San Marcos for less than $25 a bottle and it’s an older vintage!  We’re big fans of Peachy Canyon; their Zinfandels rock and this year we’re also going to be tasting their 2011 Viognier.  A winner . . . picked out – not by Bobby – but by Brian (who does bear a resemblance to Robert Redford in Jean’s eyes)!  Until tomorrow, “turn out the lights, the party’s over…”

No matter who picks out the winner or what your favorite wine may be, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

Leave a comment

Day 44: Reunited and It Tastes So Good . . .

The  best thing about being reunited with old friends is the feeling of comfort knowing that you’re back where you belong.  Five years ago when we ventured to Paso Robles for the first time, we enjoyed some wines from RN Estate wines.  Now, to completely understand our tasting and story of RN Wines, you have to understand that these wines are not commercially available.  First, you must make an appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas, and second you must be on time for said appointment!  Five years ag o. . . thanks to Rebecca, who used to work at Peachy Canyon, we had that appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas.  However, five years ago, we were NOT on time for the appointment and to this day, we remember the “tongue lashing” we received from Roger about being on time and having to catch up with the others in the tasting.  Of course, five years ago it all ended up for the better because we enjoyed some amazing wines and learned A LOT about the wines he made by hand.  It was, in short, an education in wine and life!  On top of the wines, when you taste wines from a winemaker’s home, you are literally coming into his space and are subject to his environment.  Five years ago, Jean was sitting at Roger’s dining room table that looked out over beautiful vineyards and rolling hills and felt a hot breath on her face which was followed by a lick on the face from Diego!  To imagine this picture, think of sitting in a chair and having a large dog looking at you face to face as you sit there.  Diego was (is) Roger’s Great Dane and he was definitely more than just a house dog . . . HE was the ‘announcer’ of all people coming to Roger’s house!

Fast forward to today and we have revisited RN Estate, Roger greeted us outside the house as we arrived EARLY for our 11 a.m. tasting.  Of course, the barking from the courtyard came not only from Diego who was still a part of Roger’s clan but also a 14 month old “puppy” Great Dane who was still learning the “social graces” of being a dog!  You have to love that if you love dogs!!  We never did get to meet the “puppy” but heard from him early and often as he barked every time the wind blew a leaf in the wrong direction!!!

Today’s wines from RN Estate were nothing short of spectacular.  We tasted two different Pinot Noirs that Roger has crafted and with different grapes from different parts of Paso Robles, it is truly amazing how they can be so incredibly different.  Both tasty, the one from totally, Paso Robles fruit was AMAZING!  This led him to tastings of his blends which are masterfully made by hand with primarily Paso Robles fruit.  You can taste in each of his wines and “old world” style that is counter to today’s “bigger is bolder” style of wine making.  As a Frenchman, Roger has the lineage to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.  His wines are designed to fit with food and food fit with his wines, and it was obvious from our tasting that the care and nurturing that it takes to make great wine has come through loud and clear with his latest vintages!  We were not just impressed and  excited, but we anxiously wanted to  add his wines to our list of favorites  . . .  which we DID!

Finding Roger’s wines isn’t easy.  When and if you can get a hold of them – lay them down for at least six months or longer.  Because he makes his wines in the Rhone and Bordeaux tradition, these wines have a life of five to ten years beyond today.  Wines like his are meant to be enjoyed today, tomorrow and in the future.  These wines feature a lot of fruit on the nose and a lot of structure on the taste.  You get amazing scents and tastes even without food, but the mind plays tricks on you because the thought of a rack of lamb or smoked pork loin are on your mind as you sample this delicious wine.

We have gathered and continue to gather GREAT stories on this trip from people and wines we’ve met and tried.  Roger is but one of a huge number of people that make a trip to Paso Robles a MUST DO for any wine afecionado.  We’ll continue to share these stories with you and your job is to continue enjoying our stories.

We also made a trip down memory line by visiting Preachy Canyon and Castoro Cellars (where they make Dam Fine Wine – we blogged about Zinfusion on Day Three).  In addition we made some new friends at Ben Hogan (yes, you can even hit a bucket of balls while tasting wine!!), Croad and  L”Adventure.  The crazy part is that you can visit as many, or as few wineries as you want in a given day.  As they say, “so much wine, too little time”.

So. . .please enjoy that bottle of wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!

Dam Fine Wine

Angela and Jimbo make our return trip to Castoro Cellars a wonderful experience.

With grapes like this, you know the wine has to be GREAT!

Shout Out to Lea at Ben Hogan Winery


1 Comment

Day 41 — All Our Bags Are Packed. . .

When Brian was growing up, vacation consisted of  everyone getting in the family car and a six plus hour drive to visit Grandmas and Grandpas for two and a half weeks.  In essence, vacation wasn’t about seeing the sights.  It wasn’t about some new adventure.  It wasn’t about learning a new skill or relaxing at some exotic place.  Vacation was about family.  Lots and lots of family.  So when Brian met Jean, and she told him about their family vacations to the big Redwoods in California (if you are nice to her, she will teach you the Big Sur Park song) and places in Colorado and other trips to Missouri . . . well, it left kind of an empty feeling for Brian.  Vacations, after all, are supposed to be relaxing moments doing exactly what YOU want to do.  And, in looking back over those years, Brian’s parents wanted to do exactly that by spend time with family.  Period.  Jean’s parents spent time AS a family.  Now, don’t misunderstand – this is not a criticism – it’s just a reality of the times and the circumstances of our lives.  We took many fun vacations with the girls as they were growing up – imagine we will share one or two before this year is up.

So, tonight, as we opened a bottle of 2008 Sausal Zinfandel, we talked at length about our upcoming vacation.  This time tomorrow we’ll be in Monterrey, California and by the weekend in beautiful, Paso Robles, California.  We are joined on this trip by the cast of the Love Boat – but no worries, you’ll get to know more about them in the days to come.  Some of the best wines coming from that State are coming from Paso Robles.  We’ve been there before when about five years ago we made a similar trip with Thing 1 and Thing 2 and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of wines we sampled.  In some respects, it further defined our preferences and tastes in wine.

Whether it was taking a picture with the pig outside of Eberle Wines or visiting with Rebecca at Peachy Canyon or sitting down in Roger’s dining room at RN Estate, we found a common denominator in good wine from Paso Robles.  One of our final stops that trip was at a place called Adelaida – now, if you’ve been following us from the beginning, you’ll remember that we sampled and wrote about a wine from Adelaida.  This was a beautiful winery with a full compliment of fine wines to sample, and initially, our ‘server’ was a little more than put off by our presence – however, as we asked more detailed questions, our ‘server’ became more engaging.  When a local tour guide busted through the doors with 15-20 tourists, suddenly their attention was focused more on us and less on having to ‘deal with’ the guests that had just arrived.  As it turned out, this was our favorite stop of the day.  We bought some wine; had some laughs and learned to appreciate really nice wine.

Tonight’s wine – sampled on a trip a year later to Napa is from Sausal Vineyards.  These folks know about good Zinfandel.  When we visited them in 2008, we learned that they farm Century Vines . . . meaning, these vines have been producing for over 100 years.  Wow, think about a tree that is 100 years old and how thick the trunk is – vineyards aren’t quite that way, but they looked like trees.  But, these vines don’t produce as much fruit as they did years before, so the fruit that comes from these vines is special and Sausal treats the fruit appropriately.  Tonight’s wine, while not from their Century Vines, still comes from amazing lineage.  Zinfandel grapes like they grow are true American classics and this wine fits the bill from the moment you pull out the cork.  What a great nose.  What a beautiful presence in the glass.  The taste is true zin with lots of fruit, pepper and spice on the palate and a load of pepper on the finish.  We know that we are zin-hounds and don’t shy away from it, but if you’ve NEVER had a good Zinfandel, then this is your starting point because, you’ll never be able to appreciate a good zin until you’ve had a GOOD ZIN.  Sausal delivers Zinfandel as well as any vineyard in California.

So, pack your bags and join us on a trip to the heart of our country’s wine meca.  Yes, other States have wine production – including Texas – but NO ONE has the quality of wine that California does. For the record, Peter, Paul and Mary sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane“, but Jean’s FAVORITE (and no, she’s not ashamed to admit it) singer, John Denver (aka John Düsseldorf – who is a Texan and went to Arlington Heights High School in Ft. Worth) wrote the song.

Try a bottle of Sausal and see for yourself – but remember to enjoy your tasting responsibly and try to recycle whenever possible.