casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 355 – All The World’s A Stage. . .

cline mouvedre…and we are but players!  Well, not exactly how it’s written but the point is that we’re a blip on the radar screen of civilization.  The time spent in our lives doesn’t even register on the time clock of the planet, solar system or galaxy.  Yep, just like the song, we are like dust blowing in the wine!  Ooops!  We meant blowing in the WIND!  Yes, of course!  But, we’re also reminded that time is always moving forward.  So, tonight we spent some time watching the Little League World Series playoffs, and were struck by their similarities to real life–shaking hands after a job well done. This is the kind of baseball we know and love!

So tonight we opened a 2011 Cline Mourvedre. . .and WOW, what a wine!  Very tasty; loads of fruit, a terrific finish and all for a closeout price of $10 at Twin.  Ancient Vines Mourvedre offers a hint of Eucalyptus on the nose, distinct chocolate characteristics and a luscious deep plum flavor. This surprisingly and unusually delightful wine has a substantial mouth-feel followed by soft tannins.. . like we said…lots of wine and not a huge investment.  We enjoyed it with smoked center cut pork chops, some garlic pasta shells and a romaine lettuce salad.  All of these were perfect compliments to the wine.

Even as we close in on the end of our blog series, we’re amazed at the wines that are available for a good price and a great taste.  This wine fits the bill to a tee and because it’s a varietal that most people don’t (or won’t) go to look for and try, those of us who have tasted and believe are going to snatch them up!  It’s a great wine for the price; it’s a flavorful wine for your palate and you can amaze your friends and family with your vast knowledge!  Okay. . .so that last part was a REAL stretch!

As you know, the Mourvedre grape is rarely bottled as a wine by itself.  Typically, this grape is used in blends–most blends that we’ve enjoyed have Petite Syrah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in them, so this grape is probably used to soften the wine against the big and bold of the other grapes.  What we never expected was a wine with great taste and body and a smooth finish.  It’s yet another example of trying something out of our ‘wheelhouse’ (remember an earlier post?) and being rewarded for trying it!

As the week begins a tilt towards the weekend, we can’t tell you the number of comments and likes we’ve enjoyed knowing that the blog is quickly coming to its conclusion.  We especially like the folks from Sweden, Japan, Germany and other countries who have accidentally (yes, we’re not so vain as to think we have a world-wide following) stumbled upon our blog.  And, after looking at the variety of search terms used, we’re convinced that most folks have no clue what they’re looking for!! But, hey, we’re glad they stopped by and checked us out.  Enjoy your Thursday, and prepare for the weekend.  We’re now in a T-Minus mode starting tomorrow, we’ll be at T-Minus 10 and counting.  If you’re in the mood to try new, value priced wine, then stay tuned for some great stuff; and if you’ve come to expect great information…don’t miss the last 10 days!

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 299 — Everyone Is Equal…But Some Are MORE Equal Than Others…

Reds-Wine for the peopleDid you ever read the book, ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell?  “The novel addresses not only the corruption of the revolution by its leaders, but also the ways wickedness, indifference, ignorance, greed, and myopia corrupt the revolution. It portrays corrupt leadership as the flaw in revolution, rather than the act of revolution itself. It also shows how potential ignorance and indifference to problems within a revolution could allow horrors to happen if a smooth transition to a people’s government is not achieved,” according to Wikipedia.  Perhaps the most telling line in the book was, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.  As a historical nod to post World War II Europe and Russia, Orwell was disgusted by the alliance between Britain, the US and the new Soviet Union.  Even worse, was his dislike for Stalin, whose power only grew stronger as a result of the successes in the War.  A commentary on socialism/communism, Orwell’s allegorical novel clearly paints a picture of mistrust, misuse of power and lack of leadership in a post-Lenin world.

If you’ve never read the book, it’s a true classic in American literature.  Orwell actually wrote the book during World War II–from November 1943 through February 1944.  It’s not a particularly long book, but it’s packed with innuendos, suggestions, thought provoking idealisms and down right attacks on a post World War II society.  NOW, why on the face of a beautiful earth, would we bring up such an ‘ancient’ piece of literature?  It seems that regardless of what side of the aisle you prefer, there are leaders who are trumpeting that everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.  Take for example health care. . .Congress passed the mammoth bill–over 1200 pages–but opts out for itself and governmental employees.  How convenient–but we are all equal.  Of course, the other key component in any society based on equality is that laws are passed for the people but not for government.  Agencies in government run unchecked, uninhibited and completely funded to do what ever they wish to whomever they wish…but government is immune to such ‘oversight’.

So it seems that art imitates life or was it life imitating art?  Hmmm, well, at least we found a nice wine to discuss matters of literature this evening.  Among our finds recently at Central Market South in Austin is this 2011 Reds a blended red wine that promotes itself as being “For The People”! With a name like ‘Reds’ and a tag line like you’ve just read, there must be some substance to this wine. . .Zinfandel, Carignane, and Petite Sirah from pioneer vineyards in the heartland of California.  We noticed a lot of dark fruit on the nose and front palate.  There were hints of pepper, coriander and spice that came through on the finish after it had been opened for about 45 minutes.  This is a young wine but full of flavor and well worth the $11 a bottle price.  Here, once again, is a great example of wine with a great body, taste and structure for a price that leaves you speechless.  Good wines at prices that won’t break the bank are becoming the rage–threatening higher priced lower quality wines–but only a few have jumped on the bandwagon.

Depending on where you live, Animal Farm may be happening before your very eyes. . .state, county, local. . .all jurisdictions that tax and collect to fund their operations but without much oversight.  Over time, they may come to be viewed as Snowball and Napoleon–who felt the need to prepare for the revolution–but ultimately use their power to secure more power for themselves and less for the people. (pigs.)  We hope you’ll try Reds. . .the 2011 version is ready to enjoy today.  Thanks for reading and remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 213 – Monday’s for the Dogs

Vinum petite sirahAs Sunday gave way to Monday, we noticed that our three “girls”—Pepper, Andie and Jasmine–were a little more subdued than usual.  Pepper was kind of walking around with a limp.  Jasmine didn’t want to eat her dinner (which Andie all too gladly took care of) and Andie–well, Andie just couldn’t decide where she wanted to sleep.  These are serious things when you’re a dog!   We often joke that after their morning routine of taking care of business, eating and taking care of business, their ‘rest of the day’ routine consists of an early morning nap, a mid-morning nap, a noon nap followed closely by the important early afternoon nap and wrapped up with the late afternoon nap until we get home!  Oh, the torture it is in being a dog in this house!

We’ve learned over the years that our dogs are creatures of habit.  Hmmmm, we wonder how that came to pass!  Anyway, they get up when we get up–well, that isn’t TOTALLY true–WE get up when they wake up!  A stop outside followed by breakfast followed by a stop outside (you get the picture?).  What’s funny is that EVERY morning after this routine has taken place, Andie and Jasmine head to their crates.  Usually, we don’t have to say a word; they just walk in and lay down.  Why?  Because of routine–they ‘know’ that it’s time to settle in for the day and their crate is ‘home’ for the day.  We laugh, but at the same time we smile at their incredible intelligence.  How is it that they know to go lay in their crates?  Why is it that they choose to go and lay down without a word being uttered?  We’ve decided that routines are as good for humans as they are for dogs.  And THAT is why we’re writing again tonight–it’s our ROUTINE!!!

So tonight we opened a selection from a recent trip to H-E-B, this 2009 Vinum Petite Sirah out of California is an interesting wine.  Surprisingly, “this inky plum-colored wine displays ripe plum and juicy blueberry fruit right up front and is backed with cassis and spice. The mid-palate is full bodied with blackberry and over-ripe huckleberry that is cloaked in generous, integrated French Oak that coat the palate and finish with a velvety texture.”  This is one review that we actually agree with their interpretation.  The color of this wine is magnificent; if you love that deep, dark and royal purple, then this wine is going to get your attention.  We’d suggest decantering it for 30-45 minutes before serving; this wine clearly gets better as it’s opened and  has time to breathe.  At less than $12 a bottle, you won’t break the bank with this wine, and you’ll impress your wine friends who never thought you’d try something so “out of the box”!  And, if for no other reason, we opted to try this wine because it has a black labrador retriever on the label!  Sorry, we’re suckers for black labs having had a very loyal and good friend in ‘Hershey’ as the girls grew up from babies to young ladies.  Yeah, dogs help define our lives. . .we remember them like snippets of time in our lives.  Hershey was part of the family from shortly before Daughter #2’s first birthday until she was 14 years old.  They truly become part of the family and really good friends.

Anyway, this 2009 Vinum Petite Sirah–while not the most luxurious wine you’ll ever consume–has character, structure, taste and body–but it will give you a brief respite from some of the boring wines that are on the market!  We’d be tempted to buy a few more bottles of this wine, if for no other reason than, to enjoy on the deck with the grill going or the fire pit in full flame or just enjoying the sounds of the evening after a long day at work. . .kind of like a Monday–one for the dogs!

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 173: Oh, So Close . . .

David Bruce Petite SirahWow!  It’s a Wednesday but feels like a Friday!   We know that it’s NOT Friday, but — holy cow — it sure FEELS like a Friday!!!  Between early morning meetings and late afternoon/evening meetings, we’ve been going in so many directions, it’s hard to keep pace!!   In our part of the world, today, the rains teased us with a few downpours that seemed to offer hope to end this long drought for our community, and it was followed by partly cloudy skies and warming temperatures this afternoon.  At the rate we are going, who knows what tomorrow will bring.

But, regardless of the weather, here we are in the 20th day of February . . . and – ok, we’re sorry, but what in the heck happened to January?  Or more importantly, who absconded with the first month of the year?  The last time we looked in, it was two or three days into the New Year!  Now, we’re 45 days into the the year and with today being Day 173 . . . we are edging ever so close to the mid-point of our journey through SO MANY wines!

Tonight we sampled a 2008 David Bruce Petite Sirah from the Central Coast of California.  A couple of thoughts before we talk about the wine itself. . .first of all, the Central Coast is FAMOUS for beautiful Sirah and Petite Sirah wines.  Secondly, this wine maker, has a history of producing exceptional wines from a variety of vineyards for remarkable products.

So, back to the wine – it is an interesting wine in that it depends on and relies upon Mother Nature to ripen fruit relatively close to the ocean while at the same time being part of the growing area in the Central Coast . . . in the simplest terms the fruit is harvested from areas. – – – “Stretching in a narrow band from Santa Barbara to the San Francisco Bay,the Central Coast region, and is characterized by the cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean.These grapes come from several vineyards in Paso Robles and southern Monterey”.  After tasting this wine and appreciating the enormity of the Petite Sirah, we found that the fruit was really forward on the palate – we’re talking blackberry and blueberry.  The nose, well, it was dominated by oak and tobacco – toasty and smoky (but not overly so).  The finish on this wine is LONG and lean . . . yep, it’s got a lot of body, a lot of taste and a lot of structure.  It’s a wine that you’d break out when your ‘wine-loving friends showed up on a Friday night’ (or on a Wednesday night after a long day)  . . .  yep, it’s a wine meant to be enjoyed by customers and FUTURE customers!

Seriously, thank goodness that we’re almost to Friday.  Before you get there, you’ll need to try this beautiful and affordable Petite Sirah . . . at less (key word: LESS) than $20 a bottle, you’ll be singing the praises of this David Bruce Petite Sirah whether by yourself or with family and friends. . .beyond that, it’s a GREAT bottle of wine!

Regardless, continue to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly, and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 62 – Sometimes You Gotta Try Something New . . .

Ever get into ruts?  You know, the same routine day in and day out?  We don’t necessarily get into ruts, but we’ve been know to follow routines.  Most of our routines tend to follow getting up at the same time; leaving for work at the same time; having dinner (dinner is a fairly loose term around here some nights – cheese, crackers and salami are a staple – it’s what happens when there are just two of us) around the same time; writing/finishing our blog.

So tonight, we busted out of our routine and after attending an induction ceremony for a Women’s Hall of Fame, we ventured to a new spot in our world called, Cody’s Bistro & Lounge in San Marcos out at the exit for the Outlet Malls but on the opposite side from the malls.  Finally, a much-needed night spot with terrific ambiance, comfortable seating, delicious food and a well-stocked bar.  We zeroed in on their pita sandwiches with Jean enjoying a flat iron steak and Brian tasting a chicken and roasted garlic with mushrooms.  Both of us had a side of fries and a side dish of cilantro ranch dressing (killer good!).  Neither of us are big fans of pita sandwiches, but these were just really delicious .  .  .  not too heavy and not too light, just the right amount of zip.  The menu at Cody’s is upscale pub food – freshly made pizzas, salads and of course, the pita sandwiches.  Besides water, you’ll want to wash your food down with something from the bar, and here Cody’s will quickly make a name for itself – quality bourbon and scotch, select tequilas, vodkas, gins and more.  A nice selection of craft beers and a growing wine list.  On the down side, the only one Zinfandel on the list, but know more will come.  Cody is to be commended for jumping out and opening a great place – we really hope it does well.

Our sample tonight is a 2011 The Crusher Petite Sirah from Don Sebastiani & Sons’ Clarksburg Vineyards.  What a beautiful color – deep, dark purple; almost inky in color but exceptionally fruity on the nose.  A quick peek at the website confirmed much of what we sensed about this wine, “A jammy array of blackberry and black cherry flavors dominate the palate, complemented by hints of vanilla, sassafras, and exotic oaky notes that linger through the finish. Full-bodied, with rich mouth-filling tannins, the wine displays a multi-layered depth and complexity that invites lingered contemplation and enjoyment.”  Fortunately, our food was a perfect complement to the wine and vice versa.  Even as young as this 2011 is, the taste and body are well-developed and we can only imagine that it will get better with a little more time laying down.  The nose and finish were both delightful – we would have had more, but it’s a school night – and the alarm goes off mighty early around these parts.  At the winery, this is about an $18 bottle of wine, but we’d guess at most retailers, you’ll find it for less than $15 which is a great price point for a  young wine that can be enjoyed today or saved for a later date.

After meeting up with our videographer and sound man for next week’s Chamber Gala, we headed home and were both really excited to have Cody’s open in San Marcos.  He’s just getting going – but don’t let that deter you.  The service was excellent – we were served by Alex who is a student at Texas State, and the turn around from ordering to eating was fast.  We’re guessing that they’re still getting their timing down, but this place has an opportunity to carve a niche for itself.  We’re hooked .  .  . and we’ll be back.  For you, not living  here, you’ll need to get a bottle of ‘The Crusher’ and see for yourself – it’s anything but routine!

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