casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 193: Let The Choosing Begin . . .

Ali SangioveseWhat a spectacular day!  Spring is truly just around the corner and the temperatures today confirmed that fact.  According to a car thermometer, the temperature at 1:30 pm this afternoon was 78 degrees.  Not bad for March the 12th!  The sky was as blue as you’ve ever seen and the breeze was warm and light from the southwest.  So, it’s appropriate that we salute Spring Break and the time that ‘students’ are enjoying away from the classroom.  Unfortunately, most of the ‘real world’ has to endure office cubicles, sales meetings, webinars and telecommuting…oops, scratch that!  Telecommuting seems to have become passe’!

Sometimes, as we’ve learned over the past six plus months, we really prefer to sit down and enjoy a lighter wine with some structure, some fruit forward taste and a great finish. . .most of the time–if you’ve kept up with what we’ve been blogging about–we focus on the bigger, bolder, deeper reds and may not be as kind to those quality wines that are lighter, tastier and more balanced.  Call it ‘big red wine block’ because, there are times when that’s ALL we want.  In reality, the variety and diversity of red wines that we try is as different as the day is long.  Whether it’s a blend from Spain or a big Shiraz from Australia, we’ve figured out what’s big and what isn’t!

First ballots are in and the smoke is black at The Vatican.  It’s the signal that no Pope has been selected. . .YET!  As ‘baby boomers’ we were talking about the number of Popes selected in our lifetime and it’s a relatively small number compared to the early 20th Century and even the late 19th Century.  Near as we can tell, there have been five Pope’s in our lifetime. . .of the five, John Paul II was the longest tenured–from 1978 through 2005.  He was the second longest-tenured Pope and the first non-Italian since the early 1520’s.  We were still in college when JPII was elevated in ’78 and parents of teenagers when he passed away.  Life gives us these milestones as ways to remind us that each day we have with each other, with family and friends or with our spouses and kids is a special gift.  When the Conclave convenes, it’s usually a signal that change is about to happen–something that is a regular part of life.

Because changes are in the offing, we opted for a really nice 2007 Ali Sangiovese de Toscana. . .”According to the winemaker “…This wine has aromas of juicy red berry fruit. Medium-bodied and soft on the palate, with balanced acidity and ripe tannins. Delicious with pastas and grilled meats, yet also very drinkable without food.”  At $10 a bottle, you aren’t going to set the world on fire with your vast knowledge of Italian wines, BUT you will earn extreme value for finding a wine that tastes amazing for a lot less than most people pay for something similar!  At 84 points, this wine won’t set the world on fire, but it will cause you to take notice. . .a good wine for a good price. . .isn’t that a big part of what trying new wines is all about?

We enjoyed this wine with some fresh made pizza–stacked with prosciutto ham, red onions, green olives, lots of chopped garlic and Italian seasonings. . .and cheese!  LOTS of cheese.  It’s amazing how good a wine can taste when you factor in good food!  The addition of a beautiful sunset on a warm — almost Spring evening — is the perfect complement!  With tomorrow being the middle of the week of Spring Break, that means many will begin the process of packing up and heading out–or at least thinking about it.  We’re looking straight ahead into a St. Patrick’s Day weekend–and coincidentally, our very good friends Patrick and Richelle will be tying the knot this Saturday. . .how appropriate that they come together on such a festive time. . .just like good wine–they get better with age!

As you enjoy your spring break–or not–remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 77: Sometimes You Need a Decoy . . .

We’re just slightly overwhelmed by the “Black Friday” commercials proliferating television, radio, the internet and even print advertising.  All of this shopping after Thanksgiving has given way to shopping ON Thanksgiving.  What used to be a “safari” to go shopping as early as 5 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving  has turned into a nightmare on Thanksgiving evening.  Adding to the complexity of the “shopping experience” is the use of the internet to ‘supplement’ sales.  All in all, it’s gotten a little out of hand.

Now the stores – in the ever-enticing world of retail – have resorted to opening on Thanksgiving evening.  It wasn’t enough to digest your dinner in front of the television watching football, now we are expected to run out and jump on “Black Friday” specials on Thursday night.  While we’re certain the economy loves the marketing, we’re a little concerned about the human element, which seems to have been left out of the equation.  Thanksgiving was meant to be a family day – shared with loved ones, giving thanks for whatever we may have.  It WAS one of the few days in the world of retail when stores CLOSED.  Unfortunately, the ‘wizards of lightening our wallets’ have devised this new plan that pulls families away from each other as early as 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon in order to be ready for their 8 p.m. store opening.  So much for family. . .

Don’t get us wrong – we enjoy the thrill of the hunt, the opportunity to chase, but we enjoyed doing it on OUR terms.  You know, fill our bellies up on Thursday; digest everything in the evening and get up at the crack of dawn on Friday.  It worked.  It was exciting. It was the natural order of things.  BUT, things have changed and not necessarily for the better.  It’s like a ‘Black Friday’ decoy – “oh, we want you to shop our great Black Friday deals, but we want you to do it on Thanksgiving.”  Say What?  And to make matters worse, we’re falling for it – hook, line and sinker.  While Jimmy watches football and dozes in the lounger, Jill heads off to the big boxers for their “once in a lifetime” deals.  Even these lovers of Christmas-time are struggling with the latest in sucking money from the wallets.  It’s just plain wrong.

So, tonight we opened a 2010 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon from Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley, and even though it’s a young wine, it has a certain flair for the dramatic.  Not quite as bold as we expected, but the longer it was opened, the better it became.  Clearly, this wine is meant to be opened now and we were greeted with scents of raspberries, green peppers, cedar and earth-tones.  As the wine opened, the nose settled into a mocha and spice–very different from when it was first opened.  The taste is what caught us off guard–only because we expected less based on the nose.  No, it was full-flavored, soft-toned and the spiciness on the finish was pleasant and unexpected. In short, we were surprised.  Upon closer inspection, we learned that this 2010 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon is 96% Cabernet, 3% Merlot and 1% Petite Verdot – clearly, the winemakers knew what they were doing.  The price was a good value as well–at wine.com it’s listed at $29.99 a bottle; however, at H-E-B, we were able to get it for under $18 .  .  . still high for some, but a value for others.  We can’t say that we’d necessarily recommend it on a regular basis, but as a ‘I need something nice – fast!’  This one might just work .  .  . but we can’t help but feel that we’ve been led to something better especially with its’ lineage from the Duckhorn Vineyards. It’s kind of like Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving.

Good wines are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family; we’d probably choose others to share with our friends and family, but in a pinch, this one could work.  We still struggle with the thought of people being required to work on Thanksgiving so stores can open up Thursday night.  There’s just something UN-American about that.  It smacks of ‘forced labor’ hidden under the glimmer of retail bliss.  Too dramatic?  Perhaps, but if you read this and you know someone in your family or friends of your family who has been told (not asked) to work on our day of Giving Thanks, then perhaps you’ll have some empathy for them.  Thanksgiving is Thursday – reach out and say ‘thank you’ to the important people in your world and enjoy a glass of your favorite wine with them.

Please remember to enjoy your wines responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible and to enjoy the weekend!