casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 194: Where There’s White Smoke . . .

la puerta malbecThere’s a Pope!  What a great day to be a Catholic – our Church has a new Shepard to lead the flock!  Or simply put, history was made today.  It’s hard to wrap your arms around a concept like—Pope Francis will be the first ever from the Western Hemisphere.  That he takes a name that has NEVER been taken before.  That he will leave his mark on millions of pilgrims looking for his leadership, guidance, acceptance and spirituality.

No wonder when he stepped out this afternoon (or evening if you happened to be in Rome) it was almost like a ‘deer in the headlights’.  As we now know, he was waiting for the band to finish playing before addressing the crowd.

Clearly, there are challenges before any leader of a massive population.  And, whether you’re leading a great nation or a church of the people, one thing is crucial–the ability to be firm, yet decisive and the desire to be fair but true to your roots and convictions.  It’s a leadership concept lost in society.  Our hope and prayer is that this leader can truly set the example of servant leadership. . .of and for the people.  If his humble roots are any indication, we’re in for a spectacular run.

Okay, our next conversation settled on what wine could we open to celebrate the New Beginning?  Let’s see there’s St. Francis wines. . .their Zinfandels are pretty tasty; or how about Franciscan?  They have a couple of Cabs that have previously knocked our socks off.  Hmmm, the only catch with either of those two options was a trip to actually purchase them.  Not exactly on the radar screen. SO, a scan of the blog wine shelves uncovers one of our latest Twin Liquors’ Dollar Sale purchases.

In honor of the first Pope from the Western Hemisphere, and more significantly, the Country of Argentina, we opened and tasted a 2012 Valle de la Puerta ‘La Puerta Malbec’ from Famatina, Argentina.  At $10 a bottle, it isn’t a wine of the ‘upper crust’ but more in keeping with the humble roots of the new Pontiff.  La Puerta is a very young wine with lots of energy and potential.  There is a load of fruit on the nose and on the palate that really transcends what a good Malbec is all about. . .the fruit and living for today!  This wine took some time to open up, but after about 30 minutes or so, it offered up a terrific bouquet of fruit, floral and earth that, for Malbec lovers, is at the heart of what the grape is all about.  We did some research on earlier vintages of this wine, and found that they are typically rated at or above 85 points and noted for their fruit forward aroma and taste!

Perhaps more significant than the grape is the growing region where the grape is grown! From our friends at, “Famatina is a remote wine-producing valley in the La Rioja region of Argentina. Concentrated in a river valley in the foothills of the Andes, Famatina’s vineyards follow the course of the meltwater river closely, as it flows north to south towards the lower-lying lands in the east.  The Famatina valley is surrounded on all sides by mountain peaks of between 3,000 and 9,000 ft (1000 to 3000m). This topography creates a rain shadow, making the valley’s agriculture and viticulture highly dependent on irrigation from local rivers.”  Among some of the most fertile areas of the country for growing grapes, La Rioja (not to be confused with its’ Spanish cousin of the same name) is much smaller than the heavyweight region of Mendoza and despite being the longest-established of Argentina’s wine growing regions, La Rioja produces less than a 1/10th of wine compared to Mendoza.

For us, this wine was a pleasure to try and enjoy.  Very fresh and fruity.  It has an earthy essence to it.  And, the finish is in true Malbec fashion. . .lots of fruit.  As vintages go, there are probably better wines out there, but as prices go, you could enjoy a lot of this wine without breaking the bank!  Since being frugal seems to be an initial part of Pope Francis’s lifestyle, perhaps La Puerta is an ideal wine to not only open and sample tonight, but one to hang onto for the months and years ahead. . .only time will tell.

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


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Day 164: News Flash from Rome . . .

Eberle - SangioveseBy now you’ve may have figured out that we are Catholic, and like so many others, today’s news from Rome caught us a bit off guard.  Not paying much attention to the news this morning, it wasn’t until Daughter #1 called and inquired – “what’s this about the Pope resigning?” that we knew something was up.  As we both jumped in our respective cars and headed to our places of employment the knob was flipped to the news.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, Jean has a much longer commute and heard more about the happenings than Brian. Daughter #2 also heard the news and checked in to see what was up.

Bottom line for us is that our Church continues to evolve and how humbling for the person who heads the Catholic Church here on earth to stop and say “I’m tired and it’s time to pass the baton to someone with new energy and vision to take the Church forward”.  That sure doesn’t happen everyday.  Of course, there is much speculation on why – that’s because we are human and have that insatiable “need to know” – can’t we just accept that a human has recognized that it is time for them to step aside.  Wow, what a concept – no personal gain – just doing what is best for the greater good.

Tonight in honor of Pope Benedict we opened an Eberle 2011 Sangiovese from Paso Robles,and although it wasn’t from Italy, it might has well have been.  The wine . . . yes, that’s why we’re here – the wine was beautiful.  We’ve actually been to the Eberle Winery twice – first time in 2007 and then again this past October.  One of the fun things about going to Eberle is when you drive up, you’re ‘greeted’ by a pig/boar bronze statue water fountain.  It really sets the tone for a place that isn’t too pretentious but whose wine is amazing.  To try Eberle Wines is to sample some really delicious American classics.  Even though tonight’s wine has a bit of an Italian spin to it, the Sangiovese from Eberle is actually sourced from three different San Luis Obispo County vineyards and the result is poetry in a bottle.  Keep in mind that this wine is very young . . . so young in fact that we couldn’t find any tasting notes about it online – so we’re creating our own.

The color is a beautiful, deep burgundy; it’s not so dark that you can’t see through it but it’s darker than you’d probably notice in a Sangiovese.  The nose is out-of-this-world . . . not saying it because we “have to”; it’s true – you’ll LOVE the nose of this wine.  There is so much raspberry and cinnamon on the nose that we almost forgot it was a wine.  The oak plays a part in the nose but it takes a back seat to the dark fruit and spice.  The initial taste is overwhelming – in a positive way.  How could a wine that is so young have so much going for it?  Structure, color, taste . . . they’re all there and prominent!  If there is one thing about his wine, it’s that the wine isn’t shy or hiding behind a label – no, it’s right in the front window for everyone to enjoy.  The finish on this 2011 Eberle Sangiovese is long and luscious.  The sweetness of the berries comes out as does the spiciness and the oak.  For us, as lovers of good quality Sangiovese wines, this Eberle is top drawer . . . the only problem is that we’ve already enjoyed it!  We’re pretty sure that we should have laid it down for another 9-12 months before opening, but life goes on!

With the changes taking place in the world today, we felt it was important to remember, recognize and recall important parts of the past.  It’s not very often that someone, like The Pope, steps aside to let someone else handle the reins.  It’s a lot like leadership – being a leader isn’t always about doing what’s right for YOU, sometimes it’s about doing what’s right for the bigger picture.

Hopefully, the bigger picture for you includes tasting your favorite wine responsibly while at the same time remembering to take the time to recycle whenever possible.