casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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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.


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Day 42 – It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over!

It has been a day.  Let’s see, where do we begin.  We embarked on our trip to Paso Robles today getting an early start for an early flight.  One of the things that we weren’t counting on when we made reservations with our friends way back in April was not being on the same flight.  We bought our seats at the exact same time and last night, we found out that the friends were flying out at 6 a.m. and going to Los Angeles and then on to San Francisco.  Our flight was scheduled to fly to Houston and then on to San Francisco.  Frustrating?  You bet, but not the end of the world.

After a short night and an early ride to the airport; we were ready to go by 5:00 a.m. this morning.  They left on time and we left on time.  We got to Houston and immediately looked for the board with departures for our trip to San Francisco.  And, there it was…in red letters – CANCELLED.  The frustration of having completely different flights than our friends just took another turn for the worse.  We stopped at United Airlines customer service and this is when you know that others have bad days too – who didn’t know that the flight had been cancelled.  The options that she was offering us wasn’t sitting well with us (leaving Houston at 6 p.m. just wouldn’t do) and so she offered to put us on a flight to San Jose and offer shuttle service to San Francisco.  At the same time, our other friends in Arlington were dealing with their own nightmare in trying to join us in San Francisco – ending up in Denver before eventually getting to San Francisco.  We did met a couple of neat people in the van on the way between the San Jose and San Francisco airports – best wishes to newlywed’s from Florida – hope you have a wonderful time in Napa and places in between . . . let us hear from you and what wineries you visit.  Our new friend who lives in San Francisco and shared online marketing strategies – thanks for the advice on our blog!

Long story short, we were reunited with both of our friends and began our quest to try a variety of wines during this week.  And once we got our vehicle, we immediately headed south towards Monterrey – what a beautiful drive – photo below won’t even do the beach justice – where we stopped at Bonny Doon Vineyard to try some of their old-world style wines.  The wine for tonight was a 2006 Ca’ del Solo Nebbiolo and what a wine it was!  Lots of dried fruits, nuts and herbs that all yielded an incredible intensity.  The wine is lighter than ones we traditionally try, but it was beautiful with loads of taste and exceptionally smooth on the palate.   We could only imagine how good this wine could be with food!  It was a great sampling to start our California trip.  Lauren was working behind the really cool concrete counter – she reminded us alot of our own daughter #1 – great personality and made our visit an enjoyable one.  (Lauren – will get your photo up in the morning _ trouble with the computer!!)   If we lived in Monterrey we would spend lots of time here – it’s a fun place with a twist on aliens . . .  they even have a Roswell Happy Hour.

Why airlines insist on cancelling flights without notice is beyond us.  We understand when lousy weather dictates cancellations, but that wasn’t the case today.  And when all you hear about from these companies is how great their customer service is, well I think when you catch someone on a bad morning, you wonder if the training is working!  Regardless, our customer service person rallied to help us–ultimately allowing us to be here and enjoy our first sampling.  The day was made complete with a comeback miracle by the St. Louis Cardinals  –  WOW!!!  This turnaround was a great reminder that you never quit and as Yogi Berra said “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”  Bring on the Giants . . . but first, bring on a pillow – it’s been a long day!

We hope you’ll look for it where you shop and when you buy this 2006 Nebbiolo, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

Lauren at Bonny Doon – thanks for taking such good care of us!

Reserve Tasting enjoyed by Brian and Mark


Bonny Doon is out of this world!


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Day 19 – Shiver Me Timbers Matey . . .

There are some days that you just kind of shake your head at; you know when someone with WAY too much free time on their hands comes up with a “National-Do Something-Worthless-Day”!  After an absolutely beautiful (almost Fall) day in the Texas Hill Country, we were informed that today is “National Talk Like A Pirate” Day.

Ahoy, me Hearties – What?  Seriously?  Who comes up with this stuff?  Oh, and just so you know, there are dozens (geez, we’re as bad as they are because we took time to search through them) we mean dozens of websites dedicated to talking like a pirate, drinking like a pirate, eating like a pirate, and other things like a pirate we won’t mention.  Without question, the best one we came across was ‘Pirate Pick Up Lines’, and what made it one of the best we’d seen was the fact that there were pick up lines for male pirates and female pirates.  Now, we know you’re sitting on the edge of your chair expecting us to rattle off some of the best ones, and believe us, it’s all we can do to keep from hornswaggling ye, but no, seriously, these websites all (almost all) have disclaimers on them: “Pirates were neither fun nor funny; most of the time they were mean, cruel and heartless” – not sure we ever thought they were anything different.  Weighing anchor and hoisting the mizzen!  Whatever. . .

So, what in the name of Jack Sparrow does this have to do with wine?  Well, mateys tonight’s wine is an exceptional Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County, California.  It’s not your average run-of-the-mill pinot noir.  This wine, from the minute you pop out the cork, is big and beautiful!  You may be asking, how can a pinot noir be big and beautiful?  Tonight we sampled a 2008 Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir from Bob David’s Sea Smoke Hills Vineyard.  We immediately got a huge rush of cherry and spice and it was so enticing, we couldn’t put the glass down.  We swirled some more and the nose intensified.  The color was dark – almost burgundy – much more dense than you’d expect from a pinot noir.  The first sip was fruity, but not too much with a finish of flowers, spice and almost like being in the middle of a rainforest.  The finish was exceptionally clean, long-lasting, fruity and all around fantastic.  It was the kind of tasting that leaves you yearning for more.  We like wines like this; you know, when you take that first sip and swirl it around your mouth and you get the tannins, the fruit, the structure and you realize . . . WOW, this is really, really nice wine!  According to the winemaker’s tasting notes, “Each year, our goal for Southing is to create the ideal marriage of complexity and elegance.  The seductive nose of the 2008 Southing exhibits clove, dusty blueberry, cola, violets and a hint of pineapple guava.  The voluptuous mouth-feel and fine tannins are balanced by our estate vineyard’s characteristic cool climate acidity.”  What we know is that it’s an exceptional wine.

Earlier this week, we visited a fun white wine from Italy and told the story of Jean’s Mom and Dad taking a trip to Europe in the mid-80’s – trying and loving that wine.  Tonight’s sampling is a fast-forward of about 28 years of life.  Jean’s Dad had remarried and he and his lovely wife, Pat, had become affecionados of delicious pinot noirs.  Specifically, this pinot noir.  Until tonight, we didn’t have that same connection with the wine, but after tasting this beauty, we completely understand why they fell in love with it (and each other)!  Wines are meant to be enjoyed, shared, exalted and consumed with people you care about . . . sometimes, the best recommendations come from family!  We really enjoyed the wine, but also knowing that it was a favorite of Bill and Pat; is maybe why it tasted so much better!

Now this wine is a little higher priced than most of the wines we’ve talked about thus far, but you can probably splurge and get it for 35 doubloons a bottle and whether you give it as a gift (good choice – let us know if you need our address) or save it for a special occasion, you really will enjoy this wine.  Being zinfandel lovers, we weren’t expecting a lot but we were blown away by this beauty.

So, if you MUST talk like a pirate in honor on today (or any day if you really want to) . . . Yo Ho Ho – ARGGGGH, matey, batten down the hatches, go pillage yer favrit wine shoppe fer this little beauty be sure and take some pieces of eight, cuz if you don’t – ya mite have to walk the plank and make a trip to Davey Jones locker!”

Please remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible!