casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 303: Time for a Trip to Washington . . .

snoqualmieWe love Sundays.  We especially love Sundays when it rains.  We especially love Sundays when it rains in the morning.  Today. . .was one of those Sundays. You know. . .you wake up and it’s just getting light.  You figure–hey, I’ve still got at least an hour or two before I have to get up!  So, like anyone, you fall back asleep, but wake up 45 minutes later, and it’s darker than when you woke up the first time!  Hmmm, not exactly sure what’s going on here, but just to be on the safe side you check your clock–and, yes, the time IS later than previously noted.  A little lightening. . .a little thunder. . .and a little wind gust tells us it’s about to open up.  Add to the mix three dogs who would rather NOT deal with bad weather and you have the makings of a Central Texas early morning thundershower.  A perfect way to start the day. . .oh, and eventually ending up watching a classic movie like Rudy on AMC! (Come on now – who doesn’t blubber like a baby at the end of Rudy?)

After yesterday’s 108 degrees, we figured that the rain could only help keep a lid on the high temperatures–and thankfully, the forecasters were calling for ONLY a high of 97 degrees…oooooo….break out the sweaters!  Yeah, kind of funny when you stop to think about it–an eleven degree drop in most places would cause folks to be a little concerned.  You know if you go from 92 degrees to 81…there’s a pretty good weather event about to take place. And, if you go from 70 degrees to 59–well, that cold front has made it through.  BUT, when it goes from 108 to 97–we’re sorry, you CAN’T tell the difference!  Hot is hot no matter how you slice it.

And because of the unbelievable heat, we decided to take a trip to the Great Northwest. . .to the lands of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. . .Washington state.  Recently, Jean’s sister, Sara sent us a 2013 Washington State Wine Guide, and one of the coolest parts of the book was a wine time line.  It seems that in the 1970’s, there were less than 50 wineries and growers in the state of Washington.  Today, there are more than 750 and growing!  An industry that had pretty much set up shop and cornered the market in California had now made its’ way north into Washington. . .and Oregon for that matter.  Literally, some of the BEST wines in America are coming out of Washington.  There are some amazing wine makers and growers who are changing the face of wine making in our country–and for the BETTER!  Since Jean is Sara’s favorite sister, we’ve been planning a trip to get together.

Tonight we went down a familiar road to enjoy a different variety from a previously blogged wine maker. . .Snoqualmie.  We thought the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was good earlier this year?  Well, with all due respect, it had NOTHING on the 2009 Syrah we enjoyed tonight.  Admittedly, when we opened the bottle, it had a beautiful aroma of black berries and oak, but the first taste was, well, less than enticing.  However, after about 30 minutes of air time, we noticed that the wine not only opened up but was becoming full-bodied and with loads of structure.  It was becoming a complete wine.  Rich blackberry and blueberry fruit aromas with subtle smoky impressions, same followed on the pallet with soft tannins and sweet oak flavors.  Another part of the wine making that we’ve come to appreciate is the process. . .under the leadership of Joy Andersen, winemaker since 1991, Snoqualmie has become a leader in sustainable and organic winemaking in Washington.  Great wines and attention to the environment . . . a winning combination.

With a price point under $10 a bottle, we think that Snoqualmie may be one of the best hidden secrets of Washington wine.  Yes, we know that there are 749 other vineyards out there that  are competing for attention, but as of right now, we are sold on Snoqualmie!  We hope that you’ll agree when you try this wine.  If not, remember to  enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 168 – Count On Family

frank family vineyardsSo. . .you know what today was?  Yep, February 15th.  The day AFTER Valentine’s Day!  We chuckled this morning about how many men (or women) opted for the strategy. . .”oh, it’s just another “Hallmark” holiday and I didn’t get you anything.”  Hmmm.  Not Good.  Clearly, the Valentine’s phenomenon has been entrenched for years.  We can both remember grade school and the ‘passing out of Valentine’s cards’.  Brian was–well, less than a Valentine’s favorite growing up, so he was happy to get 5 or 10 of those little cards that came in a box as big as New York!!!  While other kids were getting 15-20 Valentines. . .and this was in the day when a boy could give a boy a Valentine and a girl could give a girl a Valentine and NO ONE thought ANYTHING about it.  Today–let’s face it. . .not so much.

Why on earth would we bring up such a memory?  Well, one thing we learned and shared was that when you had a family. . .THEY were your REAL Valentine.  We both have countless memories of our sisters standing up for us when we were younger.  On the school bus. . .on the playground. . .at the bus stop. . .it was FAMILY who stepped in to protect or make a difference.  Brian looks at his sisters today and realizes that they were his “protectors” as a  youngster. . .looking out for their ‘little brother’ and making sure he didn’t get into trouble.  Well, here’s the 4-1-1 on that deal, they “fell asleep at the wheel” because he still managed to find trouble!!!  Jean had four sisters before her to “look out” for her best interests, and to this day, they still talk about growing up here or there and going to school here or there . . .it’s amazing what family means–and not just around Valentine’s Day!

Truth be told, we wanted to taste tonight’s wine–last night.  However, after a terrific meal and wine at Bill/Dad’s place in Georgetown, we decided that a good night’s rest was more important than tasting a different wine.  So, tonight we opened a special bottle of 2008 Frank’s Family Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley area. The first three words out of our mouths was, “OH, MY GOSH!”. . .or something to the effect!  This was a wine that we purchased during Twin Liquors 75th Anniversary Sale last August.  Yep, we’ve been laying this one down for six months and as of tonight, this wine was five years in the making!  What an amazing wine!  This wine is consistently rated at 90 points or above and after opening a bottle we certainly understand why.  The nose is immaculate. . .so crisp and fresh. . .chocolate and cedar with a hint of berries was a welcome scent to start the journey with this wine.  It’s a big CAB but not as big as previous vintages.  It’s more of a medium body cabernet but with subtleties of strong wine making.  Without question, we got ripe plum, cherry and currant notes on the taste.  It was amazing how with time passing and the bottle opened, that these flavors became even more pronounced.  We laughed at one review that pointed out, “A generous Napa Valley Cab loaded with black cherry, bittersweet chocolate and spice aromas that carry over to the palate. There’s even more fruit in the mouth, as the fleshes out to reveal plum and blackberry in addition to cherry, with a touch of mineral, plenty of spice and sweet, ripe tannins.”  Now, this is a little too ‘over-the-top’ for us, but it illustrates a point.  When you open a bottle of wine like this, you’re not going to be disappointed.  And tonight, we weren’t!  It was a magnificent bottle of wine, and it was made better by the anniversary sale price that was less than $30 for the bottle.  If Frank’s Family Vineyards has an achilles heel, it’s probably a price point that keeps it from the ‘mainstream’ and puts it in the stratosphere for most wine lovers.  Regardless, you’ll want to invest in a bottle of this wine for YOUR special occasion!

As the week comes to an end and the weekend begins, we suggest you embrace YOUR family.  Without them, you’re just another ‘boat on the horizon’; with them, you are a finalist for America’s Cup.  There’s an old saying about you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family, and both of us agree that FAMILY is a big part of who we are today, and our biggest hope is that we’ve passed on this important trait to our “family”.  Please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 129: Sisters Are Special . . .

Seven DaughtersBrian grew up as the  youngest of five with a brother, three sisters and then himself.  Jean grew up with five sisters; four older than her and one younger.  Between the two of us, we understand what it means to have sisters. BOY, do we EVER!

When you’re the  youngest, sisters can shield you from the ‘wrath of Khan’ – otherwise known as – the parents!  BUT, at the same time, sisters can turn  you in like a ‘Crime Stoppers Video’!  It’s all in the matter of the situation.  Brian still remembers when his middle sister, Sharon, was graduating from high school and upon arrival home from school was greeted by a full staircase of her graduation photos.  Being a seventh grader, he was less than impressed and used a word that rhymes with ‘MUSTARD’ to describe the photos . . . of course, he had NO idea what he was talking about, but that didn’t stop the older, wiser sister from laying into him like a wrestler drinking Red Bull!  We’re not sure she remembers – – but he DOES!

Jean shared a story this weekend at her Dad’s 85th birthday – and Bill remembered it well – about a family driving vacation when all were in the car heading away from the coast when the need to A.) fill the tank with gas and B.) take care of business arose.  Everyone was told to get up and get out including the lump in the back of the car that was one of Jean’s sisters, except that the lump was just that – a lump!  And, Jean’s sister was 30 minutes back from where they came.  Yep, it’s easy to smile, giggle or even laugh now, but back then, it was NOT a good situation, but sisters are resilient and from what Jean has said, her sister was wandering around and oblivious they left!!!

Even with our own kids, we still remember going to the hardware store and Brian took our oldest daughter with him but forgot to let Jean know that he had he – a panicked moment ensued until all was well with our daughter and Dad, but it is a reminder that WE have a responsibility to not only watch our kids grow up, but also to be vigilant in their travels because one NEVER knows what could happen when you turn your head or close your eyes.  Our children – no matter their age – are our most precious resource!

All of this to lay the foundation for tonight’s wine.  Now, in all fairness, we had NO idea when we bought this at Gabriel’s that it would be worth two cents let alone the price of the wine.  Seven Daughters is a big blend – seven different grapes selected for this wine – with a lot of juice and taste.  According to them, “Seven Daughters Winemaker’s Blend is a celebration of an on-the-go lifestyle. By carefully combining the best grapes that California has to offer, Seven Daughters allow the unique differences in each varietal to unite together in a harmonious blend.”   According to us, The nose leans towards blackberry followed by lavender and vanilla.  The wine is very smooth, and it offers up some amazing fruit flavors. The wine opens on the palate with lots of red fruit ranging from blackberries and dried cherries. You can definitely tell that Syrah compliments the wine with a note of peppery spice, for a terrific finish.  At two for $13.99 at Gabriel’s, this is a ‘stock-up and save’ deal waiting for your shopping cart.  Don’t let the twist off cap or the ‘less than pedigree’ name sway you away from this wine, it’s a winner from the word ‘GO’ and is a really nice addition to any rack of everyday wines.

Whether it’s sisters, daughters, aunts or cousins, there is something special about all of them!  And whether we call them sisters or daughters, what really is important is that they are a key part of our lives.  And, as a parent, they are daughters; as a sibling they are sisters, and as a cousin – well, they’re still cousins!!  Special friends are considered “sistas” – never forget about them as well – they are important in our lives.  BUT, without them, life wouldn’t be the same and without trying Seven Daughters wine, you’d never know what a seven (7) grape blend would taste like.  Make it happen!!

As we wrap up our first Monday of 2013, we hope that you’ll appreciate your daughters or sisters, tell them that you love them and enjoy your favorite wine responsibly, and please remember to recycle whenever possible – – it reduces trash!