casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


Leave a comment

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.


1 Comment

Day 146 – When Winter Is Spring

snoqualmie cabOkay. . .we know we’re going to regret writing this, but given the last few days, it’s something that we have to talk about.  You can see it in everyone’s faces.  The students at Texas State–they know what’s happening.  The cafe’s on the square–they know what’s going on.  The smiles on people’s faces say all that needs to be said.  Yep, we’re experiencing spring before winter.  A run of days in the 70’s has most of the town giddy with excitement.  Why not?  Normally, we’re excited to be in the 50’s or 60’s this time of year, but to be in the 70’s (closer to 80) in late January puts a spring in just about everyone’s step.

Without gloating (although we’re good at it) we talked with daughter #2 in Boston and it was 9 there yesterday.  Yeah, as in 9 above zero.  As in, it’s too cold to snow.  Factor in the wind chill and you’re talking downright nasty.  Oh, but don’t worry–most of the midwest, south and northeast are in the Big Chill.  How long it lasts is anyone’s guess, but having spent a fair number of winters in St. Louis, we can tell you that some years are just plain worse than others.  We still remember January of 1990. . .we were living in a rent house in St. Peters, Missouri–just outside of St. Louis County.  Early in the month we had a pretty significant amount of snow which was followed by several bouts of freezing rain, and the last piece of the puzzle was frigid temperatures.  The bottom line that year was we never could shovel the driveway or walkway because everything was frozen–solid.  And, just like up in the Boston area today, the wind chills were brutal. . .at one point, 35 below wind chill factors.  Not the stuff we were used to.

Since we don’t have a wine from where it’s really, really cold.  We decided to head up to Washington for tonight’s selection.  Our 2006 Snoqualmie Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley was a surprise and a treat.  This was a Twin Liquors find and if memory serves us, it was less than $12 a bottle.  According to their website,  “Founded in 1983, Snoqualmie was one of Washington’s first premium wineries, producing classic wine varietals from vineyards across the Columbia Valley.  Originally located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Snoqualmie opened its winery in Prosser, WA, at the base of the Horse Heaven Hills, in 2002.  Under the leadership of Joy Andersen, winemaker since 1991, Snoqualmie has become a leader in sustainable and organic wine making in Washington.”  What we like about it was the taste.  Yes, it had a classic Washington State Cabernet nose. . .picked up a lot of blackberries and black cherries.  But the taste–a real subtle earthiness to it which was enhanced by the smooth tannins.  Clearly, it’s aged well in the bottle and as a perfect accompaniment to grilled steak and a baked potato, this wine is now a favorite.  We’re also of the opinion that it could be a perfect deck wine. . .which we can enjoy because the weather is perfect for deck-time!

We know that at some point winter will come back to this part of the state.  It always does.  Two years ago, before moving to San Marcos, we still remember the weekend that we brought furniture up to Brian’s apartment–it was in the low 80’s and very sunny and warm.  By the end of the day on February 1st, the temperatures were in the 20’s where they’d stay for the better part of the month of February.  You never know what kind of winter is going to be thrown at you, so it’s nice when we can sit back, pour a glass of wine and enjoy it OUTSIDE this time of year.

As you enjoy your favorite wine (try the Snoqualmie) please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.