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Day 358: Home for a Visit . . .

Spanish White Guerrilla

As parents, there is NOTHING better than when a child returns home for a visit – albeit a brief one.  Today, D#2 flew in from the East (and boy, are my arms tired . . . ok, sorry about that – it’s a very old joke).  Anyways, she arrived safely from Boston a wee bit after Noon today – so after we snagged her from the construction zone at Bergstrom Airport, off we headed to inner Austin and a rendezvous with D#1.  Based on her early arrival time, all seemed right in air flight land today – doesn’t always happen.

We got to D#1’s place and our course all had to go in a spend a few minutes with Bridget Jones (aka, the Grand Dog) – no visit is complete without paw prints on your shorts and shirt and a wet sloppy kiss – not to mention the tail-waggin’ going on.  The “love” we received was well worth the visit.  Off we headed to Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant – gotta tell ya – they have some of the best food in town . . . especially their refried beans!  We left there stuffed and popped over to the Mall for a bit of walking – and maybe a purchase or two.  All in all, it was fun to all be together and yuck it up for awhile.  A drop off of D#1, a quick stop at HEB in Kyle and BAM, we were home.  A short afternoon rain created a slight alteration of plans for tonight . . . but, Brian was still able to grill up some Salmon and asparagus – along with some Mustard Potatoes (to die for – just saying) and, at the end of the day – ALL was good.

So…we had NEVER heard about a 2010 Spanish White Guerilla Verdejo wine. . .nope.  Not on our radar screen until a visit to our local Twin Liquors and BOOM, there it was on CLOSEOUT!  Not being ones to shy away from something completely different and out of the ordinary, we decided that if there was ever a reason to blog about a white wine, this was it!  The 2010 Spanish White Guerrilla Verdejo is 100%  Verdejo grown in a single vineyard located in the Valles de Sadacia growing area, which is a white wine only DO (Denominacion de Origen) located inside the Rioja district, in Spain. The wine was aged in large stainless steel vats for two months, and the color is pale butter yellow with green apple highlights. The nose is pear and apricot, peach and creamery butter. The Verdejo has a full, rounded mouth-feel, pear and lime lead the way, the mid-palate has a slightly medicinal edge that also adds peach and papaya. The acidity is well balanced and helps the finish last for a very respectable time.  We opened it chilled, but found that the taste was improved as the temperature of the wine warmed.  When it was cooler, the taste was flat and non-distinguished.  When the wine warmed, it was as fruity and crisp as we’ve enjoyed.

Don’t be scared off by one of Sponge Bob Squarepants friends on the label or a grape varietal that you may not be familiar with, this Spanish White Guerrilla Verdejo is a well-made, delicious, refreshing, change of pace, summer wine. . .no one was more surprised than us!  The Spanish White Guerrilla Verdejo should sell for around $10, if you like your white wine with a bit of body and strong, fresh flavors, this is a wine you should consider.

Family. . .it’s a LOT like wine. . .it gets BETTER with age.  We relish the time we spend with our daughters.  Each moment is a snapshot that will forever be imprinted in our brains. . .we aren’t sure if our parents ever felt this way, but as they get older, smarter and ready to take on the challenges of the world, we see two incredible ladies who have gifts that are ready to take them places!

Enjoy your favorite wine–responsibly, of course, and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 119: That’s What Friends Are For . . .

Campos De RiscaSo, today we (Brian, Jean and Daughter #2) hopped in the car and headed west (isn’t there a famous line that says – “go west young man, go west”? – well, yes there is and being us –  we had to look it up – “Go West, Young Man, Go West” was an expression first used by John Babsone Lane Soule in the Terre Haute Express in 1851. It appealed to Horace Greeley, who rephrased it slightly in an editorial in the New York Tribune on 13 July 1865: “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” When the phrase gained popularity, Greeley printed Soule’s article to show the source of his inspiration. The phrase captured the imaginations of clerks, mechanics, and soldiers returning from the Civil War, many of whom moved west to take up a homestead.)

Ok, so back to today – we got in the car and headed west to Kerrville for a multitude of reasons.  D#2 had lunch plans with a high school friend, Brian was meeting HVAC tech at our rental house and Jean was meeting a friend to help with a project – so you see, we had to go!  D1 was already there visiting friends for a few days – but, alas our paths didn’t cross except for a quick passing with D#2.  We wrapped up our chores by around 1 p.m. and hooked up with some other friends at one of our all-time favorite spots in Ktown – – – Grape Juice.  We’ve mentioned Patrick and Keri Wilt a number of times, and always want to give them a shout out whenever possible – mainly because they are such great people and we really think the world of them.  If you ever get the chance – go visit them or if you can’t go visit them–go visit their website.

As we ordered lunch, Patrick plopped a 2008 bottle of Campos De Risca on the table and said we’d love it – – – – well, as usual – he was right.  This is the second bottle of Monastrell that we’ve talked about in our blog, and the more we try it, the more we like it!  Spanish wines are making names for themselves because winemakers know that there is a limitless potential with Spanish vineyards.  Some of the best wines in the world are coming from or about to come from Spain – if you haven’t tried any lately, you’re missing the boat!  Tonight’s wine is sneaky . . . like a fox!  It starts out, as Pat so perfectly described it, with a lot of tobacco.  We got it on the nose and in the taste – very noticeable.  But, after this wine had some time to open up, the fruit and earthiness really makes it a fine wine.  A beautiful deep, dark purple color gave the impression of a richness that would normally be reserved for varietals with much stronger lineage.  We thoroughly enjoyed this wine and even added an extra one to take home and add to our wine rack.  A quick look around the internet confirmed that this wine is a great value for the money and reviews at 88-90 points from Parker and Wine Spectator.  While not all reviews from these esteemed publications are  on target, with this 2008 Campos De Risca, all are on point!

The only thing worse than enjoying a great bottle of wine and seeing the bottle become empty is having to get back into the car and head home.  It’s always an adventure when we stop at Grape Juice . . . there aren’t a lot of places to hang out in Kerrville, Texas, but GJ is a great place to start!  And, when you can combine good food and good wine with good friends, it sets the table for a winning combination.  We know that each time we visit the place, we’ll find something that will satisfy our palates without breaking the bank!

As you settle in with your favorite wine–tonight or any night–remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 101 – Not Dalmations!

la cartuja

Do you remember the Disney Classic, 101 Dalmations?  You know, with Jasper and Cruella de vil . . . and Roger!  It’s always been one of our girls’ favorite movies.  We still remember when the ‘live action’ movie with Glen Close as Cruella de vil was trying to get the puppies for her fur coats!  The kids were a lot younger then and as a family, we really enjoyed that film.  Watching the animated version is almost like watching something in black and white – the best years are behind it, but it’s such a classic that you can’t pass it by!  We really liked and still remember from the animated movie, the Midnight Bark – you know, when one dog starts barking which leads to another dog barking and that leads to several more dogs barking!  It’s a symphony of dogs all howling and barking . . . some night that’s what it sounds like around the house – three dogs all sounding the Midnight Bark – oh, it’s only the wind . . . sorry to wake you Mom and Dad.

With tonight being our 101st sampling, we thought it was completely understandable to break out the ‘dogs’ . . . but we couldn’t find a copy of “Who Let The Dogs Out?”  Whoo, whoo, whoo, who . . . but, on to more important things like the fact is that many cases of wine  have been produced and enjoyed by people all over the world.  Tonight we made a trip to Spain and sampled one of our bargains from HEB – $16.99 . . . but on sale it was only $14.44!  We opened a 2011 Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat – what the heck is a Priorat, you ask – well . . .  the wine received 93 Points from Robert Parker’s, The Wine Advocate – wow, wow, wow is about all we can say! 

The wine is 70% garnacha and 30% carinena, and aged for eight months in used French oak.  We don’t know about you, but Used French Oak–is WAY better than we imagined!   The color is like that of our birthstone – ruby red.  The nose is a snoot full of smokey blackberry with just a hint of floral – perhaps lavender (had to rely on Brian for that tonight as Jean is all stuffed up – is it a cold, or is it the rapid change in weather? )  The taste is smooth on the palate with sweet dark berry flavors and perhaps a dab or two of cherry and licorice.  The finish is quite nice – soft and gentle tannins, but still a bit spicy . . . which is what we really enjoy.  Bottom line is, we’d buy again and enjoy with perhaps some smoked salmon or fresh red fish from the coast.

So, we wrap up #101 and heads towards Tuesday, and you know what that means – – – #102!  Who knows what awaits or what mood will strike!  Enjoy your Monday night (tough game Texans – – – sorry sister Sara – your team just didn’t have what it took tonight.  Better luck next week!)

As Roy Rogers would say – “happy trails to you until we meet again” – in the meantime, remember to enjoy responsible and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 98: T.G.I.F.

barahonda barricaYep.  It’s Friday and not a moment too soon!  We’re a mere 18 days from Christmas and perhaps more importantly, only 25 days away from a New Year.  Wow. . .we don’t know about you, but every time we start thinking about this year, we shake our heads in disbelief.  It’s disbelief in how fast it has disappeared; disbelief in all that has taken place–but here we are on the the cusp of another holiday season.  Doesn’t seem possible!

As you know, we strive to find deals, steals and other ways of trying new wines without putting a hole in your wallet.  After a quick stop at Central Market on North Lamar in Austin, we reloaded with some amazing wines from all over the world without even coming close to a $20 price point.  Yep, we’re a little overwhelmed too, because we’ve spent so much time on California wine that we’ve ignored some wines from South Africa, Spain, Italy, France, New Zealand, Germany . . .  and today’s jaunt helped bring us back to what’s important – finding good wine that is affordable and accessible.  We’ve found some winners, thanks to Andy at Central Market.  He’s one of those ‘wine guys’ that gets it – can easily make recommendations from $10 bottles of wine or $100 bottles of wine.  Not sure, but we think he really loves recommending those $100 bottles!!

Tonight’s wine is a 2010 Barahonda Barrica from Spain–a blend of 75% Monastrell and 25% Petite Syrah . . . and it’s gorgeous!  The color is intoxicating–beautiful dark purple hues give this wine a look and feel of substance and body.  And, we really didn’t know what we had purchased until we poured it into our glasses.  The nose was beyond belief – oak, oak, oak.  The label told us that  the wine had been aged in a combination of French and American oak for six months.   Upon tasting  we got lots of blackberry and fruit combined with hints of camphor, licorice and spicy oak.  The finish was long and the lingering of oak, pepper and fruit was fantastic.  From our perspective, this wine is perhaps understated! Tucked away on the shelf you may want to walk past – but don’t.   It’s an amazing wine at an amazingly low price of $17 but with a great sale going on at H-E-B, we secured this wine find for $14.44!

This is a wine meant to be enjoyed with food – and we followed suit by sauteing a combination of beef, zucchini, summer squash, red pepper and snap peas and serving with roasted potatoes.  The wine is a perfect complement to the food and its’ taste was enhanced by the food.  We really struck gold with this Spanish delight, and we think that it’s a hidden gem worth exploring over and over.  Give this 2010 Barahonda Barrica a try, you’ll be amazed and your friends will be impressed with your choice of sophistication!

Until tomorrow, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 88: One Step Forward – Two Steps Back . . .

Ok, so for the second night in a row we have to make a correction . . . a friend that Jean works with said she got a chuckle of out us getting our days mixed up (shout out to Margaret!) – and tonight we have to correct the location of where we purchased last night’s wine – it was not Trader Joe’s, it was Max’s Wine Dive in San Antonio (apologies to Julie – she asked what Trader Joe’s).  Albeit – regardless of what day it was or where it was purchased – it was a really nice bottle of vino.  All of these miscues just go to show that we are human and do make mistakes – but, as Baby’s Dad said in Dirty Dancing – ” when I’m (we) are wrong, I (we) say I (we) I’m (we) wrong” – – whew, did that make sense . . . if you’ve seen the movie, you get the line.  For the record – we also don’t put Baby in the corner . . . thank you Johnnie (love, love, love Patrick Swayze).

Now that the record is set straight – let’s get to the day’s happenings.  What a great treat we had to day at lunch – the chance to “meet in the middle” and enjoy a noontime gathering for a meal together.  Since we work about 40 miles apart, the chance to meet midday and enjoy one another’s company is a special treat.  We enjoyed some BBQ midway between office A and office B.  As the day wrapped up, we arrived home to do some work on a painting project that is underway and connect with daughter #1 and daughter #2 via text and phone – a rare treat indeed.  A sit down with the latest episode of Chopped and bamn it’s 10:00 p.m. and soon we will turn into pumpkins – that’s what happens when no children are at home to keep us in line.  We tend to fall asleep on the couch – or recliner, take your pick.  We are truly the last of a dying breed – “empty bedroomers” – surely not “empty nesters” as #1 and #2 are still on the payroll.

So for tonight – yes, all facts have been validated – so no typos . . . we selected from the wines we purchased at World Market in College Station a cute little wine called Los Dos from Spain.  This wine is a 2011 Grenache – Syrah from Campo De Borja, Spain.  Sorry, you will have to provide your own map if you need to know exactly where Campo De Borja is located.  The wine has a screw top (no, that doesn’t mean anything – some of our favorite with are screw tops) – and had an interesting nose.  Well, interesting in that we were overwhelmed by the scent of coffee.  Lots of coffee . . . in fact we thought that Juan Valdez was in the room with us – which gave way to blueberries and cranberries as it opened up and there was a hint of vanilla after it had been open for about 30 minutes.  On the taste, well, maybe it’s just us, but whenever we taste blends with Grenache – this one is 85% Grenache and the balance is Syrah – we get a sweet and sour combination that doesn’t always taste like we think it should taste.  As with the nose, as the wine opened up, the flavors of the fruit and the subtle taste from the oak started to come through.  For a bottle of wine that cost less than $10, you probably would want to try it for yourself to decide if it’s worth buying more.  As it’s a 2011, the wine is still very young and there may continue to be some bottle aging but we feel like it’s got a relatively short life span.  In the long run, there are probably other, better, value-priced wines on the market – we’ve got more to go so keep reading–than this one.  But, if you’re looking  – (as Monty Python used to say, “And now for Something Completely Different”) – then have a go at it!  For the price ($8.49 on sale) it’s a bargain.

While we won’t hang our heads in shame at our mistakes, we know that you want accurate information, and while we’d like to use the reason for the error as we just didn’t see it coming – in all reality, the more feedback we get, the better our facts will be.  Last night’s wine was really good and tonight’s wine was, well, really – not so much.  We look forward to tomorrow night and another tasting; until then please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.