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Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 347 – For The Love of the Game

Aglianico Terredora DiPaoloWoof!  It’s an understatement to say that the dog days of summer are upon us.  We’re only a few short weeks/days away from the start of another school year and even though the calendar says it’s time, the weather indicates differently.  We’ve been watching pictures in the paper and footage on the news of young men in high school and college working out on the football field–soaked in sweat–they are chasing the dreams of thousands of young men who have come before them. . .the elusive championship.  It’s an interesting contrast to the “training camps” of the NFL, whose star players are pampered beyond means and whose contracts have all but eliminated ‘two-a-days”. . .workouts for those of us who are “football challenged.”

There was a time back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s even the 90’s when players played football during the season and played everywhere else during the offseason.  When training camp started, it literally was training all over again.  But today’s athletes are finely tuned machines. . .they exist on meals of carbs, proteins and other essential nutrients.  They are primped, pampered, coddled and cared for because instead of being viewed by the owners of the team as athletes. . .they are now possessions.  And, these possessions can’t return on the investment unless they are at peak performance.  So, it’s kind of ironic that more and more professional athletes who used to do ‘two-a-day’ workouts and made it through Pee-Wee football, Pop Warner football, high school football and college football without nary an incident, suddenly find themselves on injured reserve with a torn medial collateral ligament.  A coincidence?  Who knows. . .but, the dog days of summer have descended upon us and as the Rattlers and Bobcats gear up for another season in the sun, it’s good to know that some traditions can stand the test of time.

Tonight we enjoyed a superb–yet young–Italian wine.  A 2010 Terredora di Paolo Aglianico from our friends at East End Wines in Austin.  Priced under $15 a bottle, this wine is good now. . .and we mean really good now. . .but, if you lay it down for another 3-4 years, it’s going to be spectacular.  This2010 Aglianico is a gem of a wine. Wild cherries, dark raspberries, spices, leather and licorice come together beautifully in a medium-bodied red. Floral notes waft out from the glass on the finish. There is nothing fussy here, just a flat out delicious bottle of unoaked Aglianico. Even better, from where we sit, this is a terrific value.  It’s a great wine with food as well. . .believe it or not, we had chicken fajitas with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo, grated cheese and spanish rice.  The wine stood up to the spice and the finish was a great palate cleanser!  Great Italian wines are easy to find. . .Spectacular Italian wines are a gem to locate, buy and save for special occasions.  Add this one to your list!

We know that when school starts, football season is just around the corner.  In spite of our commentary on the pros, it’s still pretty good entertainment, but not as enjoyable as the pure passion of high school or college athletics.  There is something to be said to enjoy a sport . . .’for the love of the game’!

As your Tuesday gives way to Wednesday, please enjoy YOUR favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 343: Show Me The Money . . .

Shatter Yeah, we did watch Jerry Maguire tonight!  It’s a perfect way to start the football season. . .really, it’s a lot better than watching preseason football.  There are preseason games on Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. . .and for the first few weeks, they are nothing more than auditions for ‘The Show’.  Even though every sportswriter, every television commentator, every radio mouth-piece and most fans are jaw-jacking about glaring weaknesses here and glaring weaknesses there.  Really?  Have you looked at the rosters of these teams?  In Pro Football, training camp starts with 90 players.  AND, roughly half of them will NEVER see the field of dreams.  So, the preseason games really are auditions for a future. . .either in professional football or in the REAL WORLD.  We suspect that most guys on these rosters would much rather be football players than dealing with the  REAL WORLD.

So, in the movie, Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays Rod Tidwell of the Arizona Cardinals…we don’t have to go into the plot since the movie has been out since 1996, but it illustrates the cut-throat nature of representing professional athletes, it represents the greed of take it all now mentality and the obvious…”what’s in it for me” mentality that professional athletes have been groomed to expect.  And, it doesn’t matter what sport–translated loosely to business–they’re in.  Basketball, Football, Baseball, Hockey–it’s ALL about showing them the money!  We all know why–because the OWNERS are filthy-rich, spoiled and get exactly what they want.  At some point, in the not-too-distant-future, professional sports will collapse on itself–under the weight of drug abuse, greed and lack of trust.  Baseball is probably the first to go. . .

Fortunately, when it comes to enjoying a nice wine, you don’t always have to show the money.  In fact, as we’ve been able to show over the past 342 days, there are AMAZING wines available for only a few dollars a bottle that offer amazing taste, structure, finish and value.  Tonight, we add yet another nice wine to the stable – actually it runs around $30 per bottle, but we found it on sale for half that at our Kyle HEB.

This wine was first tasted in the land of the BRWC – aka Casa de P&L.  It is a 2010 Shatter Grenanche – now we must admit, and have several time throughout this blog, that we are not big fans of French wine . . . it’s nothing personal, some of our favorite foreign exchange students are from France – heck, even the Coneheads are from Remulak (somewhere in France, right?).  When we first popped open the cork, we knew immediately that it needed some air time.  After decanting for about 30 minutes, the nose opened up to strawberry, pepper, cherry, black plum and vanilla notes.  The palate continued down the path of dark berries, plum and cherries. The strawberry notes there, but less noticeable. Barreled in french oak helps this wine – but the pepper balances it out nicely.  The finish is nice enough, smooth yet a bit of a bite – but overall very nice.  We’d buy it again at the sale price, but not at a regular price of $30 plus.

Let’s face it. . .there are literally hundreds of sports stories out on the silver screen. . .from Monty Stratton to Gale Sayers and from the US Olympic Hockey team to the US Ryder Cup Championship, if there’s a way for Hollywood to make a buck–they’ll make a picture.  Jerry Maguire was a mere glimpse into the world of sports agents. . .OZV Zinfandel is a mere glimpse into the world of truly value-priced wines that taste good, look good and are worth every penny.

We hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.

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Day 61 – Trick or Treat . . .

While most folks with kids have been out trick or treatin’, something we remember all too well, we’ve enjoyed yet another terrific wine!  But, let’s talk about trick or treating . . . back in 1999, we were living in St. Charles, Missouri; a great place to live and what a great neighborhood we had moved into the previous year.  Now, you have to understand that 1999 was THE year.  If you follow football, it was THE year.  Even if you DON’T follow football, it was THE year.  Kurt Warner – a nobody(but Jean’s ALL TIME FAVORITE) – was thrust onto the stage as quarterback of the woebegone Rams.  Marshall Faulk was a cast-off of the Indianapolis Colts and Isaac Bruce – well, the Reverend was – The Reverend! For clarity – THIS was THE year the Rams WON IT ALL!!!!

Okay, so the stage was set on a very mild Halloween night.  Lots of kids to go trick or treating, and the ULTIMATE DAD VEHICLE, the wagon was called into service, yes we are talking the Red Radio Flyer wagon.  You see, Dad’s are all too happy to go trick or treating with their kids when one of the Dad’s is pulling the wagon with a cooler on it and the cooler has beer in it!  Now, this is the stuff that legends are made of , the guys started out with about seven kids and three Dads.  Brian (surprise, surprise) was pulling the wagon and in the neighborhood and quickly became the group of choice and the envy of the other Dads wishing they had thought of it . . . how perfect is it to take your kids trick or treating and have people come out to greet YOU?  We went up one street and down another; each time we’d enjoy a can of our favorite beverage (by now you are asking yourself – what does this have to do with wine?).

After an hour and a half of trick or treating, the kids were in overdrive going from house to house – now, the problem.  An hour and a half of enjoying beer – do the math – suddenly the need to be more comfortable takes hold.  You know on Halloween with lots of kids in the streets, it’s really, really difficult to – well, never mind.  Thank goodness the entourage was close to family of one of the Dads .  .  . otherwise, it could have been disastrous!  Memories like this are one of the gifts we have as parents.  While the kids had a great time trick or treating (all decked out mind you in Power-Puff Girl costumes) – they made a haul with lots of candy – the Dads had an equally and memorable time as well – the Mom’s, well they did  what they do best – hold down the fort, pass out candy to those coming to the door, turn off the light at the appointed hour, and take “snacks” to the Elmendo’s for the “after-party” – ahhhh, the memories.  When your kids grow up, it’s these kinds of memories that help us to enjoy tonight’s wine.

A 2009 Klinker Brick Zinfandel from California is an interesting bottle of wine .  .  . we’ve had this before but didn’t really pay attention to its’ structure.  An interesting nose, lots of fruit and pepper–which you’d expect from a Zinfandel – and initially, the taste was bland.  Not quite what we’ve come to expect from a quality Zin.  However, as this wine opened up – the true character started to show (could be the fire in the pit on the deck added in some ambiance.  We began to get hints of cinnamon and spice on the nose to  go with the peppery spice along with a beautiful black cherry scent.  The taste was equal to the nose with the trademark Zin peppery finish.  The longer this bottle of wine was open, the better the nose and taste.  Our friends at Twin Liquors have this wine available as one of their “Twin Deals” and for around $16 you’ll be glad you took advantage of this wine!  As lovers of good Zin, this one is in our wheel-house and it should be in yours too!

So, if you’ve got kids and you’re reading this – cherish the moments of trick or treating with them.  The time goes by so fast you’ll barely blink your eyes and they’ll be teenagers and want NOTHING to do with you!  (B-T-W–it gets better when the get older but cherish the memories just the same).  We had a moment in time when our kids were at the perfect age and WE were at the perfect age and the times were just right to enjoy company, comradrie, and kids.

We hope that you enjoy the times in front of you.  Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever you can, but most importantly – on this Halloween, and EVERY day – enjoy your kids, because they don’t stay kids for very long and as parents, these are some of the best times you’ll remember!

Trick Or Treat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Day 52 – Sometimes You Win and Sometimes You Lose – the Elements Don’t Always Help . . .

Well, it happened .  .  . and NOT in a good way.

You knew we’d have to write about this regardless of the outcome, so let’s get it over with!  The Cards blew a three games to one lead in the NLCS to the hard-charging, good pitching San Francisco Giants.  Their comeback is the stuff that legends are made of – down to a ‘must win’ game or go home.  As fans of the game for the past 40 plus years, we’ve learned (though reluctantly) that good pitching typically stops good hitting.  And in the case of this series, it’s a fact.  When your pitcher can move the ball around the strike zone, change speeds and keep hitters off balance, the chances of the pitcher’s team winning goes way up.  What we’ve seen over the final three games of the NLCS has been nothing short of amazing.  Dominating pitching performances from three different pitchers–admittedly combined by three listless line-ups of hitters who lost their patience at the plate and seemed to be swinging at anything and everything thrown at them with dismal results.

Now, this blog isn’t going to be about baseball, but as the game was coming to an end, it was cool to see the rain begin to change the dimension on the game.  Weather has a way of doing that in sporting events .  .  . baseball, football, soccer – all of them are weather-dependent sports, so when the elements change, so do the results.  How many times have you watched an NFL game in late November or December and it’s snowing like crazy?  You think the passing game is going to be the same in a blizzard as it would be in sunny weather?  Not a chance.  You think the footing for a running back is going to be the same on artificial turf in snowy or rainy weather as it is in sunny weather? Nope.  The elements will always play havoc with you when you least expect them.  Kind of like driving home at rush hour when it starts to rain .  .  .  you think traffic is going to pick up speed when it starts raining and is starting to get dark?  We become very dependent on the weather and knowing whether or not the elements are going to be influencing our day – or our team.

Tonight, we opened a bottle of 2006 Elements from Artesa Vineyards in Napa.  This is a blend from Napa and Sonoma that has been one of our favorites for a long time.  In fact, we first tried it after visiting with some friends in Kerrville and realized how delicious the wine was, and after finding it at Gabriel’s for less than $15 a bottle, we’ve enjoyed tasting this wine with friends and on the deck.  Amazingly, the wine has an awesome nose – lots of vanilla and black cherry.  As you taste it, you’ll find the fruit coming through loud and clear but the vanilla finish is a big winner.  It’s not a full-bodied wine – probably more medium bodied but full of flavor and a great finish that keeps going and going and going – making the ‘bunny’ seem slow in comparison.  Another thing about this wine is its’ value price .  .  . you can spend A LOT of money and not get a wine with this kind of taste or you can spend less than $15 and get something that you’d be glad to share with friends or family.  It’s your call, but we won’t steer you wrong – nor were we steered wrong by Ed and Lori who introduced us to this wine last January when we spent the night at their home – thanks again for a wonderful time!

And so, for those of us who love to follow Cardinal baseball another year has come to a close – no repeating as World Series Champions, but in a transition year, they proved their mettle and were not influenced by the elements (or the loss of a certain ego that now plays ball for a team in CA).  We sometimes sit back and marvel at the privileged world of professional sports until those days when it’s raining cats and dogs or snowing, windy and cold – then we realize that sometimes it’s better being a fan who watches from the “cheap seats” rather than having to deal with the elements.  Unlike professional sports, our wine tonight is a great way to enjoy the Elements.  We hope you’ll give this wine a try the next time you’re looking for something with structure but not so big that it overwhelms.  The 2006 Elements from Artesa is a great way to beat the weather at its’ own game!

Please remember to enjoy your wines responsibly and recycle whenever possible – and for what’s it’s worth . . . GO TIGERS!

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Day 37 – Trouble With The Curve

This afternoon we went to see the Clint Eastwood/Amy Adams film, Trouble With The Curve, with Jean’s Dad ( you’ve met Bill before – he’s a pretty neat guy), Sister and Brother-in-law (these two are great – retired and fulltime RVers) . . . as mentioned in previous blogs, we’re baseball fans, so the picture piqued our interest.  If you haven’t seen the movie, we won’t spoil the fun, but suffice it to say, it’s about an old-school baseball scout and his daughter, whose only real desire is to have a life with her dad.  There is some baseball, and business and relationships stuff in the middle, but we particularly enjoyed the baseball footage.

So, on the way home, we started a “name a Clint Eastwood film” game – the first one for Brian was easy, Firefox, because that was the film he and Bill went to see when he asked Bill for permission to marry Jean way back in 1982!  Jean immediately fired off, ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly‘( 1966)  – one of Clint’s trademark, spaghetti westerns.  Now, this led to a broader discussion about how these movies got their identity as ‘spaghetti westerns’ ( we really should get a life – but these discussions pass the time on the hour drive from Georgetown to San Marcos).  Italian director, Sergio Leone made a name for himself and a lot of actors back in the 1960’s with pictures, largely made in Italy, about the old West.  A quick check of the facts, and did you know that between 1960 and 1980 over 100 of these films were made?  Some of the most memorable included “A Fist Full of Dollars” and “Once Upon A Time In The West“.  Initially, the term, spaghetti western, was a derogatory term for the film genre, but because of their incredible popularity, it rapidly became an accepted form of picture direction.  Eastwood’s western success was parlayed into cult hero status with the “Dirty Harry” movies – one of the most famous being “Magnum Force” which was the follow-up to “Dirty Harry” and the movie with the now immortalized line, “Go ahead, make my day!”  What was/is amazing about Eastwood was/is ability to reinvent himself.  Back in late 1970’s he mad a movie with Clyde the Orangutan, called “Every Which Way But Loose” and it showed Clint’s comedic talents . . .  about as “redneck” a movie as you’ll ever see!!  He has continued to evolve as an actor, as a director and now he has the luxury of choosing roles that he wants (including a rather interesting appearance at the RNC).

As most of us know, movies, television and news shows are produced in two places – for the most part they are either produced in New York or the majority of entertainment is produced in California – affectionately known as the “left coast”, so while tonight’s wine has NOTHING to do with California or Clint Eastwood and it might go really well with REAL spaghetti, we thought it was appropriate to break open a bottle of 2009 The Left Bank from the South African vineyard of Neil Ellis Wines.  Opening a bottle of South African wine can be exciting and tasty or it can (and has) turn out to be a big waste of money!  You’ll be glad to know that this wine is, as a general rule, pretty good.  When we opened it, we were less than excited and the first taste was unimpressive; however, the more this wine has time to air out and open up, the better it became.  We began to smell and taste lots of berries and spice with a hint of licorice, and while the finish left us wanting more taste – over time, it delivered.  We probably would recommend decanting this wine for 30-45 minutes before serving, but the final result is a beautiful, dark purple wine that is a blend of five different grape varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), Shiraz (34%), Merlot (13%), Malbec (4%) and Cabernet Franc (3%).  Being fans of blends, we thought that this wine would be really nice with, ahem, Italian food!  You should probably try this one for yourselves, but let us know your thoughts because we think for a $12 (or less) bottle of wine, we could start to like this one – A LOT!  The price was right (remind us to share more on Brian’s claim to fame on that game show at a later date).

Which brings us back to the movie today – Trouble With The Curve has two really, really good actors in it, Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams.  Heck, part of the reason we’re doing this blog is because of Amy Adams role in ‘Julie and Julia’ and writing the blog of Julia Childs’ cooking recipes.  So, go see the flick, enjoy a bottle of The Left Bank and tell us what you think.

We’ll be back here tomorrow with another sample and thoughts, so until then please enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!

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Day 34: Ryan Express

34 – it’s one of Jean’s favorite numbers because her favorite baseball player, Nolan Ryan wore that number when he was with the Astros in the early 80’s and with the Rangers in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  Nolan’s pitching prowess is well documented throughout baseball lore.  We have an autographed picture of Nolan following the Robin Ventura fight, several autographed baseballs, a ticket stub that Sister Sara got signed when meeting Nollie in an elevator.   Heck, we even planned a vacation around watching Nolan inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – one of those trips that sealed daughters #1 an #2 as baseball fans.  We could write a whole blog about that adventure, but for now will suffice in saying it was so awesome to be there on his special day.  When it came to being competitive, there are few in his class.  As the Rangers play game 163 tomorrow for the opportunity to continue in the playoffs, we can’t help but think of their owner’s fiery spirit and hope they do well – just as we hope the Cardinals do well against Atlanta.

But it’s Nolan Ryan that made us think about comparing our wine selection tonight.  Because when you think of him, you don’t think boring, dull, lifeless–instead you think intimidating, overpowering, dominating.  That’s the kind of pitcher he was.  We saw him pitch many times in the Astrodome and remember how his presence combined with a bunch of young pitchers and other players that turned around a perennial losing franchise.  A last note on the Astros – farewell to the National League – you will be missed.  Perhaps lady luck awaits you in the “junior circuit”.

So even though tonight’s wine is a 2010 Apothic Red blend, and before you turn your nose up at this discounted, delicious little wine, consider it’s characteristics.  Awesome fruit  – – – – –  lots of fruit.  Awesome vanilla – – – – – –  lots of vanilla and a finish that wines three and four times the price don’t have.  Available for less than $10 a bottle, you may not serve it to  your boss and his/her spouse, but if you’re in a pinch with folks coming over, then don’t worry about pouring this wine.  It’s available at your local H-E-B.

It’s kind of funny, we looked up the word ‘apothic’ and the meaning was – “Generally used to describe a dull, boring, or depressed person.  Some examples : Quit being so apothic, your killing everyone’s fun.”  We had a pretty good laugh about this.  So Nolan Ryan is NOT Apothic.  But, this wine is Apothic Red and it is NOT dull, boring or depressed.  It’s a good-value, everyday bottle of wine when you’re in the mood to have a bottle of wine.

Have a good night – it is always better knowing tomorrow is Friday – another week under our belts.

Thanks for reading and thanks for enjoying wine – like us, we hope you continue to enjoy good wine in a responsible manner and recycle whenever possible.