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Day 228 – In The Aftermath

Montes TwinsTrust the Twins. . .Meet The Twins. . .the Minnesota Twins. . .Congratulations, it’s Twins. . .it’s a tough existence when you’re greeted with twins.  Whether you enjoy shopping at Twin Liquors or want to watch baseball in Minneapolis/St. Paul, OR you’re the parent(s) of twins, the thought of something doubled or ‘twice as nice’ can be a bit overwhelming!  Brian has cousins that are twins. . .Pat and Paul Renaud are two awesome guys from an amazing family–different as the day is long, but talk about having each other’s back!  We lost Paul not that long ago, and it brought back a flood of memories with he, Pat, Roy and a LOT of cousins.  We still laugh-to this day-about the Knights of Columbus bowling tournament in the St. Louis area when we were living there–Palm Sunday–(well, Saturday night)–they brought their own Priest who said Mass in the hotel. . .while the ice was melting in the bath tub as it cooled the beer!!  Yep, that was a ‘life moment’ . . . tough to beat the sound of melting ice surrounded by beer cans–or was it the sound of beer cans surrounded by melting ice?

A trip to the casino in pouring rain and a long drive home to the house, but it’s a memory forever branded in our brains.  It was family.  Cousins . . . friends of cousins. . .and it was like time stood still.  We were ALL the same age and ALL looking to have the best time we could!  These guys (and gals) knew how to have fun.  We miss those days.  We miss those people who brightened out night. . .we know that life goes on, but sometimes, it’s a challenge.  Kind of like watching the news of the past 18 hours. . .it’s been a challenge in the aftermath to stay collected and focused and not get emotional.  There are an amazing number of survivors–an equal number of heroes–to go along with a far too long list of injured.  In the aftermath of a senseless event, we stop and remember the 8-year old boy who lost his life; the 29-year old woman who lost her life; the Boston University graduate student who gave up his life. . .and what were they ALL doing?  They were waiting for friends, family and special people in their lives to finish the Marathon.  Innocent bystanders…

Tonight we decided to go south for our wine of choice.  Aurelio Montes is a Chilean wine maker who doesn’t stop ‘at the border’.  Mr. Montes believes that great wine starts with great fruit, and this wine has an amazing amount of good fruit!  On their own, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon shine, but when paired up, these two classic varieties complement each other perfectly.  It’s a sensational double bill: wonderful richness, structure and fruit from the Cabernet, with smooth, velvety texture from the Malbec—adding up to a wine that’s greater than the sum of its parts while the oak aging contributes with subtle notes of vanilla and liqueur and its soft tannins provide an specially elegant finish.  It’s a 50/50 combination that just begs to ask the question. . .if varieties of grapes can get along for centuries, why can’t these?  This is a nice wine, but we wouldn’t go ‘hog wild’ in recommending it to others.  It’s  a bit rough on the nose; the palate has hints of goodness, but still falls short.  The finish; however, it will sneak up on you and help you to appreciate a good ‘sunset wine’.

Family.  It’s one of the ties that bind.  We live in a society that doesn’t appreciate or recognize family as the core of building society.  We live in a society that is tainted by a media only interested in the almighty dollar.  So, we stop–in the aftermath– of senseless tragedy–to recognize and love our family.  The building blocks of the future are on their shoulders and WE are the foundation for them. . .it’s really unfortunate that media is allowed to ‘rule our world’, but we LET it.

In The Aftermath, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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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.

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Day 130: A Zestos For Life . . .

ZestosHow many of you remember buying record albums?  You know, vinyl?  There was a time – not so long ago – that people waited overnight, in lines, for the opportunity to buy the first issue of a certain album.  It really didn’t matter who the artist was . . . Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, The Eagles (ok, so maybe not John Denver – who happens to be Jean’s favorite) . . . they’ve all had their share of ‘groupies’ over the years.  And, those of us who grew up on the album rock craze still have fond memories of turntables with needles set-oh, so perfectly, and a ‘Disc Washer’ that took care of all of the nasty dust and grime on the album surface to make the sound PERFECT!

Another part of the album rock craze was the album cover.  Now, this probably dates back to the sixties and early seventies, but the artwork for album covers was drawn – in most cases-by hand.  Very rare was the photo of the artist used for the album cover, oh sure, you’d see the photography for a hit 45, but rarely for the album.  The more dramatic the look, the more likely sales would benefit.  Brian is still a huge fan of The Moody Blues.  He acquired his love for the band after pilfering – uh, stealing – no, borrowing for keeps, his brother’s “In Search of the Lost Chord” album from 1972.  If you’ve never seen this cover, it’s an artistic genre unto itself.  But, that’s the way album covers were made back then . . . yes, you knew that the music inside was going to be good, but the cover — oh, man — the cover was a big reason why you bought the album.  Unlike today, with all due respect, it’s nothing and we mean NOTHING compared to the golden era of rock.

As a side note, Brian had tickets to see The Moody Blues in late June of 1993 . . . the same year that our youngest daughter was born — in early July.  But, (and this is a shout out to all of the ladies who are pregnant in the summer time), the last thing Jean wanted to do was sit on a blanket – on a hard ground-in the heat of a St. Louis summer listening to a band.  So, Brian went with Jean’s co-worker (hey, Michelle – do you remember??) and that night, The Moody Blues played with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra – and every Moody’s song since then has sounded just like it did that night.  It was perfection multiplied times ten!

Anyway, what caused this topic to come up is tonight’s wine.  Our 2011 Zestos Garnacha from Vinos de Madrid was the wine of choice and if you look at the label above, you’d see intricacy in the design of the label.  Normally, most wines will give you a logo or a photo, but rarely, if ever, will they give you artwork. . .that you’d find anywhere but a wine bottle.  Label art can and should be a medium unto itself, but in the case of tonight’s wine – IT’S A WINNER!  But, don’t let the label fool you . . . this is awesome wine.  Everywhere we looked, it was rated at or above 90 points.  Yep, a very young wine, this Zestos already has a huge fan in Robert Parker, “A staggering value, Patrick Mata brings in 10,000 cases of the 2011 Zestos Garnacha Old Vines, which was vinified in a combination of stainless steel and cement tanks. Made from old vine (over 40 years of age), high altitude (2800 feet) Grenache, this head-pruned vineyard planted on granite soils has produced an unbelievable wine for the price. Lots of kirsch, strawberry, black currant and licorice aromas jump from the glass of this medium-bodied, richly fruity, surprisingly intense red. Drink this pure, sexy effort over the next 1-2 years.”

WOW!  And, to add to the enthusiasm, we really liked this wine a LOT.  It’s lighter than we’re normally accustomed to tasting, but the nose, the fruit, the palate and the finish are out of this world!  We are beginning to see the incredible value in wines from Spain; some are so big and bold while others are subtle and sneak up on you.  This one seems to fit perfectly in the middle and we think that you’ll really like it.  It’s kind of cool when review after review reaffirmed our thought that this is a lot of wine for the money.  Yep, this hidden gem is around $10 a bottle, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any wine at this price with this kind of taste and value.

Oh, and the label artwork is stellar.  Great detail in a wine label is hard to come by.  You’ll be impressed with the label, the bottle and most importantly, the wine.  We hop you’ll give this one a try.

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