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Day 83 – Giving Thanks . . .

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What a day!  We don’t know about you, but this is one of our favorite holidays . . . what a better opportunity to enjoy family, friends, food and football along with a beautiful warm day!  After a short drive to Stephenville, we enjoyed the afternoon at Cathy and Steve’s place where a big bird had been on the smoker since 8 a.m. and a spiral sliced ham waited for an easy carving.  Add in the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yams and all the trimmings, and we truly enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends – some had traveled from the West Coast and some from the East coast – it was kind of like a mini reunion.  We ate, drank and were merry – a highly competitive game of Trivial Pursuit rounded out the afternoon.

Tonight’s wine is from one of our favorite wineries following our recent trip to Paso Robles.  Castoro Cellars, home of “Dam Fine Wines”, delivered a little gem earlier this month – a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is simply delicious.  We love the deep, smoky smell that the wine evokes upon opening.  In fact, this is one of the few wines, that we hate to actually sip the wine – instead preferring to smell it.  The aroma of fruit is also very pronounced . . . black cherry is the most prevalent, but we also picked up hints of raspberries and black berries.  In addition, there is a certain leathery taste as well.  For a $15 bottle of wine, it’s a LOT of wine.

We know that you’re supposed to enjoy Thanksgiving turkey with a Pinot Noir . . . and we did enjoy some of that as well, but decided after eating that we needed something with a little more stamina.  Thus, the Cabernet.  It really drank well – better than expected and it went fast!  Of course, with our crew, the wine disappears quickly and so does the food!  We have been really pleased with ALL of the wines that we’ve received from Castoro Cellars, and have no problem recommending them if you can get your hands on a bottle or two.

As Thanksgiving winds down, we hope your day has been what you wanted it to be.  We have a lot to be thankful for this year – our girls, each other, our family and friends and those around us.  There is sometimes so much to be thankful for that we forget to say, ‘thank you’. Safe travels to those heading home tonight and tomorrow – we will miss you at the shrimp boil!

So as we wrap up tonight . . . try some really good Castoro wines and when you do, please enjoy it responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 81: Not So Much . . .

There is something about this time of year that makes us smile.  Whether it’s the thought of spending time with our daughters or visiting family – or stopping for a bite to eat and a night cap at a local business – the atmosphere spells “HOLIDAYS”.  Thanksgiving has always been the ‘traditional’ beginning of the Christmas season.  There was a time (we know, we’re dating ourselves) when you didn’t get to see ANY holiday decorations until the day AFTER Thanksgiving.  It was a ritual, and an unwritten  law, ‘thou shalt not promote thy Christmas until thouest hath finished Thanksgiving.’  A little over the top?  Perhaps, but true.  Ask anyone born in the 70’s or before and they’ll tell you that rarely  –  if ever  –  did a store ‘reveal’ it’s Christmas displays – let alone their after Thanksgiving specials–a week, a month, a half year before the actual shopping day . . . AFTER Thanksgiving.

Something happened in the early 1980’s – we were newly married and remember walking into one of those “supercenters” and being amazed and astonished by the sheer volume of Christmas decorations and “deals” for the holiday shopper.  It has only gotten worse since then.  We know that’s a matter of opinion, but from where we sit, it’s become LESS about the HOLIDAYS/CHRISTMAS and more about getting stuff.  Don’t get us wrong – we LIKE stuff, especially if it’s red and comes in a wine bottle . . . BUT, and we’re kind of on the same path from earlier this week, if all we are doing is opening early to make the sales that we would have made the next day at a much more reasonable hour – then what gives?  Is this what the Holidays have degraded to?  Not so much.

Thinking back to the days of no shopping malls – no outlet centers – no regional strip centers – just good old fashioned Main Street businesses that supported their community; worked hard for their customers and gave back to their community.  Today . . . not so much.  Just like the retail business, it’s more of a ‘what do I get out of it ‘ mentality – as opposed to what can WE do to make the place better.  Times sure do change – for the better?  Mmmm–not so much.

Tonight we sampled a 2009 Forefront from Pineridge Vineyards.  Now, what’s cool about Pineridge Vineyards is that they are not set in the status quo . . . in fact bringing reduced vine spacing from Burgundy to the Napa Valley and introducing Dijon clones to Carneros established a new level of winemaking excellence in the States. The experimentation with clones, rootstocks and winemaking techniques, which continues today, allowed for constant learning and improvement. From vineyard to bottle, the winery has continually embraced innovation in the pursuit of ever higher quality.  They challenge the status quo with ForeFront. Their adventurous spirit joins decades of knowledge and expertise to produce an array of intriguing, high quality wines. Wines that are modern and distinctive. The nose of this wine – very nice; fruity but not too much with lots of oak . . . you can’t be misled when you get a snoot full of oak and black cherry!!

The taste; however, turned dark and ominous – could it be?  Two nights in a row with a thumbs down?   The taste was missing something – fruit, oak, smoke, cedar, tobacco . . . anything please, but NO, the taste and finish of this wine was a big “THUMBS DOWN” –  which is really a bummer because the fruit for this wine was sourced from two different and distinctive appellations. The lush taste and bright characters of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from Lake County elegantly balance the dark berry fruit and deep complexity of the Napa Valley Cabernet and other Bordeaux varietals.   BUT, it just doesn’t deliver.  Too bad . . . we were really thinking that this could be a magnificent wine.  This wine we got at HEB for $13 and don’t think we will purchase again.

Alas, just like the early shopping times this wine falls short on our list and it’s ‘Not So Much’ when it comes to a recommendation . . . so as you get ready to enjoy your Thanksgiving with your favorite wine, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 79 – We Like Having Options

Since most of our area seemed to be heading north today to enjoy some F1 racing – and Jean having experienced the traffic back ups first hand on Thursday and Friday – on a whim, we decided to head south and meet up with friends at Max’s in SA for a little brunch, wine tasting and walking through the brand new Trader Joe’s .  .  . even managing a stop at World Market near Selma.  As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we’re looking for wines to enjoy and wines to share with friends and family.  We debated buying a case of “Two Buck Chuck” at Trader Joe’s, but just couldn’t pull the trigger – sorry family, you’ll have to drink some good stuff on Thursday.  Today’s stops gave us opportunities to fulfill both!

As this blog continues to unfold, we have tried and are trying wines that we’d never have given a second thought about in the past.  On the one hand, it’s pretty exciting to think that we can come up with 365 different choices to taste and write about, but on the other hand, it’s kind of intimidating to think about the unbelievable number of wines out on the market.   Clearly, some days are better than others – not only in terms of the wine we chose but how it smelled, tasted etc.  We know that we prefer red wines over white wines, but we’ve had a couple of killer white wines already and we know that there are several more in the queue.  So, when days like today afford themselves to us, we keep looking for other options.  Almost all of the wines that we have sampled and reviewed have been acceptable.  Some not nearly as much, trust us, many have ended up down the drain.  Even liking some of the wines, it’s kind of difficult to keep wine fresh for long periods of time.

Tonight’s wine is a 2009 A by Acacia – which is a blend from Acacia Vineyards of Napa, California.  Of course, it’s a blend!  85% Syrah, 10% Merlot, 2% Grenache, 2% Petite Syrah and 1% Zinfandel – makes for a tasty wine.  From the nose, we got hints of fruit, earth and spice, while on the palate, we discovered both bright fruit and a certain acidity.  It had hints of strawberry, raspberry and dark cherry that really came to the forefront in the finish. The texture was soft, supple and, to a certain extent inviting.  It was the kind of wine you’d want to break out over the holiday season.  Even though the dominant grape is the Syrah, the others work well to balance the overall make up of the wine.  We enjoyed it so much, we are thinking about bringing a bottle with us for Thanksgiving festivities.  You can get a hold of this wine for under $15 a bottle .  .  . even less if you can find it on sale!  So, it’s a nice blend at a good value – which, this time of year, is a good combination to find!

It’s always cool to visit with good friends; enjoy good food; sample good wine and enjoy a beautiful day – and stay away from traffic nightmares.  Today we accomplished them all, and as we head towards the holidays, it reminds us to stop and enjoy the moment.  Whether it’s spending time with friends or family or both, it’s a realization for us, once again, life is too short (to drink bad wine, as one dear friend would say).  We enjoyed our trip to Trader Joe’s and our stop at World Market, and hopefully, we’ve identified one or two future blog wines with the stops we’ve made today.

As the evening unfolds, remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 54 – Sometimes it happens quick as a Fox!

It’s the middle of the week .  .  .  already.  Do you ever stop and think about how fast the days and weeks go by?  When you stop and think about how fast they are going by, do you ever remember being a kid and thinking that the days could never go SO slow?  It was especially true this time of year.  You know, the days are getting shorter and it gets dark a lot earlier than it should – we’re just a week and a half away from the end of daylight saving time for another year.  When you’re a kid this time of year, you’re looking ahead to the BIG 3 . . . Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Yep, when you get towards the end of October, things start looking pretty good.  School’s not as tough – there’s plenty of football to watch (or baseball) and all you can think of is your costume, where you’re going trick or treating and then thinking about turkey, dressing, Santa – whew, it’s overwhelming to think about all of that as a kid.

BUT, when you’re a kid, each DAY lasts for, like a week!  Seriously, it’s like you wake up in the morning, and the day goes on and on and on .  .  . and from today, October 24th until Halloween on the 31st – it’s like a YEAR!  It can’t get here fast enough. Oh, but wait, then you get through with Halloween and you have the three weeks until Thanksgiving and multiple days off!  This is when, we’re convinced, that time stands still.  And, it stands still in groups of three weeks.  The three weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving AND the three weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas!  When you’re a kid, time doesn’t fly by, it doesn’t whiz by, it barely crawls by!

When you grow up (We use the term loosely), things change.  Priorities change.  Demands on your time changes.  The amount of time you actually have to yourself changes.  And, time goes by at a break neck pace.  Now, you wake up in the morning and it’s Monday, and by the time you get home from work, it ‘s Thursday.  The weekend jumps up on you and just as you’re getting comfortable with that, bamn – it’s time to start with Monday all over again.  The fact is with Halloween next Wednesday – we’ll close my eyes for an hour or two and it will be time to visit family for Thanksgiving.  What a difference between then and now.

Tonight we sampled a 2010 Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon from Varner Wines of San Miguel, California.  This is a young wine and when it was uncorked we were somewhat overwhelmed with the aroma of green pepper.  The first tasting left much to be desired; it had a lot of fruit, cedar, earthiness on the front palate, but non-existent taste on the finish.  It was like the taste evaporated before it got to the back.  After 45 minutes, the wine had opened up and the nose was much clearer; we definitely got a nice medium toasted oak with some beautiful fall fragrance – very earthy.  The taste improved as well – it mellowed considerably almost smooth and silky, but the finish left us wanting more.  Sampling it with a nice Extravaganza Pizza from Domino’s didn’t help either.  It’s a nice wine with beautiful color, but for us it didn’t deliver like a large number of the wines we’ve sampled thus far.  Perhaps a bit overpriced at $13.99 – and as they say, you win some, you lose some and some slip away as quick as a fox!

So, as our Wednesday is about to bleed into our Thursday, and the weekend is on the horizon, you may or may not want to try the 2010 Foxglove for yourself.  Obviously, we’d love to know your thoughts about it.  We’re not experts – we just enjoy wine, and as some feedback we’ve received from others indicate, we aren’t too far off in our comments. (Lady Luck smiling in our corner perhaps?).  Just remember when Halloween gets here next week and then your close your eyes at the end of that day and you open them again and it’s Thanksgiving, don’t say we didn’t warn you!  It just happens that way – quick as a fox!  Or as we used to have to type in “Typing Class” – yes, we learned to type not on a keyboard, but an actual typewriter – “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”.

Please remember to enjoy this wine and all others responsibly and recycle whenever possible.