casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday


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Day 363: Family Ties . . .

Soul Sister

Today wasn’t just any ordinary day – TODAY, we actually sat around the dinner table and ate dinner as a family of four!  For years, this was an everyday occurrence – these days, it’s a gift we treasure and look forward to whenever possible.  As you know, D#2 has been in town the last several days and heading back to school in the early a.m., so the fact that D#1 came down after school and Jean left a bit early made for a great rendezvous.  AND, the fact that Brian was able to come home at lunch and stoke up the smoker with the ribs he marinated last night – made everyone a happy camper today.  D#2 was in charge of keeping the coals at the prescribed temperature – in a manner of speaking, she was the “coal man” for the day.  No doubt that without her attention to the thermometer, the ribs would have not been ready at a reasonable hour in order for us to enjoy some family time, enjoy a wonderful meal and finish early enough for D#1 to make it back to Austin before she turned into a pumpkin.  Gonna be awhile until we are all together again – like Thanksgiving awhile.

Today is also special for another reason – it’s the day that Jean became the “older” sister and no longer the baby of the family.  Yep, Sister Sara popped out 48 years ago.  Jean can still remember standing outside the hospital with her four siblings waving at the bundle held by her Mom way up on the second floor of the hospital.  Home she came, truth be told all the older girls figured a new toy had arrived and managed over the years to have quite a bit of fun with the little one.  One moment that is forever etched in the memory banks is the time that Margaret (aka Jean’s Mom) was standing at the washer unloading clothes from the box underneath the laundry chute that descended from the first floor to the basement  – – – when lo and behold a pile of bed sheets came tumbling down – only when she heard a screaming baby did Margaret realize that Sara was wrapped in the sheets . . . this is what happens when older siblings entertain themselves with younger ones.  Recollection seems to be that a spanking or grounding followed for the perpetrators.  Oh, all in fun . . . Sara – Happy Birthday!  We love you and wish you’d move back to Texas so we can see you (well, maybe AFTER we come to see you in WA and find all those good wineries we’ve been reading about).

So tonight, we opened up a 2011 Soul Sister from the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Company.  Ok, so just the name of the winery is enough to make you want to try it.  For the record, they also make Chardonnay Calling All Angels and Petite Sirah Drops of Jupiter.  Hmmm, now we really are getting just a little out there . . .  Popping the cork was a breeze, and the light ruby color ‘trickled’ very nicely into the glass.  A little light on the nose, but definitely cherry and strawberry notes.  The palate at first was a little too tart for our liking, but about 20 minutes of air time, and it opened up very nicely.  The finish was light, but again the cherry and strawberry flavors hung around just long enough to get noticed.  Probably not a wine we’d add to “the list”, but certainly was worth a look and “tastesee” (don’t think that is a word, but like it).  Picked this one up at World Market for under $11.

So, again Happy Birthday Sara – we raise our glasses to you tonight!  So glad you were born . . .

Now onto business – we’ve been asked about our final “Top Ten List” – a suggestion has been made that we should extend the Top Ten to the Top Twenty – gotta agree, there are SO many we liked out of 365 . . . so, here’s what we are gonna do . . . on Sunday, (the day after we write about number 365) we will have a list of the Top Twenty and your job is to vote on which ones you think are the Top Ten . . . yes, means you might have to do a little research – rumor has it that Twin is having their Dollar Sale for the next THREE days . . . if you live near one – stock up on some of your favorites from the blog.

So, there you have it – we are winding down (Sorry Doug – aka Marvin . . . you got ratted out by P & L) – but, we do have TWO nights left – we will finish with a bang and not a whimper.  Until we meet again, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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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 355 – All The World’s A Stage. . .

cline mouvedre…and we are but players!  Well, not exactly how it’s written but the point is that we’re a blip on the radar screen of civilization.  The time spent in our lives doesn’t even register on the time clock of the planet, solar system or galaxy.  Yep, just like the song, we are like dust blowing in the wine!  Ooops!  We meant blowing in the WIND!  Yes, of course!  But, we’re also reminded that time is always moving forward.  So, tonight we spent some time watching the Little League World Series playoffs, and were struck by their similarities to real life–shaking hands after a job well done. This is the kind of baseball we know and love!

So tonight we opened a 2011 Cline Mourvedre. . .and WOW, what a wine!  Very tasty; loads of fruit, a terrific finish and all for a closeout price of $10 at Twin.  Ancient Vines Mourvedre offers a hint of Eucalyptus on the nose, distinct chocolate characteristics and a luscious deep plum flavor. This surprisingly and unusually delightful wine has a substantial mouth-feel followed by soft tannins.. . like we said…lots of wine and not a huge investment.  We enjoyed it with smoked center cut pork chops, some garlic pasta shells and a romaine lettuce salad.  All of these were perfect compliments to the wine.

Even as we close in on the end of our blog series, we’re amazed at the wines that are available for a good price and a great taste.  This wine fits the bill to a tee and because it’s a varietal that most people don’t (or won’t) go to look for and try, those of us who have tasted and believe are going to snatch them up!  It’s a great wine for the price; it’s a flavorful wine for your palate and you can amaze your friends and family with your vast knowledge!  Okay. . .so that last part was a REAL stretch!

As you know, the Mourvedre grape is rarely bottled as a wine by itself.  Typically, this grape is used in blends–most blends that we’ve enjoyed have Petite Syrah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon in them, so this grape is probably used to soften the wine against the big and bold of the other grapes.  What we never expected was a wine with great taste and body and a smooth finish.  It’s yet another example of trying something out of our ‘wheelhouse’ (remember an earlier post?) and being rewarded for trying it!

As the week begins a tilt towards the weekend, we can’t tell you the number of comments and likes we’ve enjoyed knowing that the blog is quickly coming to its conclusion.  We especially like the folks from Sweden, Japan, Germany and other countries who have accidentally (yes, we’re not so vain as to think we have a world-wide following) stumbled upon our blog.  And, after looking at the variety of search terms used, we’re convinced that most folks have no clue what they’re looking for!! But, hey, we’re glad they stopped by and checked us out.  Enjoy your Thursday, and prepare for the weekend.  We’re now in a T-Minus mode starting tomorrow, we’ll be at T-Minus 10 and counting.  If you’re in the mood to try new, value priced wine, then stay tuned for some great stuff; and if you’ve come to expect great information…don’t miss the last 10 days!

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 325: Spicing Things Up . . .

spice blockAs the countdown to the final 40 days of Casa del Vino tick away, we’re reminded that not spending time with the ones we love is probably one of the most regretted things in our lives.  As Jean covered the blog over the weekend while Brian was spending time with his Mom, it was all brought into focus.  We’ve been extremely fortunate, even though we’ve each lost a parent, to spend some amazing time with our remaining parent.  Jean’s Dad and Brian’s Mom have had the opportunities to watch our girls grow up, graduate from high school, one has graduated from college and the other isn’t too far behind.  We stop and smile every time the girls get a moment to visit with these terrific people. . .their body of knowledge and wealth of life’s experiences keep us grounded in knowing that we still don’t know as much as we thought we did!  We hope that as you enjoy your wine tonight or the next time you open a bottle that you can draw on the experiences of a close family member.  Their eyes have seen things before us that we can only read about.  Their ears have heard things that today can only be reproduced.  Their hearts have been through more than ours and our kids’ combined.  They are a treasure trove of memories.  Stop and cherish them. . .and if you’ve got some strains in those relationships, now’s as good a time as any to patch them up.  We’ve learned that their history is our history and their grandkids’ legacy. . .good stuff when you stop for a moment and soak it in!

Mondays are good days in that we get back into the swing of things after a weekend. . .and whether visiting family or staying home, when we’re off in different directions, it kind of messes up the ‘body clock’.  We’re happy that the weekend was fruitful from a bigger family perspective, but very happy that the weekend is over and we’re back under the same roof.  And so, while he was gone, Jean had some extreme success at Twin Liquors–finding some great closeouts and other deals for the tasting.

Tonight’s selection is a 2010 Spice Block Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.  This wine exhibits noticeable flavors of blackberry, black cherry compote with a slight hint of mocha yielding a velvety finish of very fine and supple tannins refined by oak aging of 9 months. It had a very nice roasted aroma combined with an almost nutmeg scent.  It’s dark purple color was beautiful to look at and swirl in the our glasses.  This Spice Block Malbec is definitely suited to compliment grilled beef — which Argentina is so famous for!  Unfortunately, we opted for tasting only tonight after a nice break at Garcia’s for tortilla soup, chips and queso and chicken fajita quesadillas!  Oh well, so much for “perfectly” pairing food with wine!!  As value-priced wines go, this Malbec has some chops!  Priced around $12 a bottle, you’re going to find a wine that has very nice appeal now, and if  you can hang on to it for another 6-9 months will probably be even better!

Love to be around family.  Yes, we know that not everyone does.  But, when you spend time around those who are related to you, you’ll be amazed at what you learn and who you’re related to!  Family is the spice of life and we hope that you’ll shake some into yours every once in a while.  When you share your favorite wine, you have a common denominator with those who are part of your world.

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly (hopefully with family) and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 322: Gnome Alone . . .

Gnome GrenacheMuch like Kevin McCallister (movie quiz . . . name the movie that this character was in), Casa del Vino is down to one human occupant this evening.  Brian and D#1 are on a trip to see Grams and check on her well-being given a recent health scare.  That means that Jean is all by her lonesome – well, not really . . . with four dogs in the house – it is anything but lonesome.  Yeppers – Pepper and Andie and Jasmine and Bridget are all making sure that Jean is staying out of trouble while everyone is gone.

Overall it was a quieter than usual night – one nice thing about flying solo is that you get to partake in whatever dietary indiscretions your little heart desires.  In Jean’s case, the leftover Chicken Marsala from Carino’s came in mighty handy.  And you get total control of the remote – ahhh, the rare chance to watch LMN without shouts of discourse from fellow TV watchers . . . LIFE IS GOOD!

Making an ever so slight detour in Kyle tonight on the way home seemed the order of the day – one might think the destination would be the super great H-E-B they have there – indeed it is a sight to behold . . . but alas, (there’s that Yorick fella popping in for a visit – yes, knew him well) H-E-B was not the final destination.  Tucked in the corner of the shopping center is a nice little Twin Liquor – the call of the Sirens was much too great and Jean had to stop.  Once inside, she discovered numerous closeout (aka . . . too good to be true prices) bottles of wine.  One of the little numbers was tonight’s blog wine – – – The Gnome Knows Grenache – – – the picture on the label was too good to pass up.

The Gnome Knows Grenache comes from selected vineyards in the Languedoc region in the south of France not too far from the Southern Rhone Valley where Grenache is the key grape varietal that makes up Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape.  Ok, not really being a fan of French wines, it was a tough decision to plunk this puppy down on the counter – but que sera . . . quick, queue the music – where’s Doris when you need her . . . Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be – The future’s not ours, to see – Que Sera, Sera – What will be, will be.

As usual, we digress – back to the wine . . . not too much of anything on the nose – think that part was off looking for mushrooms to hide under in the forest – but perhaps a hint a berry . . .the color was very nice, a deep, rich hue.  The palate was quite refreshing – lot’s of black cherry and other red fruits mixed in with a dash of spice.  It had good finish with just enough of a vanilla and nutmeg note to smooth it out.

Would have to say – this could actually make the Bondy Deck Wine list – at least the top 50.  Jean put a cork in it and pumped it up so Brian could sample upon his return.  Normally, one would not think that such a silly name and label would generate much interest – of course, the $10 price tag didn’t hurt in the initial hunting process – but overall, not a bad little wine.  Guess one could say – “to Gnome is to love me” – sorry about that . . . just couldn’t resist (well could have, but why?)

Who knows what tomorrow will bring around these parts – could be an interesting couple of days.  As the weekend unfolds . . . enjoy yourself, make the most of it and as always remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.


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Day 288 – Whatever Happened to the Truant Officer?

truant-fourvinesWhew…what a day!  After a terrific early morning with coffee and bacon and eggs. . .we headed north to Austin to take care of some ‘Father’s Day’ business.  Of course, we couldn’t go to the north and NOT stop at an Austin landmark for a bite of lunch–so–we ended up at Threadgill’s for lunch and Wow–what a cool place.  For those of you born,raised or transplanted to Austin, you already know about the myriad of amazing places to eat, drink and enjoy great music–BUT, if you’ve never been to Threadgill’s–well, you haven’t been to Austin!  While a Saturday afternoon is hardly prime time for an establishment with historic roots, just being there conjures up memories of artists, looking for a break, playing for pennies just for a chance to be ‘discovered’!

Having spent a fair number of years in the Kerrville area, we always appreciate this time of the year–well, actually, we’re a little past this time of year–the Kerrville Folk Festival concluded LAST weekend, and the three weeks of music there was something to behold.  What we like most about the Festival–isn’t the musicians–or the campground–or the parking–it’s the theater where much of the music is played—-it’s the Threadgill Theater, and we wondered if it was the same Threadgill as the Austin landmark. . .anyone care to help a friend???

We’ve made two trips to Paso Robles, California, and to this day, one of our favorite labels is Four Vines.  There was a split–a change in ownership–a change in personnel–a change in direction a few years ago, so the wine maker has changed, but our love for Four Vines has never wavered.  So, when we came across a Four Vines, Truant at the Twin Liquors in Kyle not too long ago, we were mesmerized.  Could it be that they were embarking on something new and different?  With a price point under $9 a bottle, this was reminiscent of the Old Vines Cuvee’ that they had marketed for years.  Even then, the wine had great taste for a little amount of money!

So, tonight, we get to introduce the newest member of the Four Vines family – Truant Zinfandel!  What many over the years simply called their OVC—now, has a name and wine character just like Biker, Maverick and The Sophisticate. Truant, blended from multiple appellations throughout California, now has its an identity. The name Truant describes someone who slips away from the confines of everyday routine, and also refers to their wine making style which is not limited by geographical confines. Not only is it blended from vineyards around California, but it is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese. . . in short, it’s a PERFECT blend for those of us who have grown to LOVE blends. On the nose there are dark berry notes and spicy notes from oak aging. The wine drinks of juicy blackberry, ripe plums and a touch of blueberry. Generous in fruit flavors, plenty of structure and a velvety finish.  It’s a wine that could be enjoyed on the deck after a long day–or poured with some excruciatingly spicy food for dinner.  Regardless, don’t let the low price fool  you, this is a wine that is worthy of a second, third and fourth look!

As Saturday gives way to Sunday–Father’s Day–we stop to salute and thank all of the Dads’ out there who care enough to play a crucial role in the development of their children.  While most folks agree it takes a village to raise a child—conventional wisdom still tells us it takes parents to raise a child.  So, remember tomorrow—DAD—hug your kids, kiss your kids, thank the Good Lord for what you have, and let your family shower you with attention.  Strong Dad’s are in short supply–stand up–be counted–Love your family.  Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 234 – Have You Any Wool?

Le Grand NoirThere is enough ‘seriousness’ in the world to go around the globe WAY too many times.  After the events of the past week, we’re ready for some levity and a chance to kick back and have a few laughs.  No, we aren’t going to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep, as the title of tonight’s wine might suggest.  No, we’re thinking about something that was a long time ago but still has humor today.  We’ll paraphrase the actual recording, but suggest that if you want to hear the real thing, you can google it, iTunes it or some other server-it until you find IT!

When Brian was growing up, his brother had a couple of Bill Cosby albums.  For those of you missing for the last couple of decades, albums were made of vinyl and with one continuous groove, music was embedded into the vinyl and played via a diamond stylus on a record-player.  You may have seen a renaissance of record players at Best Buy and other places, but few will compare with the turntables of the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Anyway, we digress. . .after we had been married for about three years, we had the opportunity to see Bill Cosby in person at the Music Hall in Houston.  The year was 1986 and he was in the middle of his ‘Fatherhood’ tour.  If you’ve read the book or seen the video, Cosby is at his all time best!  This was right around the time his show, The Cosby Show, debuted on Thursday nights on NBC.  We don’t think we can remember laughing as hard as we did.  The biggest part of his routine was talking about being a parent–which we weren’t and wouldn’t be for another five years–and all of the trappings associated with parenting from birth on—

One of his first albums was ‘Why Is There Air’?  As a Physical Education major at Temple University, Cosby was quickly cast as the typical ‘coach’ in training–his line, “Ha, ha Phys. Ed. you’re dumb!”  Well  it made an impression.  But, so did his routine about driving in San Francisco, going to the dentist and waiting for the novocaine to wear off, and playing football against Hofstra—“Don’t Touch Certain Parts of Your Anatomy”!!  If you have never downloaded, bought, played, listened to or seen this guy in action, Cosby brings life into focus!

Which is why we decided to focus on something fun and different tonight.  Look at the label. . .notice anything wrong?  If wine labels were like minted coins, we’d be ‘in the money’ with a simple little mistake.  But, we digress. . .The Black Sheep. . .From a country renowned for its wine-making tradition, Le Grand Noir wines offer non-traditional blends from traditional French varietals. In a world where so many things look the same, a wine that doesn’t sheepishly follow the herd.  The select vineyards used to produce the wines of Le Grand Noir are located in the notable regions of Minervois and Carcassone. Situated among rolling uplands and broad plateaus between the Pyrennes and “Black” mountain ranges, the diverse soils are comprised of limestone, chalk, clay, granite, and schist. The mild Mediterranean climate provides ideal conditions for producing high quality fruit.  What we LOVED about this wine–in true French fashion–it got better and better as it stayed opened.  For less than $15 a bottle, you’re going to find this wine a little addicting.  It’s got loads of fruit paired with lots of earthy goodness.  This is a wine that should cost a lot more than offered by our friends at Twin Liquors or H-E-B!

Comedians have come and gone over the past 40 years.  Few, if any, have the staying power of Bill Cosby.  His routines transcend time to this day.  His message isn’t lost among multiple generations and his humor is as clean today as it was back in the mid-1960’s.  Yeah, he can deliver an entire routine–have you busting a gut laughing–and not a blue word among his dialogue.  Kind of makes you wonder about today’s comedians who rely on profanity to generate laughs.  Not much material needed.  We think that taking some time to enjoy a good laugh is crucial to maintaining a level of calmness and sanity.  So, the fact that our wine has a black sheep on its’ label should give you a reason why we chose tonight’s title.

We hope that you’ll enjoy your favorite wine responsibly–because if you enjoyed it irresponsibly, there’d be consequences we don’t want to deal with–and please recycle whenever possible.

(BTW—If you stare at the label on the wine bottle, there is a closed parenthesis missing under the black sheep—worth millions?  NOT!  Have a great evening and we’ll talk with you tomorrow!!