Tag Archives: vacation
Day 83 – Giving Thanks . . .
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.
Day 50 – Sometimes We Miss One
We had a chance to watch a movie today that was part of our past. Back in 1979, when we were both in college, we watched as Americans were taken hostage in Iran. The anger and frustration of the time caused Brian to write an editorial for the campus newspaper, The Pine Log. – we still have a copy. The movie was “Argo”, and if you get a chance – go see it. It’s amazing as fast as time goes by how things that happen in our lifetime become historical events by the time we get older.
Jean was a part of the editorial staff of the campus paper and Brian was a part of the advertising staff. We had some mutual friends that were part of the Journalism program at Stephen F. Austin State University, but other than that, we had nothing in common. So, the mere fact that an ad man’s editorial got printed in the paper (on approval from the faculty advisor, bless Dr. Francine Hoffmann, and the fact that Jean vouched that he was a good guy!) was nothing short of amazing. Who would have known that at that moment a die was cast for a relationship that would span more than 30 years and growing.
So as the movie unfolds, it focuses on six Americans who escape out of the US Embassy during the tumultuous rioting and they end up in the residence of the Canadian Ambassador. And as we talked about the events after the movie, neither of us could remember this happening – other than a faint remembrance of people being “released” and thinking that it was a ‘goodwill gesture’ on the part of the “students” holding our fellow Americans captive. Sometimes we miss one.
Tonight’s wine is right up there with the story line of the movie – sometimes we miss one. Having just returned this past Wednesday from Paso Robles, California, we drove past a winery called Niner Wine Estates on two or three occasions. It was a beautiful building and easily accessible off the highway, but we either had a place we needed to be, or we were on our way back from somewhere we were supposed to have been. Bottom line is that we didn’t take time to stop.
Regardless, the wine we tasted tonight is a 2007 Niner Wine Estates Twisted Spur – a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petite Syrah and Carmenere and oh, what a blend it is! With hints of juicy blackberry, smoky mocha, caramel on the nose these aromas transitioned into beautiful flavors of cedar, forest floor. Firm tannins and ideal structure are a great combination in this wine from Paso Robles that we didn’t taste while there.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that there are moments in our lives that we seize and take to the next level and there are moments that we leave on the table and miss the opportunity. Gladly, we seized the moment while on the campus newspaper staff 30+ years ago to get to know each other and have it lead to something special to this day, but like the events of 1979 and 1980, we sometimes miss one – just like missing out on a great tasting wine. This 2007 Niner Wine Estates Twisted Spur was purchased at Gabriel’s Outlet in San Marcos for $14.99 and even Nathan, the store manager hadn’t tried it – now we can tell him that it’s a winner and worthy of enjoying after a great movie or great meal or simply sitting around enjoying each other’s company!
Don’t forget to enjoy the ones you miss responsibly and recycle whenever possibly.
Day 48 — The Morning After . . .
This isn’t going to come as a surprise to anyone – going back to work after a vacation is NOT an easy thing to do. Going back to work on a Thursday after a vacation makes it more palatable but it’s still NOT any easy thing to do. When the alarm went off this morning, we were pretty sure that something was wrong with the alarm clock. You see, after spending a week on the West Coast, our bodies had gotten used to the time difference. So, when we hit the bed last night at 11, our bodies thought it was nine and when the alarm went off at six, our bodies thought it was four -if you’ve done any traveling between where you’re at and the coast, you know it takes a while for your body to catch up. However, we got up – not because of the alarm but because of our four-legged family that doesn’t know about, doesn’t care about and has one thing on their minds at that hour of the morning.
Jean got the first round of going out to ‘take care of business’ but she was off and getting ready for work, so the second round of ‘taking care of business’ fell on Brian’s shoulders. In our dog’s minds, we could be gone for a month, two months, six months, and the minute we get back home, they fall immediately back into their routine. They are amazingly faithful, if not true to their owners, kinds of dogs. They typical morning, and today was no different, starts with a growl from the youngest, Jasmine. This is usually followed by ‘bed pacing’ from the middle dog, Andie. For those of you not familiar with ‘bed pacing’, let us explain – bed pacing occurs when one or both humans IN the bed show any signs of being awake during the pre-dawn morning hours. This can include, but is not limited to, snorting, snoring, scratching an itch, moving your hand, slightly opening your eyes, rolling over in bed or simply breathing. When ANY of these occur at that particular moment, an amazing genetic trait comes to the surface of the middle dog, Andie. She begins the pace from one side of the bed to the other. Sometimes, the pacing is accompanied by yawning and stretching with strange noises, and sometimes the pacing is accompanied by a long, cold, wet snoot either in one of our faces or under a hand that has conveniently dropped out of the covers. Dogs are opportunists that always look for the easy attention opportunity.
This all leads us to tonight’s wine from South Africa, a 2007 Faithful Hound from the vineyards of Mulderbosch. This is an interesting blend comprised mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, but with added amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. From it’s opening, we weren’t sure if it was wine we had opened or a bag of salad greens because the green pepper on the nose was very prominent as was the toasted almonds and a certain earthiness. The first sip was, well, it was interesting. Not good and not bad – just interesting. It had almost no finish when the bottle was first opened, but at the same time it had a certain smoothness that we both really enjoyed. A later tasting confirmed that the green pepper was there to stay but the finish opened up to a nice smoky, silky after taste. Not a bad way to salute our first day back to work after a vacation. A dinner of grilled salmon, roasted potatoes and sauteed asparagus, helped give the wine a much-needed boost in taste. Clearly, this wine is going to be better with food than just sitting around having a glass.
Through all of the sniffing, tasting and dining this evening, the ‘girls’ were right there at our feet or should we say under our feet wanting to get their fair share of attention. They really are ‘Faithful Hounds’ when you get right down to it and so as this first day AFTER vacation comes to a close, we invite you to try Faithful Hound wine from South Africa; at less than $12 for a bottle, it’s not going to break the bank but it won’t exactly make you king of your castle either. One thing to look forward to is that tomorrow is Friday – a two-day work week is one good reason to go back to work on Thursday.
Thanks for reading and please, always remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible. (Go Cards!)
Day 47 – There’s No Place Like Home . . .
Good evening, wine lovers! After spending the past five days in the beautiful Central Coast wine country of California, we have arrived back home. Soledad, Paso Robles, Cambria, Big Sur and Monterrey . . . amazing places to visit and a great way to spend a vacation. But, there is no place like home – we have really enjoyed writing about the experiences of the past few days but relish the opportunity to write about WINES going forward. It was a beautiful morning in San Francisco . . . cool, sunny with almost no breeze. Our day started with breakfast – thank goodness for Denny’s coffee and a trip to the airport. You can really tell that San Francisco has planned their airport for LOTS of traffic. We were dropped off at our airline by Ellie Mae and Jethro who had a later flight – we proceeded to the ‘dreaded security area’. Actually, the wait was much less than anticipated and we made it through scanning without much to talk about. (We did get full body scanned – quite a treat to start the day) It was almost amusing when we got to our gate and our flight was non-stop to Austin and in the gate immediately to our left was a non-stop flight to San Antonio that got in a half hour earlier! Mr. Drysdale and Ms. Jane joined us on the flight – so it was eventful! After a delay on pushing away from the gate, we were in line for take off – seven, count them seven planes ahead of us! We ended up taking off a half hour AFTER departure time, but miraculously, we arrived ON TIME in Austin at 4:15. Man, it always feels good to take a trip but it ALWAYS feels good to get home.
After a quick stop for a sandwich, it was on to the house and a chance to visit the ‘family’! Our four-legged children were very excited to see us after being cared for by our special pet sitter, Mitsie Benton with Happy Paws Pet Service. As usual, she did a great job of taking care of them, so we could keep them at home as opposed to taking them to a kennel. There is a magic with vacations that you know you’re ready to get home when you realize there is work to do and you can’t wait to get home to do it! On top of that, the break was just long enough for us to enjoy some great wines, some delicious food and our great friends.
Coming home tonight, we decided to forgo our Paso Robles wines (no worries, you’ll be hearing ALOT about them in the days ahead!) and instead opted for a Sonoma County Zinfandel given to us by Jean’s Dad, Bill. The wine is a 2007 Carol Shelton Rocky Reserve Zinfandel, and it is a great way to come back home! Of course, you’ve come to expect us to talk about zinfandel, and this wine kicks some butt . . . thank you very much! A great nose of pepper and spice with lots of fruit greeted us when we pulled the cork, and then the first sip – WOW, it was smooth, tasty, fruity and oh, what a nice velvety finish. We couldn’t have picked a better way to wrap up our vacation and usher in the next several months of wine blogging.
For those of you who have recently signed on to follow us, thank you. We have learned that not only do we appreciate good wine, but we appreciate the process of making wine, the concept of marketing wine and the fun that comes from sampling and tasting wine. Even though we are now home, we’ve learned and continue to learn about the stories of wine makers that are inspirational, family-oriented and have a cool under current. We visited with Don Brady at Robert Hall Vineyards who has ties to Texas and man, he is a great guy who really knows how to make delicious wines; we visited with Greg and Tealy at Barr Estates Winery who showed us that it takes hard work to make a quality product. We can’t wait to talk about some of the amazing wines that we tasted during our trip. One of the great things about visiting wine country is ordering some wines and counting the days until their arrival – kind of like Christmas!
Tonight, we relax and enjoy our final hours of vacation with a renewed sense of energy and focus – good wine is not just a hobby – it’s a passion and much like the makers and sellers of wine that we met over the past several days, we hope that you’ll continue to enjoy good wine as well, but please remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
Day 44: Reunited and It Tastes So Good . . .
The best thing about being reunited with old friends is the feeling of comfort knowing that you’re back where you belong. Five years ago when we ventured to Paso Robles for the first time, we enjoyed some wines from RN Estate wines. Now, to completely understand our tasting and story of RN Wines, you have to understand that these wines are not commercially available. First, you must make an appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas, and second you must be on time for said appointment! Five years ag o. . . thanks to Rebecca, who used to work at Peachy Canyon, we had that appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas. However, five years ago, we were NOT on time for the appointment and to this day, we remember the “tongue lashing” we received from Roger about being on time and having to catch up with the others in the tasting. Of course, five years ago it all ended up for the better because we enjoyed some amazing wines and learned A LOT about the wines he made by hand. It was, in short, an education in wine and life! On top of the wines, when you taste wines from a winemaker’s home, you are literally coming into his space and are subject to his environment. Five years ago, Jean was sitting at Roger’s dining room table that looked out over beautiful vineyards and rolling hills and felt a hot breath on her face which was followed by a lick on the face from Diego! To imagine this picture, think of sitting in a chair and having a large dog looking at you face to face as you sit there. Diego was (is) Roger’s Great Dane and he was definitely more than just a house dog . . . HE was the ‘announcer’ of all people coming to Roger’s house!
Fast forward to today and we have revisited RN Estate, Roger greeted us outside the house as we arrived EARLY for our 11 a.m. tasting. Of course, the barking from the courtyard came not only from Diego who was still a part of Roger’s clan but also a 14 month old “puppy” Great Dane who was still learning the “social graces” of being a dog! You have to love that if you love dogs!! We never did get to meet the “puppy” but heard from him early and often as he barked every time the wind blew a leaf in the wrong direction!!!
Today’s wines from RN Estate were nothing short of spectacular. We tasted two different Pinot Noirs that Roger has crafted and with different grapes from different parts of Paso Robles, it is truly amazing how they can be so incredibly different. Both tasty, the one from totally, Paso Robles fruit was AMAZING! This led him to tastings of his blends which are masterfully made by hand with primarily Paso Robles fruit. You can taste in each of his wines and “old world” style that is counter to today’s “bigger is bolder” style of wine making. As a Frenchman, Roger has the lineage to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. His wines are designed to fit with food and food fit with his wines, and it was obvious from our tasting that the care and nurturing that it takes to make great wine has come through loud and clear with his latest vintages! We were not just impressed and excited, but we anxiously wanted to add his wines to our list of favorites . . . which we DID!
Finding Roger’s wines isn’t easy. When and if you can get a hold of them – lay them down for at least six months or longer. Because he makes his wines in the Rhone and Bordeaux tradition, these wines have a life of five to ten years beyond today. Wines like his are meant to be enjoyed today, tomorrow and in the future. These wines feature a lot of fruit on the nose and a lot of structure on the taste. You get amazing scents and tastes even without food, but the mind plays tricks on you because the thought of a rack of lamb or smoked pork loin are on your mind as you sample this delicious wine.
We have gathered and continue to gather GREAT stories on this trip from people and wines we’ve met and tried. Roger is but one of a huge number of people that make a trip to Paso Robles a MUST DO for any wine afecionado. We’ll continue to share these stories with you and your job is to continue enjoying our stories.
We also made a trip down memory line by visiting Preachy Canyon and Castoro Cellars (where they make Dam Fine Wine – we blogged about Zinfusion on Day Three). In addition we made some new friends at Ben Hogan (yes, you can even hit a bucket of balls while tasting wine!!), Croad and L”Adventure. The crazy part is that you can visit as many, or as few wineries as you want in a given day. As they say, “so much wine, too little time”.
So. . .please enjoy that bottle of wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!
Day 42 – It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over!
It has been a day. Let’s see, where do we begin. We embarked on our trip to Paso Robles today getting an early start for an early flight. One of the things that we weren’t counting on when we made reservations with our friends way back in April was not being on the same flight. We bought our seats at the exact same time and last night, we found out that the friends were flying out at 6 a.m. and going to Los Angeles and then on to San Francisco. Our flight was scheduled to fly to Houston and then on to San Francisco. Frustrating? You bet, but not the end of the world.
After a short night and an early ride to the airport; we were ready to go by 5:00 a.m. this morning. They left on time and we left on time. We got to Houston and immediately looked for the board with departures for our trip to San Francisco. And, there it was…in red letters – CANCELLED. The frustration of having completely different flights than our friends just took another turn for the worse. We stopped at United Airlines customer service and this is when you know that others have bad days too – who didn’t know that the flight had been cancelled. The options that she was offering us wasn’t sitting well with us (leaving Houston at 6 p.m. just wouldn’t do) and so she offered to put us on a flight to San Jose and offer shuttle service to San Francisco. At the same time, our other friends in Arlington were dealing with their own nightmare in trying to join us in San Francisco – ending up in Denver before eventually getting to San Francisco. We did met a couple of neat people in the van on the way between the San Jose and San Francisco airports – best wishes to newlywed’s from Florida – hope you have a wonderful time in Napa and places in between . . . let us hear from you and what wineries you visit. Our new friend who lives in San Francisco and shared online marketing strategies – thanks for the advice on our blog!
Long story short, we were reunited with both of our friends and began our quest to try a variety of wines during this week. And once we got our vehicle, we immediately headed south towards Monterrey – what a beautiful drive – photo below won’t even do the beach justice – where we stopped at Bonny Doon Vineyard to try some of their old-world style wines. The wine for tonight was a 2006 Ca’ del Solo Nebbiolo and what a wine it was! Lots of dried fruits, nuts and herbs that all yielded an incredible intensity. The wine is lighter than ones we traditionally try, but it was beautiful with loads of taste and exceptionally smooth on the palate. We could only imagine how good this wine could be with food! It was a great sampling to start our California trip. Lauren was working behind the really cool concrete counter – she reminded us alot of our own daughter #1 – great personality and made our visit an enjoyable one. (Lauren – will get your photo up in the morning _ trouble with the computer!!) If we lived in Monterrey we would spend lots of time here – it’s a fun place with a twist on aliens . . . they even have a Roswell Happy Hour.
Why airlines insist on cancelling flights without notice is beyond us. We understand when lousy weather dictates cancellations, but that wasn’t the case today. And when all you hear about from these companies is how great their customer service is, well I think when you catch someone on a bad morning, you wonder if the training is working! Regardless, our customer service person rallied to help us–ultimately allowing us to be here and enjoy our first sampling. The day was made complete with a comeback miracle by the St. Louis Cardinals – WOW!!! This turnaround was a great reminder that you never quit and as Yogi Berra said “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” Bring on the Giants . . . but first, bring on a pillow – it’s been a long day!
We hope you’ll look for it where you shop and when you buy this 2006 Nebbiolo, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.
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.