casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 45: Lucy, You Got Some ‘Xplainin’ to Do

So, did you know that today in 1951 “I Love Lucy” premiered on CBS?  You may also know that one of the most popular episodes is the one where Lucy and Ethel take jobs in the chocolate factory and have to wage battle against the conveyor belt by stuffing chocolate after chocolate into their mouths just to keep up.

Well, today was a little bit like that for our group  – except for we were enjoying wine not chocolate.   The morning got off to a great start with Jean and Elle Mae walking into the vineyard of the house we are renting and visited with the workers harvesting Malbec grapes.  Truth be told, it was a beautiful morning made complete by eating grapes right off the vine for breakfast.  Soon after, the Clampetts loaded up the truck and headed out for today’s adventure.   First stop was a return trip to Eberle Winery – there we were greeted as the first customers of the day by David and Doug – they pegged us as Texans immediately – could be the UT Longhorn hat that adorned Uncle Jed’s head.  Regardless, they were very polite and served us wine in spite of the burnt orange headgear.  We had visited Eberle when we ventured out here five years ago, and were again pleased to be reconnected with such flavors.  The winery recently scored 93 points on 2010 Syrah Steinbeck Vineyard – wow, this was a great wine – the dark color tipped us off to the flavors that awaited us.  This full-bodied treat is one that would go well with just about any meal 0r a quiet evening on the back deck.  We sampled several other delicious wines and will be blogging about them in the days ahead – have to wait for the shipment to arrive at Casa del Vino.  A shoutout to Doug and David who made us feel right at home and got our day off to a perfect start.

Next stop on the list was Robert Hall Winery – thanks to Patrick at Grape Juice, we were able to get a backdoor tour of the operation.  Don Brady took us down into the cellar to see where grapes being unloaded and crushed.  This was a great opportunity to witness first hand how the grapes turn into wine.  After the tour, Ashley in the tasting room made certain we got a sampling of all the goodies Robert Hall had to offer – again, more on these wines later as they arrive at the house.

Lunch time arrived and we headed to Thomas Hill Organics – another tip from our friends at Grape Juice – had “organic grapes” in regular o wine – “regular” only because they were not organically turned into wine.  The wine was tasty and complimented all of our lunches – however the “medium bodied” wine was anything but medium . . . more like an XL.

We had one final stop for the day – the gang loaded into the car and headed off the Adelaida.  This is another winery that we visited in 2007, and were so glad we made a return visit.  Thanks to an Oliver connection, we were treated to a tour of the vineyard, stopping at different locations to not only view the landscape, but be treated to glass while standing amongst the vines that produced what we were enjoying.  After and hour and a half, we stopped at a roadside table, and Tony our tour guide produced a picnic basket full of meats, cheeses, crackers, dried bing cherries, walnuts (the vineyard has a grove that produces half a million pounds of these delectables a year), and coffee flavored chocolate.  We sampled 2009 HMR Estate Pinot, 2009 Michael’s Estate Zinfandel, and finally 2009 Anna’s Syrah and 2009 Version Red.  All of these wines are rated 90 points or higher by Robert Parker and Wine Spectator.  Wow, wow, wow !  When we returned to the tasting room, one more treat awaited us – 2006 Cabernet Sagvignon Viking Reserve – a heck of a way to end the day!

So like Lucy and Ethel, we kinda sorta faced the “conveyor belt” today but managed to rise to the occasion.  A hard day’s work calls for an evening in the hot tub, and an early night.  As it turns out we have a date tomorrow morning at O Dark Thirty to help crush grapes at Barr vineyards – hmmmmmmm, think that is another Lucy episode!

Sleep well, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle when possible.

A great list of offering at Eberle Winery

Doug and David at Eberle – thanks for a great morning.

Lots of good wine being produced at Robert Hall

A great wine!

Ashley working hard at Robert Hall

Vineyards at Adelaida

Tony and Bunni at Alelaida

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Day 40 — The BIG 40!

Way back in the past – to celebrate our 30th birthday, we started a ‘tradition’ of yearly parties on our birthday – you see, both of us celebrate our birthday on the same day.  That’s right. Same day. Same year.  Two different parts of the country (urban legend has it that Jean is more or less an hour older than Brian – but not a proven fact – more than likely we were born at the same time).  So, the Bash was started on our 30th with a keg of beer, some bratwurst on the grill and friends bringing their favorite side dish.  For the next ten years, we celebrated with our annual Bash – now in between there were two children born, a major flooding event, the addition of  another dog to the family, a rebuilt  deck, a new house with new neighbors and another new grill.  The one constant was beer.  When you live in St. Louis beer is a way of life – and there’s no complaining here . .  . we knew that Budweiser with born on dating of last week was about as fresh as it’s going to get!

The chink in the armor happened in that magical year.  You know–the BIG ONE!  The Big 40!  Yep, this was the year someone, in the neighborhood, brought wine.  Now, we will stand here until it snows in Aransas Pass, Texas on Christmas that we didn’t let the wine touch our lips, but friends (or so we thought) actually gave us wine as birthday presents.  We know, we know, it’s almost blaspheme!  Now, all kidding aside, this was probably the turning point for us; it’s not that we don’t like or care for beer, but there was an allure that wine provided, but the catch was that we had to actually taste it.  Oh, sure, we’d previously enjoyed those luscious German white wines, and we’d even had a bottle or two of the ultimate training wine – White Zinfandel, but now we were talking red wine . . . Merlot!  Can you feel it – yeah, we can too, the ground under your feet is shaking, right?  Seriously, it was probably the turning point in our journey to wine enjoyment.  We’re pretty sure it was something like Turning Leaf Merlot . . . kind of forgettable.

So what is it about the number 40?  Why do we put such emphasis on it?  Why does it have such a mesmerizing effect on us?  Did you know that FORTY is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order?  Did you know that the chemical element, Zirconium  has an atomic number of 40?  Did you know that in 40 AD, Philo taught that all men are born free?  Let’s not forget the 40 days of Lent, 40 years of Moses wandering in the desert – and here’s a really cool fact . . . if you add the ages of daughter #1 and daughter #2 together they equal 40!!!!  Must admit that magic 8 ball trick came from a co-worker of Jean’s . . .shoutout to Ned.  Oh, and one more shoutout to Scott who hits the BIG 40 next Friday!

So guess we are a little caught up in the fact that tonight is our 40th blog and our 40th DIFFERENT bottle of wine!  Yes, we know, we’ve got a LONG way to go, but we’re pretty excited to be talking about our 40th tasting!  And we chose one of our favorites for our 40th tasting, tonight’s wine is a 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel.  Because of our previously mentioned tastings with our friends at Grape Juice in Kerrville, we learned to love Joel Gott Zinfandel going back to the 2005 vintage.  This is some really good wine for under $15 a bottle and has become widely available at wine shops, high volume grocery stores, including  Whole Foods.  It’s appropriate that we enjoy this wine on our 40th blog because on our very first blog back on the first of September, we talked about a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.  Anyway . . .

In true Zinfandel fashion, it’s got lots of fruit, lots of spice and a great pepper finish – it’s not overpowering but it’s got a real nice vanilla and tobacco nose.  The finish is smooth and while not overpowering, lingers just long enough for you to appreciate the flavors.  The wine is perfect for a Friday night on the deck or when a group of co-workers comes over to the house after work!  It isn’t too pretentious, but it has solid structure and a good finish.  We enjoyed with what could best be defined as a “kitchen sink” pizza – had to clean out the fridge because we will soon be on the road (ah, do we sense a story in the making?).

So, as we recognize and ‘celebrate’ our 40th posting, we raise a glass of Joel Gott Zinfandel, and hope that you’ll enjoy a glass of your favorite wine.  We’ll be back here tomorrow with another wine as we prepare to take our blog on the road. . .more on that later.

Please remember to enjoy your wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!