Archived entries for Texas Wines

Grapefest: A Celebration of Grapes, the Vines and the City

For years, I have billed myself as someone “with a love of the grape and a collection to prove it.”  Ironically, I had never attended the largest wine festival in the Southwest.  Grapefest is in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb about 20 miles from Dallas.  Luckily, this is the year I could rectify that situation.

The city was founded in 1843 when General Sam Houston led representatives of the Republic of Texas to a meeting with members of 10 American Indian nations. They joined to negotiate a treaty of peace and friendship at Grape Vine Springs, also known as Tah-Wah-Karro Creek. The first settlers started arriving a year later and the city was named for the wild mustang grapes that grow abundantly in Texas.

For the past 31 years, Grapefest has entertained 150,000 patrons with wine tastings, special events, a variety of foods, a family Carnival and Midway as well as an interactive KidsWorld.  We brought our daughter, so some of the over 21 events like the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, the world’s largest consumer-judged wine competition, and the Texas Wine Tribute were off limits to us and we spent much more time on the Midway than normal.

 

 

But we got to enjoy the Champagne Terrace, we were a “celebrity” guest at the GrapeStomp (Team Dallas Wine Chicklet) and spent a lot of time in the wine pavilion tasting a variety of wines from the Central Coast in California and Barossa Valley in Australia.

 

We even spent a little time in the VIP room of Messina Hof’s first urban winery in Grapevine.  I discovered that a Texas winery is making two sparkling wines, which was a surprise to me.  The tasting room is located on the site of the former Wallis Hotel.  The winery had more than 40 different wines, tastings and premium flights, wines on tap and gourmet food items.

Grapefest is sponsored by Bank of the West and in 2012, Grapevine was named a World Festival and Event City by the International Festival and Events Association.  It was a great celebration of wine, winemakers and wineries.  While I’ll probably attend a few more adult-oriented tastings next year, it was a fun family event.


100 Wines, 30 Days and Wine Loving Ways

Since I left the corporate gig, which gave me ample opportunity to open a multitude of sample wines on a weekly basis, I’ve come to a point where I was completely swimming in fourth quarter samples.  I rectified this by hosting the Southern Methodist University MBA wine club, with Michelle Williams, where we conducted a brown bag blind tasting of more than 40 wines.  I  was the guest speaker of an executive Women Who Wine Group where I brought a variety of wines, talked about balancing my blog and a fulltime career with family.  And, of course the usual hosting of a variety of friends over the holiday season.

Of the nearly 100 wines we sampled, these are the favorites of the tastings.  They are diverse – several regions around the globe, different varietals and different price points.  I’ll be brief with descriptions since there are so many.

Whites

2014 Ferrari Carano Tre Terre Chardonnay – this traditional Russian River Valley Chardonnay was full of citrus, apple, melon and vanilla flavors. The word I would use to describe it is creamy.

2012 Duchman Trebbiano – this has always been one of Texas’ award-winning wines (provided by Texas Fine Wines) at a fair price point.  The wine is full of tropical and citrus fruits and is best enjoyed on a patio.

2014 Martin Ray Chardonnay – another Russian River Valley beauty with a balanced acidity with green apple, white stone fruit and vanilla.


2013 Brennan Vineyards Lily – another selection from Texas Fine Wines – it’s a dry wine with apricot, fleshy nectarine, citrus and notes of honeysuckle.

2014 Gloria Ferrer Chardonnay – this is tropical in a glass – it’s full of stone and citrus fruit with nice acidity.

2013 La Scola Gavi Bianco Secco – it’s fruity, yet dry and refreshing. When Spring rolls around (or December in Texas), this is a great patio wine.

Reds

2014 Martin Ray The Tower Red Wine – this Bordeaux-style wine was full of black fruit, berries and cherries, herbs and spice.  It was surprisingly easy to drink with its rich, dark color.

2013 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee – this was a great Tuesday pizza wine with an attitude.  It was a Bordeaux blend that had notes of blackberry, blueberry, chocolate and herbs.

2013 Flora Springs Ghost Winery Red – Artist Wes Freed designed the label depicting a zombie picnic watched by two diligent crows.  I tasted herbs, spice, cinnamon, black and red fruits along with licorice.

2013 Antigal Uno Malbec – deep berry, cassis, plum, spice and flowers.  This was a great representation of a Malbec.

2014 Flora Springs Ghost Winery Malbec – since Flora Springs is one of Napa’s original “ghost wineries,” they have fun with the designation (and are one of the few that have restored the winery back to its original form).  Notes of mocha, black cherry, cassis and spice.

2010 Agly Brothers B Cotes-du Roussillon Villages – this well-balanced Rhone blend was full of chocolate, cassis, Fig Newton, blackberry and herbs. This is a great example of why people should drink more Rhone style wines.

2014 Garzon Tannat – big ripe red fruit with notes of pepper, mocha and spice.  This was a very nice version of a wine that shows its fruit while keeping its power.

2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve Du Couvent- cassis, chocolate and herbs.  It was balanced, but had some depth to it.

2013 Odfiell Orzada Cabernet Sauvignon – this cabernet begged for beef.  It had red and black berry, chocolate, vanilla and herbs. It evolved with time in the glass.

2014 Angeline Cabernet Sauvignon – notes of red cherry pie, black fruit, savory spices and mocha.

2015 Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir – this was a perfect Thanksgiving wine with notes of cranberry, cherry, herbs and spice.

2014 Carmel Road Pinot Noir – a very nice drinking Pinot with cherry, spice and some herbs.

2014 Martin Ray Puccioni Vineyard Zinfandel – rich red fruits, spice and jammy, yet with a balance.

I also received samples for #merlotmonth #merlotme (more than 20 in total), so I’m playing catch up here with a few great ones that didn’t make the Merlot-focused round-up a few months ago.

2014 Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot – this wine was full of black fruit, red fruit, vanilla and cassis.  It was approachable and was a crowd favorite.

2013 Rutherford Hill Merlot – this was elegant and had notes of blackberry, cherry, minerality, blueberry pie and herbs.

2013 Rombauer Carneros Merlot – notes of red stone fruit, flowers, mocha and spice.

2013 Duckhorn Merlot – notes of orange, raspberry, plum, mocha and cedar.  This had a great structure.

Texas Fine Wines provided samples of reds from Bending Branch, Brennan, Duchman and Pedernales.  These were my favorites.

NV Brennan Vineyards “W” Winemakers Choice – notes of stewed plum, blackberry and cherry as well as spice, Twizzlers and chocolate.

2013 Pedernales Tempranillo Reserve – notes of cherry, terroir, herbs and spice.

2012 Bending Branch Tannat – this is the signature red for Bending Branch winery and it had lots of red fruit, plum, mocha and caramel notes.

2011 Duchman Montepulciano – another nice every day wine from Duchman with red and black fruit, spice and herbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 


2016: A Personal Journey and Year of Discovery

A journey is defined as the passage or progress from one stage to another.  That has certainly been part of my #seewhatsnext experience.  In December, I left my job as Chief Marketing Officer for a software company. If you followed along, you may remember my conversation with Cyril Chappellet, the CEO of Chappellet Wine, where I promised him that I would use this time to do some amazing things.   My goal was to finally exhale, spend time with the family and enjoy the ability to have some funded time to decide what I want to be when I grew up.  Little did I know where that journey would take me.

Barton Creek #goingrogue

Our Group Adventure at Chappellet Winery

Paso Robles with the Texas Writers

Fast forward seven months and I feel like I did just that.  I traveled to Austin to experience the Omni Barton Creek’s new wine and food program and rediscovered Texas wines in the process.  I went to Sonoma and Napa with a group of dear friends and had the trip of a lifetime.  I was invited on a Paso Robles media tour with a group of Texas journalists and actually zip lined over a winery.  And, I made my own wine with a small group of bloggers and a legendary winemaker (more on that next week).

Lego Table and Eurocaves: A Shared Existence

One of the Two Eurocaves

The Bad Ass Center Drawer

Personally, we had some family changes (and compromises) too.  After living in the same 1927 Tudor house for 15 years, we made the tough family decision to move to a newer house closer to my kiddo’s school.  While there are lots of bells and whistles we’ve never had before, the new casa does not include my dream cellar or any cellar at all.  From the photos, you’ll see the Eurocaves now exist as part of the family TV and Lego playroom.  And after being incredibly sporadic about my wine reviews the first half of the year, it forced me to set a process, which makes me methodical about the reviews.

And, finally, I made the decision to branch out on my own and start my own consulting business.  I’m completely flattered that two of my former bosses and good friends made this decision for me by telling me that they needed my help.  I even turned down a great full-time position with an amazing company and I still get to work with them as a consultant.  I’m still focusing on technology marketing, but having the decision of who I want to work with is life-changing.

I am sharing this all with you because you have become an important part of my community – you are my friends, you are my readers and have made this blog last much longer than I ever anticipated.  I just want to thank you.


Checkered Past Winery: A Dallas Wine Bar Where Someone Always Knows Your Name

If you are looking for a wine bar that takes itself incredibly seriously and is full of folks discussing the esoteric qualities of wines, Checkered Past Winery is not for you.  If you are looking for your next neighborhood “Cheers experience,” but with a mix of Texas and international wines (and beer too), belly on up to the bar and let Sandro DiSanto , co-founder, owner and winemaker and Carolynne Chancellor, manager and vineyard owner, change your mind about wine snobbery and Texas wines.

So I’ve told you what Checkered Past Winery isn’t.  So what is it?  It’s an urban wine pub in the South Side neighborhood which features quality Texas wines, locally brewed beer, and great wines from around the world with really great folks running the show.  Checkered Past actually has its own wines made in Texas.  We tried several of the wines – the albarino, the viognier and the syrah.  I liked them all, but really enjoyed the two whites.

The winery, which opened in early December of last year on Prohibition Day, is themed around Mods and Rockers, two different British youth subcultures of the early to mid 60’s and 70’s.  The rocker subculture was based upon motorcycles, leather jackets and 50’s rock and roll.  The mod subculture was based around fashion (think Mad Men), music and many rode scooters.

There are a lot of things that make Checkered Past Winery unique including the fact that Sandro is a winemaker making his owned branded wines that you can try at the winery.  His philosophy is to make “balanced wines without faults and pair well with food and friends.”  Carolynne is also growing grapes that will eventually be used in the branded wines.  There is a list of fellow Texas winemakers (higher end) that are considered “friends” as well as seven tap wines as well as local beers and ciders in addition to the international wine list.

Sandro wanted to build an urban winery after commuting more than 80 miles each way to work and wanted to change the traditional model of having to travel to a winery.  The Cedars neighborhood was chosen because it was creative and artistic.  Walking into the building, you see that influence.  The staff at Checkered Past Winery designed the entire space themselves except for the paint you see on the walls.  You see old metal, scooter and motorcycle parts that showcase the theme.  The music also is a mix of reggae, ska, jazz and punk – depending on the night and live bands are prevalent.

Wines are available by the glass, bottle and through the wine club.  It’s free to join and you are only committed to one month for two bottles – usually around $40.  You won’t find wines on the center shelf of the grocery store – it’s a cool and eclectic selection.

And, the food.  A picture says one thousand words and I’m positing all the delicious things that we ate.  This is a wine bar that is meant to be a place to demystify wine and become your next neighborhood destination.


Taking a Second Look at the Best of Texas Wines: An Eye Opening Experience

 

As the Dallas Wine Chick, there has been an expectation by some folks in my fair state that it is my duty to write about Texas wine.  I had some interesting experiences with Texas wine early on including a Texas winemaker who told me that it was clear that I needed to re-examine my palate since it was obvious that I didn’t know good wine.  My reaction was probably exactly the one that you just experienced with a few key unladylike words inserted.  The joy about this blog is that I am not beholden to anyone and can write, or not write, exactly what I want to cover.

 

Last week, I wrote about our awesome experience at the Omni Barton Creek Resort.  After we left the Omni, Denise Clarke who leads the marketing initiative Texas Fine Wine #texasfinewine #txwine, arranged for us to taste wines at two vineyards.  The Texas Fine Wine initiative brings together five Texas wineries — Bending Branch Winery, Brennan Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, Pedernales Cellars and the newly joined Spicewood Vineyards — with the goal of bringing national and statewide attention to high-quality wines being produced in Texas.

 

 

We piled into Amy Corron Power’s VW Beetle and set off on our adventure with bad country music and worse singing as the backdrop.  Our first stop was Pedernales Cellars. We were hosted by Julie Kuhlken, the winery’s co-founder, designer, and communications director.  Julie has a non-traditional background for a winery owner.  She was a graduate of Stanford University and received a doctorate in Philosophy.  She’s taught at universities in Europe and North America.

The winery is named for the Pedernales River and was started by the Kuhlken Family in 1995 when they planted a small vineyard outside of Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country, the oldest AVA in Texas.  This training served as a lesson that grapes that do well in California do not necessarily do well in Texas.

In 2006, the Stonewall, Texas, location opened anchored by a 1880s farmhouse that was moved from Fredericksburg with the understanding that being closer to Highway 290 would be good for business.

Asst Winemaker Demi Matar

I loved Julie’s honesty about lessons learned and how Pedernales is on a journey to be one of the top high-end wineries in Texas and ultimately just be known as a great wine.  We tried a number of Pedernales and Bending Branch reds and whites.  Demi Matar, the assistant winemaker, took us through several tank samples that I look forward to trying in the bottle — the Vermentino and the Rose.

 

I was impressed with the quality of the wines and appreciated the well designed labels on the bottles.  In fact, I took several bottles home and look forward to the evolution of those wines in my cellar in a year or two.

 

We tried the following line-up:

2014 Pedernales Vermentino

2014 Pedernales Viognier Reserve

2014 Bending Branch Comfortage (Roussanne)

2014 Pedernales Dry Rosè

2012 Pedernales Texas Vahalla*

2013 Bending Branch Tannat

2013 Pedernales Tempranillo Reserve*

Stonewall Glogg (this was “Christmas in a bottle.  It’s essentially a port in a Swedish style that we decided tasted delicious with notes of cinnamon, gingerbread and spice. I’m saving mine for 2016 Christmas)*

*Wines that I purchased

 

Denise Clarke and Duchman Family Winery General Manager, Jeff Ogle

Our next stop was Duchman Family Vineyards.  The winery was founded in 2004 by Doctors Lisa and Stan Duchman.  The Duchman’s focused on Italian grape varieties that grow successfully in Texas’ ever-changing weather.  The winery focuses on 100 percent Texas grown grapes to make 100 percent Texas wines.

 

 

We tried a number of wines and I’ve starred my favorites:

2014 Duchman Family Trebbiano

2014 Duchman Family Viognier*

2012 Duchman Family Vermentino

2012 Duchman Family Dolcetto*

2012 Duchman Family Montepulciano*

2012 Duchman Family Tempranillo*

2012 Duchman Family Aglianico

NV Duchman Family Progression*

2012 Duchman Family Nero D’Avola

2014 Spicewood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc*

2013 Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo

2012 Spicewood Tempranillo*

2012 Brennan Vineyards Super Nero

I’m heartened to see that Texas has found its groove in growing the right grapes that will flourish in our climate.  I have to say that trying these wines was an eye-opening nice surprise and I look forward to the continuing evolution of the Texas wine scene.


Pedernales Cellars: Texas Winery Wins the Unofficial Memorial Day Lake Tasting

I admit it – while I might be the Dallas Wine Chick, I haven’t found many Texas wines that meet my quality and price balance.  I believe in supporting Go Local efforts and I do in buying many Texas products on a daily basis. 

So, when I got the email from Pedernales Cellars’ public relations firm, I admit I was a bit skeptical.  I received three wines from the winery and today I’m going to write about the two that actually received favorite wine designation from a large group of folks tasting a number of wines while celebrating Memorial Day at the lake.

First, a brief background about Pedernales Cellars.  In the early 1990s, Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken planted their first vineyard near Fredericksburg making them one of the first wineries in Texas.  Their son David, and son-in-law Fredrik, wanted the winery to be a boutique winery focused on making small lots of wine with sustainable practices.

Today, the winery consists of 17 acres of tempranillo, touriga nacional, albarino, monastrell, garnacha and a few other varietals – mostly those that grow well in Texas.

And, now for the two wines of choice.  I’m not telling you the prices are low, but I am telling you that the wines are well made, tasty and interesting. 

  • 2010 Texas Tempranillo Reserve ($29.99).  Pedernales does tempranillo well and the Texas weather makes it the perfect grape for wine makers to succeed in our state.  It’s mineral and earthy, but with spiciness, red fruits and chocolate.
  • 2011 Texas Viognier ($17.99).  Really nice tropical and white stone fruit with honey notes, but with a dry finish.  This matched perfectly with sitting on a patio, playing backgammon and catching up with friends.

Celebrating Regional Wine Week with an Aged Texan

 Calais Pic

In honor of the fourth annual Regional Wine Week, which is scheduled from Oct. 9 to Oct. 15 this year, I wanted to write about a Texas wine that I picked up two years ago from Calais Winery in Dallas.  Regional Wine Week is scheduled to profile wines from “The Other 47” states that aren’t California, Washington or Oregon.

Back in September of 09 when I tasted the Calais, I wondered how it would age.  I am glad to report that this wine really evolved with time in the bottle.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I know Ben and his wife, Melynn, from the wine business and due to our almost daily class workouts at Equinox in Dallas.   They are delightful people.

Calais bills itself the French winery of Texas and it definitely uses an Old World method of wine production.  This wine is named after Commerce Street in Dallas, the location of Calais’ tasting room, and is an 85 percent cabernet sauvignon and a 15 percent syrah blend.  I tasted blackberry, currant, cherry and sandalwood with hints of mocha.  I enjoyed this wine and was glad to see time in the bottle equaled a more complex and well rounded glass of wine.


Tara Winery: A Southern Respite in East Texas

We had an opportunity to spend a weekend with our dear friends, Doug and Alyce, at their Lake house in East Texas last month.  While there I had the chance to spend some time with Patrick and Susan Pierce, the winemakers and owners of  Tara Vineyard & Winery the oldest winery in Henderson County.

As you drive up to the grounds, a stately 1880’s antebellum house once owned by former Dallas Cowboy Owner Clint Murchison, looks over the vines and made me think of Scarlett O’Hara’s house in Gone with the Wind.  The house was relocated from downtown Athens and serves as a respite as the Tara Inn.  The winery is also adjacent to the Cellar Door restaurant, which I did not try, but heard great reviews.  

Tara Irish Book

Susan Holding “The Hill of Tara

I loved the story about how Tara came to be.  It was the name of Patrick and Susan’s sailboat.  The name comes from Irish folklore and stands for “a view from afar”.  The name originally came from a book discovered in a used book store in Berkeley, The Hill of Tara. 

Tara Wine

While Tara makes 14 wines, we only tried a few produced in East Texas on the 7-acre estate while my six-year old and her friends played the drums, danced and sang “California Girls”.  It was quite the musical revue.   My favorite Tara wine was one that I had tried before from my friend, James.  It is a white blend of Texas grapes, the Texas Blanc de Bois.  It’s a fruity wine with tropical notes and vanilla on the end and is priced under $18.  The Stagecoach Red, priced at $18.50, was termed “barbeque wine” and I see how it would be a good match.

If you are visiting East Texas, Tara is definitely worth a trip – for the food, the wines, the conversation and the live music events.  I think this is a good winery to watch with lots of future potential.


Deep in the Heart of Texas’ Wine Country

Order a half-case or more and get 50% off wine delivery using checkout code “dallas88″

 

I recently was invited to attend an event in Fort Worth for the Texas Hill Country Wineries at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.  The session began with a panelist seminar of winemakers that included John Rivenbaugh from Bending Branch Winery, Gill Bledsoe from Pillar Bluff Vineyard and David Kuhlken from Pedernales Cellars who discussed a variety of subjects as related to producing wine in Texas.

I learned a few things:

  • The Texas wine and grape industry is fifth in the U.S. for wine production with over 2 million gallons produced annually.  The 2,700 acres of vineyard and 200 plus wineries contribute $1.35 billion to Texas’ economy.  Wow.
  • And, the proposed budget cuts at a state and federal level will absolutely level the gains made in Texas wine production.

I wanted to know more about where the winemakers thought the ‘sweet spot’ was for Texas wine.  Not surprisingly, they talked about the potential for growth in Texas as only six percent of Texas wines are consumed by Texans.  When I was on the efactor panel in February, I heard the same from Dan Gatlin from Inwood Estates.  I was glad to hear that they all acknowledged planting the right kind of varietals for the crazy Texas weather is the key to success.  As someone who has palate skid marks from trying Texas wines in the 1990’s, I was heartened to hear this.  Bledsoe had my favorite quote of the night, “I want to show that we can dance – I’ll throw our wines up against anyone.”  The fact that 15 of 21 Texas wines that were awarded medals in the San Francisco International Wine Competition were from the Texas Hill Country shows he may have a point.

Naturally I asked about the challenges they face.  Texas weather and funding seemed to top the list.  If you’ve spent any time in Texas or watched the Big Game this year, you know temperatures can drop 50 degrees overnight.  There is also some research that is making gains in improving Texas wine – collaborations between Texas A&M and the program at Grayson County College – that could be severely impacted by budget cuts.

If you’ve been reading Dallas Wine Chick for the past year, you know that I’ve had some past struggles with Texas wine.  I’m sure your big question is what I thought about the wines.  I tasted 29 wines.  Some took me back to my experience in the 1990’s.  However, I had four that made me take notice.

Duchman

  • Duchman Family Winery, 09 Montepulciano, ($15) this was a red wine full of stone fruit, slight oak and a bit of spice at the finish.  It was a Texas wine that is actually possible to drink in August Texas weather.
  • Duchman Family 09 Vermentino ($10), a Texas patio wine that is floral with hints of pear, but balanced with some minerality.  Lively and light for patio weather.
  • Perdernales Tempranillo ($29.99), a little high priced for my threshold for a Texas wine, but with soft tannins, an earthiness and cherry notes that make it well matched for Texas game.  The highlight of my tasting note was simple – “Nice” with an exclamation point.
  • Singing Water Vineyards Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Blend ($24.95), also priced on the high range, this was a deep red wine full of stone fruit, raspberry and vanilla.

Pedernales Cellars

 

DSC02762 (2)

Coincidentally, a group of Texas sommeliers blind tasted more than 100 Texas wines and both Duchman and Perdernales wines were on the winners list.  The Singing Water Vineyards has also won a number of awards for their reserve blend.

My takeaways from this event – I found wines that I liked that give me hope for the future of Texas wines.  I would keep an eye on Perdenales Cellars, Singing Water Vineyards and Duchman Family.  I expect good things.


Beating a Path Toward Wines Off the Beaten Path

Several months ago I had the opportunity to meet Hunter Hammett, sommelier for the Pyramid Restaurant & Bar at the Fairmont Hotel when we were seated at the same table during the NY/Texas Gridiron challenge.  Hunter impressed me with his passion for wine, his knowledge of wine, and his commitment to giving lesser known grapes their due. A few months passed and my intrigue about putting together a tasting for “wines off the beaten path” did not wane, so last week I grabbed a group of wine loving friends and we ventured to the Fairmont.  It’s always exciting when you look over a list of wines and have to research the grapes, the vineyards and the geography just so you can have some baseline knowledge.  It’s what makes wine geeks tick and I was anticipating this tasting like a kid waiting for Christmas. 

 P2140154

 

P2140157

We started with the white wine line-up.  Our first pour was the 08 Txomin Etxaniz, Hondarribi Zuri, Getariako Txakolina.  It was bright in the glass with citrus and pear flavors.  There was almost a fizz to it making it a great patio wine on a hot Texas day.  This was one of my favorites of the tasting.  The second wine was the 09 Tollo, Pecorino, Terre di Chieti from Italy, which was described as one of the group as “the non-Chardonnay Chardonnay lover’s wine.”  It coated your mouth and had almost a honeysuckle taste to it with lots of nutmeg and pear flavors, but with minerality that made it really interesting versus being overwhelmed with oak.

The third wine was the 07 Ottella di Lodovico Montresor, Trebbiano di Lugana, which had some chalkiness due to its terrior with citrus, lemon and floral notes.  I could see this wine pairing well with fish, but it wasn’t something that I would drink on its own if I were looking for a crisp glass of white on a hot summer day. I did, however, enjoy the drama associated with this wine.  Apparently the experts and wine books cannot agree on what grape this truly is as recent studies have debated if it is actually Verdicchio Bianco vs. Trebbianco.

 P2140159

We then moved into the line-up of reds.  Our first wine was also from the same region as the aperitif that began the tasting.  The 08 Gorrondona, Hondarribi Beltz, Aldape Vineyard, Bizkaiko Txakolina was earthy with almost a silt taste. It was a tart fizzy wine.  You could taste the red fruits and it paired well with the goat cheese on the lovely cheese tray provided by Chef Andre Natera.   I am a big fan of Heitz reds, so I was eagerly anticipating trying the 07 Heitz, Grignolino, Napa Valley.  What a change from the big, bold flavors that I was used to in Heitz wines.  This was much more subtle with orange notes, rose petals and berries. 

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The final wine was a Texas wine.  The 09 Sandstone, VII, Touriga Nacional, Mason County, Texas, was my least favorite. Granted, it was better than many of the Texas wines that I have tasted, but Hunter mentioned that he decanted this wine three hours before we got there.  It was still tannic and needed more time.  I tasted port, berries and jam and an almost tarlike essence.  I want to support these wines based on my geography and advocate the “Go Local” movement through my position on the steering committee of Chefs for Farmers, but our Texas wine producers must raise the bar to make wines that invite an even competition.  This week I’m going to a Texas Hill Country Wineries Road Show tasting and I hope to find a few “diamonds in the rough” when these wines are previewed for the press.

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When we were wrapping up, Hunter told me about an Albarino that he just secured that is produced from vines that are over 200 years old. It’s on my “must try” list and I know that I’m going to be back to continue my “off the beaten path” education.  It’s much more fun doing it this way than reading a wine book to research a region.

Photos courtesy of James Freeman




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