I can’t help but thinking about the Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” whenever I venture into a Pioneer Wine Portfolio tasting. In order to bring this scenario to life, imagine a room full of five year old children who make a mad dash for all the shiny toys left for them by Santa on Christmas morning. Well, maybe it’s a little more dignified than that, but it’s the same concept when you take a hotel ballroom filled with tables and tables of wine with wine makers that are passionate about sharing the story of their wines. For me, it’s better than Christmas (sorry Jesus).
I wanted to outline some wines that were the highlight of my tasting; some that are new to Texas:
Tuck Beckstoffer Wines, Tony Glorioso
Tuck Beckstoffer wines – Tuck has been producing wines under his namesake label since 1997 and is known for well-priced, critically acclaimed wines.
- The Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Amulet’ was great and the single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Mockingbird’ 07 red was exceptional.
- The terrior made a big difference (warm vs. cooler and higher elevation) between the Pinot Noirs tried – the 07 ‘Semper’ Gold Vineyard and the ‘Semper’ Ellenbach Vineyard. I loved the fruit, femininity and silkiness of the Ellenbach Pinot.
Lioco, Matt Licklider
Lioco wines — These are a labor of love from Matt Licklider and Kevin O’Connor, two wine lovers who decided to create a negociant wine label focusing on Old World style wines made in … get this … California. The philosophy is to tie the wines to the terrior and to make them naturally. My favorites included:
- Lioco 09 Sonoma Chardonnay – this wine mirrors a French Bourgogne Blanc and was a very nice Old World style wine.
- Lioco 09 Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyards was full of black tea, dried orange peel and oriental spice. It’s a wonderful Pinot.
- Lioco Indica 09 – this blend of Old Vine Carignan was a nice and inexpensive wine that you want restaurants to serve by the glass. Just a nice drinking wine.
Mauritson Vineyards, Suzanne Gay
Rockpile wines – the Healdsburg-based Mauritson Family is known for making award-winning wines from tough vines located on a rocky ridge, an active earthquake fault and at a high elevation. From what I tried, they are doing it exceptionally well and the terrain is tough enough that only 13 others are making wine there. My favorites included:
- My absolute best of show was the 08 Rockpile Petite Sirah. What a lush, fruity spicy, fabulous wine.
- 07 Rockpile Red Blend ‘Buck Pasture’ was also great with notes of black cherry, tobacco and even a little cola.
I also had a chance to run into Rick Ruiz from Twenty Four Wines, who was nice enough to share his latest vintage. Lots of berry, dark fruit, cassis with the nice integration of oak. This was a wine you wanted to drink at the beginning of the party verses the end. If this preview served as a snapshot of some of the wines available in the Texas market, grab the wine list at most local restaurants and demand more.