Earlier this month, with high hopes for a Ranger’s World Series win and the Cowboy’s at a pathetic 1 and 4; I was invited to attend the 2010 Grape & Gridiron Classic that was thrown by the “GO TEXAN” folks at the Texas Department of Agriculture.

I was excited to see two industry folks that I hadn’t met live yet,  Russ Kane and Jeff Siegel who were co-hosting the event on the Texas side.  Russ and I have been Twitter friends for a long time, so it was great to finally meet him live.  The premise was to do a taste off Texas vs. New York wines in conjunction with the Cowboys/Giants game that was scheduled that evening. Based on the Cowboy’s season at that time, I wasn’t surprised to see that the better competition was going to be in the room that night at El Centro (wine vs. the football game).

We started with ten whites, which we tasted blind.  Of all the whites, I found I preferred the 09 Llano Estacado Winery Unoaked Chardonnay. This was a good thing as Mark Hyman, president and CEO of Llano was sitting at our table. I am a huge fan of New York Finger Lakes Riesling wines. However, not one Finger Lakes wine was represented due to the archaic laws regarding shipping wines to Texas. Because of this, I feel like we were able to showcase the wines we wanted to in Texas, but the New York folks were sparring with one hand tied behind their backs.

We tasted ten reds and a dessert wine. I also found that the palate of my table mates – Mark Hyman, Ron Ruggles from Nation’s Restaurant News and Hunter Hammett from the Fairmont Hotel, were overall very similar. However, the palate of almost everyone else in the room was drastically different as choice after choice of ours lost the vote.

Texas won by a landslide – eight to three for a total of 11 flights. The “best of show” favorites were McPherson Cellars Rose’ of Syrah 2009 (Texas) and Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi-Dry Riesling 2009 (New York).  All in all, I found some good wines from New York and from Texas. I must commend Russ and Jeff for figuring out how to take very different wines, including different varietals, and pair them together in categories for tasting. I’m hoping that we’ll do it again next year … only let’s involve Lenn Thomas and tie it to the Rangers/Yankees play off games.

All photos are courtesy of  Jenny Gregorcyk.