Spring Fling Taste and Play Reviews

If you are a SAHM or a parent, you will not be surprised to read that my plans for Wednesday’s Taste and Play were interrupted.  Shocking, I know.  But when your sweet boy wakes up from his nap with a fever of 102 just as your guests arrive, that happens.  Fortunately, all the moms and my sister, Nikki, took it in stride.  I quarantined him in my room and went back and forth while they tasted and played.  It made for a lovely afternoon for them, but not the best for my tasting, so my “notes” will be brief.

We started with the 2011 Castillo Perelada Garnatxa Blanca ($12).   This is my first White Grenache, so I can’t compare it to others.  It was really interesting and different.  By the time I was able to taste this pour, my glass had already warmed.  After chilling it again, it was a totally different wine.  Crisp, huge mid-palate, and a smooth, long finish.  It was hard to discern specific fruits.  There were herbal, grassy characteristics and more citrus than tropical or stone fruits.  An intense, crisp white.  That doesn’t seem to happen too often. The ladies gave it a thumbs up.

We then moved to 2010 McPherson Viognier,($13).  As typical of many Viogniers, this one has a lovely nose.  Jasmine or honeysuckle and peach.  Stone fruits with a sparkle of citrus, honey, and a long creamy finish.  This wine feels and tastes and lovely as it smells.  I can’t say the same for our last tasting.

I wanted to ladies to try a dry Rosé, and when I saw that this one was Alicante, I wanted to try it.   I chose a 2010 Acquagiusta Rosato ($15) out of Tuscany.  The website describes it as having a “notable aromatic persistence.”  I would agree with that, I just wish it was an aroma I wanted to continue smelling.  Some people enjoy the “brett” (barnyard) qualities found in a lot of Italian wines.  I do not.  A bit can add an earthy complexity, too much can detract from what might have been a tasty wine.  I will just say that this wine had too much in the nose for my taste.  Granted, the taste was much more enjoyable than the aroma.  I got some strawberry, some greens.  Overall, there just wasn’t enough going on for me to really get excited about it.  I have not found too many Rosés at this price point that I love.  I did really enjoy Chateau L’Ermitage.  If you have one, please share it in the comments.

So which wine was the favorite?  Three cheers for Texas Wine winning this Taste and Play.  The McPherson was the unanimous favorite.   Texas Wine Gal informed me that they have an Albarino available at their Tasting Room.  Can’t wait to get to try it!  In the meantime, I will be picking up more of this Texas winner.  So what did you think?  Were you able to try any of these wines?  I look forward to reading your comments.  Have an idea for the Summer edition?  Share that as well.  Cheers, y’all!

Spring Fling Taste and Play-Next week

If you were following in January, you may already be familiar with the idea behind “Taste and Play.”  Basically, it is an excuse for my Austin SAHM friends and I to get together and try a new wine.  We taste, talk, and take notes on the wines.  Those that choose to, comment on the wines on the blog.  We invite you to join us wherever you are in a “virtual tasting.”  Next week, we will have the Spring Fling Tasting. I have selected the following wines.

2010 McPherson Viognier, TX  ($12-14)

2010 Acquagiusta Rosato, Italy ($15)

2011 Castillo Perelada Garnatxa Blanca, Spain ($12)

If you are not able to find them in a store near you, choose something similar. You can share your finds with us as well. Our tasting party will be Wednesday, but get your friends together whenever you have a chance and let us know what you thought.  Reviews will be posted shortly after our tasting.

Molto Bene, Y’all

What happens when you grow Italian grapes in Texas? Un bel vino. A beautiful wine. The more I am learning about Texas wine, the more I am convinced that growing Mediterranean varietals are the way to go. Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Mouvedre all thrive in this climate and the vintners that have figured this out are doing beautiful things.

Photo courtesy of Duchman Winery

Photo courtesy of Duchman Winery

After our visit to Salt Lick Cellars a couple of weeks ago, we decided to also visit Duchman Family Winery while we were in the vicinity. I had tried some of their wines in previous years, but I had been reading a lot about their Vermentino and the multiple accolades it was receiving. Pear dominated the nose. Crisp and green in the front, the citrus and pear create a long, and clean finish. I was getting something floral but couldn’t determine specifically. They describe it as “white flowers.” Perfect. No surprise it has been so well received. The Trebbiano had a sweeter nose, tropical fruits and citrus, and less of a finish. My favorite white was, no surprise, the Viognier. A bit more acidic than some, the fruit was alive. Bright and balanced with a lot of stone fruits: apricot, peach, and some citrus to make it dance. Super yummy. I brought home one bottle, but should have gotten more. Fortunately, it can be easily found in the area. We then tasted the Sangiovese. I love the bright red fruit of this wine. Light on tannins, and easy on the palate. The Dolcetto had more of the black fruits, a bit richer than the Sangiovese, but still medium bodied. We brought home one of each.

Since we were suffering from the BBQ hangover, I made a vegetarian Antipasto for dinner. Grilled and fresh veggies, olives and cherry peppers, and a couple of cheeses. The Sangiovese complemented it perfectly. I enjoyed the wine at the winery but, by the end of the bottle, I adored the wine. As it opened, what was bright and more acidic became round and luscious. If we’d had more, we would have opened it. Instead we dove into the Dolcetto. My Father-in-Law from Sonoma has always been skeptical of Texas wines. Duchman made him a believer.

I have spoken about how your host at a winery can make or break the experience. In full disclosure, on my previous visit to Duchman, the men helping us didn’t seem to interested in helping. It soured the experience. As much as I had enjoyed the wine, I didn’t enjoy the visit. This time, the people could not have been nicer. Jordan was friendly and knowledgeable. The women in the office were great with my children. I can see that we will be going out to Driftwood more frequently. The wines are delicious, the prices are more than reasonable, and the facility is lovely. What more could you ask for? Grazie, Duchman Family.

Another Victory for Wellington

My Brother-in-law is in town this weekend, which always means that we will be eating well.  Since we were celebrating his birthday, we chose to open something fabulous: a 2005 Wellington Victory Reserve.  This is a super special bottle of wine.  Wellington Vineyards has only done six Reserves in the last seventeen years.  They only do so when they can make a blend they deem “markedly superior” to the single varietal Cab or Merlots.  This 2005 flagship wine is composed of 70%Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, and 10%Merlot.

The boys in my husband’s family like their meat, so we had Filet Mignon with mushrooms which I sautéed with garlic, thyme, a splash of wine, and I poured the meat drippings in the pan at the end.  I made a pretty classic Caesar dressing (sans anchovies) and mashed potatoes.  Nothing fancy, a typical “man” meal in this house.  The wine paired really nicely with the meal.

On the nose, I got blueberry, cassis, cedar, and spice.  A lot going on.  We chose to aerate it since it was so big and not too old.  Huge muddled fruit on the front. I got blackberry, blueberry, and spicy wood- cedar or eucalyptus?  Softer notes like vanilla and violet came through in finish.  My BIL described it as “fat daddy” and my husband said a “banker.”  This wine is not shy.  And neither was I when my glass was empty.  Want to share those last sips with me, honey?  (Insert eye batting) Delicious.

We just received the 2006 Victory Reserve which is a different blend altogether.  Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.  They say it is their best yet.  And we are supposed to cellar it?  That will be tough.  It is definitely a special occasion wine at $50.00, but worth every bit.  As usual, Wellington wines are a value no matter what the price point.  Another Victory for Wellington Vineyard.

Welcoming Spring without the Cha-ching-3 Monday wines

Last Thursday, my better half was hosting a networking event at his office and I was in charge of selecting wines.  We were serving sushi from “How Do You Roll” (YUM!) and we hit 90 degrees that day, so I opted for two whites and a red.

Back in November, I did a piece called Change of Seasons about the wines I choose as we transition out of the summer months and into the fall:

The change of seasons can be a hard time for fashion if you don’t want sweat in your corduroys and you’re over your sundresses.  It can also be hard on wine choices when you are really wanting to open a Zinfandel and you are done with Sauvignon Blanc.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love my sundresses as much as I love my Sav. Blancs, but I am ready to usher in big reds and cozy sweaters.

With the temperatures we have had lately, “Spring” seems like a bit of a misnomer.  This is like the height of summer for some of you.  Regardless, when it comes to sipping wines, I am moving away from bold reds and into lighter varietals.  Busting out the sundresses.  With that in mind, I wanted a medium bodied white, a crisp white, and a light red. They wanted to stay around ten dollars a bottle so I chose these Monday Wines:

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc - Viognier 2011

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier

One of my favorite go-to whites.  Crisp and light.  The Viognier adds a little body to the Chenin Blanc and brings out the best in both. Citrus, blossoms, peach, a bit of green. Love it.  $9.99

’10 Salneval Albarino

I will be buying a lot more of this Spanish gem. Floral nose, stone and tropical fruits, bit of minerality, honey-smooth body.  Big enough to charm red wine drinkers.  A very versatile and tasty wine! $9.99

’07 Mazets de Saint Victor Cotes du Rhone

Red fruit, a bit of spice.  Not overly complex, but very nice for sipping on a warm day, or a cold one.  A Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blend typical of the region,  this is a very nice Spring red and a great value. $9.99

For those of you whom are primarily red drinkers, no matter the temp, Snooth did a piece on Spring Reds that is worth looking at for the photos alone. Also, check out Denise Garner’s informative piece on Light to Medium bodied reds.  Some great advice on varietals and pairings.  But if you are feeling wild and trying a white, perhaps an Albarino or Viognier might be just what you are looking for.  Happy Spring and Happy Tasting!

Salt Lick Cellars-No Need to BYOB

There was a time, in the not so distant past, when you had to bring a stocked cooler to indulge in an adult beverage while indulging on BBQ at The Salt Lick.  Not anymore.  If you haven’t been to Driftwood recently, you may not be aware that they have entered the wine world.

In 2006, Scott Roberts planted the first vines and bottled the first wines in 2008.  After an in-depth study of climatic challenges, Winemaker Jay Knepp and Roberts chose the thick-skinned grapes that can handle the Texas heat and calciferous soil.  They planted Mediterranean varietals: Tempranillo, Syrah, Granache, and Mourvedre.   The grapes are hand-picked and they use Old World wine-making techniques.  Today, Salt Lick Cellars works with other growers and bottlers in Texas to provide a larger variety of wines for their guests.

They offer five blends, four single varietals, and a Sparkling.  The BBQ White is a Vermentino.  Light, crisp and easy sipping.  The Ranch Road White is a blend of Muscat Canelli, Chenin Blanc, Semillion, and Viognier.  Crisp citrus, soft peach or melon, and some sweet floral notes.  I enjoyed the blend very much. Either would be a perfect foil to the Texas heat.  The BBQ Red is Primitivo, the Italian equivalent of Zinfandel.  Tart red fruit with medium body, it is a great match for the peppery spice in the BBQ.

The Mourvedre is 100% Estate grown.  A beautiful claret red.  I got a lot of Bing cherry, some earth, but still a lighter wine.  My favorite was the Tempranillo.  It had a fresh herbal nose.  Big smooth fruit and a long finish.  I picked up some nutmeg or some other spiciness.  Unfiltered and aged in both American and French oak, this one was super tasty. I took one home with me.  I found both of these varietals to be lighter than some I have had, but no less delicious.  The brightness of the fruit was not overpowered by the tannins.  I am curious to see how both of these wines develop as the vines age.

Since my family was waiting for me, I had to keep it brief.  There were several wines that I did not have time to taste, and couldn’t really give the samples the time they deserved.  I plan to remedy that in the near future.  In addition to their own wines, the tasting room carries other Texas wines, beers, chocolates, nuts, cheeses, and gifts.  I made the mistake of eating first, so my palate had already been through the ringer before I tasted the wines.  Not recommended.   Taste first and pick up a bottle to go with your BBQ.  Or a few bottles to take home.  As if the brisket alone wasn’t enough reason to head to Driftwood, the Roberts Family has just given you several more reasons.  Cheers, y’all.