Life in The Big House

If you reside in the Austin area, you may have heard some squealing a couple of weeks ago.  It may or may not have been coupled with some jumping up and down.  I got my first samples.  Somehow, it felt like validation for me and I was super excited.  A big thanks to Folsom & Associates for the wine and the free entertainment for my family. 

I received three wines from Big House Wines: Big House Red, Big House White, and Unchained “Naked” Chardonnay.  I talk a lot about “Monday Wines” on here.  Those are wines that you don’t have to think too much about opening.  Want just one glass without the waste-guilt?   Don’t feel like pairing it to do it justice?  Open a Monday wine.  They come in at under $10 and are perfectly potable.  Any of these would make great Monday wines. 

I couldn’t find any evidence to confirm or deny, but I would imagine their approach to the blends is similar to what I do some days in the kitchen.  I don’t start with a vision, but instead look to see what I have available to me and what I can do with it.  How else could you come up with theses extensive blends?  Take a look:

Big House Red 2011:

19% Grenache, 17 % Syrah, 16% Tempranillo, 14% Petit Verdot, 6% Mourvedre, 4% Sagrantino, 3% Malbec, 3% Sangiovese, 3%Merlot, 3% Touriga, 2% Aglianico, 2% Negro Amaro, 1% Teraldego, 1% Petit Syrah, 1% Tannat, and 5% other reds.

Big House White 2010

 22.7% Malvasia Bianca, 15.9% Gruner Veltliner, 15.7% Sauvignon Blanc,9.2% Gewürztraminer, 7.9% Riesling, 7.3% Chenin Blanc, 6.1% Muscat Canelli, 5.2% Viognier, 4.5% Verdelho, 4.4% Albarino, 1.1% Pinot Gris

Surely that was not a grocery list, right?  But, instead, a careful blending to bring out the best of the ingredients at hand.  Sounds fun.   From the Red, I got a pleasant, plum nose.  Sour cherry, plum, berry and a hint of violet on the palate.   The White had a lot of tropical fruits and Spring flowers with a bit of lemon bite at the end (thanks, I presume, to the Gruner).  This was my favorite.  Typically, I prefer unoaked Chards for sipping.  I think this one could have used a bit of oak to smooth out the finish, but that is a matter of preference. 

Any of these wines are perfectly sippable for Monday wines or large gatherings.  To that end, they even have environmentally (and wallet) friendly casks which work equally well for the “just one glass” drinkers or the party hosts.  If blends aren’t your thing, they also to plenty of single varietal wines as well.  They are easy drinking, easy pairing, and easy on the budget.  Cheers to Monday Wines!

 

 {Disclosure: I was provided with wine from Big House Wine’s PR Firm, Folsom & Associates to write this review. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own.}

A Happy Mother’s Day-Westcave Cellars

I woke up this morning to my husband doing dishes.  That might be the sweetest sound I can hear.  On Mother’s Day, I generally ask for one thing: no dishes.  When you are a SAHM that cooks three meals a day, at least six days a week, dishes become your nemesis.  This year, my husband has really knocked it out of the park: no dishes, a trip to see my best friend who will be visiting Chicago from France, AND a Saturday jaunt to a Hill Country Winery.  Doesn’t get much better than that for me.  If your favorite Mother is a wine lover, pack a picnic, and head out to one of your local wineries.  

Yesterday, we added a new favorite to the growing list.  I have been wanting to make it out to Westcave Cellars Winery for months.  I first read about it in March, but on the day we were planning on going, it was their Wine Club Member party, so we knew that it wouldn’t be the best day to chat with Margaret and Allan Fetty.  I waited patiently for an opportunity to head out west, on Hamilton Pool Road, and it was worth the wait.  The property is 65 acres, including over 8 acres of grapes.   Many of the grapes they use are estate grown.  They began their journey in 1999, growing Cabernet grapes to sell to other wineries.  Fortunately for us, they decided to enter the wine-making aspect, as well, and are producing some lovely wines.

We started with the Muscat Blanc.  A beautiful nose on this wine.  Sweet flowers and tropical fruit.  This is a delicious wine with hints of honeydew, dry tropical notes, and a long smooth finish.  We moved to the Viogniers.  From the Estate Viognier, I got a lot of honey on the nose and some green fruit, fig maybe?  Drier than expected, there was a lot of citrus, tropical fruit, and a clean finish.  In the High Plains Viognier, I noted green apple and lemon and a really interesting notes of caramel in the nose and the finish.

The Merlot is held in French Oak for 12 months.  It has a smoky, berry nose and tons of Bing cherry with a hint of spice.  A bit dry, but smooth with a super long finish.  The 2010 High Plains Cab was super tasty.  Allan told us he was really into aroma and it shows.  Lush, rich fruit, not too heavy on the tannins.  There is even a hint of watermelon with the plum, cherry, and berry.  It is rare for me to find a Cab that has this depth, but that I could still enjoy without food.  This is a winner in my book.  The Estate Cab was even richer.  Ripe, bright fruit, a huge mid-palate, balanced and juicy.  Delicious.

Westcave also does two sweeter wines: a White Merlot (2% residual sugar) and a White Zinfandel (3%).  If White Zin makes you think of a sweet, flat $7 bottle you drank in the 90s, think again.  The White Merlot was new to me.  The 2010 had notes of strawberries and roses.  The White Zinfandel had a crabapple nose.  If you aren’t familiar with this northern fruit, think cranberries and apples blended. A nice spicy honey finish.  Much more complex than I would have imagined.  Oscar, our host for the day, was able to let me taste the 2011 White Merlot that is ready to bottle.  Wow.  Like the perfect Rosé in my book.  Clean, pretty fruit, enough crisp to wake up your mouth, and great body.  I look forward to being able to buy a bottle and sit out in the vineyards.

After tasting, there is a lovely seating area with room for the littles to run, right next to the vines.  The setting is dreamy and the hospitality is top notch.  Margaret, Allan, and Oscar could not have been nicer.  They are all gifted and knowledgeable and I look forward to my next visit when I can really focus and learn from them.  Somehow that was a little challenging with my cherubs in tow.  It just gives me an excuse to go back.  

If you are here in Austin, and have not made plans to spoil your favorite mother today, head west.  If you have already discovered Westcave and want some other ideas, check out some other local favorites.:

Driftwood Estate Winery

Salt Lick Cellars

Duchman Winery (They are doing brunch this weekend, too!) 

Solaro Estate Winery

Spicewood Vineyards

 Happy Mother’s Day!

Humble Pie

Love that I just publically posted that I obviously haven’t mastered the “reblog.”   I thought that I would just get a draft I could go back and edit as I do when I share articles. Sorry for all of the typos and such if you received my accidental reblog of a post from The Feminist Kitchen.  Her piece is great, and worth reading, but my quick draft of “comments”  looks like I let my four year old on the computer.  And apparently, I can’t delete it.  Humbling moment 782 this week.

I guess this is also a good opportunity to explain why I haven’t been writing.  If you have ever had a toddler on steroids and breathing treatments, you understand that it takes every ounce of cerebral energy to get through the day.  And although he has recovered, I have not.    I have been drinking wine, just haven’t been able to write.   I will write very soon.  Thanks for your patience with my goof.