On the last Tuesday of every month, the Texas Wine and Food Consortium hosts a good old-fashioned duel. While there may not be a definitive winner, there is definitely a good time had by all. Gusto Tastings Sommeliers, Daniel Kelada and Oscar Montes-Iga choose a grape and draw a line between producers from all over the world and those in Texas. We get to enjoy the battle.
I previously attended the tastings in which we looked at Viognier and Tempranillo, both grapes that do very well in the Texas climate. This month, Cabernet Sauvignon was the star of the show. I will admit that I had my doubts. After all, how well can Cab really do here? Denise Clarke, shared my skepticism and chose to taste blindly. I think we were both surprised by the evening.
As with each of the competitions, the evening was divided into four flights: Old World, New World, Texas, and then a vertical tasting of a Texas wine. This month, Becker Vineyards provided the vertical tasting.
For the Old World tasting, we had two French and one Israeli wine. For the New World flight, we tasted Washington, Chile, Napa, and South Africa. We then moved to nine Texas wines and the vertical flight.
Tasting this many wines can be a funny thing. My palate begins to fade. I can taste through a flight and think I know which one I prefer. Taste them again, and it becomes less clear. As a wine opens it changes. Have a snack, it changes again. If you asked me which wine was my favorite, I would also have to ask, “With food or without?” And if you asked the person next to me, there may be very little overlap in the list of favorites.
Some of my tasting notes of the evening included the classic terms such as, “cherry, leather, tobacco, greens.” And then there were some less common descriptors: “dill pickle, green pepper with cherry on top, cream soda, tomato leaf.”
Some personal highlights included:
Le Relais De Dufort-Vivens, Margaux, Grand Vin, 2009 (classic notes, Bing cherry, tobacco)
Marques de Casa Concha, Puento Alto, 2010 (Less classic but friendly, cherry cola, Eucalyptus, Green tomato leaf)
Flat Creek, Texas High Plains, Newsome Vineyard, Reserve 2010 (Big, impressive, yet subtle fruit, cherry, and greens)
The Vineyard at Florence, Williamson County, ‘Veritas’ 2010 (huge sour cherry and berry blend)
Becker Vineyard, Texas High Plains, Canada Family Vineyards, 2007 (elegant nose, hazelnut and cranberry, some vegetative notes)
Becker Vineyard, Texas High Plains, Canada Family Vineyards, 2009 (earth, leather, fruit, surprising elegant for age)
Becker Vineyard Claret 2011 (drought year so concentrated fruit, bright sour cherry, some green, cocoa)
As an encore, Tim Drake of Flat Creek Estate, decided to finish the evening with something very special. He opened a 2002 Flat Creek Cab that was amazing. If there was any question about whether Texas can do Cab, more importantly, a Cab that can age, Flat Creek gave us the answer.
So who was the winner? Well, there is no clear answer to such a subjective question, but you can judge for yourself. Next month’s tasting will look at Tannat and will be featuring wines from Bending Branch. In April, Texas Wine and Food Consortium will bring us fortified wines (port, Sherry, Madeira) with Haak winery. Upcoming tastings will feature Roussane, Rose, Red Blends, White Blends, Merlot, Malbec , and Sangiovese.
For more information on these tastings, contact Daniel Kelada.
This piece was originally written for and posted on Texas Wine and Trail