B.L.A.C.(K) Friday

…or what I’ve been drinking this week.

I don’t shop this weekend.  But I do enjoy wine, so I thought I’d share my own version of “Black Friday.”  The only wines I could think of that begin with a K are either bigger producers or ones that I haven’t had in while so forgive the incomplete acronym.  But by the time you finish tasting B, L, A, and C, I don’t think you’ll mind.cabernet_sauvignon_img[1]

B is for Bridlewood 2011 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

Last weekend was a rare cold and rainy weekend here in Austin.  We lit the fire around noon and by two, the smells of browning roast told my husband that it was time to open some red wine.  We wanted something with some body and depth so I opened a sample* I’ve had for a bit.

One look at this wine in the glass and you know you are in for something rich.  It has a ton of stewed black fruit on the nose with a hint of warm spice.  Maybe cinnamon?  On the palate, the fruit is a little brighter than the nose indicates, less “stew” more “blue.”  Not overly tannic but a great finish and plenty of depth. A different style than you might expect from a California Cab, but a great deal at around $12.

L is for Lewis 2010 Texas Red Wine

October 2013 004I was so excited to make it out Lewis Wines in Hye, Texas.  It is by appointment only but absolutely worth planning ahead for a visit.  A blend of Touriga, Tempranillo, and Tinto Cao, this wine is gorgeous as it is unique.  With a focus primarily on Mediterranean and Portuguese grapes, grown in Texas, Doug Lewis is building something beautiful in the Hill Country.  I was really impressed by everything he poured.  If he is making wine like this in his 20s, I can only imagine what’s to come.  You’ll be hearing more about him, here and in the wine world.

A is for Aimery Sieur d’Arques Cremant de Limoux Rosé

I went to a Sparkling wine tasting at the local Whole Foods Market on Tuesday.  They poured 5 bubblies: a Cava, Cremant, Prosecco, Moscato, and a Champagne.  This was a lovely sparkling rosé.  Subtle fruit and yeast notes, long finish, elegant bubbles.  At $15 it is accessible and festive, great for the holidays.

 

C is for Canard-Duchêne 2005 Brut Millesimé Sparkling

This is a true Champagne, meaning it was born and bottled in the Champagne region.  It is composed mostly of Pinot noir and aged five years.  It is a pale gold with a fruity nose and is super rich.  Great yeast notes and minerality, a long fruity finish and lovely mouthfeel.  This is the splurge of the list at $55, but much more fun than some of the other big production Champagnes.  Whether you’re looking for a gift, somewhere to put your bonus, or something celebratory, this vintage Champagne is bound to impress.

If you’re braving the craziness, pick up something, or a few delicious things, while you’re out.  Cheers!

Everything’s Coming up Rosés

I feel guilty buying wine when I have a closet full, but my closet is filled with mostly reds.  At this time of the year, I am into pink.  Or crisp, bright whites but that is another post. When dry Rosé started coming back on the scene a few years ago, I was a happy girl.  Love it.  Love, love, love.  A few years ago, it was a little more challenging to find one that was under $20 that didn’t have a bite, but that seems to be changing.  In the last few weeks I’ve had five, all under $20 and four out of five made it on my love list.

If you’ve tried one or two and aren’t sure if you like them, keep trying.  Depending on the region, the grapes, the style, they vary widely.  There are three main style of production.  And because I am writing on borrowed time (sick kids) I am going to quote from an article on Wikipedia.  It pains me, but if you read the previous post, you understand why.

When rosé wine is the primary product, it is produced with the skin contact method. Black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period, typically one to three days.[3] The must is then pressed, and the skins are discarded rather than left in contact throughout fermentation (as with red wine making). The longer that the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the color of the final wine.[4]

When a winemaker desires to impart more tannin and color to a red wine, some of the pink juice from the must can be removed at an early stage in what is known as the Saignée (from French bleeding) method. The red wine remaining in the vats is intensified as a result of the bleeding, because the volume of juice in the must is reduced, and the must involved in the maceration becomes more concentrated. The pink juice that is removed can be fermented separately to produce rosé.[5]

In other parts of the world, blending, the simple mixing of red wine to a white to impart color, is uncommon. This method is discouraged in most wine growing regions, especially in France, where it is forbidden by law, except for Champagne. Even in Champagne, several high-end producers do not use this method but rather the saignée method.[

Now for the fun part.  I tried three from France and two from Texas.  Here’s the lowdown.

1) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I really like Chateau de Campuget Costieres de Nimes Tradition Rose 2011.  Good structure and fruit, bright minerality. Fresh, fun, and fruity.  I’ve been feeling like that myself after a few sleepless nights. From the Rhone region, this wine is 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache.

2) From the Coteaux d’Aix in Provence, Bieler Père et Fils is making a lovely Rosé.  As they should.  This blend is 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Cab.  Great mouthfeel, both soft and sturdy which I like in my pink friends.  The fruit and minerality is well-balanced.  At around $12, it is a steal.

3) Chateau Paradis 2011 (on sale for $15) This was an interesting one to compare with the Bieler.  I think the higher percentage of Grenache gave it a little more tannic bite.  A great food wine, but it seemed a little harsh after sipping on the previous wine.  I’d buy it again, but I’d serve it with , savory and herbal. Also from Coteaux d’Aix, it is 60% Grenache, 20%  of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

4) Becker Vineyards in Fredricksburg, Texas recently released their ode to the above region with their 2012 Provencal Rosé.  I really like this wine.  A Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre blend, this wine has earth and fruit.  Fuller bodied, lively, great for summer barbeques or more refined fare. You can find it in the 10-12 range.

5) The first Rosé I fell for made in Texas was from McPherson Cellars.  It is a little more fruit-forward than the others, but by no means sweet.  This is a great one to introduce someone to the drier style of pink, and Texas wines!  It retails for about $14 and is one of my favorites.

If you haven’t wandered down to the pink aisle yet, this gives to a place to start.  Now I want to hear from you.  Have you discovered any that I need to try?  Share them!

And a little pat on my back and disclaimer.  We’ve been fighting three kinds of funk in the last three weeks around here.  After two nights this week of 3-5 hours of interrupted sleep, I managed to write something, so you can’t get rid of me that easily.  I won’t say it’s my best work, but it works.  And since I wrote half of this with my son sitting in my lap, I neglected nothing.  I think that’s a win-win.  Cheers!

A Field of Dreams

I guess you could say this story began nearly a year ago.  Our trek to Colorado started in the early morning hours, before the sun rose.  By the time we arrived in Llano, the first light was beginning to show.  The countryside was awakening as we rounded a turn and I remembered why I love mornings.  One field in particular caught my eye.  It was a small vineyard with a vintage tractor, a great photo-op, so we pulled over so I could take a few photos.

There was something magical about the place.  A two-story sandstone home in the background, a windmill towering over the grapes, green and plumping.  I allowed myself a moment to take it in.  I wondered about life there, a life I’ve often yearned for.  The daydream was interrupted by a quick wave to the gentleman in the field and we were off.

Taken July, 2012, from the side of the road

Taken July, 2012, from the side of the road

Fast forward to last week.  Jennifer McInnis of the San Antonio Express published a piece on the town of Pontotoc and the family behind Pontotoc Vineyards, each with its own storied past.  I was instantly fascinated and elated that it was going to be a stop on my journey west with Texas wine writers and friends.  Jennifer did so well at capturing the essence of what Carl Money is building and the inspiration behind the vision that it would be redundant for me to retell, but I highly recommend stopping here and heading over to her piece.

So how are these stories connected?  I didn’t know myself until we began the tour of Pontotoc.  We arrived around 5pm and were warmly greeted by Frances Money and her lovely daughters.  In the Tasting Hall, we met Carl Money, his Uncle and Vineyard Manager, Ronnie Money, and Don Pullum, the Winemaker.

After introductions and a few nibbles, with Mason jars filled with the 2011 Tempranillo, we made our way around the property.  The Tasting Hall was once the General Store.  The rest of the Sandstone strip once included the Post Office, the Barber Shop, and a Movie Theater.  By October, it will also house Dotson-Cervantes and Akashic Vineyards, Don Pullum’s own boutique winery.  The movie theater will become a performance venue for music, plays, and old movies. We continued to the farmhouse.  Built in 1872 , this two-story home was crafted from the local sandstone by the German Emigration Company to house immigrant families.  Four bedrooms, several families, and countless stories began here in Pontotoc.  If Carl Money has his way, there are many stories to come.  Each piece of art, each piece of furniture has its tale to tell.  Carl is giving them an audience.

Don Pullum, Ronnie Money, and Carl Money

Don Pullum, Ronnie Money, and Carl Money

We went out through the back porch to the vineyard.  As the sunlight began to soften, Ronnie told us about the different plots, the different strains, and the trials and successes they have faced thus far.  We walked to the well, and that is when I realized the connection.   The tractor, the windmill, the farmhouse came rushing back and, with much gratitude, I realized I was standing in the very vineyard I’d admired the year before.

Another Point of View

Another Point of View

We walked back to the tank room and began tasting samples.  We compared the 2012 Tempranillo, bright red fruit, raspberries and cream, as compared to deep black fruits in the 11.  We tasted the red cherry in the Cab and the fresh fruit and clean earth in the Mourvedre.  Don introduced the Alicante Bouschet, a grape I’ve long admired in Wellington Vineyards Noir de Noir.  This began with dried apricot and faded into raspberry truffles.  It is a hefty red-flesh grape with tons of potential.  And then he blended them.  With little effort, Don took a little of this, a little of that and created a blend that silenced the room.  Wow.

Carl in the Tank room

Carl in the Tank room

There is a saying that has become a bit cliché.  To say that a person, place, or experience “feeds your soul” can sound almost trite, but as I reflected on this past weekend, it seemed the best way to describe the trip.  A balanced dish, a balanced diet needs variety.  A little acid, a little spice.  We need energy to fuel, vitamins to heal.  When it comes together with the right mix, your body gets just what it needs to continue.  Each person brought what only they could.  Like the wine in each individual barrel, each contributed something to blend.  Shared stories and wisdom, humor and vision.  Tranquil and alive, with a history and a budding future, Pontotoc and the people I was with fed my soul.

M. Robert Kidd is said to have named Pontotoc, which means “the land of hanging grapes,” after his home in Mississippi.  He could not have known then what Carl Money would be doing now.  When I stopped on the side that day, I knew the spot was special, but I could never have imagined that, within a year, I would be toasting friends, old and new, on that same plot of land.  It is a magical place indeed and one I hope to return to frequently.  Many thanks to the Money family and Don Pullum.  We could not have asked for more gracious hosts.  Thank you Denise, Jessica, Jennifer, and Margaret for making it that much more memorable.

A Toast to Our Chef, Don

A Toast to Our Chef, Don

Branching Out on the Trail

This month a new online magazine launches which aims at promoting the Texas wine industry, Texas Wine and Trail.  I was honored to be asked to contribute and my first piece is now available on their site.  When I was approached about doing a piece in November, I began brainstorming about something I could do that I have not seen covered, something a little different.  I found my inspiration on the Facebook page for William Chris Winery: the launch of the 2011 Artist Series wine.

2011 Artist Blend

So when my brother came into town with hopes of hitting a winery, I knew where we were going.  We packed up the crew and headed west to Hye so sample some of their wines and learn more about the artist series.  I first visited William Chris last spring for the Watermelon Thump.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you already know how wonderfully that evening began, and how it ended in rather dramatic fashion.  If not, you can read about it in Living the Hye Life.

On this visit we successfully sampled all they were pouring, enjoyed some music on the porch, and left with a few bottles, including a gift of the Artist Series 2011.  I sipped the wine while writing my first piece for Texas Wine and Trail, with a big smile on my face.  While I found plenty of inspiration on the visit, I found even more in the bottle. 

To read more about the Artist Series at William Chris Winery, head over to Texas Wine and Trail and keep checking in for more news about Texas wine.  Thanks for reading!

Greatest Hits of 2012

At the end of the year, WordPress sent me a summary of my year.  Sort of a year in review for the writer.  How many visitors, which posts were the most viewed, et cetera.  They invite you to share the information with your readers.  At first, I thought, “How Silly.  That is like Justin Bieber releasing a Greatest Hits.”  After all, I’ve only just begun (I hope you heard Karen Carpenter just then).  But then I looked at my top five posts from the year and I thought, “Yes, that is a pretty good cross-section of what I have done.”  So I am sharing it with a little back story.  Think of it as a pathetic version of Storytellers.  Cheers!

1 “Hey Girl…I love SAHMs” October 2012

Don’t you love new friends?  Especially those that share your affinity for all things Gosling?  And can make you laugh out loud with a text?  And inspire silly posts?  Me too.  It is no wonder this got a lot of views.  He’s impossible to resist. 

2 Grief and Gratitude  September 2012

I was due to write a new post, but it was September 11th, and I could not write about anything but.  I asked a group of ladies that write about wine if it was okay to venture outside that box.  With their encouragement, I did so.  This is my tribute to a dear, dear friend.

3 OTBN- A Gift from Gundlach Bundschu  February 2012

The first piece of writing I ever put out publicly was a 3rd place poem for a poetry contest at Gundlach Bundschu.  The second piece took first.  It was their encouragement that inspired me to write.  This was a post in which I “shared” the 1997 Cab Franc I received as a prize with my readers.

4 Trends, Schmends-I never gave up on you, Merlot January 2012 

If you have read for very long at all, you know that it is not uncommon to get a hint of psychology in the front and some introspection in the finish.  In Vino Veritas.

5 Molto Bene, Y’all  April 2012

I have loved, loved, loved getting involved in the Texas wine scene.  So many great things being produced, so many great people, and still so much to learn.  Thank you for welcoming me in and for your generous spirits.  This is a piece on a local winery that I grow more fond of with each visit.

So, there you have it.  A little personal stuff, a little humor, a lot of wine.  Some paired, some shared.  Yes, this is a blog about wine, but it is really so much more to me.  Thank you for reading and giving me a place to share, to grow, to learn.

Three “Wines-men”

I could tell you about a few of my picks for the holiday season, and I probably will at some point.  But I thought it would be a little more interesting to hear from those who know just a little more about Texas wines than I do.  I elicited help from three fabulous Texas wine makers to tell you which Texas wine they might be pouring this holiday season and the pairings they would choose.  The catch?  It had to be someone else’s wine.

Dave Reilly has been getting a lot of attention as the winemaker for Duchman Winery.  And with good reason.  Just this year his wines has received several awards and three spots on the Jessica Dupuy’s Top Texas Wines list.  What Texas wine would he pour?  A Roussanne.  He thinks that it is one of the most interesting grapes being produced in the state. 

Although he didn’t name a specific producer, I have had lovely Roussannes from both Cap*Rock Winery and McPherson Cellars.  The McPherson Reserve Roussanne was on Russ Kane’s list of his favorite Texas whites of 2012 and Jessica Dupuy included a Roussanne from Perissos Vineyards on her list.  Promising, indeed.  The traditional pairings are seafood and buttery dishes.  You could also pair with poultry.  Doing a Christmas turkey?  This would be lovely.  Especially with a chestnut stuffing or with butternut squash to bring out the nutty flavors in the wine.

Tim Drake made the move to Texas from Washington in 2010 because he and his family saw that something special was going on in the Texas wine industry.  He joined Flat Creek Estate in 2011 and we are just now seeing the first of his whites.  If the 2011 and 2012 barrel sample of Viognier are any indication, we are in for a whole lot of special.  And if his pairings are any indication, I’ll be asking for an invitation to dinner. 

Tim chose William Chris Merlot paired with a Demi-Glace Veal Chops served with Gorgonzola Risotto and sautéed green beans.  Yes, please.  William Chris is located in Hye, Texas and they produce some incredible wines.  I have a bottle of Enchante that I have been saving for the holidays, so you’ll hear more about them in the near future.

Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars knows a thing or two about wine.  In fact, he is kind of wine royalty here in Texas.  His father, “Doc” McPherson, was one of the fore-fathers of the Texas wine industry and Kim has continued the elevation of Texas viticulture.  His wines have received over 450 awards.  So what would he choose? 

A peek at either Jessica or Russ’ list will tell you that Tempranillo does very well here.  Kim agreees.  He chose Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo with a Hanger Steak made in a Spanish style.  That shouldn’t be a problem since his wife, Sylvia, owns La Diosa Cellars.  Think Romesco sauce, rubs with herbs and paprika.  Smoky, spicy, with some lime juice for acid.  Serve with polenta or fingerling potatoes.  Maybe some greens with roasted peppers?  Yum.

Although most of these specific wines are not available nationwide, these pairings are great inspiration no matter what state you call home.  And great inspiration to visit us here in Texas.  Thank you to all of the winemakers who helped me in writing this.  You are doing amazing things.  Merry Christmas and happy pairing!

A Day Late…But Not a Bit Short

Last night was the Texas Wine Twitter chat featuring three lovely wines and Chef Josh Watkins of The Carillon Restaurant here in Austin (see pairings below).  I will be making that Celery root and apple soup with Duchman Viognier soon.  Because we have been in full combat mode, fighting a nasty respiratory virus, I had to miss the tasting at a fellow Texas wine lover’s house and could only tweet vicariously.  I made up for it today.  

My husband made a pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto and sage.  My brother-in-law made salad with pears sautéed in maple syrup which became part of the vinaigrette.  My job was to pair and hold my sweet son.  Honestly, a kangaroo pouch would have come in handy the last few days since he’s too big for a sling and can’t be off me for more than a minute at a time when he’s sick.

I paired the meal with McPherson Sangiovese.  A good pairing brings out the best in both and this was spot on.  The fruit was subtle as to not compete, but with enough earthy backbone to hold its own.  The salt of the prosciutto, the sweet of the pear, the acidity of the vinaigrette all worked with the Sangiovese.  Yum.

This is a very food friendly wine that can go in many directions and blend right in.  I have joked before that I think Kim McPherson and I have kindred palates.  I love everything he makes.  The Sangiovese is no exception.  Thanks to Chef Josh Watkins for the great suggestions and to all the Texas wine advocates and producers for all you do!

 Duchman Family Winery Viognier

Celery root-apple soup
Spiced apples with brandy syrup

McPherson Sangiovese
Free-raised veal tenderloin with sweet potato hash, and mustard greens with bacon gastrique
Beef tenderloin with Brussels sprouts and potato puree
Braised beef short ribs with grill romaine and pickled radish

Fall Creek or Messina Hof Muscat Canelli (semi-sweet)
Buttermilk panna cotta
Manchester cheese
Almond cake

Living the Hye Life

There are some moments you want to bottle.  You pause in appreciation and drink them in with all of your senses to give them a firm hold in your memory.  There were a few moments like that on Saturday at William Chris Vineyard.  I was honored to be invited (as “press”-woohoo!) to the Watermelon Thump and Chef Throwdown held on their property in Hye, Texas. 

Matt and Susanna McGinnis

I have heard wonderful things about their wine and have been wanting to make it out to their property, near Johnson City, for some time now.  They exceeded my expectations.  The night began here in Austin.  Being the incredible hosts they are, Chris Brundett and Bill Blackmon arranged transportation for us with Heart of Texas Wine Tours.  My husband and I were lucky enough to ride with Matt McGinnis and his lovely wife, Susanna, in the Mercedes van.  We arrived a bit early so we stopped in the super-quaint tasting room, a restored farm-house.   We then made our way to the barrel room for a warm greeting and a generous pour.

A few tastings later, we were treated to a sampling of cheeses from Brazos Valley Cheese Company. A-MAZ-ING.  If you are ever fortunate enough to try these raw cheeses, don’t hesitate.  They began when one woman set out to use the surplus of milk on an agrarian community.  It has turned into a company that received  first, second, and third place in the 2011 American Cheese Society competition in Montreal.

We then began the walking tour of the 40 acre property.  Our first stop was the Oak Grove where we received a lesson on watermelons and a sampling of their “pink” wine, Current.  It is a lovely summer sipper with a blend of Chenin, Barbera, Sangiovese, and Dolcetto.  How can you go wrong with that?  This spot is enchanting.  The shade from the ancient trees, the sun setting beyond the vines, and the golden light on smiling faces combined to create the first moment I intend to hold on to. 

We walked past the plot for the future tasting room, through the vines of Malbec, Tannat, and Petit Verdot, and returned to the tasting room lawn where the chefs were preparing to throw down.  I told Chris how much we enjoyed the tour and that it reminded me of the experience at a Sonoma favorite, Gundlach Bundschu.  His response?  “Where do you think we got the idea?”  I knew I liked them.

We then sampled appetizers, featuring Luling watermelon, from chefs from Rose Hill Manor, Kenichi, Paggi House and Quality Seafood.  The first dish was a Scallop with kohlrabi and watermelon and a watermelon sorbet with mint and serrano from Joseph Bannister of Rose Hill Manor.  The next was a seafood wrap from Carol Huntsberger of Quality Seafood followed by a Thai inspired watermelon and goat cheese  salad from Shane Stark of Kenichi.  Unfortunately, that is as far as I got. 

Apparently, my sweet son decided to leave me with a shellfish allergy that showed up in full force for the first time Saturday evening.  I had gotten itchy from shrimp and crab before, so I avoided the wrap, but had never had problems with nibbles my husband’s scallops.  I thought I would be fine, but instead wound up having to excuse myself with stabbing , elephant-on-my-chest pain.  Thank you, Chuck, for saving the evening (but unfortunately, not my appetite) with a quick trip home for Benadryl.  Good times! 

I was able to rejoin the party about an hour later, and had the pleasure of chatting with Alphonse Dotson and other growers under the stars.  The shadows of the Oak trees under the lights, the sound of cicadas in the trees, and sipping Enchante (a remarkable red blend) while chatting with Texas wine legends provided another moment to bottle. One of the things I love most about wine is how it brings people together.  Bill and Chris were able to bring together some amazing, talented, and incredibly gracious people on Saturday and I am beyond grateful to have been included.  Thank you, Miguel Lecouna, for all you did to make the event happen. If you have not had the pleasure of visiting, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  They are doing something really special out in Hye.  And if you were wanting more specifics on the wine, well, you are going to have to be patient.  Although my tasting opportunities were short-lived Saturday, my sweet husband brought home four bottles for me to taste with a working palate.  Can’t wait!  We will be visiting again soon and I have a feeling that, by weeks end, we will be a part of  “Hye” Society.

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!

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.