Re(de)fining Texas Wine- #Thesip

Refine (v)

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)

: to improve (something) by making small changes

Define (v)

: to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)

: to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely

Last night was about defining, refining, and redefining Texas wine.  It was about what we’ve learned in the last ten years and where we are going in the next ten. It was about challenging the preconceptions, the misconceptions. And it was about good wines. Very good wines.

Maya Angelou suggested that we should do the best we can until we know better, then when we know better, we should do better. After years of trial and error, of heeding advice that turned out to be incorrect, of battling elements and reputation, Texas is making the changes and improving the quality of wines we can produce. And those in the know are noticing.

If you have opened a magazine or read anything about the industry, you know that it is truly an exciting time in Texas wine. International accolades, competing (and winning) against some of the more reputable regions. It is expanding in breadth, indeed, but that was not the focus of the event at Spicewood Vineyards.  It was not about making more wine. It was about making better wine.

We’ve learned that grapes not only can grow here, they can thrive. We’ve learned that better vineyard management yields better wine. Fewer tons per acre allows for more concentrated flavors. Less is more. We’ve learned which varieties work best in our soils and conditions. In the last few years, we have been able to attract some truly talented winemakers to come alongside the veterans and the results are exciting.

We heard from Ron Yates of Spicewood Vineyards, Dan Gatlin of Inwood Estates Vineyards, Sergio Cuadra and Susan Auler of Fall Creek Vineyards, and Gina Ross of Stone House Vineyards.  We sampled juice from grapes harvested two weeks ago and bottles just released from 2010. We tasted a range from Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon, even a Norton.

One thing was consistent. These wines were made with great passion. Each winemaker is committed to making the best possible wine, wine that can compete internationally but can only be made here. They are making wines that speak of Texas terroir, made with Texas spirit. Texas winemakers are continually striving to know more, do better. And the resulting wines are refined, helping to redefine Texas wine.

Here are some highlights:

Spicewood Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc– green pear, balanced acidity, citrus notes, clean and coying

Spicewood Vineyards 2014 Mourvedre Rosé– color of vin gris, fruit, floral, and dust. Savory and balanced, a favorite.

Spicewood Vineyards 2012 Estate Tempranillo– Intoxicating nose, Bing cherry, cinnamon stick, violet, grippy tannins and toasted brown sugar

Fall Creek GSM Salt Lick Vineyards– A chatty little number with red and black fruit, white pepper and cocoa, perfumed and balanced.

Fall Creek Vineyards 2012 Vintner Selection Series– Cab, Merlot, and Sangio make quite the trio (no more rhyming now, I mean it…). bold and elegant, balanced, blue fruit, smoky, chewy, spicy and green woodsy notes.

Inwood Estates Mericana-Incredibly integrated, balanced, Bing cherry, green leaves and stems, baking spice. Sturdy and steady.

Inwood Estates 2013 Magdelena-Enornously complex, Bing and red cherry, wildberries, perfumed violet, baking spice, aromatic

Stone House Vineyards Norton– In Texas? Yes, indeed. Super thick-skinned, deep purple almost opaque. Blueberry and clove, tart and chewy, a fun wine to try.


Many thanks to Matt McGinnis of Pen & Tell Us for organizing this event and inviting me to participate as media.

I received no other compensation.




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