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VintageTexas

Searching for Texas Terroir

Snakes on the Plains: Texas Rattlesnake and Texas Wine
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Snakes on the Plains: Texas Rattlesnake and Texas Wine

Any of you that have seen the Samuel L. Jackson movie “Snakes on a Plane” or even just the movie’s trailer (see below) knows the feeling you have at the mere mention the word – Rattlesnake. They are venomous critters that have a healthy dose of attitude. They also don’t usually go well with the average person’s psyche when confronted in confined spaces and especially if confronted at a dinner table.

Anxiety ran high for my wife and me as I drove north from Fredericksburg, Texas, with our mission set: Hunt rattlesnakes, eat rattlesnakes and pair rattlesnakes with Texas wine. Our destination was Sweetwater, Texas, home of the annual and world’s largest rattlesnake round-up that has been run for over fifty years by the Sweetwater Jaycees. For the first time, I was offering the roundup a new dimension: Wine and food pairing.

The tasting went pretty much as expected with the light white rattlesnake meat and its simple preparation pairing well a dry white wine. I selected a Texas-grown Viognier from Mandol Estate Winery to represent this wine category. Viognier has become the signature white wine of Texas and is rapidly becoming in Texas what Chardonnay has been for a long time in California. Texans try it and like it. Best of all, the name is relatively easy to pronounce – “VEE-ON-YAY”.

More on the hunt, other recipes and wine pairings at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1502

Powerful Wines and Powerful Thoughts for the Texas Wine Industry
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In reference to high-end, hand-crafted, premium Texas wines made from authentic Texas grapes, in my presentations, I often say, “If you remember one thing about Texas wine, it should be this: The extremely high amounts of minerality in Texas wine will forever define our wines as “Old-World” style, being much more similar to European products, especially Spanish, French and Italian wines than West Coast wines. Like our European counterparts, our high-calcium soils yield earthier wines that develop their complexity over time, and we will never be known for the fat, round, fruit-bomb styles of the “New World” that typify California and Australia. Similarly, our wines are rich in anti-oxidant material which affects the aging process by extending each step from barrel cellaring to bottle aging.

More at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1488

Write Off the Vine: Texas Wine News - December 12, 2009
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Write Off the Vine: Texas Wine News - December 12, 2009

So you Want to Grow Grapes in Texas…it Pays to Have Information on Your side.

Welcome to the Texas Winegrape Network, a comprehensive information resource for grape growers and wine makers.

Educational Opportunities
Viticulture & Enology Academic Program - Texas Tech
Viticulture Certificate Program
Prospective Wine Grower Workshops
Advanced Wine Grower Workshops

“It should be understood that climate is only one factor in the complex of factors which determines the commercial success of a viticultural enterprise.”

More information at: http://winegrapes.tamu.edu/

Favorite Texas Wine Bars: Wine Lovers Havens

The concept of the “wine bar” is a fairly recent one. The oldest wine bar we found was opened, interestingly enough, not in California, but in Paris, in 1980. The concept is a great one for the way folks live today.

Much more at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1302



Venturing into the Bluebonnet Wine Country and the History of Southeast Texas
winery, wine, Texas, tasting, vineyard
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Venturing into the Bluebonnet Wine Country and the History of Southeast Texas

Saturday morning was crisp and the roads clear following Friday’s record breaking early snowfall in the Houston area. The overpasses that brought mortal fear the night before were thawed; a great morning for taking in a wine trail. However, southeastern Texas area does not have the reputation of being wine country. Most people think that wine country is synonymous only with California’s northern region around Napa or Sonoma. Some enlightened individuals even know that Texas is the fifth largest wine producing state and that the Texas Hill Country has been identified as the second fastest growing wine and culinary destination in the USA. But, Houston and the surrounding territories have not, so far, conjured up visions of a wine touring experience. News Flash! Things are changing, and changing rapidly.

Yesterday, I took to the road with other “trail riders” on the Bluebonnet Wine Trail (http://www.texasbluebonnetwinetrail.com) in the historical region to the immediate northwest of the Houston metropolitan area. This area adjoins Washington-on-the-Brazos [where the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed and where the first government of the republic resided]. It includes rolling hills, a mix of tall pines and hardwood trees, and attractive olde-thyme towns like Brenham, Bryan, Magnolia and Montgomery that were near the “heart beat” of the new Texan republic. The Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail, Holiday Trail is open to participants December 5-6, 2009 and December 12-13, 2009. You still have another weekend to use your ticket.

A summary of my experiences yesterday are given at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1294


A Morning in Houston with Drops of Golden Dew: Dotson-Cervantes Gotas de Oro
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A Morning in Houston with Drops of Golden Dew: Dotson-Cervantes Gotas de Oro

It was 9:30 on a weekday morning when the door bell rang. I expected this as, the evening before, I received a call from Alphonse Dotson. He said that he and his wife Martha were  going to be in Houston visiting his Mother. They were on the verge of releasing their first wine and wanted to stop by to visit with my wife Delia and me.

Alphonse and Martha arrived at our home in central Houston on a sunny, dew-laden morning.  We leisurely sat in our living room as we tasted their new wine, the first under the Wines of Dotson-Cervantes label with the fascinating name “Gotas de Oro”. The name was a contribution by Martha which translates to “Drops of Gold” from her native Spanish.

As we relaxed and talked about friends, family and common acquaintances, I poured the wine that was well described by its name. The silky yellow liquid poured from the bottle with the color of golden drops of morning dew. The initial taste was pure tropical expression with sweet, very ripe pineapple with afollow-on of apricot and nectarine. Perfumed jasmine aromatics arose from the glass. The finish included a hint of musk. This was really one complex wine; quite an accomplishment for the couple’s first commercial wine.

More at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1229

Tags: Texas, wine, Dotson-Cervantes, Gotas de Oro, Mustcat Canelli, Certenberg Vineyards, Alphonse Dotson


Congrats to a Colorado Winemaker; A Tip of the Hat to a Colorado Restaurateur
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Congrats to a Colorado Winemaker; A Tip of the Hat to a Colorado Restaurateur

Last week I had the occasion to travel up to and out west of Denver. With the summer of 2009 nearly over, but with lingering waves of heat still coming off our hot Houston payment, flying to Colorado was like escaping from three months held hostage in a Turkish bath. The mountains gave me a breath of crisp, clean air and a little rejuvenation of my psyche, as well.

On the return leg of my trip, I arrived at the Denver airport with some time to spare and it was approaching dinner time. Fearing what culinary delights the airline might (or might not) decide to offer, I sought a good eating spot in the airport; not fast food, but rather something that would fulfill and provide enjoyment. I finally settled on a comfortable looking place called The Timberline: Steaks and Grill (www.denverpost.com/business/ci_5840999). Thoughts of a nicely grilled steak (and dry aged beef to boot!) permeated by mind and, as I walked into the restaurant, the smells overtook  my senses. The net result was a near instantaneous desire for a glass of red wine.

After being seated, I asked the waiter for the wine list while my mind was mulling around thoughts of what kind of red wine I might order to go with my steak. When I was handed the wine list and I gave it a quick glance, in mere seconds my eyes bugged out and my head nearly exploded. What could have caused such a reaction?

What left me aghast was the sight of four Colorado wines listed at the top of red wine category on the wine list. They were four wines from Colorado’s Bonacquisti Winery (www.denverwines.com).

More details at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1159

Tags: Texas, Colorado, wine, restaurant, local wine, Bonacquisti, Cabernet Franc, Timberline, Denver, airport


Texas Festivals and Fairs Feature Local Wine and Food
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Texas Festivals and Fairs Feature Local Wine and Food

2009 5th Annual Texas FallFest and Wine Auction - October 2-4, 2009

“Sunset Stroll” with Texas Winemakers - Friday, October 2nd; Sip, savor and stroll at the 3rd Annual “Chef’s Taste-Off”.

“Cellaring the Best” Dinner and Wine Auction - Saturday, October 3rd; III Forks Executive Chef Jaimie Gutierrez and his sizzling steaks served right off the grill!
  
“Farm to Table & Wine Fair” - Sunday, October 4th
Featuring Chef Paul Petersen of Rick’s Steakhouse “Beefing it up on the Grill”.  Plan to be entertained by the lively banter of Tiffany Collins of the Texas Beef Council and “Miss Jane” Nickles of the Texas Culinary Academy as guests taste samples of Chef Petersen’s grilled beef selections on the “Fare Grounds” of Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow, Texas, on Lake Buchanan.

More information at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1145 

Austin County Fair: First Ever Non-Commercial Winemakers Show

There’s a new event at this year’s Austin County Fair....A Winemakers Contest.The Austin County Grape Growers Committee along with the Austin County Fair Board is inviting all amateur or home wine makers to enter the inaugural Austin County Fair Non-Commercial Wine Show.  The judging and show will take place on Saturday, October, 2009, prior to the opening of the Austin County Fair.  Any non commercial or amateur winemaker is encouraged to enter.  Participants in the show are not limited to the number of entries. 

For more information on the fair, contest rules and entry form at:

http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1150

Tags: Texas, wine, festival, county fair, cuisine, food, wine competition, Austin County, FallFest, Hill Country


Barbaresco and Barolo, But Don’t Forget Dolcetto, Barbera and the Whites
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Barbaresco and Barolo, But Don’t Forget Dolcetto, Barbera and the Whites

I could not remember my previous experience with wine made from Nebbiolo, but study and reading prepared my expectations of its dark, tannic qualities. Our drive along the Tanaro River northeast from Alba was directed at the commune of Barbaresco as a starting point.

It was apparent that the previous day’s nebbia left on cat’s feet (as Sandburg would say) during the darkness of night yielding the yellow warmth of the morning sunrise at the Hotel Langhe near the center of Alba. The winding road up the Barbaresco hillside offered picturesque vineyards holding ripening grape clusters soon to submit fruity, sweet liquid at the Producttori del Barbaresco.

We worked our way down to the commune of Castiglioni Falletto just east of Barolo during the warming early afternoon. Our next stop was at the Paolo Scavino estate where we were greeted by Eliza Scavino, granddaughter of the founder Paulo.

2005 Bric del Fiasc (Single Vineyard Barolo): The modern history of the Scavino family started with this vineyard, within the Fiasco cru, when in 1978 young Enrico Scavino convinced his father Paolo to vinify these grapes separately. This vineyard has been produced as a monopole since that time. Here the Nebbiolo grapes always seem to be the best.

More at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1138

Tags:  Alba, Antica Torre, Arneis, Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Bingham Vineyards, Castiglioni Falletto, chardonnay, Dolcetto, Hotel Langhe, Italy, Langhe, Mandola, Nebbiolo, Paolo Scavino, Piedmont, Piemonte, Producttori del Barbaresco, restaurant, Sauvignon Blanc, tasting, Texas, Viognier, winery


Wine Road through Provence and Piemonte
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Wine Road through Provence and Piemonte

Looking at the World through a Glass of Rosé
Looking around this place, it has characteristics like many places on the Texas Gulf Coast: Wind-blown palm trees, blooming bougainvillea, and cadres of dogs on leash and bikini-clad beach goers. One of the most obvious differences discernible to wineophiles visiting the French Cote d’Azur is the flow of dry pink wine. It is made from sun-loving Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre grapes. At street side cafés, it is chilled and served by the glass complete with an outer coating of condensed moist air. More at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1118

Barolo & Barbaresco: Where the Nebbia and Nebbiolo Hang
Our goal for the day was to reach Alba, the town at the heart of the Nebbiolo grape growing region pinned on its western and eastern flanks by Barolo and Barbaresco, respectively. A lingering mystery of the Nebbiolo grape of the Piemonte region is why this grape has not produced wines of similar characteristics and intensity in other wine regions around the world. The reason given by the locals for the success of Nebbiolo in the area around Alba are the special soils and microclimate of the region. More at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1124

Tags: France, Italy, Texas, Rose, Barolo, Barbaresco, wine, travel, tasting, vineyard


The Judgment of Houston Redux
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The Judgment of Houston Redux

With all of the talk about our recent Drink Local Wine Conference and Texas Twitter Taste-Off, I have had many emails that ask about other times that Texas wines have gone head-to-head with top rated (90+) wines from other parts of the known world. About a year ago, I posted a three part blog mini-series about a wine competition that I organized in Houston in 2004 that became known as the “Judgment of Houston”. The highlights from that blog series are given below with links back to the complete articles.

In reflection, I think that Texas wines have evolved in the positive direction since 2005 when we held that taste-off. Overal quality of the wines in the Texas Twitter Taste-Off was excellent.

Tags: Texas, wine, competition, blind tasting, compare, best Texas wine, top rating

http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1111


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