Nov 302016
 

rodeohouston2017

Grand Slam for Wineries in Texas at 2017 Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition

Champion wines have been named from the thousands competing in the 2017 Rodeo Uncorked!® International Wine Competition, held Nov. 12 – 13, 2016, at NRG Center, Houston, Texas. Highest honors were given to four wineries in Texas: Pedernales Cellars, Fall Creek Vineyards, Kiepersol Vineyards and Winery, and Nice Winery (See underlined below).

The 2017 International Wine Competition judging included 2,850 entries from approximately 20 different countries, including Australia, Austria, France, Italy, Japan, Peru, South Africa and Spain. The competition also received 105 entries from the 2017 featured region, Tuscany. Texas wineries represented 351 entries.

The 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition champions are:

  • Grand Champion Best of Show – Arinzano, Pago de Arinzano White Grand Vino, 2010
  • Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show Nice Winery Notorious Malbec, Mount Veeder, 2013*
  • Top Sparkling Wine – Laetitia Brut Rosé, Arroyo Grande Valley, 2014
  • Top Red Wine – Trinchero Forte Red Wine, Napa Valley, 2012
  • Top Region Wine – Talosa Vino Nobile di Montelpulciano D.O.C., 2012
  • Top Sweet Wine – Bodegas Dios Baco, Baco de Elite Amontillado Sherry, Jerez D.O., NV
  • Top Value Wine – Aia Vecchia Lagone, Toscana I.G.T., 2013
  • Top All-Around Winery – Wilson Winery of Dry Creek
  • Top Region Wine Company – Palm Bay International
  • Top Wine Company – Trinchero Family Estates

*Wineries located in Texas

All champion wines will be paired with dishes from top chefs at the Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition, Sunday, Feb. 26, and sold at the Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction and Dinner Sunday, March 5, 2017.

Visitors to the 2017 Show can enjoy a selection of award-winning wines by the glass or bottle at the Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Garden, located in Carruth Plaza at NRG Park. For more information on Rodeo Uncorked! events, visit rodeohouston.com/wine.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a Section 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Show has committed more than $430 million to the youth of Texas.

For more information, visit rodeohouston.com and connect with #RODEOHOUSTON online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for all of the latest news. The 2017 Show is scheduled for March 7 – 26.

For a complete listing of medal-winning wines, visit .com/wine.

 Posted by at 7:04 pm
Nov 222016
 

cabernet-grill-fgb

Cabernet Grill Experience: Tasso Chicken and McPherson White Wine Trio

If I wasn’t so familiar with Chef Ross Burtwell’s Cabernet Grill Restaurant at the compound called Cotton Gin Village on the south side of Fredericksburg, I likely wouldn’t expect the modern culinary treasures it holds. While his restaurant is part and parcel of the quaint log cabin village, its cuisine is definitely finer fare. It’s a place where creative gourmet plates with upscale Texan cuisine (sometimes even with a Cajun kick). It’s also accompanied by (what I feel safe to say is) the best selection of Texas wines anywhere in the whole dang Galaxy.

On a recent stay in Fredericksburg, I was drawn to Chef Burtwell’s restaurant by one of Chef Burtwell’s Twitter postings:

@CabernetGrill: Our featrd. wine flight continues throughout Nov. Taste 3 @mcphersoncellar white wines & let us know which one is your favorite! #txwine.

Like many in Texas, I’ve been a long time fan of winemaker Kim McPherson and his Texas high plains-based McPherson Cellars wines from his winery in Lubbock. What locked me into making a dinner reservations was the photo that accompanied the Twitter post. It showed a flight of three McPherson single varietal white wines: Albariño, Piquepoul Blanc and Viognier. After that, I immediately thought how well they would pair with my single favorite item on Chef Burtwell’s dinner menu: Tasso Chicken with crimini mushrooms and roasted garlic serrano Béarnaise sauce.

When I asked Chef Burtwell how he came by the McPherson wine selections, he responded, “I need to bring our operations manager and wine director Elizabeth Rodriguez into this conversation. She is the one who sets up the monthly wine flights.” Ms Rodriguez has worked with Chef Burtwell for more than 10 years and they both search long and hard to find the best values in Texas wines for Cabernet Grill patrons.

luiz-and-elizabeth-cab-grill

Luis Alvarez  and Elizabeth Rodriguez at Cabernet Grill

When my wife and I settled into our table, we order the special trio of McPherson white wines. Our server for the evening was Luis Alvarez. As we tasted, Elizabeth stopped by to discuss her wine selections. We went through her notes on the dominant characteristics of each wine:

  • McPherson Cellars Albariño 2015 – flavors of peach, mango and pear (I even picked up a hint of white flowers in the 2015 not previously noted in the 2014).
  • McPherson Cellars Piquepoul Blanc 2015 – light in body and crisp acidity on the palate carrying citrus aromas and flavors.
  • McPherson Cellars Viognier 2015 – Floral aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom precede flavors of white peach.

mcpherson-bottle-cab-grill

From my conversations with Elizabeth and Luis, it was obvious that both were very happy to have had a recent opportunity to take a trip to Lubbock where they had a tasting with winemaker Kim McPherson and other growers and winemakers in the region. Elizabeth and Luis were both impressed with Kim’s wines and his willingness to help other winemakers and wineries around the state to make the best wines they can. It was in Lubbock where Elizabeth decided to latch on to this magnificent Texas wine trio – McPherson Cellars Albariño, Piquepoul Blanc and Viognier.

More about Chef Burtwell’s Tasso Chicken creation…

I commented to Elizabeth that no matter how hard I try to do otherwise, I always seem to order Chef Burtwell’s Tasso Chicken. I’m always surprised by how good it is. At no other restaurant I’ve been to, anywhere in the world, have I picked a white-meat chicken dish to be my absolute favorite thing on the menu. Why?

Well, perhaps it’s the marinade composed of garlic, olive oil, sherry and thyme. Or, maybe it’s the flavor and aroma imparted by the mesquite grilling or the sautéed crimini mushrooms or the incredible roasted garlic serrano Béarnaise sauce (To die for!). Most likely, It’s all of these things compiled into this flavor-packed dish.

During dinner, Elizabeth came back with a copy of Chef Burtwell’s cookbook (Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors from the Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant. Opening it to page 151, she showed me the recipe for Tasso Chicken! I admitted that I had a copy of this cookbook, but never thought to see if the recipe for my favorite Tasso Chicken was in it. Then, Elizabeth said, “See, now you can make Tasso Chicken for yourself and when you come back to the Cabernet Grill, you can order something different.”

chefburtwells-cookbook

Chef Ross Burtwell’s Cookbook

When I mentioned this to Chef Burtwell, he said, “Glad to hear you found the recipe for the Tasso Chicken in my cookbook. We will need to compare notes after you try it at home to see if I got the recipe correct for home use!”

I guess now I’m on the spot, but gladly.

You too can make Chef Burtwell’s Tasso Chicken and over a hundred other of his top recipes. Click here to order. Or, simply stop by the restaurant on your next trip to Fredericksburg, Texas, where you can check out the great all Texas wine list, as well.

Cabernet Grill at Cotton Gin Village: Upscale Restaurant and B&B featuring cozy 19th-century log cabins with porches, fireplaces, Koi pond with waterfall (complete with the sounds of splashing water on slab limestone) & free WiFi.

Address: 2805 S State Hwy 16, Fredericksburg, TX 78624

 

 Posted by at 6:50 pm
Oct 162016
 

iron-somm

Periwinkle Hosts Houston’s Premier Sommelier Competition and Wine Tasting

Iron Sommelier… Presented by AutoSol® Returns on October 20th, 2016

 VT – What more could you want:  a good cause, good wine/food pairings, a challenge and competition among some of Houston’s best and most creative sommeliers? It’s all in one at Periwinkle Foundation’s IronSomm event!

WHAT: Houston’s finest sommeliers will be put to the test for the title of Iron Sommelier in the city’s premier wine competition and fundraiser benefiting The Periwinkle Foundation. Now in its 8th year, Wine Chair Sean Beck and Sommelier Chair John Clutterbuck invite guests to an evening showcasing the expertise of 13 sommeliers while guests mingle and taste hand-selected wines that showcase a theme chosen by each sommelier. Competitors will be rated on wine choice, presentation, creativity and knowledge of their wine selections. 

lindsay-cross-my-heart

Lindsay Thomas of Camerata presenting her wines

On hand will be: Rachel DelRocco – Camerata at Paulie’s; Thomas Moësse – divino Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar; Melissa Lamb – Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar; Evan Turner – Helen Greek Food and Wine; Travis Hinkle – Hunky Dory, Bernadine’s, Foreign Correspondents, Down House (Treadsack Restaurant Group); Samantha Porter – Oporto Fooding House, Oporto Wine Cafe, and Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen; Brandon Kerne – Pappas Bros. Steakhouse; Shepard Ross – Pax Americana; Christian Varas – River Oaks Country Club; Angie Chang – Sonoma Wine Bar & Restaurant; Matt Crawford – State of Grace; Adele Corrigan – 13 celsius Wine Bar; and Matthew Pridgen – Underbelly. 

img_0704

Evan Turner, 2015 Iron Sommerlier winner will be back to defend his title! (Houston Chronicle photo)

VT – The question is: Will any of the somms be packing any Texas wines this year like they did in last year’s competition (William Chris Vineyards Rosé). Texas wines have been attracting more attention from restaurants, wine bars and somms across the state.

tx-rose-in-good-company

William Chris Cinsault Rose’ – in good company!

An Auction, Wine Pull, Iron Sommelier Wine Case and Making A Mark® Children’s Art Sale will round out the evening of vino, entertainment and food. A special thank you to Periwinkle supporters and The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa.

WHERE: Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa – 111 North Post Oak Lane, Houston, TX 77024

WHEN: Iron Sommelier 2016 Presented by AutoSol®, Thursday, October 20 at 6 p.m.

TICKETS: $200 for individual tickets purchased in advance, $225 for tickets purchased day of event.  $1,000 for the Aficionado Package that includes two tickets and a magnum of Juve Y Camps Familia Brut Reserve.    

pappas-bros

James Watkins’ professional pour!

       

For sponsorship and underwriting opportunities, contact Alice Rohrman, arohrman@periwinklefoundation.orgFor more information, visit www.ironsommelier.org or www.periwinklefoundation.org.

News Flash: They’ve added a 14th sommelier (Lexey Davis Johnson – B&B Butchers & Restaurant) and have the following judges lined up: Master Sommelier Brian Cronin of Palm Bay International, New York, NY; Liz Dowty of European Cellars, New Orleans, LA; and Antonio Gianola of Houston Wine Merchant. Great job again. You’d be crazy to miss this event. See the good cause below…

ABOUT: The Periwinkle Foundation develops and provides programs that positively change the lives of children, young adults and families who are challenged by cancer and other life threatening illnesses and are cared for at Texas Children’s Hospital. Funds raised through the Iron Sommelier help support the Periwinkle Camps, Arts and Survivor Programs that serve more than 14,000 children, teens and families. This is made possible by a collaborative community of 20,000 supporters with a reach of more than 12 million impressions worldwide.

 Posted by at 9:48 am
Oct 032016
 

Texas-winery

Find the Best Texas Wines – Sign Up for the Specialist of Texas Wine Level 1 Class

What: Specialist of Texas Wine – Certification Level 1 Class. This Class is offered as part of the Texas Wine Schools regional wine specialists classes (United States). Click here for registration.

Where: The Texas Wine School, 2301 Portsmouth St, Houston, TX 77098; tele: (713) 828-7767.

When: This class will meet three times for 3 hours each time: Weds. October 19th and 26th, and Thurs. November 3rd (evenings).

Instructor: Dr. Russ Kane, award-winning Texas writer, author and Texas wine aficionado. Click here for Dr. Kane’s bio. The class will also feature guest presenters actively involved in Texas grape growing and wineries.

CprY5DCVYAQ6NgZ-1

Details:

Specialist of Texas Wine is a first-of-its kind program that offers a comprehensive series of classes featuring the unique wines and wine regions of Texas. Never before has there been a wine program with specific classes focused solely on Texas focusing on their history, modern development and context with wines from major regions around the world (new world and old).

The program exposes students to unique landscapes of the major wine regions in Texas: Texas High Plains, Texas Hill Country, Texoma, Escondido Valley, and Davis Mountains AVAs, as well as non-AVA regions of East Texas and Gulf Coast.  This learning and tasting intensive program features important topics critical to the success of today’s wine professionals and savvy consumers that are looking for the best wines and wine values that Texas now has to offer.

CozLVn9VUAAfVcN

This three-part class will cover:

Details of each wine region, including location, geologic history, soils, climate and leading grape varieties grown in the region;

The evolution of Texas winemaking from its early Spanish and immigrant European period (1600-1800) and early post-Prohibition (1940-1990) and modern period (1990-present), with a focus on winemaking techniques and grape varieties;

The links and contrasts between Texas wines and their old & new world counterparts through lectures and guided and blind tastings with benchmark wines.

Each class will  have a representative from the Texas wine industry’s grape growing, winemaking or winery owner communities in Texas that will be available to provide first-hand knowledge, Q&A and guided tasting.  The guided tastings will include over 20 Texas and benchmark wines. Tastings will include a range of grape varieties and blends originating from northern Europe (France & Germany), Mediterranean (Italy, S. France, Spain, Portugal) and hybrid wines from Texas and other American appellations. These tastings will help students understand the distinctions of wines from selected Texas regions and grape varieties and their attributes versus their counterparts in the American and global wine world.

The program concludes with an opportunity to test your knowledge of the wines, regions and laws on an exam.    The credential will be awarded to those that pass the rigorous exam at the end of the series with a score of 80% or higher.

This Specialist of Texas Wine Level 1 Certification Class is open for registration online or by phone directly from The Texas Wine School. Don’t wait, the last class in January of this year was sold out. Click here for registration.

CkIOCwLUUAAB9Bx

 Posted by at 4:56 pm
Oct 032016
 
mh-harvest

2016 Texas Grape Harvest (photo credit: Messina Hof Winery)

Two White Wines to Start out Texas Wine Month

Why is October Texas Wine Month? Well, because it is!

In many wine producing regions, the grape harvest takes place in September and October. In Texas, the fact that it is a warm growing region, usually leads to the grape havesting starting first in the Gulf area in early July, followed by the hill country and east Texas taking place in August and September, with the Texas high plains being at the tail end of September.

So now, in October, we make the transition from viticulture to viniculture. The grapes leave their summertime vineyard home and have been transported to and safely reside in the winery where the crushing, fermentation, punching down and pumping over is taking place. Eventually, the wine will be clarified, tanked and in some cases aged in oak barrels.

I thought that it would be good to take a moment to celebrate Texas Wine Month by tasting two very interesting wines, one from the Texas gulf coast and the other from northeastern Texas.

messina-hof-spumanti

Messina Hof Spumante, 2015 Spumante (Sparkling Muscat Canelli)

A delightful peachy effervesce greets your palate the moment your glass touches your lips. It has sweetness, but not too much, and accompanied with bright acidity that keeps things in balance and lively. The bubbles carry lemon-peach and floral notes (wine is made Methode Traditionnelle with secondary fermentation in the bottle) producing a steady stream of olfactory and tactile sensations that last with the bubbles. It is precisely these characteristics that make this wine a delight to experience and serve to others. It can accompany hors d’oeuvres and main courses particularly well if they focus on fish and fowl and are a bit picante. I hope you save some for dessert where almonds, cream and citrus that meld particularly well with this wine. Available at the Messina Hof Winery and at select Houston-area Kroger stores.

los-pinos-blanc-du-bois

Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, 2014 Branco Grande (dry estate grown Blanc Du Bois)

I’ll admit that I was remiss not to have tried this winery’s wine sooner. Like many other wineries along the Texas gulf coast and up into east Texas, Los Pinos Ranch is able to focus some of their efforts on the locally available and few worthy white grape – Blanc Du Bois. This “Big White” wine offers a huge tropical mix of aromas and flavors much like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with lemon-lime and kiwi notes with tangerine highlights hiding in the mix if you send a moment to search for it. Great wine for Pan Asian fare with ginger, lemongrass and Kaffir lime. 2015 vintage is available at the winery, but the 2014 is showing very nicely and is available in the Houston area at Houston Wine Merchant.

During Texas Wine Month, don’t forget to tell us what you are drinking. On Twitter, please tweet and use the hashtag #TXwine. Or, if you are on facebook, join and post to Texas Wine Drinkers Group.

 

 Posted by at 11:27 am
Sep 192016
 
ron-yates-elway

Ron Yates and Elway

“Ron Yates” Wines New Winery: A Place “Where I get to play around and have some fun”

VT – Please note that right after posting this blog, I was contacted by the PR force working for Yates Wines and was notified that the Ron Yates’s winery called “Yates Wines” was changing its name to simply: “Ron Yates”. I guess now there is Ron Yates – the person, and Ron Yates – the winery.

Closely followed by his dog Elway and surrounded by the echo of the large chilly room stacked with oak barrels, winery owner Ron Yates, pointed to the features of his new winery’s production facility on Route 290 between Johnson City and Hye, Texas.

During my late-August visit, he said, “With what you see here, we are about 60% complete with the stainless tanks I need; about all I can afford right now. I’ve got other plans, too, including installing wood and concrete fermenters. I can’t wait to start my Gran Reserva Tempranillo program, too. But, some plans will have to wait.”

He appears off to a good start.

As Yates continued his tour we went outside of the large, dry-stacked stone building and onto a spacious high-covered crush pad in back and a shaded veranda in the front. I recall thinking that his plans, while still unfinished, seemed to rapidly be coming into reality.

yates-wines-production-fac

Yates’s plans also include a 10-acre estate vineyard largely focusing on Tempranillo, a grape that he openly favors. Then, there will be a large event pavilion on the east side of the vineyard scheduled to take shape before the end of the year. As we looked out front of the production facility, his outstretched arm with finger pointed “out yonder”, aiming at the west wide of the vineyard. He said, “This is where I’m putting a dedicated tasting room, hopefully sometime in early 2017.”

Two questions that piqued my interest and the real reasons why I wanted to link up with Yates on this trip were: Why start another winery? Why not, just continue to expand at Spicewood Vineyards like he had been doing since acquiring the winery from founders Ed and Madeleine Manigold in 2007.

In response to my questions, Yates said, “When we acquired Spicewood, we wanted a place where we could be off-the-beaten-path, by ourselves with our hands in the dirt. But, now about a decade later, we have kind of maxed out the available space at Spicewood Vineyards. So, our plan is to take it back to the Manigold’s original concept of being mainly an estate winery. We may never get totally there, but our goal is to eventually use 85-90 % grapes grown right on the winery estate.”

yates-wines-facility

Having followed the changes in the Texas wine industry during Yate’s near ten-year term at Spicewood, I sensed that the soon to opening Ron Yates winery operation on Route 290 was going to be something different and definitely bigger.

During the past decade, Route 290 has become to the Hill Country wine region what Route 29 is to Napa. It is the “main drag” for the many incoming wine tourists that has also become a draw for winemakers and their wineries from around Texas. For anyone with high aspirations in the hill country wine business like Yates, not having a winery on Route 290 is simply as many say, “leaving money on the table.”

In Yate’s case, he acknowledges this fact, but at Ron Yates new winery, he is also looking for something with a still higher meaning.

According to Yates, “Doing what we did at Spicewood, extending the Manigold legacy, has been great. But now, I’m looking to start something that is ours. Something new and larger in scale where we can handle grapes grown from all over the state, but where we get to pick the best. We have some west Texas Sangiovese lined up, and looking at a host of Mediterranean varieties like Tempranillo, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan that will be coming it, too.”

086-small

Ron Yates at Spicewood Vineyards

I sensed that another key aspect of Yate’s new plan is also to be able to do it front-and-center, right on the 290 wine trail directly in the eye of the many wine tourists that now travel this road and pack winery tasting rooms most any weekend of the year.

As we re-entered the winery, I asked about a hissing sound I heard as I looked around.

Yates said, “It’s the sound of carbon dioxide coming from this Rosé that I’m fermenting in neutral oak barrels. The wine’s made from some of Vijay Reddy’s Cinsault. These are the kind of things that I’ve wanted to do, but we just didn’t have the space to do before at Spicewood. In this new space, I get to play around and have some fun.”

Driving back home, I was still trying to assimilate Yates’s already long “to-do” list when something made me stop.

tire-skid

I thought, ‘Didn’t he also tell me that under the yet-to-be-constructed tasting room, he was going to have a cellar dug into solid limestone?”

 Posted by at 11:50 am
Sep 112016
 

texas-wine-vs-the-world-low-res

Texas Wine Talk & Tasting:Texas vs. The World Roadshow:

WHEN: 

WHERE: Whole Foods Market (Voss) – 1407 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057 – View Map

REGISTER: $25 – Click here

The Texas Wine Journal is proud to present Texas Wine Talk & Tasting, a quarterly Texas vs. The World® roadshow. Join us for an interactive and educational tasting and talk followed by a mixer with Texas wine producers, the Journal team and other Lone Star wine lovers at the bar inside each Whole Foods Market where the event is held.

If Texas and wine hold equal parts of your heart, you’ll love this intimate tasting event. Experience a blind tasting of four Texas Wine Journal top-rated wines up against four world wines along with a talk about the regions, grapes and people moving Texas wine forward. This time around, we’ll be tasting Viognier and Syrah. Plus, get insider intel from featured producers, Journal’s Tasting Director and panel judges that will leave you feeling like a Texas wine boss.

Don’t miss out! There’s only 25 tickets available per event. Get yours before they’re gone.

100% of the ticket sales from The Texas Wine Talk series benefits the Texas Wine Journal and its mission to build awareness for Texas wines through independent, credible, and objective ratings.


*Must be 21 to attend. Wines subject to change based on availability. Sorry, no refunds.

**Wine will be made available for sale during the mixer by the bottle and glass. You do not have to have purchased a ticket to the Talk & Tasting to attend the mixer. 

 Posted by at 8:24 pm
Sep 032016
 
Rachel-The-Hung-lres

Rachel DelRocco surrounded by her sommelier study group members (from left) Cat Nguyen, Adam Toon and Matt Crawford. Photo by Courtney Perry

Sommelier Rachel DelRocco Goes from Teahouse to Texsom Champ (Parts 1 & 2)

This post includes Part 1 that was recently published on Edible Houston’s blog (click here) written by Russ Kane, VintageTexas.com, wine writer, author and naturalist. Part 2 at the bottom of this blog provides more on Sommelier Rachel DelRocco’s career leading to her championship win in the 2016 Texsom Sommelier Competition.

Part 1 -From Teahouse to Texsom Champ 

Houston Sommelier Rachel DelRocco from Camerata at Paulie’s returned from Dallas after attending the Texas Sommeliers Conference – Texsom. This was her fourth trip to attend, test or volunteer at Texsom. But this year she returned as the winner of the 2016 Texsom Sommelier Competition where she bested 23 other competitors from Texas and surrounding states. For DelRocco this illustrates the long leap from her early days as a New York teahouse manager to Texsom Champ today.

For many that attend Texsom, the closed-door sommelier competition is a bit mysterious. Competitors go inside a room, the door closes and only a precious few come out to a winner’s fanfare.

Clearing the mystery, Rachel said, “The Texsom competition is attractive to wine professionals like me because it is a snapshot of what is required and what challenges lay ahead to advance through the Master Sommelier certification process. There was a wine theory exam, a blind tasting exercise and a service exam where I had to serve wine to a table of Master Sommeliers. Total time is only about an hour, but it’s broken up into three parts given over a full day, which is a bit nerve racking.”

In her Texsom win, DelRocco acknowledged the role of her Houston study group who are all going through the advanced sommelier certification process. They spend late-night hours testing each other on the finer points of wine knowledge and service. The group includes co-worker Adam Toon, Matt Crawford (State of Grace Restaurant) and Cat Nguyen (Republic Distributing). They were all present at Texsom and were DelRocco’s cheering section between exams and at the award presentation.

High-Five2lres

Rachel high-fives with her study group members after Texsom competition win. Photo by Courtney Perry

Study group member Adam Toon said, “This was really Rachel’s win. But, it was also a win for Camerata where Rachel and I work and are tutored by Master Sommelier David Keck. We feel that this is also a big win for our study group.”

DelRocco said, “I left the competition not really having a good feeling about my service exam. But later, I was lifted because the judges said that despite a few miscues they appreciated my comfortableness and the sense of hospitality that I conveyed under the stress of competition. I was buoyed because this is the stuff that as a sommelier I feel is our ultimate mission. It’s what t I strive to do everyday, and it was highly regarded in the competition.”

Part 2 – DelRocco’s Knows There are High Expectations for Her

When reflecting on her career path that brought her to the recent Texsom Championship, DelRocco said, “It was definitely not something that I planned in great detail. After I graduated from school, I was manager of a Teahouse in New York City. I looked at other fields, but the restaurant industry seemed to work all parts of my brain and kept pulling at me.”

In 2012, DelRocco was looking for a change and moved to Austin. This is where she found herself interested in the local beverage scene: drinks, spirits and Austin’s whole mixology movement.

CrXZEXJVUAMnb2s

Somellier Rachel DelRocco relaxes at Camerata after returning from Texsom. Photo by Jame Skogsberg

DelRocco said, “There were many people that helped guide me in my career; some great people that took me under their wings. Austin’s June Rodil, the seventh certified Master Sommelier from Texas, was a draw that attracted me to work with her at Qui on Austin’s 6th Street. At Qui, I was part of the opening staff as bartender. As I recall, this is about when wine being something that I wanted to know more about. And, I was excited for the opportunity to learn about wine firsthand from a sommelier like June.”

The association with Rodil in Austin and DelRocco’s experience at Texsom led to meeting Camerata General Manager and newly awarded Master Sommelier David Keck. When her fiancé got a job in Houston, she would come to town and they would hang out at Camerata.

DelRocco said, “This is when I got to know David better. Eventually, it made more sense for me move here. So, I reached out to David. One day we got together for coffee and he called me a couple months later when he had an opening and asked me to join his staff.”

She continued, “At Camerata, from day one, the amount that I have learned here has been phenomenal. My educational channels include tasting and learning the wines on David’s incredible lists.  It also involve the educational opportunities that he provides to his staff and graciously provides to other wine professionals in the Houston area. His expectations for me are high. This pushes me to learn and do more.”

The Texsom competition was more than the trophy and notoriety for DelRocco. It was a great personal experience. She also walked away from it knowing how far she progressed professionally and how much wine knowledges she had assimilated since her early teahouse days. It also gave her an appreciation of how much more is required for her future advancement through the levels of certification from The Court of Master Sommeliers.

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Aug 222016
 
086-small

Ron Yates, owner of Yates Winery, at his Spicewood Vineyards Tasting Room

Texas Wine Industry Veterans Open the New Yates Winery in Hye, TX

The owners of Spicewood Vineyards are set opened Yates, Texas’s newest premium winery in Hye, Texas in September, 2016. Building on the experience of making award-winning wines at Spicewood Vineyards, the Yates team is eager to expand its winemaking with a new winery proudly carrying the family name.   

Led by owner, Ron Yates, along with a talented winery team from Spicewood, the new winery will make high quality wine in proximity to several other wineries on the Wine Road 290. 

“We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved at Spicewood Vineyard since purchasing the winery almost a decade ago,” says owner, Ron Yates. “We’ve learned a lot from our success at Spicewood, and will use that experience to create this new, namesake winery with a different focus. Spicewood Vineyard will remain committed to making Texas wine with estate-grown Portuguese and Spanish grapes. Yates will make top-notch Rhone, Spanish, and Italian style wines, along with several vineyard-designated Tempranillo wines with fruit gown in the Texas Hill Country, West Texas, Davis Mountain, and the Texas High Plains. Texas wine lovers will have a lot to choose from.”

Yates will offer a distinctive wine experience at a 6,000 square-foot contemporary winery that includes a 20,000 case production facility, and an adjacent 1,800 square-foot, covered crush pad. Initially, guests will enjoy tastings of Yates premium wines on the patio overlooking the vineyards and in the production winery. Visitors can choose from eight wines to purchase by the glass or by the bottle to enjoy at the winery or while exploring the property. In the near future, Yates will complete a Pavilion that will serve as a tasting area with cheese and wine pairings, as well as a site for wine club and other events space. It will be abutted by a relaxing swimming pool.

Soon guests will enjoy an elegant, 5,000 square foot tasting room, complete with a private room for library wines and cellar for private tastings. The tasting room building will also feature an underground cellar for Gran Reserva Tempranillo aging.

“Building a completely new facility is a winemaker’s dream,” says Yates winemaker, Todd Crowell. “I was able to design the winery from the ground up with the exact specifications we want to create the highest quality wines possible. We installed the finest state-of-the-art equipment such as a custom designed crush pad complete with a variable speed crusher and a programmable ‘smart’ press, a two-inch diaphragm pump for gentle juice and wine transfers, and fully jacketed stainless steel tanks accessible via aluminum catwalk. Soon, we will be doubling our tank capacity with French oak tanks and a champagne tank. The result will be excellence in the bottle.”

The winery is situated on 15.8 acres abutting Highway 290. The acreage is currently planted four acres of primarily Tempranillo grapevines, with an additional six acres of estate vineyards planned. As a specialist in Tempranillo, Yates will plant that grape extensively in its vineyards, along with grapes such as Graciano and Petite Sirah.

Beyond our estate-grown fruit, we work with well-established grape growers in Texas who share the passion for being in the vineyard to ensure we have a steady supply of high-quality grapes in a wide selection of varieties. Yates has long-held relationships with top grape growers to source excellent fruit for its wines. Near-term vintages will include grapes such as Albariño, Grenache, Malbec, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Touriga Nacional and Viognier from top Texas vineyards like Bingham Vineyards, Bayer Family Vineyards, Martin’s Vineyards, Reddy Vineyards, Farmhouse Vineyards, as well as others. In addition, Yates will source ultra-premium Pinot Noir and Zinfandel from California.

Note:  Yates will be open to guests by appointment only starting in September.

Connect with Yates

For Reservations contact: Reservations@Yateswines.com 

Yates on Twitter

Yates on Facebook

 

About Yates

Established with a mission to create the finest wines in Texas, Yates builds on the award winning experience of its sister winery, Spicewood Vineyards. The family-owned and operated winery employs a seasoned team of winemaking experts, using start-of-the-art equipment to craft Spanish, Italian, Rhone-style wines with estate-grown and sourced grapes. Opening in September, 2016, Yates, is Texas’s newest premium winery located in Hye, Texas in the center of the Texas wine country.     

 About Spicewood Vineyards

Founded in 1992, Spicewood Vineyards, produces the finest award winning wines. Wines that are known for their timeless appeal and unique flavor of the Texas Hill Country. Nestled in the Texas Hill Country amongst 32 acres of vines, enjoy great wine and a relaxing atmosphere. We have over 12 varieties of wine including Tempranillo, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. Visit us for a wine tasting, glass or bottle. Hosting a special event? Check out our elegant event center.

 

 Posted by at 11:21 am
Jul 282016
 

Wine-l'Orange

Wine a l’Orange: 2015 Brennan Vineyards Cellar Select Viognier

While it is possible to ferment a wine made from orange juice and infuse a wine with the juice of citrus (like Sangria), I hope that you realize that this story is NOT going to be about that kind of wine. However, it IS a story that came about while I was looking for a wine to serve with a favorite dish I make – Duck a l’Orange and thus appeared… my Wine a l’Orange, Voila!

As my story goes, on a recent trip down the Wine Road 290 near Fredericksburg I stopped in at Four Point Cellars for a taste or two or four or six (actually forgot how many) with manager Jesse Barter. When we got to wine three (I think it was), he pulled up a bottle of Brennan Vineyards 2015 Cellar Select Viognier.

I recall that it had an interesting orange-red label. In short order, Jesse proceeded to pour me an ounce and a half of a wine with a noticeable orange color and a bracing kick. For a grape that would normally be considered a “white wine” grape, I thought this a bit odd for Viognier. But, he gave a reassuring glance followed a comment, “This is Brennan Vineyards winemaker Todd Webster’s “orange wine”.

Later, I followed up with Todd Webster, Executive Winemaker at Brennan Vineyards about his orange wine. He said, “I saw an article about skin fermented wine in one of our trade magazines.  So I started reading more about was called ‘orange wine’.”

I guess there is a need for a little background here for those not familiar with the term orange wine…

Typically, white wines are made by crushing the grapes and quickly getting the juice off the skins and into a fermenter with little skin contact. All grape skins contain color and tannins (whites and reds), but we mostly bring that into the winemaking equation only when making red wines through extended skin contact with the grape must to impose color and tannin to bring both visual appeal and structure to the wine. 

In the making of white wines, this skin contact is usually considered undesirable and some cases a flaw. But, orange wines get their name from the noticeable orange hue that they get from extended contact with grape skins in the winemaking process. 

Then, I asked Todd why would someone want to make orange wines in the first place, especially in Texas.

He said, “A common theme in this style of winemaking is that it produces more wine.  We get low press yields with Viognier so if there was a way to produce more Viognier with the same amount of grapes, I was all in.”  

Wine-with-Duck'Orange

From here, it was all about the 2015 vintage in Texas that brought about the Todd’s first orange wine and, as far as I know, the first made in this state.

According to Todd, “In 2015, we had an abundance of Viognier; in fact, more than we have even had.  So, it was a perfect year to try something new.  I contacted our Texas supplier and we talked, and finally came up with a protocol for making our orange wine.”  

It turns out that one can leave different varieties of grapes on the skins for different amounts of time.  Viognier, in particular, happens to be one variety you don’t want to soak on the skins too long because it is high in phenolics to start with.  

Todd said, “So, we decided that we would go for skin contact of a few days and we fermented the wine at a little higher temperature than we normally do for our other whites.” 

“I love how the wine turned out, Todd added.  “But, serving temperature is key with this wine.  If you serve it like a white wine (too cold), it loses all of its greatness. So, it needs to be served at the temperature you would use for a red wine.” I took this a just under normal room temperature – may be 60-65 F.

In my wine and duck a l’orange pairing, I heeded Todd’s advise on service temperature. It appears that skin contact tends to mute the normal floral and stone fruit characteristics of Viognier. The warmer serving temperature tends to bring out more of these nice floral aromatics. Warmer serving also takes a bit of the harsher side of the tannic bite off the wine that you get when the wine is cold. It also brings palate dryness and olfactory characteristics of citrus and note of roasted hazelnuts or walnuts.

The Brennan Vineyards Cellar Select Viognier is a BIG wine yielding much more than your typical white wine mouthfeel. It comes with good dose of dry tannins and alcohol (at 15.4%). It is a wine that perhaps will be best appreciated by red wine drinkers or maybe those used to drinking those good old well-oaked California Chardonnays. This wine really paired well with my very flavorful duck preparation with the orange color and citrus notes from the wine melding with the l’orange sauce. Additionally, with the duck being primarily dark meat, it had the body and flavor to match that offered by the wine. Other pairing ideas are salmon, wild game birds and possibly even farm-raised boar or venison.

— — — — —

Factoid: Orange wines were common in Italy in the 1950s and 1960s mainly in the northeastern regions which were growing white grapes. It gave them another style of wine to make from grapes like Pinot Grigio that like Viognier gain a rose or orange color on their skins when they ripen. Some in Italy refer to this style as “copper wines” or “ramato wines” as the skins of Pinot Grigio give the wine a coppery orange color. Gradually orange wines became a footnote in history as fresh white wines became the dominate style in the marketplace. But, it appears not so for winemaker Todd Webster and Brennan Vineyards who is working to keep the style alive.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 Posted by at 7:22 pm