admin

Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

Jul 232016
 

Texas Fine Wine Predicts 2016 Harvest to be a Yield & Quality Barnburner

With 2016 grape harvest right around the corner in some parts of the Texas Hill Country, the wineries of Texas Fine Wine are encouraged by the quality and yield of this year’s crop. In fact, some vineyards are expected to produce their best crop in many years.

“The 2016 vintage is shaping up to be one of the best crop yields, and weather conditions are right where they need to be to have a stellar vintage,” says Dave Reilly, winemaker at Driftwood-based Duchman Family Winery.

Pedernales Cellars, in Stonewall, expects its Kuhlken Estate Vineyards, located 11 miles north of Fredericksburg, to yield a record harvest of Tempranillo, with recent dry conditions providing pristine, completely disease-free canopies and clusters, while Brennan Vineyards predicts its Nero d’Avola harvest from its Comanche County vineyards will be the best in four years.

“We expect to have a full harvest of our estate Tempranillo after two years of reduced yields due to hail,” says David Kuhlken, Pedernales Cellars winemaker. “We’re also anticipating a good crop of some new grapes for our winery this year, including Alicante Bouschet, Dolcetto, Carignan, Tannat, Graciano and Grenache Blanc, all from the Texas High Plains.”

“Heavy rains in May and early June, as well as hail, caused fungal disease and damage to some Texas vineyards, but we were fortunate to have avoided these issues,” says Pat Brennan, owner of Brennan Vineyards. “Overall yield will be down somewhat from projections; however, fruit and vegetative growth are well balanced. Our Tempranillo, Viognier and Mourvedre all look strong.”

Dr. Bob Young, owner of Bending Branch Winery, agrees this year is showing a wide variation in grape crops across the state. “Several of our vineyard partners are having a great growing season thus far with our signature red wine grapes Tannat, Petite Sirah, and the up and coming varietal, Souzão,” Young says. “Other vineyards have been hit by hail and Hill Country vineyards have experienced fungal pressure, including at our estate, after continuous heavy rains earlier this season. Despite these conditions, Bending Branch expects to once again have a good crop of Hill Country Roussanne and Texas High Plains Malbec to work with.”

Hill Country Harvest Gets Underway

At its estate vineyards, Spicewood Vineyards has already started harvesting Chardonnay and Semillion for its new sparkling wine program, and predicts its Hill Country white wine harvest will be done before August.

“It looks like we may complete harvest in the Hill Country by early August and the High Plains may not get started until a couple weeks later, so we might have a very welcomed break between the two,” predicts Ron Yates, owner of Spicewood Vineyards.

Yates noted that he is particularly pleased with the quality of his Graciano grapes.

“Bud break for our Graciano grapes occurred nearly four weeks after other grapes, providing extra protection from late freezes,” says Yates. “This is exactly why we planted Graciano and the grapes look beautiful.”

Pedernales Cellars has also begun harvesting its Hill Country vineyards, starting with Albarino.

Texas Fine Wine is a group of five distinctive wineries dedicated to making quality wines from Texas appellation vineyards and setting the highest standards in the Texas wine industry. For more information, go to TexasFineWine.com, and follow Texas Fine Wine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 Posted by at 11:57 am
Jul 222016
 
David-Keck-Jon-David

David Keck (left) with Jon David Headrick (right) at Camerata

Loirefest: Houston’s David Keck at his Best

In the Houston wine community (those of you in wholesale and retail, the restaurant trade, and lets not forget the groupies of writers and consumers), we are blessed having David Keck MS among us. Who is he, you ask? If you don’t know, I’ll tell you.

David is our Bayou City’s operatic singer cum sommelier, Vermonter cum Houstonian who traded in his Julliard credentials for the similarly prestigious Master Sommelier diploma. He is a Monteverdi of Mourvèdre of sorts in residence now at the hip Montrose-area wine bar, Camerata at Pauli’s.

David is someone with unquestionable talent with wine and people. He has the poise of a stage actor (with looks, projecting voice and smile to boot) who offers us his lust for the wines of the world and the people that make and sell them with the underlying message “Better tasting through knowledge”. From personal experience, he encourages people at all levels of “this community” to advance their wine knowledge and expand their tasting horizons, even if they, at times, do so begrudgingly.

Early in my many stops to Camerata, I realized something and I posted it on their Facebook page, an honest and heartfelt comment: “Find the quaff you’ve been looking for, especially if you didn’t know what you wanted.” Largely through David’s efforts, Camerata is the go-to-place to experience the breadth of the wine world in a relaxing yet often frenetic setting… literally not knowing what might be poured into your glass next. It is a place where you can learn the secrets of wine and experience their pleasures, too.

Loirefest

His most recent community opportunities have come during the current month’s 2nd annual “Loirefest”. It is a festival of wines Loire, created by Keck that has gone statewide. What better way to beat the heavy Texas heat than with the clear, crisp pop and refreshing zip on the palate gained from the wines of Loire. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the world’s great pairings. Loirefest is a crusade of wines (and not the usual suspects) usually centered on Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, the principal grapes from this pastoral wine region along France’s longest river – the Loire.

Wasserman

Peter Wasserman – Fine wine purveyor & self-appointed Head of Antimarketing and Sales Preventions

This year again, David’s current home base at Camerata has been Houston’s ground zero for savoring the wines of Loire: some old (1989) and some new (2015). First, there was a 4th of July tasting with Peter Wasserman whose cool crisp imported wines revived Houstonians from their heat-induced stupor. Earlier this week, Jon David Headrick provided a very personal tasting in which he shared experiences at wineries in the Loire Valley intermingled with tales of the regions ancient geology.

Please stop a second to understand why David does these events

In his own Facebook words, David says, “I try to host as many events with the Houston Sommelier Association (HSA) or at Camerata at Paulie’s with what I would consider the most influential winemakers, importers, and wine professionals in the world.”

While presenting these luminaries to his friends and associates, he also hosted a contingent from his adopted state, a Texas winery group called “Texas Fine Wine” that is an assemblage of some of the best and brightest wineries in our emerging wine region. When I was doing a story on Texas Blanc Du Bois for Edible Houston, David without hesitation offered up the assembled palates of his HSA group so they could try wines from a grape that while making wonderful wines in Texas is literally not on any wine map any of these people had seen before. What I’m saying is, there is nothing snooty about David when it comes to trying something new, he has an open mind.

From the perspective of a wine industry sideline watcher, I see a day when David Keck will get a call from either the east or the west coast. It will be followed by an offer that he just will not be able to refuse. It will take him away from the many friends and associates he has made in Houston.

My reason for doing this blog today is to mainly to acknowledge David’s efforts and to say thanks hopefully well before we have to say goodbye. I’m also hoping that when that day comes, David leaves a trail of many friends and associates in his wake with which he connected that caught the “bug” from David. The bug I’m talking about is the quest for knowledge and his desire to improve the skills of people at all levels around him that make up the industry that he loves so much.

Loirefest2

— — — — —

For those that want to experience the fun-filled educational last-light of this year’s Loirefest, stop by at Camerata on July 26th. They will feature Zev Rovine of Zev Rovine Selections and Byron Bates of Goatboy Imports to talk and taste Natural wine in the Loire Valley. Click here for more information.

Also coming is another David Keck collaboration… “Lünch”, a pop-up food and wine experience being held at the Oxheart Restaurant venue, July 29th through August 7th. When Oxheart shutters so their team there can have a summertime break, Chef Peter Jahnke (formerly of Underbelly, Anvil and Bank to name a few), and Master Sommelier David Keck of Camerata along with Jillian Bartolome (formerly of Common Bond) will be moving into the space for this ten-day pop-up. Click here for more information and reservations. I’ll be there!

 Posted by at 2:54 pm
Jul 042016
 
TxWineRev1

Photo credit: Texas Wine Revolution

Texas Wine Revolution Showcasing 100% Texas-Grown Rosé

Texas Wine Revolution being held Sunday, July 10th is an inaugural festival, showcasing the beauty of Texas grown wines, specifically this year 100% Texas grown Rosé wines.

Featuring up to 27 Texas wineries and winemakers and their Texas grown Rosé, the afternoon will include tastings, live music, local food purveyors, VIP seminars and shaded picnic areas for guests among Texas vines. Celebrate and meet local wineries, winemakers, and farmers for an awakening of “Real Texas Wine”.

At his year’s event, festival goers will enjoy:

  • Complimentary 6 bottle tote bag, logo wine glass (for tasting and take home), a booklet featuring each participating winery that will double as a “passport”
  • Tastings of up to (27) 100% Texas grown Rosés from Texas wineries and winemakers
  • Live entertainment
  • Opportunity to purchase bottles and glasses from participating wineries
  • Local Restaurants/Food vendors with samples and food for purchase
  • Shaded picnic areas
  • Valet parking
  • Security by local law enforcement

William Chris Vineyards will be the venue hosting the 2016 Texas Wine Revolution festival. It is conveniently located on Highway 290 in Hye, Texas, 50 minutes west of Austin and San Antonio.

For more information on registration, prices, wines, food, sponsorship, go to:

texaswinerevolution.com

TxWineRev2

Photo credit: Texas Wine Revolution

 Posted by at 1:27 pm
Jun 162016
 
Nolan-&-Phone

Nolan Newsom and his phone full of wines he will be selling in the near future – all Newsom estate wines.

Newsom Vineyards at Comfort: It’s Always Been the Plan

A few weeks ago, I linked up on social media with Nolan Newsom, son of Texas winegrowing legends Neal and Janice Newsom of Newsom Vineyards in Plains, Texas. Nolan and I agreed to meet for breakfast in  Comfort on my next trip to my hill top cottage located not far away.

I’d first met Nolan many years ago during one of my trips to the Texas High Plains. It was on the eve of a nasty late-spring storm barreling down on his family vineyard. His father had arranged for many of the high plains growers in the Lubbock/Brownfield area to meet with me for dinner at his Rock’n-N B&B. Nolan was at the helm in the kitchen grilling up steaks of every possible version of rare imaginable. There were lots of good red Texas wine compliments of the winegrowers, too. I added all the fixin’s that I could stuff into my suit case and worked as Nolan’s sous-chef for the evening.

At breakfast in Comfort this week, Nolan and his wife Mei, the co-founders of Newsom Vineyards at Comfort), shared their vision for this new venture. I asked Nolan how the idea for Newsom Vineyards at Comfort developed.

Nolan said, “Well, it’s actually been in the planning stage longer than we anticipated. Unfortunately, our tasting room project (Newsom Vineyards at Comfort) was delayed a bit due to the recent string of bad harvest years on the high plains. But, the vision all along was to start a tasting room where we could feature wines made from grapes harvested in the Newsom family vineyards.”

Most following the Texas wine industry know that the Newsom legacy all started with Nolan’s father and grandfather who both planting a just half an acre of grapes each over 30 years ago. Actually, it was young Neal’s idea after taking classes with Clinton “Doc” McPherson and Dr. Roy Mitchell at Texas Tech University. That eventually grew to more than a hundred acres with their grapes going to some of the best wineries and winemakers in Texas.

Nolan-in-the-Dirt

Nolan in the Family Vineyard (Plains, Texas) – photo from Newsom Vineyards Facebook Page.

While Nolan’s background is definitely the the sandy red dirt of west Texas, Mei comes from the the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, China. She made her way to Lubbock as one of Brent Trela’s Texas Tech enology students. I guess you could say that Nolan and Mei were a match both personally and professionally made of Texas vineyards and wine. So, it’s only natural that they would aim their venture at Texas wine consumers.

For now, the couple are calling a small white centennial house in Comfort home while they prepare it to operate in the near future as their tasting room. Most days Nolan is spending his time reclaiming the houses antique wood paneling for various uses in the new tasting room. Mei is keeping her winemaking trade fresh at Gary Elliot’s Driftwood Estate Winery and Vineyard.

Nolan-&-Mei-closeup

Nolan & Mei Newsom

According to Nolan, “In the next 18 months, Newsom Vineyards at Comfort will release small case lots of 17 wines (15 varietal and 2 blends). They will carry either the Newsom Vineyards or their Inception label. These will include wines made by wineries we’ve worked with that we think are really the best at the particular wines they make. These wineries include Texas stalwarts like Bending Branch, Calais, Lewis, Pedernales, Llano Estacado, Flat Creek and Driftwood. The most amazing thing to me is that we will be carrying three single vineyard Newsom Cabernets made by three different wineries!”

To illustrate the magnitude of the project, Nolan punched a few buttons on his Smartphone and revealed the screen to me showing all the wines that they will selling from their Comfort tasting room (See above).

Upon hearing and seeing the magnitude of the plans for near-term offerings at Newsom Vineyards at Comfort, I know I paused… and, I think that I may have even let out a gasp.

After breakfast, we walked across the open area that connects High’s Cafe, Bending Branch’s tasting room and Hill Country Distillers. The plans are to have Newsom Vineyards at Comfort open there by Labor Day and, soon thereafter, joined by a soon-to-be-opened restaurant and a new brewery. Nolan’s and Mei’s concept is to facilitate the connection between all these food and beverage establishments and their tasting room in downtown (old town) Comfort.

Newsom-at-Comfort

Centennial house and soon-to-be Newsom VIneyards at Comfort – photo from Nolan Newsom’s Facebook Page.

After we stepped up into the house via makeshift stairs of stacked cinderblocks, Nolan continued. “I know we have big plans, but the main thing right now is to get this house converted into our tasting room and the building out back into storage. We have wine coming and Labor Day is our goal for the date to start selling it.”

Later, I was able to taste two of the new Newsom Vineyard Texas High Plains appellation estate wines:

Newsom Vineyards 2015 Pinot Grigio

A dry, minerally and “stoney” wine was my first impression; definitely not fruit-driven, but offering something more like a salinity. But, the fruit characteristic in this wine are lemon and lemon zest that also carry a light herbal note. This is definitely what Italians would call a high country Pinot Grigio. And, they’d be right since Newsom Vineyards is around 3,700 feet in elevation.

This is a wine to be served with lighter Gulf seafood dishes like flounder, red snapper, blue crab or oysters.

Newsom-wine-&-star

Newsom Vineyards 2015 Orange Muscat

This wine was a surprise for me. Coming in the smaller 500-ml bottle format, my mind worked up an anticipation of a sweet dessert-style wine. Even the nose, with hints of citrus blossom and honeysuckle play tricks with the mind, making it think something sweet in on the way. But, this is a dry muscat with probably only enough residual sugar left in it to soften the finish. The descriptors for this wine include mandarine orange and white peach overlaid with nuances of ginger and near indescribable aroma of rain on hot rocks.

The food pairing ideas for this wine are nearly unlimited. For an opener, serve it with a salty blue cheese then move to tender boiled and spicy Gulf shrimp, Cornish game hens seasoned with Herbes de Provence, and finish with semi-sweet Pistachio cream cake or just simply sliced and naked Fredericksburg peaches… and you can sign me up for that!

These two Newsom Vineyards wines (showing on the back label produced and bottle by Newsom Vines @ Pedernales) makes me think that Pedernales Cellars had a hand in them which is good company to keep. Both were a delight to sample and makes me hopeful that I’m going to be around as Labor Day approaches and corks are popped and more Newsom Vineyards wines are poured at the opening of Nolan’s and Mei’s tasting room.

You can keep up with their progress on Nolan’s Facebook page or look for their location and information on their opening event on the Newson Vineyards at Comfort Facebook page.

Nolan-&-Mei-w-bottles

Nolan & Mei Newsom are getting ready to welcome you into their tasting room in Comfort.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 10:14 am
Jun 132016
 

Calais-a-al-Cave

Calais Winery: A Winemaker Tasting à la Cave

After my tasting this past weekend at Calais Winery, between Hye and Johnson City on Texas Highway 290, I believe that the transformation of Ben Calais’ winery from urban Dallas storefront to subterranean Texas hill country affair has made his fine wines even better.

Not that his wines were shabby before; they were actually excellent with one of his store-front-made Tempranillos still stored with me albeit virtually, as a very pleasant memory. This past weekend, maybe it was part ambience of tasting “ala cave”, but I do think there was more to it than just that.

Despite, relocation and extended period of hands-on construction for Ben and his family, and the period of lean vintages from the Texas High Plains AVA* where he prefers to source his grape, this past weekend the wines of Calais popped!

For me, it started right off the bat (or more appropriately, in the cave or in the glass) with his 2014  Principale Roussanne. It was rich in the grape’s characteristic lemon drop, green tea and herbal aromas and flavors that were layered in texture (a combo of bright fruit, tart and astringent mineral notes and well structured finish).

Calais-Roussanne

— — — — —

*AVA – American Viticultural Area

— — — — —

The two of three following red wines (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) were sourced from Newsom Vineyards in Plains, Texas, perhaps the highest of Texas’s high plains vineyards. In combination with intense sunlight at 3700 feet elevation, harsh to extreme weather swings, low vigor red sandy beach-sand-like soils, and Newson’s old vines yields some of the lowest grape production (in tons/acre) of nearly any vineyard site in Texas.  But, this is just what Ben Calais wants.

He said, “I normally have growers plant my own vines and then I can dictate how they are grown. But, in some cases like my Merlot, I’ve taken production from vines that other people have walked away from due to their extremely limited production. He continued, “If your thinking of making making a $20 per bottle wine, you just can’t do it with grapes like these. BUt, that’s not what I’m after.”

Calais has other plans. He is not after that “$20 bottle of wine”. He is after the best expression he can get from these grapes and this REQUIRES low production in the vineyard. He knows it comes with a price. In our tasting this weekend, the wines ran in bottle price from just over $30 to slightly skyward of $100.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Calais’s  2015 Malbec (Cuvee des Pierres – The Stones) sourced with grapes from Andy Timmons Lost Draw Vineyards near Brownfield, also in the Texas High Plains AVA.

Calais-Malbec

While we are embedded in a world with far too much cheap (and even at times expensive) and insipid Malbec, from the moment unusual-shaped Calais Winery wine glass approached by nose, I realized (in Star Wars lingo)  that “this WAS the Malbec I’d been looking for” – punchy with rich brambly black fruit with notes of baking spice, leather, stoney minerals and black coffee.

While the price point of Ben Calais wines may not be for everyone’s pocketbook, at least for everyday drinking, I highly recommend that travelers to the hill country with serious wine interest, those like me searching for true varietal character in wines and if you’re in search of a special wine, please stop by Calais Winery for one of Ben’s “by-appointment-only” tastings. And, if it’s within your reach, take a few of Ben’s super-premium bottles, your favorites, to share with your special person or people on appropriately premium occasions. You won’t regret.

 

 Posted by at 10:58 am
Jun 052016
 

Texas Hill Country Wineries – Video Interview

Check out this video interview I did with John DeMers, Fischer & Wieser’s Texas Food and Wine Ambassador.

As illustrated in his book, Russ Kane – aka Texas Wineslinger – says the Texas Hill Country wineries have roots as old as any around. Texas grapes grow on soils made from deposits in ancient seas, similar to the grape growing regions of Europe.

Texas  wine culture arrived in the 1600s with Spanish missionaries that settled and planted vineyards in El Paso del Norte. The 1800s brought German and Italian emigrant farmers to Texas. For them, wine was  considered a staple of everyday life.

In what is now America’s number five wine producing state, the  Texas hill country was named by Wine Enthusiast Magazine to their 2014 list of best international wine destinations. This may surprise some, but not the wine aficionados that have visited the Texas hill
country’s 50 or more wineries where wine and culinary tourism is currently its fastest growing sector.

Click the book icon in the upper right side of page to purchase.

Click the book icon in the upper right side of page to purchase.

This book is your guide to the Texas hill country winery experience. It’s time to sip and savor Texas for  yourself.

Author Russell Kane who shares his time between Houston and the Texas hill country is a technical  writer, researcher, wine blogger and book author whose work spans three decades and has earned him awards in both technical and wine communities. His bestselling book, The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine, provided him insights and stories from the pioneers of Texas wine.

To book a speaking engagement with Russ Kane, send your inquiries to: russ@vintagetexas.com.

 Posted by at 12:06 pm
May 292016
 

Bobby & Jennifer Cox from 1984 are back at the helm of their Pheasant Ridge Winery – Wine Dinner Tonight!

Tonight’s the Night: Dinner with Pheasant Ridge at Harrigan’s

May 29th, 2016 at 6 pm

After many years, Bobby Cox the man and Bobby Cox “the brand” with his Pheasant Ridge Winery is back. He is celebrating the occasion with a wine dinner at Harrigan’s in Lubbock Texas – 3801 50th St #1, Lubbock, TX 79413.

The description that I gave Bobby in my bestselling book The WineSlinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine after our first meeting was as follows:

Bobby Cox is a larger-than-life character both in stature and reputation among grape growers and winemakers. He’s something like a Texas version of Paul Bunyan, and Neal Newsom’s large blue grape harvester parked beside him appeared as the mechanical equivalent of Bunyan’s large blue ox, Babe. While Bunyan was a legendary lumberman in the American northland, Bobby’s  a bona fide virtuoso of grape growing here in the Southwest.

Bobby’s hands showed the signs of wear and weather, and his furrowed face was etched with the look of lessons learned at the mercy of Mother Nature and hard economic times.

At times it is difficult to separate the man from the legend. He’s shown an uncanny ability of identifying trends, helping growers select grape varieties that best fit the climate and soil in Texas, and at adapting vineyard techniques that optimize the quantity and quality of their harvests…

Pheasant Ridge Winery, with its estate vineyard in the Lubbock area, was once Bobby’s baby. The vineyard he planted in the 1970s is one of the oldest in Texas, with sixty acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Semillon. He was a believer in the European vinifera grapes from the start, at a time when many people felt that they couldn’t be grown here. However, Bobby’s blood, sweat, and tears weren’t enough. A few years of lean harvests led to the need to borrow money to keep the winery going, but when that ran out, the winery was taken over by the bank and sold in the early 1990s.

— — — — —

Well, after a long hard time during which he served others very well, Bobby and his lovely wife Jennifer are back in the helm of Pheasant Ridge Winery. I may not be able to be there physically in Lubbock tonight, but I’m there in spirit, wishing them the best of success for the future.

The menu and the “taste of time” wine pairings for the Pheasant Ridge Winery Dinner at Harrigan’s  tonight are:

Bacon-wrapped Pepper Shrimp with Herbed Buttermilk Dip – 2011 Chardonnay

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Texas Pecans & Chenin Blanc Vinaigrette – 2010 Dry Chenin Blanc

Mesquite Smoked Prime Rib Au Jus, New Orleans Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus Spears – 1999 Proprietor’s Reserve

A Selection of Fine Cheeses and Ripe Fresh Fruits – 2011 3 Barrels Up

Price: $60 per person

Reservations Required: Call 806-771-8880

 Posted by at 1:46 pm
May 242016
 
Haak-Blanc-Du-Bois-2016

Blanc Du Bois grapes nearing harvest at Haak Vineyards

Blanc Du Bois: Texas Grown – Gulf Coast and Now Beyond

Excerpt from Edible Houston Celebration May/June 2016 Issue story: Blanc Du Bois: Texas Grown – by Russ Kane of VintageTexas. Copies of this issue are available at local newsstands, sponsor locations, and by subscription on the Edible Houston website (click link above).

“In 2000, my wife Gladys and I opened our winery in Santa Fe, just south of Houston,” recalled Raymond Haak, owner of Haak Vineyards and Winery in Galveston County. “Immediately after opening, I invited then Houston Chronicle wine writer Michael Lonsford down to visit. After, I was surprised when he wrote a nice story on us in the paper, especially the really great things he said about our Blanc Du Bois wines.” Today, Haak cherishes a string of moments like this one garnered in Texas, California and abroad with gold medals galore.

The Texas Blanc Du Bois story started with Dr. John Mortensen, born in Texas and later a University of Florida professor, who helped developed Blanc Du Bois. In 1987, he released this hybridized wine grape especially suited for hot, humid southern climes. He named it ‘Blanc Du Bois’ (with both capital “D” and “B”) in honor of Tallahassee grape grower Emile DuBois. According to Mortensen’s 1987 release circular, “Blanc Du Bois makes a spicy white wine which was rated very good in formal wine tasting panels.”

It was around this time that two men in the greater Houston area, Haak and his soon-to-be friend Jerry Watson who started experimenting with growing it on the Texas Gulf Coast. This friendship was put to good use when the Haak’s opened their winery. Together they discovered the “Blanc Magic” of growing and winemaking with this grape that made wine judges and consumers take notice.

Epilogue…

Now, others statewide have discovered Blanc Du Bois, too. It started close to home with Lynne Majek and her husband Randy with their vineyard and winery in Moravia near Schulenberg and the Bonarrigo family owners of Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, and now includes Chris Brundrett and co-founder Bill Blackmon of William Chris Vineyards in the hill country town of Hye and Doug Lewis at Lewis Wines just down the street from them, and Gene Estes at Lost Oak Winery in Burleson.

The story in Edible Houston includes quotes from all of these Blanc Du Bois converts who are now spreading the word about Texas Blanc Du Bois wines far and wide. It also includes comments received on my selection of eight Blanc Du Bois wines tasted by Camerata at Paulie’s with (now) Master Sommelier David Keck and his Houston Sommelier Association study group:

Keck-Study-Group

MS David Keck study group at Camerata at Paulie’s

Lewis Wines, Swim Spot, 2014

William Chris Vineyards, Sparkling Wine, 2013

Haak Vineyards & Winery, Estate Blanc Du Bois, Dry White Wine 2015

William Chris Vineyards, Mary Ruth, 2015

Messina Hof Winery, Blanc Du Bois, Private Reserve, 2015

Majek Vineyard & Winery, Blanc Du Bois, 2014

Lost Oak Winery, Carrabba Farms, Semi-Sweet Blanc Du Bois 2014

Haak Vineyards & Winery, Madeira Blanc Du Bois, 2013

Wines are available at Spec’s, Whole Foods or directly shipped from respective wineries.

Blanc-Du-Bois-Group

VT selection of Blanc Du Bois wines from around Texas

 

 Posted by at 2:23 pm
May 202016
 

ChzI8TXVEAQt7x-

News Flash: Black Spanish is Cabernet Franc x Vitis Aestivalis

Previously, I blogged on the Black Spanish/Lenior Symposium being held today in Cat Spring, Texas. In response to this blog post, I received this very interesting email from Dr. Jerry Rodrigues who I believe is now a resident of South Africa:

I wish I were there attending your ‘Jacquez’ Symposium. My Name is Dr Jerry Rodrigues and I have Portuguese heritage but was born in South Africa. My ancestors grew Jacquez for many many years back in the day on the Island of Madeira where my parents were born.

I have been studying the parentage of Jacques (aka Lenoir, Black Spanish) and I have submitted a paper on this subject to a wine journal recently.

We now have ‘DNA evidence’ that Jacquez was naturally generated from hybridization events involving the Vitis vinifera cultivar, Cabernet franc, with a ‘wild’ Vitis aestivalis grapevine species that took place at some point in early colonial America (around the middle of the 18th century).

One possible reason why Cabernet franc was more successful than other European cultivars in growing reasonably successfully at that time in the eastern American colonies could be because it is one of the most cold-hardy Vitis vinifera varieties known. This fact most likely played an important ‘role’ in that region that resulted in the eventaul hybridization event that gave rise to the ‘amazing’ Jacquez cultivar.

I have visited your country 15 years ago when my plane landed in Houston Airport. You have a beautiful country, I especially enjoyed Texas and New Mexico State while I was there for almost 3 months.
I hope you have a good Symposium today.

Cheers…have a good one!

Dr Rodrigues (PhD Biochemistry)

 Posted by at 1:06 pm
May 062016
 

Blanc Spanish grapes also known as Lenoir and Jacquez.

2016 Texas Black Spanish/Lenoir Symposium: Taming the Beast…

According to Cat Spring grape grower and a symposium organizer Jerry Watson, “Black Spanish has made world class Port for a long time and we can now add Madeira to that, as well.  What has been missing is a everyday table wine with premium qualities.”  

Jerry admits that there are several wineries already making very good dry and sweet wine from the grape.  But, and it’s a big “but”, making these wines with Black Spanish is still a challenge for most of the state’s winemakers.  

Jerry Watson, grape grower in Cat Springs with his Blanc Du Bois grapes.

Symposium chairperson and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Program Specialist in Viticulture Ann Pontasch says, “The Black Spanish grape, a wine grape variety tolerant to Pierce’s Disease, has proven it’s ability to grow well throughout south, east, and northeast Texas. She acknowledges that while it is a reliable producer, relatively little is known about optimizing the grape for making a premium wine. Furthermore, while known as BlackSpanish it has also gone by other names like Lenoir, Jacquez, and Ohio; even it’s exact parentage remains a mystery.  

Symposium presenter and Haak Vineyards winemaker Marta Lastowska says, “For me this symposium will be a great chance to get more familiar with Black Spanish. A grape that grows great right here on the Gulf Coast where the wine industry is growing so fast and where we are in such a big need of Texas grapes. At this symposium, different winemakers will share their Black Spanish winemaking experiences and winemaking processes and it will also be a great chance for growers and wineries to meet and discuss new and different ideas.”

A Pour of Messina Hof Black Spanish Port from Previous Symposium

In 2011, the first Black Spanish symposium was held at the same location in Cat Spring (about an hour west of Houston between Sealy and Columbus).  Dry wines and after dinner sweet wines were featured.  According to Watson, this time the symposium will emphasize the potential for “additional styles of wine”.

In my mind, that says delicious red wines that can accompany fine dining that will be as good as white wines currently made from another local grape – Blanc Du Bois.  If Watson is right, this bodes well for further development of Black Spanish throughout the hot, humid zone in Texas, particularly in an around the Gulf Coast and East Texas, where well-known European Vitis vinifera grapes can’t be grown with confidence due to the threat of Pierce’s Disease.

Pontasch says, “My goal for this symposium is to get people to work together in raising the bar of the wine experience of the reliable producer, Black Spanish.” See details below… 

Symposium Contact: Fran Pontasch, fmpontasch@tamu.edu(979) 458-0131/ (254) 977-3641

Conference Title: Taming the Beast…In the Vineyard & Winery

8:30-9:00 REGISTRATION

9:00 -9:10 Welcome & Introduction Fran Pontasch, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

9:10-9:40 TWGGA Legislative Brief Paul Bonarrigo, Messina Hof Winery & Resort

9:40-10:00 Signature Estate Paul Bonarrigo, Messina Hof Winery & Resort

10:00-10:35 Managing Growth & Canopy for Quality Fruit Fritz Westover, Westover Vineyard Advising

10:35-10:50 BREAK

10:50-11:25 Evolution of Premium Black Spanish Mike Sipowicz, Texas Custom Wine Works

11:25-12:00 Lenoir By Choice Gary McKibben, Red Caboose Winery

12:00-1:00 LUNCH

1:00-1:35 Black Spanish on the Sweet Side Marta Lastowska, Haak Vineyards & Winery

1:35-2:10 100% Varietal Dry Black Spanish, Stephen Morgan, Saddlehorn Winery

2:10-2:45 Optimizing Harvest Chemistry Dr. Justin Scheiner, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

2:45-3:00 BREAK

3:00-3:30 Winemaker Panel

3:30-4:00 TASTE OFF

4:00-6:00 Wine Social

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 Posted by at 3:09 pm