VintageTexas

Jan 282011
 

Most Popular Blog Posts on VintageTexas in January 2011

2010 Top Ten Texas Wines from VintageTexas: Installment #1

The Wine in Spain Comes Mainly with the Cuisine – 1
What Texas Wine Goes with the “Big Apple”
2010 Top Ten Texas Wines from VintageTexas: Installment #2
Wine Quiz #2 – Know your Italian Wines
Texas Black Spanish – The Grape Otherwise Known as Lenoir
2010 Top Ten Texas Wines from VintageTexas and More: Five Honorable Mentions (and for good reasons)
2011 Texas Hill Country Wineries Road Show Tastings: First Stop… Fort Worth
Favorite Texas Wine Photograph of 2010: Wintery Winery Sunset in the Texas Hill Country
More Texas Wine Winners from 2011 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition
Jan 272011
 


When Wineslingers Meet, Some Wine is Likely to Get Spilled

Tuesday night was the night, Houston was the place, and Patranella’s Italian Restaurant near the newly developed Washington Avenue strip was the venue. That’s where I met up with fellow wineslinger Jeremy Parzen (www.dobianchi.com). I decided on my stash of Texas wines and Jeremy promised to bring “a few of his favorite wines”.

When my wife and I entered the restaurant, I spied Jeremy by the bar, glass in hand and his heavy bag-o-wine draped from his shoulder. Similarly, I was toting my stash that included my planned two shots and a couple of reloads.We looked like two desperate wine salesmen ready to fight bottle-to-bottle for Sammy Patranella’s restaurant wine business.  But, in fact, we were just there to share a quite moment, a good Italian meal and have a pleasant, wine-induced conversation.

I actually didn’t know Jeremy very well; or he, me. Previously, we’ve linked up for some good spirited wine PR when the official release was made about the name change of the Duchman Family Winery (from Mandola). Secondly, Jeremy gave me a call to join him and west coast wine writer, Alice Feiring, on a hill country road stop at Lewis Dickson’s La Cruz de Comal winery.

No sooner did we make our greetings and get seated than Jeremy said, “Want to try a wine? It’s really one of my favorite whites…our house white wine in my home.” No doubt about it, the wineslinging had begun. The bottle of Santorini Assyrtiko, a dry Greek white wine, was opened and three (no four) glasses were poured. Sammy Patranella joined us for a welcome followed by a toast. To aid our gustation, Sammy had antipasto delivered to the table. At the precise moment that Jeremy commented that we should partake in a plate of Sammy’s eggplant, Sammy arrived with the eggplant dish in hand…a true clairvoyant.

While I had  a Texas white in my bag (two in fact) my focus turned to a decidedly Texas-Italian matchup in Llano Estacado’s Viviano Superiore Rosso, a blend of Texas high plains Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Full bodied, yet crisp, it led particularly well into our main course of three plates of spaghetti, meatballs and red sauce.  While, I had ordered something else, either God, the Pope or Sammy himself decided that a round of spaghetti and meatballs for everyone at the table was going to be the fare for the evening. No complaints.

Jeremy followed with another favorite wine, La Casaccia Barbera del Monferrato, although in the low light, I’d have to admit that I saw it as “Babera del Monferrano”. However, what’s the difference between an “n’ and and a “t” among friends with an open bottle of wine?

As we munched pasta and sipped Jeremy’s smokey and dark-berried Barbera he spoke of the the old Casaccia estate in the Piemonte region of Italy with its old cellars carved out of the solid rock beneath the winery. I’ll be the first to admit that, in Texas, we don’t have too many old estates, particularly those that produce fine Barbera. However, I didn’t let that hold me back from my next, and bravest draw.

Out of my bag, I produced a bottle of Becker Vineyards Barbera, a single vineyard product from grapes grown at Peter’s Prairie Vineyard in Mason Country, Texas. It wasn’t as nuanced as the Barbera provided by Jeremy, but as he mentioned, it was made varietally correct, which in a new wine producing region like Texas, is a very good start.  Becker’s varietal character had good fruit intensity, but less of the earthy, old world qualities exhibited by Jeremy’s wine. Yet, it was still a fine statement for Mediterranean grapes grown in Texas and savored by true Texans, and those that have come to be naturalized like Jeremy and me.

I have to admit that I fell down on my blogger’s responsibilities a bit. I will have to leave the food photos (if available) to what Jeremy might include in his blog. That night, he was a better photo archivist of Sammy’s cuisine  than was I.

What were my two “reload” Texas wines held back for another time? Two very fine wines at that:

Becker Vineyards Viognier

Duchman Family Winery Vermentino

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Cross-post to Rascal’s Palate Blog at:

http://rascalspalate.com/?p=43

Jan 252011
 

FLASH: 7th Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit Features French Chef/Author Jacques Pépin and Grapes from the Rhone Valley

Internationally recognized French chef, television personality, and author, Jacques Pépin, will make his first appearance, together with his daughter, Claudine Pépin, at the  Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit April 15-17, 2011, at Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, Texas. Mr. Pepin has published 26 cookbooks and hosted 11 public television cooking series. A new book and PBS-TV series, Essential Pépin, is scheduled for release in the fall of 2011. The Pépins will be sharing stories, teaching cooking classes, signing books, and meeting with chefs, winemakers and guests.

Nationally acclaimed Chef Stephan Pyles, owner of Stephan Pyles and Samar restaurants in Dallas, will make his fifth annual Summit appearance, preparing dinner on Friday night – this time with great French style. He got his start at The Great Chefs of France Cooking School where he worked with Michelin 3-star chefs such as Michel Guerard and later worked with, and became a close friend of, Julia Child. Chef Pyles is a James Beard “Best Chef” Award recipient, an Esquire Magazine “Chef of the Year” and called “An absolute genius in the kitchen” by The New York Times. A native of neighboring Big Spring, Texas, he is known as a pioneer of New American cooking and a founding father of Southwestern Cuisine as well as an expert on international cuisines.

I attended last years festivities and it was truly a unique experience. See:

http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1600

http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1607

http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1611

This year the Summit celebrates the integral part that France played in Texas history. European explorers first arrived in Texas in 1519 and, during the period from 1519-1848, all or parts of Texas were claimed by six countries:  Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. The French flag flew over Texas from 1684-1689 when René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle established a French colony, Fort Saint Louis, near Matagorda Bay. Even though France’s reign was brief, their occupation of Texas was a threat to Spain and the French were ousted in only three short years.

In the tradition of West Texas hospitality, The Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit has invited the French to return to Texas, this time sharing the knowledge and passion admired most in the French culture – their winemaking and culinary skills.

Winemakers will be in abundance as both Texas and California wineries bring their Rhone-style wines to Buffalo Gap. The pairings promise to be “over the top” and the opportunity to participate in the educational panel and tasting “Rhone on the Ranch” featuring Master Sommelier Guy Stout (representing Glazer’s Family of Companies) is unique:  He will present an introductory class on wines from the Rhone Valley followed by a comparative tasting of the Rhone varietals – from France, California, and Texas.

The Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit, Inc., is non-profit organization founded by Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse (Buffalo Gap, TX), Dr. Richard Becker of Becker Vineyards (Stonewall, TX), and the late Fess Parker of Fess Parker Winery and Vineyards (Los Olivos, CA).  The mission of the organization is to cultivate the appreciation of fine wine and food through education and industry discussion. A portion of the ticket price is tax deductible.

TICKETS: Patron Passes available February 1, 2011, and a la carté tickets available beginning March 1, 2011. For more information visit http://www.buffalogapsummit.org or call 800.367.1721.

Jan 242011
 

Messina Hof Winery Announces the Expansion of Its Award-Winning Brand into the Texas Hill Country

Messina Hof is expanding into the Texas Hill Country with the purchase of a second Messina Hof Winery and Resort location, announced Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo, co-founders of Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan, Texas.

On Saturday, January 22, 2011, at a special VIP reception, Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo unveiled the site of the new 10 acre resort being built in Gillespie County. The new resort will mirror the 33-year old namesake in Bryan, Texas, while incorporating a Hill Country feel. Like the original, the resort will have a  vineyard  for grape growing as well as feature a bed and breakfast, wine bar, retail shop and conference facilities.

“The new location combines 33 years of wine making and hospitality experience with the most award-winning wines. Our presence and expansion in the Hill Country region reflects our commitment to remaining a leader in the growing Texas Wine industry as well our passion for spreading our award-winning brand to wine connoisseurs throughout the state,” said Paul Bonarrigo.

The original Messina Hof location was established in Bryan, Texas in 1977 by Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo. Now a landmark of the Texas wine industry, the winery is expanding to better serve the loyal customers in the Texas Hill Country.  The  storied history of Messina Hof is filled with  numerous accolades and achievements including being named four time winner of Texas Best Winery at the Texas Livestock Show and Rodeo, “Best of Herd” Winery at the San Antonio Rodeo International Winery Competition, and “One of the USA’s Finest Winery Experiences” by Bon Appétit.

The Bonarrigos, ever conscious of their impact on the Texas environment, have included sustainable and energy efficient designs in their plans. The new resort will utilize solar energy, sustainable agri-practices, and will use water collected from the roof to water the landscape. The resort will further contribute to the Hill Country with the employment of at least ten workers within the first year of business.

The addition of the new Hill Country property is the first phase of an aggressive five year expansion plan. An official Grand Opening is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2011, with further developments to follow. For more details about Messina Hof Winery and Resort please visit www.MessinaHof.com.

More About Messina Hof Winery and Resort….

Messina Hof Winery and Resort was established in 1977 by Co-Founders Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo. Messina Hof was founded on family values, romance and tradition. Messina Hof is the leader in the establishment of the Texas wine industry and ranks as one of the fastest growing, most award-winning wineries in the state. Four-time winner of the “Top Texas Wine” at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Messina Hof wines are handcrafted at the winery, located in Bryan, Texas.

In 2009 Messina Hof was recognized as “Best of Herd” Winery, or best Texas winery, at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition. Messina Hof Winery and Resort boast on their 100 acre property the Vintage House Restaurant, origin of Vineyard Cuisine, the Villa, which was voted “Most Romantic Bed and Breakfast in the USA” and the Wine Master’s Room Wine Bar, voted best wine by the glass in the Brazos Valley. This year, Messina Hof was named “Texas Grand Star Champion” at the Lone Star International Wine Competition.

For more information on Messina Hof Winery and Resort, please visit http://www.MessinaHof.com.

Jan 232011
 

VintageTexas Sunday ‘Cyclopedia of Wine: Appellation of Origin/American Viticultural Area

When a winery in the United States wants to tell you the geographic pedigree of its wine, it uses a reference on its label called an Appellation of Origin. Appellations are defined either by political boundaries, such as the name of a county or state, or by federally-recognized growing regions called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Click here for a complete listing of AVAs searchable by state, size and other statistics.

Texas has eight AVAs:

Texas Davis Mountains (270,000 acres; effective date 5/11/1998)

Texas High Plains (8,000,000 acres; effective date 4/1/1993)

Texas Hill Country (9,600,000; effective date 12/30/1991)

Mesilla Valley (284,800 acres; effective date 3/18/1985)

Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country (70,400 acres; effective date 1/23/1989)

Escondido Valley (32,000 acres; effective date 6/15/1992)

Bell Mountain (3,200 acres; effective date 11/10/1986

Texoma (2,336,000; effective date 1/6/2006).

Three of Texas’s AVAs are in the group of the 20 largest AVA’s. They are Texas Hill Country, Texas High Plains and Texoma.

AVA’s are administered by Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the newest bureau under the Department of the Treasury. They define AVAs has delimited grape growing areas with distinguishable features, the boundary of which has been approved and established by TTB at 27 CFR Part 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). TTB designates AVAs, to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase. Continue reading »

Jan 212011
 

Photo by Jerod Foster

Write Off the Vine – Texas Wine News: January 21, 2011

Texas Wine of the Month: Val Verde Winery, Don Luis Tawny Port

by Jessica Dupuy (Texas Monthly – Eat My Words)

If I were a betting gal, I’d wager few of you could guess the oldest continuously running vineyard in Texas… or where it’s located. Most Texas wine fans know the High Plains and the Hill Country are the main winemaking hubs for wine, but you may be surprised to find that the oldest winery is Val Verde Winery in Del Rio… Yes, Del Rio—that tiny little border town directly west of San Antonio.

If you take a look at the winery’s history, you’ll find it was established in 1883 by Italian immigrants who found Lenoir (Black Spanish) grapes thriving in the hot Texas sun. Three generations later, Val Verde Winery is still in operation and it makes one of the best tawny ports in the state.

This month’s Texas Wine of the Month is the Val Verde Winery Don Luis Tawny Port (non-vintage). It was selected with the help of Bryan Cromwell of Soleil. (It’s one of Austin’s newest dining hot spots brought to the Capital City by the talented Schiller-Del Grande group of RDG + Café Annie and the Grove fame in Houston—and it has one of the best sunset views of Lake Travis.

More: http://www.texasmonthly.com/blogs/eatmywords/?p=1805

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5 Reasons to Love Texas Wines

By James Tidwell (on The Daily Meal)

Think Texas and food and your mind almost inevitably goes to fajitas and barbecue. Think Texas and wine and you might assume it’s just a place that just drinks California Chardonnay and Cabernet. Right? Wrong. To help put misconceptions to rest, Master Sommelier and Texas wine enthusiast James Tidwell shares five reasons why the Lone Star State is making wines worth paying attention to. — Maryse Chevriere

1. Dynamic. Texas wines have actually been around a long time; if you’ve read the Grape Man of Texas about the life of T.V. Munson, it explains that the state’s vines deserve credit for saving the French wine industry during the phylloxera epidemic. But while people are now starting to acknowledge that Texas wine has been around for a while, modern Texas wine is not that old. It hasn’t really been established outside of the borders. I equate it to Switzerland, which also makes some very good wines. You don’t ever see Texas wines outside of the state because they can sell almost everything within. And Texans are very patriotic, and buy a lot of Texas wines, so it doesn’t have a chance to go out of state. They’re dynamic and on the move in terms of profile.

More: http://www.thedailymeal.com/5-reasons-love-texas-wines#ixzz1Bg3QJC7l

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Mar 3-5, 2011- Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association Annual Conference – San Marcos, TX

Event Type: Trade Show,Seminars and Classes

Description: The 35th Annual Conference of the Texas Wine and Grape Grower’s Association is a excellent opportunity to develop new business through networking and one-on-one interaction with the southwest wine and grape industry.

The conference will be held at the Embassy Suites, Spa & Conference Center in San Marcos, TX on March 3, 4, & 5. Exhibitor Forms are now available online and attendee registration along with hotel reservation information will be online soon!

• Event Organizer: Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association

• Venue: Embassy Suites, Spa & Conference Center

• Location: San Marcos, TX

• Website: www.txwines.org/conference

• Available languages: English

More: http://www.winebusiness.com/industryEvents/?go=eventDetails&event_id=10100

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Texas Food & Wine Events on LocalWineEvents.com

The Texas Wine School Offering their Level 1 Foundation Course

January 22, 2011 (Sat), 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Houston | The Texas Wine School

“Winter Escape” San Gabriel Wine Trail

January 29, 2011 (Sat), 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Georgetown | Williamson and Bell County

More: http://www.localwineevents.com/events/listing/tx/30/Texas-wine

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Edible Texas Wine and Food Pairing Competition - Call for Entries!

Rev up your creative culinary skills for the Central Texas regional segment of the Edible Texas Wine and Food Pairing Competition, produced by Edible Austin and The Texas Food and Wine Gourmet.com and hosted by the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin.

This is the first of four annual regional competitions planned whose mission is to encourage the use of Texas wine and food products, raise the bar for excellence in Texas winemaking and provide a platform for Texas wine and winemakers to receive recognition and reach a broader audience. The competition is open to any Central Texas restaurant or catering company, but you may use any Texas appellation wines. Five finalists will be selected to prepare their menus at a stellar event on Friday, June 3, 2011, hosted by the AT&T Center’s Carillon Restaurant (Tejas Room) on the UT campus.

This event, open to 125 guests, is an official Optional Event during the 2011 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Annual Conference and will benefit the Texas Wine and Grape Grower’s Association. For details and to download entry form and competition rules, click here. Deadline for entries is February 15. For questions, please contact Marla Camp by email or phone: 512-441-3971.

More: http://www.edibleaustin.com/content/

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Texas Wines take Gold in USA Competition

By Kris Myers, Houston Weekend Warrior Examiner

Texas wines took two gold medals – along with a slew of silvers and bronzes  -  in last week’s 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  It’s the world’s largest competition of American wines.

Brennan Vineyards, Comanche, TX.

Gold:  ’09 Voignier

McPherson Cellars, Lubbock, TX.

Gold:  ’09 Rose’ of Syrah

More information on Silver and Bronze Medals at: http://www.examiner.com/weekend-warrior-in-houston/texas-wines-take-gold-usa-competition?render=print#ixzz1Bg4OlP7l

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2011 Texas Hill Country Wineries Road Show Tastings: First Stop… Fort Worth

It’s High Time to Get Some Mighty Fine Texas Wine!

In celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Texas Hill Country AVA and 20 years of winemaking in the Hill Country, Texas Hill Country Wineries are hitting the road and bringing the wines to you for our first ever Road Show in 2011.  We will be visiting four great cities Texas starting with Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and ending in Austin.  We invite you to join us in your city for winemaker dinners, seminars and Twitter-tastings for everyone from sommeliers to the discerning consumer.  You will meet owners, producers and winemakers from at least 15 of our member wineries, 30 wines available for tasting and learn about the 400 year old wine industry in Texas.

The 2011 Road Show is currently in the development stages, all venues and exact details are not ready for publication.  Members of the wine buying trade or wine media are invited to attend special tastings and seminars exclusive to the trade and media only.  All wine enthusiasts are encouraged to attend the ticketed events or experience a winemaker dinner at a local hotspot.  Please fill out the ‘Save the Date’ waiting list form and indicate which city you are interested in and then watch your inbox for details as they become available.  Tickets for these events will be extremely limited so please get on the waiting list and get dates, details and ticket availability as soon as it is released.

Fort Worth, Texas- February 23 and 24, 2011….

More: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=3082

Jan 192011
 

2011 Texas Hill Country Wineries Road Show Tastings: First Stop… Fort Worth

It’s High Time to Get Some Mighty Fine Texas Wine!

In celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Texas Hill Country AVA and 20 years of winemaking in the Hill Country, Texas Hill Country Wineries are hitting the road and bringing the wines to you for our first ever Road Show in 2011.  We will be visiting four great cities Texas starting with Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and ending in Austin.  We invite you to join us in your city for winemaker dinners, seminars and Twitter-tastings for everyone from sommeliers to the discerning consumer.  You will meet owners, producers and winemakers from at least 15 of our member wineries, 30 wines available for tasting and learn about the 400 year old wine industry in Texas.

The 2011 Road Show is currently in the development stages, all venues and exact details are not ready for publication.  Members of the wine buying trade or wine media are invited to attend special tastings and seminars exclusive to the trade and media only.  All wine enthusiasts are encouraged to attend the ticketed events or experience a winemaker dinner at a local hotspot.  Please fill out the ‘Save the Date’ waiting list form and indicate which city you are interested in and then watch your inbox for details as they become available.  Tickets for these events will be extremely limited so please get on the waiting list and get dates, details and ticket availability as soon as it is released.

Fort Worth, Texas- February 23 and 24, 2011

Houston, Texas- April 2011

San Antonio, Texas- July 2011

Austin, Texas- October/November 2011

– — – — –

First stop…Fort Worth, Texas!

15 Texas Hill Country Wineries will embark upon Cowtown for two days, Wednesday and Thursday, February 23 and 24, 2011.

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY WINERIES ROAD SHOW TASTING

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Fort Worth

6:00pm-8:00pm

We invite you to join winery owners and winemakers from 15 of the Texas Hill Country Wineries showcasing a sample of their portfolios.  Come reacquaint yourself with your favorites or encounter a new brand to add to your favorites list.  Reata Restaurants will provide wine friendly cuisine to enjoy with the 30 wines being shown.  Take your exclusive tasting glass home with you and remember the great wines you tasted with every use.  Texas Hill Country Wineries takes pride in leading the forefront of the Texas wine industry. We understand ideas the public may have about Texas wines.  This is why we have required all participating road show wines to be analyzed by a third party for quality and consistency.  We know that each palate is different but assure you the wines represented are quality driven.  Admission is $50 per person in advance, $55 at the door if available (cash only).  Tickets are non-refundable.  Event attendance is limited, advance purchase is highly recommended.

To purchase tickets, click HERE.

ROAD SHOW WINEMAKER DINNER

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

6:00pm

Reata Restaurant, Sundance Square, Fort Worth

The two day event will kick off with a winemaker dinner hosted at Reata Restaurant, home of Legendary Texas Cuisine.  What better to pair with legendary Texas wines?  Dine on a divine 7-course meal, sip on 13 delectable wines and engage in conversation with 12 fascinating winery personalities.  Cost $80/person  plus tax and gratuity.  For reservations please call Reata Restaurant at 817.336.1009. Please state you want reservations for the “Texas Wine Trail Dinner.”  A credit card number will be required to secure the reservations.  Cancellations must be made 48 hours in advance or your credit card will be charged.

TRADE & MEDIA EVENTS

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Fort Worth

Trade & Media Seminar: 3:30pm-5:00pm, American Cowgirl Theatre

Wine industry trade and media are invited to join us for a 3 panelist seminar of winery owners and winemakers that explores the history, diversity and complexity of the Texas Hill Country AVA.  Learn from the experts working in the field, cellar and marketplace the benefits and struggles they face to create and bring to market such remarkable wines.  RSVP to thcwtrail@gmail.com.  *Seating limited to 50.

Trade & Media Tasting: 5:00pm-6:00pm, Rotunda

Directly following the seminar, winery owners and winemakers from 15 of the Texas Hill Country Wineries will showcase a sample of their portfolios.  With a private hour just for you we invite you to make connections with the primary figures of the wineries you do business with. Texas Hill Country Wineries takes pride in leading the forefront of the Texas wine industry. We understand ideas the public may have about Texas wines.  This is why we have required all participating road show wines to be analyzed by a third party for quality and consistency.  We know that each palate is different but assure you the wines represented are quality driven.  RSVP to thcwtrail@gmail.com.  *Limited to 50 guests.

*Please note that members of the trade and media will be qualified prior to the entry into the event.

The Road Show is sponsored by the Texas Hill Country Wineries and will bring winemakers and principals out of the vineyards and into your cities for these special events.  Please contact Texas Hill Country Wineries for any details or questions concerning the Road Show.

Jan 182011
 

Rascal’s Palate Preview – Rascal’s Travels to Piemonte: Hail Cesare!

Normally, you don’t expect much from a book given as a present. Most times, people that gift a book really don’t know what you like and what topics really turn you on. In this case, I was surprised, pleasantly surprised. It was a gift that keeps on giving.

For Christmas, I received a copy of the book titled, “The Man Who Ate Everything” by Jeffery Steingarten, food writer for Vogue and Slate. It took me several attempts to get into it. Then, one day I finally made it to a chapter midway through the book: Hail Cesare! It was the story of Chef Cesare Giaccone at Albaretto della Torre at his remote hill top restaurant in near Alba, in the Piemonte region of northern Italy.

Well, I devoured that chapter and kept coming back for more. But, reread after reread, it just wasn’t enough. It could mystically sense his wood burning oven and the rotisserie kid goat roasting slowly over the fire, served with local truffles and wild mushrooms de Alba, mountain top berries, hazelnuts and herbs, but I still needed more. I had to find this man and experience his cuisine first hand.

More at: http://rascalspalate.com/?p=21

Jan 182011
 

On the Texas Gulf Coast, It’s Time to Start the New Vintage with the Grape Growers Field Day in Cat Spring

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Austin County Grape Growers Committee will co-sponsor the 19th annual Gulf Coast Grape Growers Field Day on Feb. 11 in Cat Spring, about 75 miles west of Houston. The field day will be held at the Cat Spring Agriculture Society Hall, 13035 Hall Rd. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with presentations and activities scheduled from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

According to Fritz Westover, Texas AgriLife Extension viticulture advisor for the Gulf Coast and South Texas regions and statewide coordinator for AgriLife Extension’s viticulture team, ”We hold this field day annually to inform and benefit both the novice and experienced grower, and to introduce them to the latest in vineyard research, practices and products.”

Westover said last year’s program drew more than 175 participants from throughout the state. This was an all-time high in attendance for this event. Fritz said, ”This is the biggest viticulture education event of the year for the Gulf Coast region and one of the biggest in the state.”

I attended last year’s event and it was truly an amazing site. I realized that wine grapes were an up an coming crop in the Texas Gulf Coast, but I didn’t expect that there were that many people interested. See: Link to Fritz’s grape grower newsletter: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=2910; and the link to my 2010 Cat Spring experience: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1412, complete with bunkhouse tales. If you are interested in [or at least considering] grape growing on the rolling hills of Austin County, I can say from my experience last year that a day at the Cat Spring Field Day will be a day well spent.

This year, there will be an array of viticulture topics addressed at the Cat Spring field day. Topics will include grape pest and disease management, grape maturity for wine quality, management practices for new vineyards, grower discussion panels and the latest in Texas AgriLife vineyard demonstrations. Speakers will include experts from AgriLife Extension, industry, and the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.

“We are expecting a record number of exhibitors in 2011 to showcase special offers on vineyard equipment and services,” Westover said.

A minimum of three continuing education units will be available to licensed pesticide applicators.

Registration cost, which includes lunch, beverages and a wine social, is $20. All registration for this year’s field day will be at the door and must be paid in cash or by check.

For more information, contact Westover at 281-855-5608 or fawestover@ag.tamu.edu.

Jan 162011
 

VintageTexas Sunday ‘Cyclopedia of Wine: Spanish Wines to Texas Wines

If you live in Texas and want to get a good idea of the potential this state has in terms of wine production, go to Spain and take a look around. The prevailing dry climate and sandy soils of Spain and those found in the central and western parts of Texas have a lot in common.

While there are more acres of vineyards in Spain than any other country in the world, its aridity results in generally lower grape yields than found in other major wine producing countries like France or Italy. Two of Spain’s preeminent wines are Sherry, which remarkably plays only a small role in the total wine production of the country, and a hearty red wine made principally from the Tempranillo grape. Sherry comes from the far southern reaches of the country around Jerez de la Frontera while the best-known Tempranillo-based wines come from the northern region of Rioja.

Historically, Spanish winegrowers and winemakers have been long known for their low acid, oxidized white wines and heavily oak-aged reds. However, in recent decades, they have progressed up the quality scale with new plantings in cooler higher altitude regions, new winemaking techniques for controlled temperature fermentation, and reduced time their wines spend aging in oak barrels; once four to six years now down to generally 12 to 24 months. Many white wines of Spain are no longer even oak aged and produced in a modern fresh fruitier style.

The abovementioned developments have resulted in Spanish wines of improved characteristics, especially reds and whites from Rioja and Penedés, red wines from Ribera del Duero and Priorat, crisp whites from Rueda and Galacia, dry ruby-colored rosés from Navarre and sparkling white “espumosos” wines called “Cava” from Catalonia. Currently, the vineyards in La Mancha, the immense and hot weathered central region of Spain, are producing good quality, value-oriented red wines made from Tempranillo, Grenacha (Grenache) and Monastrell (i.e. Mourvèdre).

Try a few of these Spanish wines. Then, try a few Texas wines that offer a similar Spanish wine tasting experience, but a whole lot closer to home. For more information on Texas wineries working with Texas-grown Tempranillo, go to: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=2400.

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Also, check and join TAPAS – Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society, click here for more information. There’s a Texas Chapter of TAPAS just starting up.

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