Dec 182010

Whole Foods launches Duchman wines on tap! A new first in Texas wine history!

December 18, 2010, By Do Bianchi [on]

Organic and natural foods pioneer Whole Foods Market officially began offering its shoppers Duchman Family wines on tap yesterday at its Highland Park and Park Lane locations in Dallas, Texas. Duchman Family winemaker Dave Reilly (above, left) joined Whole Foods Market “Specialty Coordinator for the South West Region” Devon Broglie (right) to sign bottles and talk to guests at both locations, marking the first time a Texas wine has been sold on tap (in keg).

Whole Foods first began selling wine on tap in March of this year, offering its patrons Californian wines. But it didn’t take long for tastemaker and trailblazer Broglie (a Court of Master Sommeliers candidate) to approach winemaker Reilly about reserving some of his award-winning wines to be stored in keg especially for the innovative Whole Foods project. Together, they have made history as the first to offer Texas wine-lovers the opportunity to taste Texas-grown and Texas-made wines using an environmentally friendly delivery system.

More at:

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VintageTexas Comment: This is a great day for Texas wine drinkers for several reasons. Most of all, these are excellent wines that are in balance with our state’s Mediterranean climate. Whole Foods has chosen two Tex-Med wines to have on tap: the Duchman Vermentino (made from a white mediterranean grape) and their Montepulciano (a red Italian grape). Secondly, this is noteworthy because it’s innovative to sell wine on tap. On tap is even better than having it sold by the glass when an open bottle of wine can set around for a day or more before you get your pour of wine. In this case, its protected from the air while it waits patiently in a cool dark keg until it is delivered to your glass where it will take its first breath.

Devon and Dave, please bring your Texas wine kegs down to Houston’s growing number of Whole Foods Markets. By next year I will be pretty much equally spaced between two Whole Foods: one on Kirby and West Alabama and the other at West Dallas and Waugh. Ok guys, pick one and tell me when to show up!

Dec 172010

2010 Top Ten Texas Wines from VintageTexas: Installment #2

Llano Estacado, Viviana, 2009

I tasted this wine at a Texas wine dinner at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station and once more since then. This is the second year for this blended white wine that is the yin-yang counterpart to Llano Estacado’s Viviano red (Cabernet-Sangiovese) blend. Viviana is lively a blend of Texas-grown aromatic varietals: Viognier, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. It was on my list to round up for Oz Clarke’s Texas tasting with Wes Marshall and it made an impression. Viviana offers the fragrance of tropical fruits and florals (and a hint of ginger), mouth popping acidity and delectable flavors of a seemingly endless array of fruits such as peach, melon, lemon to name but a few. The first release was fine stuff, no doubt. However, no doubt this second release of Viviana is a charm.

Messina Hof Winery, Merrill’s Vineyard Riesling, Texas, 2009

Another road trip and another Texas wine find. I was doing the Bluebonnet Wine Trail northwest of Houston in early 2010. It featured wine and food pairings at each winery. It was a cold winter’s day, but clear and crisp just like this wine. When I arrived, I received a taste of this Riesling and it was paired with a Gewürztraminer-infused, panko-encrusted, raspberry chipotle cheese ball. Now, that’s a mouth full to say and the wine delivered similarly with citrus aromas followed by titillatingly off-dry lemon drop and green apple flavors ending with a clean minerally finish. Continue reading »

Dec 162010

Texas Wine Czar Says, “The Best Texas Wines Will Be in the Style and Tradition of Europe”

My wife and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary last night at Rainbow Lodge in Houston. While we talked, we reminisced and savored our past travels, tribulations and personal triumphs while we also savored a valuable wine tasting experience.

I perused the Rainbow Lodge wine list and came on a page titled “Fun Wines” and found an interesting and value selection. It was a nearly decade old Quinta Das Maias 2001 from the Dao region of Portugal. When released this wine sold for $18, but on the wine list, it was offered for a meager $35. At this price, and with 10 years of bottle age, what a steal!

The Quinta Das Maias showed the typical red-black color and dark fruit essence along with a host of earthy, minerally and steely characteristics found in wines rich in Touriga Nacional from the Dao region. Continue reading »

Dec 162010

Want a Real Texas Wine and Wine Country Experience? Try the Gulf Coast

In 2010, the total producing acres of grape vines in the Texas Gulf Coast region reached 44 for Blanc du Bois (white wine grape) and 49 for Black Spanish (red wine grape). Newly planted acreage is somewhat in favor of Blanc du Bois, with 24 acres of non-producing vines reported, compared to 14 new acres of Black Spanish. Favorite was the third most widely planted vinifera hybrid grape. Muscadine grapes (e.g. Noble, Carlos, Cowart) make up a small fraction of Gulf Coast production, but recent planting in the eastern part of the region has brought the total to just over 10 acres. Total planted acres of the top three Pierce’s Disease tolerant varieties are shown in the chart below, compared to total acreage of muscadine grapes. Continue reading »

Dec 132010

2010 Top Ten Texas Wines from VintageTexas: Installment #1

In 2010, I traveled more of the state and tasted more Texas wines than in any previous year. Therefore, this year I’ve had a hard time picking just ten wines to compose my year’s favorites. Well, here goes…my first installment. Five wines from the VintageTexas Top Ten Wines of 2010.

Duchman Family Winery, Dolcetto, Texas, 2008

I first tasted this wine in late 2009 just after it was bottled. It was an agreeable, medium bodied wine with crisp red fruit character. Months later, at a second tasting it was obvious that this Dolcetto was still evolving and could be destined for glory. The extra time in bottle integrated its fruit and light tannic qualities. No doubt, this was a wine to be reckoned with. During 2010, the Duchman Dolcetto brought home a double gold from the San Francisco International Wine Competition. It was the first wine on my starting line up for the 2010 Grape and Gridiron Classic that was held in Dallas before the Cowboys-Giants Monday night football game.

Lone Oak Winery, Tempranillo, Texas High Plains, 2008

My first visit with this wine was while it was still in barrel. It occurred during my northern Texas gallivant and was poured from Gene Estes’ wine thief  as he navigated his barrel room “jungle gym”. This taste of Tempranillo was composed of Texas high plains fruit and yielded a deep, dark, ruby-black wine. I also selected this wine to represent Texas in another red wine category at the Grape and Gridiron Tasting. It offers notes of black cherry and vanilla with a long finish. Continue reading »

Dec 072010

Edible Texas Food & Wine Pairing Competition

Rev up your creative culinary (and winemaking) skills for the Central Texas regional segment of the Edible Texas Food & Wine Pairing Competition, produced by Edible Austin and The Texas Food & Wine, and hosted by the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.  Create a three-course menu of dishes using Texas agricultural products and pair each course with a Texas appellation wine.

This first of its kind competition is limited to chefs in the Central Texas region, which includes San Antonio, Austin and 33 adjoining counties, but you may pair with any Texas winery.

Texas wineries need to stand up and take note. A winery or wineries can pair up with a chef in the region, too.

Preliminary judging will be done by a panel of notable Texas wine and food professionals.  This judging will be based on submission of a detailed submission form that decries the wine and food pairing menu complete with a “mission statement”. No food must be prepared and no wines submitted, only the completed form.

Five finalists will be selected to prepare their wine and food pairing menus on-site at a stellar event on Friday, June 3, 2011, at the AT&T Center’s Carillion Restaurant-Tejas Room, on the UT Campus. The event, open to 125 guests, will occur during the 2011 International Association of Culinary Professionals Annual Conference, being held in Austin.

The event will benefit the Texas Wine and Grape Grower’s Association.  The final, on-site judging will be done by a panel of national celebrities from the food and wine industries. Significant cash and other prizes will be awarded. 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 reach a broader audience.

To receive an official entry form and competition rules, please e-mail, or call 512-441-3971.

Deadline for submission of menus with wine pairings is February 1, 2011.

Dec 042010

Texas Wine Shipping Laws in the Supreme Court’s Legal Crosshairs Again!

(AFP) – 1 day ago from Google Hosted News: New Wine Case Possible for US Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court, which five years ago struck down laws preventing wine makers in one state from selling directly to customers living in another, could be poised to dip its collective toe into the wine vat again.

The top US court will soon decide whether to hear a challenge to a Texas law which says that wine retailers are not allowed to engage in cross-border commerce with individual consumers — even if wine producers are.

The issue is being brought to the high court by those who argue that consumers have the right to buy the wine of their choosing even if it comes from an out-of-state merchant.

Tom Wark, executive director of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association (SWRA), said there are 37 states with such laws on the books similar to the one his group is fighting in Texas.

“If I can’t find the wine that I want in my local store, I can go online and probably find that wine being sold from somewhere in another state, but I can’t have it shipped to me,” Wark told AFP.

He said his group — founded under the banner “wine without borders” — is hoping that the Supreme Court will make a similar finding to one it reached in a celebrated 2005 case that overturned state liquor laws which gave preferential treatment to in-state wineries.

At that time, it ruled that laws in the states of Michigan and New York which barred out-of-state wineries from selling direct to consumers were unconstitutional.

At issue is a basic principle of the US Constitution — the Commerce Clause — which forbids discriminatory actions in interstate commerce.

More: Google Hosted News

Dec 042010

More Texas Wine Winners from 2011 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition

Several weeks ago, I blogged about the announcement from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition announcing its 2011 top winners. In this list was the top Texas wine: Becker Vineyards Viognier 2009. Recently the Rodeo Wine Committee announced their 2011 Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winners. Below, I’ve presented the Texas winners as defined by wines from Texas wineries but which were also made from enough Texas grown grapes to qualify to be Texas Appellation. Enjoy and savor them well. Where can you get them? See at the bottom of this blog and GOTEXAN list of Texas wineries. For a complete list of winning wines, go to:

List of 2011 Winners – Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition

Top Texas Wine in 2011 Competition

Becker Vineyards Viognier, Texas, 2009, Viognier (Dry and Semi Dry), Class Champion, Texas Class Champion

Gold Medals

Brennan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Texas, 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon $14.01 to $22.00, Texas Class Champion

Caldwell Family Winery & Vineyards Eaglefire Muscat Blanc, Texas, 2010, Other Dry White, Reserve Class Champion, Texas Class Champion

Fall Creek Meritus, Texas, 2005, Bordeaux-Blend Red and Meritage > $28, Texas Class Champion

Lightcatcher Winery Amour De Chocolat, Texas, NV, Chocolate Flavored Wines, Class Champion, Texas Class Champion

Llano Estacado Winery Cellar Select Port, Texas, NV, Red Port and Port-style wines (glass-aged, <5years in wood), Class Champion, Texas Class Champion

Llano Estacado Winery Viviano Red, Texas, 2007, Cabernet-Sangiovese and Sang-Cab Blends (not Chianti), Class Champion, Texas Class Champion

Messina Hof Merrill’s Vineyard Riesling Angel, Texas, 2009, Riesling – Very Sweet, Texas Class Champion Continue reading »

Dec 022010

Valdicava Brunello 2001! Does Texas Have Anything that Comes Close?

Well, here I am again at Texas Winedrinkers Anonymous (TWA). I have to confess something. Last night, I had a moment of weakness while at the open door of my wine cooler. I was searching the hinterlands of the cooler when I came across several bottles that I bought in 2006 during another moment of weakness. You might recall that I once made a confession: Guilty as Charged. Texas WineSlinger Admits, “I Drink Foreign Wine” – See: Well, I fell off the Texas wine wagon again.

In my wine cooler last night, I came across my stash of Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2001. Wine experts professed that the year of 2001 was perhaps the best year ever in the portion of Tuscany near Montalcino, the region of Italy acclaimed to offer the best incantation of the Sangiovese grape on the planet. Upon its release, the 2001 Valdicava was given high marks from the Wine Spectator (WS):

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2001 – WS Score: 98 Release Price: $110 (my price at Spec’s $85) Current Auction Price: $93, Country: Italy, Region: Tuscany. “Black hued, with intense aromas of crushed berries and licorice with hints of oak. Full-bodied, with loads of fruit, velvety tannins and a long, long finish. Superb. One of the best Brunellos I have had in a long time. Best after 2010 [VT – I’ll also admit that I couldn’t wait any longer. This bottle was burning a hole in my wine cooler waiting my beck and call.]. 2,500 cases made.” –JS Continue reading »

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