Cabernet Grill Experience: Tasso Chicken and McPherson White Wine Trio


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.

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.


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.”

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


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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.

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