When Wineslingers Meet, Some Wine is Likely to Get Spilled

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:


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1 Comment

  1. Russ, thanks again for dinner. So great to connect with you and I’ll look forward to more Texas wines and discussions of oxidation! And thanks for the shout out! See you when I get back from Italy… un abbraccio j

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