Texas Fine Wine Tasting Stop: What Wine with Pizza? Texas Wine Drinkers Say Tempranillo… So, Try Duchman Winery’s Salt Lick Tempranillo

This Texas Fine Wine Tasting Stop on VintageTexas is coming to you from my kitchen. It might not seem very glamorous of the setting. However, let me just say that it is a ”Show Kitchen”. You open the front door and the first thing you see is my kitchen most of it all bright in shiny stainless steel. Now, on with the show.

Recently, I did an informal poll on the Texas Wine Drinkers Facebook Group. This group was started by Jim Baker many moons ago (Jim can tell you) and it is the largest and most active FB Group dedicated to Texas wine. My poll asked a simple question to the Texas wine aficionados in the group…

What Texas wine do you prefer to drink with pizza?

We received lots of good recommendations. I expected the responses to focus on traditional Italian wine varieties grown in Texas like Sangiovese or Montepulciano. And, we did get a few recommendations for Texas Sangiovese, Grenache, Syrah and Dolcetto. But, I was very surprised when the FB group’s most recommended Texas wine to drink with pizza was Tempranillo. Then, I thought…. “In Texas, to hell with the tradition of selecting a nice Italian varietal wine to go with pizza.”

So, now that the poll shows Tempranillo is one of Texan’s favored wines to accompany pizza, I had to think a moment about which Tempranillo to choose. Recently, I participated in a Texas Fine Wine ”Talk and Taste”, and the wine featured by winemaker Dave Reilly was his Duchman Family Winery 2016 Texas Tempranillo, Salt Lick Vineyard. I thought it was really flavorful, deep and dark, and well structured.

Winemaker Dave Reilly at Duchman Family Winery

When corresponding with him since the online event, Winemaker Dave said, ”I have made a few Tempranillos over the years. I only bottle ‘Tempranillo’ when it’s worthy of a varietal wine. It’s definitely not an every year occurrence at Duchman as is the case with our Montepulciano and Aglianico. This one, the 2016 Tempranillo from Salt Lick Vineyards, spent 3 years in French and American oak, 5% new American and is available in the Duchman Winery tasting room.”

I remember thinking that, if this Tempranillo was made in the Spanish region of Rioja, it would classify at least as a Reserva (click here). Most Texas Tempranillos only get 12 months or so of oak aging and could only be classified as the lesser Rioja category of Crianza.

Ooni Gas-fired Pizza Oven

So, from there I poured myself a glass of Duchman’s Salt Lick Vineyard 2016 Tempranillo and fired up my new Ooni gas fired pizza oven, mixed and rolled out the dough, and made a very tradition pizza: olive oil, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese topped sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, and chopped basil.

Duchman Family Winery 2016 Texas Tempranillo, Salt Lick Vineyard

For awhile now, I’ve been a fan of hill country Tempranillo because of its depth of darker berry and black cherry flavor versus many from the Texas High Plains, and the Duchman Winery 2016 Salt Lick Tempranillo did not disappoint. The black cherry was dominant from the start and brought with it mocha, licorice, and Mediterranean herbs. It also provided a Yin-Yang combination of firm but pleasant tannins and a silky texture. This wine comes on the heals of the Double Gold and Best Tempranillo (97 points) in the San Francisco International Wine Competition garnered by their 2015 Tempranillo also from Salt Lick Vineyards.

Perhaps this pizza-and-Tempranillo thing is just that Texans love Tempranillo, after all, it IS considered by many to be the “national” red grape variety of Texas. Apparently, in Texas, Tempranillo can go with anything, just like I’ve experienced in Napa Valley, California with Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve dined with my Napa friends and associates in homes and many fine restaurants and seen locals literally pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with anything and everything from steak to chicken to seafood to grilled veggies.

With acknowledgement to Spicewood’s Ron Yates, Dave Reilly’s arch-nemesis in his good-hearted debate with Ron on the topic if Tempranillo or Aglianico is the red grape for Texas, my takeaway message for this blog is…

Go with what works, and in this case I agree with the Texas Wine Drinkers FB group members that you can’t go wrong pairing Texas pizza with Texas Tempranillo, particularly this one from Duchman with its Salt Lick Vineyard hill country grapes.

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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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