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Did you know that Texas is the site of the first vineyard established in North America by Franciscan priests back in 1662? Or that it is home to the second largest AVA in the country? Or how about that it is the 5th largest wine producer and 7th largest wine grape producer in the U.S.? No? Well, now’s your chance to learn this and so much more about the Texas wine industry.

October is Texas Wine Month y’all! OK, I don’t speak with a Southern accent but am quite liberal with my use of y’all. And there is no better time to highlight a few Texas wines, which still have quite a few skeptics.

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And since we’re talking Texas wine, why not also talk Texas cuisine? I selected a few well-known Texas foods to pair with some Texas wines and invited the #WineSquad over to try them and give me their opinions. Some of them are skeptics too. As usual, they had some strong opinions.

THE FOOD

As Texas sits on the 3rd Coast, it was only fitting to have some delicious Gulf seafood. So I sautéed up some garlic Gulf shrimp as well as some blue crab cakes.

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We also had some of my usual Buttered Truffle Parmesan Popcorn, which always seems to be a crowd favorite.

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This is Texas so of course there was chicken fried steak. Now, I’m not generally a big fan of “CFS” but love these chicken fried steak bites I discovered from a local restaurant. Somehow, they seem less offensive.

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So we also had some Tex-Mex. Duh. Beef and chicken fajitas with all the fixins.

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Last, but certainly not least, we had some good ole’ mesquite and hickory smoked BBQ.

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We’re BBQ snobs and very much believe know ours is better than anything Memphis, North Carolina, or anyone else can dish out. And while Texans smoke a lot of things, brisket is king. But we also had some ribs for good measure.

THE WINE

2015 Duchman Family Vermentino ($17)

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First up was a Vermentino from the Duchman Family Winery. These folks believe in 100% Texas Grapes, 100% Texas Wine. Vermentino is found primarily in Italy, but has found some love in Texas as well. It’s generally a light-bodied wine and has some characteristics similar to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. This one was a lovely pale straw color and was bright and clear. We picked up aromas of citrus, apple, and some sweet floral notes. On the palate, this one was very smooth, almost creamy, with a small amount of spice. A couple of tasters even picked up some red berry flavors.

On its own, most of us really liked this wine. Great patio pounder for sure. I don’t drink a great deal of white wines, but I’m getting more of this! Cheers! But it was all wrong for the seafood (the shrimp being the worst offender), which was my initial thought when picking it. There was just not enough acidity in this wine. But it was very nice with the popcorn. Overall, more than half of us gave this wine one of our highest ratings.

2015 McPherson Viognier ($15)

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Next we had another white – this time a Viognier. Viognier has found a wonderful home in Texas and many believe it is the most successful white grape in the state. More and more, people are learning about, and appreciating Viognier produced in Texas in addition to those from California and mother home France. I admit I have never been a big fan of the grape, but am always willing to keep tasting. And while there is no shortage of Viognier from which to choose, McPherson Cellars consistently makes the list of good Texas Viognier.

The McPherson Viognier was a beautiful golden color in the glass with aromas of honeysuckle, apple, peach and a very specific d ’Anjou pear. The aromas jumped out of the glass for me, but interestingly enough a couple of tasters didn’t pick up much. This one was definitely much more full bodied than our Vermentino and offered up a hint of sweetness but was still a very light and refreshing wine as it saw only stainless steel. We generally thought this one paired well with the chicken fried steak and the crabcake and actually thought it would be great for Thanksgiving dinner. Now I’m still not a huge Viognier fan, but was pleasantly surprised at this one.

2014 Becker Vineyards Jolie Rosé ($22)

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Becker is one of the most well-known and prominent wineries in the State whose wines have been served in the White House. I have visited Becker many times in the past and you can read all about my latest visit here. This particular Rose was made using the Saignée (bleeding off) method and was made with Tempranillo, Syrah, and Grenache.

The wine was a beautiful dark salmon color with aromas of strawberry, cherry, and watermelon. It was like summer in a bottle. Our tasting notes revealed that more strawberry (even a couple of strawberry Jolly Ranchers) and cherry, as well a little spice and jam, showed up on the palate. People pretty much liked this one with everything they had. Popcorn? No problem. Shrimp? Bring it! So it ended up being one of the more versatile wines as expected.

2012 Lewis Wines Newsom Tempranillo ($30)

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Next up was a Tempranillo from Lewis Wines. I’ve visited these folks on a couple of occasions. You can read about my latest visit here. The fruit from this wine comes from the Texas High Plains, which is the AVA that produces the majority of Texas grapes – about 80% in fact. Tempranillo, which is a star in Spain, has done extremely well in Texas. Some say better than Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact it is the new grape darling of the state and by some predictions, the state’s future. It’s widely regarded by many as the state’s signature red grape. This particular one was a top rated wine for just about everyone. No one gave it less than a four on our five point scale.

The wine was a very deep ruby, almost burgundy with lots of fruit aromas of dark cherry, plum, and red currant. Well, at least one taster, who has never smelled a currant imaged that this is what one would smell like. OK. Tasting it revealed a smooth wine offering up a mouthful of fruity jam as well as more of the dark cherries and plums and finishing with a hint of spice. This one was fantastic with both the BBQ and the beef fajitas. Take note Texans!

2015 Messina Hof (Private Reserve) Reflections of Love ($22)

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Our last wine was from Messina Hof. I recently visited their main estate and you can read a recap here. This particular wine is a Bordeaux style blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot. The wine was a very dark, inky, burgundy color (also got ‘beautiful’ from one taster) and brought out a wide range of opinions on both its aromas and flavors. The tasting notes for aromas ranged from “wine scent” to “steakhouse” to “fruity” to “peppery currant” to “dark berry fruit.” Apparently there was something for everyone.

Tasting it we (someone) observed that it was “bold and carnivorous” (I love my #WineSquad!) and also picked up some leather, spice, and cherry. Given the blend, my initial thought was that this would pair well with the brisket and the beef fajitas since that’s where you typically go with a Bordeaux style blend. However, I thought it much better with the chicken fajitas. There just wasn’t enough “structure” with this one to stand up to some hearty beef. It was soft and a bit flabby for me. I was surprised by how tannic it wasn’t. But at least one taster thought it was a perfect accompaniment to beef and gave it his highest rating.  And that’s why we taste the wines!

Cheers until next time y’all.

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