Messina Hof Winery is going big and celebrating its 40th Anniversary. That’s a long time to have been making wine in Texas! And to celebrate, the winery is featuring events all year long. In addition to releasing a commemorative collection of 40th anniversary wines, there will be wine dinners, cellar tours, and a whole lot more. To find out more about the upcoming events, visit their 40th Anniversary site.
As part of the year-long festivities, I was invited to the winery’s Spring Release dinner.
I’d heard about the 2015 Sagrantino they were releasing and couldn’t wait to give it a whirl. As luck would have it, both the Paulo Sagrantino as well as the 2015 Blanc de Blanc Texas Sparkling Brut were available to start the evening.
Messina Hof is the first Texas winery to produce Sagrantino and came about when founder Paul Vincent Bonarrigo visited Umbria and fell in love with the grape. Sagrantino hails from Montefalco in Italy’s Umbria region and is generally regarded as the most tannic wine in the world. Like so many other indigenous Italian varieties, it’s unusual to find it outside of Italy. Messina Hof’s is planted in the Texas High Plains as well as at its estate in Bryan, Texas. And yes, it was brooding and tannic and complex, but it also showed nice blackberry, black plum, and subtle spice.
If the Sagrantino was brooding, the Sparkling Brut was its polar opposite as it was crisp and delicate. I’d first had the Sparkling brut when I visited last year and continue to be impressed by the quality of this sparkler.
And then it was time for dinner of five courses.
Whole wheat blinis topped with Viognier chive creme fraiche and caviar paired with the 2016 Sophia Marie Rosé. Sitting with Paul M. Bonarrigo at dinner, he explained how he’d wanted a more Provencal style of Rosé. I do think they are pretty darn close with this lovely wine made from 100% Dolcetto which was grown in the Texas High Plains. The previous vintage was a blend of Orange Muscat, Dolcetto, and Merlot and was more of a semi-dry style. This version was dry with delicate red fruit indicative of Provence.
Cream of asparagus soup laced with Blanc du Bois topped with a parmesan toast point and asparagus nibs. This was paired with the 2016 Private Reserve Blanc du Bois. First, who knew there was such a fantastic wine pairing for asparagus! I mean, really, who knew? And second, I will disclose that I haven’t been a huge fan of Blanc du Bois in the past. This one was so clean, crisp, aromatic, and beautifully made that it certainly got my attention. I don’t know if it was the paring or the wine, but I very much enjoyed this wine. Guess I will have to get more to be sure. #WineProblems
Cucumber ring with a feta style goat cheese, spring greens, shaved carrot and confit of tomato with a Zinfandel vinaigrette. This was paired with the 2015 Paulo Primitivo. This was both my favorite food and favorite wine of the night. I never would have paired this together! Delicious! The Primitivo was rich, smooth with ripe red and black fruit. Very lovely.
Grilled marlin steak on a bed of spaghetti squash topped with crawfish pancetta. This was paired with the 2015 40th Anniversary Heritage Blend which is a blend of 8 varietals with the predominant ones being Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sagrantino. Each of the eight varieties is selected from the best Texas vineyards in their portfolio. This one was bold with lush tannins.
The final course of the evening was savarin cake soaked with strawberry syrup and topped with fresh strawberries macerated in Beau. This was paired with the 2014 Private Reserve Papa Paulo Port. The Port was the first wine I ever experienced from Messina Hof and I’ve always gone back for more. Made from 100% Lenoir estate fruit, this was offered up cocoa, dark cherry, and a hint of spice. Decadent.
All in all, a fabulous evening!