Armadillo’s Leap wine tasting room opens in Fredericksburg

Armadillos Leap Tasting Room
Armadillos Leap Tasting Room

 

There are dozens of wineries in the Texas Hill country, with many of them congregated along the 30 mile stretch between Johnson City and Fredericksburg on or near Highway 290. In a sign that the booming growth of the Texas wine industry isn’t slowing down, the folks behind Pedernales Cellars are opening a new tasting room for its second label, Armadillo’s Leap wines on Tuesday, December 8.

The Kuhlken-Osterberg family, who opened the Pedernales Cellars tasting room in Stonewall on December 8, 2008, are celebrating the winery’s seventh anniversary with the opening of Armadillo’s leap. The new tasting room is just a leap west from the current winery, located at 6258 Highway 290 in Fredericksburg. The quaint stone and log building used to be home to the Pink Pig restaurant and is well-situated in the high-traffic winery crawl.

The wines, made by Pedernales winemaker, David Kuhlken, are more value oriented than the Pedernales line-up with price from $14.99 to $29.99 per bottle. The accessible, playful wines include a Sparkling Moscato, a Viognier-Roussanne blend, a red blend, a Viognier, and a Muscat. They are offered as part of a six-wine tasting menu for $10 a person.

“We’re delighted to be opening this new tasting room directly on the 290 Wine Trail,” said Julie Kuhlken, co-owner of Armadillo’s Leap. “We’ve enjoyed launching Armadillo’s Leap and creating this brand of wines, and we felt the time was right to give them a higher profile with their own tasting room. We look forward to more people discovering how fun they are, starting with a label that pays homage, albeit tongue-in-cheek, to a truly Texas animal.”

The tasting room will be open 11-6 every day, except for major holidays.

This story was originally published on Texas Wine and Trail Magazine.

What are you drinking? 

Pedernales Cellars introduces Texas Viognier Reserve 2014

Texas Viognier Reserve 2014

Pedernales Cellars just introduced its Texas Viognier Reserve 2014, a lovely white wine made from grapes grown near Lubbock, Texas. This is the third year that Pedernales has made this wine and it has big shoes to fill to meet the expectations set by its older sibling. Huge shoes.

“The 2012 Reserve Viognier put us on the map,” says Fredrik Osterberg, co-founder and president of Pedernales Cellars.

It put Pedernales on the map by winning big at a prestigious international wine competition. The Texas Viognier Reserve 2012 scored a Grand Gold at the 2013 Lyon International Wine Competition, beating the French on its home turf. Will the 2014 vintage be as good?

What is it?

Viognier (pronounced VEE-ohn-yay) is best known for famed wines made in the appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet in the Northern Rhône valley of France, and it’s widely grown in the United States —particularly in California and Texas. It makes wines with huge perfumey floral aromas of honeysuckle and violets, with a viscous body laden with ripe peaches and apricots.

Where is it grown?

Pedernales Cellars didn’t make this wine in 2013 because of spring freezes in the High Planes. Spring freezes hit again 2014, and some blocks like the Reddy Vineyard Viognier, which was used in the 2012 vintage, were completely iced. Fruit from theBingham Vineyards of the Texas High Plains made it through the nasty weather and into the bottles of the Viognier Reserve 2014.

How is it made?

Winemaker, David Kuhlken, made 960 cases starting by pressing the grapes near the vineyard to limit skin contact. Most of the fermentation took place in stainless steel, while some of it finished fermentation in new French Allier barrels. That portion was aged in barrel four months and blended with the rest of the Viognier which was aged in stainless to add complexity and to the fresh fruit flavors.

What does it taste like?

This new release is just beginning to open, but could use another month or so to fully come alive. It has a rich floral and citrus scent with honey, and bright white peach, grapefruit, lemon zest, vanilla, caramel and toast flavors coming alive on the palate.

This wine could almost be mistaken for a Northern Rhone. In fact, the Pedernales staff held a tasting with nine Viogniers from around the world, including one from France. The French wine was a bit more restrained that the Pedernales, but the two had similar pithy bitterness and fragrance. Wines from California had more prominent violet scents and milder flavors in general.

This very well could be as good as the 2012 vintage.

Despite the age difference, it is clear that the 2014 and 2012 share the same heritage. The Texas Viognier Reserve 2012 now with a little age has honeysuckle, over ripe peach, stewed pear, apricot, butterscotch and baked lemon flavors. It’s flat out delicious.

What goes well with it?

With its lush body, floral aromatics and bold fruit Viognier is well matched with complimentary flavors like sweet and fruity, as well as contrasting foods like spicy and creamy. Try it with dried fruit, like apricots and creamy, pungent cheese like Camembert. Thai food, curries, spicy chicken dishes and wings all go great with the aromatics of Viognier. For desert, pair with with tart and sweet yummies like lemon macarons or candied lemons.

Where to buy it?

The Pedernales Cellars Texas Viognier Reserve 2014 is available at the winery and at t select stores, in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, as well as select locations in West Texas and the Hill Country for ($40). Drink this wine now with the late evening summer sun warming your neck. Better yet, buy a bunch of bottles so you can save some for next summer and a couple for summer 2017.

Fredrik Osterberg and Julie Kuhlken
Fredrik Osterberg and Julie Kuhlken

PEDERNALES CELLARS

2916 Upper Albert Road
Stonewall, TX 78671
Tasting Room: 830-644-2037
Website www.pedernalescellars.com

This story was originally written for and published by Texas Wine & Trail Magazine.

Sample disclaimer: Pedernales Cellars provided a comparative tasting of the 2012 and 2014 Texas Reserve Viognier at no charge. 

What are you drinking? 

Texas Fine Wine intends to pour its way into the hearts of Sommeliers at 10TH anniversary TEXSOM

TEXAS Wine at TEXSOM

It’s always hard to overcome negative perceptions. The Texas wine industry has that problem. Despite several years of massive quality improvements that have brought home trophies and medals in prestigious competitions, Texas wine is still roundly seen as sub-par. One bad experience years ago could cause a wine lover to turn their nose up at all Texas wine.

A group of Texas wine makers is out to change that perception with a united effort to let consumers and wine experts taste just how good Texas wines are. Texas Fine Wine will co-host with Texas Monthly a hospitality suite on Sunday, August 10, at TEXSOM, the world’s largest education conference for wine professionals. The group, whose members include Bending Branch WineryBrennan VineyardsDuchman Family Winery and Pedernales Cellars, hopes to let sommeliers taste the quality for themselves. Texas Fine Wine will also pour wines for guests attending the August 11 Grand Tasting.

Fredrik Österberg Perdenales Cellars“Our focus is to bring more attention to fine wines made in Texas that can be found on the wine lists of some of the best restaurants and wine stores in the state,” says Fredrik Osterberg, co-owner of Pedernales Cellars. “We are truly grateful for the outpouring of support from the sommelier community for our wines. Sponsoring TEXSOM is one way for us to recognize the support of that community.”

Texas Fine Wine is a privately funded marketing initiative led by group of Texas wineries dedicated to producing quality wines sourced from Texas appellation vineyards. This group has held special wine tasting events and for the second year will woo some of the world’s best sommeliers at TEXSOM. The backing of Texas Monthly magazine certainly helps raise the group’s profile.

“Texas Monthly is sponsoring a hospitality suite along with Texas Fine Wines as a continuation of the magazine’s involvement with TEXSOM last year,” says Jessica Dupuy, Texas Monthly wine columnist. “Each of the wineries showcased at the suite had wines selected in the 2013 list of Texas Monthly’s Best Texas Wines. There will also be a few other wineries spotlighted from this list at the conference’s Monday evening Grand Tasting including McPherson Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards, and William Chris Vineyards. We continue to see great strides in the quality of Texas wines and this is a perfect opportunity to share these wines with a national community of influential wine professionals.”

Jessica Dupuy Texas Monthly

Check out this fat list of awards amassed by Texas Fine Wine wineries in the past few years:

Brennan Vineyards

  • Gold, 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Newburg Vineyard, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, W Winemakers Choice NV, 2014 Riverside International Wine Competition

Bending Branch Winery

  • Gold, 2011 Texas Tannat, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Top Texas Wine (Class Champion and Double Gold), 2011 Tannat, Estate Grown, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
  • Double Gold,  2011 Tannat-CM, Estate Grown, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Double Gold-, 2011 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Double Gold, 2012 Picpoul Blanc, Estate Grown, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Gold, 2011 Mourvedre, Reddy Vineyards, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards

 Duchman Family Winery

  • Gold, 2011 Aglianico, Oswald Vineyard, 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Sangiovese, Reddy Vineyard, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Sangiovese, Martin Vineyard, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, Bayer Vineyard, 2014 Lone Star International Wine Competition

 Pedernales Cellars

  • Double Gold, 2012 Tempranillo Reserve, 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition
  •  Gold, 2011 Texas Tempranillo, 2014 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
  • Gold and Best in Class, 2010 High Plains Tempranillo, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge
  • Gold, 2012 Texas GSM, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge
  •  Gold, 2012 George Bush 25th Anniversary Reserve Texas Tempranillo, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge

 

What are you drinking?

Texas Wines Showcased at TEXSOM

TEXSOM,  an industry conference dedicated to the education of top beverage professionals in Texas and around the world, will feature an all Texas wine hospitality suite for the first time ever. What? A three day conference presented by the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and the Texas Sommelier Association hasn’t always been about Texas wine? Well, not exactly. It has dozen’s of educational sessions about wine from all over the world. I’m thrilled to see our home state getting a showcase in front of this stellar audience.

Instead of doing a full blog post, I’m just going to paste the official press release for you to read (yeah I’m totally lazy):

SOMMELIERS, WINE ENTHUSIASTS INVITED TO GET A TASTE OF TEXAS AT FIRST-EVER
TASTE TEXAS WINES” HOSPITALITY SUITE AT TEXSOM

 Sponsored by Texas Monthly, Suite to Feature Four Premier Wineries Pouring Award-Winning Wines and Consumer Favorites

 

Pedernales Cellars at TEXSOMAUSTIN, Texas (July 19, 2013) – For the first time ever, four of the Lone Star State’s most distinguished wineries have joined together to host a “Taste Texas Wines” hospitality suite at the 9th annual TEXSOM, a two-day educational and tasting conference for sommeliers and wine buyers, enthusiasts and educators.  Featuring only Texas appellation wines, the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite is Sunday, August 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for registered TEXSOM conference attendees.

Sponsored by Texas Monthly, the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite features wines that were recognized as “Best Texas Wines of 2012,” which included 10 red and 10 white wines from Texas appellations.

Brennan VineyardsDuchman Family WineryMcPherson Cellars and Pedernales Cellars will share some of their finest wines, all of which have received national and international acclaim at prestigious wine competitions, and represent some of the best wines produced in Texas.   The owners of these wineries will be available at the suite to discuss their wines and the growing Texas wine industry.

James Tidwell, Drew Hendricks, TEXSOM Founders“We are happy that these four wineries have banded together to promote not only the individual wineries, but also the dynamic Texas wine industry as a whole,” says James Tidwell, MS, TEXSOM co-founder.  “While TEXSOM is an international conference, Texas wineries have a significant presence at the various events and activities, including the Grand Tasting and Awards Reception and educational seminars. The Taste Texas Wines Hospitality Suite is a natural extension that allows even more wine professionals from around the world to experience Texas wines and winemakers.”

Tidwell notes that Brennan Vineyards 2011 Lily as well as the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Viognier and 2010 High Plains Tempranillo won gold medals at the 2013Dallas Morning News and TEXSOM Wine Competition.

In addition, at the 2013 Lyon France International Wine Competition, Pedernales Cellars received grand gold for its 2012 Viognier Reserve.  At the 2013 Pacific Rim Wine Competition, McPherson Cellars was awarded gold and best in class for its 2012 Dry Chenin and Brennan Vineyards received gold for its 2011 Tempranillo.  Brennan Vineyards also won the chairman’s award (unanimous gold) for its 2011 Dark Horse at the 2013 Riverside International Wine Competition.

At the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition, McPherson Cellars and Pedernales Cellars both earned gold medals for their 2011 La Herencia and 2011 Tempranillo Reserve, respectively.  Taking home silver at the competition was Pedernales for its 2011 GSM; Duchman Family Winery for its 2011 Trebbiano and 2011 Dolcetto, as well as bronze for its Tempranillo; and Brennan Vineyards earned silver for its 2012 Viognier, as well as bronze for its 2012 White Rhône Blend and 2011 Tempranillo.

At the 2013 Lone Star International Wine Competition, the Brennan Vineyards won gold and grand star award for its 2012 Lily; Pedernales Cellars won double gold for both its 2010 High Plains Tempranillo and 2010 Tempranillo Reserve and gold for its 2011 GSM ; and McPherson Cellars received gold for its 2012 Les Copains.

At the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition, Pedernales Cellars won double gold, Top Texas Wine, Class Champion and Texas Class Champion awards for its 2012 Texas Viognier, as well as gold for its 2010 Texas Tempranillo.

TEXSOM attendees will enjoy many of these award-winning wines and others at the Taste Texas Wines Hospitality Suite.  Here is a complete list of wines that will be poured:

  • Brennan Vineyards

–  2012 Viognier
–  2012 Lily
–  2011 Dark Horse
–  2011 Tempranillo
–  2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Duchman Family Winery

−        2011 Trebbiano
−        2011 Viognier
−        2011 Dolcetto
−        2011 Tempranillo

  •  McPherson Cellars

−        2012 Les Copains
−        2011 La Herencia
−        2012 Dry Rosé Vin Gris
−        2012 Dry Chenin
−        2010 Sangiovese

  •  Pedernales Cellars

−        2012 Viognier
−        2012 Viognier Reserve
−        2011 Texas Tempranillo
−        2010 Texas High Plains Tempranillo
−        2011 GSM

 

For more information about the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite and the Texas wine industry go to www.TasteTexasWines.com

What are you drinking? 

Tis the Season wine list: Top 10 holiday wines, from sparkling to dessert

 Godmé Père et Fils NV Brut

 Co-authored by Jessica Dupuy
Looking for the perfect holiday wine? If you need a little help, and you’re willing to take the advice of two relatively well-informed wine enthusiasts, then look no further than our very own “‘Tis the Season wine list.”

CultureMap contributor Matt McGinnis of WhatAreYouDrinking.net and food editor Jessica Dupuy bring you a short and simple list of 10 wines. Two sparkling wines, two whites, two reds, two dessert whites and two dessert reds.

Matt McGinnis: “If you follow just one guiding principle for selecting wine for your holiday celebrations, by all means make it this one: don’t be a Scrooge. Whether you are hosting guests or celebrating just with your family, the holidays demand that you go the extra mile. You don’t have to be ostentatiously extravagant or break the bank, but don’t skimp on the most important element of your holiday meal, the wine.”

Jessica Dupuy: “McGinnis’ list may appeal to the Champagne and Lace wine lover, but let’s say you’ve got to host a large group of people and don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a crowd who — most likely — doesn’t care what alcohol-infused beverage you put in their hands. Or let’s just say it, you’re like a lot of us Scrooges out there and are just plain cheap, my list is the one for you.”

Sparkling Wine 

McGinnis Picks: Godmé Père et Fils NV Brut Réserve Premier Cru
The first wine you should grab for any holiday occasion is bubbly. Every aspect of opening, pouring, serving and drinking Champagne excites the senses in ways no other wine can. This Christmas, look for a smaller Champagne house that grows its own grapes and produces its own wine. You can find these Champagnes, known as grower-producers, by looking for a tiny “RM” on the label. This is a good short-hand for finding high-quality bubbly without overpaying.

Godmé Père et Fils NV Brut Réserve Premier Cru fits the bill for “party-in-a-bottle.” Once popped open, riotous showers of bubbles race to the top of the glass to form a creamy mousse and the bubbles continue to dance and play on the tongue with aplomb. It fills the nose with walnut, apple and pear with the burst of each festive bubble. The Godmé has toasty bread and bright green apple, ripe strawberries flavors and a jangling citrus zip.

The best way to start off any holiday celebration is a kiss under the mistletoe quickly followed by a toast with lovely Champagne. It’s a perfect mate with soft creamy cheeses, ripe berries and just about any hors d’oeuvre you choose to serve before dinner.

I picked up this lovely bubbly from The Red Room Lounge for $55.

Dupuy Picks: Gruet Rosé Non Vintage
While Matt’s philosophy is certainly altruistic if not a bit showy, there was a time when shelling out a few extra bucks to ensure you could show up to a holiday dinner with a good wine was key. But these days, the global market for wine has been blown wide open with a whole slew of impressive wines on the shelves for under $15. You just have to know how to find them.

Everyone loves a good celebration. And a few bubbles in the bottle is a sure fire way to summon a good time. While the best from the large French Champagne houses or even the most delicate of small production grower-producer Champagnes can be instant show-stoppers, I’d suggest panty dropper. And sparkling wine is no doubt the go-to wine for that. But you’re just as likely to turn heads with a little bubbly from the sandy loam soils of New Mexico.

The Gruet Rosé is bright with flavors of strawberry and raspberry as well as hint of lemon zest and warm limestone. When it comes down to it, it’s really just as sophisticated as the real deal. It doesn’t hurt that the winery was started by a French family in the mid-1980s while looking to make a mark with wine on the American frontier.

You can find Gruett Rosé at Spec’s for about $15.

White Wine

McGinnis Picks: Fritz Haag 2010 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese
Coming to Christmas dinner without a white wine is like going to church without any pants. You just wouldn’t do it. Riesling is among the most food friendly wines on the planet and a sure bet to pair well with almost anything you choose to serve at the holidays. I recommend an ever so slightly sweet Spätlese variety which will accompany savory, spicy and sweet dishes alike.

Here is the second place where you shouldn’t be a cheapskate. Spend a bit more to get a fine German Riesling like the Fritz Haag from the Mosel region. This is an absolutely delightful wine that smells of honeysuckle, ripe pear, baked apples and cotton candy. It has luscious cocktail pears and peaches, honeydew flavors balanced with an electric acidity that makes it sing. It’s great with your salad and appetizer courses.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling is available for $40 at the Austin Wine Merchant.

Dupuy Picks: Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay
McGinnis’s shrewd selection of German Riesling for the holidays is certainly noble, but potentially foolish. I’m not about to waste a few drops of precious angel tears on someone who doesn’t appreciate them. And when it comes to holiday celebrations, you are usually running the gamut of wine drinkers who love anything from the oakiest of Rombauer Chardonnays to the most delicate of German Rieslings. I’m in favor of meeting somewhere in the middle.

Offer all the citrus and apple notes that a fine Chardonnay can offer, with an extra boost of minerality from the French region of the Loire Valley. This crisp little wine barely has a kiss of oak, but finds its strength in its acidity, which makes it a great food wine for your average turkey dinner to grilled fish or pork tenderloin.

Whole Foods Market has this wine for only about $10.

Red Wine

McGinnis Picks: 2011 Domaine Chignard Fleurie ‘Les Moriers’
Christmas dinners can be a cacophony of clashing flavors with several brash dishes competing for your tongue’s attention. It’s tough to pair a red wine with diverse dishes like goose, turkey or beef Wellington and Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and Waldorf salad. Beaujolais, made with the Gamay grape, are soft, fruity and versatile enough to go with almost any dish.

The engrossing experience of drinking a Beaujolais cru is a departure from the unfussy toss back of inexpensive Beaujolais Nouveau. It has bold scents of wild strawberries and maraschino cherries. Unlike the Nouveau, it has complexity on top of the fruit-forward juiciness. The sassy cheery cherry and blueberry flavors are balanced with granite minerality, crisp acidity and soft tannins. It is a festive accompaniment to almost anything you choose to serve.

This lovely Beaujolais is among the sumptuous selections of French wine at the Austin Wine Merchant for $25.

Dupuy Picks: Marquee de la Musa Garnacha
True, Beaujolais is an elegant and beautiful choice — and I look forward to joining McGinnis’ holiday dinner to enjoy some. But just as with Riesling, it’s the type of wine that is more on an acquired taste for some than for others. I choose to move to the warmer climate of Spain, specifically to the Cariñena region where Garnacha (Grenache in French) reigns supreme.

Similar to the Gamay grape found in Beaujolais, Garnacha is a thin-skinned grape often used to bring more depth of fruit to blends with a breadth of earthiness and tannin. This wine is light, but with a fair amount of complexity. And as it is a warm climate grape, it lends itself to foods with a little spice — as is fairly typical of holiday dinners in Texas. Smoked pork loin with an apple, cranberry and jalapeño chutney would be ideal for this wine.

You can pick this up at Whole Foods Market for about $9.

White Dessert Wine

Sandeman SherryMcGinnis Picks: Sandeman Royal Corregidor Rich Old Oloroso Sherry 20 Year Old
Sherry is one of the most complex and difficult to produce wines in the world. I could bore you with the intricacies of how it’s made, but suffice to say that if someone shares Sherry with you, it’s because they think you are worth it. That’s reason enough to put it on the holiday table.

The Sandeman aged Oloroso smells as good as a holiday party with roasted candied pralines, almonds and baked pear. It tastes like kissing the gorgeous, foul-mouthed intern in the coat closet at the end of that Christmas party; nutty and bitter mixed with 20-year-old sweetness and the saltiness of a reluctant tear. I can’t imagine another wine combining sweet, bitter and brine in a more pleasurable way.

Back at home, serve it slightly chilled, but not refrigerator cold, in a tulip shaped white wine glass. It is a perfect compliment to the end of a holiday meal. Its rich raisiny sweetness goes well with many traditional holiday deserts like gingerbread, rum cake and chocolate-cherry trifle.

This diminutive 500ml bottle will set you back $20 at the Austin Wine Merchant.

Dupuy Picks: King Estate Pinot Gris Ice Wine
While McGinnis is manipulating the intern into the coat closet, I’d rather keep my dessert wines on the classy side. They can be sweet, but more in the vein of angelic seraphim and cherubim rather than tawdry underaged tarts. So I’m going with a lovely little ice wine from Oregon.

The King Estate uses the often mis-represented Pinot Gris grape for this crisp and delicate wine brimming with ripe pear, apricot, peaches and wildflower honey. At only 11 percent alcohol this wine is searingly delicate, but the fragrant aromatics and the higher level of residual sugar will do doubt ensnare your senses. Serve chilled alongside a cornmeal cranberry-orange zest cake and you’ll certainly hear the songs of angels.

Technically, I’m barely shaving a few dollars off the price of his Sherry with my ice wine, but with the difference, you can still do your best to entice the intern with a Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boy — she probably won’t know the difference. You can also find this at Whole Foods Market for about $18.

Red Dessert Wine

Graham's 20 Year Old Tawny PortMcGinnis Picks: Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Porto
Port has always been one of my favorite fortified wines. The Port screams “Happy Holidays!” Drinking Port at Christmas is definitely a British tradition, but it’s getting more and more traction in the states as people are more open to explore fortified wines. This 20 Year Old Tawny has a boozy nose of dried orange peel and figs. Port is always bold and this one doesn’t disappoint. Orange, cherry, leather and cigar cling together in a sweet vanilla present.

When you are all done with your feast having eaten every tidbit of Who-pudding and every morsel of roast beast, sip on this nectar and you won’t have a care in the least. Sit back by the fire and sip a snifter of joy while enjoying visions of sweet fairies dancing, oh boy. It’s just as sad to finish the glass as unwrapping the last present under the tree.

The Austin Wine Merchant has a good selection of Port and this one goes for $50.

Dupuy Picks: Pedernales Cellars Glögg
McGinnis does have me here. I am a sucker for Port. But while he’s savoring his last drop of Tawny, I’ll likely be polishing off the last of the dirty dishes from the Holiday feast. But I’d never leave my guests without something to talk about. Which is why I’m going with something a little unorthodox: a Swedish-inspired wine made from a local Hill Country producer.

Glögg is a seasonal holiday fortified red wine infused with a whole range of spices including cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s typically served warm with a cinnamon stick and handful of raisins or dried cherries tossed in the bottom of the glass — an excellent treat to enjoy when the Glogg is at its end. This velvety red sticky is made in homage to Pedernales Cellars co-founder Fredrik Osterberg who grew up in Sweden and now finds his home among the rolling landscape of the Texas Hill Country. Serve this libation with a handful of Swedish-style ginger snaps and know that you’re not only spreading good cheer but supporting a local producer all at the same time.

Currently Glögg can only be found at the Pedernales Cellars winery in Stonewall for about $19. You can order it online and still probably stay under the price of McGinnis’ Port.

This story originally appeared on CultureMap.

What are you drinking?

Are Texas wines for real? A recap of the Austin Food & Wine Festival

We have a lot of pride in our state. Everything is not only bigger, but also better in Texas. Is that really true of everything? Sure we like to eat local and drink local, but come on, is Texas wine up to snuff?

A panel of celebrated wine experts convened at the Austin Food & Wine Festival to showcase a flight of Texas wines and answer the question, “Are TX wines for real?” Texas wine writer and author of The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine, Dr. Russell Kane, assembled master sommelier, Devon Broglie, master sommelier, Craig Collins, executive wine editor of Food & Wine, Ray Isle and advanced sommelier, June Rodil to review wines that have won gold medals in recent competitions. Kane selected these globally experienced sommeliers because they have the perspective to critically evaluate Texas wines in an unbiased way.

Kane selected these globally experienced sommeliers because they have the perspective to critically evaluate Texas wines in an unbiased way, and he was quick to point out that the wines selected for the tasting — the wines that do well in Texas – are not the standard West Coast line-up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.

“Texas just ain’t Bordeaux and it sure as hell ain’t Burgundy.” We have a terroir that is more akin to Europe than northern France or the West Coast of the U.S. Our variable continental climate is similar to southern European areas like Rioja and Rhone. Our soil is also similar. Texas is has limestone bedrock just as Spain and France do. The grapes that grow well in southern France, Portugal, Spain and Italy also grow well in Texas.

“If you look at what is being planted, Tempranillo is out stripping Cabernet two-to-one,” explains Kane.

The panelists took turns describing the wines made with lesser known grape varieties.

First up was 2010 Duchman Family Winery Vermentino made with grapes grown in the Bingham Vineyards in the Texas High Plains. Broglie started the discussion with an adroit observation: “What stands out is its frickin’ delicious.” It has bright lemon, and honeysuckle scent, and has good balance of acidity and fruit with white peach flavors and slight bitterness of lemon zest on the pleasant finish.

Vermentino grows well in coastal areas of Italy and is not a mainstay of U.S. wine. Kane says, “This is an indication of Texas wine future. We will be the location where interesting grapes will like Vermentino reside.” That’s not without challenges Broglie, acknowledges. “These producers have taken some risks by making wine out of non-standard grape varieties.”

Isle adds, “It’s a financial risk. Trying to get people to try varietals that they don’t know is risky.” This wine retails for about $14.

Next up was 2010 McPherson Cellars Roussanne Reserve, also made with grapes grown in the Bingham Vineyards. “McPherson is one of the founding fathers of Texas wine,” Kane says. “They have been in business for more than 40 years and have started making wines with grape varieties that grow well in the Mediterranean. ” The Roussanne grape, which grows in Southern Rhone, can handle the Texas heat and late spring frost.

“I look for wines to smell and taste like where they came from and that is what you see with this Roussanne,” Collins says. Isle comments: “I’m blown away by this Roussanne. It is a big, full-bodied white with great acidity that elevates the citrus flavors. It is outrageously refreshing on a Sunday morning.” Collins suggests pairing the McPherson with foods that go well with acidity. “I would immediately go with a heavier grilled fish or a lighter fowl dish like quail.”

Rodil adds, “Shellfish like Nantucket scallops, monkfish and lobster has natural sweetness that goes well with this wine.” This wine retails for about $18.

The third wine tasted was 2009 Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo. Isle, a Texas native who now resides in New York, mused about grape selection. “When I wander around Texas it feels like Spain to me, and I wonder why I there isn’t Tempranillo growing here. What I love about the grape is that it has great concentration of flavor, but doesn’t have the massive body of Cabernet. It has finesse and elegance. The Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo has leathery flavors with bright red fruit, great acid and lingering flavor. Serve this wine slightly chilled. While I wouldn’t mistake this for Rioja, I would recognize it as a typical Tempranillo. It has a different balance than a Spanish wine.”

Collins weighs in on balance: “You know how the pills we swallow are round and not triangular? They are round and smooth so they go down easily. We don’t take triangle pills that are jabbing us on the corners saying ‘ooh that’s too much.’ That’s what balance is. It’s having good integration of alcohol, acid and tannin to make it smooth and round. This Tempranillo is really balanced.” This wine retails for about $30.

Next up was the Kiepersol Estates 2010 Stainless Syrah from Tyler, Texas. Kiepersol ages its Syrah in stainless and not oak barrels. “The tannin you get from this is from the seeds and skin, not from oak,” says Kane. This wine is an inky-dark, teeth-staining, fruit forward style similar to Australian Shiraz. Collins described it as “definitely a great food wine. It pairs well with what we do well in Texas: grilling and BBQ. There is a pepper spice to the wine that goes well with grilled meat. I’d serve this a little bit cool.

“I’m a fan of ice cubes in wine. I make ice cubes from rosé wine and drop them in my glass. That kind of ice doesn’t water down the wine.” The Stainless Syrah is a limited production with only 500 cases made and retails for about $32.

The fifth wine was 2009 Sandstone Cellars VII, made with Touriga Nacional grapes grown in Mason County Texas. The grape is grown in Spain and Portugal and is a primary blending grape in Port. “I requested we taste this wine because it’s a great example of doing grape varieties that show the terroir of Texas. It has big complexity,” says Broglie.

“It’s a beefy, animally wine. And there is a lot going on here. It has dark purple color, dark berry flavors and is very tannic. It’s damn good wine.” Don Pullam, Sandstone Cellars winemaker, was in the room to soak up adulation for his wine that retails for about $20.

The last selection was 2008 Haak Vineyards Madeira made with Blanc du Bois grapes from the coastal Galveston area. The grape was genetically started in Florida to take the heat, but has become Texas’ own grape as it is one of the most planted in the state. Rodil encouraged the audience to embrace desert wines saying this one in particular pairs well with the breakfast sweet rolls served at the session. “The Haak Madeira has nutty floral and caramel flavors with a lift of bright acidity and citrus that balances out the sweetness. Once you taste it, you’ll want another drink.”

“It has a distinct character of bourbon barrels with vanilla flavors,” Isle adds. Rodil suggests that “[o]nce you open the wine, store it in a temperature controlled area and it will keep a long time. It has 18.5 percent alcohol, so you only have to drink an ounce of it — or six if you are me.”  Haak Vineyards Madeira retails for about $40.

Wines from a state not known as a premier wine producing state priced in the $30 and $40 range seem pretty steep. The panelists defended the pricing. “Some Texas wines are a steal,” Isle says. “I’d put this McPherson up against any Roussanne for $18 and it will blow them away.”

“Once people start buying more wines from Texas, the prices will balance out,” Rodil suggests.

The panel was a veritable love fest for Texas wines. If they are so good, why don’t they get broader recognition? Kane chalks it up to relative scarcity of Texas wines being exported. “About 97% percent of what we produce is consumed locally. Texas is fifth largest wine producing state, the fourth largest consuming and the seventh largest grape grower. Clearly we don’t have enough wine produced to serve the out of state market, so it is hard to get people in other states and countries to evaluate our wine. That’s why there are not a lot of reviews in national magazines and that will continue until production grows.”

With a vote of confidence from wine experts, will you give Texas wines a try?

This story previously ran on CultureMap.

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