Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cork and Demon's Pick of the Summer 2005

There are four or five Argentine Torrontes at our store, all very pleasant, but only two that really stand out with their refreshing structure and finesse. One's out for the season, and the other is this one, which I hereby award the coveted Cork and Demon Pick of the Summer for 2005:

2004 La Yunta Torrontes, Famatina Valley, Argentina

Torrontes is a lovely, aromatic white in general. On the low end, it is fruity and fun, full of lively, juicy tropical/citrus/floral flavors. What I just looove about La Yunta (besides the cool image of two llamas standing one in front of the other, so they look like a two-headed animal) is that these fun flavors are made to stand together by solid structure, making a truly memorable, value-priced summer wine.

The hub and I had this wine last night with a chicken breast topped with fresh tomatillo cream sauce and tequila shrimp, and nothing I can think of would have gone better. The bright grapefruit and melon flavors of La Yunta made the tomatillo jump up and shout.

This wine retails for around ten bucks, and it's beautiful. What more could you want?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Texas Hill Country Wines

Texas wine gets a lot of shit these days for not being able to match quality to price. I, myself, have doled out such criticsm: why pay Alamosa vineyards $18 for a decent sangio when I can buy a much more satisfying Italian for half that?
The answer is: because I'm a Texan, dammit. Because l want Texas wines to thrive someday.
Here's the naked truth: I'm not going to send someone to the Texas section of my store for a great wine at a reasonable price. I hope that someday I can, but we're a long way from that now. Texas wines have been long stuck in a cycle that held them back from even approaching competitive quality. In the earliest days of Texas winemaking, we saw a lot of Merlots and Cabs and Blush wines, all seemingly intended to try to squeeze their way into the mainstream market. That has led to lots of crappy jug plonk, made mostly from outsourced fruit. What I'm hoping for is to see more of what I'm beginning to see: small wineries growing fruit that actually does well in hot weather, with the hopes that someday, quantity enough can be grown to bring prices to a reasonable level. Texas Cab will never rival any of the Big Boys, but winemakers can make Cab blends that could gain prestige with time. Our vintners can already wipe the freaking cellar floor with Muscat makers from other states. Sangiovese could also be one of our future specialties. This is what I want to see happen in the next ten years: wine made exclusively with all Texas fruit, vinted for it's own expression and personality, with varietals that do well in this climate, all at a price that doesn't make me snicker.

Fortunately, a lot of people ask for Texas wine. They're either like me and want to support the local vintners, or they're curious out-of-towners who want to send a souvenir back home. I'm always honest with customers about what they can expect, and I keep up with the wines so I can suggest the best out of the bunch to represent the industry.

To that end, the hub and I invited our friend Amelia to do the Hill Country Rounds: taste some wine, eat some fresh peaches and beef jerky, and enjoy being Texans for a day.
Posted by Hello

Driftwood Vineyards

Driftwood Vineyard's award winning Muscat Canelli and Longhorn Red. They were my first favorites of the day.

Tidy little Vines

view from the wine tasting room at Driftwood vineyards. Still too small to offer retail quantities, their wines are good. At least, the ones they don't add grape concentrate to are good. They're vinted to be light, for warm weather. This is not a bad thing. All over the world, wine makers style their wines according to local climate, taste, and cuisine. Posted by Hello

Local wine, local tastes

Some might scoff at the color of the Longhorn Red. It's a light wine. It's a hot weather fruit wine. It's supposed to be light! Posted by Hello


Bubba, the Kounty Dawg. Hey, it's my blog, and if I want Bubba on it, Bubba gets on it! Posted by Hello

Arnosky Family Farms

Pamela Arnosky of Arnosky Family Farms tells of a frustrating situation...with my retail store! Suffice it to say that small local growers often get the shaft if a bigger one can offer the goods for cheaper. Big suprise there, but it doesn't have to be that way. Support your locals, dammit! Posted by Hello

Eager Lilies

Pamela's flowers are pristine.

Arnosky sunflowers

sunflowers pretty.... Posted by Hello

The Blanco Rose

The Blanco Rose has everything I crave in a Texas roadside cafe. Hodgepodge kitsch, done well; cold beer, waitresses with unsettling stories, and fantastic food. Posted by Hello

Real Ale

Texas makes beer that'll make you want to slap yer granny. Real Ale, located in Blanco, makes a range of styles, all very solid. Pictured here is the Full Moon Pale Rye Ale (center) and the Firehouse #4 lager, which I haven't seen anywhere but in restaurants around their brewery. The rye ale is hoppy, clean, full bodied and aromatic; the lager is suprisingly creamy and rich. Nice. Posted by Hello

Becker Vineyards

Becker Vineyards. The 'Frass Canyon' of the Hill Country. To the Beckers: what happened, y'all? Your wines used to be pretty solid... Posted by Hello

Torre di Pietra

Torre di Pietra seems more geared towards tourism than wine production, with live music and a big, impressive outdoor seating area. They're new. We'll see how they hold up. Posted by Hello

Grape Creek is very close to Lukenbach

Grape Creek. I wish they sourced more from Texas. Most of their fruit comes from NM and AZ. Posted by Hello

Sister Creek, Sisterdale

Sistah Creek. They lost their vines a couple of years back; now they source from West Texas. Posted by Hello

Come and Take It, Bitches

Old 'Come and Take It' is the famous flag that flew over a Texas colony fighting the Mexican army in 1835. The colonists stole their cannon and then invited them to retrieve it, if they could. I often think of flying a similar flag over my house, with my paycheck in place of the cannon. Posted by Hello

Casks at Sister Creek

Shh...wine is sleeping... Posted by Hello

Sister Creek Winners

Sister Creek Competition winners Posted by Hello