Saturday, February 24, 2007

Vision Cellars: Pinot Master from East Texas

"I was born the son of a Texas Moonshine maker. My Father, Sue, was considered by many to be the finest Moonshine maker in all of Texas, because of the fine grains he used to make his corn whiskey. My Mother Elbessie, along with her brothers and sister, made wine from the various fruit we grew."

Okay: Best. Winemaker. Story. Ever. Do you not hear the harmonica and guitar playing a warmhearted theme while you read it? And hell yeah, I'm biased because Mac McDonald's a Texas native. But if you can do better than being the son of the original Boy Named Sue, bring it.

But before I even got this super charmer story, I tasted the 2005 Gary's Vineyard Pinot and was smitten. Oh, such good stuff...fragrant, cool and complex, full of rich, silky Santa Lucia Highlands fruit goodness with just the right acidity. This is Pinot made by someone who loves Burgundy and understands the potential of his AVA all at the same time.

Have you tripped on the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, by the way? I could just kick myself for not checking out the other side of the Santa Lucia Range on my trip last year. It's just a little happy love cradle for the Burgundy varietals---long growing season, early morning sun followed by cool maritime breeze, protection from the wind.

Which reminds me...can I make a new rule?

If you simply must boast about having just come from "The Wine Country" in California, please specify which wine country that might be. I'm glad you got to go to Sonoma and all, but there's a couple more AVAs in the state, people. And don't think I'm just calling out my Texan bretheren on this one---I've had people from California do this. If you think there's just the one place in the Golden State that produces amazing wines, you should get out more.

Glad I got that off my chest. Now: please go to Vision Cellars' website and read about Mac. Then save your pennies and get a bottle of his Pinot for your birthday.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Random Torbreck Get-Togetha

Now people---lemme tell you, in case you was wondering, what's so damn cool about being part of Austin's wine-n-food community: chance meeting with big players in the wine world who, regardless of the price thier bottles command in the marketplace, turn out to be right fun fellows.

So I stroll into Wink wine bar tonight, feeling a little down, knowing instinctively that my evening will be improved by this act. And I meet up with a couple of distributor buddies of mine who're spending the evening with Dave Powell of Torbreck. You've heard of Torbreck, right?

In case not, check out the site, and the interactive vineyard map, specifically. It's great wine dork porn.

Dave Powell is genial and generous with an infectious streak of ribald in his humor. He loves what he does, and loves sharing what he knows. Round about the time we were into the bottle of The Steading, a grenache/mataro (mourvedre)/shiraz blend, Dave was trying to find a way to compare the headiness of this wine to...well, to...aromatics of a feminine nature. Not sure how far he could take it in front of the women present, I said it for him. This led to a toast to Wines That Smell Sexy, and not one of us was offended.

Dave's is the kind of hands-in-the dirt labor of love story that will charm your pants off. The development of the Barossa valley in general is that kind of story, full of people who love the elegance and power of Rhone style wines.

Each has a powerful presence without being overly extracted, and the way the Steading conjures exotic spices at the end was enough to make me rethink my aversion to oak. These are wines that I might never have tasted otherwise, especially the flagship bottle RunRig, which sells upwards of $140 retail.

"$140?!?" you say. Well, me too. I'm not in the financial bracket for that kind of price tag, and if you are, you're probably not reading this blog. But if you are and you're looking for something unique from a true bad-ass winemaker, yeah, throw it down.

(photo ripped off the Torbreck site)