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Showing posts from 2017

After the Fires - A Salute to California's Resilience and Recovery

As originally seen in Galveston Monthly magazine

Touring and Tasting at Château Bonnet

The wines of Château Bonnet had been some of the first from Bordeaux that I had tried when my wine interests first began to diversify. I was very excited to visit and see from where those wines had come. The vineyards at Château Bonnet were originally planted in the 16th century. The current owner’s grandfather took possession of the property in 1897 and began acquiring more of the surrounding land. André Lurton inherited the property in 1953 and continued his grandfather’s dream. On our tour, I saw a large and very modern winemaking facility. Vincent Cruège, the Group Winemaking Director, showed us a winery in full action. Grapes were coming in from harvest and new wines were beginning as older wines were being bottled and boxed. We went inside and learned about the art of blending from cellar master, Laurent Le Dez, who set up some barrel samples from different vineyards for us to blend. We also tasted the current Bordeaux Blanc and Bordeaux Rosé is their unfinished stat

Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser

I was not personally familiar with  Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser until I did a tasting recently in Houston with 4th generation winemaker, Sébastien Tribaut. Though the wines are just now becoming available in my market, the maison is well-known for their house style which involves aging their reserve wines in foudres or large wooden vats made from French oak which gives the wines a rounder feel.  Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser has about 40 hectares of family owned vineyards primarily located in the communes of Romery, Cormoyeux and Fleurie-la-Rivière though they also source from other high quality sites who follow their same protocol of sustainable viticulture. The wines: Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser  Brut Origine - A blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Meunier with three years aging on the lees and only 10% reserve wine added gives this wine light, fruity notes of apricot, green apple and citrus with a fresh finish. Champagne Tribaut-Schloesser  Blanc de Chardonnay

Why Not Willamette? Perfect for Thanksgiving and Beyond

As originally seen in the November 2017 issue of Galveston Monthly magazine

Top Texas Wines to Drink Now

Texas celebrates Texas Wine Month every year in October. After tasting more than forty of the state's vinous offerings,  here is my list of top picks that are currently available on each individual winery's website. These are not just for October drinking, most of these wines are Thanksgiving friendly and would make great gifts for wine lovers for Christmas and beyond. The Whites: Four different single varietal white wines that are not only food friendly offering a range of pairing compatibility but that are also delicious for anytime sipping. Duchman Family Winery Trebbiano 2016 - Tropically refreshing with mouthwatering acidity, SRP $16. Spicewood Vineyards  Hill Country Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - Grapefruit and lime linger through the crisp, mineral-laced finish. SRP $19.99 Brennan Vineyards Reserve Viognier 2015 - Fragrant with honeysuckle and pineapple aromas, pleasantly textured with tropical flavors and a fresh citrus finish. SRP $25 Fall Creek Vineyar

Château de Reignac - A Tour, Tasting and Lunch

After a tour and tasting at Planet Bordeaux , the headquarters of the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur AOC Winemaker's Association, our group headed to Saint-Loubès to learn more about  Château de Reignac . We were greeted by export manager, Marion Bechu, who along with the vineyard manager, Benjamin Fruquiere, toured us around the estate. Like so much of Bordeaux, Château Reignac was significantly affected by the two heavy frosts in late April causing them to lose between 70-80% of the 2017 vintage while also pushing their harvest date back, the grapes were still hanging during our visit. The estate is located where the Dordogne and Garonne meet so the property has both the gravelly soils of the left bank which are ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon and the chalky clay soils of the right bank which are ideal for Merlot. The château was built in 17th century. It got a nice upgrade two hundred years later when a greenhouse created by Gustave Eiffel was added to the property. Yves

A Dinner Tasting at Château Freyneau

After a very full day, we arrived a bit late to our scheduled dinner visit at Château Freyneau with owners Eric and Valérie Maulin. My jet lag starts to make its presence known here, I somehow did not take photos of Eric cooking our beef course over vines or the dish prepared on the plate. I just ate it, it was delicious as was everything that they served us that evening. Third generation winemaker, Eric Maulin toured us through the winery while sharing tastes and stories along the way. They make about 200,000 bottles annually, most of which being red wine. The 45 hectare family estate has been sustainably grown since 1992. The soils are a mix of clay and limestone where he primarily grows Merlot but also has Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. He only has 4 hectares of white grapes, most of which is Sauvignon Blanc. He also talked about how the landscape of his part of Bordeaux has been changing in recent years due to urban sprawl. The number of producers has significa

Tasting at Château Pertignas with Vincent Gauthier

It was not the most beautiful day in Bordeaux as we headed out into the vineyard with Vincent Gauthier at  Château Pertignas . Unlike our visit the previous day where the vines were still loaded with Merlot grapes, here we were viewing a just picked vineyard following the harvest. As we walked through the vineyard Gauthier discussed the difficulty he had with the 2017 vintage which was caused primarily by the heavy frost at the end of April. This weather hazard had significantly reduced his yields. After the high quality and high quantity 2016 vintage, he is estimating that his production for 2017 will be about one-fifth of the previous year. He said he believes the quality of the surviving fruit to be quite good and ushered us to an outside tank for a taste of freshly fermenting Sauvignon Blanc which tasted of sweet citrus. We then headed inside for a tasting of the current releases. The tasting: Pertignas en Blanc Priolet Bordeaux Blanc 2016 - This drink-now white wine is mad

Château Pabus - Tasting in Bordeaux

During a recent media tour set up by Planet Bordeaux, our group headed to  Château Pabus  in Sadirac for our first on-site tasting of the trip. The 19th century chateau and vineyard were purchased by New York financier Robert S. Dow at the suggestion of his daughter due to his love of Bordeaux wines. After extensive searching throughout the region, the property was chosen for both its history and its future potential. In 2012, Dow asked Belgian winemaker Kris Couvent who was the property's former owner to help manage the estate with the help of wine consultants Michel Rolland and Bruno Lacoste. The goal was to bring the 6.47 hectare or sixteen acre vineyard area to peak health using no herbicides while using what they call rational cultivation techniques like encouraging natural grass cover crops. The vineyard soils are a mix of silt, sand and clay and are planted with 85% Merlot some of which is pictured on the right and 15% Malbec. They are planted at a density of 5,500 vines p

Messina Hof - 40 years of Romance, Family and Tradition

As Originally Seen in the October issue of  Galveston Monthly magazine

September is California Wine Month

As originally seen in the September issue of  Galveston Monthly magazine

Sustainability Rocks

As originally seen in the August issue of Galveston Monthly magazine

Wines to Celebrate International Albariño Days

International Albariño Day has been expanded from one day to six days this year and it is starting now! Follow along on social media and share your personal celebration with the world by using #AlbarinoFiesta. Albariño is the most important white grape of the northwestern Spanish wine region, Rías Baixas, pronounced Re-ass By-shass. The area is known as "Green Spain". The climate and soil are heavily influenced by the Atlantic as the vineyards lie along the long coastal plains of Galicia bordering the ocean.  The climate is generally cooler than much of the country with plenty of rainfall.  The Albariño variety does well in this terroir creating refreshing light white wines that are perfect for summer sipping as well as making an excellent pairing with simple shellfish dishes.  Nessa Albariño Rías Baixas 2015 - Light and silky with peach and almond aromas and flavors with snappy acidity and a smooth, lingering mineral-laced finish. SRP $23 Terra de Asorei  Rías Baixas 

Real People of Paso - The "Visiting Paso Robles" Wrap-Up

During my fast and furious introduction to Paso Robles and their new sub AVAs, I became acquainted with many great producers in the area while tasting my way through many fantastic wines. At several of our stops, we were joined by some of the neighbors who brought some of their wares and contributed an even broader taste of the area. During these events, it was fun to sit back and listen to the locals talk amongst themselves a bit. In addition to discussing how things are currently going out in their vineyards, they asked about each other's spouses and children who they mostly knew by name, they talked about various upcoming and past community events, they offered to help each other with specific projects and a few even organized a fishing trip for their soon to be day off. It was an endearing peak at life in Paso Robles, a tight knit community of neighbors seeking not only to put their best in every bottle but in their everyday existence as well. Here are just a few of the m

Visiting Paso Robles - Tasting Treana and Hope Family Wines

Our final vineyard stop was at Treana to hear owner and winemaker, Austin Hope, talk about another Paso Robles AVA and learn about the Hope Family Wines. The Treana Tasting Cellar is located on the Hope Family's Estate Vineyard in the Templeton Gap District. We arrived in the early evening for our tour and tasting. The Templeton Gap District has more maritime influences than any other part of Paso Robles.  It sits below openings in the Santa Lucia range. Elevations extend from 700-1,800 feet. Higher elevations in the west create a path for ocean breezes and fog to come through creating a cooler, damper climate which leads to slower ripening times and a later harvests. The Wines: Treana Blanc 2014 - This wine is a blend of 45% Viognier, 45% Marsanne and 10% Rousanne, it is fresh and lively with tropical aromas and flavors and a light honeysuckle note, SRP $30. Love and Hope Rosé - A true southern France blend of 47% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 11% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache Blanc,

Visiting Paso Robles - Lunch at Justin with Winemaker, Scott Shirley

Justin Vineyards and Winery was our next stop for lunch and a tasting. The winery sits below rolling vineyards providing picturesque views all around. The beautiful landscaping and gardens ensure that the patio seats are highly prized for tastings. The Restaurant at Justin is a Paso Robles dining destination. The restaurant features a farm-to-table menu with something for everyone on the eclectic list, choose from American home-style favorites to the internationally inspired. Each item comes with a suggested wine pairing so you can create your own special meal. We started with a taste of the  Justin Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2016  which was fresh, crisp and tropical. Winemaker, Scott Shirley greeted us and took us on a mini-tour of the grounds. Shirley has an impressive background. He is a UC Davis graduate with a degree in biochemistry who honed his winemaking skills at some iconic Napa Valley wineries including Opus One. He doesn't rely only on his science background,