Next time you’re looking for a restaurant with a great wine list, head over to Max’s Wine Dive. I stopped in last night and Matt, the sommelier behind the bar, took care of me with a tasting of some wines right up my alley — a French Chablis, Vouvray (not usually my favorite, but this Le Haut-Lieu was awesome), and Dupuy de Lome Bandol (love me some rose from Bandol), and a German Leitz Dragonstone off-dry Riesling.
I also tasted through some amazing reds….my favorite was probably the Aromes de Pavie from Saint-Emilion, but ended up enjoying a bottle of 1989 Chateau Prieure Lichine from Margaux.
This little number was beautiful with a funky, musty, earthy nose at the start that opened up and offered lush blueberry on the palate.
Another beautiful dry white wine is Assyrtiko — hard to pronounce, but easy to sip. This Sigales Santorini Assyrtiko is bright with lime and lemon zest, tons of minerality, great acidity, and a hint of salt on the finish. You can thank the Greek soils for that.
If you like Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre style) or an unoaked Chardonnay, give this a try. In Austin, you can find this at Austin Wine Merchant..$18ish.
In my search to find white wines from Italy that I might actually like, I turned to the Austin Wine Merchant for recommendations. They suggested this Taburno Falanghina del Sannio. A good choice!
The nose is crazy aromatic — lime, peach, pineapple — but on the palate, it is super crisp and minerally. And yes, with a hint of salinity that I love.
A great sipper for under $18.
Thursday night is Big Reds and Bubbles — wait are you waiting for?! Get your tickets now! One of my favorite events of the year, this fun evening features great red wines and bubbles that would be perfect pairings for your holiday meals and parties.
Here are some pics from last year! Hope to see you Thursday night!
So many of my friends think Riesling is a sweet wine, and while yes, there are many sweet Rieslings in the world, you don’t have to look too far to find beautiful dry Rieslings.
Tonight, I am in Riesling heaven with this Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Dry Riesling. Talk about some minerality — wow, love the stone characteristics with a touch of herb on the finish. The lemon and lime flavors, combined with nice acidity, makes this a favorite for this white wine gal.
For under $15, this is a great go-to wine.
Deep in the heart of the Hill Country (and smack dab in the middle of one of my favorite cycling routes) is the new Hawk’s Shadow Estate winery and vineyards. (For my cycling friends, the winery is 3-4 miles down McGregor at the end of our Fitzhugh ride.)
With a breathtaking view, the winery has big plans and, in my view, is on the right track. They are planting the right gapes for Texas — grenache, syrah, mourvedre, aglianico, nebbiolo, tempranillo and my fave, sangiovese.
Right now they offer a 2011 Orange Muscat and it’s dry, which makes me super happy. With lots of orange and honeysuckle notes, it’s got nice minerality (although I would like to see this with a bit of acid, which would give it a nice kick and brightness).
The 2011 HSV Estate is a blend of sangiovese, syrah, tempranillo, grenache and mourvedre. Again, another really nice wine with cherry and raspberry flavor, balanced with pencil lead and leather notes. It’s just been bottled so get it and give it some time.
We enjoyed some barrel samples of mourvedre in different oaked barrels, which is super cool because you can really taste the difference in how wines are aged. The 2012 mourvedre in the neutral French barrel is so elegant with great strawberry, cherry and cocoa notes, but and the 2012 in the Hungarian barrel screams bacon, pepper and leather. I see an interesting blend in the future.
Congrats to brothers Tom and Doug who are making these wines! Looking forward to see more of what’s to come.
Tom and Doug Reed
Here’s a quick snapshot at some terrific restaurants in the Mississippi Gulf Coast! I’m just back from the week-long Society of American Travel Writers Conference in Biloxi, MS, where we stayed at the lovely Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
With some 300+ employees lining the hallways to greet and clap for us as we kicked things off with the Mississippi Gulf Coast SATW opening night reception, I knew we were in for a special experience where Gulf Coast hospitality reigns.
The folks at Beau Rivage could not be nicer, including Banquet Beverage Manager Scott Terrell who gladly steered me to the BR Prime Steakhouse for a great glass of wine and food. Advanced Sommelier Mark Warren (and fellow triathlete) has a great wine list there, with many pairings well suited to the cuisine created by Chef James Balster. We enjoyed a 2009 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico with melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef. If you’re ever at the Beau Rivage, don’t miss BR Prime tucked away in the back corner of the casino.
Chef Balster with HomeAway’s Cindy Vanhoutte
Of course, you can’t visit the Gulf without enjoying the amazing abundance of fresh seafood — from Gulf shrimp (white, pink and brown) to oysters and crabs.
Mary Mahoney’s, Biloxi
For the most amazing crab claws, head over to Mary Mahoney’s — a long established restaurant in Biloxi run by Mary’s son Bobby. The special Cajun magic garlic butter sauce served with the crab claws is killer! The seafood gumbo is also delicious — they ship 500 gallons of the gumbo during the holidays (this year, some will be coming to me!)
Not only will you enjoy the food and beautiful garden setting, but Bobby will also keep you smiling with his jokes. His favorite: “There were five crows sitting on a fence and one was shot. How many are left? Four you might say….but no, none are left because they all flew away. Bobby had a piece commissioned just for that joke!
Red Sky Crabhouse, Gulfport
We headed to Gulfport for some noshing and enjoyed lobster and crab dip, lobster rolls, crab cakes and lobster macaroni. Red Sky Crab House, which also owns the highly popular Half Shell Oyster House in Biloxi, is casual place perfect for enjoying the Gulf’s finest with your friends and family.
We enjoyed a cannoli and bread pudding dessert at The Lookout, located in the beautiful former Hancock Bank Building. We chatted with chef Rob Stinson, who also owns Back Bay Seafood, Salute Italian Restaurant, and Kelly’s Sports Pub.
A man after my own heart, Stinson is committed to healthier eating and living and strives to have 30-35 percent of his menus represent “healthy options.” He is the featured chef on PBS’ Fit to Eat show, designed to educate and change the eating and cooking style of Mississippi viewers. Rock on Rob!
Quality Poultry and Seafood
Last, but not least, was my visit to Quality Poultry and Seafood, a processing facility that provides the bulk of seafood to area casinos and restaurants. Quality also has a small cafe offering po boys, gumbo and seafood platters, as well as a retail counter with some of the best seafood prices most of our group had seen.
Thank goodness for the hardworking shrimpers who head out to the Gulf in the evening to capture this amazing Gulf shrimp, oysters and crabs we all enjoy. Their season ends in about a month when the Gulf gets too cold and the shrimp move on to warmer waters. And yes, I learned that one shrimp will lay 300,000 to 1,000,000 eggs in its lifetime — ensuring us an abundance of shrimp!
Thanks SATW, Beau Rivage, Biloxi and the amazing Mississippi Gulf Coast conference staff and volunteers for all the great food, wine, hospitality and, of course, amazing weather and sunsets!
What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon — tasting the new releases from Pontotoc Vineyards. Pontotoc is Indian for “land of hanging grapes.”
Made by owner Carl Money and winemaker Don Pullum, these wines show what Texas can do with warm climate grapes like Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Alicante Bouschet.
My favorite — their signature blend San Fernando Academy, named for the old school on the property located on Highway 71 and FM 501 in Mason County. This is a blend of 65 percent Tempranillo, 15 percent Mourvedre, 15 percent Alicante, and 5 percent Cab. With lots of red fruit and mint on the nose, it is rounded out by the Alicante and offers a chocolate cherry finish. Yes, I will enjoy this bottle tonight.
The Smoothing Iron Mountain, named for the mountain between Llano and Pontotoc, is 75 percent Tempranillo, 20 percent Cab and 5 percent Alicante. With bright red/cherry fruit, it offers some earth and spice tones.
Finally, the estate Tempranillo offers tart, red currant and cherry flavors, with some green tobacco notes. This is a favorite of Mary Stanley of the Turtle Restaurant in Brownwood. Next time you are in Brownwood, make time for dinner at the Turtle Restaurant…great food!
I finally found a Pinot Grigio that I really liked! This Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio from Trentino has lot of lime and floral notes, great minerality, crisp acidity, and to my surprise, a decent finish.
So many Pinot Grigio’s just seem so light, with no character, but this one is the exception. And it was only $12 at Spec’s.
Summer may be over but it’s not stopping me from still enjoying rose wines. This Hecht & Bannier Languedoc Rose is a spicy little number with a touch of bitterness on the finish that I love.
A blend of Syrah, Cinsault and Grenache, this dry rose from Southern France has cherry and cranberry notes and bright acidity.