TEXSOM 2014 — 10th Anniversary

Congrats TEXSOM on 10 years of great wine education, amazing tastings and professional and personal networking.  My favorite weekend of the year, TEXSOM is like candyland for people who love wine.


Here are some highlights of the weekend.

Dinner at Pappas Bros Steakhouse where wine friends Rachel, Ed, Adam and others enjoyed some amazing wines, including this Jacques Selosse champagne, Chablis Premier Cru from Montee de Tonnerre, and Gaja. The talented Jason Huerta (Top Texas Sommelier in 2010) took care of us!





Speaking of bubbles, I attended the Franciacorta (italian bubbles) session where the Bellavista Rose Grand Cuvee Millesimo knocked my socks off.

Also, during the “Beyond the Big Three” session, the Gruet Grand Rose from New Mexico confirmed it will always have a place in my wine fridge.

Other wine favorites: 2013 Kruger-Rumpf Estate Riesing Dry and Chappellet Chenin Blanc. From Chile: the Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile, Concha y Toro Carmin de Peumo Carmenere, and Mendel Semillon. 

From Portugal, the Quina Dos Roques was a terrific surprise.

I was fortunate to host a hospitality suite with the Texas Fine Wine wineries: Bending Branch Winery, Brennan Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, and Pedernales Cellars.


(L-R) Bob Young with Bending Branch, Pat Brennan with Brennan Vineyards, Julie Kuhlken with Pedernales Cellars, Jeff Ogle with Duchman Family Winery, Fredrik Osterberg with Pedernales Cellars

Cheers to my friends and colleagues!


My study bunnies Matt and Jessica


Me and study bunny Margaret


Michael Wangbickler, Jessica Dupuy, Matt McGinnis, Dave McIntyre, James Tidwell


TEXSOM Founders James Tidwell and Drew Hendricks


Devon Broglie and Guy Stout


Craig and April Collins

Craig Colins, Kristi Willis and me


Last, but definitely not least, the one and only Fred Dame

The weekend is not complete with a poolside Negroni.

I just can’t get enough

And I’m not talking about the Black Eyed Peas song, which is playing through my head now. 

I can’t get enough of rose or “pink” wines — and I’m talking the super dry (not sweet!) pink wines that are super refreshing and that just dance in your mouth.

Tonight it’s the Starmont Rose 2013 from Merryvale Vineyards in Napa Valley.  Salmon color, watermelon and citrus on the nose, and gorgeous peach on the finish. 

Lettie Teague of the WSJ just did a story on summer rose wines — of course, when in doubt, go with a rose wine from Provence (Bandol) or Travel. Check out some pink wines from the USA too… I recently enjoyed some terrific Rose of Pinot Noir from Oregon….and this delicious number from Texas’ own Pedernales Cellars.

Below are some other terrific roses to check out.


Spicewood Vineyards — What’s Next?

Spicewood Vineyards is among the oldest wineries and vineyards in Texas, with 20+-year-old vines still producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion in the state.  And they can add Tempranillo now to their notoriety.

Since Ron Yates purchased the winery from the Manigolds, he has planted new acres of mostly Spanish and Portugese grapes. While he makes several estate wines, he also relies on High Plains fruit to make his portfolio of wines, which are winning medals right and left.

Yates credits his award-winning wines to his new winemaker, Todd Crowell, who studied at Texas A&M and got hands on wine-making experience working for several Sonoma wineries.  Like every good Texan, Crowell wanted to return to the Lone Star State and Ron snatched him up.

Todd Crowell and Ron Yates

And just in time because Yates is expanding with a new tasting room, production facility and vineyard just six miles outside of Johnson City in the burgeoning new Johnson City-Hye winery corridor. 

Here are some notes from a recent tasting with Ron and Todd:

Estate Sauvignon Blanc - refreshing (not overpowering) grapefruit, lemon, white floral.  No oak.  Delicious. 

Estate Semillion — lemon, grapefruit, herbal notes, but softer, rounder than the Sauvignon Blanc.  One of my favs.

Rose of Tempranillo — watermelon, green notes, reminds me of the Muga Rose.  Can’t wait for the new vintage because they are sold out of this wine.

2012 Bayer Vineyard Tempranillo — blackberry, blueberry, floral and pepper notes, soft tannins.

2012 Estate Tempranillo — black and blue fruit, violets, cocoa and pepper notes, nice minerality.  Won Gold at the TEXSOM-DMN Competition.

Estate Merlot — blue and black fruit, green notes, pepper. :Lush.

Finally, the barrel sample of The Good Guy 2013 (named after Ron’s grandfather) — delicious goodness of cherry and raspberry flavors.


A Montepulciano from Texas - a Texas Fine Wine

After riding 65 miles in the rolling (and windy) Texas Hill Country today, I decided to open a Texas wine to celebrate. And yes, there is a Montepulciano in Texas —from Duchman Family Winery.


Boy does it deliver — great plum, blackberry and black cherry notes that are balanced with hints of leather and tobacco. A great wine to pair with food or to sip by itself (slightly chilled).

I just heard that Newsom Vineyards planted some Brunello today in the High Plains (I think for Lewis Wines) — can’t wait to try that wine in three or so years.


Real Ale Ride 2014


Duchman Family Winery is part of Texas Fine Wine, representing four of Texas’ most distinguished wineries that produce quality wines sourced from Texas appellation vineyards.  I am proud to represent Texas Fine Wine.

A Texas Fine Wine — Duchman Vermentino

This is one of my go-to white wines because it’s so crazy refreshing.  The Duchman Family Winery Vermentino has lemon and lime flavors, some white floral notes, and crazy acidity on the finish.  So crisp and clean, it’s no wonder it’s a great summer time white.

It’s easily found at Whole Foods Market, Spec’s and other retailers, and I’m always really happy when it’s on tap at Whole Foods Market’s bars because it’s the perfect pairing with sushi.

Duchman Family Winery is part of Texas Fine Wine, a distinctive group of highly respected wineries recognized for making quality Texas appellation wines.


*Disclosure: Texas Fine Wine is one of my favorite clients.

A Texas Fine Wine — Pedernales Cellars Dry Rose

If you’re looking for a terrific Texas dry rose wine, you won’t be disappointed with the Pedernales Cellars Dry Rose.  With hints of strawberry and raspberry on the nose, along with some rose flower notes, this dry rose screams tart cherry on the palate.

To no surprise given it’s made from Sangiovese and Tempranillo grapes. I even get a hint of earth on this bone dry rose, which I suspect is from the terroir (i.e., red dirt) of the Texas High Plains.


Pedernales Cellars is one of four wineries that make up Texas Fine Wine, a distinctive group of highly respected wineries recognized for making high quality Texas appellation wines. The other wineries include Bending Branch Winery, Brennan Vineyards, and Duchman Family Winery.

You can’t go wrong selecting a wine from any of these four wineries.


(*Full disclosure: Texas Fine Wine is one of my favorite clients.)

McPherson Roussanne Reserve 2012

Opened this beautiful Texas wine tonight — the McPherson Cellars 2012 Roussanne Reserve.  With tons of tart pineapple and stone fruit on the nose, it surprises with citrus (lemon and lime) on the palate. A full-bodied white with tons of acidity, this is a terrific wine to wind down the night.

Duchman 2012 Vermentino

One of my favorite Texas wines that you will find frequently in my fridge is the Duchman Family Winery Vermentino. Lots of citrus, underripe white peach, and mineral notes. Nice acidity makes this such a refreshing wine. Whole Foods Market for about $17.

I have heard that winemaker Dave Reilly thinks this is their best Vermentino ever. We can also thank the Bingham Family for providing these terrific grapes from their High Plains vineyard.


Dark Horse Nero D’Avola

I am smitten with this Dark Horse Nero D’Avola, with its tart cherry, cranberry and spicy, peppery notes.  Made by Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, I believe it’s the only Texas (and maybe US) winery making a Nero D’Avola wine. I love the high acid and soft tannins on this lively red.

Nero D’Avola is the most widely planted red grape in Sicily.  Here in Texas, it’s grown at one of Brennan’s estate vineyards, Newberg Vineyards, just 10 miles south of the winery.

If you want to know more, check out this WSJ column on what could become the next Malbec.

A little Emotion for the night

You gotta love the guys at William Chris for making a wine with lipstick lips on the label.  They celebrate women as much as they do wine, and we appreciate it.  (Thanks Chris and Bill — true Texas gentlemen!)

The Emotion is always one of my favorites — an approachable red blend from Cab Sauv, Malbec, Cab Franc, Syrah and Merlot. You first get pretty floral notes on the nose, but this baby is full of fruit — blueberry, black and red cherries.  Its soft tannins make it an easy wine to drink.

If you haven’t been to William Chris, it’s “Hye” time you do.  Stop in, sit back, put your boots up, and enjoy their beautiful winery.