Winebelly in South Austin

As I’ve written before — finally a terrific wine and tapas bar in South Austin. Winebelly is a small, cozy restaurant with a stellar wine list and delicious food. Last night’s evening out with a friend resulted in a mini-tasting, thanks to the half-off specials on Monday.

We started the night with this Fleur de Coucou Sauvignon from Touraine (a neighbor to Sancerre in the Loire Valley), with notes of citrus and underripe white peach with terrific flinty minerality.

This BonAnno Cab from Napa is a heavy, juicy, fruit forward Cab without being ruined with a ton of oak. 

We capped the night with a taste of the Perles Fines Brut with a light peach color, soft bubbles and crisp acidity.

Winebelly Tapas & Vino

Winebelly is a fabulous new addition to South Austin — this tapas and vino restaurant does not disappoint.  The wine list is carefully selected by Ryan (who hails from my all-time favorite restaurant Bitter End and most recently Uncle Billy’s), including this French number I enjoyed last night.

The Marius Terret Vermentino by Michel Chapoutier has the perfect amount of funk you expect from a French wine, with nice peach, apricot and citrus notes.  Medium bodied with nice acidity. Ryan says this may become one of his go-to “by the glass” offerings.

This wine would be great with both the parmesan truffle fries or the bravas fries (although a cold beer would be the perfect pairing with the chili pepper-spiced bravas fries).

The beet salad is amazing — feta mousse, candied hazelnuts, and a citrus vinaigrette.

The grilled lamb ribs with vegetable ragout, spiced pistachios and herbed yogurt is a perfect dish for cold winter nights.

Hope to see you at Winebelly soon — 1st and Oltorf.


White wine all year ‘round

My friend The Reverse Wine Snob posted this great list of Top 10 White Wines Under $20 that I had to share.  I have tasted most of these and agree 100 percent that these are great buys.

Last night, I enjoyed the Trimbach Riesling — one of my regular go-to wines — and the Gruner is another white you will always find in my fridge.

And yes, I drink white wine all year ‘round!


Bandol and the Texas Hill Country

A highlight of my recent Mediterranean cruise was a tour of Domaine de Souviou, a beautiful Provencal estate known for its Bandol wines. Its vineyard, which is also populated with olive trees and lavender, reminded me so much of the Texas Hill Country.



After a tour of the vineyard, my brother Neel, sister-in-law Cathey and I enjoyed a tasting of several wines.


The Domaine de Souviou White was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Clairette and Rholle (Vermentino) — terrific nose of grapefruit, lime and lemon, white flower and a touch of honeysuckle.  A perfect sipper on this sunny November day.

The Domaine de Souviou Rose was a blend primarily of Mourvedre, with some Cinsault and Grenache. Flavors of pink flowers, strawberry and white peach.

The Domaine de Souviou Red was also Mourvedre, Cinsault and Grenache, offering raspberry and cherry flavors, with hints of spice, leather, and mushroom.

Delighted with these wines (but sadly with no room in the luggage to take any wine back to the States), we bought a bottle and opened it for the ride back to the cruise ship. 



My sister-in-law Cathey and I enjoying the white blend out of our to-go plastic cups.


Max’s Wine Dive

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.


Dry Riesling — Yes, DRY Riesling!

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.


Tour de Vin 2013

For a night of good wine and delicious bites, you should not miss Tour de Vin.  This year’s event offered some wines that made my “must get” list.  Here are a few:

Les Tuilieres Sancerre 2011 — amazing minerality in this crisp citrusy Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.

Archery Summit Vireton Pinot Gris 2012 — from the Willamette Valley of Oregon, this citrus with rich peach and apple notes was well balanced with great acidity and flinty minerality. 

La Joya Gran Reserva Syrah 2011 — This full-bodied red from Chile was full of blue fruit and spices, with a velvety finish. Loved it.

Castello di Neive Dolcettto d’Alba Basarin 2010— From the Veneto in Italy, this wine smacks of chocolate-covered cherries. 

Many of these wines are available at the Austin Wine Merchant, so head on over there and pick up a few.

Marshall Jones with the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas and John Roenigk of Austin Wine Merchant.

Here are a few party pics from the night! Cheers!

Texas Wine Gal with my gal pals Diane and Jessica (Texas Monthly)

Jessica with Shawn Cirkiel of Olive & June

Chef Curt Sassak and Mary Stanley of the Turtle Restaurant in Brownwood

Earl and Diane Dixon of Keeper Collection

"The house of the young girl" — wines from Argentina

Tonight, I chatted with Pablo Cuneo, winemaker for Ruca Malen winery from Argentina. Founded in 1999, Ruca Malen rests in the Andes Mountains of Mendoza, Argentina, and while it its grapes are grown in a New World climate, the winery is intent on making wines with Old World elegance and complexity.

Cuneo said the Ruca Malen wines are defined by integrity, complexity and elegance, with great care given to making balanced wines.  And I couldn’t agree more.

For the first time, Ruca Malen wines can be found in Texas at Central Market stores. I tasted the Yauquen Torrontes and Malbec-Cab Sauv blend, both priced at $11.99, and the Ruca Malen Malbec Reserve and Petit Verdot, both priced at $16.99. 

Beautiful wines — my favs were the Torrontes with peach notes on the nose, but racy acidic with lime and lemon on the palate, and the Petit Verdot, a super tannic red with red and black fruit, green, earth and spice notes.

The name “Ruca Malen” translates to “the house of the young girl” based on a local legend of the romance between a god and a fearless, beautiful woman.  Look for her on every bottle.

Cheers to fearless, beautiful women who wine!

Texas Wine Twitter Tuesday in July

Tomorrow is the third in a series of Texas wine Twitter Tastings of some of the gold medal winners from the Dallas Morning News-TEXSOM competition.  Taste and tweet tomorrow from 7-8 p.m. CT!

I have a dinner tomorrow night so decided to taste the three featured wines tonight. WOW is all I have to say. 


This is my first Eden Hill wine to taste and this light, dry white with a touch of effervescence does not disappoint.  The nose screams peaches and pineapple (Viognier) but the palate picks up the citrus and salt notes of Albarino.  (Yes, I love salt notes in wine)  This is a great summer sipper!


Next up the Messina Hof Father and Son Cuvee Riesling.  Call me crazy but I get anise/licorice on the nose (love!) along with honey and creamy vanilla on the palate.  This off-dry (slightly sweet) Riesling with nice acidity and balance should be served super cold — it will delight many of my friends!


And last, but certainly not least, is the Pedernales Cellars High Plains Tempranillo. Many of you know that I am not a Tempranillo fan (which is sacrilegious among Texas wine drinkers!), but this wine is converting me.  Can you say chocolate covered cherries??  And red dirt??  It’s a silky, easy to drink red with lots of cherry fruit, tobacco and earth characteristics. 


Cheers ya’ll!

Hello Summer!

This sweet little number from the Southwest of France is my new go-to summer sipper.  The Domaine de Pouy from the Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne is light and refreshing with lime, lemon and pear notes, with hints of sea salt on the finish. 

The wine is made from Ugni Blanc/Trebbiano and Colombard. A little wine geek info: Ugni Blanc/Trebbiano is the second most widely planted grape in the world.

Lots of fruit balanced with great acidity makes this Texas Wine Gal very happy.  I picked it up from Austin Wine Merchant for $8 — what a bargain.