Sunday, May 30, 2010

Texas Wine Trip: Day One

For those who don't know, Hubby and I are in Texas this week tasting wine and otherwise getting into trouble (but not too much trouble -- don't worry, Mom!). I have a conference in San Antonio the second week of June, so we came over a week early to check out Texas wine, food, and scenery. We're exploring the hill country and Austin.

Day One:
Wineries visited: 1
Thoughts about work: ~15
Snakes in the car air conditioner vent: 0

Hubby and I listened to NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me! news quiz this morning between taking a very unhappy diabetic gray cat to the vet for boarding and deciding to leave the car in the PreFlight covered parking in case of hail. They mentioned this story, which happened in Austin. Yep, apparently the snakes in Texas get frisky. We both kept a close eye on the a/c vents in the rental car and will continue to do so as we travel around and in Texas hill country.

The trip itself went smoothly, for which we were grateful. Apparently a very bad combination of weather and the new federal laws about tarmac wait time combined to create headaches for quite a few travelers last night, and the Atlanta airport was crazy busy today. Our flight left Atlanta and arrived in San Antonio generally on time. We picked up the rental car and headed north in search of Texas wine:

Our first stop, about an hour north of San Antonio, was the Mandola Estate Winery. They had followed me on Twitter and tweet under the #TXWine hashtag, so my curiosity had been piqued. Even better, they were open until 9:00, which was perfect since we didn't get to the area until 6, after all of the others had closed. We would have gone anyway because of their focus on Italian varietals.

Mandola Estates started in August 2006 with juice sourced from California and moved quickly to Texas grapes. They get some of their fruit from the High Plains AVA near Lubbock and grow some of their own. Thanks to Bill Elsey for sharing that information with me and connecting on Twitter. The only complaint I have is that the tasting room gets a bit noisy when crowded because of the rustic Italian stone construction.

I didn't rate any wines below a Good, so here were the highlights:

2008 Viognier:
Grape-perfume nose, but good stone fruit and citrus. Not at all syrupy.
Rating: Very Good

2008 Vermentino:
Grapefruit nose, pear and herb on the palate. Like a Sauv Blanc, but herby instead of grassy.
Rating: Very Good

2008 Dry Rosé:
Made from Cabernet, tart and spicy cherry/strawberry.
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

2008 Aglianico: Grape exclusive to this winery
Tobacco and dark fruit nose, plummy supported by tobacco with a smooth but leathery finish.
Rating: Very Good

2008 Spino-Montepulciano:
Smoky nose, but great fruit moving to the darker side with more depth
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

2008 Rosso:
Blend of Cab and Merlot, this one has dark fruit and spice with some cedar notes.
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

We got bottles of the Rosé and Rosso. The Rosé came to dinner with us at Salt Lick Barbecue, which we had gotten several recommendations for. It's BYOB, so we had to ask for cups for sipping while we waited:

And it was a bit of a wait:

We actually ended up only waiting for 45 minutes, and it was worth it. Here's a picture of the "pit:"

And the plate:

Yes, that's sausage, beef brisket, and a pork rib with cole slaw, potato salad, and beans. The sauce, Salt Lick's secret recipe, is more vinegary and mustardy and not at all tomato-ey. It's also a little sweet. We debated on how to describe it, and the only thing we could agree on was that it's really good.

Oh, and it's true that Texans wear their cowboy boots all year long, even when it's 90 degrees outside. There's even a statue to honor the almighty boot:

Tomorrow's agenda: meeting up with a college friend at Flat Creek Estate winery for "Jammin' in the Vineyard"

Disclosure: Mandola comped our tasting. When I asked why for clarification, I was told it was "for being a fan and supporter." They did know I was a wine blogger through the Twitter connection.


Kevin said...

Glad to see you are enjoying my home state so far. I've never been to that particular BBQ joint and am actually surprised to see your comment about the sauce. It sounds different than the "classic" styled sauces I grew up with.

Looking forward to reading more reviews.

Gary said...

Mandola's first wines were made in 2004 in the Driftwood Winery out of grapes from the Driftwood Vineyard. In 2005 and 2006 The Mandola wines were made at Mandola's winery from grapes grown at Driftwood Vineyards.

hudson said...

mmmmm.salt lick