Sunday, May 30, 2010

Texas Wine Trip: Day Two

For those who don't know, Hubby and I are in Texas this week tasting wine and exploring cuisine. 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 Two:
Wineries visited: 5
Thoughts about work: ~10, but had work-related stress dreams
Snakes in the car air conditioner vent: 0, but we did have to watch out for loose livestock. In case you were wondering, cows are really big.

If you're familiar with Hubby's and my typical wine trips, the fact that we left our hotel at 11:30 a.m. and got back around 5:30 p.m. and only visited five wineries attests to the fact that things are freakin' far apart in Texas. The "Hill Country" is still pretty wild in parts, and we even saw one place that had a zebra and camel behind its wire fencing. At that point, I couldn't help but wonder just how far we'd driven.

We started at Stone House Vineyard in Spicewood, which is south of Marble Falls. They have a basic tasting for $5, reserve for $10, and dessert wine tasting for $7, but if you get the basic and reserve tastings, they'll add the dessert for free. Their owner and winemaker is Australian, and so most of the grapes or juice or wines (I wasn't really clear as to when it comes to Texas) are sourced from Barossa Valley and other Australian AVAs. Our favorites:

2006 Claros: 100% Norton grown on site (see picture)
Spicy and a little raisin.
Rating: Very Good

2008 Shiraz (Barossa, Australia):
Nice and smooth with good, dark fruit.
Rating: Good to Very Good

The outside Stone House tasting area:

Our next stop was Spicewood Vineyards. They pour a nice lineup for $2 per person per tasting. They, too, source some of their fruit from elsewhere, namely Columbia Valley. I surprised myself and Hubby by really liking the Chardonnay, which is aged in stainless steel, and -- are you sitting down? -- new French oak. It's a little smoky/nutty on the nose, but beautifully balanced with pear, melon, and almond. I rated it Very Good, and yes, it's from Texas fruit.

Spicewood Tasting Room building:

We went for lunch at Flat Creek Estate, where we were supposed to meet up with a college friend who now lives in Houston. She couldn't make it, but we had a great lunch at the Bistro and enjoyed the view:

I had the brie and blackberry jam sandwich, and Hubby got the special flatbread, which had mushrooms, tomatoes, chicken, and some sort of special cheese in addition to mozzarella. Sorry, we didn't get pictures because we were hungry. I had a glass of the 2008 Pinot Grigio, which was very floral and had good melon and citrus to it, and Hubby had the "Super-Texan," mostly Sangiovese and medium-bodied with bright fruit. Both played well with food. We tried to do a tasting of other wines, but the tasting room was a little crowded and understaffed because they, like many of the other wineries we talked to, expected that the crowds would be in Austin for the Wine & Jazz Festival and not visiting the wineries.

After a long drive through some narrow roads, we arrived at Texas Legato, which we were intrigued by because they offer Malbec. Our favorites:

2007 Family Reunion: blend of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Syrah, which, according to the label are "from Texas and California"
A nice, medium-bodied red with bright fruit and smooth tannins. It would be great slightly chilled and sipped on the back porch.
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

2008 Malbec: blended with 3% Cabernet Sauvignon
Coffee and cassis nose. Full, dark fruit and very smooth.
Rating: Very Good

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon:
Cranberry-cherry nose. Definitely tart and with good acidity. Wants MEAT.
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

We got the Family Reunion and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Rudy the winery dog at Pillar Bluff

The final stop of the day's tasting was Pillar Bluff, where I got a little distracted from the wines by the cute winery animals. First, there was Rudy, the winery dog, and then Pistol, the winery cat. Our favorites:

2006 Boar Doe: No, this isn't a spelling error on my part or a wacky Spellcheck correction, this is how they put it on the label:

It had a big fruit nose, nicely balanced fruit and acidity, and very dry finish.
Rating: Very Good

2007 Founders Red: blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% combined Petit Verdot and Malbec (same blend as Boar Doe)
With 2% residual sugar, it's a little sweet, but lovely raspberry and cherry flavors. Another great summer sipper.
Rating: Very Good

Pistol the winery cat

My GPS took us through some very scenic spots, most of which don't have a place to pull off, and Texas ranch roads and farm roads and random county roads don't have much in the way of shoulders. He did get this one:

FYI, all the pictures in this post and the previous one were by Hubby with his spiffy new camera. He's doing a great job with his new toy, and I feel like a big shot blogger with a cameraman.

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