Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dancing the Texas Two-Sip

Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to have participated in an online tasting. The idea was really cool (and one I had been thinking about for a while). The guiding force behind the tasting was Texas, namely the Texas Department of Agriculture.

I fully respect organizations designed to promote a regions wines (I work for several) and I think the Texas promoters did a great job with this tasting. For the past six months the TDA has been doing these tastings to ensure that more people open their eyes to how good Texas wines can be, and with this experience I am now a believer.

Here is the set up, the TDA sent me ten wines: five of them Texas wines and the other five were wines from around the world. The catch was that each was wrapped in foil so that I could not tell which is which. Each wine was also labeled one through five and A or B. This allowed me to taste the wines blind, that is taste the A wines against the B wines without knowing which one came from Texas.

So, I had the wines and received direction to sign onto a web conference site on Tuesday night. Devon Broglie, Associate Team Leader for Whole Foods Market and Craig Collins, manager for Prestige Wine Cellars then guided me through the wines.

When asked about the Two-Sip program, Bobby Champion, director of the TDA Wine Marketing Program said, “We host Texas Two-Sip blind tasting comparisons as a way to avoid any preconceived biases or ideas about Texas wines and to show how well Texas wines compare against other highly respected wines.”

We had flights of Viognier, Rhone style blends, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Orange Muscat. For each we tasted the wines and then opened them up to see what they were. Participants could type in questions to the presenters, but we could not speak directly to them until after the tasting.

The Viogniers were a Brennen Viognier 2008 from Comanche Texas, between the Hill Country and High Plains growing regions and a Yalumba Viognier 2007 from the Eden Valley of Australia. The Brennen was zesty with a slight sparkle and a bit of minerality and some nice peaches and apricot notes. The Yalumba presented riper, with many of the same characteristics as the Brennen but, it was a little richer and fatter on the taste. I preferred the Texas wine, but only slightly. Both retail in the $18 - $19 range

The Rhone reds were a bottle of the La Vieille Ferme Rouge 2006 from Mount Ventoux in the Rhone region of France and the Llano Signature Melange 2007 from west Texas and the High Plains. I was not particularly pleased with either of these wines. The Rhone wine was rather tasteless to me, very thin and without a defining taste in my opinion. The Texas wine had a funky nose and a weird salty taste. The La Vieille is $8 and the Llano is $11.

Then the Sangiovese. On one side was the Badia Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2006 and the other was the McPherson Sangiovese 2006. I really liked the Badia Coltibuono. I thought there was a very pleasant tartness to it, with nice juicy raspberry and strawberry flavors that came through. The McPherson smelled beautiful, a nice floral nose with a bit of vanilla. On the taste I was a little disappoint though, as I felt the opening strawberry jam was then swallowed up by vanilla and butterscotch. A little too much oak for me. The Badia Coltibuono is $25 and the McPherson is $18.

Next up, Inwood Cornelious Tempranillo 2007 and the Pesquera Tinto Ribera del Duero 2005. I really apologize for this but I was not excited about either of these. I will spare you my notes, but while I did taste the Inwood, I could not bring my self to taste the Pesquera after smelling it. A friend of mine once told me, “Why would you put that in your mouth? That’s why god gave you a nose.” Hopefully I was just cursed with a bad bottle. The Inwood is $39.50 and the Pesquera is $35.

Last round, the dessert wines. From Texas was the Texas Hills Orange Moscato 2005. From California was the Quady Electra Orange Muscat 2007. I wrote about the Quady wines before and was not blown away. Suffice to say this one did not change my feeling about the winery. This wine gave off an interesting peach and bright blood orange aroma that was really pleasant. The taste however made me think of a artificially flavored push pop. And it was fizzy! The Texas Hills wine showed a orange zest and floral white peach on the nose and a candied apricot on the taste. It was rich with just enough acid to make me want another sip. Really lovely. The Texas Hills is $17.50 and the Quady is $13.

Overall, a great experience.
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