Monthly Archives: March 2012

Dallas Morning News Wine Competition 2012: Pedernales Cellars Texas Tempranillo takes home the Gold Medal

Pedernales Cellars, a Texas winery, won a gold medal with their 2009 Tempranillo in this year’s Dallas Morning News Wine Competition. Reporting in the newspaper Rebecca Murphy, founder of the competition and member of the tasting panel had this to say about the winning wine. “It turns out that the Tempranillo grape is suited to the Texas Hill Country, and this wine from a family owned winery in Stonewall proves it. It’s an earthy wine with tart cherry flavors, a good bet for steak or beef short ribs. “It has a lot of acidity, which would cut through a fatty red meat.”

Check out this year’s winners and more on these links. Lots of good wines to be had from California, Spain, France, Italy, Texas and all over the world. Also check out Kim Pierce’s interview with Texas wine guru, Russ Kane on his new book, Wineslinger Chronicles

Next week – Bordeaux news from The Stout Report.

Buon weekend!

Wine of the week: Edna Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Source: The Wine Curmudgeon
March 28, 2012
By Jeff Siegel

image from www.ednavalleyvineyard.comIt’s not easy finding cheap cabernet sauvignon that tastes like cabernet sauvignon. Too many of them are fruity and sticky, without the heft and tannins that cabernet is supposed to have — call them cabernet lite. Or, if they taste like cabernet, they cost at least $20, and that’s not the point of what we do here.

How rare are these wines? Only a half dozen or so cabernets have appeared as the wine of the week on the blog in the past year — hardly a proportion that compares to cabernet’s popularity. It’s the most sold red wine, and second overall in popularity to chardonnay.

The other irony here? That many cabernets that are well made and inexpensive are produced by the huge mutinationals that get so much criticism from the wine world, like the Columbia-Crest that was a wine of the week in February. The Edna Valley ($15, sample), part of the E&J Gallo empire, fits into the same mold. In this, it’s another reminder that tasting the wine is always a good thing to do before deciding if you like it — something, sadly, that even the Wine Curmudgeon sometimes forgets.

The Edna Valley is top notch inexpensive California cabernet. It’s less fruity than similar wines, even though it’s from Paso Robles, where fruity is part of the winemaking style. Still, there is a nice a dose of what may be boysenberry, as well as almost silky tannins and a chalky, grippy finish. Given those adjectives, you can probably tell that I really liked the finish. Serve this with red meat, especially as the weather warms up and it’s backyard barbecue time.

Don Julio González Estrada, Tequila Pioneer, Passes Away

His main ingredient: Passion

NORWALK, Conn.–(EON: Enhanced Online News)–Statement by Diageo Global, Maggie Lapcewich President Global Tequila, Diageo plc

We are deeply saddened to announce that Don Julio González Estrada, the industry legend and founder of Tequila Don Julio passed away on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.

Mr. González’s passion, devotion and innovative thinking changed the world’s perception of tequila. His namesake brand, Tequila Don Julio is the world’s first luxury tequila and helped create a new segment for the category. We are immensely proud to carry on his legacy and continue to craft a tequila that is worthy of his name.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to his family and those that were touched by his pioneering spirit. His main ingredient was passion and passion above all else defines excellence.

More about the life of Don Julio González Estrada

Tequila Don Julio™ is mourning the loss of the man responsible for our brand story. Don Julio González Estrada, founder of the extraordinary tequila that carries his name, was 87 years old when he passed away from natural causes on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Undoubtedly, this brings great saddens to our industry; however, we know that his legacy will live on.

Don Julio González Estrada, who came from humble beginnings, was born on the 7th of January of 1925 in Atotonilco, Jalisco. He was the third child of Carlos González and María Estrada Moreno. From an early age he learned the meaning of responsibility, a value he gained through working at his uncle José’s tequila distillery. In the 8 years he worked there he gained the experience, which unknowingly, years later would lead to the birth of an extraordinary tequila.

At 15 years old Don Julio González experienced the loss of his father, and became the head of his household. With the firm belief that success could be reached with hard work, Don Julio embarked on the difficult task of supporting his family. As a result of his need, he got a job as a farmhand where he received nine pesos a week. After seeing that his salary was insufficient, he persisted until he was able to start selling tequila in small wooden barrels throughout Ocotlán, Jalisco which belonged to the distillery where he worked in El Salvador, only a couple of hours away. This allowed him to gain those same nine pesos but this time on a daily basis.

Throughout his life Don Julio worked arduously, neither allowing himself to fail nor succumbing to adversities. He always fought and prevailed in his perseverance to achieve his goals. When he was 23 years old he wed Dorothea Garcia, whom he had met in Ocotlán and with whom he had 9 children. From then on, he and his wife created a mutual support, which they could count on for years to come.

Many describe the journey of Don Julio’s life as one that was honest, just and fair. He remained loyal to his beliefs and was committed to his work and family. The greatest success of his life is concentrated in 1942 when he started a tequila distillery which would later be known as “La Primavera” and by 1951, with the brand Tres Magueyes, he was on a path that would later ignite the traditions that have prevailed through Tequila Don Julio in its different variants: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, 70, 1942 and Real.

It is an honor that each one of our bottles carries the name of the man who dedicated his life to one of our countries greatest icons: tequila. His values and philosophy will always thrive in the fabric of our brand.

May you rest in peace, Don Julio González Estrada.

Which wine with Crème Brûlée?

-Posted by Alfonso Cevola-
Vino Vino is helping to “Keep Austin Weird” (and well fed)

One of our favorite wine bars in Austin, Vino Vino, has an entrepreneur owner who just can’t sit still. And the good news for all of us is that some of his ideas are downright tasty. Jeff Courington, managing partner of Vino Vino, dreamt up the idea for a roiling Crème Brûlée cart, complete with a hand-finished torched top on every dessert.

So we posed the question to top Texas blogger and wine maven Jeremy Parzen, “Which wine with Crème Brûlée?” Jeremy texted back, “Moscato d’Asti, no? Marenco. Moncontour sparkling or sweet.” Great suggestions. The Saracco 2011 Moscato d’Asti would also be great.

I went in the other direction and chose a little darker… a Spanish Montilla from the Pedro Ximenez grape, such as the  Don Albala PX 1982 or the Alvear  Pedro Ximenez Solera 1927

Whatever the wine you choose, the  Crème Brûlée cart is a brilliant idea and one I’m sure others would love to see in other parts of the country. Venice, California? New Orleans? Seattle? The opportunities are limitless.

First seen in Austin, Texas. Bravo to Jeff and the team at Vino Vino.

Parker vs. Parker

-Posted by Alfonso Cevola-

Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, Parker vs. Parker

The 1982 Bordeaux wines are almost 30 years old now. That was the vintage that launched a thousand boats, proclaimed the virtual dawn of the new age of wine in America, according to such wine sages such as Eric Asimov at the New York Times. Perhaps this is the time to take a quick look towards Bordeaux.

Robert Parker is the undisputed king of the ratings, and his track record of tasting and consistency is stronger than the rest of the pack, in my opinion. I have read most of the criticisms, and have also looked at his videos (behind the paywall). In addition, I have tasted through many of the Bordeaux vintages over the years; although by no means consider myself an expert. But an enthusiast, yes. Bottom line for me is, Robert Parker works hard at it and he is good; really, really good. There is a reason why his opinion is listened to and his influence is (still) large.

So when Robert Parker re-reviewed the 2009 vintages  ( which he calls “1982 Déjà Vu All Over Again – But Greater”) and anointed many top Bordeaux wines with 100 point and 99+ point (near perfect) scores, it set the geeky wine world a buzzing.

Some questions have been raised.

As I see it, there is room for the traditional reviews (and reviewers) from America, Great Britain, France and anywhere else in the world. There is also a place for these upstart bloggers, some of which have great palates and marketable writing skills, along with sizable traffic and influence.

In my view,  Robert Parker’s competition is a little closer to home. As the great American dancer Martha Graham once said, “You are only in competition with one person, and that is the person you can become.” As well, The Robert Parker of 1982 and the Robert Parker of 2012 are really competing with each other. As for the rest of us, it’s win-win; a man rising to become better than he was can set off a tidal wave that can lift many boats.

Bordeaux En Primeur 2012 starts the beginning of April. Master Sommelier Guy Stout who writes  The  Stout Report (and I) will be reporting on the proceedings. It’s sure to be high drama, Kabuki mixed in with Sumo. After all, the Bordelaise are the master wine marketeers in the world. They should be, they’ve had several hundred years to tweak their spiel.

Stay tuned.

Coffee and Chocolate Remain a Perennial favorite in the Spirits Arena

Sweet red and chocolate infused wines are trending up these days. Along with that there is a trend for sweeter cocktails. And chocolate/coffee infused drinks are hitting the hot spots as well.

Who are drinking these concoctions? According to Jeff Siegel over at the Wine Curmudgeon, he writes, “’Why is everyone so surprised that Millenials, who drink Coke for breakfast, would want to drink sweet wine?’ says Barry Sheridan, vice president of marketing for Treasury Wine Estates, which owns Beringer.” Jeff is onto something, and the spirits folks are listening.

Likewise, coffee and chocolate are a magical combo for folks of all ages.

Patrón seems to be timely with the release of their latest product, Patrón XO Cafe Dark Cocoa.

Our recommendation is this stylish offering, appropriately named Dawn Patrol.

After hitting the clubs and dancing all night, Dawn Patrol sounds like a pretty good idea.

Dawn Patrol 


  • 1 oz : Patrón XO Café Dark Cocoa
  • 0.75 oz : Almond Milk (or similar)
  • 1 oz : Espresso
  • 0.5 oz : Grenadine
  • lemon peel for garnish
  • cocoa nibs for garnish


Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain over ice in a Collins glass.

Garnish with lemon peel and cocoa nibs.

A Red-tailed Hawk Returns to King Estate

“There he is. He’s back home. It feels really good.” – Karen Olch, Volunteer, Eugene Cascades Raptor Center

I knew there was a reason I admire the folks at King Estate so much. From the first time I went there in 2000, when the rolling hills reminded me of Tuscany, I have been drawn to their wines and their people. Some of the reasons I love them, above and beyond their wines:

They make a killer Pinot Noir jam with raspberries.

Their blog is one of the best I have seen coming from any winery. And they have an “app” for IPhones

Their commitment to Solar powersustainable crops and organic farming sets a high bar for even Oregon standards.

They are on the cutting edge of new wine products with their Acrobat wines, their NXNW series and now their NEXT series, a low impact collection of unfussy wines for every day.

And…they have a raptor program. How cool is that? And they just returned a Red Tailed Hawk to the King Estate that they rescued and rehabilitated. Click on the video above, but make sure you have some Kleenex handy

These are the kind of good stories that we need in the wine business and for that we salute King Estate winery for their great wines and their solemn stewardship of their land and the creatures that live on and in it.

2009 Jordan Chardonnay: The Sequel

In a chance tasting of of over 50 wines yesterday, a few standouts. The 2009 Jordan Chardonnay among them. I was trying to figure out how this wine went from being a blowsy,voluptuous offering in the 90’s to this elegant, restrained beauty. Maturity in the vines, in the winemaking and in the evolving tastes of wine drinkers in America. Jordan wines were a hit at the recent SXSW in Austin. Bravo to the team at Jordan Winery for making one of the best wines I have had this year, and so far, this year has been a doozy!

Pio Cesare: An Accidental Contrarian in Piedmont

Good news from our friends at Maisons Marques & Domaines, the force in the USA behind Roederer, Pio Cesare and a handful of top flight wineries in the world. Having just been in Piedmont, I  revisited Pio Cesare’s winery in January; the renewed cellars are beautiful and the wines are better than ever. Great news for Italy, Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco. read on…

“When the modernists reigned, I was seen as a traditionalist; now that traditionalists have made a comeback, I’m labeled a modernist.” – Pio Boffa

The storied Pio Cesare is the focus of the producer profile in the April issue of Decanter. The Barbaresco 2007 also graces the cover of the Italy-focused issue..

Some great scores (out of 20 possible points):
•    Barolo 2007 – 19 pts. – “A hallmark Barolo.”
•    Barbaresco 2007 – 18 pts.
•    Barbaresco Il Bricco 2007 – 17 pts.
•    Barolo Ornato 2007 – 16.5 pts. – “Underneath the oak lurks a superb Barolo.”
•    Nebbiolo 2008 – 16.5 pts.
•    Cortese di Gavi 2010 – 16 pts.

Some good notes from the article:

On Vineyard Ownership:
•    Giuseppe Boffa bought the vineyards that supplied grapes for the wines, which was a bold move in 1960s Barolo. “The firm realized years before many of its peers that owning vineyards would be essential to maintaining quality.”
•    The tradition continues, with Pio Bofa buying another 2 ha in Barbaresco in Oct. 2011

On Traditionalism & Modernism:
•    “Boffa is adamant he is neither a modernist nor a traditionalist.”
•    “’Until the late 1970s and 80s, the technology and knowledge we have today wasn’t available. It would be ridiculous not to take advantage of better winemaking skills and methods merely in the name of tradition,’ he insists.”

On Notable History:
•    “Pio Cesare stands today as the last of the seminal Barolo wineries actually based in Alba, where once all the major Barolo houses stood and where for generations most of the wine was produced.”
•    The winery was bottling some its own wines early in the last century when most wineries sold their Barolos & Barbarescos in demijohns and small barrels until the late 1950s and ‘60s.

Wine of the Week: Unoaked, Indigenous White from Apulia

An exciting new wine from Li Veli in homage to their ancient Greek influences; hope you will be able to get your hands on this “minimal intervention” wine in your market. It’s un-oaked, no malo, utilizing indigenous yeasts and little sulfur. And it has a killer bottle that you can use to make a lamp.

Masseria Li Veli, Askos Verdeca

Source: Dallas Morning News
March 6, 2012
By Rebecca Murphy

You can always count on Italy to provide unique wine experiences. Ever heard of the grape variety verdeca? Here’s your chance to try it. Verdeca is found primarily in the Puglia region, in the heel of Italy’s boot. It is usually considered a rather insipid grape, mostly fit for making vermouth. However, in the hands of the Falvo family, Alberto, Edoardo and Alfred, verdeca is a lively mélange of pear, mango, pineapple and citrus aromas and flavors with dusty mineral notes and palate-pleasing acidity. It’s a good wine for sipping and it will complement a light pasta salad.

Askos is the Falvos’ project of rediscovering native grape varieties. According to the family, in ancient Greece an askos was a typical earthenware jar for olive oil or wine. Apparently many remnants of these vessels have been found in Puglia, suggesting that the cultivation and making of wine has a very long history there.