I was asked to present a session on Texas Terroir at this year’s conference with Christy Canterbury MW, who was also a panel judge at the Dallas Morning News/ TexSom wine competition earlier this year. On our panel were two of the top sommeliers in Texas, Sean Beck from Backstreet Café in Houston and Hunter Hammett from the Fairmont hotel, Dallas.
We tasted over 110 wines from around the state on the first day of the wine competition. Several of the other judges stopped by our table between flights and didn’t envy us having to taste Texas wines. They were so wrong. It was one of the best tastings I have ever had the pleasure of sitting through.
If a wine gets a top medal, the panel is to describe what we thought of the wine and why we chose it for a gold, double gold or silver medal. We were the last panel to leave the room, because we found more top wines in the tasting than any other panel in the competition.
Our second day was mostly inexpensive merlot and chardonnay, over one hundred, and few, if any, were able to get close to what we had tasted the previous day.
Christy, the only Master of Wine from Texas (Hawkins Texas in East Texas), now lives and works in New York City and was equally excited to join me in the TexSom presentation.
We started with the regions and different soil formations that are Texas and finished with a tasting of some of the wines we had awarded gold or double gold status too from the DMN/TexSom tasting.
We had a tough act to follow with Brett Zimmerman MS and Wayne Belding MS presenting Bordeaux wines. Wayne is a trained geologist, so we had our hands full.
We were lucky to be able to keep the audience attention, but the wines made it easy.
Russ Kane, author of the Wine Slinger Chronicles, about Texas grape growing and winemakers, was in attendance. He got the jump on me and published his blog about the seminar. He has an active blog post covering all things Texas.
We did not disappoint, the wines were excellent and gave everyone in attendance a wake-up call as to how good our wines have progressed the past ten years.
2010 Duchman Vermentino “Bingham Family Vineyards” Texas High Plains
2010 McPherson Reserve Roussanne “Bingham Family Vineyards” Texas High Plains
2010 Cap Rock Viognier “Reddy Vineyards” Texas High Plains
2009 Sandstone Cellars “VII” Mason County Texas
2009 Pedernales Cellars “Kuhlken Vineyards Reserve” Texas
2010 Fairhaven Vineyards Chambourcin Texas
2010 The Vineyard at Florence “Veritas” Cabernet Sauvignon Williamson County Texas
2010 Haak Winery “Madeira” Blanc du Bois Texas
I didn’t know much about the last red wine tasted from the Vineyard at Florence, a new comer this year, Dan Gatlin, winemaker of Inwood Estates.
I have since learned from Kambrah Garland, co-owner of the estate. “We have a six hundred acre development with two tasting rooms (one of them is Inwood Estates’ additional tasting location), café and thirty two acres of vineyards to include Lenoir, Norton, Blanc du Bois and Cabernet. We produce six estate wines which entered the wholesale market in March, 2012. Currently we are found in some of the top restaurants in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston and Austin. As one of the partners and vineyard manager, I am very proud of the fruit here.” I tasted the Blanc de Bois and Norton at the grand tasting awards, and found both to be outstanding.
A quick shout out to Ryan Tedder, who was named top sommelier in Texas. He curated the award winning winelist at Grace Restaurant in Fort Worth, and is now planning on opening a spot in Dallas this fall. Congratulations on the award. I have worked with Ryan in the past and happy for his success. He is a sommelier to watch.