Winter in Houston, Texas can be usually summed up to no more than two weeks total to practically non-existent. However, the Winter of 2013/2014 will go down in history as a real true "ice-breaker' which called for me to indulge in some really substantial imbibing. My favorite go to wine was strictly for pleasure; a forthright Italian red from the Lazio Region. "If You See Kay" is an in-your-face blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Primitivo (sometimes referred to as Zinfandel but that is another story over another bottle.) The label alone is enough to arouse one's curiosity and generate an abundance of conversation but once 'pandora's bottle' has been uncorked, a scavenger hunt ensues in the pursuit of locating "Kay!" In some cases I was still looking for "Kay" after three bottles. This fruit forward beauty, I found to be jammy and layered with dark juicy fruit with some peppery spice on the finish. This is a "true" stand alone wine or if you care to it can be paired with just about anything that you were noshing on to get you through the chilly winter days and nights. This comes as no surprise from cult winemaker, Jason Woodbridge, whose philosophy is "wide open throttle or don't bother doing it at all." If and when you do see "Kay", just pop her open and surrender your inhibitions because she is an embodiment of lifestyle, a force of nature, and you will want her.
Wine Competition 2013
One of my favorite reasons for volunteering for the Rodeo's Wine Committee is the wine competition. This is my third year on the committee and every single year I get to taste some amazing wines.
This year, I had my first Peruvian wine (that's right, PERU!) and discovered a grape that I had not heard of or tasted before, the Tannat grape. I like firsts and this was also the first wine I tried during the competition that really caught my attention.
The wine is Intipalka Valle de Sol, No 1, 2009. It is a blend of Tannat (45%), Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), and lastly Syrah (10%). This wine with it's relatively high level of alcohol, 14.8%, is very balanced with fruit, tannins and the alcohol. It has a wonderful full mouth feel, deep dark red fruits, and stays on the palette well after you've swallowed.
After blind tasting it, I had to find out more about this wine and soon learned it had a grape called the Tannat grape. Here's what I learned...
Tannat is pronounced "tah-`not" with the accent on the second syllable. Tannat is the official grape of Uruguay and is also known as Harriague. It also grows in the Basque region of France near the Pyrenees, California, Texas and a few other places.
Tannat produces wine with high tannins, which helps it will age well, high alcohol, and medium to high levels of fruit. Tannat, because of it's high tannins is usually a blending grape, but you can definitely find it going solo. I know that Intipalka makes one. Tannat is also known to create some full bodied and very fruity roses.
I'm always pleased to learn something new within the wine world. I learned about a new grape, had my first Peruvian wine and was introduced to Intipalka winery.
I would recommend this wine to those that like their wines fruit forward, balanced, and with a good finish. This is an excellent wine to drink on it's own.
Guest Post by: Hank Greer
By now most people know that I have a real affinity for wine so much that I decided to get certified – twice and there are more to come.
In my quest for knowledge of the divine, I discovered that there are vintners who look like me! Who knew? The Association of African American Vintners (AAAV) does exist and for seven years they have showcased the fruits of their labor at the Annual AAAV Symposium and Wine Tasting. Six of those years it has been held in Napa Valley at various locations including the COPIA Center founded by the late Robert Mondavi in 2001, and closed in 2008.
This year the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa in Sonoma hosted the event. Last month IrisbytheGlass (that’s me) with 14 rookie and 3 veteran female Urban Wineauxs in ages ranging from 24 to 80 invaded the Santa Rosa, California resort for a weekend of vino bliss.
The event started around 11ish with the introduction of the members of AAAV which are Vision Cellars, Running Tigers Wine, Sharp Cellars, Theopolis Vineyards, Stover Oaks and Black Coyote Wines. The participation of vintners appeared to be less than last year but as this was a new group of Urban Wineauxs (UWs) it didn’t seem to matter as they just wanted to taste the liquid fruit.
But before that could happen we had to endure the symposium portion of the event which included a wine and food pairing from Ryan Williams, Sommelier and Wine Director of Ana Mandara Restaurant in San Francisco and the keynote speaker, Aubrey Stone, President of California Black Chamber of Commerce.
Ok moving forward as none of it pertained to the Texas Wineauxs who could not wait to wrap their fingers around the commemorative Riedel Glass and experience the first taste of some of these wines that are seldom heard of outside of the state of California. The exception of course is Mac McDonald’s Vision Cellars whose Pinot Noir won Top Red Wine at the 2011 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition.
The wine tasting took place in a beautiful courtyard with vine laden trellises and a waterfall wall which was an added bonus to the beautiful weather that was great for walking around outside sipping on red and white wines (anywhere else but Houston). The UWs, without any influence by me, unanimously conveyed that Vision Cellars’ was the “best in show” but they were glad to have met the other vintners and tasted their wares. Everyone is looking forward to returning in 2012.
By 2:00 most UWs were in the rentals and headed out on the 101 to get their final drink on before the return trip home on Sunday. Honorable mention goes out to Davis Family Vineyards, J Vineyards, Coppola Family Vineyards, La Crema, Balletto Vineyards & Winery, Kendall Jackson, and Murphy-Goode Winery which are the ones that I can remember.
Just note that in order to truly have an Urban Sonoma Experience you have spend at least two weeks and not three days in this wonderful 68-degree, picturesque wine country!
Iris by the Glass
Orignally Posted - AnotherWineblog.com
Amy Corron Power
The Grape Conversion
For ages mankind has been in search of the ultimate plateau for inner peace and complete happiness. Some have obtained this nirvana via organized religion and some not so organized. Regardless of the path one takes to experience this heightened awareness, all roads lead to some type of religious conversion. I am still a work in progress; however one of the paths that I chose began with my submersion into vitis vinifera. Baptism by the grape can truly be considered a religious experience to even the most unsuspecting wine drinker. When the palate is introduced to the right varietal at that pivotal moment, whether it was accompanied by a meal or not, the flavors hit all of the important sensory points and you just want to throw your hands in the air and shout “hallelujah!” Ok maybe it is not that dramatic but you get the picture.
Once you have swirled, sniffed, sipped and savored and the warm tingling sensation rolls down the back of your throat and transmits a signal to your nervous system that you are transcending to a euphoric state; you then know that you have been converted. The beautiful part is, in the grape realm, you will experience multiple conversions as it applies to the various varietals. Whether it is a bottle of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Riesling, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, Prosecco or Cava; you will know when it happens.
Please take note that it is OK to change venues and denominations on your journey to finding this new religious identity.
Iris by the Glass