Ok, so, as we’ve stated before, local when you’re looking to get the full experience of a place it’s handy to know a local. With this much food around, is it all that surprising that Texas invests a good deal of time and energy into filling those glasses beside those plates?
Unfortunately, we were a little busy at the time almost drowning in decorative ponds and otherwise attempting to help set up a wedding so we just didn’t get a chance to get out and get a full “taste of Texas” in the libations department. Personally for us drinking in Texas pretty much revolved around two core matrices:
1) Really, really, really good stuff at the steakhouses.
2) Light, fruity stuff you drink at your friend’s house while killing Nazis on his PS3. (for this stuff, just scroll to the bottom for our reviews.)
We suspected, however, with Texas we might have missed something. So we asked our resident Son of the Lone Star and expert of all things Texas, Mr. Michael Lockridge, what we missed. This is, unbeknownst to us and like so many other things, apparently a point of pride to these people. He put the word out to his assorted cowboy cadre, as it were, and this is what we got back, about 10 hours later, across 12 time zones mind you, hurriedly typed on an iPhone, verbatim,
“Does he realize that some of the highest-rated vodkas are distilled in Texas? As for wine, there are reserve editions and estate-grown varieties from all over the state that’ll hold up to a $50 Napa bottle. For beer, look to the perennial Shiner and also to lesser-known but arguably more delicious brews from Rahr & sons, St.Arnold, Ranger Creek (which has also started distilling whiskies), Celis, and one of my favorites- Real Ale (Fireman’s 4 anyone?). Further on wine: The William Chris Tempanillo and port are fantastic. Llano Vivillano is a Super Tuscan big and bold enough to stand up to some of the greats. The Llano Tempanillo is also great (I sat many hours with the vintner of the William Chris tempranillo and he says tempranillo is THE grape for the Texas climate). For my money, it doesn’t get much better than the Pheasant Ridge wines; sadly, most of their estate-grown product is distributed only from their barn in west Texas. And I have many, many more! Anyone interested to try white port??”
So yeah, we missed something. Thanks Aaron & Michael for saving us from ourselves and the wrath of your state, which understand can be quite intense. It’s fair to say a wine tour of Texas is probably in our future travels.
Now see the funny part of all this is that when Michael gave Greg a birthday present a few years back he knew of Greg’s love of local, interesting wines. Wines with a taste as unusual as their story. So he goes into the H.E.B. (their grocery store there) and picks up a bottle of chocolate wine, which he brings to Alameda, CA.
(“Where?” *sigh* “The San Francisco Bay Area“)
He hands it to Greg and Greg immediately asks, “Michael, why are you giving me a wine from the only winery in Alameda when you flew all the way here from Texas?”
In his defense, it was a darn good chocolate wine.
So the local’s perspective is up there. Like we said, we spent what little time we had with the sweet fruity stuff that goes well with warm evenings, friends, and PS3s:
Llano Sweet Red
Rating: 3 sheets to the wind
People from colder climates sometimes have a hard time understanding the concept of reds that aren’t robust much less “sweet and fruity”. It’s understandable but people, come on. It’s Texas, at exactly what point did you think a full bodied pinot noir would thrive down here, either in the fields or at the 100 degree Fahrenheit day barbecues?
(Ok, yes, in the five star steakhouses but outside the air conditioned temples to beef there are people too.)
It’s from Texas so, like most of our destinations, it is often hot here and hot weather demands a lighter fruity wine. Though it’s a red, this stuff won’t let you down on that count. While not a main course wine this would go perfect out on the patio after dinner while watching a big Texas sky and hanging with friends. At $10 US a bottle it’s an easy buy. While not amazing, it delivers well over the price tag.
Rating: 2 sheets to the wind
From the same winery as the sweet red and people who like their sweets a little mellower than the liquid candy we so adore might find this more to their tastes. Solid performance for $10 but we just liked their red better.
Brix Pinot Grigio
Rating: 2 sheets to the wind
We usually don’t like this type of grape at all so for a pinot grigio it was good though we doubt people who like pinot grigio would agree. Mildly sweet and again designed for warm weather drinking it is much better well chilled.