Spicewood Vineyards: A Taste of Texas for Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW)

Spicewood Vineyards Line Up

The Wine Pairing Weekend group heads to Texas wine country this weekend: a new frontier for us, as it probably is for most folks. We were fortunate enough to receive sample bottles from several different wineries, and have set our sights on creating the perfect food pairings to accompany them.

Our host is Michelle Williams of Rockin’ Red Blog, herself a resident of Texas and a real fan of Texas wines. She’s provided a wonderful primer on the subject in her invitation post.

Curious to learn more?

Please join us this Saturday, November 9th, at 11 am ET as we share our tasting notes, recipes, and more. Because we’re a far-flung group with members around the globe, we meet on Twitter to discuss our latest food and wine pairing ideas.

If you’d like to participate, we’d love to have you. Just log on to Twitter and search for #WinePW, where you’ll find the thread and can read the latest tweets. To add your comments, put them in a tweet and add the hashtag #WinePW. Hope to see you there!

Here’s a preview of what we’ll be chatting about:

Note: The wines mentioned in this post were provided as media samples. Reviews are my honest opinions on them.

Texas Stamp on the Cork
Texas born and bred: even the wine’s cork attests to its provenance!

About Spicewood Vineyards

Founded in 1992, Spicewood grows grapes in the Texas Hill Country, a swath of land west of Austin and San Antonio where the climate tends toward the warm and humid. It’s a place where viticultural expertise is essential to success: growing the varieties best suited to the conditions, understanding the importance of canopy management, and utilizing appropriate vine training techniques all play an important role.

Spicewood Barrels
Barrels at Spicewood Vineyards (photo: Spicewood Vineyards)

Current winemaker Ron Yates bought the property in 2007, bringing with him a strong allegiance to Texas winemaking tradition and a soft spot in his heart for Spanish grapes like Tempranillo and Graciano (nurtured by his experience working in Ribera del Duero.)

After tasting five of his wines, I can say that they reflect his point of view. They’re emblematic of the old world Spanish wines I love, with a little Texas strut mixed in. As with all great experiments, they are complete originals; they are their own thing.

The Wines and Pairings

  1. 2018 Spicewood Vineyards Tempranillo Rosado and Turkey Meatballs in Roasted Tomato Sauce
Rose and Turkey Meatballs
Slow-roasted tomato sauce, turkey meatballs, and Tempranillo rosé.

The wine: Medium salmon/coral color with a pretty golden tone running through it. Medium + intensity aromas of ripe red cherry and raspberry with subtle floral and herbal (thyme) notes mixed in. On the palate it’s barely off-dry, with medium body and acidity, and flavors of ripe red berry fruit. The finish is an intriguing blend of cherry candy and summer herbs drying in the sun.

The pairing: Really great! The hint of sweetness in the wine found a kindred spirit in the sweet tomato flavors in the sauce. I can imagine this wine working well with charcuterie, olives, mild cheeses, and not-too-sweet barbecue.

  1. 2018 Spicewood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and Lemon-Herb Salmon with Kale Farro Salad
SB and Salmon with Kale Artichoke Salad
One of my favorite wines this month: and it’s a Sauvignon Blanc!

The wine: Pale lemon color, with lovely aromas of lemon, grapefruit, fresh bay leaf, and grass. On the palate it is dry with medium + acidity, featuring flavors of lemon, grapefruit, white currants, and fresh parsley. The medium + finish is of lemon drops and grass.

For the record, I’m not a big fan of varietal Sauvignon Blanc. That’s why this wine was such a pleasant surprise. It struck the perfect balance between fruit and herbal/grassy notes, and the mouth-watering acidity made it quite refreshing and delicious. I’d actually buy this Sauvignon Blanc with my own money!

The pairing: Salmon filets prepared with a lemon-herb rub couldn’t have been a better match with this wine. And the salad, with its kale and artichokes, would have manhandled many white wines. At about $20 retail, this would be great to sip on its own or with just about any light fare in your fridge.

  1. 2016 Spicewood Vineyards Syrah and Escarole and White Bean Stew
Syrah and Escarole and White Bean Soup
Comfort food on a chilly night: earthy stew and light, fruity Syrah.

The wine: Deep ruby color, with sweet fruit aromas of blackberry, vanilla, black cherry, mocha, and coconut. On the palate there is a similar fruit profile as on the nose, with moderate, smooth tannins, moderate acidity, and moderate body. A lighter style of Syrah that I did enjoy, especially with the stew.

The pairing: The hearty, earthy nature of the stew was complemented nicely by the light, black fruit of the wine. For a quick weeknight dinner, this pairing had everything I wanted: nice flavors, a contrast of textures, and a simple harmony that was quite comforting.

  1. 2016 Spicewood Vineyards Tenny Wren Red and Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup
Tenny Wren and Soup
Soup’s on! Try this recipe from Cooking Chat – it’s a winner!

The wine: Deep garnet, only slightly paler at the rim. Aromas of ripe black currant, blackberry, plum, coconut and vanilla. Flavors match the nose and go a bit deeper: there are hints of mocha, kirsch, licorice, and coffee. Its structure and flavor profile remind me of a Bordeaux-style blend from California. A bigger wine than the first three, this could stand up to more substantial fare with more aggressive seasoning.

Named after the owners’ eldest daughter (Tennyson Wren) this wine is an intriguing blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. It was aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 10 months.

The pairing: Ding! Ding! A winner. We finally had a cold spell here in NYC and I seized the opportunity to make one of my favorite winter soups: Cooking Chat’s Best Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup. David from Cooking Chat posted his recipe a while back and it has become a staple for me during the winter. It’s quick and easy to make but tastes as if it’s been simmering on the stove all day. Try it yourself and see!

Making the Portuguese Kale Soup
Prepping to make the soup. Only needs about 45 minutes, start to finish. Really!
  1. 2015 Spicewood Vineyards Good Guy Red Blend
Good Guy Red and Plated Chops
Simple yet satisfying: loin lamb chops and a Rioja-inspired red blend. Delish!

The wine: A proprietary blend that changes each season, the 2015 Good Guy brings together Tempranillo (60%), Graciano (26%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), and Merlot (7%). If you love the wines from Rioja, Spain, this is the Texas wine for you! Lots of spicy notes mingling with ripe red berry-cherry fruit, medium + acidity and tannins, medium + body, and a long finish that is both fruity and savory at the same time. It’s calling out for a grilled meat dish . . .

Prepping the Lamb Chops
Just waiting for the grill pan to heat . . .

The pairing: Grilled loin lamb chops seasoned with garlic and chimichurri sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, and a simple arugula salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. I don’t eat a lot of meat these days and, frankly, I don’t really miss it. Except for lamb! So if I’m going to treat myself, some sort of lamb dish will be on the menu. These simple chops were perfection with the wine. Even the sweet potatoes worked surprisingly well, enhancing the cherry flavors. At about $42 retail, this bottle might be out of my everyday wine budget; but it most definitely fits into my treat-meal budget. Yum!

I hope this post (and those contributed by the other #WinePW members) has piqued your interest in Texas wines. I feel like I’m just getting started and I really look forward to trying more, perhaps even visiting for a weekend. Apparently there’s a lot to do, see, and sip in Texas Wine Country: let’s make an adventure of it!

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