Note: The October Wine Dinner, a five-course meal crafted by Denton celebrity chef Lanky is paired with eight wines. The first and last course have one wine pairing, and the other courses have two wine pairings; the order of the wines for our club tasting varies from the wine dinner. “Oui-Haw” refers to Lanky’s use of French techniques combined with bold Texas, Mexican, and Spanish flavors. Recipes will be available for you to recreate the menu!
(Listed in Tasting Order)
Sémillon is not the most common of white varieties. In fact, it is most often paired with scene-stealing Sauvignon Blanc throughout Bordeaux and Australia. This is because Sémillon can add substance and texture to the clean and herbaceous Sauv Blanc. However, Sémillon deserves our attention, and the ‘Fleur Moelleux’ allows the grape to take center stage. This Bordeaux Blanc is 100% Sémillon, which is the base for another famous dessert wine, Sauternes (this is not that!). Balanced, with some sweetness, notes of green apple, peach, guava, and honeysuckle dance around the palate. It is an excellent accompaniment to Chef Lanky’s final course, a Peach Sorbet with ancho chili whipped cream.
Famoso is an obscure grape (yes, it does translate to “famous”) native to the northeastern region of Italy. Nearly obliterated by phylloxera in the late 19th century, only two rows of the grape remained until it was rediscovered in the late 1900’s. While only a small amount is currently planted in Romagna (around 30 acres), the four generations of winemakers at Poderi dal Nespoli made it their mission to highlight and revitalize Famoso. Highly aromatic and with a chalky-but-pleasant texture, this wine evokes tropical fruits, pear, and stone fruits. The label reads “Be a star,” and this wine is sure to sparkle with its captivating and seductive flavors. It is a nice partner to Chef Lanky’s take on Elote, a sweet cornbread with jalapeño jam, corn butter, and cotija cheese.
Adama is a compelling line from the Western Cape in South Africa, championing both Black-owned and female-fronted winemaking. The ‘Her’ line from Adama takes their mission a step further by donating 2% of profits towards young black women’s post-secondary education. Pinotage, South Africa’s signature grape, is a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and it can be a very full-bodied wine. It is exciting to taste South Africa’s signature grape done in such a juicy, fruity way; not as heavy as some Pinotage renditions, the Adama summons red and black fruits, including strawberries, dark cherries, and figs, along with licorice and spice notes. In this instance, it would match marvelously with many foods (including Thanksgiving dinner!), but in this case, it serves as the first wine with Chef Lanky’s Smoked Salmon Tartare course.
Yes, you read that correctly: Peru is an up-and-coming area for viticulture. It is also the home of the oldest winery in all of South America, Tacama, dating back to 1540 when Spainard Francisco de Carabantes began growing grapes in Valle de Ica, nearly 200 miles south of modern-day Lima. Peru is usually known for Pisco, affectionately known as its ‘brandy grape,’ but international varieties are becoming more popular. This Selección Especial showcases Carménère, a Bordeaux grape with which Chile has had immense success. Carménère can be vegetal and peppery, but the notes on this wine are more refined and subtle; ripe cranberries, raspberries and plum intermingle with spice. It is an excellent food wine, and paired with Chef Lanky’s Potatas Bravo, which also includes chorizo, asparagus, and Manchego cheese, it is a delight.
If ever you are in the Hill Country, Pedernales has one of the most astonishing views around, and the wine is pretty spectacular as well. The ‘Six Generations’ named in the title refer to the legacy of the Kuhlken family, rooted in Texas since 1883. This wine spotlights Pedernales’ signature style, Rhône and Spanish grapes, as a blend consisting of 76% Mourvèdre, 8% Grenache, 8% Merlot, 4% Graciano, and 4% Carignan. These warm-weather grapes thrive in the Texas climate and result in smoky, peppery flavors that will work with many local cuisines. The wine also contributes dark fruit such as blackberry, plum, and blueberry, and the bramble notes (basically the leafy, twiggy parts of a plant or bush) are prominent. The ‘Six Generations’ Red Blend is the second wine in Chef Lanky’s potato course, making the chorizo a showpiece of the dish.
Bordeaux often conjures up images of multimillion dollar châteaux run by stuffy, upper crust vignerons who have caves and cellars covered by cobwebs and dust (or is that just me?!). Mary Taylor, négociante and wine importer, believes that wines should not break the bank but should exemplify the place where the grapes are grown. Her mission is to highlight small Europeans producers who are cultivating lovely wines that—in her words—their friends and neighbors can actually afford. Winemaker Jean Marc Barthez has crafted this Bordeaux Blend of 50% Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc that is both approachable and elegant. More refreshing than a typical Bordeaux, it offers blackberry, black cherry, earth, and graphite. It is a fascinating second wine with Chef Lanky’s second course, Smoked Salmon Tartare alongside a celery, apple, and radish salad.
The Luján de Cuyo region of Mendoza was recognized in 1993 as Argentina’s first named appellation, and it is home to the Alto Agrelo vineyard, which sits at an elevation of 3500 feet above sea level. Here is where winemaker Juan Pablo Murgia lovingly (devotedly?) nurtures the grapes that go into the Devoción Malbec. The line is so named because it “is rooted in our respect for Mendoza’s terroir, the environment, and ecological balance.” Using certified organic grapes is one way that Murgia stays true to their mission. But the flavor is all luxury: chocolate-covered cherries, blueberry compote, spearmint, mineral, and spice abound, and the inky purple hue of the wine is eye-catching. The powerful fruity character and full body make it a perfect initial pour to accompany Chef Lanky’s fourth course, Chicken Mole Risotto.
The Peirano ‘Heritage Collection’ line is a nod to a storied history that began when Giacomo Peirano came to California from Genoa, Italy, during the Gold Rush. Not hitting it big, he pivoted, opened up a mercantile, and awaited for his bride-to-be to travel to America. She brought along Primitivo (Italian Zinfandel) cuttings with her, which Giacomo planted in Lodi, and a thriving career in viticulture was born. Peirano diversified his varieties, moving beyond only Zinfandel, and now the brand grows Italian, French, and Spanish grapes. And this wine, luscious and mouth-filling Petite Sirah, is a wonderful conclusion to the tasting. The palate zings with ripe blueberries, blackberries, and plums and is rounded out by dark chocolate on the finish. It measures up beautifully as the second wine for Chicken Mole Risotto, the final savory course in Chef Lanky’s menu.