Vinho Verde has been exported from Portugal since at least the 17th century. Historically, bubbles occurred because producers rushed to bottle the young wine before it had finished its fermentation process, so the small amount of sugar left converted to fizz when opened. More commonly today, carbon dioxide is added to create that ‘frizzante’ style. And while this wine will be perfect for spring and summer, it’s delicious all-year round. The name, of course, means ‘I love you,’ and the brand is an homage to the winemaker’s wife who suffered from breast cancer; he wanted to create a daily reminder of his feelings for her. Crisp and fizzy, the amo.te Vinho Verde is a blend of indigenous grapes: Loureiro, Arinto, and Trajadura. Both floral and fruity on the nose, it offers up notes of orange blossom, citrus, green apple, and white peach. It would pair well with the Vegan Tacos from Seven Mile Café.
Germany is almost always associated with white wines, but the country is the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir. Traditionally called Spätburgunder, the grape does well in cooler climates because of its thinner skins and necessity to ripen for longer periods of time. German Pinots are usually lighter in hue and body as well as alcohol by volume. However, some viticulturalists in Germany are amping up the oak and tannic structure to be more in line with fuller-bodied versions that many people enjoy. The Chiara lies somewhere in the middle. With its illusive and unattainable lady as the brand (‘Chiara’ in Latin does mean bright and clear, a contrast to what we see on the label), you will fall in love with this different iteration of Pinot Noir. It does have traditional Pinot red fruit like cherry and raspberry along with vanilla and spice, but the Chiara attracts you with its luminescent individuality. Imbibe on a glass alongside the BBQ Chicken Pizza from Pizza Patrón.
Morgon is one the largest and most prestigious of Beaujolais’ ten crus. At the heart of Morgon lies Côte du Py, a slope of old blue granite and schist, that produces age-worthy wines. In fact, the region’s soil is known (lovingly) as “rotten rock,” named for the decaying shale and igneous rock that gives Morgon wines its unique character. Because the terroir is so present when smelling and tasting Morgon wines, a new term has been added to the French winemaking vernacular: “morgon” used a verb. Wine-Searcher.com explains it the best: “Morgon wines age so distinctively and consistently that the region's name is often used as a verb to describe this: ‘il morgonne’ (‘it morgons’).” Made from 100% Gamay, the Domaine des Gaudets ‘morgons’ with aromas of cherry and stone fruit, adding plum and minerality to the finish. While lighter, nuttier cheeses would be a wonderful partner, try this alongside the Rotisserie Chicken from Cowboy Chicken.
Just like the coy, mysterious lady on the label, this wine teases you. The blend, a proprietary red, has been bourbon-barrel-aged for 3 months, so a kiss of sweet and rich spice lingers on the palate. But this wine also surprises you, with its medium-bodied nature, but given its origins in the cool-climate region of the Central Valley in Chile, it makes sense that the Secret Mistress isn’t overly extracted or juicy. Bordeaux grapes are the most widely grown varieties in the Central Valley, so while we can’t guess all the secrets behind this wine, we can surmise there might be some Cabernet and Merlot in the bottle (Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Carmenère are also grown in this region, but who knows?!). This red blend is a series of contradictions, courting you with its affectations of cherry, blackberry, anise, and caramel. Get your carbs on with the Brisket-Loaded Baked Potato from the Chubz Spudz Food Truck.
Domaine de l’Ecu achieved an organic certification in 1972, long before it was cool, and has championed biodynamic farming, becoming Demeter certified, in 1998. This is the primary reason for the ‘Love and Grapes’ label. The brand is meticulous about respecting the natural world and letting the fruit shine without a lot of winemaking modifications. Although Domaine de l’Ecu is based in the Loire Valley, viticulturist Fred Niger works on negociant side-projects where he buys grapes from other regions, creating fun wines like this Nobis Syrah (fun fact: ‘nobis’ in Latin means ‘us,’ so that name probably has something to do with interconnectedness – or the two lovers kissing on the label!). Perfect with a slight chill, the Nobis is both floral and rustic, culminating in black cherry, raspberry, black pepper, and those subtle meaty notes that Syrah can convey. This wine will be complemented with a Gyro from Feta’s Lone Star Greek food truck, parked outside Oak Street Drafthouse.
We offer you a magnum, for your pleasure (pun intended—the theme is, after all, about seduction). The Masciarelli uses 100% estate-grown Montepulciano fruit. Led by mother-daughter team Marina Cvetić and Miriam Lee Masciarelli, the winery is the only one in Abruzzo to own land in all four provinces, making the Masciarelli name a standard-bearer for the region. Montepulciano is a delightful, accessible everyday drinker with its medium body, alcohol level, and tannins—with, of course, higher acidity—this is an Italian red, after all! It will please you with its bright cherry and red plum flavors met with spice and smoke. And you get twice the amount in this super-sized bottle! Grab the spaghetti and meatballs from local Italian market Di Abruzzo, light some candles at your table, and enjoy this crowd-pleasing wine.
Clinton ‘Doc’ McPherson is a founding father of the Texas wine industry. “What started out as experimental vine planting in the 1960s—at a time when there were virtually none in the entire state—evolved into an extraordinary framework that has since shaped the Texas High Plains landscape today” (from www.mcphersoncellars.com/our-story/). Son and current winemaker Kim McPherson went to UC Davis to study enology and viticulture in the 1970s, first working in Napa; later he returned to Texas to work at Llano Estacado with his father, and then he pioneered his own label in 2000. The ’Les Copains’ exudes what Texas wine royalty can lovingly craft—you will ‘befriend’ this juicy red, resplendent of Rhone varietals. Consisting of 37% Carignan, 30% Mourvèdre, 22% Syrah 6% Cinsault, and 5% Counoise, it offers up notes of black tea, wild strawberries, plum, and cracked black pepper. Consume the ‘Les Copains’ with Chestnut Tree’s pork loin Saltimbocca.
Averaging 80-year-old ungrafted vines in the region, Bodegas Vatan has sourced concentrated berries from the most prestigious vineyards in Toro for the ‘Tritón.’ A grape with seemingly endless nicknames, ‘Tinto de Toro’ is the local name for Tempranillo, Spain’s most popular grape. The old vines in Toro have adapted to extreme drought conditions and even staved off the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th century. However, because Toro is not as glamorous of a region as the more well-known Rioja, Priorat, or Ribera del Duero, it is often overlooked by wine authorities for its contributions. To assist, luxury brand LVMH bought some of the Toro parcels to ensure the region gets the attention it deserves. And we should shower it with the love it deserves. The ‘Tritón’ is elegant and fulfilling. Aromas of blueberry jam coax you to take a sip, resulting in layers of plum, blackberry, cassis, anise, and cigar box. The oak is not overly present on the ‘Tritón,’ and the tannins are velvety. Enjoy it with something spicy, like Chile Rellenos from El Matador.
The most popular white grape of Piedmont, Cortese is the foundation of Gavi, which is technically a region (you know how Europe does things!) in the southeast. Cortese, an indigenous variety, is both aromatic and clean, a perfect ‘healthy’ wine with its lower alcohol and crisp flavor. Franco Serra is a five-generation-run winery owned by the Sperone family, who have planted grapes all over Italy. Their facility in Torino was actually destroyed by a bomb in WWII. But persevere with winemaking they have, and now sibling team Francesca and Antonion Sperone are at the helm. They seek to bring “thoughtfully crafted, distinctive wines” to the world, and this Gavi is exceedingly lovely. Evocative of almond blossom, it also offers citrus, gala apple, creamy melon, and a touch of minerality. While it’s perfect as an aperitif, it will go well alongside veggies and fish. Try it with the Chef Salad from Spiral Diner.
It’s been a while since we had a Texas Mourvèdre on the club, and according to the folks at William Chris, “Mourvèdre is a Texas wine grower’s best friend.” It does so well in the warmer climate and thrives despite risk of drought and frost. The variety can be full-bodied, used in blends (as previously seen), and generally boasts higher acidity and tannins. Expressions of the grape differ, of course, whether it originates from the Rhône Valley, Spain, or the United States, and Texas encapsulates the best parts of Mourvèdre: a ripe, jammy plumminess along with blackberry, black tea, cedar, and tobacco. Few Texas wine producers make a more delicious Mourvèdre than William Chris, and pairing it with the Pork Tenderloin from Barley and Board will enthrall you.
In the far southern Rhône, Costières de Nîmes has soil filled with rocky galets that make other Rhône regions like Chateauneuf-du-Pape famous. These sun-soaked stones release heat at night, creating conditions for optimal vine ripeness. Michel Gassier writes that winemaking requires observation, respect for the land, and patience, and thus the “terroir will give its very best for us and for future generations.” With the Mistral, a wind that haunts the Rhône, and the nearby Mediterranean, Costières de Nîmes is a complicated area, but it sure does make gorgeous wines. The Gassier Côtes du Rhône, a blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah, is fruit-forward with velvety tannins and approachability. Its violet floral aromas give way to dark cherries, licorice, earth, and black pepper on the palate. An excellent accompaniment would be the Spicy Eggplant dish from Royal Yum Thai Restaurant.
Murcia, in Spain’s southeast, of which Yecla is a part, plants more Monastrell (Mourvèdre) than any other red grape. And the country treats red grapes with immense reverence, resulting in delectable single varietal and blended wines that are usually set in more affordable price structures than neighbors France and Italy. Bodegas Barahonda has crafted a ‘tinto’ of 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, and 25% Merlot, and this wine spotlights what happens when three grapes that don’t often end up together end up together! The winery favors organic farming and no oak treatment, and so what you taste is juicy, luscious fruit: blackberry, blueberry, and dark cherry along with some earthy undertones. The label, depicting a Spanish proverb, mentions that navigating the roads of life can be difficult. But with this ‘Carro,’ “el vino va tomanda vida” [“the wine comes to life”]. The Bayou chicken sandwich from Frilly’s Seafood Bayou Kitchen will be an interesting partner for the ‘Carro.’
When Jared Burns was 24, just two years out of college, he founded Revelry Vintners in 2005. He grew up loving Washington wines, and he wanted his peers to be able to afford what he was drinking. Burns was exposed to wine from a young age as his father owned a synthetic cork business in Walla Walla. He achieved his dream of making wine inviting to more than just the Millennial generation; he has expanded his vision by offering more luxurious and higher-end renditions that allow Washington fruit to shine. Now a major player, Revelry showcases what Merlot can do so well. Red and blue fruits entice you while toasty caramel, vanilla, and cocoa linger on the finish. The Cedar Planked Salmon from Hannah’s would take this wine to the next level.
Everyone loves a dog story, and this one is pretty unique. Young adventurers Charlie Brain (yep) and Walker Brown were backpacking through South Africa’s Wild Coast when a dog named Lubanzi followed them for 6 days and over 100 miles and then disappeared into the night. Through this experience, an idea was born for these two who seek to make the planet a better place. With a repertoire of good deeds, like becoming a member of the ‘1 % for the Planet’ business alliance and a Certified B Corporation (while also being carbon neutral and maintaining fair trade practice), the Lubanzi folks believe “in the power of business to change the world.” So, you too are making the world better when you consume this wine! The wine, a blend of 75% Shiraz, 18% Grenache and 7% Mourvedre, is floral and fruity, with an abundance of black currant and black plum rounded out with allspice and black pepper. Enjoy a glass with the Portabella Burger from RG Burgers and Grill.
The country of Georgia is known as the cradle of wine civilization. Researchers have analyzed grapes and grape seeds within winemaking vessels there, and the remains were found to be over 8000 years old. By the way, there is a pretty cool episode of 60 Minutes, from November 2023, on the history of Georgian winemaking if you want to know more! Georgian viticulturalists have revived the ancient method of qvevri, which involves storing the juice, stems, and seeds from wine grapes in a sealed clay vessel and burying the qvevri in the ground for a good six months (or more) before drinking. Generally, there was a beeswax coating on the inside of the vessel and a lime coating on the outside, which contributed to the oxygenation and earthy flavors of the wine inside. Focusing on this particular wine, the artwork of Zurab Tserteli, Georgian painter and sculptor, is featured on the label. Made from the Saperavi grape, the Zurab Tserteli is not just interesting, but it is a taste of history. There are black fruits mixed with clove, licorice, and vanilla. Choose your favorite meat-centric dish from Rooster’s Roadhouse and sip this Saperavi from Georgia!
The emigration story of Italians relocating in Australia is not new, and Vittorio De Bortoli was lucky enough to seize an opportunity when he planted Shiraz grapes there in 1928 (surrounding farmers would have allowed the grapes to rot if he hadn’t taken the Shiraz fruit from them). De Bortoli Wines was born that year, and the brand has innovated over time, purchasing land in various parts of Australia to show how terroir truly can affect the grape-growing process. Heathcote has red Cambrian soils mixed with limestone, and that earthy soil imparts a certain quality to the wines, highlighted in the ‘Woodfired’ line. Made from 100% Shiraz and, in winemaker Steve Webber’s words, the style is “deeply scented, rich, fruit driven, and great with chargrilled cooking.” Aromas of violet, red, blue, and black fruits display when swirled, and more savory notes, like olive, spice, and smoke, emerge on the palate. Cartwright’s Ranch House Ribeye would hold up to this powerful Shiraz.
In December, we are offering three different takes on the Platinum Club of Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape, according to wine guru Jancis Robinson, “is the world's most famous red wine grape, and most planted of any colour.” A crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, Cab is a late-ripening variety that needs a warm, dry climate to thrive. Associated with blackcurrant and other dark fruits, it can take on notes of cedar, graphite, and/or cigar box depending on its oak aging regimen. Cabernet can also smell and taste of mint, eucalyptus, and other herbaceous notes if the grapes are crushed when not fully ripe. Cabernet can potentially be cellared from 7 to 10 years (depending on if you want to wait that long!), and Left-Bank Bordeaux wines, with their predominance of Cabernet in the blend, are known as ‘Vin de Garde’ (or wine for keeping), and often don’t hit their peak until 20 years, resulting in softer tannins and more pronounced tertiary flavors, like dried fruits, mushroom, earth, leather, and meat. The Cabernets to try right now are the Chono, from Maipo Valley, Chile, near Santiago; the DeLille Cellars ‘Metier,’ from Columbia Valley, Washington; and a real treat of a wine, the Château Cordet, from Margaux, in Bordeaux. The Chono engages you with red fruits like strawberry, cherry, and cassis, along with some dried herbs and dark chocolate. The ‘Metier’ conjures up darker fruits, like black cherry, in addition to savory notes like black olive. The Château Cordet, with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon rounded out with other Bordeaux varietals, entices upfront with floral notes, then evolves in the glass with blackcurrant and culminates in pepper and leather. All three of these wines have been aged a good amount of time in oak, which helps to marry Cab’s fruit and woodsy flavors. In addition, we also have several Cabs on our By-the-Glass menu, from the approachable Intermingle to fan favorite Opolo to higher-end Silver Ghost. Next time you are at Steve’s choose a Cabernet and enjoy this most noble of grapes!
A Special Start with our Sparkling Wine of the day.
Wines are in order when tasting all 8 wines.
With such a whimsical name and label, you might think that this wine is simply a breath of fresh air (which it is!), but the winemakers behind the brand, Brendan and Laura Carter, are serious about giving back to causes they deem significant. Único Zelo (which means “unique zeal”) is a certified B corporation, a rare designation given to businesses that have high standards in performance, accountability, and transparency. This wine is so called because they donate 1% of their revenue to jungle reforestation. This Dolcetto is fresh and fruity while maintaining high acidity. It offers up notes of bright plum and cherry, rhubarb and finishes with a tinge of pink peppercorn. While it would be a delightful start to almost any holiday meal, let’s put it with some pizza from the reimagined Tomato Food Truck, a staple in Denton.
Gorgeous beaches are abundant on the limestone peninsula that makes up Salento in Puglia, but there are also 11,000 hectares of vineyards that make up the area, including Vespa Winery, in western Puglia. Riccardo Cotarella, the winemaker known as the “mago”—or wizard—is so named because he was instrumental in the Italian wine renaissance during the 1990s and early 2000s. Traditionally, Primitivo has been used as a blending grape, but renewed interest occurred when it was discovered to be genetically identical to Zinfandel. The Primitivo grape thrives in Puglia, and it is often a softer version of what is found in New World styles. The ‘Il Bruno’ invites you with tart red fruits along with spicy pepper and a velvety mouthfeel. A charcuterie plate from our friends at Ten:One Artisan Cheese would be an enticing pairing.
Italy has more grape varieties than any other region, including about 2,000 indigenous grapes. From volcanic soils and limestone coasts to the rolling hills of Tuscany and the majestic Italian Alps, Italy boasts a myriad of microclimates that fosters numerous grapes. However, a few winemakers living in Tuscany began experimenting with international varieties as a way to buck the stringent system of aging and percentage requirements administered in the most prominent wine regions. While the first Super Tuscans were created in the 1950s and 60s, the Italian government didn’t approve the Toscana IGT until 1992 (we’ll call it red tape). The Uggiano Toscana is a well-balanced Super Tuscan blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Syrah. Robust fruits like strawberry and fig open up the palate, culminating in spice, cinnamon, and licorice. A fun accompaniment would be the delectable panzanella salad from The Chestnut Tree.
The name ‘Chono’ may ring a bell as we experienced the Chono Red Blend on the Club about 18 months ago. The name refers to the indigenous nomadic tribe who inhabited the archipelago in Chilean Patagonia. Charles Darwin described the Chono as ‘intrepid pioneers,’ and the Chono brand, in homage to the past, believes that their viticulturalists and winemakers exhibit similar qualities, searching Chile’s best vineyards to create the most promising wine offerings. Each of Chono’s wines are sourced from single vineyards, which conveys their dedication to planting the best grapes in the most optimal locations. The Chono is a robust and rustic expression of Cabernet, showcasing cherry, strawberry, cassis, mint, and dark chocolate. Your choice of kebabs from Green Zatar would comprise a most complementary culinary experience.
Evelyn and Leo Trentadue moved to a farm in Alexander Valley that, over a hundred years prior, had cultivated fruit trees and vines. Apparently, one of the vineyard blocks had several different reds grapes that, when blended together, created a most delicious wine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, with time and age (and Prohibition), the exact recipe for this field blend, called ‘Old Patch Red’ was lost. So every vintage, the Trentadues seek to recreate that blend, playing with varieties and percentages to land upon the right red. The 2021 ‘OPR’ consists of 55% Zinfandel, 27% Petite Sirah, 17% Carignane, and the remaining 1% is Sangiovese. Floral on the nose and with flavors of raspberries, black cherries, as well as cherry cola, vanilla, smoke, and cocoa, it is a harmonious treat. Get your hands on some barbecue from The Juicy Pig, and go to town with a glass of ‘OPR’ by your side!
The Douro River has fostered wine production for more than 2,000 years. In 2001, it was demarcated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. While the region is certainly beautiful, the primary reason for its UNESCO recognition is due to the positive human influence on the shaping of the landscape. Spectacular terraces are cut into the valley, and the crystal-clear water reflects the changing colors of the vines throughout each season. Of course, this area is world-renowned for Port, but those same grapes can be produced into a nonfortified wine like the ‘Lago.’ Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Franca, Tinta Barroca, and Touriga Nacional constitute this wine, an inky and vigorous red blend. The initial red and black fruits are met with rich notes of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and dried herbs. Burgers seem like a no-brainer coupling for this approachable wine, so order your favorite jumbo from Burger Time Machine and get after it!
A top wine region for reds (and whites like Riesling), the Columbia Valley sees about 300 days of sunshine each year. It has a long growing season which allows the grapes to ripen beautifully despite getting only 6-8 inches of rain, which is equivalent to the rainfall in the Gobi Desert! The Columbia River and the snowmelt from the Cascade Mountains provide the necessary irrigation for the vines, and the loess soils, a combination of silt and sand, are great for drainage and increasing aromatics. DeLille Cellars uses all these factors to foster lovely Bordeaux-style wines. Their company motto is “always seeking,” and they strive for constant improvement and continuous discovery in viticulture. Further proof, Robert Parker recognized DeLille with a 5-star rating. Our second Cabernet in the lineup, this offering enlivens the senses with darker notes like black cherry, black currant, black olive, baking spice, and tobacco. The lamb meatloaf burger from Hannah’s would be exquisite with the ‘Metier.’
We have had a number of Bordeaux blends on the Club, and they are all delicious. Most are from either Entres-deux-Mers, the area between the Left and Right Bank, or from the Right Bank proper. Both regions make amazing wine, but the grapes are usually a little more Merlot- or Cabernet-Franc heavy (and not dominated by the world’s most famous red, Cabernet Sauvignon). But not this time! We present a Left-Bank Bordeaux from Margaux, an appellation in the Haut-Médoc, which lies about 15 minutes north of the city of Bordeaux. Comprised of a majority of Cab, the wine also has 25% Merlot 6% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Yes, this is our third Cabernet-focused wine on the lineup, and yes, it is luscious and age-worthy. Its seductive floral aromas of lilac and acacia flower invite you to take a taste, and then flavors of dark cherry, black currant, pepper, and leather command your attention. Innumerable dishes can be paired with the Château Cordet, but the wood-fired sirloin from Green House sure sounds delightful.
Wines are in order when tasting all 8 wines.
A perfect wine to start off Turkey Day festivities, Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, dry, and an excellent accompaniment to veggies. Famous in the Loire Valley of France and Chile, New Zealand reinvented Sauvignon Blanc in the 1980s, taking the world by storm. The grape thrives in cooler climates and, on the island terrain, takes on an aromatic and tropical character. It is extremely common to hear the term “grassy” as well—Sauv Blanc can smell like freshly mown grass, an appealing quality! Currently, Sauvignon Blanc makes up 85% of the wine exports from New Zealand. The quintessential Giesen hits the spot with mouth-watering acidity and flavors of passionfruit, pineapple, key lime, and freshly cut herbs. This wine is an easy match-up for crudités and salads as well as green bean casserole in the Thanksgiving Day lineup.
On the name alone, this wine would be a conversation starter. But then the taste takes that experience to a whole new level! Ministry of the Vinterior is a brand from negociant-turned-winemakers Elijah Pfister and Chris Nickolopoulos. Having worked in the industry for decades, they were gifted some surplus premium juice in 2009, during the recession. MOV was born, and their 2008 Cabernet was a huge success. Their bold claim of this Pinot is that “it’s the only wine the populace ever needs.” Layered and complex, it hits you with bright cherries, orange peel, and apricot along with aromas of violets and fig leaf rounded out by vanilla and caramel. Pinot Noir is, of course, the perfect Thanksgiving wine and would pair with multiple dishes, but anything on the creamier or fiery side, like spiced butternut squash, would be heavenly.
With eye-catching branding and a compelling story, Les Jamelles is a line of classic varieties that are grown in the Pays d’Oc, which covers the southern areas of France. Winemaker Catherine Delaunay uses her Burgundian pedigree to create superb and tasty wines along with husband Laurent. Working for a short time in California, they fell in love with the Languedoc-Roussillon regions and started their label in 1995. This Pinot Noir displays a bit more body and spice than some—it conveys the red berries of cherry, raspberry, and plum complemented by hints of toasty oak and vanilla. It is approachable and quaffable with almost any Thanksgiving course, but it seems illogical not to serve it with it with jammy, velvety cranberry sauce.
François de Monval, wine merchant, and Florent Girou, winemaker, decided to partner together to form ‘Les Équilibristes,’ which means tightrope walkers. Their goal is to shake up the traditional ways of viticulture, thus freeing themselves from old practices and habits so that they can craft some of the most vibrant and unique wine of their careers. The ‘Hirsute’ (roughly translated to shaggy) Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Franc (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), and Merlot (25%) cultivated in Bergerac, about 60 miles east of Bordeaux. Made with organic farming, this wine is a fascinating study in what grapes with minimal intervention can do. Aromas of cranberry, cherry, and blackberry awaken the senses, giving way to earth and bell pepper at the mid-palate. This wine is a tightrope walk in sophistication and natural oenology and would complement cornbread dressing with jalapeño peppers.
Leakey is a tiny community northwest of San Antonio in the beautiful Texas Hill Country (in 2021, only 445 people lived there!). In the past, Leaky was known more for pecan farming than grape growing until Tim Leach decided to grow Rhône varieties in Frio Canyon in 2008. The vineyard has been expanding their reach; they are currently constructing a 10,000 square foot underground cave built into the side of a hill, which will be the largest in Texas. Frio Canyon’s goal is to “produce superior red wines from Texas,” and this proprietary red blend is certainly a crowd-pleaser. Abundant in red and black fruits, the wine offers raspberries, candied cherries, and plum with five spice and tarragon on the finish. While it could hold up to various meats and game, it would shine next to fire-roasted root vegetables.
Grenache is the star of southern France, especially in Chateauneuf and Maury. For this selection, winemaker Jeff Carrel uses grapes from Maury, a sleepy town in the Mediterranean, near the border of Spain. The area has bitterly cold winters, exceedingly hot summers, and little rainfall. The soil, a combination of granite and schist, makes for difficult terrain (but is great for grape-growing!). This no doubt imparts an earthy quality to ‘Le Grenache Dans Le Peau,’ or Grenache Under My Skin. While mostly Grenache tempered with 20% Syrah, this wine seduces with dark fruits and spice. On the front are black cherries and dark plums. Raisins, spice, and an earthy quality hit the palate on the finish. This wine has been recognized with multiple accolades, including Wine Pleasures “50 Great Red Wines of the World” in 2023. A gorgeous pairing with any meat dish, it would also stand up to potatoes au gratin as mature cheeses love this wine.
Usually relegated to a blending grape, Petit Verdot originated in Bordeaux but has found its way to warm environs. The name means “little green,” which refers to the grape’s difficulty in reaching full phenolic ripeness (and its compact grape size). It is now being cultivated in Australia, Spain, Italy, California, Washington, Texas, and—yes—Chile. A richly-hued variety, Petit Verdot offers tannin for days but with balanced acidity and body. Korta chose one of the most prominent locations for Petit Verdot: the renowned Sagrada Familia Valley in Curicó Valley. The Korta ‘Barrel Selection’ Petit Verdot uses the best grapes from the region to create a wine that is full of flavor. It opens with floral aromas of lilac and violet, ascends with dark fruits, and then crescendos with chocolate, vanilla, and sage, leaving a lasting impression. Game and lamb would stand up to this wine, but so would the lovely main course, turkey with plentiful herbs and spices.
While we’ve seen an uptick in celebrities backing spirits brands lately, it was inevitable that a football player would turn to wine. Charles Woodson, Heisman Trophy winner, played for the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers for a total of 18 seasons. Woodson fell in love with wine when he went to training camp in Napa Valley early in his career. He explains: “The name ‘Intercept’ is a nod to my career, but also a reminder that during every moment of your life, the possibilities are wide open. You just have to go get it.” And go for it, we shall with this delectable blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre. It has notes of blackberry preserves, sweet tobacco, savory herbs, and caramelized sugar along with fine-grained tannins and a spice-filled, lengthy finish. It’s the right wine for football and for the holidays. Pair it with your favorite meat and cheese appetizer.
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.
Can I just say how excited I am to have a Barbera on the Platinum Club this month? Barbera is the third most-planted grape in Italy, after Sangiovese and Montepulciano, and it is a great Tuesday (and Saturday) night wine. There is a saying in Piedmont that Nebbiolo (think Barolo or Barbaresco) is what every Italian wants to drink, but the bottle they grab instead is Barbera. And that is because Barbera is medium-bodied, high in acid, low in tannins, but is dripping in red fruits like maraschino cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. The Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta ‘Valmorena’ Barbera on the September Club is also rounded out by luscious figs, dates, and chocolate. A meaty dish with mushroom sauce or an herb-crusted steak would be fantastic with this Barbera. We think it will become your Tuesday night wine, too!
Note: The September Wine Dinner, a five-course meal crafted by Chef Gabriela from Cheese and Salsa, Jack’s Tavern, and several other culinary businesses, is paired with eight wines. The savory courses have two wine pairings, and the order of the wines for our club tasting varies from the wine dinner. Recipes will be available for you to recreate the menu! See the menu below.
The grape sounds German, and it translates to “spicy grape.” The winery sounds German, too, at least in part: the married founders wanted to honor their heritage, thus naming it after towns in Italy and Germany. Now one of the oldest wineries in Texas, with four locations throughout the state, Messina Hof’s mission is “based on the three cornerstones of family, tradition, and romance.” With son Vincent at the helm as winemaker, Messina Hof seeks to make premium wine and offer exceptional experiences. This ‘Artist Series’ Gewürztraminer lives up to all that the grape is known for—floral aromas, tropical fruit, ginger, and lychee with a light, slightly golden hue and a medium body. It will pair nicely with Chef Gabriela’s first course, Sopa Izamal, a squash blossom and plantain soup.
Château Famaey began its story in the early 2000s when two Belgian friends, Luc Luyckx and Marc Van Antwerpen, were, in their words, “taken hostage by wine” in South-Central France, an area known for producing “the black wine of Cahors” (i.e., Malbec). Now family-run, Maarten Luyckx is the “Maître de Chai,” or cellar master, for Luc and Marc’s successful venture. Their Malbecs have been award-winning, and their use of organic and sustainable practices is of note. This Rosé of Malbec retains some of the grape’s fruity character but with elegance and higher acidity. Cranberry and strawberry meld with citrus notes to produce a wine that is refreshing and will complement many dishes. While a white wine might be a logical choice for a Peruvian Ceviche, this Malbec Rosé will bring out the fresh and zingy flavors of the second course on Chef Gabriela’s lineup.
One of the largest areas by available acreage in California but one of the smallest in terms of production, the Sierra Foothills AVA lies in the eastern part of the state in Amador County. Bill Easton, one of the original ‘Rhône Rangers’ and recipient of a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the industry, began crafting wine in the 1980s, championing Rhône varieties. He firmly believes in extended bottle aging to create tertiary flavors, a practice the French call ‘élevage.’ The Terre Rouge Vin Gris, a rosé blend of—you guessed it!—Rhône grapes (Mourvèdre and Grenache co-fermented with Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Viognier) is a study in sophistication and makes nice companion as the second wine to the Sopa Izamal course.
A third-generation winemaker, Susie Bynum specializes in creating handcrafted, small lot, ultra-premium wines. She sources her grapes from sustainably-farmed vineyards in the Russian River Valley, an area her father, Davis Bynum, made famous with his successful viticultural ventures. Continuing the family tradition, Susie Bynum has found her own formula of wine wizardry through Burgundy-style grapes. This age-worthy Pinot Noir is terroir-driven, as it is produced in a cool climate area usually shrouded in early morning fog due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Tart red fruits, plum, earth, cola, and cinnamon dominate the palate. It will brighten many dishes (Thanksgiving is around the corner!), but we have paired it with Chef Gabriela’s fourth course, Mackerel Wellington.
It’s been a minute since we had a Zinfandel on the club, and that could be fully attributed to the hundred degree temps we have had for months (but for those of you reading these notes in late September, it might be that there is a fall coolness in the air!). An offshoot of Scotto Cellars, the Silver Peak line connotes luxury and quality, all with an affordable price point. This Zin, a medium-bodied luscious libation that also has a touch of Barbera, will provide you all the jammy and velvety red and black fruits you have been craving. Dark cherry, raspberry, and blackberry envelop the palate with a rich but not overwhelming oaky spice. While Zin is normally associated with heavier dishes like barbecue and stews, it is being poured as the second wine for course four, a Mackerel Wellington, as it will hold up to the indulgent puff pastry.
Barbera is a wine of contradictions—it can be both light(ish) and intense, fruity and earthy, acidic and woodsy, but it is just as much of a wine for Tuesday night as it is a Saturday night. Nebbiolo, Piedmont’s flashier red variety, usually hogs the conversation, but Barbera deserves some attention. For a bit of trivia, it is the third most planted grape in Italy behind Sangiovese and Montepuciano. The nose on Barbera can be very floral, and this Marchesi entices us with violet notes. The palate offers maraschino cherry, dates, figs, and chocolate. It would be a delicious accompaniment to many foods (Barbera and pizza is heaven!). On Chef Gabriela’s menu, the Marchesi is the first wine poured with course 3, Inverted Meatballs.
Ribera del Duero, a top wine-producing region of Spain, is in Castilla y León, which lies in the northwest of the country. Ninety-five percent of the vines here are devoted to Tinto del País, or what we know as Tempranillo (trivia alert—Tempranillo is derived from the Spanish word for “early” as it is an early-ripening grape). The level of aging for this wine is determined by the “Crianza” category (which loosely translates to “bringing up”). A Spanish Crianza Red must be aged at least two years, of which six months is required to be barrel aged. Thus, there will be several tertiary aromas in this wine as it has been aged in the bottle at this point for a lengthy time. Blackcurrant, blueberry, and mocha tease your tastebuds, and then notes of smoke, cracked pepper, and baking spice linger on the finish. The Áster is a powerful wine to conclude the Inverted Meatballs course.
Murcia, a state in southeast Spain, champions a certain red grape that doesn’t always get a ton of attention: Monastrell (what we call Mourvèdre). Three small DOs (Denominacións de Origen) in Murcia are particularly known for tannic, richly-colored reds: Bullas, Yecla, and Jumilla. The Gil Family Estates—useless fact warning—is a sponsor of the 2023 Latin Grammy Awards; as viticulturalists, the brand focuses on robust reds throughout Spain. Producer Juan Gil has crafted a red blend from 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Monastrell, and 10% Syrah, all grown in Jumilla. When tasted, dark fruits of blackberry and black cherry emerge first, rounded out by chocolate and smoke. And while it is an admittedly controversial choice to pair with Ceviche, Chef Gabriela’s second course, the Juan Gil Red Blend will measure up to the vegetal cilantro and habanero notes that shine alongside the seafood.
Called the ‘Spanish Sauvignon Blanc,’ Verdejo is the signature grape of Rueda, a region of Castilla y León in northern Spain. Legend is that the Moors brought the grape to Spain about 1000 years ago, and the grape has thrived in Spain ever since. A perfect warm-weather wine, Verdejo is bright, crisp, and fruity, similar in body to a Sauvignon Blanc. A splendid food pairing for Verdejo is any dish with lime in it, which brings out both a citrus and an herbaceous note (fish tacos, anyone?). The Verdejo we are featuring at Steve’s this August, Neleman Verdejo, is actually sourced from Valencia, which is in the southeastern part of Spain. According to winemaker Derrick Neleman, you will earn “karma points” for choosing this 100% organic and vegan wine. The Verdejo label features a man riding a unicycle in a nod to Neleman’s Dutch heritage (there are 23 million bicycles in The Netherlands, in case you were wondering!). Come on over to Steve’s during these 100-degree temps and ask for a glass of Verdejo to quench your thirst and appease your desire to try something new!
While wine drinkers have varied—sometimes polarizing—opinions about Riesling, it is truly one of the most versatile grapes in the world because it can pair with a myriad of international cuisines, and it can, of course, run the gamut from very dry to sweet. Interestingly, some German brands have begun putting a “sweet” meter on the back of their bottles to ward off confusion. The Bauer Haus Riesling, a semisweet wine, has higher acidity, and brings a conversation-worthy nose with its floral and faint petrol aromas (very common in German Rieslings). When tasted, citrus, apricots and honey are at the forefront. The Bauer Haus complements Chef Suzanne’s Orange Cake with Dark Chocolate Mousse.
An interesting and refreshing Spanish white, Verdejo is a wonderful alternative to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. While it can be expressed as a fuller-bodied wine if aged in oak, the Neleman Verdejo is crisp, fruity, and light. Winemaker Derrick Neleman’s motto is to “inspire and nurture the human spirit with all its wondrous glory and variety” with his wine, and the tropical flavors of pineapple and mango along with green apple and a lime note coalesce in the glass. Vegan, organic, and aged in stainless steel, the fruit is left to shine on its own. The Verdejo is the first wine to serve with Chef Sezanne’s Eggplant Caponata with Pecorino Crisp.
While a sparkling red may not be at the top of everyone’s list, we ask that you give this lovely Lambrusco a chance. Lambrusco styles range from very fruity and bright to tannic and full-bodied. This wine, somewhere in the middle, is an August thirst-quencher (and porch pounder). With gentle bubbles and an intense ruby hue, the Cantini di Sorbara Lambrusco delights with tart red fruits, Italian herbs, and candied orange peel. It is a wine that gives a nod to the past (remember Riunite?) while embracing modernity and pleasing many wine drinkers. It also enhances the Eggplant Caponata and serves as a good transition to the next course.
Pinot Nero (Noir) is one of the red international varieties that has had commercial success in Italy, a country known for having hundreds of indigenous grapes. While it is a complex and difficult grape to cultivate, when done well, Pinot Noir is a treasure, with or without food. The Italo Cescon Pinot, named for the patriarch and winemaker of the family, gives off red fruit vibes, from cherry to boysenberry to red currant and cranberry. Italian herbs and clove round out a satisfying finish. The bottle is a showpiece as well, with its tied cane and ribbon, a practice the family started in the 1950s. This wine is an elegant initial accompaniment to Chef Suzanne’s Tomato Sorbet with Mozzarella Mousse.
Fattoria Poggio Alloro Chianti – Tuscany – IT (Gold)
Idyllic Tuscany with its rolling hills and cypress trees…and to add to the mystique, picture a charming farmhouse (with rooms to rent!) and bay laurel bushes all over the grounds, emitting a fragrant herby scent in the sun-soaked countryside. Yes, we are enticing you to go visit Fattoria Poggio Alloro, which is near San Gimignano, an area well-known for the white wine Vernaccia. In addition to hospitality, Fattoria Poggio Alloro crafts a tasty Chianti. Primarily made with Sangiovese—but also with the indigenous grapes of Canaiolo, Colorino, and Ciliegiolo—this Chianti is medium-bodied with the flavor profile of crushed violets, cherry, and red licorice, along with some earthy notes and spice, making it an excellent conclusion to the Tomato Sorbet.
We recently had a Cabernet Franc (yep, Cheryl is partial) from Argentina, so it’s interesting to have the same variety from its birthplace, France. While Cab Franc thrives in Bordeaux, it is also a staple of Saumur, in the Loire Valley. Saumur’s warm summers and cold winters allow a full expression of the grape’s peppery and flinty flavors. Furthermore, on the palette, notes of plum, cherry, and black pepper emerge. Perfumed, juicy, and expressive, the Arnaud Lambert is a fantastic wine for late summer, fall, winter, and—yes—spring (did you forget Cheryl loves Cab Franc?). Arnaud Lambert considers himself a “Loire Artisan” whose goal is to craft wines with purity and precision, and a glass should accompany your first bites of Chef Suzanne’s Octopus Carpaccio and Potato Puree.
Zestos’ Garnacha is cultivated in the high elevation vineyards of San Martin Valdeiglesias, northwest of Madrid. The vines, grown in sandy and granite soil, are around 80 years old, and the result of old vines is luscious, highly concentrated, lower-yield fruit. The Zestos Garnacha grapes are perfectly ripe at harvest and impart floral and mineral-driven flavors. The winemakers strive to preserve that fruitiness by aging the wine in stainless and cement. A vivid ruby hue, the wine offers notes of blackberry, cherry, white pepper, and earth. The Zestos label includes a logo that says “Vinos Regionales – Respeto y Tradición,” a commitment to preserving old-world practices. The Zestos Garnacha is a unique merging of history in an up-and-coming wine region. It can best be enjoyed as the opening wine for Chef Suzanne’s Seared Lamb and Farro Salad course.
While this is the second Sangiovese on the lineup (and the fourth Italian wine!), it is certainly an interesting experiment to compare the two Tuscan reds. The Banfi uses the Governo technique, an ancient winemaking method which, in the 14th century, helped to stabilize high acid wines like Sangiovese during fermentation. In modern times, an added benefit to “Governo” is that a wine becomes a bit more luxurious and jammy by contributing partially withered grapes to the fermenting wine. Banfi may be a well-known name, but it is a young winery (at just 45 years old!) seeking to create a “stil novo” (new style). Floral on the nose, the wine evolves into maraschino cherry, raspberry jam, and black plum with a savory finish with a touch of spice. It is a nice way to finish the Octopus Carpaccio course.
An “up-and-coming” viticulture area for the past 30 or so years, the Judean Hills are a mountain range that extends up to 3,280 feet surrounding the city of Jerusalem. Despite the newer press, according to Catherine Todd of Forbes Magazine, “Old terraces carved into the rock and ancient limestone wine presses hint towards winemaking that goes back for thousands of years.” The region forms a paradox of modern winemaking techniques and traditional practices, like certifying wine as Kosher. The climate, conducive for grape growing with its warm summers and cold winters, produces fruity but earthy Cabernet. The Zion ‘Capital’ Cab wraps you up in blueberry, blackberry, and plummy goodness and then finishes with a bit of savory herb and spice. A satisfying conclusion to the Seared Lamb and Potato course, it is also a perfect way to end the August Platinum lineup.