Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pondering things Italian in West Texas


“They invited us to Buffalo Gap in April when the Italians will be here, but we didn’t know which wines to bring,” said Jim Evans, winemaker for Lone Oak Winery in Burleson, Texas. “Well, I don’t think that will be a problem, Jim, seeing as you make Viognier, Syrah and Merlot. And our Tuscan wineries that will be here make wines from all those grapes,” I volleyed.

We had made the hour or so trek from Dallas to Burleson as my better half was interviewing the winemaker and owner for a luxury magazine. I was going along for the ride and was interested in tasting their wine. Lone Oak winery was getting a lot of attention from as far away as San Francisco


When we arrived we found ourselves in a room with a load of newly bottled Gewürztraminer. Gene Estes, the owner of Lone Oak winery spent several years in Alsace and had been thoroughly indoctrinated into the cause of keeping Gewurtz alive in the New World. “The Alsatians love the grape and seeing as it is the epicenter for Gewürztraminer, I had a lot of exposure to it.” Well, Gene, Gewürztraminer may shine in Alsace, but it was born in Italy, in the town of Tramin, or Termeno as the Italian speakers call it. High on the hills leading up to the Dolomites in Alto Adige, Gewurztraminer has a steely dry character with a reserve of aroma. When Jim pulled a sample from the tank, from a vineyard in Tokio, Texas, elevation 3,600 feet, it was déjà vu for me. Steely, high acid (naturally) good fruit but not over-the-top, and a dry-as-a-bone finish. “We added a little sugar to the bottling, they said almost as a form of apology for the tank sample.”Why?” I asked. “It’s perfect the way it is.” I knew the answer. Texas folk like their tea sweet. “Why don’t y’all just bottle 20 or so cases of the dry stuff for the rest of us?” I was ready to buy a six-pack on the spot, and I don’t need any more wine in my home.

Texas has been growing up, and this short time with these fellows really dinked me back into believing that wine from Texas could maybe rise up to the level that many of us have come to expect from California, Italy, France, and so on.

Next week I’ll be in Italy and the following week in Bordeaux, so I am about to pack it up and head out. Lots of great wines to be tasted. My palate is attuned for high expectations.

In the barrel room, Jim poured us a glass of their 2010 Merlot. Now, I am not normally a Merlot lover. Sure, in two weeks in Pomerol I won’t be complaining, but plain-Jane vanilla Merlot from the High Plains of Texas? Give me a break. I humored them, took a sip. And another. And another. I was impressed. Thinking to myself, they’re probably goofing off with the oak chips in the back room. No, just an assortment of older barriques, some French, some American. Fair enough. The oak was in the background, subtle, not over-arching. Good enough. These guys know how to make wine.

And we didn’t even taste the wines they lately have become famous for, their Viognier and their Tempranillo. I guess we’ll just have to wait until I come back from Italy and France and meet them out past Abilene in Buffalo Gap with the Italians. I can hardly wait.






5 comments:

Sandi said...

I bought the viognier at the White Rock Local Market a couple of weeks ago. I loved it! Now I can't wait to try the merlot.

Samantha Dugan said...

Could not agree more about bottling some of the Gewurztraminer without the addition of sugar, especially if they are committed to trying to save the grape here in the new world. Bone dry Muscat and Gewurtz appeal to those of us that swoon for expressive aromatics but abhor sweetness. I love to nose those wines but the sweetness puts me off and I can rarely finish a glass let alone a bottle, but when I find a dry one from Alsace...not only can I take down a glass, I get to share them with my customers that lean towards the geeky side of wine adoration.

Sure they need to sugar most of it, that's what the masses want then you give it to them. But I do think leaving some dry could expand their reach, and maybe even help with the evolution of those people that start with the sweet stuff and then long to move on to something, "Just a little drier". The flavors and aromas will be familiar, comfortable, just without sweetness. Worth a shot no?

Anonymous said...

How could you write an entire post about these guys and NOT mention that that Viognier just won double gold in the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition?!?!

Alfonso Cevola said...

OK, Anon, I added the links

thanks for reminding me

marbles said...

How can I retweet this article or post to my facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/dosbuhoswinery
thanks, diane

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