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Texas Wine Makes the Big Time at Austin Food & Wine Mag Fest

Yesterday's Texas wine seminar at the Austin Food & Wine Festival included panelists Ray Isle (left), celebrity wine writer and Houston native, and June Rodil (right), "Best Sommelier in Texas" 2009.
Yesterday's Texas wine seminar at the Austin Food & Wine Festival included panelists Ray Isle (left), celebrity wine writer and Houston native, and June Rodil (right), "Best Sommelier in Texas" 2009.
Photos by Samantha Walden.

"The Wines of Texas Are Upon You" may have seemed like a bland seminar title when compared with spicier ones like "Everything You Need to Know About Wine But Were Afraid to Ask" and "Super Star Wines."

But the fact that the Austin Food & Wine Festival (which made its debut over the weekend) included a Texas wine panel and guided tasting is yet another sign that food and wine professionals across the nation are paying attention to the expanding Texas wine industry.

And the fact that regular Today Show guest and Food & Wine executive wine editor Ray Isle (a Houston native and UT alum) was a member of the panel gives Texas winemakers all the more reason to hope that their products will soon begin to receive national attention -- a goal that has eluded them so far.

Panelists and seminar participants tasted a flight of wines considered to be the best in Texas.
Panelists and seminar participants tasted a flight of wines considered to be the best in Texas.

But the best news for Texas winemakers is that the panelists -- who also included leading Texas wine expert Russ Kane (who moderated the panel), Austin-based Master Sommeliers Devon Broglie and Craig Collins, and Best Sommelier in Texas 2009 June Rodil -- had great things to say about the wines.

"We chose these wines because they come from wineries that we love," said Whole Foods Market wine buyer Broglie, who selected the wines together with his colleagues.

Isle was "blown away" by the McPherson Roussanne. "The acidity lifts the wine right up," he added.

He was also impressed by the Duchman Family Winery Vermentino, produced by Houston celebrity cardiologist Stan Duchman's estate in the Hill Country.

"You could be in Coastal Italy with this wine," said Isle. "It has a nice mineral, seashell character. There wasn't an ocean near here, last I heard."

Of course, location is everything, and it was only natural that Texas wines would be included this year by organizers of the inaugural Austin Food & Wine Festival. A Texas wine seminar at the magazine's flagship summertime shindig -- the Aspen Food & Wine Festival -- remains an unlikely proposition. After all, as Kane noted, "Texas ain't Bordeaux, and Texas sure as hell ain't Burgundy."

But, no matter what your perspective -- whether winemaker, consumer or wine writer -- the guided tasting will surely be remembered as a milestone in the Texas wine industry.

"These wines are inspiring and motivational," said Broglie in his opening remarks, "for what's happening in the Texas wine scene moving forward."

The seminar featured the following wines: Duchman 2010 Vermentino, McPherson 2010 Roussanne Reserve, Pedernales Cellars 2009 Texas Tempranillo, Kiepersol Estates 2010 Stainless, Sandstone Cellars 2009 VII, Haak Vineyards Madeira 2008.



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