Tasting Notes: This Week in Wine Blogs

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TX Wine Lover: As the still youthful Texas wine industry continues to grow and find its footing (shifting away from the California Chardonnay-Cabernet-Sauvignon-Merlot paradigm), a handful of European grape varieties (beyond the classics of Bordeaux and Burgundy) have emerged as winners. Their success is owed in part to how they express themselves in the variegated Texas terroir. But it's also due to Texans' thirst for certain wine categories and their preference for certain styles of wines.

Orange Muscat is one of those grapes and this week, Jeff Cope, author of TX Wine Lover, reports impressions, scores, and notes from his tasting group's date with the variety, which is generally vinified in a sweet "dessert" style.

We have always enjoyed Duchman Family Winery's Orange Muscat. On our recent Fredericksburg road trip in December, we visited Flat Creek Estate again which reminded us they also had an Orange Muscat. That got us wondering which of all the Texas winery's Orange Muscats we preferred and the idea of doing a blind taste test arose. Hence my task began to find all the Orange Muscats made by Texas wineries.

Click here for the group's notes on eight different bottlings of Texas Orange Muscat.

Vine Sleuth Uncorked: It may not have been Amy Gross's first time at the rodeo. But it was her first photo op with Spec's fine wine buyer, veteran wine educator, and Houston wine celebrity Bear Dalton (right, with Amy).

"Yep, that's me, your Vine Sleuth, chatting it up with Houston wine LEGEND Bear Dalton of Spec's at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's Rodeo Uncorked Roundup and Best Bites competition event just over a week ago."

Click here to read her star-struck notes from the rodeo.

Wine Thoughts: Bear may be Houston's leading wine educator, but our community is blessed with a number of certified specialists who generously share their knowledge and experience.

This week, one of our favorites -- Sandra Crittenden, author of Wine Thoughts -- continues her march through France with a superb post on the Northern Rhône, a region that delivers some of the greatest values in fine wine.

There are eight Crus in Northern Rhone starting with the Cote-Rotie AOC. It is considered the North's most elegant and approachable wine. The vineyards are located on steep granite terraces which are difficult to work which contributes to the price of the wine. They produce only red wine but can legally add up to 20% Viognier if they choose though that is unusual today.

We are geeked to taste the St. Joseph she's reviewed in the post because we know the extreme value these wines can represent. Click her for her notes.

Symposium for Professional Wine Writers: And on the subject of wine education, it's not surprising that the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers (which took place last week in Napa, California) doesn't have a blog. Even though some of the keynote speakers author blogs, the ancien régime still thumbs its nose at the enoblogosphere.

But that didn't stop some of our favorite wine bloggers from posting on their experiences there.

Top Texas wine blogger Alfonso Cevola, author of the Dallas-based On the Wine Trail in Italy, delivered this jaw-dropping post on a "Magical Night in Napa" when he dined with some of the greatest names in California wine and tasted bottlings stretching back to the 1960s.

Look, over the years I get invited to all kinds of wine events. Bordeaux, New York, Chicago, California, Italy, many times over. What happened last night was simply unreal. It doesn't happen. But it did. And this remedial expat and slave to the wine gods was rewarded for many years of effort. That would be if I were the center of the universe. But I'm not. We just happened to get real lucky.

It's a good thing that my wife and I have burp cloths scattered around the house for our ten-week-old baby girl because when I read this post, the drooling was uncontrollable.

And voyeuristic envy was also inspired by this post by another one of our favorite wine bloggers, Samantha Dugan, author of the sexy, sassy, sensual, and supremely intelligent Samantha Sans Dosage.

Therein she recounts her conversations and exchanges with a dream team of wine writers: Antonio Galloni of the Wine Advocate, Eric Asimov of The New York Times, and Guy Woodward of Decanter, just to name a few. Not too shabby!

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