Bear on Wine: Chapeau bas, as the French say (in other words, hats off), to Houston wine educator and Spec's veteran fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for his painfully frank post on bottle variation in one of the world's most coveted Super Tuscans -- Guado al Tasso by Antinori.
In preparation for the Houston Rodeo's Champion Wine Auction Dinner, Bear tasted roughly 90 bottles of the 2007 Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore, discovering that nearly a third of them "tasted like ass":
While I wasn't keeping formal score, I'd say that in both cases somewhat more than third of the bottles were lovely (which is to say better than expected), about a third were perfectly acceptable (about as expected but not so good-vibrant-alive as the "lovelies") and somewhat less than a third were (in varying degrees) frankly earthy and even a bit funky (but not technically flawed in the sense of showing TCA, TBA, oxidation, etc.) but still drinkable and for the most part enjoyable. Some of my younger friends might say that the least desirable of these "tasted like ass". Had I ordered either of these wines in a restaurant, I would have accepted (and likely drunk) all of them except the two corked bottles. However, if my only experience with the wines were the earthy/funky bottles (and none of the "acceptables" or "lovelies"), I might never have ordered them again. While the earthier bottles showed no obvious technical flaw, they were less good and did not justify their price.
Bear is one of our city's most beloved and respected wine professionals and his honesty and tell-it-like-it-is approach to wine education (and more recently to wine blogging) is testament to his professionalism and character as one of the state's leading wine experts.
Thanks, Bear, for keeping it real!
29-95: The Houston Rodeo is just one of the world-class wine events in Houston this year. It seems like more and more tasting opportunities arise every week and another one of our favorite Houston wine writers, Dale Robertson, has been diligently chronicling and previewing them over at 29-95.
This week he previews a tasting of Houston Rodeo winners at Bistro Provence on April 24, among others.
And in case you missed it last month, Dale profiled winemaker Piero Antinori, producer of the same Guado al Tasso tasted by Bear above, in this piece for 29-95. In the rodeo's wine auction (chaired by Bear), Antinori's "Guado, a heady yet balanced and complex blend of cabernet (65 percent), merlot (25 percent) and cabernet franc (10 percent) from Bolgheri about 60 miles southwest of Florence, went for $211,000."
TX Wine Lover: Back down here on planet earth, Houston-based wine blogger Jeff Cope continues his quest to profile every winery in Texas with a visit to a new property in Austin, the Lakeview Winery.
As the Texas wine industry grows, so does the state's wine tourism, and we'll be curious to check out the "balsamic vinegar tasting bar" at the winery which is "located in Austin on the property of The Oasis near the famous restaurant overlooking Lake Travis."
Texas Monthly: The wine trade isn't the only sector that's growing in Texas these days.
Top Texas wine writer and industry observer Jessica Dupuy weighs in this week with a review of Texas spirits competing in the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
"How did Texas fare?" she writes. "Pretty darn good. Seven Texas-made spirits came away with medals including a heralded Double Gold for the Texas Single Malt from Balcones Distilling."
Click here for her notes.
Alice Feiring: And from the world beyond Texas, one of our favorite wine writers, Alice Feiring, reflects on food writers' and food bloggers' "peculiar imbalance between wine and food," noting that foodies will often give glowing reviews to a restaurant while entirely ignoring the often spotty nature of the wine list. A number of familiar characters appear in her post, including Antinori. Wine for thought...