Category:Regional wine

Grape Creek Vineyards

image This is one of an occasional series detailing Texas wineries. The complete list is here.

Jason Englert, the winemaker at Grape Creek Vineyards, has done an impressive job in his three years at the Hill Country winery. His wines have won a bunch of medals, the prestigious San Francisco International and Dallas Morning News competitions included.

In addition, he has used new owner Brian Heath ?s resources to put together a professional and competent wine program, moving Grape Creek close to the first tier of Texas wineries. Heath, a financial services executive, has expanded the winery ?s tasting room and upgraded its production facilities.

The catch, though, is that Englert has done this by making a lot of wine with grapes that aren ?t from Texas. That Grape Creek uses non-Texas fruit is neither good nor bad, given the state ?s grape shortage. Rather, it raises the question of what will happen when there is enough Texas fruit for Englert to use.

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Norton grape: Let us sing its praises

image I have three bottles of wine in the closet, and I ?m waiting for the right moment to share them. They ?re not red Bordeaux, Napa cabernet, or even white Burgundy. They ?re nortons.

The norton is one of the great success stories in the American regional wine business, a native American grape, probably a naturally-occurring hybrid that was first identified in Virginia in the mid-19th century. Nortons made in Virginia and Missouri are well-known and respected around the world — big, dry red wines with bright berry fruit and big tannins that can age for a decade.

So why haven ?t you heard about norton before?

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Wine of the week: Times Ten Cellars Carignane 2007

Carignane is an odd little red grape. It ?s used mostly for blending — in California to produce jug and inexpensive red blends, and in the Rhone region of France, where it ?s the poor cousin of syrah, grenache and mouvedre.

This single-varietal carignane, from Dallas ? Time Ten Cellars ($15), shows the grape off to nice advantage. It has a funky, Rhone-like aroma (wine types call it bacon fat), but plenty of New World style fruitiness, including a big dose of cranberry (something to keep in mind come Thanksgiving). It ?s not especially tannic, and the alcohol is a well-done 13.8 percent. This makes it an ideal red wine for hot summer days and good barbecue, be it pork or smoked chicken.

And don ?t be confused about the grape ?s spelling. It ?s carignan in France and carignane in the U.S.

Regional wine: The Rodney Dangerfield of the business

Wine I’m in Illinois, so that means I’m going to try and buy some Illinois wine. It’s one of those things that the Wine Curmudgeon does. So I go to one high-end grocery store in a high-end suburb. Nope, no Illinois wine (and the guy behind the counter is even a little surly about it, so the Wine Curmudgeon gives him the evil eye). I got to another high-end grocery store in another high-end suburb. Nope, no Illinois wine.

Is Illinois wine any good? I don’t know. I can’t find any to buy so I can taste it.

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