Category Archives: Wine

Downton Abbey Makes a Wine With No Class

by Andrew Chalk

It is ironic that a series whose attraction is it’s exploitation of the ‘cleavages within the English class system’ should produce a wine that is so existentially flat-chested. This the first time that I can remember a film or TV series co-branding with a wine rather than, say, ‘Downton Abbey Happy Meal’ at McDonald’s, or the like. Unfortunately, the monetarily incentivised producers have chosen a simple uninteresting industrial level red wine, the 2012 Downton Abbey ‘Claret’ Bordeaux as their go-to-market proposition. The white equivalent, 2012 Downton Abbey Blanc, Bordeaux is even worse, except that you can chill it to conceal its flaws.

The red smells of green pepper. The positive there is that it does, at least, contain Cabernet Sauvignon, one of Bordeaux’s signature varietals. The coop, or other industrial producer, that made it, just did not let the grapes get ripe. Quelle domage. Failed winemaking 101. In the mouth, the message is linear, one-dimensional, simplicity. Insipid fruit, and a short finish.     Continue reading

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Black Box Wine Wants To Laugh With You (Video)

black boxby Steven Doyle

As part of its summer “Lose the Bottle” TV campaign, Black Box wines enlisted top comedic actors and filmmakers to create original short sketch videos that extend humor to online fans and consumers looking for reasons why they should convert to Black Box.  The campaign message encourages wine drinkers to lose their bottle in exchange for Black Box’s many quality and convenience benefits. The filmmaking team was given creative freedom to write, act and produce five highly original and witty takes on the line of uniquely packaged premium wines.            Continue reading

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TWGGA President’s Speech Replacement

Jim Backus as Bacchusby Andrew Chalk

This Wednesday, the Texas Wine and Grape Grower’s Association (TWGGA) meets in Austin to hold their ‘Legislative Forum’. It’s a meeting to discuss all things legislative relating to the Texas wine industry. By a remarkable coincidence, I had a dream the other night in which Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, appeared and proceeded to replace the TWGGA President’s opening address with a speech of his own. I reached into the back of his rental car and glimpsed this text.

“Fellow Texas grape growers and winemakers. This year, the Texas wine industry stands at a crossroads. We know that we have regions that can grow grapes as well as anywhere in the world. We know that we have viticulturalists as expert as those in other regions. We know that we can make world class wines from those grapes, witness the success of TWGGA member wineries  in the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition (a competition that is, in the view of many informed observers, the most competitive in the United States).        Continue reading

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Breaking News: Is Whole Foods Market Kicking California Wine Out Of The Texas Wine Section?

by Andrew Chalk

That is what Sabrina Houser has heard on “good authority”. She is with Dry Comal Creek Vineyards and Winery which I used as example when I wrote about non-Texas wine in the Texas wine section of a new Whole Foods Market in the Dallas area. If her source is correct, Whole Foods may be implementing a policy change whereby the Texas wine section will be populated only by Texas wines. California wine sold by Texas wineries will be moved elsewhere. This actually opens up the tantalising possibility of Whole Foods sourcing more Texas wines from more wineries (they could use the winners of our Viognier tasting or our Tempranillo tasting as a crib sheet to start off). Furthermore, it makes Whole Foods a leader in Truth In Labelling regarding Texas wines.  Continue reading

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Texas Tempranillo Wines Tested

MOAT1No fewer than 23 wines were involved in our taste-off

by Andrew Chalk             photos by Robert Bostick

There is general agreement that Tempranillo is the red grape that has done best in Texas thus far. I decided it was time to do a comparative tasting in order to get an idea of how good Texas Tempranillo has become, and who is doing the best job with the grape. I put out an APB to every winery in Texas for their currently available Texas Tempranillos and received no fewer than 23 different wines from fifteen wineries in response. As with our earlier comparison of Texas Viognier, the tasting would be blind and the tasters would be volunteers from the Dallas sommelier community.

Seven sommeliers, plus myself, assembled at WinePoste.com in the Dallas Design District over several hours to sip and slurp our way through the wines. I excluded my scores from the results below as I was involved in the packaging of the wines into their numbered brown bags.                Continue reading

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Go Texan Is Meaningless When Applied To Wine

texan1by Andrew Chalk

Crave readers will recognize the above symbol as the distinctive, protected, mark of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) “Go Texan” campaign. The campaign even has its own web site, GoTexan.org. According to that site, the aims of the campaign are to promote Texas agricultural products. Under “Rules and Guildlines” the Department says firmly “Maintaining the integrity of the GO TEXAN mark is the key to preserving the powerful brand positioning GO TEXAN members enjoy. These guidelines are provided to ensure proper use of the GO TEXAN mark. If you have any questions Continue reading

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2013 Texas Grape Harvest Is A Tale Of Two Worlds

Pedernales Family Harvestby Andrew Chalk

High Plains Devastated – Central Texas Sees Good Harvest

The 2013 Texas grape harvest is a story of contrasts . The High Plains, the most important wine grape area, was hit by no fewer than five frosts in the spring, leading to a 90% decrease in grape output compared with last year. The frosts were, as consultant Bobby Cox wrote “timed to do maximum damage”. The Hill Country, Gulf Coast, and north east of the state saw much better, sometimes very good, conditions.

I posed six questions about the harvest thus far to every winery in Texas. Below I reproduce a selection of the responses that represent the overall picture. It is early days yet, as virtually every respondent remarked, so this report is preliminary. I will have another report around the end of the year.            Continue reading

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