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Kiepersol Winery: The Real Deal in Texas

A while back, a got a call from one of my wine reps telling me he just gotten some wines from a winery they just picked up and wanted to taste them with me. He tells me they are a Texas winery and I, like most people, didn’t have much experience with Texas wine. For all I knew, it could have been some good ole boy mashing up grapes in his backyard and putting the juice into an old Jack Daniels bottle. (That wasn’t the case for the record) I do trust this rep and know he wouldn’t bring me something he didn’t think had potential with the shop so I took the meeting. He stopped by introduced me to the Kiepersol Winery out of Tyler, Texas.

I tasted through the wines and I was very impressed. What I really liked about them was that they weren’t trying to be something they weren’t. The wines were truly a reflection of the terroir. There wasn’t any funny business about trying to make their Cabernet Sauvignon taste like a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or having their Syrah be a chewy monster like an Australian Shiraz. They were authentic. I picked a couple up and even put the Syrah by the glass at one of the restaurants.

Kiepersol is a winery and distillery (they make Dirk’s Vodka, Pierre’s Rum, and Jimmy’s Bourbon) in Tyler, Texas with a Bed and Breakfast as well as a steak house on property. They are an estate winery, which means all of the wines they produce are make from grapes they grow. In the words of Marnelle de Wet Durrett (Winemaker and Estate Manager), “If we don’t grow it, we don’t make it.” That philosophy goes hand in hand with their selection of varietals they produce. For example, the climate and soil aren’t good for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay so they don’t grow it. Seeing that a majority of wineries produce those varietals but most fall short of having actually good Pinots and Chards because of natural conditions, I respect the hell out of that decision. They produce somewhere around 18 labels (Blends and single varietals).

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to take a Saturday trip with my wife over the state line to see Kiepersol’s facilities. The trip was a pleasantly under two hours and was an easy drive. When we got there, we went straight to the distillery tasting room to check out some of the spirits. We were greeted with Moscow Mules made with Dirk’s Vodka and homemade ginger beer. They were delicious. We were introduced to all of the spirits and even got to see a bit of the distillery and the barrel room. As it turns out, the distillery was built on a salt dome that happens to be on top of a Jurassic aquifer so there is water coming out of the ground that is more pure than the water the city purifies at state regulations. (At the time of this article, the actual distillery tour that takes you into the distilling area is closed to the public because it is harvest time at the winery)

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Getting schooled on Kipersol’s Distillery’s history and processes. And of course tasting.

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Specialty cocktails at the distillery.  Highly recommend the Blackberry Bourbon Sour.

After that tour we hoped over to the winery’s tasting room and started moving through the wines that we don’t have access to in Louisiana. I was impressed by their Rose made of Malbec; the “Steen” which is a South African Chenin Blanc/Loire Valley Vouvray style white blend, and their “Stainless Steel” series of reds which is a true reflection of the Texas terroir. Shortly after we got there, the winery tour started which took us through the vineyards and into the actual winery to see the tanks, barrel room, and bottling line. We even got to pick some Sangiovese grapes off of the vine and eat then in the vineyards.

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Neck deep in some Texas Sangiovese.

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Those tanks though.

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Cellaring some Texas juice.

We finished off the day eating dinner in their steak house, which was incredible, and took a snooze in the B&B. The whole experience from start to finish was great. Kiepersol is the real deal. Do us all a favor and taste some Texas wine with an open mind. Do it or I’ll blind taste you and you won’t even know.

 

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Shreveport Green’s Feast 2016 | Photos

The restaurant group I work for has been involved with Feast for at least 3 years. It’s a celebration of local ingredients, farmers, and purveyors with the backdrop of a Louisiana landscape. Our community in Shreveport-Bossier has been very supportive of local farmers as well as breweries(Great Raft Brewing was a sponsor).

The context of this event is a dinner and this four course dining experience was created by collaborating chefs cooking in a park for well over 100 people while it was 97 degrees outside. So many thanks should always go to the people that prepare the food and cultivate the experience.

Here are a few photos from the event. Most are behind the scenes. The photos cut off about half way through the event because my memory card got corrupted. Apologies but I thought the ones from before show the excitement and beauty of the scene and the event.

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The table is set

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Chef Gabriel Balderas of El Cabo Verde

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Chef Jason Brady and Chef Zach Schmidt of Parish Taceaux

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When to Cellar: Worth the Wait?

After spending a significant amount of time in wine cellars this week, it had me thinking about cellar management on a large and small scale. Most of my friends have small wine racks in their kitchen rather than 200 bottle cellars but are they using it correctly? Here are a few, easy guidelines for people that buy wine to drink now or have a few special bottles and are looking to start collecting.

First of all, it’s important to know that just because it’s wine that doesn’t mean it’s will be better in 5 years. How do you know that without being a sommelier or a hobbiest oenophile? Easy. If you spent less than $20 or it has a screw cap(also know as a Stelvin enclosure), it’s meant to be drunk within a year or two max. Here’s why: at under $20 it’s usually meant to be consumed immediately. You wouldn’t pay $50 for something you intended on drinking every single day. If you can, that’s awesome and good for you. With the screw cap, the enclosure itself doesn’t allow the wine to age at the same rate as a cork. There are a few higher end wineries that have gone to all screw caps but most that you will encounter in the local wine market are meant to be enjoyed now.

Next, if you’re going to collect wine, you need to have a place to store it. My suggestion is a cool, dark place like the corner of your closet at least until you can get a wine refrigerator. A rack on your kitchen counter isn’t for wines you are saving for a special occasion. It’s for wines you want to drink on Thursday. With all the fluorescent and natural light as well as the varying temperature due to sunlight and cooking, it could damage the wine. When aging wine, you need to know what wine needs to do that. It’s a consistent temperature and little to no light exposure. Whether you plan to have it on your first anniversary or you fifth, wine needs consistency in storage.

When you do finally make the decision to get a temperature controlled wine refrigerator, you’ll need a system. I think one of the easiest systems is the rubber band system. It’s easy. All you have to do is put a rubber band on the neck of bottles you are saving or that are more expensive so that you and everyone else that has access to you selection knows that those aren’t to be touched. It’s so easy because no matter how many bottles you’ve had, you can always feel that rubber band when you reach for the next bottle.

These are laws but they will for sure help you get started in you wine pursuits.

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2014 CVNE Monopole Blanco, Rioja, Spain

If I can lay my cards on the table, I love Spanish wine and I’m pretty sure that’s not a secret. I fell in love with them a few years ago because I couldn’t afford the good stuff(still can’t FYI). For what I could spend, I didn’t like a lot of the stuff from California at the time. One day my boss turned me on to a little Tempranillo from Rioja and I was completely sold. So that’s my back story with the region. On to the point.

CVNE(pronounced Cune) has been making this Monopole Blanco the exact same way for over 100 years. I’m told it was also the first ever white wine sold in Spain. That’s pretty serious commitment to tradition. 


Real talk: It blew me away when I tasted it. Mainly because most of the buzz about wines coming out of Rioja are about the Reds. You know, Crianzas and all that jazz. Vareitally it is 100% Vera and it is everything I like in a white wine.

Nose: Fresh Apircot, chalk, Wet Stone

Taste: Bright but balanced acidity, lots of symmetry with the fruit and minerality, crisp/clean finish 

(Reminds me a lot of Muscadelle)

Pairings: light pasta with olive oil and tomatoes, charcuterie(if in Spain Jamón, the Margarita Extra pizza from Frank’s Pizza Napolentana

Available for $15.99 at Wine Country Bistro & Bottle Shop

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Patricia Green Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Oregon isn’t necessarily known for it’s Sauvignon Blanc. When you think of that varietal, your mind usually wonders to New Zealand, France, or even Napa Valley. Oregon is world famous for their Burgundian styles of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Through what we’ll call research, sharing a bottle or two with some friends in the wine biz, I found out that before the great Oregon Pinot craze there were actually a lot of Sauvignon Blanc planted. Pinot Noir got popular and they pulled a lot of it Sauv Blanc out and replanted the Pinot. Thankfully we have producers like Patricia Green.


Patricia Green is a pretty well respected name in Oregon Pinot Noir. She makes many single vineyard Pinot Noirs that are a bit pricey but definitely well worth it to anyone who is a fan of the region. But we’re not here to talk about her Pinots. This Sauvignon Blanc blew my mind.

On the nose, it has the most beautiful tropical skittles fragrance. Dead serious. No grapefruit or green bell pepper. Full notes of passion fruit and kiwi.

Those flavors come through on the palate perfectly. Acidity is very present so that the sugar-sense of all those rich fruits don’t over power the mouth-feel. Most of the time, a wine with this profile will fool you into thinking it’s sweet. That is definitely not the case here. Fresh, fruity, and crisp are the only things you’ll be able to think about in regards to the finish. That and wondering how many bottles you’ll be able to keep.

It’s great wine to pair with humidity, which we have plenty of around here in Shreveport, Louisiana. Also try it with arugula based salads, your favorite sushi roll or shellfish.

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An Accidental Dinner With Arcadian Wines

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I wasn’t expecting Wednesday night to end the way it did. I had my weekly meeting at work with the owner and other managers to discuss the last week’s numbers and a plan going forward through the rest of this week. After starting the day off and moving through the rest of it, I managed to get invited to a meeting where one of my wine reps was going to showcase some Arcadian wines at Lucky Palace with Kuan Lim. I had to accept.

  

What you need to know: Arcadian Winery was started by Joe Davis and is known throughout the wine world for making Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in California that could easily be mistaken for the holy grail of those variteals, Burgundy. He started working for California’s Morgan Winery and then went on to work for Domaine Dujac in Burgundy before Arcadian. When he returned to the United States, he brought back with him the methods of the world renown Burgundian wine making philosophies. Now we have Arcadian. Back to dinner.

Now, I’ve had many of the Arcadian wines before and I’ve really liked them. But these were different. Older vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that are consider “library wines.” 2008’s and 2009’s. That may not seem like that old with those 2009 and 2008 Cabernets held in such high esteem, but most people will turn the other cheek when they see a 2008 Chardonnay on the shelf that’s not from Burgundy or some Cali producer like Far Niente. 

These Chardonnays… Were intensely delicious. The “Seirra Madre” Chardonnay saw 3 years in French oak and the “Sleepy Hollow” saw over 4! I was completely wrong in my thinking about what the oak would do. I thought it would’ve created these oaky monsters but what it did was make a soft around the edges, creamy Chardonnay with subtle but very present oak. Joe Davis refers to this as the “boomerang effect” where the oak hits its peak after a certain time and then eases back up on the oak flavors as time goes on. It’s all about finding the sweet spot.

  
The 2009 “Sierra Madre” with 3 years of oak had an earthiness on the nose that reminded me of some mustier older French wines I’ve tasted. The drinkability of this wine was way too easy. Spiced apples, balanced acidity, and a creamy finish.

  
The 2008 “Sleepy Hollow” had to be my favorite. 4 years in French oak(which Joe actually goes to France every year to pick out his trees for barrels) completely changed this one. The nose was completely different and had multiple layers of spice and stone fruit on it. It honestly reminded me of Puligny-Montrachet. Very elegant and firm.

Next we had the Pinot Noirs: 2008 Santa Lucia Highlands and 2008 “Gold Coast Vineyards” from Santa Maria. These areas are already my favorite in California for Pinot Noir so I was beyond stoked.

The Santa Lucia Highlands was, in my opinion, the most Burgundian of the 2. It has bright cherries, big acid, and just a touch of forest floor on it. This is truly a Pinot that you could blind taste a Burgundy enthusiast and they would not be able to tell a it was actually Californian.

The “Gold Coast Vineyard” truly captivated me. It’s so rich without being boastful. It has the elegance and grace of a red Burgundy and the flare of perfectly picked California fruit. The mouthfeel is full and bursting with Bing cherry, light tobacco spice, and an exacted balance of acidity to fruit to body.

  
I want to thank Kuan Lim and Brian Gibbons for letting me join in on the tasting. It wastrels a learning experience and would suggest any one of these wines to Burgundy drinkers as well as loyal California drinkers.

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2013 Bovio “Il Ciotto” Barbera D’Alba, Italy

I’m slowly becoming acquainted with Italian wines. In the past I would just tell you all Italian wines taste like band-aids, are way too dry, and have too much acidity. Slowly I’ve come to the see the beauty that is Italian wine. Still, I consider Italy to be my weakest subject in the wine world. That being said, I do take every opportunity I can to taste and learn about the region. Speaking of, check out this one:

  
Bovio “Il Ciotto” is a Barbera. That’s the grape varietal. As of 2000, it is the 3rd most planted grape varietal in Italy.  D’Abla means “of Alba” which is an grape growing area in Italy. You may have seen this Italian regional terminology on Moscato d’Asti bottles. That means it is a Moscato from Asti. Now that we’ve all passed Geography, on to the juice.

On the nose, this Barbera smells like the gooey filling of a cherry tart with a hint of Thyme. Drinking this wine is an adventure. Starting with an attack bright acidity, its quickly followed by cherry and pomegranate, lightly herby, and a rustic-tannic finish. Rustic because it’s not velvety but the balance on this thing is incredible. Acid, dryness, and texture. Bovio hit through the cycle on this one.

It’s $20 and a great bottle to have with pizza or seared duck breast.