Scenic Root Wine Growers Tasting

Friday, 11/11/16, night at Wine Country Bottle Shop, we hosted a tasting showcasing some wines I have fallen in love with over the last two years. The Textbook and Forager wines. Forager is a more recent crush but I’ll been really into the Textbook wines for a while. We wanted to show everyone what Jonathan and Susan Pey are capable of while producing a range of wines that can appeal to any wine drinker. Who are these two and why should you know them?

Jonathan has lived, learned, and worked with some of the industry’s biggest names and leaders. He’s gotten to work with Domaine Louis Jadot in France, Robert Mondavi, Schramsberg, Penfolds in Australia, and even some Bordeaux chateaux. Susan comes from the service side of the industry and works as Wine Director for a large Bay Area restaurant group. Both are a huge part of what makes these wines great.

Initially it was the Textbook wines that really caught my attention because of their Merlot. I constantly preach about Merlot being overlooked and bastardized when the truth is that it is a phenomenal grape. I really pay attention to a winery that produces a Merlot that is just as well constructed as their Cabernet. Textbook definitely does it. So any project of theirs, I’m pretty much all in.


So what did we taste? We tasted though the 2014 Forager Chardonnay, 2014 Forager Pinot Noir, 2014 Textbook Chardonnay, 2013 Textbook Merlot, 2014 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2013 Textbook “Mise En Place” Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. Here’s what I thought:

Forager Chardonnay, Los Carneros, Sonoma 2014 $23

Nose: Fresh cut apples, a little bit of lemon peel, and some baking spices

Taste: Stone fruit, sharp apple flavors, medium + acidity, and checked baking spice

This is a great Chardonnay to have pair with since the oak isn’t as prominent. It does have some extra zip with the acid so it’s perfect for fish or a fruit and cheese plate.

Textbook Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2014 $25

Nose: Baked apples and baking spice

Taste: Sweet brûléed apples, fresh cut Granny Smith apples, lots of baking spices, medium acidity

Here’s more of “textbook” Napa Valley Chardonnay. It drinks easy with more weight than the Forager. It has much more New World characteristics.

Forager Pinot Noir, Sonoma 2014 $26

Nose: Cherry, cola, pipe tobacco, and slight decay

Taste: Cherries and cola come through, medium + acidity, French Oak hints on the back end

This shows a lot of the Burgundy experience Jonathan Pey has while retaining its California fruit. It drinks the way a Pinot Noir from the area should without being an over extracted fruit bomb.

Textbook Merlot, Napa Valley 2013 $25

Nose: Blackberry bramble, briar, vanilla

Taste: Black fruit, blackberry, sweet vanilla tobacco, medium bodied, medium + tannin, medium acidity

I love this wine. The fruit is balanced with the spice and body. The tannins won’t let you forget you are drinking it. This is a steak wine all day long.

Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014 $31

Nose: Blackberry jam, currants, tobacco

Taste: Black currants, vanilla oak, medium + tannin, full bodied

The fruit pops a lot more on this Cabernet than the Merlot. Not in a sweet way, it’s just much more forward and works in tandem with vanilla spice from the oak. The tannins are big but very well integrated. Velvety smooth.

Textbook “Mise en place” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2013 $73

Nose: Blackberry, blueberry, briar, dark chocolate 

Taste: Dark chocolate, black currant, medium + tannin, full bodied

Mise en place is probably one of my favorite phrases. It is a French culinary phrase that means “everything in it’s place” which can apply to just about anything in life. In my opinion, in this situation it’s a reference to where this wine comes from. Mise en place’s grapes are sourced from areas right next to Screaming Eagle, To-Kalon, and Paradigm. It’s a massive wine in flavor with an elegant density. The tannins are big and fine. It’s like they are constantly tapping you on the shoulder saying “remember me? I’m still here.” The alcohol was really in check when I tasted it because it had been double decanted 3 times. And y’all, it still could have used another hour or so in the decanter. The wine will hold up for years and would be a great gift for a collector. If you have the patience to hold it, try to for atleast 4 years. 

It was really fun and a great experience to taste all of these wines together. I have tasted them separately over the last year or so but it was really interesting to have them side by side. I’d urge you to try any one of these that tickles your fancy. Look for more tastings at the bottle shop coming up! 

(Prices included in this article are an estimation and not exact) 

You’re Over Thinking It

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when someone is really interested in wines or spirits that I’m vibing on. I love the conversation and comradery that take place in the moment. As someone who spends majority of my free time studying and working on my personal knowledge of the beverage universe, it’s validating in a way. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. 

We, as wine and spirit professionals, spend an enormous amount of time on education. We obsess and pour over every bit of written word or fruit liquid we can get our hands on so that we can properly assess and satiate your appetite. You don’t need to spend all of your time researching the best value red and white wine that won’t destroy your bank account because you have a party coming up. You don’t need to stress about the expensive bottle of whiskey you are getting your boss for Christmas this year. Should you use Roederer Estate or Torre Oria Cava for your Mimosas? I say you don’t have to do this, because we have already done the work for you. 


Personally, I’ve tasted a lot of wine I thought was great but the price didn’t match or it was too niche and I didn’t have anyone in mind that I could have introduced it to. We even use a grid format in tasting to make sure the wine is balanced and not flawed. Some are more sophisticated than others but I like the WSET level 3 grid for wine tasting. You don’t always have to use the grid but in a professional sense, it creates a good structure for building muscle memory when it comes to breaking down wines of all price points and regional specificity. If I can find a $18 wine that drinks like a $40, then I’ve done my job. Consistency is the only way I can accomplish that. 


It takes time for us to learn how to decipher what a customer really wants that comes in and says, “What’s your best red wine for $20?” The amount of questions that spew from my mouth when I hear that is me trying to figure out what you like and don’t like. There are a ton of incredible wines from $18-25 and the process is all about getting you what you want. There’s no quick, “This is the best $20 wine you’re looking for. Have a good day” response. I’m not trying to talk over you at all, I just want you to get your $20’s worth. In most cases, we can read between the lines and see that you don’t care about which AVA your Chardonnay comes from, you just want it build for spend and to work for the money. Then that, is an easy answer. 

Good servers, great bartenders, proven wine shop associates, and sommeliers don’t do well or last long without a thirst for more knowledge. If it makes a diner’s experience in the restaurant better or a customer that trusted us to pick out wine for Supper Club not worry about that aspect of hosting, then we’ve done our job. 

Now, if you are really interested in our areas of interest then, by all means, read and research your heart out. The beverage industry if full of areas of interest and you can spend a lifetime studying it and never hit everything. Hell, I’m happy to sit and talk wine, whiskey, cocktails, or pairings with you all day. No beverage is off topic.  

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.

 

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.

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

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.