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Jeff’s Corner 4-12-18

Lately, when I’ve been at the tasting bar and talking about our Cabernet Trois, I’ll mention that it has been sneaking into my glass for two and a half decades, since 1993.  Sometimes, when I distract Kathy, it sneaks in there two, maybe three times.

We’re about to check out the new 2016 Cabernet Trois, and this takes me back to the diaper years of Texas wine, when there were only a few proprietary red blends.  Actually, there are only four that I can recall.

There was Fall Creek Vineyards’ “Granite Reserve”, Llano Estacado Winery’s “Signature Red”, Sister Creek Vineyards’ “Proprietary Cabernet Blend”, and our beloved Cabernet Trois.  These are all still being produced at a reasonable price, and are a proud heritage of the evolution of Texas red wines.   

I’m proud to say that I sold all four of these at the Seafood and Spaghetti Works in Port A beginning around 1985.  I’m rarely boastful, but we were maybe one of the first restaurants in Texas to sell Texas wine.  And they weren’t easy to sell, either.  Here’s a quote from Jeff’s Corner in 2015:

“I remember Kathy and I coming home to Port Aransas in 1994 or ‘95 from Fredericksburg with a case of Cabernet Trois to sell at the restaurant.  In large letters, on our very large chalk-board, I wrote something like “New from the Hill Country, Grape Creek Vineyards Cabernet Trois.”

I was really excited about the first glass I sold, and when I checked back the guest commented  “You call this wine?  What the hell is wrong with Texas thinking it can make wine?”.  I’m not sure he even tasted it.  I knew this guy, and wish I could pour him glass of the new 2013 Cab Trois.”

Anyway, the new 2016 Texas Cab Trois couldn’t be more true to style.  With a sensible ABV of 13.5%, it is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Ruby Cabernet.

The color is textbook for Cab Trois; a richly extracted deep, dark ruby/purple with absolutely no transparency in the bowl.  It shows unrestrained aromas of leather, fresh cut tobacco, espresso, spearmint, and spicy cinnamon that reminds me of the fiery “Red Hots” I loved so much in the balcony of the Broadway Theatre as a kid in San Antonio.

The palate shows lots of dark fruit up front, but is dominated by a youthful, brambly texture that is highlighted by rich, chalky tannins and vibrant acids.  Well-behaved for a pup, this wine will be even more rewarding in 2-3 years, and could easily evolve nicely for 6-8 years.

Let’s go south for dinner tonight, and pair this with a grilled Steak Tampiquena, guacamole salad, borracho beans, and a gooey cheese enchilada.  

We’ll see ya soon!   

Jeff’s Corner 3-26-18

Hello, Hello, and one more Hello

Wowser!  All of a sudden, there are lots of exciting new wines being released.  This is placing a serious burden on yours truly to write and drink (or is it drink and write) at a furious pace.  I’m going to have to really step up before I fall down.  In the very near future you’ll see stories about the 2016 Cabernet Trois and Mosaic, but today is all about the new ’16 Bellissimo.

Bellissimo is our best-selling wine, with hordes of loyal, cult-like followers.  Some are proud to boast they have a vertical collection of every vintage going back to its birth in 2004!  The 2016 is vintage #12; we did not produce one in ’05.  Before we check out this lovely new wine, however, I thought it would be fun to do a little research on its name.

In Italian, Bellissimo is what’s called an “absolute superlative” of the adverb “bello”, which means “beautiful” or “handsome”.  The absolute superlative doesn’t exist in English, but it’s the equivalent of adding “very” or “extremely” to an adverb.  Kathy is “very beautiful” or “bellissima”.

In terms of gender, bellissimo is male, and bellissima is female, so our beloved Bellissimo is a dude.  Bellissime is plural for bellissima, and bellissimi is plural for bellissimo.  I’m very fortunate to have lots of Bellissimi in my wine rack.

Okay, enough etymology; let’s get on to the 2016 Bellissimo.  Like the ’16 Serendipity, this new release will be a part of the April Black Label Wine Club allocation.  This lovely Super Tuscan is 52% Sangiovese, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 2% Tannat.  The ABV is a sensible 13.8%

The color is a classic ruby with a progressive sunrise of extraction from bowl to rim.  The nose is bright and playful, with earthy aromas of clove, cinnamon, and licorice in rich contrast with fruit flavors of red raspberry, red plum, and dried cherry.

Moderate amounts of oak and tannin allow the palate to be dominated by fresh, lively acids that accent the bright fruit of the Sangiovese.  The finish is a well-balanced sparring match between fruit and acid that ends in an evenly matched draw.

This is a bright, festive wine with the huge palate appeal Bellissimo is famous for.  We should enjoy this with something fun, like lots of good friends and a super-cheesey Lasagne with parmesan-garlic toast and a Caesar salad.  Definitely there should be some Spumoni for dessert.

Chow!

Jeff’s Corner 3-22-18

Hello to all on what is an extremely perfect first day of spring in the Texas Hill Country.  As I write, it is 71*, 18% humidity, and not a cloud in the sky.  The bluebonnets and other legions of wildflowers are reaching toward the sun, and I’m thinking it’s a good thing T. S. Eliot wasn’t a GCV Wine Club member.  If he were, he would never have written “April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land...”.

How could he, when he knew he was about to receive the brand new 2016 Serendipity in his April Wine Club allocation.  Plus, crafty as old T.S. was, he would at least be a 6 bottle Black Label or Mixed member so he could get 2 vintages (’16 and ’15), or more likely a 12 bottle member so he could collect 4 bottles (2-’16, 1-’15, and 1-‘14).

So, if any of you 3 bottle members are drooling at the thought of receiving multiple bottles and vintages of our elusive and exclusive Serendipity, it’s not to late to upgrade your membership.  Simply email us at wineclub@grapecreek.com no later than 3-31-18 to do so.

Last week, Brian sent me a late-night email extolling the virtues of the new 2016 and asked me to write about it before it was shipped, so here we go.  First released in 2007, this is the ninth vintage of this amazing wine  (we didn’t produce it in 2009) and, as I like to say, “It’s a real beauty!”.

The 2016, as has been the case with recent vintages, is predominately Cabernet Sauvignon (68%), blended with 20% Merlot and 12% Syrah.  The alcohol-by-volume (ABV) is a sensible 13.8%.

The color is a deeply extracted purple/violet, with deep, dark clarity at the rim.  Aromas are ripe and intense,  with nuances of oak accented by black cherry, cassis, cigar box, and leather.  Delicate layers of lilacs, roses, toffee, and chocolate contribute to a very complex nose.

Loaded with youthful exuberance, fruit, tannin, acid, and oak are very well-integrated for a full-bodied wine barely in adolescence.  The finish is rich and enticing, with lots of fruit to balance a soft, elegant texture.

This wine is rewarding now after an hour or so in the decanter, but if we can be patient for a year or two it will develop even more finesse.  Let’s try this lovely wine with a blackened New York Strip topped with wild mushrooms in a Gorgonzola-cream sauce.

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