Taste Texas The Lone Star Rising

Texas! The home of black gold, ten gallon hats, Willie Nelson, the 41st and 43rd presidents, and Bugs Bunny. When I think of Texas and alcoholic beverages, I don’t think of wine…I think of longneck bottles of Long Horn beer and shots of Texas whiskey. The last few months on the twittering machine have increased my awareness of the Texas grape. I’ve been curious if the grapes grow bigger there and if the wine is over the top, like most things Texan. When my friend Ben from Vinotology.com asked if I would be interested in participating in a Texas Twitter tasting I immediately said yes. 1) Ben is a kick ass guy! 2) I’ve never tried Texas wine and 3) Ben is a kick ass guy!

Ben arranged for Mandola Estates Winery to send samples to participating bloggers. When I saw the list, I was pumped for the conversation. I’ve been a fan of Jim from VineGeek.com, Joe from SuburbanWino.com, and Joe and Amy from AnotherWineBlog.com for about six months. Recently I became acquainted with DallasWineChick.com and VintageTexas.com through Ben. With all of these fantastic bloggers I was willing to put aside my anti-Texas bias (mostly because of the Dallas Cowboys) and learn something new.

Mandola Estate Winery is about 20 miles southwest of Austin, Texas and was founded in 2005. From the web site – “Mandola Estate recreates a small corner of Italy, where native Italian grape varieties — Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, Moscato, and Sangiovese — flourish together with the great grapes of France and California. The wines of the Mandola Estate Winery represent some of the best wines to be produced in Texas today: hand-crafted wines vinified in a state-of-the-art winery in the Texas Hill Country.” Their web site contains a pretty cool blog and the winery and wine maker are available on Twitter (always cool in my book) @mandolawinery and @davetxwine

With my trusty Washington Redskins mug nearby, I jumped into the big world of Texas wine! To view the entire transcript of the tasting event, click here.

Mandola Estates winery

The NectarView

2008 Mandola Estate Dry Rose

  • The Stuff: 90% Cabernet and 10% blend of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Dolcetto; Brief contact with skins, fermented and aged in stainless steel; 13.3%abv; 892 cases made; cork enclosure 
  • The Swirl: Beautiful red jewelry tones with shimmering translucence. Opulent color.
  • The Sniff: Sour strawberry and earth. Smells like it could be sweet but zero residual sugar
  • The Sip: Thin strawberry and cherry jolly rancher. A steely minerality with low back end structure and quick finish wrap up this easy drinking Rose.
  • The Score: A summer pool-side sipper that lacks tons flavor or pizzazz, but for only $10, this could be one to stock up on. I score it a 3 out of 5

#TasteTexas Quote: Mandola Rose 08: very deep color for rose. pretty sexy. earthy/funky nose. strawberries and tart cherry on palate – From @VineGeek

2008 Mandola Estate Sangiovese

  • The Stuff: 100% Sangiovese from Reddy Vineyards; 9 months in neutral oak; 13%abv; 1323 cases; cork enclosure
  • The Swirl: Ruby plum color with nice pearl quality toward the edges. About 70% opaque. A slight cloudiness to the color
  • The Sniff: Earthy mulberry with hints of sticks and mild undertones of red fruit
  • The Sip: Not a lot happening from the fruit on this wine. Predominately cherries (sour Bing). The earthy mineratily continues through the palate. There is some good structure and on the back end with a decent acidity. The finish has some stoniness to it and is fleeting.
  • The Score: At $24, this is not a wine I could recommend at the price. I’ll score it a 3 minus out of 5. There is nothing off in it, but I’m just not feeling the Texas heat on this wine and the price is a little high.

#TasteTexas Quote: Mandola Sangiovese: Overall score B, little pricey but so are a lot of similar Italian Sangioveses Will improve w/ age of vines – From @vintagetexas

2008 Mandola Estate Dolcetto

  • The Stuff: 100% Dolcetto from Bingham Family Vineyards; neutral oak for 9 months; 12.2%abv; 890 cases; cork enclosure
  • The Swirl: Medium purple plum color that moves out to stained leather edges. About 80% opaque
  • The Sniff: A nice whiff of pipe tobacco and dried sour cherries.
  • The Sip: A shy tasting sweet tart and dried plum. More depth than the previous Texas wines in the tasting.
  • The Score: At $26 I can score this wine a 3 out of 5. There is nothing spectacular about the wine but it does provide a solid effort and would pair well with grilling food and Pizza. Price seems a little high for this type of wine. I would recommend serving slightly chilled.

#TasteTexas Quote: I think you’re right. Of all of the Texas wines I’ve tastes, I think Mandola is headed in the right direction. #TasteTexas – From @houstonwino

Cellar Tracker Reviews (2 Scores) 84 pts

NV Mandola Estate Canto Felice

  • The Stuff: A proprietary blend of various grapes and vintages. Changes from year to year. 12.5%abv; 3.5% residual sugar; 1506 cases; cork enclosure
  • The Swirl: Thin light strawberry color, reminiscent of Pinot Noir; about 60% opaque
  • The Sniff: Tight nose with sweet sugary strawberry and sour cherry fruit
  • The Sip: As described in the video this is sweet Thanksgiving in a glass. A tart cranberry flavor with cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Sweet but not syrupy.
  • The Score: Tempered with the comment that I am NOT a fan of sweet wines, I still don’t find the flavors of this wine to be enjoyable. Some people during the tasting commented that it was their favorite. For those that follow my reviews and align with my tastes I can only score this wine a 3 minus out of 5;  $18

#TasteTexas Quote: Canto Felice is a mouth full of plums and apricots and some honey. Not for everyone, but I don’t mind it – From @suburbanwino

All in all, my trip to Texas was a fun and enjoyable learning experience. The wine being produced is drinkable and provides a great launching point for the future. Each offering held its own for varietal specificity and contained good terroir, acidity and balance. The fruit flavors were thin. As the vineyards mature and winemaking continues its progress I expect to see a few rising stars from the Lone Star state. I’ll leave you with these two impressions of Texas.

*Wines were provided as industry samples with the intention to review


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

13 comments on “Taste Texas The Lone Star Rising

  1. Ben Simons

    Thanks for dredging up those old memories. What the hell was our starting QB doing holding kicks anyway!?!?!?

    Anyway, I think I’m pretty much in agreement with you on these wines. I think you got a good taste of the potential that Texas wine has. Now that more producers are starting to figure out the varieties that do well here, we just need to wait for the maturity to develop. In the meantime, price is definitely a concern. I think that is often the case for local wines outside the Big 4, and Texas is no exception. Texas fruit is significantly more expensive for the wineries to buy than the fruit sourced from California, etc. Until supply starts to catch up with demand, I think that we will continue to see these high prices on wines with “Texas” on the label.

    Thanks for participating in this event with me. I always appreciate the insights that you bring to any event, and I was glad to have you joining us for Taste Texas. Looking forward to #WAWine!

    1. drinknectar

      Thanks, Ben! I’m happy to participate ANY time. P.S. I could watch that clip of Tony Romo’s botched snap over and over and over and over again!


  2. Joshua S Sweeney

    I’ve still got 2 bottles of Texas wine to get into… but what I’ve had so far, I like.

    P.S. J.R. Ewing to me means the math-rock band from Norway with an epically-mustachioed frontman (a la Freddie Mercury). Never watched the show.

    1. drinknectar

      That, my friend, is because you are such a young pup. I remember watching Dallas every Friday night with my parents…

  3. @melanie0

    It was fun to be a part of it with you. Even though I am the Dallas Wine Chick, I find that I am still not in love with most wine made here. To quantify it, out of 650 bottles in the cellar, two hail from Texas.

    1. drinknectar

      I understand. I think Mandola is headed the right direction…I could sense potential. It was a blast and I learned quite a bit and it’s always good to have new experiences!


  4. Sip with Me!

    What a great opportunity! I’m so intrigued by Texas wine and was really bummed to have missed the Texas tasting, and yeah, I guess Ben’s kindof a kickass guy. Good thing you kept that Redskins mug around for protection, though it wouldn’t have helped much in a Texas dust storm!

    1. drinknectar

      Thanks, Tamara – Texas wine is probably pretty hard to come by in the city of roses. The Redskins mug was my protection from the Cowboy influence.

      Cheers! Josh

  5. Joe

    Romo. Hee hee hee.

    This was a fun event…good host, interesting area, heated rivalries between bloggers.

    One thing, though: I don’t know why everyone thinks the Canto Felice was so sweet. To me, if was like an off-dry Riesling (not Riesling flavors, but similar sweetness to a German Kabinett or maybe a Spatlese…somewhere in between). Do I drink too much dessert wine? Or is my recognition threshold very high?

    1. drinknectar

      Joe – yeah, there did seem to be some underlying discord among a few of the folks. The Canto came across as sweet tart. I enjoyed the interesting nose, but just wasn’t a fan of the wine.

      That Tony Romo clip is the best of all time!

  6. William Maltese

    Yeah, it has been my experience, too, that Texas, more than able to come up with big juicy thick steaks on the barbecue, so far still has to rely upon France to come up with the robust kind of red to accompany any such meal.

  7. Pingback: End of the Week Re-Cap at The Mandola Estate Winery « The Mandola Estate Winery

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