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.
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.
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.