Let's Talk over Drinks
The Perfect Wine for a Spring Picnic
Could there be anything more wonderful than spring weather in Texas? A cardinal’s chirping begs us to go outside, spread a blanket, and bask in the warm sun and gentle breezes. What better way to enjoy the glorious season than with a picnic among the wildflowers with a delicious bottle of wine?
Just in time for spring picnics, we are releasing our 2016 Viognier Reserve. This is the fifth vintage for this highly acclaimed wine that won Gold in Lyon in 2012, and it is every bit as good as its medal-winning predecessors. In fact, this vintage won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Our 2016 Viognier Reserve is a blend of finished wines made from grapes grown in the Reddy and Bingham vineyards in the High Plains Appellation. Our winemakers expertly coaxed the best characteristics from the fruit grown in both vineyards. The Bingham Vineyards wine is lighter, more crisp and fresh, while Reddy Vineyard Viognier brings grilled pineapple and caramel flavors.
The results are absolutely delightful. The 2016 Viognier Reserve has complex aromas with layers of fresh citrus and honeysuckle with hints of guava, pineapple, ripe peach and toasted hazelnuts. True to its varietal, this is no wimpy wine. It’s a lush, smooth, and full-bodied Viognier with sweet honeyed pineapple notes.
This is a perfect picnic wine with complexity but drinkability. The rich flavors and bright acidity let it pair well with a wide variety of traditional picnic foods. We especially love it with fried chicken or a Cuban sandwich! Its opulent fruit flavors and full body also allow it to stand up well to spicy foods, and its zippy tartness makes it a fantastic match for the fattier foods. Here are a couple recipes for you to enjoy al fresco with our 2016 Viognier Reserve.
Spicy Fried Chicken
8 to 10 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Canola oil, as needed
Buttermilk, as needed
All-purpose flour, as needed
Combine the spices in small bowl. Coat each chicken piece liberally with spice rub. Transfer to large Ziploc bag. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 24 hours.
Fill a cast iron pan halfway with canola oil, and warm over medium-high heat. Add buttermilk to a large bowl. Add flour to a second large bowl. Dip each piece of spice-rubbed chicken into flour, then buttermilk and back into the flour. Place in the warmed oil. Cook the chicken until golden brown on each side, turning occasionally for about 10 to 12 minutes until they register 180° on a meat thermometer. Sprinkle with salt and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
1 loaf Cuban bread, sliced lengthwise
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons yellow mustard, or to taste
1 1/2 pounds boiled ham, sliced
1 1/2 pounds roasted pork, sliced
1 pound Swiss cheese, sliced
1 cup dill pickle slices
Spread 2 tablespoons of butter on one half of the bread loaf and a thin layer of mustard on the other. Place 1 to 2 layers of ham, pork, cheese, and pickles on the buttered bread and top with the mustard-spread bread.
Smear the remaining butter all over the outside of the sandwich and wrap it completely in aluminum foil.
Heat your grill to high (550°F) and close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before lowering the heat to medium-high (450°F) and continuing.
Before grilling the sandwich, press down on it with your hands to flatten it. Place the wrapped, flattened sandwich on the grill and top with a brick, grill press, or any other heavy, heat-resistant object. Close the lid and grill for 5 to 6 minutes per side.
Remove the wrapped sandwich from the grill and take off the foil. Return the sandwich to the grill and grill for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until both pieces of bread are crispy and golden brown. Wrap them in foil again to transport them to your picnic paradise.
Slice, serve, sip and savor.
Texas wine lovers should be looking forward to the release of 2017 vintage wines, because of the excellent harvest. Read more about the harvest here, and look for 2017 white wines startingat the beginning of the new year.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I think anything you can do to support the state, its workers and its economy would be much appreciated, and one of the smallest and easiest gestures would be to forego whatever other bottle of wine you were about to buy and pick up one from Texas. You might feel good about doing it, and more likely than not, you will be surprised by how good it tastes.
Much of the state’s best fruit was picked just before the storm arrived, and winemakers have already been wowed by its quality. Julie Kuhlken, owner of Pedernales Cellars, one of the state’s most decorated wineries, said, “This is probably the best (and certainly is the biggest) grape harvest that the Texas wine industry has ever seen, and not even Hurricane Harvey could ruin it.” Pedernales paid to send an employee to Houston with her boat to aid in rescue operations, and gave her money to assist Hurricane victims. Winemaker Dave Reilly of Duchman Family Winery, another top tier producer, agreed: “Our Hill Country fruit - particularly from Salt Lick Vineyards - has been the best ever. We are just starting to get High Plains fruit and it is looking to be on par with the Hill Country. Below average temperatures this time of year have contributed to the excellent quality.” During Labor Day weekend, Duchman Family Winery accepted donations of goods at its Wine Club party and donated $5 from each bottle or growler of rose sold to the JJ Watt Fund. Read more....
Not since the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Tempranillo Reserve has the family winemaking team won a Double Gold, so there was much celebrating when the Armadillo's Leap BFF Blend won Double Gold at this summer's competition. The BFF Blend is a blend of Montepulciano, Tempranillo, and Aglianico, and is available for sale in the Armadillo's Leap tasting room in Frederickburg.
In its Summer edition of the Top Texas Wines, Texas Monthly includes Pedernales Cellars Texas GSM. Read what TM has to say about the GSM and other great wines from around the state.
This year's vintage of the Texas Dry Rose is a wonderful blend of Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah. Please look for it in the tasting room or here. Texas Wine and Trail has named it the Texas Wine of the Month for June.
Read Austin Way's recommendations of where to sip and swirl in Texas.