Off the Beaten Path: Perissos Vineyard and Winery

A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to get out of town. It was hot, downtown was swarming with people for the Austin Food and Wine Festival, and we were fed up with chores and renovation projects. Taking a drive out to the Hill Country for wine tasting was the perfect escape!

I did a little research and stumbled upon a boutique winery just outside of Burnet, TX. I didn’t want to go to the more popular wineries in Fredericksburg, or Driftwood. I wanted to get off the beaten path and find the cute, charming wineries. You know, the kind where the owners are talking to visitors and various animals are running around the property; the kind of place you want to stay all day because it feels like home.

Perissos Vineyard and Winery

Perissos Winery

Perissos is a ancient Greek word from the Bible meaning “exceeding abundantly, beyond what is expected, imagined, or hoped for”. I think that is a fitting name for this lush, healthy estate. With plenty of seating inside and outside, this is a great off the beaten path option for those that want something a little different!

The main building houses a beautiful tasting room, barrel storage, and wine making facilities. The large stone structure was built by the owner, Seth Martin, a former custom home builder and self taught wine maker. We were able to chat with him for a few minutes as he was taking a break from the day’s work. He was super friendly and told us about the crop he just harvested, difficulty of the previous years water shortages, and life as a wine maker and farmer. It was obvious he loved making wine and had such a passion for it. He wanted visitors to explore and spend time on the estate. Everyone working there made us feel at home; even the farm dogs and chickens wandering through the picnic tables and tasting room!Perissos Estate

Now, I have to admit, I don’t normally drink Texas wine unless I’m out wine tasting. Most of the flavor profiles just don’t do it for me. I like big, bold, and serious. Texas wine is more light and playful. However, I did find the 2012 Petite Sirah and 2012 Roussanne to be absolutely fantastic. The Petite Sirah is 100% estate grown while the Roussanne is sourced from Bingham and Oswald Family Vineyards in Meadow, Texas. The two wines couldn’t be more different, but I thought the fruit and minerality of the Roussane and the structure of the Petite Sirah were fascinating. I ended up with a bottle of the Sirah to take home. Now all I need to do is figure out what to make with it. Any suggestions?

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Sunday Supper with Kendall-Jackson Merlot

Sunday dinners are a tradition in my house. My Mamaw always made huge, home cooked meals on Sunday for the family. Sunday “supper” was a requirement if you were in town. Ham, pork chops, collard greens, and soft fried potatoes. Mamaw’s soft fried potatoes were legendary. Must have been that 30 year-old cast iron skillet seasoned with bacon grease!Grandmother

Sunday supper is a Southern tradition that never left me. This past week we decided to BBQ brisket and vegetables. The hubs and I have experimented with several different BBQ seasonings and techniques, but never quite found the right combination. We wanted Franklin’s quality, but kept getting dried out, over seasoned meat. This week we kept it simple: salt, pepper, and 18 hours in the pit over low heat. It was finally hug-yur-Mamaw good! Simple is always better!BBQ Brisket

And of course, Sunday supper in my house is not complete without wine. I’m sure you have realized that I like the Kendall-Jackson brand, but there are three reasons why I keep KJ wines at my house:KJ Wine

1. Affordability-I don’t believe that wine has to be expensive to pair well with food or provide an interesting addition to the table. I like quality and value.

2. Flexibility- I like that some wines can be very complex and distinctive, but they do not always lend themselves to the modern table.  New world wines like Kendall-Jackson are flexible and can be paired with a variety of food. KJ has a good balance of fruit and spice.

3. And gosh darn it, it just tastes good! You should always drink what makes you happy!

I thought the Kendall-Jackson 2010 Merlot would pair nicely with smokey BBQ. I picked a Merlot over a Zinfandel or Cabernet because I thought the mellow fruit would balance out the spicy BBQ. I did not want a smokey Zin to cover up the 18 hours we spent on the brisket! I don’t usually pair bold wines with bold food. With food, as in life, I need balance.

The berry notes and dark cherries of the wine tasted like a light cherry wood smoke added to the pit during the last few hours. Not too fruit forward, but enough to appreciate its fragrant presence. I was afraid the more exotic spice of anise would taste strange, but paired with the wine’s slate minerality, it allowed the brisket to take on a woody flavor. Dark and earthy. Natural and organic. Just the way good Texas BBQ should be prepared. I think the KJ Merlot could also be paired with my Smoked Honey Dijon Rack of Pork!KJ Wine and brisket

I served grilled corn-on-the-cob and yellow squash which provided an interesting dichotomy to the spicy BBQ. The summer vegetables were sweet and the wine enhanced the fresh, garden flavor.

Overall, I think the Kendall-Jackson 2010 Merlot is a great value and flavor for backyard BBQ’s. Because I was serving up Mamaw’s Sunday supper, I thought a reliable wine would be the best choice. Every meal is a feast when you have good wine at the table!Wine and Flowers

*Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. I was not provided samples or compensation so it is all about what I think!

Domaine du Closel Les Caillardieres

 

Chateau des Vaults

Porching in Texas, especially Austin, is practically a way of life. I live on my patio in the spring/summer time and love to enjoy a refreshing glass of wine after work. Today, I opened a bottle of wine I picked up in France: Les Caillardieres by Domaine du Closel-Chateau des Vaults. I was introduced to Les Caillardieres while visiting and working with Chateau des Vaults during my MBA program last summer. This is my last bottle of Chateau des Vaults wine so I guess I will have to go back for a visit soon!

Domaine du Closel is a family run business in Savennieres, France. Savennieres is located in the western part of France in the Anjou-Saumur region of the Loire Valley. The history of Domaine du Closel and wine production date back to 1495! Its mission is to provide high quality, rare, organic wine and provide a cultural experience for wine drinkers.

Les Caillardieres is produced in a sandy vineyard on top of the hill of the estate. Les Caillardieres is produced with Chenin Blanc grapes and the estate has unique geological influences (slate, volcanic stone, minerals) that give the wine a distinct flavor.  The flavor profile is very intense with lots of floral notes and dried fruit. The wine has a long finish and holds up well against food. I paired it with a crab, avocado, and tomato salad and the lime juice I used in the salad really brought out the citrus tones. It reminds me of warm weather and picnics on the porch! I just love it.

Les Caillardieres and crab avocado salad

I have not found Chateau des Vaults wines anywhere in Austin except at Vino, Vino for a very brief time. I hope more wine bars will do their homework and discover less known wines. The small, family run businesses often do not have the budget to promote or hire a professional in order to capture a larger market. They rely on agent promotion and word of mouth.

And so, here is my plug for Domaine du Closel wines. If you have the ability to order from Louis Dressner or your importer-do it! The wines are interesting, refreshing, satisfying, and pair well with salads, seafood, hard cheeses, and chocolate!

Pour yourself a glass, sit on the porch, and Winedown!

Off the Beaten Path: ciboVino

ciboVino Winnsboro, TXWhile on my East Texas road trip a few weeks ago, I decided to take my Grandpa out for an “Off the Beaten Path” date. I love talking to him and hearing stories of his adventures. (Listen up-your grandparents are fascinating people. So, if they are still around—talk to them! My Grandpa traveled all over the world, helped build a hospital in Saudi Arabia in the 70’s, and did the carpentry in most of the buildings in downtown San Francisco. How cool is that?)

I am, by far, the most adventurous person in my family which is why my Grandpa and I get along so well. When I found a write up in Southern Living magazine on a restaurant in Winnsboro, TX, I knew he would be up for it.

ciboVino is a family-run, Italian restaurant located on the downtown square in Winnsboro, TX. Blink and you may miss it!  However, I was strongly advised by ciboVino’s website to call ahead and make a reservation. I was a bit amused by this, but I was sure glad of it after we arrived. The place was completely packed within half an hour!

Once seated, our well spoken, young buck of a waiter (the owner’s son, Brennan) told us all about the specials for the evening. They were featuring a bone-in veal chop with red potatoes and broccollini that my Grandpa could not resist. However, because I am obsessed with pizza, I went with my stand by: margherita pizza with sausage. If you make a decent pie, I’m willing to go back.

I have to say we were not disappointed.  The veal was perfectly cooked and very tender. The homemade pizza was thin, bubbled, and crunchy around the edges just the way I like it. Not the absolute best pizza I have had (that’s only in Italy!), but a solid choice in the area.ciboVino pizza

I was disappointed they did not offer a wine list, but they may not have the clientele to make it worthwhile. We were offered complimentary red or white wine, but the quality was not the best. However, ciboVino does allow guests to bring their own beverages and that seems to be the best option.

The owners, Rick and Sharon, have taken great care to incorporate the entire family into the business. It was great to see the family taking care of an obviously well-loved restaurant. My Grandpa is already talking about our next visit!

I get so caught up in what the city can offer that I forget there are many great places in small towns like Winnsboro. When you step off the beaten path you never know what you may find!

For more information on Winnsboro, TX check out the recent article in Texas Highways!

Off the Beaten Path: Los Pinos Ranch Winery

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Over the weekend I traveled to North East TX (Piney Woods for the Texas folk) to visit my family. I usually spend most of the weekend on the road traveling between towns to see everyone, but last weekend I found the time to visit a local winery in Pittsburg, TX, called Los Pinos Ranch.

I enjoyed a lovely butter lettuce salad with apples and goat cheese and tried the Vermentino, Viognier, and the Super Texican. Los Pinos does produce wine from its own vineyard, but also produces wine from grapes planted on three vineyards in West Texas.  They divide their wine into two categories: Sweet and Dry. I thought that was odd, but a lot of people I know like one or the other.

I have to say that I did not care for the Viognier at all. There was too much fruit on the nose for me and I found the smell overwhelming. However, I did like the Vermentino and thought it was a softer, more enjoyable wine to sip. The best of the three was the 2011 Super Texican. The Super Texican is 50% Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet. I only had a tasting, but that will be the wine I order on my next trip!

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Los Pinos offers other small plates and wood fired pizza in the rustic, Tuscan inspired dining room.  Live jazz is also a staple on Friday and Saturday nights. Unfortunately, I had to miss the live music.

Because I visited the winery in the winter it was too cold to sit outside. East TX tends to be a lot cooler than Austin! It was unfortunate as the outside seating area is very nice. I can imagine the spring and summer will be gorgeous when all the greenery fills in around the estate.Retouch 3

I am glad I had the time to stop by Los Pinos Ranch Winery. Los Pinos is relaxing, quiet, and definitely off the beaten path (two miles down a black-topped country road).  In an area saturated with fast food and chain restaurants, it was nice to have a “real food” and wine option. Cheers to finding a new East TX destination!

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