Wine Tasting at Llano Estacado

If you have been following me for a while, you know that one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE WINES is Llano’s 1836. This red wine is phenomenal, it was my very first Texas Wine that I fell in love with. Well one day, as I was perusing Instagram, something caught my eye! 1836 in White! I must try this, I thought. And so I have, and I am so excited to share with you everything that I learned while at Llano Estacado.

First of all, Llano Estacado is a West Texas Winery located in the dusty plains of Lubbock, Texas. They have been around since the 1970’s and became known on the wine scene in 1984.

While at Llano, I had the pleasure of having a wine tasting with Llano’s Sommelier, Matt Bostick. With Matt I tried the 1836-White, the Viognier and the Marsanne. Just like the red, the 1836 White was phenomenal. I was happily surprised that the white wine had a similar dryness that a red wine would typically have. Matt said this was due to the wine aging in a barrel. This white wine has subtle notes of peach on the nose and it has citrus, peach and Jello gelatin on the palate. It is high in acidity and it is medium-bodied. The 1836 White is a blend of the Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Chardonnay grapes. The wine gets it structure from the Viognier grape and its acidity from the Marsanne grape.

Often times I talk about detecting tannins in a wine but I learned something new about detecting acidity. Matt shared with me that the quicker you salivate under your tongue, the higher the acidity. This was very helpful because often times I am looking for that feel of the acidity in my cheeks like I do with tannins and I can’t quite detect it as quickly as I can tannins in a dry red. This method was much more easier for me.

After tasting the 1836, Matt poured me a glass of both the Marsanne and the Viognier so that I could taste each component of the 1836. The Marsanne has notes of mineral and peach skins. It is a light-bodied white wine; whereas, the Viognier has more body than the Marsanne. You could easily detect the fuller body of the Viognier on the palate and by the rich gold color of the white wine. The Viognier had notes of pickle juice and lemons. It actually would be a nice wine to pair with alfredo. The zest of the Viognier would cut nicely through the richness of the alfredo sauce. Delicious! After tasting each of these wines, I could see how the Marsanne added the acidity and how the Viognier gave the 1836 its structure. What a harmonious blend. Thank you Matt for sharing that experience with me. I hadn’t ever thought to taste each varietal separately in a blend.

I had such an amazing time!

Thank you Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts for reading about my experience. I look forward to sharing more with you. If you stop by Llano and try the 1836, tell’ em Smiling Danny sent you. Comment below if you have tried this wine before or if you have another Llano Estacado favorite that you would like me to try. Until next time…

XOXO, Smiling Danny. Salu’d!

A Texas Thanksgiving

Hi Smiley’s and Wine Enthusiasts,

This month I am so excited to share with you my pairing of Texas Wines and Thanksgiving inspired hors d’ oeuvres. The wines range from the Texas Hill Country all the way to the High Plains. Be sure to grab your notepad because you are going to want to try these delicious pairings yourself.

What’s on the Menu:

Food Bites:

Meat: Smoked Honey Cured Ham and Cracked Pepper Roasted Turkey Breast

Bread: Sweet Cornbread

Cheese: Cranberry Orange Goat Cheese

Fruit: Opal Apple Slices

Desserts:

Texas Pecan Caramel Brownies

Pumpkin Spice Tea Cakes

Strawberries

Jazz Apple Slices

Hershey Chocolate Bars

Wines:

  • Becker Vineyards: Chardonnay, 2018
  • Becker Vineyards: Viognier, 2019
  • McPherson Cellars: La Herencia Red Table Wine, 2017
  • Llano Estacado: Cellar Reserve Texas Red Blend, Limited Release
  • Heath Sparkling Wine: Adoration, 2017
  • English Newson Cellars: Spider Rock Bourbon Barrel Aged Dessert Wine

Tasting Notes and Pairings:

Becker Vineyards: Chardonnay, 2018

This dry, white wine has notes of honey and pineapple. The wine paired nicely with the cranberry orange goat cheese, opal apple slices and the cracked pepper roasted turkey breast.

Becker Vineyards: Viognier, 2019

This is a dry, white wine with peach and floral notes on the nose and palate. Because of the fruit notes, the wine paired nicely with the apple slices and the goat cheese. This Viognier can easily be paired with the turkey or ham that you choose on your menu.

I think both wines complemented the charcuterie plate well. The wines did not overpower the food bite nor did the food bite overpower the wine. However, what I look for in pairings is for me to recognize the original notes in the wine and the flavors of the dish. In addition, I like to discover new flavor profiles from the combining of the two. Here, I didn’t pick up on any additional notes when I included the food bite in the tasting.

McPherson Cellars: La Herencia Red Table Wine, 2017

This is a dry, red wine with notes of berry and earth. Pairing this alongside the peppered turkey really opened up those earth notes in the wine. Also, the sweet cornbread created this umami profile in the mouth. Delicious!

Llano Estacado: Cellar Reserve Texas Red Blend, Limited Release

Now you know that I am in LOVE with Llano’s 1836, but this wine right here came in to a close second. I really enjoyed this wine. It is a dry, red wine, (of course, my fav) with notes of berry, earth and pepper. What I truly enjoyed about this wine is that I could taste the berry on the palate. Often, I pick up berry in the nose but it is rare that I will actually taste berry on the palate with the dry reds that I have tried thus far. This wine paired phenomenally with the ham and the goat cheese. Pairing it with the cornbread reminded me of cake, so that was a treat.

Next Up, Desserts!

Heath Sparkling Wine: Adoration, 2017

This is a dry, sparkling wine with notes of floral, apple, cranberry and cherry. It has a rose gold hue and lots of bubbles. This wine paired perfectly with the strawberries, chocolate bars and apple slices.

English Newson Cellars: Spider Rock Bourbon Barrel Aged Dessert Wine

This is a sweet, dessert wine with notes of raisin, pecan and chocolate. It tastes like every layer of my German Chocolate Cake! The wine paired nicely with all of the desserts, and when pairing, it created new flavors on my palate. I get really excited when this happens. Here are the creations below:

  • Brownie: pairing brought out caramel notes in the wine.
  • Chocolate: pairing created a dark chocolate flavor profile.
  • Strawberry: pairing created a chocolate cake with strawberries flavor.
  • Apples: pairing created a cinnamon glazed apple and brandied apple flavor.
  • Pumpkin Spice Tea Cake: pairing created a raisin bread flavor.

Now, is your mouth watering or what!! I hope that you enjoyed this post as much as I did and that you try some of the wines and food bites mentioned. If you do, be sure to leave a comment here or on my Instagram page. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I look forward to sharing with you again soon.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

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My Visit to Heath Sparkling Wines

Hi Smileys!

Today I’m going to share with you my experience visiting Heath Sparkling Wines in Fredericksburg, Texas.

This one was an interesting visit in that I really didn’t get to make any tasting notes. Normally, when visiting a vineyard I learn about the grapes, tour the grounds and hear stories about how the owners started their work in the wine industry. Due to so many new rules and regulations during this pandemic the tasting wasn’t quite the experience that I would have gotten if I had arrived on any other given day.  While there, I was hoping to learn some tips about tasting sparkling wines and there were a few additional questions that I had. However, the tasting felt rushed, there weren’t any tours and there wasn’t any history or sparkling wine tips given during the tasting. I literally took a sip, took a bite, sipped again and moved on.

Although this pandemic has created a form of chaos in the wine industry, I am all about making the most of my experience. What I did enjoy were the delicious pairings, the friendliness of the staff, the beauty of the courtyard, and the quietness of sipping my sparkling wine near the water fountain. And most of all, I enjoyed who I shared this experience with.

The tasting consisted of four sparkling wines accompanied with four delicious pairings created by their Chef. Each tasting was delicious but my favorite wine and favorite pairing was the Blanc de Blancs paired with a Watermelon Feta Salad.

All in all, although times have changed, that doesn’t mean that your spirit and joy have to as well. Make each day count. Cherish those special moments that you have with your loved ones while you can. And most of all: KEEP SMILING! In the meantime, I look forward to returning and discovering more of what Heath Sparkling Wines has to offer.

XOXO, Smiling Danny, Salu’d

 

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Sweet Wines with Your Sweetheart Series: Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett

Happy Valentine’s Day Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts!
Thank you so much for joining me in this Series. I truly enjoyed tasting all of these sweet wines with you and for you. And thank you to all of you who have reached out and asked me for Sweet Wine recommendations. I appreciate all of your support and encouragement in this blogging journey.
I wanted to end this Series by sharing with you the wine that I will be serving this evening and the meal that I am pairing alongside it.

Tasting Notes:

  • Wine: Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett
  • Vintage: 2017
  • Region: Blue Slate Vineyards located in the middle of Mosel, Germany
  • Sight/Clarity: Clear with a hint of effervescence.
  • Bouquet: Minerals in the Ocean, Oyster, Salt Water
  • Taste: A light Moscato with notes of mineral and hints of fuzzy peach. There is a nice acidity in the wine that creates this soft, glossy, refreshing feel on the sides of my cheeks.
  • Overall: This wine reminds me of Pier 39 in San Francisco.  Drinking this wine floods my memory with the wonderful times that I spent there with My Forever Valentine. How exciting that we will get to enjoy this wine together this evening and reminiscence on shared memories.
  • Pairing: This wine you can enjoy as an aperitif (on it’s own) or serve with spicy dishes. Asian and Seafood dishes would also pair nicely with this wine.

Dinner:

I will be pairing this Riesling with Quail stuffed with Jalapeno and wrapped in Bacon, Sauteed Potatoes and Peppers; and an Oven Roasted Squash Medley.  For dessert, we will be having cocoa cinnamon rolls with a marshmallow creme glaze.

I hope this weekend is filled with loving memories with friends, families and cherished ones. Enjoy your time with yourself and with others.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Salu’d

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