The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2011

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Page 32 of 128

Rising Star "" Catching Up to a A LONE STAR LIFE It was kind of a shocker to win. You work all summer, and give up a social life. You put in a lot of hours of studying. But the payoff was one of the most gratifying moments I've ever had. TEXAS'S BEST SOMMELIER ON THE STATE OF TEXAS WINE by Anthony Head / photo by Kirk Weddle T he Court of Master Sommeliers is finally two Texans richer. Devon Broglie and Craig Collins, both of Austin, earned the distinct rank in July, joining Drew Hendricks, Guy Stout, James Tidwell and Barbara Werley as Texas-based Master Somms. Community and mentorship are among the keys to suc- cessful navigation through the tasting, theory, and practical exams, and both Broglie and Collins are active and important members of the Texas Sommelier Association. In August, this Dallas-based association held its seventh TEXSOM wine-education conference. The three-day event included bestowing the title of Texas's Best Sommelier on Bill Elsey, Director of Sales for Duchman Family Wines in Driftwood. Based on his perfor- mance on TEXSOM's rigorous three-part exam, Elsey took the honor and demonstrated the kind of progressive thinking Texas needs in its up-and- coming talent. As TEXSOM's Best Sommelier for 2011, Bill Elsey wants Lone Star State wines to exceed all expectations— especially for Texans. 32 / the tasting panel / october 201 1 Elsey is making his own run to join the gang of six Texas Master Somms, so when I caught up to him in his home- town of San Marcos, I just let him do all the talking: Viognier is one of my favorite white grapes from Texas. I really admire the diversity of styles being produced here. It works steely clean and oak aged. We need to find more grapes like that. Three of the top ten cities in the country are within three hours of Austin, which is also a serious wine city. TEXSOM was created to tap into all this energy, and it's one of the main reasons the Texas wine com- munity is so strong. I think Texans are becoming more knowledgeable on wine overall, but Texan pride might work against Texas wine. Texans buy and support Texas wines, even when the quality isn't as high as it should be. They're willing to deal with that to support something local. It's a double-edged sword. To be brutally honest, my biggest problem with the Texas wine industry is that we're sourcing way too much fruit from out of state. We need to promote the grapes that grow in Texas. We need to grow more grapes in Texas. My ultimate goal is to be a Master Sommelier, so I couldn't turn down the opportunity to pursue that goal even if it takes me out of the state. But I think I'll always end up coming back to Texas. Winning has been a good plug for the winery. They're happy about it. I respect [owners] Drs. Stan and Lisa Duchman because they're willing to take risks. Experimentation is going to drive this industry forward.

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