The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2012

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Page 64 of 152

A LONE STAR LIFE Stars of Texas RED, WHITE, BLUE AND A BREW by Anthony Head / photo by Kirk Weddle A s Texas continues its march forward with the production of top-shelf wines, spirits and beers, it���s time for the world to start paying close attention. These are the awardwinning bottles that made Texans very excited this year���because not only are they excellent by Texas standards, they���re also world-class by the global benchmark. Llano Estacado 2010 Cellar Reserve Tempranillo, Texas High Plains ($17) Tempranillo is undoubtedly Texas���s most impressive red grape, and growers are inding success with it in regions all over the state, especially in the High Plains. Llano Estacado produces one of the most approachable Tempranillos in the state, with nuanced lavors of red stone fruits and a hint of tobacco. It features mellow tannins and mellow acid, but assertive varietal characteristics. This mediumbodied beauty will help Texas move the epicenter of Tempranillo from Spain to the Lone Star State. Duchman 2010 Vermentino, Texas High Plains ($14) Although Vermentino sounds like a rat-faced character from Godfather 4, it���s actually the varietal that���s changing the future of Texas white wines. With its weight lying somewhere between an aggressive Pinot Grigio and a laid-back Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino is refreshing without being typical. Duchman���s Vermentino is crisp and herbal, with the kind of acidity and balance that delights the palate. Great on its own, it also features enough body to stand up to steamed sea bass, calamari and pesto pasta. Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky ($40) Although the Hopi blue corn comes from out of state, Balcones Baby Blue has most deinitely become the pride of Texas spirits. Not only was it the irst Texas whisky on the market since Prohibition, it has distinguished itself with dozens of national awards, including Double Gold at the San Francisco���s World Spirits Competition. With a lush corn essence and light oak nuances on the inish, Baby Blue sets the bar high for Texas and world whiskies. Real Ale Fireman���s 4 Blonde Ale ($9/ sixpack) Beer means an awful lot to Texans. For one thing, there are an awful lot of ice houses throughout the state selling nothing but beer. (Well, almost nothing but beer. You can get ice, and sometimes some jug wines.) So there���s always room for another great craft brew on the bar. Real Ale���s Fireman���s 4 is light-bodied but with deep biscuit and citrus lavors up front. It holds tight to a crisp, clean malty proile and inishes smooth and yet zesty. 64 / the tasting panel / december 2012 123 Happ

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