Tuesday, April 24, 2012

15. A Little Bit of Home

15. A Little Bit of Home
Each drop is revered:
it encapsulates heaven,
earth and man as one.

Each French wine I chance to taste
shares notes with the wines from home.

Some of my recent French wine experiences.
Wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts the world over are always praising French wines. There, of course, is good reason for this. Many of the great vineyards and wineries have spent a century -- often more -- crafting their elixir. The mixture of experience, wisdom, and devotion has made France the leader in top wines. So, to continue my wine education, I took to drinking the French wines I could get. Now, I have not had any Premier and Grand Crus -- totally out of my price range -- but I sought wineries linked to the greats. And I learned many lessons from this. The first was a surprise: Texas wines are rather similar to French wines.

Thanks to Drops of God -- I can't help but keep mentioning this fine work -- I learned a little about French terrior. This main ingredient to wine -- the earth mentioned in the Li Po post -- is crucial to the wine's flavor. And lo and behold, Texas and French terrior is not so different, especially the  Texas Hill Country. It seems both are a mix of mineral heavy soils. There is sandy soil in some areas, and not to far away, the soil is laced with clay. In fact, after a chat with Pedernales Cellars' General Manager Jim Brown, I learned that is common in their vineyard near the winery. One block is a very clay based soil -- it retains water well -- and the next block is sandy -- not as good for keeping the water. France is no different. In fact, they have similar deposits of clay, sand, and other minerals. The effect of this is simple; the terrior, the very earth itself is the same.

With a quick taste, this mineral similarity is apparent. As I have noted in earlier posts, I tend to notice a mineral note in Texas wines. It is stronger in some rather than others -- obviously based on the exact location of the vine. The mineral is always there though. I, personally, enjoy it. It adds complexity to the other flavors and can even help blend less congruent notes. As I have taken a trip through French wines as of late, especially Bordeaux, I have noted the same mineral hint. Yes, like Texas it varies from vineyard to vineyard, and so the mineral taste differs, but it is there. Just a few moments concentrating is enough to notate the similarity.

Before I come to a conclusion, I must make known the inspiration here. To take a break from French wines, I opened a bottle of Becker Merlot. It got me thinking. Then, a week or so later, I enjoyed their Claret. At that point the conclusion was clear: fans of each should be drinking both. Those who praise and love French wines should take a chance on Texas wines. What they love is present here as well. And of course, we Texas snobs (and yes, we do exist) should return the favor. And hopefully, the world will start to look at our slice of heaven and enjoy its fruits as much as we do.

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