Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wine Wednesday: Dripping with Taste 2012

This past Saturday, Sean and I joined wine lovers from across Central Texas (and all of Texas for that matter) to enjoy 22 area wineries, as well as 5 microbreweries, cider, and sake at Dripping with Taste in Dripping Springs. To whet our palate, there was some great food -- even gluten free for Sean. It was a delight for the taste buds and an overall good time (especially all the great company).

Red, gold, translucent 
drops fill my glass, delight me
with each unique taste.

A few notes:

  1. I didn't really have much in the way of pictures. Sean and I got so caught up in things and in places that taking pictures wouldn't have been easy that we didn't take many pictures. 
  2. I am combining this this Wine Wednesday. I want to do a quick tasting for the cider and sake (and yes, sake is rice WINE).  I am also doing this for Wine Wednesday because I have been busy grading -- just graded 100 papers with 50 more coming on Thursday. 

The Festival

Upon arrival we faced the one troubling issue at this wonderful event: size. I love the Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company, but it was too small. Getting in was a terrible hassle -- it took over 30 minutes. They couldn't manage the lines with the space they had. This same problem presented itself in the main tasting room. There was so much in there and so many people that it was hard to navigate.

The worst part in the tasting room was the lack of space. I felt as if I needed to keep moving to be kind to others (and many seemed to have the same idea). Because of that I couldn't take time to taste; it also made speaking with the wineries and others difficult (though, somehow, Jeff Cope at Texas Wine Lover found a space where we got a chance to catch up with him). It also posed another problem for the those serving the wine; Sabrina Houser at Dry Comal Creek had to get a second door open to aid in the air flow (it was just too hot in the crowded space).

Tastings: Cider, Sake, and Wine

Outside, a cool breeze and cooler Texas temperatures greeted us. And outside we had the most intersting expereince: Texas cider and sake. First, we had the cider.


Sean is celiac so beer is out; he has turned to wine and cider to replace it. We drink Crispin and Wood Chuck most often, but were very pleased that Texas made a cider. What was better was that it didn't taste like the other two -- offering another flavor. Argus Cidery brought with them a mild and subtle drink; I think this was due to the sparkling wine base. I found it light and pleasing on the palate. It was refreshing after the hot tasting room, but it was also subtle and soothing on my palate (especially after all the reds I had drank and the wonderful sweet Gotas de Oro (from Dotson-Cervantes).

I would relate it to the cool front that had just come through. This wine is like a late summer, early fall cool front (much like the one that made Saturday a delight). Though the weather isn't greatly changed by the front, it is a release. One can notice the difference, as much due to the deviation from the extreme as from the change. These fronts are always appreciated, but they do not wash the best parts of summer away, as the sun still kept things warm. The cider has the same subtle affect that smoothed out the weather. The cider was a cler blue sky -- much like the one overhead on Saturday. It spread out smooth and clear before us.


We moved on to the sake. We have a LONG history of sake. Anyone following the blog has noticed my preference for Japanese poetic forms. In graduate school, I studied the various forms of Japanese poetry, as well as poetic themes and language, religion, culture, etc. In the end, Sean and I dug so deep in Japanese culture that we found ourselves looking for more (as I write this, Sean is writing a blog post on Lupin the Third while watching the first series, especially the Miyazaki -- that Miyazaki -- episodes). One thing we looked into was sake. Honestly, I had problems drinking it, cold or warm. But that wasn't the case on Saturday. Both sakes brought by Texas Sake Company were more to my taste. In fact, they were more like a good dry white wine -- my favorite kind. This Texas approach warmed me to sake.

They brought two with them Saturday, the clear Whooping Crane (what most people see as sake) and Rising Star (a cloudy sake done in the Nigori style). The one I most got a chacne to drink was the Whooping Crane. First I was glad it was called Whooping Crane -- I have actually seen, from a distance, Whooping Cranes at San Antonio Bay in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. This refined sake at first seemed like the first hints of many of the sakes I have tried in the past. There was that earthiness of the rice -- an earthiness that tastes comfortable dry and solid. However, instead of turning sweet, it mellowed into the earthiness found in most dry Texas whites. I knew I could drink this sake.

As for my review, this sake is like a field of tall, light grass. The grass is fine and thin, only noticeable because of the quantity. It is light in color, primarily green but seems to be made solid by a light brown -- as if the grass was so fine that what sun touched it started to cook it. And of course, this field is swaying as a gentle breeze ruffles the grass in ripples. This fine and light sense spreads out in the land, much like the earthiness and dryness of the sake smoothes out over the palate.


As for the wine, well, I won't give that away. But the people and I do agree. Three participants -- Pedernales Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards, and Dotson-Cervantes -- took the prize. I am long time Pedernales fan -- as the blog can attest to -- and I enjoy Gotas de Oro. As for Spicewood, I was relaly impressed with what they brought with them (on my first and only visit I didn't think too much of them, but it looks like things have changed). Though the awards don't show, there was another favorite, Becker's Claret (Sean's absolute favorite wine). When we nabbed a bottle to enjoy around 3, there were only 2 bottles left. My favorite for the day was Duchman (where we made a quick stop before heading home). I was also glad to try Wedding Oak; their Tempranillo was smooth and strong.


And then there was the food. For me, I indulged in the sweets (thanks to better bites bakery for the GF treats!). I knew what I was getting into with Ms. Choclatier (a San Antonio favorite from the Pearl Farmer's Market). I hadn't tried the truffles yet, and so took the chance to really enjoy the truly (but not overpowering) Amaretto truffle. We also visited my Comfort favorite place, High Street Chocolate. I finally tried the Aztec and was wowed. I am a big fan of their 80% dark (found only at Bending Branch), and that is saying something because, normally, I don't go much above 70; the hint of vanilla they add balances the bitter in the chocolate. With the Aztec, the complex flavors found in Mexican chocolate are more rounded and even, a subtle flavor rather than an overpowering one (making it a good pairing chocolate). And as good as the chocolate was so was the chocolate lesson. I leared that most chocolate makers (for the base chcolate) use more cocoa butter than cacao; this can make the chocolate a bit bland. At High Street, they reverse the numbers, putting cacao first. Well, the choice in ingredients and quality says it all.
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Sean, my glass, and Becker Claret hanging out.

Sean and I made sure to make the most of our time. We just spent time outside sipping wine, eating delictable chocolates, and listening to good music. We also made sure to catch up with those we know -- it was so awesome to see Russ Kane (Vintage Texas) and Jeff Cope. We met some other great winery folks -- Matt at Duchman, Sabrina Houser at Dry Comal Creek, and Gary Gilstrap from Texas Hills. We also met wonderful people who, like us, just were out for a good time. How could this not be a good day. I am so glad they are looking for a larger location for next year (Sept. 21, 2013 by the way). With a little tweaking, this will be an annual favorite on my festival list.

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