Low and Slow Grilling with Texas Wines #WinePW

Yes, they grow grapes and make wine in Texas.

Wine Pairing Weekend Group Discovers Texas!
Wait, they make wine in Texas? Yes! Thanks to one of our Wine Pairing Weekend members, our group was provided with samples from a variety of Texas wineries, and this month we’ll be blogging about our experiences with the wines and pairing them with a variety of foods. You’ll see a list of links farther down in this post to all the great wines and food pairings from our group.

My Texas History
It seems like forever ago, but I spent a LOT of time in Texas with my job way back in 1996-1998. Our home base was in Hondo, a small town west of San Antonio. In 1997, I spent 101 hotel nights in Hondo! This was back in my wine prehistory, so while I knew there were wines from Texas, I never tried one. I did have the opportunity to meet up with armadillos on early morning bike rides and with scorpions underneath boxes in the workplace. I ate my fair share of Texas barbecue: brisket, beef and pork ribs always with Wonder Bread served on the side. We learned that a Texas Grill comes with a trailer hitch, our northern “grills” were considered toys).

While it still doesn’t have a trailer hitch, I think my old Texas friends would be willing to eat some of the things coming off my Primo ceramic grill these days. I’m very excited to finally get a chance to try some Texas wines. Lets go!

Brennan Vineyards is located nearest the Hill Country region, and they partner with 2 other wineries to host a tasting room in the heart of Hill Country. map courtesy of https://texasalmanac.com

Disclosure: The wines in this post were samples provided by the winery. No other compensation was involved, all opinions are mine.

Brennan Vineyards Story
My Texas wine samples came from Brennan Vineyards, a family owned winery in Comanche Texas. In 2000, Dr. Pat and Trellise Brennan purchased the historic McCrary house, built in 1876 and one of the oldest remaining homesteads in Texas. Brennan Vineyards was originally conceived as a vineyard operation only, with planting the first vines of Viognier, Syrah, and Cabernet in 2002. By 2004, the Brennans decided to jump in all the way, built the winery and here they are today! The historic house serves as the tasting room today. More of their story can be found here . As they aren’t located in one of the more established winery regions, they partnered with friends from two other wineries to build a 4.0 Cellars tasting room in Fredricksburg, at the heart of the well known Texas Hill Country.

Bravo to Brennan Vineyards for planting grapes so well suited to their warm climate. Nero d’Avola in Texas!

Brennan Vineyards “Super Nero” 2017 (sample, $34 SRP or online here) 14.5% abv
58% Nero d’Avola 25% Carmenere 8.5% Cabernet Sauvignon 8.5% Alicante Bouschet. Fermented at a very cool temperature of 52 deg. F. The wine is fermented to complete dryness, frankly a treat in these days of wineries leaving a bit of residual sugar in their “dry” wines.  No mention of oak aging.

Eye: Clear, deep purple, very little staining of the inside of the glass
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. The nose immediately on opening showed some smoky notes (not a bad thing at all) which dissipated after and hour or so. Later, the ripe deep fruits emerged with ripe blueberries and plums, perhaps a hint of strawberry. There are some vanilla notes which emerge, especially on day two.
Mouth: Dry with medium+ intensity. Medium+ acidity with medium tannins. Body is full with high alcohol although the wine does not give a hot impression. Full, ripe fruit flavors echo the aromas with a nice medium length finish.

Overall, a very good quality wine. Clearly in the new world, fruit forward style, however a very nice restraint in the oak flavors. And bravo for exploring less common grapes, such as Nero d’Avola.  A good effort and a delicious wine.

Another great grape choice, Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo seems right at home in Texas.

Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo 2016 (sample, $28 SRP or online here)
87% Tempranillo, 13% Malbec  This wine was also fermented at 52 deg. F and fermented to complete dryness (yay!). It was aged for 18 months in a mix of French and American oak.

Eye: Clear, medium ruby. Light staining of the glass.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Ripe strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Followed by some aromas of clean earth and forest floor. A bit of vanilla shows the oak aging, however it is very nicely restrained and in the background.
Mouth: Dry with medium+ intensity. Medium+ acidity with medium+ fine grained tannins. Full body with high alcohol and a nice medium+ finish. The flavors echo the fruit and earth aromas with an addition of a smoky note which persists in this wine. Again, it’s not overwhelming, just a nice addition to the complexity of flavors.

A very good quality wine. As with the Super Nero, the Tempranillo is clearly in the new world, fruit forward style, with good restraint in the oak flavors. A well executed Texas interpretation of Tempranillo.

Mourvedre Dry Rosé 2018 (sample, $20 SRP or online here) 13.8%
Eye: Clear, medium salmon-orange.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of fresh ripe strawberries, tangerines, apricots, white flowers, with a bit of gravel.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavors. Medium acidity, medium body, medium alcohol. Crisp yet a bit of creaminess in the texture. The flavors track with the aromas. Medium finish. The overall impression is a wine with a bit more body with softer acidity than many rosés. One could enjoy drinking this wine by itself on the porch on a hot summer day.

Low and Slow Barbecue, a Natural in Texas
True Texas barbecue would feature brisket, unfortunately, I didn’t have time (15+ hours) to devote to a brisket for our session this month. I settled for a meal cooked 100% on the grill: Reverse seared New York roast, kabocha squash and grilled kale salad. I lucked into a New York steak but cut to roast thickness, about 3 inches thick. Perfect for a low and slow reverse sear.

This time of year in Minnesota, it gets dark around 5pm, so unless I wanted to serve the steak for lunch, we’ll need to survive without any photos from the grill. Reverse searing is a process used in most restaurants for cooking steak. The meat is cooked to barely rare doneness at low temperature. Then, just before serving, it is fired/seared at a very high temperature. This produces meat which is uniformly done to the desired doneness with a nice outside sear. I set up our grill for 1/2 direct and 1/2 indirect heat. On the indirect side, temperature was held around 250° F, with the direct side likely being a bit warmer.  I cut the kabocha squash into 8 sections and roasted it while the meat was slowly coming up to temperature. This gave plenty of time for the squash to cook. When the meat hit 120°F internally, I pulled it and the squash from the grill. I removed the deflector shield from 1/2 the grill to produce a 100% direct grill and opened the vents until the temperature read 450°F. I grew kale in my garden this year, so I took a full head, split it into quarters lengthwise, and drizzled it with olive oil and vinegar. Once the grill was hot, I placed the meat back on the grill to sear and added the kale sections alongside. Turning the meat every 2 minutes, I ended up with uniformly medium done meat, wilted/seared kale and kabocha squash.

At dinner, I concentrated on the red wines, and both paired very nicely with the roasted/seared meat and veggies. While red wine with steak is a pretty easy pairing, these wines also showed nicely with the kabocha squash. Unlike butternut and acorn squash, kabocha is not sweet at all, so pairing it with a wine having nice rich fruit was a real treat.  I didn’t concentrate on the rosé at dinner, however, it has sufficient body to be a good choice for someone who doesn’t care much for red wine. All in all, you’d be a winner with any of these wines at the dinner table.

Wine Pairing Weekend Group Shares Their Texas Discoveries

Here you have a bakers’ dozen plus one great experiences with Texas wines and food ideas for pairing. We’re hoping you might get excited about trying Texas wines!  If you see this in time, please join our chat on Twitter at #winePW on Saturday Nov. 9 at 10am CST. We love visitors, just search for the hashtag and join the discussion.


28 Responses to “Low and Slow Grilling with Texas Wines #WinePW”
  1. You might have to get some professional lighting for the grill area: I’m waiting for a night shot while the snow is falling. 🙂 As usual, the food looks great, and your pairings sound enjoyable.

  2. Kat says:

    LOL! That Wonder Bread with BBQ takes me back! And I’m a big fan of reverse searing. I leave the 15 hour smoking to my dad.

  3. wendyklik says:

    What a great meal. I am intrigued by that orange wine.

  4. Mmm, that beef looks great, I like your dedication to grilling! I like the variety Brennan sent; I had 3 different wines from them. That Nero blend sounds interesting. The map is helpful, I hadn’t come across that yet.

  5. I am with Lauren waiting for that night shot grilling in the snow😉 Your menu looks perfect for fall and with those Texas red wines!

  6. Pinny says:

    Yummy grill steak – good pairings with the reds and the rose. I never grilled kale and will try it.

  7. Deanna says:

    Gosh, hard to imagine having a job and not drinking wine.I feel like one demands the other. I have not seen a Texan Nero or orange wine so will look for those next time I’m down there!

  8. Lynn says:

    Had to laugh at your ‘Texan grill comes with a trailer hitch’ comment. This is so true! We’ve experienced this with Marks step dad and family are from Austin. I’ll have to search for a Brennan wine next time we’re there.

  9. What a great meal Jeff! I love that it was all done of the grill. You sir are a grill master!

  10. Love the grilling technique! And wrapping our heads around the fact that the Wonder Bread sounds kind of good!

  11. Beautiful presentation as always Jeff. Loving the nero d’avola you shared. Seems there is quite the variety in TX.

  12. This has got to be an only in Texas wine: 58% Nero d’Avola 25% Carmenere 8.5% Cabernet Sauvignon 8.5% Alicante Bouschet. Unusual grapes to blend!

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