We almost didn’t go to the Houston release party for the Duchman Family WInery 2011 White Wines. I sidetracked our departure from home with a quick duckling-rescue-op, much to the surprise and delight of my favorite crazy duck lady; and when we had the ducklings and their momma out of harm’s way it looked like we would be too late to participate. Nevertheless, we decided to get to Memorial Wine Cellar as quickly as Wanda and the law would allow and take our chances.
Boy are we glad we didn’t give up because the evening was delightful, informative, and downright fun.
When we arrived at the venue, we felt a little like fish out of water – the people we have come to know at the winery weren’t at the release party; neither were any of our Houston-based wine friends. I know you won’t believe this, but I am deathly afraid of meeting new people – or old people for that matter as long as they are new to me. I have to scan the crowd for either someone who looks as out of place as I feel or someone who looks like they might be comfortable talking to a geek like me. Fortunately Duchman’s marketing manager for the Houston area, Matthew Pridgen, split off from the crowd and conversation long enough for me to introduce myself as a Duchman fanboy. Julie and I have been pushing our local HEB and Spec’s to carry some true Texas wines (grown and produced in Texas) that truly represent the best in Texas – and we always ask them to carry Duchman wines - but we are constantly met by either condescension (surely there are no truly great wines from Texas) or disinterest (we sell what people buy). Matthew is already working closely with Spec’s and committed to contact HEB. I have even taken a couple of bottles of Duchman Dolcetto to Killen’s in an effort to get Chef Ronnie Killen to serve Texas wines there, but the general manager and sommelier that I had finally begun to break down left for another restaurant. I apologize for the side trip and mini rant here.
Eventually Julie and I were able to meet Dr. Stan Duchman, and I’m serious when I say that he is the nicest guy. I also got the impression that he is more of a wine geek than a wine snob. Dr. Duchman loves wine. French wine, Italian wine, American wine, Texas wine… as long as it’s good wine, he enjoys it. I wanted to make sure that he knew that Duchman was the catalyst that turned me into TxWineGeek. It was the 2008 Dolcetto that opened my eyes to really good Texas wine, and the 2009 Dolcetto was even better than the 2008. He told me that night that the ’10 was the best yet and they are expecting even better from the ’11. We can expect the 2010 Dolcetto to be released in a couple of months.
I was also fortunate to meet a friend of Dr. Duchman, Douglas Skopp. Doug is the owner of Dionysus, an importer of distinctive wines representing fine French and Italian wineries – and more, I’m sure, but our conversation focused on French and Italian wines and grapes. I would really like to introduce Doug to some other Texas wines and winemakers because I am convinced that he will be pleasantly surprised with the quality of both.
To the wines!
The four wines in the spotlight at the release party were:
2011 Pinot Grigio
I’m primarily a consumer and lover of hearty dry reds (have I said that too many times?), so whites are not my forte, and nothing about the Pinot Grigio stood out to me. It was a good, solid Pinot Grigio, based on several opinions I overheard.
I have to admit that I am fond of the Duchman Trebbiano. Ever since we were introduced to it (a 2010) at the 2011 Winemaker’s Dinner at the winery, I have been quite a fan. It has more character, in my opinion, than the “standard” whites, and is a good “mixer” wine. No, not a wine to dilute with Sprite, but one that keeps well in a glass while you “mix” at a party. The Trebbiano stands very well on its own or with light appetizers and cheeses (but not stout cheeses, IMO).
The Vermentino seemed to garner the most praise from the people I talked to or overheard. It’s slightly more citric than the Trebbiano, yet still smooth on the tounge and palate, and it pairs very well with seafood, bruschetta (my favorite appetizer at the event), and more aromatic cheeses.
I still preferred the Trebbiano.
The star of the whole show was the 2011 Viognier. VERY IMPRESSIVE. Even Doug seemed impressed with the wine and said that in a blind tasting he would swear that it was truly Italian. I’m sure that’s a compliment – at least he didn’t say that he’d swear it was from Napa Valley
The only other Texas Viognier on par with the Duchman is Alamosa’s Tio Pancho Ranch Estate Viognier, and it’s different from Duchman’s in that the Tio Pancho gets some aging in oak, which imparts a character I find completely captivating. The Duchman Viognier manages to captivate my palate without oaking, so I have two ”go to” Viogniers now.
To Dave Reilly, Duchman’s winemaker: Magnificent job!
I have to say that this was an excellent showing for Duchman Family Winery, and their choice of venue, Memorial Wine Cellars, was perfect. I’ll write more about them later…