By Oscar Adrián Montes Iga, Certified Executive Chef of Wine Arts; Wine and Food Writer, Texas Wine and Trail
The Texas Two Taste column is a periodical editorial with intent to discover eateries around Texas where one can uncork and enjoy wines made across the Lone Star State, bringing wine & food pairings closer to you, two tastes at a time.
Where could one go to enjoy a nice bottle of Texas wine in Austin while rejoicing in the relaxed ambiance of a world class resort? Let’s throw a curveball and say, even with a limited budget? It’s all in one word – TRIO – where Advanced Sommelier Mark Sayre has grown roots, and now stands as Hotel Beverage Director for the Four Seasons Resort Downtown Austin.
At TRIO, there are a handful of carefully selected Texas wines available by the bottle, and yes, you may even find one offered during Happy Hour by the glass. The “don’t mess with Texas” section of the wine list includes staple names like Inwood Estates Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, and McPherson Cellars, and a newbie by comparison, the Duchman Family Winery – nonetheless all offerings are made with Texas grown fruit.
A venture into Downtown Austin seeking Texas wines can be daunting, but I decided to take a stroll to TRIO, where I was to meet with a colleague and discuss wine topics, as usual. While awaiting for my colleague I spotted one of my favorite wines, and I knew I was in the right place, and ripe to feature it on this column, which albeit a bit late, it was meant to pay homage to an outstanding Texas Wine Pioneer and Veteran, Clinton “Doc” McPherson, who was sadly lost to the industry in early January – alas his visionary legacy lives on with a family ran Cellar & Winery in the Texas High Plains.
It was a nice fresh and sunny day, and I took a table outdoors, where one can see people walking, biking and enjoying the greenbelt trails, and the water of the Colorado River and kayakers passing by. I chose a bottle of McPherson Cellars, Texas, Viognier, 2012 – one of roughly only 20640 made, or 1720 cases as stated on the label. One sip of this wine and you are sure to become a fanatic.
The McPherson Viognier is a clear brilliant wine, canary in color, and it seduces the nose with tropical notes of guava, banana and citrus, and hits of jasmine blossom and chamomile. On the palate the complexity explodes with fresh lemon, Asian pear, ginger spice, Empire apples, and rounded with subtle guava and mango flavors and a bright acidity that puts a smile on your face. A force to be reckoned with….but also enjoyed. And so I did! At last my companion made it to the table, and we sipped some of this fine wine, but it was soon early evening, and we migrated with our bottle closer to the bar area, where Happy Hour is serious business at TRIO. We selected a handful of items to share and to pair with the wine, and we were not steered wrong either by Mark Sayre.
On our tidbit menu we selected the fresh Snapper Ceviche with Orange, Fennel and Serrano and, we were subconsciously forced to get the Antelope Sliders, served with Balsamic Mustard and Caramelized Onions; and Rosemary Steak Fries served with a delicious Truffle aioli. Our only mistake was sharing…everything is seasoned and cooked perfectly, that you covet for more – specifically when a wine pairing works as extremely well as this did.
My favorite was the ceviche pairing. The McPherson Viognier plays well with the inherent orange acidity in the ceviche, making it a rich, lush and refreshing combination. The sliders and fries did not fall far behind though. The rich meat, balsamic, and bold flavors of the antelope sliders work well with the body and richness of the wine as well, cleaning your palate bite after bite, wanting more of each other…and the fries excel on their own, with the herbal and earthy notes, well contrasted the natural fruitiness of the wine, making every sip and bite more interesting than the next. Our affair did not end there…
We ventured into having Chicken Fried Sweetbreads, and Tuna Tostadas. Needless to say, the Happy Hour food menu at TRIO is well deserving of a great thirst quenching Texas wine, but the best part, is that you can do it all at affordable prices when you plan your meal in a ‘’tapas’’ concept, as opposed to a coursed meal. Though the Viognier was not on the Happy Hour list, they do have a Texas wine offered during that time by the glass – but for an iconic Texas Viognier I could not fret to pay regular markup pricing to experience the legacy of Doc McPherson. Doc’s son, Kim McPherson has learned well from the best. Cheers!
Join us next time for more on Texas wine & food pairings – two tastes at a time in Texas Two Taste
Oscar Adrián Montes Iga, MC; ECWA; CSW; CBS
Oscar Adrian is the contributing editor of the Texas Two Taste column, and wine writer for Texas Wine & Trail Magazine.
Oscar was recognized as a Magna Cum Laude after graduating with a specialization in Nutrition, Diet & Health Science. He attended college and finished degrees in Travel & Tourism, Meeting & Events Planning, Food & Beverage and Hospitality Management; Oscar’s background in Food Service and Hospitality started long ago however, as he was part of family-ran restaurants throughout his childhood, but it wasn’t until working at a Texas prime steakhouse in 2005, when he visited a vineyard for the first time that he discovered a drive for lust of wine & vine – the rest is history in the making.
He has worked in three distinct Texas Hill Country wineries, and has been an essential staff component in wine festivals, seminars and conferences throughout the state involved with major community organizations such are The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, the Texas Hill Country Wineries Association, the Texas Wine & Food Consortium, the American Wine Society, and additionally, Oscar is now a Panel Wine Judge for the Texas Wine Journal. Oscar is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, also a Certified Executive Chef of Wine Arts and was granted a Master Candidate title with the International Wine Guild.
To sum up Oscar, he is a dedicated Texas Scholar, grape hunter and oenophile, foodie and avid ambassador for hospitality, and he takes great joy in sharing his passions with others.