by Matt Champion, Texas Wine and Trail Magazine
Daniel Kelada founded Gusto Tastings with the purpose of spreading passion for wine and wine education through classes, consulting, events, and travel. Their Texas vs. the World series is particularly interesting, and it’s creating all sorts of fascinating comparisons between Texas grapes and those from the rest of the world. After attending one of these events, I had a chance to speak with him about the series. Our conversation is below.
How long have you been doing the Texas vs. the World tastings?
August 1st, 2012, was our first Texas vs. The World. We chose Syrah and our featured producer was Patrick Johnson.
Why did you decide to take on a Texas vs. the World format?
We wanted to go head-to-head with other great wines from around the world in a profound way. I don’t care if we win or lose, I think the value comes in seeing where we stack up, because it shows very clearly where we excel and where we need improvement; all while building awareness. Showcasing the results in a journal provides a resource for anyone who didn’t get to experience the tasting for themselves.
What are some of the most interesting results you’ve seen so far?
To be honest, all the results are fascinating because whether Texas rates higher or lower, we always try to stack the deck against them. When they come out higher, it’s a real eye-opener. The most extreme tilt in the favor of Texas wine has to be the results from the Sangiovese tasting where we featured the Antinori Tignanello, Ciacci Piccolomini and Marchese Chianti Classico Riserva; all 90+ wines according to prominent rating magazines.
What has been your favorite Texas vs. the World event to host?
Probably Cabernet because so many people believe Texas can’t make a great cab. The truth is some producers can, they just can’t every vintage; which means when they are good, even great; like the 1998 Blue Mountain Cab, the 2002 Flat Creek Estate Cab and the 2010 Veritas.
What city has given the most response to the Texas vs. the World events?
Austin. Their local wine culture is so strong, but Dallas is right on their heels. Houston seems to be somewhat disconnected from the local wine scene and is our hardest nut to crack, but I think we’ll get there in 2014.
What’s the main objective of Gusto?
The objective is to be an event production company that curates wine experiences that people become a part of and a company that satisfies the purpose of its creation. We want each event we create to be a signature for creativity and expertise.
How do you track down all the different wines for these events?
Building relationships with the industry, which requires putting miles on the road to visit wineries and meet with producers. It’s my favorite part. I’m grateful for their support because if they didn’t see value in the series, they wouldn’t contribute to it and it wouldn’t have gone on as long as it has.
If you had to pick only one varietal for Texas to compete against the world, what would it be?
At this stage of the industry, I would probably pick Tempranillo; mainly because those are the oldest vines across the state that produce quality fruit consistently. Tempranillo seems to have taken on its own identity and personality in Texas; where as some of the other prominent varietals are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up, even though they are making great wine.
Why did you pick Viognier for this event?
At this point in time, it is the champion white vitis vinifera varietal of Texas. I also wanted to feature the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Reserve Viognier that won double gold in the Lyon International Wine Competition before they sold it all.
Which Viogniers were the hardest to track down?
The hardest part was limiting it to just 14 different Viogniers. Producers have been very generous in their support of the tasting series, which has really made the work for myself and the event team a lot easier.
What is your favorite thing about the Texas vs. the World events?
I would be lying if I didn’t say tasting all the wines was my favorite part of the series. Tasting the same wines in 4 different tastings provides me with a solid understanding of a particular varietal’s characteristics across the state. It makes me a better wine professional and an ambassador of Texas wine. That being said, being able to create an experience that supports the industry is also pretty fantastic.