Wine Talk — Texas Master Sommelier Debunks Wine Geeks, Praises Texas Bars: It’s All About Your TasteBY James Brock // 08.20.16
I love to talk about wine with people who share my passion for it. We open bottles, and we trade stories about travel and winemakers and terroir and residual sugar, and we talk of taste and food pairings and cost. We recommend wines to one another, and we drink, and we learn a lot. In Wine Talk, I will introduce you to some of my friends and acquaintances — individuals who love wine as much as I do, who live to taste and learn about it. You’ll appreciate their insight, and I hope you’ll learn something from them as well.
I moved to Houston in the summer of 2013 and almost immediately began seeking out wine people, because I had no idea where I should buy my bottles and knew almost nothing about the wine-bar environment. One name that kept coming up was Guy Stout. I soon learned that Stout owned a vineyard in Texas’ Hill Country, and that he was a Master Sommelier. (Stout is also corporate director of beverage education for Dallas-based Glazer’s, one of the nation’s largest wine and spirits distributors.) A few months and many conversations later, a friend introduced me to Stout during dinner; we spoke briefly about, of course, wine and food, and I have made it a point to keep in touch with him ever since.
Tell me about three wines that are drinking well at the moment. What makes them worthwhile? How about a food pairing for each?
This time of year, I am drinking quite a bit of rosé and unoaked dry whites. I have a case of Chateau Bonnet Bordeaux Blanc at the house that I use for sommelier tastings and to just sip. We were at our vineyard in the Texas Hill Country recently and drove in for dinner at the Redbud Cafe in Blanco; we had a bottle of Pedernales Viognier from Texas. When we returned to the vineyard, we had a glass of Marques de Caceres Rioja Rose, and I finished with a glass of Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot served cool out of the fridge cellar we have. The wines are moderately priced between $10 and $20 a bottle at stores, [between] $30 and $45 in restaurants.
Let’s say that cost is no consideration: What’s the one bottle you would add to your personal collection?
I would get a bottle of 1989 Petrus and drink it with my family. My oldest son was born in 1989, and it is an amazing vintage and wine, from a winery I have enjoyed a number of vintages from. In addition, I know the owner, Christian Moueix. I would also have a 1989 Château Léoville-Barton for the same reason — except I would get two bottles.
What is your favorite grape? And why?
We planted Syrah at our vineyard because I love the grape and the wine it makes. It also suited for our climate here in Texas. The second grape we planted is Tempranillo, which is making some really nice wines.
How about one bottle that our readers should buy now to cellar for 10 years, to celebrate a birth, anniversary or other red-letter day?
It depends on what they like to drink. Big reds will age well, of course, and Burgundy, Bordeaux, Brunello and Napa Cabernet fit the bill. Late-harvest wines also hold up very well.
What is the one thing you wish everyone would remember when buying and drinking wine?
It’s just grape juice. Some wines are better than others, but just go with your personal taste and don’t let wine geeks influence you. No one starts out drinking big Cabernets. Be careful, and drink safely and wisely.
Where is your go-to place when you want to have a glass or bottle?
That is a loaded question for someone like me. I sell wine and spirits to all of them, so my answer is: We are truly blessed because we have so many excellent restaurants and mixology bars in Houston.
What was your “wine eureka moment” — the incident/taste/encounter that put you and wine on an intimate plane forever?
Drinking sangria with my family as a kid at Tupinamba restaurant in Dallas. My dad let us have a glass, and it tasted good.