It’s no secret that Texas’ fine wine scene is on the upswing. This season, uncork the taste of the holidays with wines made with Texas-grown grapes and created by the city’s top chefs—or better yet, take home a bottle as a gift for yourself or your most discerning wine drinkers.
Hailing from the Texas Hill Country, Bending Branch Winery’s 2015 Comfortage and its 2012 Texas Tannat—the label’s signature red wine grape—have been well-received by the Texas fine wine community; both wines pair well with smoked meats, "heavier" holiday entrées and cool fall weather.
Related Article: Through the Grapevine: Harvest Season in the Texas Hill Country
Similarly, Duchman Family Winery’s Aglianico consists of “hints of stewed fruit, baking spice and structured tannins, [making it] an exquisite pairing for rich seasonal meals.” Find both wine labels at HEB Central Market.
If you consider yourself a wine enthusiast, or have a friend or relative in mind who's into all things wine, consider Chef Daniele Puleo's CiboDivino Marketplace your favorite spot. Part café, part Italian grocery market and part neighborhood bistro, this jack-of-all-trades spot is located in the up-and-coming Sylvan Thirty development. The best part? Peruse the gourmet market's unique inventory of more than 350 wines handpicked by the chef himself. Among the expansive selection are three wines from Puleo's own wine label (Chianti, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco), with a Rosé to debut this spring.
"My love for viticulture has been present in my life since the early years," Puleo told WhereTraveler in an email interview, before sharing his recommendations for wines perfectly balanced for fall, festive gatherings and gifts for the discerning oenophiles on your "nice" list.
Of the 350 handpicked wines at CiboDivino, which would you recommend to drink this seasons at Thanksgiving, Christmas or holiday gatherings?
I've always said the wines should be paired, in most cases, with foods from the same area. Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I would suggest the food be paired with American wines, which I consider some of the best in the world. Since turkey will take over every table in America, my recommendation in white would be a Chardonnay for whites or a cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc. Harken Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from California is great. If your palate doesn't absorb the creaminess and vanilla-like wine well, steer toward an unoaked, cold-climate, fresh, steely wine such as Joel Gott or Sonoma Cutrer.
For a good Sauvignon Blanc, Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc from Napa would be right on the money, in every sense of the word with a great alcohol/acidity balance and zesty notes.
Reds are obviously more complex and require more attention. Cosentino Cabernet Franc has the right fragrance to compete with all different flavors of a typical Thanksgiving meal. Dry, fruit forward, soft tannins and medium acidity make this wine a great value for the holiday.
Here I could also turn toward Italy and grab a bottle of Vigneti del Salento 'I Muri' from Puglia, a fresh Italian zinfandel—not as 'jammy' as the ones in California, but with complexity and black fruit notes that will do well with Thanksgiving staples like stuffing and cranberry sauce. We could even go further south and land in Sicily where Marilena Barbera makes an excellent Nero D'Avola—it's fresh and has plum and mulberry with a spicy finish that rounds it all up. (This month, Barbera arrives in Dallas to host a special Sicilian wine dinner at CiboDivino on Nov. 16.)
Tell me more about the Puleo wine label. What was the catalyst in starting your own line?
The aromas of the wines and the different scents between one grape and the other triggered my curiosity until it all became real. Suddenly, having my own vineyard was a dream; at this stage of my life and with a business that is rich in wines, I found a special winemaker who would work with me and my dream. At that point, the Puleo label was born and the wine was bottled.
Do you have a favorite?
I love all three wines for different reasons: The Prosecco is special because it was created because of my wife's love for the style, the Pinot Grigio for the freshness and tropicality and the Chianti because it reflects the character and personality of what a Tuscan Chianti should be like. Right now I am working on developing a Rosé from Veneto, which should be ready next spring.