If you’ve been reading the blog for long, you may have noticed that I’m a big fan of the Bluebonnet Wine Trail. If you’re just tuning in, the Bluebonnet Wine Trail is a group of 7 wineries along 45 and 290 that host events throughout the year. At each event the wineries offer two wine samples and a food pairing based on the trail theme. In February, they host the first event of the year, which is the Wine and Chocolate Trail. Yum, right? I did the trail last weekend with the boyfriend and now I’m sharing all of the delicious wines and pairings we tried. The trail is this weekend, too, so go check it out!
Our first winery was Texas Star Winery. They’re one of the wineries along 290 near Chappell Hill. They have such a pretty location with trees all around. It would be a great place to go on a spring day and sit on the deck sipping wine. Texas Star served a Vermentino as the first wine. It is a somewhat acidic wine with citrus flavors. The second wine was a cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend called Spitfire. I love fun wine names! This wine is dry and full-bodied and was paired with a madeleine cookie with chocolate sauce, strawberry, and whipped cream.
Next up was Pleasant Hill Winery. We had a choice of wines for our first sample, and I chose a Fume Blanc, mostly because I had never heard of it before. This wine is made from oaked sauvignon blanc, which is pretty uncommon. The oak isn’t overwhelming like it can be in oaked chardonnay, but it did mute the citrus flavors you normally find in sauvignon blanc. The second wine was their Rosso Forte port. I’m not a big port fan but Pleasant Hill wins my personal award for best port. The brandy flavor was a little more toned down than in a lot of ports and it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet, so you could taste the really good flavors in it. This is definitely one I would try again. The port was paired with a super chocolatey, fudgy brownie, blueberries, and a strawberry with a chocolate sauce made from the port.
Saddlehorn Winery was stop #3, and they changed things up a little. Their wines were a nice, fruity rose` called Bridle Blush and a cabernet sauvignon that was nicely dry. They opted to pair the wines with a chicken mole` wood-fired pizza, which was absolutely delicious, and hosted a chocolate company that handed out samples. Since this was our 3rd stop, the pizza was a nice snack and the chocolate was creamy and not too sweet.
Fourth on the trail was Messina Hof, where we sampled a bright and fruity sparkling rose`, which may be my favorite Messina Hof wine, and a dry Petite Sirah. This isn’t a wine you normally see in Texas, so it was fun to sample. The flavors start out a little muted but definitely develop as you drink. The chocolate pairing was a s’mores inspired chocolate piece with graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows.
Just a short drive away was Peach Creek Vineyards, which always has creative pairings on the trail. We had a choice of semi-sweet or dry wine, so I chose the dry, which was a Texas Merlot called Tailgater. It paired really well with their chocolate dish, which was roasted chicken in spicy chocolate mole sauce with rice. I’m not going to lie- I was nervous because I’m not a huge fan of sweet and savory combinations, but this was good! The chocolate was very subtle and lent complexity to the flavor without overwhelming the chicken and mole sauce. We had a choice of wines from the menu for our 2nd sample, so I chose Amore, which is a Blanc du Bois and was a 2017 Houston Rodeo Reserve Champion.
Bernhardt Winery was next up, where we had TWO chocolate pairings with our wine samples. The first was a really unique wine made from grapes grown in Arkansas (yes, you read that right. Who knew?). Their Valentine wine is a fruity red table wine that tastes like rose and cotton candy. How fun is that?! They paired it with a chocolate raspberry truffle that really brought out the rose flavors. The second pairing was a very dry cabernet sauvignon paired with a chocolate covered sea salt caramel.
Finally, we stopped by Cork This!, where we were treated to a classic chocolate fountain spread to try with our wines, both of which we got to choose. I went for the Irreconcilable Differences Syrah and the Overly Committed Pinot Grigio. The wine names at Cork This! are just awesome and always give me a good laugh.
One thing I really liked about the trail this year is the variety offered by the wineries. Everyone did something different and put their own spin on the chocolate and wine theme. It seemed like they really had some fun with the pairings this year, which made each winery a new adventure.