Ab Astris Tasting

Tucked off of Ranch Road 1, next to the Texas White House (AKA LBJ’s Ranch) is Ab Astris Winery (website). We learned the winery is on land that once belonged to the Johnson family. I really enjoyed the drive through LBJ’s Ranch and unfortunately the house was closed for renovations, but could walk around outside. The sky was amazing the day we headed out, so check out some of those pictures in the end. But first, the wine.

2021 Stello

Ab Astris is one of four wineries in Texas that grow the varietal Clairette Blanche. This is blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette Blanche, and Picpoul Blanc. Described as a “red wine drinkers white.” I got lemongrass on the scent and the taste was bright melon and citrus flavor. They recommend pairing it with grilled fish or al Pastor tacos on Thursday. I’d agree. The cheese they recommend is Humboldt Fog.

2021 Aurora

A blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan. this wine had an interesting nose. Produced in the Saigne style, we had a hard time with nailing down the odor. Eventually I said hibiscus and wet dog and my partner in wine said wet dog and berry. That being said – it tastes a lot better than it smelled. Basically the flavor is that of La Madelaine’s strawberry, spinach salad with some arugula thrown in and the balsamic vinegar and walnut garnish. Amazingly that’s about what they recommend you pair this wine with – they just add goat cheese. (yes please!)

2019 Avignon

A blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cinsault, and Petite Syrah. It was described as being ‘like pinot.’ I’d disagree – it’s much more complex both in scent and taste. There’s red fruit and floral as an opening scent. It’s more astringent than I’d expect in a pinot noir with a dry fruity flavor. One of their recommendations for pairing is tamales. I can see that working quite well on a Wednesday night. Especially since while debating the tamales the wine just seemed to disappear. I didn’t notice I was drinking it. I’d also take their cheese pairing – brie or chevre.

2019 Dextra

Described as a Right Bank Bordeaux – this is an equal blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Smells like Christmas – spicy and sweet. They suggest pairing it with pork ribs or coq au vin. Personally, I want to put it with chocolate cake on a Friday night. The longer it was exposed to air, the more alcohol I got on the scent. It becomes very Bordeaux as it warms – with a bit of tartness. I’d put this with Christmas Dinner when my brother makes Beef Wellington.

2019 Tannat

It smelled like mulled cherries. I found it lighter than most other Tannats I’ve had. I was told 2019 was very rainy and the rain likely diluted the grapes. Regardless, grab the Duck Schnitzel at Otto’s German Bistro (website) and a bottle of this on a Thursday night. They suggest a cassoulet or roasted lamb.

Final Thoughts

So, how was this a surprising tasting?

I never in my life ever think I’d make a note that I wanted to pair a wine with grilled octopus. But I really wanted to pair the Stello with the grilled octopus I had at the wine dinner at Carter Creek (more on that in another post).

My partner in wine also never thought he’d hear me describe a wine as “my Hallmark Channel Christmas movie marathon wine.” But I will sit down with a bottle of Dextra when I have a day off over the holidays and watch movies and drink wine.

As a bonus we tasted the 2019 Tannat from Narra Vineyards. It was very different from the one grown at Newsome Vineyards. This smelled of smoked cherries and anise (good & plenty anyone?). It was much more astringent and more of what I expected from a Texas Tannat. My partner in wine liked how it started, but not how it finished. But he’d still pair it with H-E-B’s chimichurri steak and dark chocolate for dessert. Just goes to show that grape growing techniques/practices make a difference in the finished product.

The pictures below show how it was beautiful and sunny when we arrived and the rain clouds that gathered that eventfully gave us a downpour. (Not complaining, it was much needed.) I’d definitely head back out to Ab Astris on another trip.

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