Roots of Texas winemaker Kim McPherson run deep. McPherson Cellars was born in 2008 after Kim renovated a 1930′s era Coca-Cola bottling plant in Lubbock’s eclectic Depot District. Reminiscent of the Frank Lloyd Wright style of the ‘60s, the winery is a showcase not only in the hip neighborhood, but in all of Lubbock.
It’s a family wine road, begun by Kim’s parents, Clinton and Clara McPherson, both acclaimed Texas Tech professors (Chemistry and Department of Food Nutrition, respectively). Kim’s Dad, known as “Doc” co-founded Lubbock’s Llano Estacado Winery in 1976.
Kim’s brother, Jon, is a veteran California winemaker for over 20 years. Daughter Kassie McPherson, followed her father’s exact steps through the vines by completing the enology program at UC Davis and then apprenticing at Trefethen. Wife, Sylvia, runs La Diosa Cellars across the street from Kim’s winery in downtown Lubbock. Her sangria, bottled by Kim, is her logo not just in Lubbock but in Texas. Kim and his father are the only father/son inductees into Who’s Who in Food and Wine in the Texas Hall of Fame.
Kim’s philosophy is: “We’re not Napa Valley and we should quit trying to be. We should be ‘planting to the land’ and focusing on the Mediterranean grape varietals we can grow best – Rhone, Italian, and Spanish.” Taking those words to heart, McPherson plants to the land and produces a Sangiovese, Reserve Sangiovese, Viognier, Rousanne, Reserve Rousanne, Tre Colore (a Rhone-style red blend), Dry Rosé (a dry Rhone-style Rosé), La Herencia (a Tempranillo blend), Los Copains (a Rhone-style white blend), Dry Chenin Blanc, Albarino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sparkling, and two specialty wines, Chansa Solera Reserve Cream Sherry, and La Diosa Sangria.
As proof of the success of his philosophy, Kim’s wines have won over 500 medals in state, national, and international wine competitions. Most recently, McPherson Cellars took the top three places out of 17 wines blind-tasted by 19 judges at the “Battle of the Texas Rousannes” in Houston.
Chris Keel, co-owner of Put A Cork In It, says he puts McPherson wines in blind tastings and they always show well. McPherson Albarino (a varietal of northwest Spain) is fantastic for the price (about$12.99). It has a huge aroma of plantain which is characteristic of Albarino, and almost a slight salty character in taste. McPherson wines are all moderate in alcohol — 13.6% to 13.9%. Sadly, a freeze ruined all McPherson white grapes in 2013.
Recent research on Texas wines available by the glass or bottle in Fort Worth-area restaurants revealed that McPherson Cellars is well represented.
Eat more crostini as snacks and bruschetta as a meal. All that olive oil is good for you! Here’s why.
Every Autumn for over 2000 years, the olive harvest has been re-enacted with customary ritual. In Italy a wooden ladder leans against the tree and a faithful worker, who is often paid in olive oil, climbs the ladder and carefully picks the delicate fruit from the branches. That hasn’t changed.
Today attributes of olive oil are as complex as those of wine. Just a few years ago, the olive oil was always in the kitchen, and the wine was on the table. Our palates are becoming more discerning. Once you’ve tasted some of the boutique oils from Tuscany and Umbria where only the first pressing is bottled, there is no going back.
Many Italian wineries produce fine olive oil, Castello Banfi, Badia a Coltibuono, Antinori, Melini, Tenuta di Capezzana, Castello di Volpaia, San Felice, Tenuta di Lilliano, Castello Vicchiomaggio, Frescobaldi, Lungarotti, Serego Alighieri, Rocca delle Macie, and others. These are often produced in small amounts, but they are worth looking for on your travels here and abroad. Some of these oils are imported in the United States. An Internet search will give you hits for retailers of these Italian olive oils before giving you a link to the winery/producer’s website. For years, Williams-Sonoma had an exclusive right to sell Castello Banfi Olive Oil. You can still request to purchase it from their wine distributor here in the United States. A description of Banfi’s virgin oil might say: “lush with a slight peppery bitterness and a smooth, fruity finish.”
Olive oil is blessed with vitamins A, D, E, and K. This “fat” is essential for the transportation, digestion, and absorption of these vitamins. Vitamin A is a visual pigment, while both A and D act like a hormone, directing cells in the conversion, storage, or release of various substances. Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant preventing oxidative destruction of tissues in cardiovascular disease. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and for the synthesis of a protein in bone formation.
Oils produced for the mass market often use this same pulp for other grades of oil. These oils known as ‘virgin olive oil’ (not extra virgin) in Italy and ‘pure’ in the United States are fine to use for cooking. But if you can afford it, there is nothing like ‘extra virgin olive oil,’ even for deep-frying those homemade potato chips.
A huge company, such as Bertolli, does not own olive groves but purchases choice oils from the open market. They feel that the real art is in the blending of the oils in their state-of-the-art facility outside of Milan. Availability and consistent flavor is their trademark in their extra virgin (robust and peppery), pure (milder in flavor with a smoke point of 438 degrees), and the extra light (for the consumer or food service kitchen that wants the healthier oil without the olive flavor).
Extra virgin olive oil has zero to one percent acidity. Further use of the pulp increases the acidity level to make the oil less refined. Ideally, store olive oil no cooler than 65 degrees. Refrigeration ruins the nuances of flavor.
What happened to wine 20 years ago is happening to olives. The producer decides what style of oil he prefers. The finest oils are from carefully selected hand-picked fruit. While waiting to be harvested, the acidity of the olives is checked regularly. If an olive isn’t mature enough, it has little taste or color and no flesh. Mature olives have less spice but more fat. If you pick early and cold-press the same day, the oil has more spice and less acidity, while olives that fall to the ground on their own are too acid. If they are picked wet, they will spoil and ferment.
The saga continues, but because of the success and excitement of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has a new image. It’s become a status symbol. It used to be that you were as sophisticated a cook as how many mustards you had in the refrigerator. In our more modern life it’s how many olive oils you have on the shelf.
To learn more about olive oil in its natural environ, visit the Olive Oil Culture Museum in the Umbrian village of Trevi. Your dose of history, culture, and olive oil is easily digestible.
After two different extensive studies in Italy learning about olive oil, an obvious conclusion was reached. Americans need to cook with olive oil and more of it. After ten days of tasting every olive oil in sight, my joints were more flexible, my skin was soft, smooth and radiant, and my taste buds were awakened and challenged by all the nuances of Italian olive oil.
The first step in olive oil education began in the mid-80s with a week long ‘estage’ at El Toula restaurant in Rome with Chef Paolo Preo. Every dish except the sorbet and dessert got a swirl of olive oil as it left the kitchen. That means the squid ink risotto, spinach ravioli, grilled sea bass, and even the Tuscany beefsteak. That was the beginning of a love affair with olive oil. It made the food taste so good.
The romance with olive oil has continued, but has changed as I’ve learned more about it. Olive oil mills are very similar in technique and equipment to wineries. Wine has always been more famous because it was on the table while the olive oil was in the kitchen. Olive oil is not meant to hoard like wine; fresh is always best. Purchase it at a store that has a rapid turnover.
Within the past ten years, the Italians have added D.O.P. (Denomination of Protected Origin) to every bottle. Every bottle of D.O.P. olive oil has a code on the label allowing the identification of the single olive farmer the olives came from. Also look for a date on the bottle. Certain areas have strict controls on the olive trees, on the mill, on the quantities of delivered olives and on the samples of the oil which are analyzed and controlled chemically, for their organic properties, their flavor and their taste.
The color of olive oil has very little to do with quality. Extra virgin oil can be to the gold/yellow tone as well as a vibrant green. The greener olive oil is produced from under ripe olives. With a few months of age green olive oils become more yellow and the taste more mellow. Sixty- five degrees is ideal for the storage of olive oil as some nuances are lost if it is refrigerated. That never needs to happen in an Italian household. A normal Italian family uses one bottle for everything from sauteing, deep frying, and dipping to the point that they consume 50 kilos of olive oil a year.
How can the chef or the consumer know what an oil tastes like? Buy several oils of various price ranges. Set the table like a wine tasting with small plastic cups of oil, a spit cup, a glass of water and a napkin. Clear your palate with a bite of apple between oils. Take a small sip of oil and put it under the tongue and then to the sides. Draw in air through your teeth, sort of like a reverse hiss. Then spit, drink water, and take a bite of apple. Some residual oil will go down your throat.
Some flavors that may come forward are ripe or under ripe fruit, artichoke, grass and leaves, pungent spicy and peppery notes, and bitterness like almond skin. The more delicate the oil, often the more complex. Eventually you will sense acidity and density levels. The most expert tasters can detect the region, the soil, the variety of olives, as well as how the oil has been pressed.keep looking »