Published 16 September 2012
I met Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo (of Messina Hof Winery) at Rome airport in January 2012. We were all speaking at the International Wine & Tourism Conference (IWINETC) in Perugia, but had a journey around Umbria beforehand (and a trip around Campania afterwards). It was an incredible trip which I’ve already partly covered here and on bigpinots.com, so I won’t bang on about that again. Anyway, they are a lovely couple who created a warm friendship with everyone on the trip. You know, the type of people that you just cannot help to like.
Once back home in Texas, they organised samples to go out to all of the team present on the IWINETC fam trip. I invited Andrew Barrow (@wine_scribbler) over to my house and we joined in with a truly international Twitter tasting on 17th April 2012.
Here are my tasting notes:
Merlot by Messina Hof, Texas, US (2009), $16-18
- Grapes: Merlot.
- Colour: Medium depth. Garnet.
- Aroma: Low/moderate aromas of black fruit (and cranberries?).
- Taste: Dry. Medium body. Tart/crisp acidity. Dry, medium/high tannins. Fairly well balanced (slightly too much acidity). Flavourful: black fruits, red fruit, cherry. Medium finish.
- Overall: Needs some time to breathe before drinking. Improved significantly by second tasting.
Cabernet Franc by Messina Hof, Texas, US (2009), $23
- Grapes: Cabernet Franc.
- Colour: Deep, ruby/red.
- Aroma: Aromatic intensity. Showing some development. Aromas of black fruits, sticker gum (as well as vine tomatoes and pencil shavings?)
- Taste: Dry. Medium-full body. Smooth acidity. Soft/round, medium tannins. Good balance. Flavours of green pepper, black cherry. Medium/long finish.
- Overall: A lovely integrated, smooth wine. Seemed to have more alcohol than the declared 13% though.
Mistella “Glory” Late Harvest Muscat by Messina Hof, Texas, US (2011), $9
- Grapes: Muscat Canelli.
- Colour: Pale greenish.
- Aroma: Aromoatic/powerful intensity. Youthful. Aromas of blossom, orange, white fruits, peach, marzipan/sweet cake.
- Taste: Medium sweet. Medium body. Low, smooth acidity. Good balance. Powerful flavours of stone fruit. Long length.
- Overall: Not at all cloying. A good late-harvest wine.
They also sent over a “port”, but unfortunately I’ve somehow lost the tasting note (or, more likely, Andrew and I were talking too much and I didn’t make one!). Obviously it wasn’t a real Port, because it was made in Texas, but it was made in the style of port. From my memory it was a bit like a lighter version of a Ruby port. Sorry that I cannot give more information. Merrill advises that they do a non-vintage port ($14) and a vintage port ($23).
I was also thoroughly impressed with their bottles: they were embossed with their logo – just like a Chateauneuf bottle. Very impressive. Very stylish. Very Paul and Merrill.
Messina Hof sent me the wines described in this post, but I received no remuneration other than the samples. All opinions are still my own.