BakeSpite… er, WineSpite?: Llano Estacado moscato

Last week was a rough one, so by the end of it my family and I (by which I mean wife and parents) needed a little bit of a break. The problem is that Lubbock, Texas is not really a city known for awesome events and destinations, unless you like collegiate sports or rodeos. So, we decided to head a little ways out of town to the Llano Estacado winery.

I’d heard good things about Llano Estacado, and I enjoyed the tour of the facility (the guide explained far more about the winemaking process than any winery I’ve toured here in California; I suppose here they just assume you know). The pleasant surprise was the tasting afterwards, which gave us a sampling of several different kinds of wine, many of which were quite good. Granted, I wouldn’t rank anything I tasted there among the best I’ve ever had, but I’ve certainly had much worse wine via well-regarded vintners up in Napa. I’d call it a win. (“Win” is “wine” without the “e.” Let that be a lesson to you if you were planning to dose up on Ecstasy while quaffing a Chianti.)

We brought home a bottle of Cat’s second-favorite vintage from Llano Estacado. Her favorite — which I also really enjoyed — was Viva Rosso, an unusual blush dessert wine that packed a sort of natural carbonation, making it a bit like a champagne/sparkling wine but with a completely different flavor than you expect from those varietals. Unfortunately that mild natural carbonation makes it ineligible for interstate shipping because apparently it causes the bottles to run the risk of exploding in flight, so we decided it was probably best not to risk it. We went with the Moscato instead.

I’m not much of a fan of white wines, and I generally steer clear of dessert wines, but I have to hand it to Llano Estacado: They make a good one. The problem I have with dessert vintages is that they tend to be heavy, almost syrupy, and entirely too sweet. The Llano Moscato, however, is light and crisp, and the sweetness is just enough to counter the “sour grape juice” sensation that I usually take away from whites, especially something like Chardonnay. Would drink again, which is more than I can say for most wines of this type.

The really nice thing about Llano Estacado is that the pricing of its vintages reflects what the market will bear. Lubbock isn’t really a wine town; it’s more a Michelob and Bud Light kind of town. So where most Napa/Sonoma wineries would probably charge $25-30 for a bottle of this quality, secure in the knowledge that Californians simply expect to pay dearly for a good selection, Llano prices this at $10.

Anyway, if you ever happen to pass through West Texas, stock up! It’s cheap yet good, the elusive perfect combo of wine attributes.

This post encompasses pretty much the extent of my ability to write about wine. Wine for me is like art for Gelett Burgess: I don’t know anything about it, but I know what I like.

9 thoughts on “BakeSpite… er, WineSpite?: Llano Estacado moscato

  1. Knowing what you like is half the battle. The other half is knowing why you like it, so you have some idea in which direction to explore.

    I’ve taken sparking wine on a plane as carry-on luggage just fine with with no explosions. Not sure how they’d fair in the hold though.

  2. When you said “art,” you meant pornography.

    Or did I just mix up famous sayings? “I know it when I see it, and I know what I like.”

  3. So should your dad and I take home a couple bottles of the Viva Rosso to have on hand for this summer’s celebrations? Since we are driving back in March, there shouldn’t be an issue of explosions.

    I have to admit Viva Rosso was my favorite. Alexis doesn’t care for the Moscato. It is too sweet for her. Unfortunately Llano replaced her favorite with the Moscato..

  4. A good dessert wine is something I discovered going to school in Canada, called ice wine. Unfortunately, the cheaper bottles are much too sweet, and it can be upwards towards $65-75 for a decent bottle (then again, there are some pretty ridiculous tax laws here; maybe you’ll have different luck in the US). So then my recommendation comes down to: try it in a restaurant.

    • It’s tough to find a wine you really like if you’re not just in it to get blasted. That’s why I like going to wineries for tastings. They’re an inexpensive (sometimes free!) way to get a handle on which vintages work for your palette.

      • Dear Sir,

        I am so glad that you enjoyed your experience here with us! Our goal is that you walk away with that experience and find a wine that you like. We do our best to keep our tour guides well trained and up on all the latest information, but sometimes there is a miss. In this case, there is no fear of bottles exploding during travel. This was our first bottling of Viva Rosso, our first screw cap, and first wine under this much pressure. We were having some leaking issues initially, but this was resolved early on. Our President/CEO requested we not ship this first bottling to just be on the safe side. Our second bottling of the Viva Rosso should be ready by late spring to early summer. We will ship Viva Rosso at that time. Thank you again for coming to visit us and for sharing your experience.


        Christy Fisher
        Tasting Room Director
        Llano Estacado Winery

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