Unexpectedly Exciting Shiraz From Messina Hof

Messina Hof winery in Bryan is the second-most visited tourist attraction in Brazos County. The winery has a restaurant, bed-and-breakfast and an annual guest tally of more than 250,000 eager oenophiles

Messina Hof is said to be the most award-winning Texas winery in national and international competitions, yet I feel my own tasting results have been decidedly mixed, with their Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio leaving one-note, even metallic impressions on my palate.

But given the winery's stellar reputation, I was determined to press on and find tipples worthy of tippling. I feel I very well may have struck liquid gold in one of their offerings in a personal favorite varietal of mine: Messina Hof Barrel Reserve Shiraz.

Pouring out a tasting sample, I was pleased to note a medium plum color. Typical Australian-style Shirazes can be very dark, making them tricky to pair with food. The Barrel Reserve's lighter shade suggested it might be more food-friendly. The nose revealed dusky black cherries, smoke and allspice. The mouth feel was full and rich, with a long finish, and plenty of dusky berry flavors. Pairing an intense wine like Shiraz with Mexican food is not always successful, as the heat and spiciness of the cuisine often calls for something sweeter. Not on this occasion. When I enjoyed Barrel Reserve with bean nachos, unexpected notes of strong pipe tobacco surfaced, adding a new dimension to the pairing. I would love to try this wine with a proper steak or a lamb gyro.

Persistent tasting often yields delightful rewards, and I'm very glad that Messina Hof Barrel Reserve Shiraz is a proud product of a long and fruitful family tradition.

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