So Three Cabs Walk Into a Wine Garden...

For those of us who visit the State Fair, it's worth braving the Midway to revisit old favorites and discover new delights. As I reported last week, my wining companion and I were particularly pleased to find the Go Texan Wine Garden, a little Hill Country-esque oasis of vino, music and sanity near the Food and Fiber Pavilion.

Besides light snacks and live music on weekends, the Garden features tastings from at least three Texas wineries each day. On a recent gorgeous day, we noticed all three participating wineries were pouring Cabernet Sauvignon. I resolved to sample all three, conducting a head-to-head-to-head competition on the spot.

First up was Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, the pride of Pittsburg, located a few miles south of Mount Pleasant, about a two-hour drive from Dallas. Los Pinos' Cab had nice notes of toasted oak and tobacco, but a turpentine finish. I put this one down as intriguing, but not the best of the bunch today.

Next up was La Cuvee du Chene from Dallas' own Calais Winery, started by Frenchman Benjamin Calais just two years ago in Deep Ellum. His cabernet was very fruit forward, with plenty of berries, touches of oak, and notes of vanilla and leather on the finish. Very nice, and should be quite a successful pairing with most red meats.

Finally, I hit pay dirt with Dry Comal Creek. Bonnie and Franklin Houser have been producing Texas style wines since 1998, and -- with winemaker Joe Donnow -- have produced a stellar Cab by adding 10 percent Cabernet Franc into the mix. Thus, the wine had a deeper, redder color than the others and a more powerful presence on the palate. Dry Comal's blend still had plenty of fruit, but was heftier than its counterparts, offering a longer, spicier finish. In this Battle of the Cabs, I'm giving the nod to Dry Comal Creek.

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