Why Texas Terroir is Bigger and “Badger” Than Ever Before!

7th Feb 2020 @ 14:39 by Matt

By Susan Auler, co-founder

Over the past 40 years Fall Creek Vineyards has had the honor and privilege to work with some of the most incredible culinary professionals from Texas and around the world. As we continue to celebrate our 40 years and counting, we celebrated the start of 2020 with yet another rewarding collaboration. Foster ATX assembled swoon-worthy group of chefs from around the country for an amazing event called “Soil: a Seed-to-Pop-Up Dinner.”

The evening’s featured chefs included Philip Speer and Gabe Erales, Comedor, Austin; Matt McCAllister, Homewood, Dallas; Chris Shepherd, UB Preserve, and Georgia James, One Fifth, Houston; Cara Stadler, Bao Bao, and Tuan Yan, Portland, Maine; and Todd Duplechan, Lenoir, Austin.

We were invited to pair our wines with the featured ingredient of the night, a unique vegetable with roots in Texas, the Badger Flame Beet.

What is a Badger Flame Beet?

The Badger Flame Beet is an incredibly delicious, mild beet with a tender and smooth texture, and an amazingly eye-catching, flame-like orange and yellow interior. Simply put, the beet cultivar is a farming innovation. It’s a product of careful breeding (much like winegrowing) for desirable qualities and characteristics. Forbes.com recently gave a little background on the Badger Flame Beet project in Austin:

The invasion project began in October 2019, when Urban American Farmer partnered with local farm Urban Roots to plant over 1,200 row feet of Badger Flame Beets. “Once the seedlings were starting to sprout, we reached out to chefs who we knew could really highlight the flavor and unique qualities of the Badger Flame Beet,” adds Sutton. “Every chef involved cares deeply about local foods, so it was not a hard pitch to get them on board.”

Fall Creek Vineyards Featured Wine and Food Pairings

“An added bonus is that the beet was grown at Urban Roots ATX (a two-time grant recipient). Also fitting to have Fall Creek Vineyards wine with our deeply rooted history.” — Mariam Parker, Executive Director, Austin Food & Wine Alliance

It was a pleasure to select wines to pair with five inventive courses featuring the Badger Flame Beet. Here are our pairing selections.

2018 Chenin Blanc, Classics, Texas paired with Scallop Crudo with Badger Flame Beets

Pairing a fresh, crisp white wine with savory seafood like a scallop crudo allows the brightness of the Chenin Blanc grape to pleasantly enhance any minerality or saltiness of the scallops without being too overpowering.

2019 Chardonnay Classics, Texas paired with Roasted Badger Flame Beets with Tkemali, Coriander, Black Walnut & Whipped Olive Oil

Tkemali tends to be pungent and tart, that calls for a lightly oaked Chardonnay to counterbalance. A more acidic white wine could make both the food and wine finish with a sour pucker. The full mouthfeel of a classic Chardonnay also compliments the nutty whipped olive oil and allows the heartiness of the badger flame beet to shine through.

2017 Merlot Vintner’s Selection, Texas Hill Country paired with Antelope Heart Tartar with Badger Flame Beets, Smoked Trout Roe & Beet Top Nori

Tartare is a preparation method that showcases a meat in its raw form. With a minerality in line with a rare cut of steak and the smokiness and robust flavor of the Trout a Merlot holds up nicely to the strong flavor profiles in play with this dish.

2015 Meritus, Texas Hill Country a red Bordeaux-style blend paired with Badger Flame Beet Kibbeh Naya, Toum, Schug & Flatbread

With strong flavors like garlic, onion, and spice we presented one of our boldest wines, a Bordeaux blend with enough tannin to pair well with the savory characteristics of this dish. While the spice of most Indian-inspired dishes may carry big risks when pairing with a Bordeaux-style wine, when done well the tannins can result in a satisfying sensation and finish.

2017 GSM Salt Lick Vineyards, Texas Hill Country paired with Pork Rib with Badger Flame Mole Amarillo, Amazake Beet Pickles

With a dish like pork ribs with a mole sauce, how could we not pair it with a wine grown at one of Texas’s most legendary BBQ spots? Salt Lick Vineyards grapes have a subtle smokiness to them from the legendary BBQ pits on property, so this hearty red blend has enough flavor to stand up to the big flavors of this dish.

We invite you to try your hand at pairing our wines with similar dishes at home. Cheers to fantastic culinary experiences!