Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ron Yates - Johnson City, Texas

Ron Yates, co-owner of Spicewood Vineyards, has opened this fantastic 16-acre scenic winery along the fast-growing US HWY 290 winery corridor.  Upon driving onto the property, you’ll notice off to the right the majestic field of four acres of Tempranillo vines to greet you.  Pull up to the large 6,000 square foot production building and you’ll have a nice patio view out front to enjoy your tasting session.   They’ve had their “soft” opening since September and have been taking appointments for you to enjoy your tasting sessions.
If you’ve loved the wines from Spicewood, then you’re going to be in for a treat at Yates!  The same great winemaker, Todd Crowell, is making the wines here as well.  In addition to Texas wines, you’ll also get to try some great tasting wines made from high quality fruit from some fantastic vineyards along the west coast.  Yates wines has allowed the winemaker to expand and branch out into making some different types of high quality creations.
There are currently nine wines for you to try on their tasting menu.  The first three are whites.  The 2015 Sauvignon Blanc has a lovely crisp taste for those days when it’s summer in December in Texas.  Next is the 2015 Viognier.  Yates does Texas proud with this fine wine that does well for the state.  The last white is a 2015 Albarino sourced from Bingham Family Vineyards.  This is another up and coming Texas white varietal that has some intense peachy aromas only to be complimented by its crisp texture.  The 2014 Pinot Noir is a very super (and we mean “super-duper”) fine one to taste.  Sourced from the Russian River Valley, this dry and full mouth feel red leaves you longing to savor many more bottles no matter the price!  You can pick up some of that great Texas dirtiness in the 2014 Tempranillo.  Yes, this is what earthy is all about!   The 2014 Mourvedre, sourced from Bingham Family Vineyards, is a light and smooth red wine to enjoy on a lazy afternoon.  Sourced from Washington, the 2014 Garnacha has beautiful strawberry notes.  The 2014 Zinfandel is sourced from Dry Creek in Sonoma.  This red wine is light and dry and an easy drinking red for everyone to enjoy.  Other future wines in the making will be a Carignan (oh yeah!) as well as a possible Touriga blend. 
The current vineyard is in its second leaf with plans to add about 10 acres of more vines.  It will be one fabulous entrance once these vines are lush and mature.  You’ll see next to the vineyard another future tasting room being constructed.  And there are plans to include yet another large tasting room for visitors to enjoy these wonderful wines.  Did we mention a salt water pool, as well?  Now that will add a unique twist that no other winery currently offers!
You’ll be very pleased with your visit here and will be eager to see how the place expands and grows over time.  Mark this spot on your list for a visit and a repeat visit in the future!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Merlot/Malbec - 2014; Casa Magoni; Baja California, Mexico

This Merlot(60%)/Malbec(40%) blend from Baja has a nice soft and rich texture for the bold red wine drinker.  The black cherry notes meld with a touch of pepper and chocolate.  On the palate there is the initial softness followed by a pleasant finish.  This bottle needs some time to breath once opened, but after an hour you'll have a good long evening to taste and pair with different foods.  Take this treat from Mexico and enjoy with steak or strawberries and chocolate. This wine will entice you to enjoy life well. Salud!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Chardonnay – 2011; Hye Meadow Winery; Hye, Texas

Sometimes, the wine cellar throws a few surprises.  This original white wine from Hye Meadow is one of them. The wine is made with 90% Chardonnay and 10% Riesling, sourced from the Columbian Valley.  What may not have initially been intended to keep this long has held up very well.  The color has only moderately intensified over the years. The aromas are still quite nice and you get notes of tart green apple, subtle yeast and butter on the palate. The “crispness” has not diminished one bit! Take away the vintage, and you’d think it was last year’s Chardonnay just aged a tad bit longer.  It’s an incredibly great white for a hot summer day that is very refreshing and will pair nicely with many dishes. We’re always pleased when one of these originals turns out well and even more tickled when they have aged without any significant compromise.  Thanks to the grapes, the winemaker, the cellar, and some good wine luck, we were able to sip and really enjoy this wine recently.  Until the next one, cheers!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

EME Graciano - 2010; Bodegas Casado Morales; Rioja Alavesa, Spain

100% Graciano from Rioja?  Yes, they do exist!  This opaque ruby colored wine is one of those delightful ones to savor.  The nutty aromas and berries are just the tip of the sensory tease for this beauty.  You may notice hints of plums and a bit of chocolate notes too.  That's why you enjoy breathing in a good wine like this before taking the first sip.  After all, you don't want to miss any of the experience this wine has to offer, do you?  On the first sip you experience flavors of plums, cherries, and a bit of orange.  Nice, isn't it?  They'll be followed by some spice, pepper and some good wholesome earthiness! The very lovely tannins lead to a super lingering finish.  Yes, have another sip and enjoy all over again.  It's dry, yet fruity for this medium bodied Graciano.  The acids demand nothing less than a good fatty meal to compliment your evening experience.  Enjoy this savory and rich wine.  It's a fine example of the best flavors from Rioja.  Salud!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Vinovium – Johnson City, Texas

Well, you’re in for a treat with a totally different wine tasting experience!  Owners Craig Mayer, Daniel Kelada, Travis Graves, and Allen Lucarelli have kicked started a new and refreshing way for customers to enjoy their tasting sessions.  Vinovium Partners has actually been around since 2012 offering services and products to the industry.  Their tasting room along Hwy 290 started soft openings back in early July.  What you’ll first notice about this place when you’re in the tasting room are the taps for pouring wine.   Yes, how cool is that? Vinovium (and yes, the name does reference the roman fort in England) uses a keg solution for pouring wine and selling to customers. Besides reducing cost, this also helps promote to customers that their wine is ready to drink now and drink well.  After your tasting session in the Growler Lounge, all you do is select what wine you like and they bottle it for you in a growler.  Bring it back when it’s empty, and you can enjoy more great wines from their selection.  (Nice way to recycle the bottles!) Once you get the hang of how it works, you’ll walk away and come back a satisfied wine lover and customer.  They try to use Texas grapes when the can for their wines, but they also have a great selection of wines made from grapes from around the world.  On the tasting menu, you’ll also get to see who the wine maker was for each wine.  Some of you may notice some familiar names from the Texas wine industry!  We got to try a great selection that included bubbly, whites, Rose’, reds, and then some using their “Old World style” glasses.  They happened to have a great Prosecco to try that was quite delicious.  We’ll save that bottle for a special celebration posting in the future.  The 2015 Texas Rose’ is made by Llano Estacado.  This blend of Cinsault, Zinfandel, Carignan, and Grenache has nice melon notes. The 2013 American Lot 37 is made by Tim Drake from Flat Creek.  There is nothing Tim touches that won’t turn out great!  This white mixture of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio has refreshing lemon flavors and some hints of avocado.   The California 2014 Chardonnay is very smoky, with a creamy texture. The 2014 Oregon Pinot Noir greets you with ripe bright berry flavor with some earthiness to it. The second Tim Drake creation is the Texas lot 83 NV blend.  Think of this Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo blend as the Super Texan NV. Yes, it is quite good and does Super Texan proud!  The California 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty on the nose with some light herbal notes.  Next, was the Two Worlds NV blend.  Made from many different wine makers of old and new world grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay), you’ll get a complex meld of licorice notes with some nuttiness.  The 2012 Montsant is made by the famous former Becker winemaker Russel Smith.  The Master made a fantastic red blend of Grenache and Carignan.  It’s leathery rich and dark texture only adds to that full body experience and makes you want to linger over this glass. We also tried the Italian Moscato on hand made from the same place as the Prosecco.  It was sweet, dripping with a honeysuckle nose and pure joy on the palate. A great way to end the tasting session!  Did we mention that have espresso, too? How many times have you been on 290 and craved a shot of espresso or some great coffee and agonized that you have to drive all the way back to Fredericksburg or Marble Falls to get your fix?  Wine tasting or not, you can now stop here for an espresso shot too.  Vinovium plans on holding wine education classes.  These are a great educational opportunity to enhance and appreciate wine even more.  The great location and nice hill country scenery in the back makes for a great new place to sip and relax.  Staying open till 9pm just adds another spot to extend your day as you hang out with friends enjoying your trek into the Hill country wine region. They have definitely raised the bar on what’s trending with Texas wineries.  We look forward to many more visits and new wine offerings coming in the future. Because they produce small lots, they can turn over wine faster and provide broader options on their tasting menu, leaving you more opportunities to check out new things with every visit. Looking forward to seeing how their vision unfolds in the future. A bright new beginning on the 290 Hill Country wine trail. Cheers!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Origen 43 - 2014; Casa Magoni; Baja California, Mexico

This lovely Italian style wine from Mexico is a treat to be had.  It's a blend of Montepulciano 30%, Aglianico 30%, Canaiolo 15%, Sangiovese 15%, and Cabernet Sauvignon 10%.  Holding your glass up to the light, you'll notice a nice garnet hue.  On the nose, this wine is quite fruity and floral with notes of cherries and raspberries. What your tongue will notice are spices, smokiness, some pepper, and soft tannins.  The mineral notes are quite pronounced, but the acidity is mild to moderate and it does have a refreshing aftertaste.  Overall, a nice medium bodied red blend to ease the long day.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Chopo Monastrell - 2014; Finca Bacara; Murcia, Spain

This wine is a good example of not judging a wine by its price.  Let's start with the initial pour.  It will be quite hot at first, so wait a good ninety minutes before you enjoy this one.  Otherwise, your pre-judging will kick in. After that time, it really begins to open up.  You'll enjoy the fruit forward aroma.  The tannins are medium, yet the finish is somewhat light and smooth.  Pair this with neutral foods and you'll have an easy drinking wine for many occasions.  Oh....and the price point...under $10!  For this wine and this price, you're definitely getting a good bang for the buck!