Friday, September 12, 2014

Hawk Shadow Estate Winery – Dripping Springs, Texas

Just north of Dripping Springs, but south of the Pedernales River are some spectacular Texas Hill Country views.  What a perfect place to establish a vineyard and winery!  This all family run business has done just that.  Owners Doug Reed, Tom Reed, and Chip Concklin opened up their tasting room in February 2014 and are serving some great tasting Texas wines along with generous Texas hospitality.  Tim Drake from Flat Creek has assisted with some consulting, as well.  They currently have seven acres planted on the estate with one area on its fourth leaf and the other on its ninth.  Varietals include:  Grenache, Syrah, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Nebbiolo,and Aglianico.  The vines look quite healthy and cared for.  As we all know, great wine starts with great grapes. Most of what is currently available for tasting has been sourced from the Texas High Plains while the estate vineyard has been maturing.  There are three whites for tasting, but by no means are these your traditional white wines.  As the owners will tell you, they make and serve “red style white wine for red wine drinkers”.  The 2011 Orange Muscat is dry with some tawny toasted notes, making it quite unique compared to other Orange Muscats in the state as this one is dry without the sweet side that traditionally is used for this varietal. The 2012 version (same vineyard, different year) labeled, Big O, has a bit more alcohol, but also tastes just as good yet completely different from the 2011.  Who thought that dry Orange Muscats could taste this good without being sweet, but the owners have done a fine job on those two.  The barrel fermented and unfiltered Chenin Blanc will initially present the buttery notes with a lovely smoothness then finishes off as citrusy.  The Texas Gal, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Muscat Canelli, has a hint of sweetness but not too much. For the reds, the 2012 Tres Robles is a blend of 78% Mourvedre and the rest comprised of Malbec and Syrah.  It's light oak notes compliment the very strong strawberry, pomegranate and rhubarb aromas on the nose. Their local estate produced 2011 HSV is sold out but not to worry!  A new vintage is already bottled and should be released by Fall 2014.  You’ll also be in for a treat with their Wild Child 2.  It has a nice smokiness yet remains quite smooth.  They also have a Tempranillo barrel aged in Hungarian oak for twenty months….expect this one to be superb.  Twenty months is a good bench mark for the winemaker.  After all, quality cannot be rushed.  Also in the works is a Syrah that is quite herbaceous.  It, too, will be great on its own or as a complimentary blend in the future.  When we visited, they were just about ready to harvest in the next day or two as the sugar was looking good on the fruit.  We sampled some of their yet to be harvested Tempranillio grapes and they had wonderful flavors and characters for this yet to be aged juice.  You could tell that the 2014 Tempranillo is going to be great tasting wine and a keeper for the cellar!  We really enjoyed our initial visit to this up and coming rising star for Texas Hill Country Wineries.  The owners and staff (family members) are extremely friendly, make you feel comfortable and at home, and are very happy to visit with you about what is going on at the winery. Hopefully, their future crops will be fruitful and their cases will multiply!  We are definitely going back to check in and see how things progress and pick up some of the new releases. Cheers and Welcome to the Texas Hill Country Winery industry Hawk Shadow!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Riesling - 2005; Amwell Valley Vineyard; Ringoes, New Jesery

This is a very nice, smooth drinking Riesling.  The eye-catching golden buttery color has blessed this well aged white wine.  The deep color (a sign of its age) only makes the tasting experience that much better.  It is semi-sweet and well balanced on the palate.  You'll detect notes of apple and apricots that compliment the overall flavor without overwhelming it.  We had opened a previous bottle back in 2008.  This second bottle was one of those tucked away bottles that every collector will stumble upon every now and them.  We were delighted to find that the wine certainly hadn't lost it's wonderful characteristics or lovely taste with age.  Take care of your cellar and your cellar will take care of your wine. This one was a delight to sip and savor and enjoy with a meal, though it is equally delicious on its own. Well worth the trip and each sip!

Friday, August 29, 2014

17k Cherie – NV; Texas Star Winery; Richards, Texas

This is a unique option for any Texas wine fan.  Sure, you can make wine from almost anything, but time, attention, and a little luck will make a great tasting one.  Prickly Pear Cacti are everywhere in Texas.  So, why not try to make a wine from this abundant fruit?  Here you have a Prickly Pear Cactus Sherry style wine.  It is initially sweet, though not super sweet, with a strong dark golden hue. With 16% alcohol, it does pack a bit of a punch.  Honor Texas by pairing this one with a big slice of pecan pie or even better - cheesecake or vanilla flavored desserts.  Yummy!  Serve this one at your next party for a unique twist on Southern sippers.  Guest will be surprised and pleased.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Syrah – 2004; Sandstone Cellars; Mason, Texas

Dry…peppery…smoky….leathery…plus an awesome finish - what more could you ask for in a well aged red wine?  Time has blessed this bottle many times over.  To say it’s superb is not enough! There just aren’t enough words or the right words in the English language to adequately describe this great piece of work.  Your nose and taste buds will thank you for this one. This was one of the first releases by Don Pullum.  Aged 10 months in Pennsylvanian oak, it was co-fermented with some Grenache (%12), Primitivo (%7), and a tad bit of Mourvedre.  Tasting this wine in 2008 was good, but who knew that waiting six more years would still bring such joy and prove it was made to age fabulously?  It was well worth the wait.  The wine showed no signs of deterioration and could have possibly still been good in another five years.  The cork was in great shape, too.   Bill Worrell’s art work on the label is also a nice touch that adds to the uniqueness of the wine.  Pair this Syrah with a juicy sirloin steak and some nice grilled veggies and you are relishing nature's bounty. Enjoy & Cheers!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fat Ass Ranch and Winery - Fredericksburg, Texas

Having Just opened last Memorial Day weekend, the newest winery on the Texas Hill Country Winery Trail, HWY 290, is not only an eye catcher with its name, but also a cool place to just hang out and shoot the breeze with some good wine.  Owners Gail and Jennie McCulloch have put their own unique Texas style stamp on the decor with a moonshine still out front, installed silo style restrooms, used pickup tailgates to fashion benches and parked a replica of the General Lee hot rod out front.  Both the inside and the back patio have ample room for seating and sipping.  They use all Texas grapes for their wines.  The folks at Texas Custom Wine Works are assisting with the wine making. There are currently four wines to try. The whites are all made in stainless steel.  Both dry and sweet ones are made from the same blend: Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay.  If you're a crisp white wine drinker, then the first dry white you'll like. The same goes for the dry and sweet red, they have the same blend of grapes with different sweetness: Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc.  The sweet red has a very nice  "jammy" taste to it.  We were told that peach and watermelon wines are on the way soon.  Future plans are to have a vineyard on site.  Besides the wine, they have a number of cool items in the shop for sale made by  Jennie and friends.  Do check out the bug guards for your wine glass with some clever and catchy verses. It's worth the stop, even if it is just to say you've been to the "Fat Ass Winery" down the road! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – 2010; Sella & Mosca; Alghero, Italy

The wine has a brilliantly deep ruby hue and a very noticeable red berry bouquet along with some peppery notes. The wine has a lovely rustic taste and a good medium body with a fruit forward presence. You can taste the earthy oaky flavor, though it is more subtle and smoothly incorporated along with spices and herbaceous  notes, too.  Every Mediterranean red wine lover should enjoy this one on occasion.  It pairs nicely with the fatty flavors of thick cut grilled pork chops or beef.  It will keep your tongue intrigued and your taste buds wanting more! Salute!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Palomino-Chardonnay – 2008; Inwood Estates; Dallas Texas

This white wine is a fine example of when art and science blend together to make the perfect match.  You couldn’t ask for a better color for this six year old white.  It just has that eye catching deep, deep straw yellow-green hue.  You’ll smell initial bouquets of vanilla, pears, and hazelnuts before sipping the cool tart crisp flavors of nectar followed by a light smooth buttery note. There’s also a little bit of an almond finish towards the end.   This white wine has been blessed with some good complexity with age; definitely an outstanding wine for an outstanding year.  It goes well with baked salmon, chicken or fresh from the garden vegetable dishes. Give it a try and enjoy every sip this one is worth lingering at the dinner table to have another glass!