Sunday, October 4, 2015

El Guapo – 2011; Alamosa Wine Cellars, Bend, Texas

Yes, the last vintage of the famous El Guapo from Alamosa is coming to an end.  This lovely Rioja style red wine is a blend of Tempranillo (86%), Graciano (10%), and Garnacha (4%).  The 2011 vintage has to be winemaker Jim Johnson’s finest achievement.  There just aren’t enough good words to use to describe this wonderful work of art.  Here are some “to the point” buzz words to help get you excited.   It's dry, it's aromatic, it's tobaccoy, it's earthy, it's cherry, it's balanced, it has lovely medium tannins, and it's just super beautiful!  Care to add more? Please do! Your complimentary words will only enhance the pleasure as you sip and swirl.  Keep your remaining bottles in a good quality wine cellar and you will more than likely have some long lasting El Guapos until 2020….maybe even longer.  Perhaps over the remaining years, we’ll pull out a bottle from our stash on occasion and see how it progresses.  Something great to look forward to! Savor every last bottle, cherish every last sip, 2011 was a phenomenal year for grapes in spite of and due to the drought and Jim did an amazing job with this vintage. It's simply a beautiful red! Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Vines on the Rocks – Dunlay, Texas

Most Texans think of HWY 90 west of San Antonio as the get-a-way stretch to great spring fed rivers and country camping.  Along that same stretch of road between Castroville and Hondo is a small boutique winery run by Mike Brawley.  To say location is everything for a business is an understatement, but Mike seems to have found an ideal location for those Hill Country travelers.  This place has been open since December 2013 and has been serving up a wide variety of Texas wines as well as a couple of bottles of his own creation.  On the estate are about two acres of vines of mostly Tempranillo and Black Spanish.  For the estate bottles, there is the 2014 Pataki Panchanga red wine.  It’s a mix of Tempranillo, Black Spanish, and Syrah. It’s quite refreshing and an easy smooth drinking wine. The second bottle is the same varietal but was aged longer in oak for a couple of years, so it has an oaky flavor profile.   This is a great stop to make on your way out west on HYW 90. There is a nice little tasting room with seats for you to enjoy a glass or bottle.  It’s a great family friendly operation and you’ll feel more than welcomed.  Stop in to say hi, find some new wines to love and take something home to enjoy later. Have fun!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Buffalo Roam - 2011; Brennan Vineyards; Comanche, Texas

This take on Rhone style wine is quite stunning!  It is a very smooth drinking Syrah blend.  You'll sense floral aromas at the onset followed by sweet fruit notes prior to the first sip. Your mouth will be awash with flavors of leather and a touch of spice in a soft melding of fruit.  It really shines after about half an hour of being opened for this medium bodied red wine. It is an exceptional blend that highlights the velvety smooth  and soft lasting finish that beautiful fruit can yield. No doubt 2011, was a record breaking drought year for Texas grape growers.  Yet, the fruit that was yielded has demonstrated just how fabulous the Texas terroir can be for really deep, ripe and rich fruit complexities when put to the test.  Enjoy this wine with sliced summer sausages and cheese, or a savory dish. It is also absolutely fabulous on its own. Enjoy!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cabernet Sauvignon - 2004; Texas Hills Vineyard; Johnson City, Texas

What a nice jewel to have discovered!  Texas Hills Vineyard has been producing consistent Cabernet Sauvignons for quite some time.   This eleven year old bottle is a testament that Texas cabs can age long term and still hold their quality.  Grapes for this vintage were sourced from Drew Tallent Vineyards located in Mason County.  With its higher elevation and great soil conditions, Mason County has proven itself has a wonderful place for quality Texas Hill Country vineyards.  Upon pouring, the color of this wine still looks really good. There is not as much fading and just a touch of separation starting to appear.  The aromas are still quite pleasant, although probably not as strong on the fruit senses as its younger version.  Taking a look at the cork and you'll just "ooh" and "ah" at the very dark color and crystals. Vanilla flavors are strong in this one as well as some peppery notes.   The tannins are still firm... so break out that hunk of red meat for pairing!  Even the sediments are tasty.  There are some early signs that it has starting its decline, but it is still quite suitable for devoted red wine drinkers.  If you've had this one in your well cared for cellar since day one, then it should still be good, but we would recommend you pop the cork and enjoy soon.  If you came across a bottle in a local wine shop yesterday, then you definitely have an interesting taste of Texas to enjoy .  Cheers!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Syrah - 2010; Alamosa Wine Cellars; Bend, Texas

Well, let's just get right down to it.  By the time this gets posted, Alamosa will likely be closed.  Yes, it takes us some time to write, proof (as best we can), process the picture, and queue to posting.  Specifically, we drank this one on 8/5/2015.  But good wine and a good posting deserves patience. This Syrah is worth your time.  First of all, let it breathe for at least thirty minutes.  Why?  Because that's just one of the habits a good wine drinker does with this kind of wine.   And this wine certainly deserves that much time.  Tease yourself if you must between opening and the final pouring with sample sips as the flavors will change as the wine unfolds for the better. We know a good red wine drinker can wait just a bit longer for the first pour to ensure it is just right.  The "punchy" fruit aromas are there to greet you, but the best satisfaction is in the taste. You'll note some spiciness, followed by distinct peppery and some mild herbaceous notes.  As you linger over that first sip you realize you're enjoying a very long finish.....maybe a bit longer than normal. It's a beautiful red that is full bodied and definitely good to enjoy now, as well as one that will keep well in the cellar for a while. Cheers amigos and farewell to our friends at Alamosa! We have enjoyed your wines, your camaraderie, humor, creativity and most of all your impact made in helping to forge the expanding Texas wine industry.  You've made a lasting mark in the Texas wine journals and along the wine trail and we will forever be grateful to you for your role.  We raise our glass in your honor!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Torr Na Lochs - Burnet, Texas

The stretch of state highway 29 between Burnet and Lake Buchanan is a wonderfully scenic area in the Texas Hill Country.  With the granite slopes and surrounding lakes, you might wonder how could someone put a winery out here with all this rocky terrain? Wouldn't it be nice if you could find something like that out in that area though, so you could have a lovely spot to sit and sip as you enjoy the last slip of sunset tucking in at night. Well someone has!  Owners Blake and Karen DeBerry purchased the 180 acre granite ponderosa about 11 years ago with the intent on retirement.  Well, one thing led to another and now they have staked out their claim in the expanding Texas wine industry.  Grape vines on granite you ask?  Why yes!  Some of the classic and great tasting old world wines in Europe come from vineyards on granite soils.  Although much of the property is solid granite, there are plots that have good decomposed granite soil suitable for starting a vineyard.  The 1250 foot elevation is just an added bonus for these young vines.  Planting began back in 2014 with three acres of Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Malbec with plans to expand in the future.  The building is quite beautiful and the tasting room is very spacious and open.  The winery building was inspired after visiting another winery in Australia and as an ode to that inspiration, they have a special bottle from that winery proudly on display and highlighted on their entrance way and front porch. They have a great perch high above the surrounding Hill Country with views of Inks Lake and Lake Buchanan that you can indulge in as you sip their great wines.  Plus, the roaming donkeys will be happy to great you as you drive in or out. (When you see the sign near the entrance about donkey crossing, take that literally - there are donkeys on the property and they like to roam across the area and may be taking a break on the road, so drive slowly and respect the animals.) Their inaugural selection of six wines are all made with Texas grapes. Currently, they are collaborating with winemakers from the Texas Hill Country and West Texas to help them get started with their wines.  For whites, you'll start off with the 2014 Fion Geal.  It's a six white blend that is quite clean and crisp.  The chilled  lemon-lime finish is refreshing during the Texas summer heat.  The next white is a 2014 Roussanne.  You'll definitely pick up the nice citrus flavors with a touch of oak.  The last white is a 2014 Sweet Sunset which is a 50/50 blend of Roussanne and Orange Muscat. This soft citrus wine is a sweet treat for the hot afternoons and would make a lovely addition to brunch.  Rosé lovers will be pleased with the 2014 Rosé  di Montepulciano.  It's a very nice, refreshing and smooth drinking Rosé that deserves to be served chilled to enhance the strawberry notes.  For their fine reds, you'll start with the Fion Dearg. This blend of Tempranillo, Mouvedre, and Carignan has spicy and smoky notes that meld with bold cherry flavors. You'll definitely  be pleased with the 2013 Sangiovese which rounds out the lineup. This last red has a nice balance of acids and tannins with subtle peppery notes in this dry wine.  Future wines currently in the barrel include a Montepulciano, Dolcetto, and a red blend.  Their grand opening will be September 12th, so mark you fall calendars and head out to welcome one of the newest wineries to the fold and check out all they have to offer. Their vineyard has great potential to show what the granite terroir of the Hill Country can do for the Texas grape growing industry.  The potential for bold flavor profiles, aromatic fruit, and well balanced acids are positive here.  We can't wait to try the estate grapes wines in the future.  This is a nice jewel to check out on your next Texas wine trekking trip. Congratulations to Blake and Karen on the start of something great in the Texas Hill Country! Cheers!

Friday, September 4, 2015

El Guapo - 2010; Alamosa Wine Cellars; Bend, Texas

Yes, this vintage of El Guapo will make you sing.  This lovely Tempranillo blend is a great wine that leaves a lasting impression. Mixed with Tempranillo (72%), Graciano (20%, Garnacha (5%), you'll see a nice ruby color during the first pour.  Aromas of cherries and roses awaken your senses as you inhale the beautiful bouquet.  There are moderate tannins in this five year old lady with hints of tobacco to delight the palate.  A distinct earthiness is inherent in this long lasting dry finish, leaving you longing for more. It's quite a lovely wine to pair with rib-eye, burgers, and more.  Of course, you could just drink this one on its own to enjoy the full flavors this quality work of art. Savor every last bottle as if it was your last and know that popping the cork on this one was well worth it!  Enjoy!!