Monday, March 23, 2015

130 Sparkling Wine Brut - NV; Casa Valduga; Vale dos Vinhedos, Brazil

This is a nice easy drinking sparkler for those special occasions.  This blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir has tropical fruit aromas and a nice elegant bouquet.  It is easy to get mesmerized while staring at the bubbles twinkling and swimming amid the pretty golden hued nectar. The sparkler has both tart and citrus fruit flavors that are noticeable, but also a soft and clean to crisp finish all in one sip. It's not too dry, nor too sweet. So we find it very versatile and amazing!  You really can't go wrong with this one as it is suitable to pair with a multitude of items, and is also wonderful to enjoy on its own.  Of course, the bad part about popping a bottle of bubbly is that the corks expand once opened and you cannot recap. So, as we were saying, the bad part is that you need to enjoy it once opened. Which we don't necessarily have any objections to, so it might be an excuse to sit and enjoy the bottle with company. Which may not be a bad idea to someone who enjoys their bubbly and sharing a lovely bottle with others! Have fun and enjoy.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Syrah - 2004; Mandola Winery; Driftwood, Texas

This was a nice find in the wine cellar and though the vintage says 2004, the wine was still wonderful! Of course, enjoying the experience starts with discovering the aromatic notes when you open the bottle and begin to let the wine breathe. Being the wine geek that you are, you'll also take notice of the fine crystals on the inside of the cork.  Looks marvelous doesn't it!  No signs of cork cracks or seepage are also a good sign of a good red wine coming your way.  Now take a good deep breath from the glass again and sip away.  Delicious!  Those hints of chocolate and plums are quite nice and the wine has a lovely smoothness.  Definitely a bottle to please the red wine drinkers.  Mysteriously, all the wine in the bottle is gone.....must be those wine fairies.  This bottle of Syrah is a good example of why a 10+ year red wine can be worth the wait.  Although Mandola Winery may be no more in Driftwood,  if you find any of the bottles still around, don't be afraid to pop the cork and give it a try. Enjoy!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Kuhlman Cellars – Stonewall, Texas

A warm welcome to a top quality winery in Texas!  Owners Chris and Jennifer Cobb have staked out their claim on the growing Texas wine industry with focus on quality and experience.  And trust us, after you’ve visited this place you’ll be talking about it to your friends, family, neighbors, third and fourth cousins as well as your uncle that only drinks beer.  Chris and Jennifer got their start by experimenting at home with grape vines.  They also have a test plot of one acre vines just north of Fredericksburg.   Long story short, their experiment has now grown into their own winery and soon to be planted vineyard estate in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  The fifteen acre estate is located in Stonewall and is named after the Kuhlman Creek, which runs nearby and has a great view of LBJ State Park.  Pedernales Cellars has been helping them with the initial batches of wine production.  The focus on quality not only comes from the owners but by the winemaker, Bénédicte Rhyne, as well.  For Kuhlman Cellars, Bénédicte focuses on French style wines.  And from what we can tell, she takes the ‘Q’ in quality quite serious.  If there aren’t available grapes for what she wants to make or the grapes aren’t up to high standards, then the wine won’t be made.  No sense in making something unless the fruit meets the criteria. You’ll notice the persistent focus on quality in the wines you taste here.  Everything from the whites to the reds is just excellent!  The experience really kicks it up with the chef prepared food pairings that have been carefully created and hand crafted for each wine.  The right food with the right wine during the right season makes all the difference in the world in wine tasting.  This just isn’t a cheese and cracker plate pairing, but carefully selected items from a professional Chef such as strawberry with goat cheese, pumpkin mousse with a cranberry sea salt, and smoked salmon with cucumber just to name a few.  The food pairings puts the ‘B’ and ‘C’ in balance and compliment.  It likewise helps individuals realize the accessibility in how to potentially work with the wines to pair them with dishes and allows you to really see the difference when tasting a wine and then pairing it with the accompanying item to see how it showcases and enhances the experience. During your wine tasting session, your Sommelier will talk with you about each wine’s character and food pairing.  This kind of wine tasting really is an exceptional  way to enjoy the wines.  If you can, ask for Jeremy Wilson.  He really knows his wine stuff, plus he’s a pretty cool guy to talk with too.  There are currently five wines for tasting; three whites and two reds.  For whites, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is strongly aromatic with lovely apple notes.  The 2013 Calcaria is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc.  It has a honey-suckle aroma with a bit of a mint flavor.   The 2012 Roussanne has a great golden color, apricot notes, and just taste really, really good!  For reds, you’ll enjoy the 2012 Alluve.  Sourced from Sonoma, it’s a blend of 59% Carignan, 22% Petite Sirah, and 19% Grenache.  The Carignan was sourced from 100 year old vines….yes 100 years old!  This is one of those quality dry reds with good depth and a fine velvety finish that puts that big smile on your face. Last, is the 2012 Texas Red.  It is a blend of five grapes, with most being Merlot (49%).  Tart, rose petals, floral, and earthy……just to name a few sensory notes you’ll get from this wine that you just have to come and taste.  These wines are definitely a cut above the rest!  Everything is enjoyable and nothing will be discarded.  You'll notice as you drive up to the winery that they have a trellis system in place on the estate.  The property is divided into five blocks for planting with about seven acres all together.  Plans are to plant Mourvedre, Aglianico, Carignan , Roussanne and Marsanne.  There are additional wines currently in the barrels and new releases planned for 2015, with four being Barranca, Kankar (Malbec/Perire Sirah blend), Merlot, and  a Zinfandel.  We got to try the Barranca and it shows great promise as a superb red and can hardly wait for that to be released.  Wine releases may change a bit, so stay tuned to their website for updates. Next time you find yourself out this way, call Kuhlman Cellars to reserve your spectacular wine tasting session.  They have set a new standard and raised the bar in wine tasting for Texas wineries.  You’ll be a super happy wine camper after visiting this place.  Cheers!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cabernet Sauvignon – 2001; Foppiano Vineyards; Healdsburg, California

Red wine lovers always feel blessed when they have a well aged Cabernet Sauvignon.  Mr. Time has treated this one well!  This wine is actually a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc.  Grapes sourced from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma can be like precious jewels to fans.  So, take your time and savor every sip of this bottle of wine.  Swirl your glass and just breathe in and enjoy the aroma of the cedar and vanilla bouquet that you’ll notice in this deeply colored wine.  It is quite dry, so be prepared as you enjoy the blackberry and cherry notes before the tannins round out the final flavor profile of this well aged cabernet.   Have a second glass and enjoy all over again!  This is a great full-bodied wine that reminds you what good red wine experiences are all about when the right grapes and the right year and the right oak barrel all come together! Cheers!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tamara – 2013; Perissos Vineyards; Burnet, Texas

Just say…mmm….mmm…good! This is one of those special little known wines you find that you’ll be savoring every moment…and then some.  This wine is a special craft of 85% Tempranillo from Tamara Dees’ Vineyard and 15% Sirah from Perissos Vineyards.  Take notice of the purple tint of this deep dark red wine.  It’s one of those eye catchers that you’ll love to gaze at.  Upon opening the bottle, enjoying the aroma and bouquet is 110% of the experience.  Take notice of the unique fruity and cedar aromas. It’s quite enticing to the taste buds.  Sip a little, then take a bigger sip as you savor the wonderful medley of flavors this red blend has to offer.  You’ll notice notes of coffee and tobacco along with a nice soft finish on the tannins. Yum!  This is just one of those all round well balanced smooth reds that makes life worth living.  Definitely grab a couple of glasses to share this one with someone you love.  This specially crafted wine pairs nicely with pork and beef dishes and can equally stand on its own as an outstanding wine to help soothe the stresses of the day. A lovely inaugural release with grapes from this little vineyard in Central Texas that should be enjoyed!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Autunno – 2003; Becker Vineyards; Stonewall,Texas

Sometimes what was not intended...turns out to be just fine. This 12 year old bottle of Texas red wine may not have intended to start on this long journey and sit unopened for so long, but fate has turned out well for this one. This “Super Tuscan” blend of Sangiovese and Merlot (50/50) proved it could stand the test of time and still demonstrate its character in spite of its age. The bouquet was still nice and allowing the wine to breathe a bit really helped bring the vintage to life. It puts a nice “t” in tertiary aromas. Examining the wine in the glass to discern the color and note any separation, you may convince yourself that the color is fading, but honestly, little color separation was detected. You’ll swear that the taste continues to evolve with each taste, but not unexpected for a wine of this age. You’ll note some spice flavors consistently present throughout each sip. We realize the magical flavors fade quickly once a bottle of this age is opened and understand the need to fully enjoy it the day it is uncorked. Doubt there are too many of these bottles still lingering unopened, but if you find you have one, it does pair nicely with Italian dishes. As always, the artwork on the label is also worth saving with a lovely scene of Lake Austin in the Fall. Enjoyed this one!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fly Gap Winery – Mason, Texas

It’s always a great opportunity to check out an up and coming winery during its early starting period.  One gets to see “how it all began” and listen to the owner’s dreams and visions for the future business.  This is Brock Estes dream and story unfolding in Mason County, Texas. The hometown boy started a few years ago with other wine businesses as well as interning at Sandstone Cellars under Don Pullum.  As it turns out, it was a natural fit for Brock to start his own line of wine branding along with help from Adam Nelson.  He has traveled to Portugal and studied their winemaking and grape growing techniques including vertical planting.  Most Texas Hill Country wine lovers should have at least heard of their Dank (aka the good stuff) wine brands like Vox Populi, Transition, Lights Out and Johnny Rojo (all 100% Texas fruit).  The quality of each wine release is only matched by the uniqueness of wine's label art work.  Brock & Adam have taken a stab at concrete fermentation methods in wine making as well.  This process allows a bit more control over tweaking and adjusting the wine making process than other classic methods.  Concrete fermentation is the signature method that Brock wants Fly Gap to be known for.  The current release, Mason Punch, is a 2010 vintage blend of Tempranillo and Touriga.  You’ll notice the crown on the fly on its label of this latest release which signifies the fruit coming exclusively from Mason County. You’ll definitely enjoy sipping this red wine.  It has good character and a nice pleasing finish. It pairs nicely with an afternoon cheese and meat plate yet likewise is enjoyable on its own. We look forward to a more in depth posting on this particular wine release in the future like what was posted for their Lights Out wine last May.  Brock is already working on his next future red wine which he envisions as a blend of Tempranillo/Tannat.  We’re sure that will be a great one to look forward to!  Work continues to progress on the tasting room and fermentation room in Mason.  It will be exciting to compare the before and after progress on another future visit.  Talking with Brock, he does have many great ideas, dreams and visions for what kind of wine he likes to see coming out of Mason County.  He definitely has a strong passion and believes in what he’s doing.  Texas needs more young wine innovators like Brock and Adam.  Visions like theirs are an assurance that millennials will catch on to the future of winemaking.  So take the plunge off of HWY 29 and head down the dirt road and check this place out sometime.  It's a cool winery worth your sipping time!