Thursday, April 21, 2016

Armadillo Leap Winery – Fredericksburg, Texas

You may have seen some of these wine brands at some local wine stores before.  Armadillo Leap is a sister winery of Pedernales Cellars with more focus on experimenting with non-Texas grapes.  Founded by the Kuhlken-Osterberg family, they opened last December on the popular US. HWY 290 wine road.  They are located where the Pink Pig restaurant used to be. It’s a nice and spacious building with a back deck that has great views looking west towards Fredericksburg.  Back during our visit in January, they had six Armadillo Leap wines, two Chlo-Jack wines from Bending Branch and a Glogg.  The first Armadillo Leap wine on the list is a Sparkling Moscato.  Sourced with grapes from New Mexico, it has citrus aromas and pleasant semi-sweet feel that would pair well with appetizers and snacks. The 2013 Viognier/Roussanne blend is a good balance of these two varietals.  The 2013 Viognier single varietal is pretty smooth and would pair well with some local spicy dishes.  The ‘Red’ is a Tempranillo from Lubbock that is fairly smooth with a long finish.  The ‘BFF’ is a lovely Italian style blend.  The “secret blend” (perhaps some Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Dolcetto?) has very nice soft tannins and a pleasant long finish.  The last Armadillo Leap wine, Muscat, is a sweet dessert wine with strong citrus flavors.  The Chlo-Jack Rose’ is made from Servadou grapes.  It’s a good warm afternoon sipping treat.  The Chlo-Jack Red is a bold Petite Syrah for the dedicated red wine lover.  The Stonewall Glogg is one of the winery’s seasonal products that is fortified with 18% brandy.  It’s a great traditional spiced wine for winter and the holiday season.  Come check out this new place when you’re nearby and share a sip or two.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I-1 NV; Location Wines; Italy

This is our first taste at Location Wines.  Location Wines are a series of wines crafted by Dave Phinney of Orin Swift Cellars to show the “best” characteristics of wines from various regions around the world. Our first look at one of these wines is an Italian wine labeled I - 1.  It is a blend of mostly Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, and Barbera grapes.  This featured wine could definitely use a good hour or so of decanting to allow it to fully open up.  It was quite hot after the first pour. You’ll note aromas of raspberries and plums while being in awe of its deep purple to ruby red hue. You’ll taste some olives and blueberry, followed by some strong spicy notes with a bit of acidity. It is quite tannic with a very long lingering finish.  You may even pick up on some minerality towards the end. Overall the wine has a good character and a nice medium body.  Not bad for a featured wine to help us all gain a better sense of the terroir and wine making styles with different varietals of a particular country or region.  More location wines will be sampled and reported on this year! Saluti!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Roussanne La Cuvee Principale Reserve - 2012; Calais Winery; Hye, Texas

Have you already googled this wine?  Are you still in disbelief that it was aged for 30 months? We'll we can attest that it is very true and if you are still in doubt, then the wonderful taste and aromas from this wine will make you a believer.  Leave it to Ben Calais to be able to age this Roussanne so long and have it turn out so well.  The deep golden color makes it look like a 10+ year old white, but that's the result of the small tight oak barrel method.  It may initially come across has high alcohol, but trust us it is not.  What you'll get are some complex notes of almonds to nutmeg which is quite a treat. Yes, for real!  Now prepare your palate for some interesting flavors.  Let's just lay it out a few samples - butter, goat cheese, caramel, truffle,....oh my!  And yes, that is some heat you feel with the finish.  Top that off with some acidity and pepperiness and wow!  Nice, eh?  For 30 months, you might already have preconditioned your brain to prepare for strong oak, but surprisingly it's light to moderate on the oak notes. Indeed,  Ben figured out the magic to bring forth different notes in these grapes. This is just an absolutely lovely Roussanne that any white wine connoisseur would love to have in their inventory.  If you're up for an interesting comparison, do try his 2012 Roussanne.  Of course, you might have to wait a while before we post our thoughts on that one,  but there's no stopping you from enjoying both now.    Drink well our wine fans and thoroughly enjoy this one as it is a real treat! Santé!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Harper’s Hill – NV; Maydelle Country Wines; Rusk, Texas

Chocolate Mint wine?  Why, yes!  If you love mint chocolate, you just might find yourself indulging in this wine.  This one is amber in color and definitely has strong mint aromas.  When tasting, neither the chocolate or mint flavors overpower each other.  Both the mint and chocolate notes seem to complement each other quite well.  Yes, it’s sweet and a savory sweet as well.  Pair this with your favorite sweet dish or enjoy on its own. It’s one unique way to show your appreciation to your sweetheart and indulge your chocolate and mint cravings!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Barons Creek Vineyards – Fredericksburg, Texas

It is as though a piece of Mediterranean winery architecture has materialized along the 290 wine corridor.  The look and feel of the Hill Country’s newest winery is quite breathtaking.  In addition to the main tasting rooms, are fantastic villas for overnight stays.  The interior of the tasting room is quite astonishing.  There are large vaulted ceilings, a spacious tasting room area, and smaller semi private tasting rooms. We think you’ll feel quite comfortable during your wine sipping session.  It certainly sets the mood for a great experience.  The Chase brothers (Mike, Chris, and Marc) opened their business in December 2015.  Just in time for the holidays!  Long time Texas wine fans are probably familiar with their winemaker, Russell Smith, who was also the winemaker at Becker Vineyards from 1999 – 2012.  Barons Creek is definitely in good winemaking hands!  Some of the wines are made on site and some are made in California.  Grapes are sourced from California and Washington.  You’ll have two flights to pick from for tasting.  So, if you come as a couple, that would be the best opportunity to try all of them.  Between the two flights, you’ll have about a dozen wines to sample.  Since we could write at length about each one, let’s focus on a few that will definitely peak your interest.  The 2014 Chardonnay from Sonoma is a nice buttery and not too oaky white. Quite refreshing!  You’ll be astonished by the neon-pink 2014 Rose! It’s got come crispness and it's dry for when it gets 80+ degrees in January.  The 2013 Hippo is a co-fermented blend of Grenache and Syrah.  You’ll be very pleased with the smooth and pleasant finish on this one. It’s a more than one bottle choice!  Now let’s talk Zin!  While Texas Zinfandel grapes may currently be a challenge for winemakers, look no further than Dry Creek Valley for this 2012 Zinfandel wine. It has great acids, good dark fruit flavors and just dances across your taste buds. Consider it another multiple bottle buy, so don’t walk out the door second guessing yourself. The best red has to be the 2012 Le Baron.  It has everything you ever wanted to enjoy in a red blend. Mixed with Cabernet, Malbec, Syrah, Barbera, you’ll savor the toasted oak aromas, appreciate its complex flavors, gasp at its full bodied texture and best of all you’ll want to repeat the everlasting long smooth finish.  Yes, it is that good. Walk out with a case of this one.  But wait...there's more! One red wine surprise is in store from winemaker Smith. His very own Montsant from Spain!  This 60/40 blend of Carignan and Grenache is why great wine deserves to be savored. You’ll pick out nutmeg, jam, and chocolate…oh my! With great body and a nice lingering finish, you’ll pack away more bottles than you thought you would.  The lone Texas wine is Sweet Dreams which is a port-style wine with good cherry and chocolate flavors.  You’ll be quite pleased with your wine tasting experience.  The staff is quite knowledgeable, very friendly, and easy to sip and chat with during your visit.  Do stroll around the grounds and admire the scenery.  If you get a chance, check out the tower that has great views of the property as well as the Pedernales Valley. Cheers!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Wedding Oak White - 2011; Wedding Oak Winery; San Saba Winery

What an excellent Vermentino, Trebbiano, and Pinot Grigio Blend!  You'll definitely fall in love with this wine!  It was one of their first releases (during the San Saba Winery name days).  As you can tell from the color, it's doing the "white aging" thing which only makes it look as great as it tastes.  It comes across as crisp with just a tad bit of sweetness.  You might also pick up some slight hints of buttery and citrus notes along with a bit of minerality.  It's always fun to bring out one of these first releases from the cellars to see how it's doing.  We paired this with a shrimp, vegetable and pesto pasta dish and it was wonderful.  You'll have a nice winter season treat to enjoy with this one. Thank you Penny Adams and Wedding Oak winery for this lovely white blended beauty!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Proprietor's White - 2010; Pilot Knob Vineyard; Bertram, Texas

This white wine is a beautiful blend of 60% Chenin Blanc, 30% Muscat and 10% Viognier. It has nice colors on the rim and a pleasant citrus aroma on the nose.  You can definitely feel the different qualities of all of the varietals in this white blend across your palate. There’s just a slight touch of sweetness the some minerality with a hint of butter and a bold grapefruit finish in this overall fairly dry and smooth tasting wine. Make a toast, then sip, then say mmmmm!  It's a delightful white to enjoy on its own, or also pair with a lovely salad, or fruit and cheese plate. Cheers!