Monday, December 31, 2018

Gaston – 2015; Calais Winery; Hye, Texas

What is so special about this Rosé?  Everything!  Texas Rosé wines have come a long way in the last few years and this is one of those wines that has put Texas Rosé on the map.  Let’s just get down to the nuts and bolts.  This is a dry Cinsault based Rosé that is superbly clean and crisp with a touch of herbal notes and good acids to balance things out. You will have a nice big smile after the first taste as you will see that there are still great strawberry and watermelon flavors, with the strawberry notes a bit more pronounced now.  There is also a touch of peach on the finish. Ultimately, this wine should stand out as a lovely and delightful one to enjoy. If you bought a case or two when it was released, then you are a very wise Rosé connoisseur.  It is still aging well and has respectable notes for the Rosé lover in you.  Ben Calais, owner and winemaker, has certainly contributed to setting high the benchmark for a great Texas Rosé.  Salut!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Vintner’s Hideaway – Fredericksburg, Texas

Some of the best quality Texas wines are being produced by small (we’re taking very small) “boutique” wineries. The cost of owning and operating a tasting room can be an expensive and time-consuming undertaking for a winery owner. So, to help alleviate some of the pain associated with this problem, Vintner’s Hideaway is here to the rescue!  Having opened in April 2018, the owners, Jim and Ranae Mills, feature local hand-crafted wines from Texas. It’s a great opportunity for a consumer to taste a selection of top notch 100% Texas wines that they might not otherwise be able to find at large wine shops or bigger tasting rooms. It’s a very relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. The staff are not only friendly, but also quite knowledgeable about the different wines and wineries. The small batch wineries currently available are Rustic Spurs, Rivenburgh, Fly Gap, and Dandy, Buena Suerte Vineyards and 1851 Vineyards. When we visited, Vintner’s Hideaway was hosting a Holiday Winemaker Tasting event. The winemakers of Rivenburgh (John Rivenburgh), Fly Gap (Brock Estes), and Dandy (Rae Wilson) were present to talk about their wines with consumers individually at tables in very intimate small group settings. Bubblies, Rose’, Semillion, Trebbiano, Mourvedre, and Tannat Blends, to list a few were available for tasting. It was great to hear each winemaker express their unique approach and passion they have when crafting each wine.  You can discern their dedication and tell that their heart and soul is really into to what they create, like any true artist would feel about their work. This is a cool addition to the Texas wine tasting room experience and to what is available in Fredericksburg.  It’s a special opportunity to try great small batch wines all in one convenient and friendly location. We highly recommend you stop by and check them out and spend some quality wine time with everyone here! Cheers!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Rancher’s Reserve – NV; Rancho Ponte; Fredericksburg, Texas

It’s non-vintage, but records show we got this back in 2011. Time has honored this Tempranillo blend quite well. The red blend is a nod to Bordeaux style wine. Aging has only enhanced the character of this well-balanced wine.  The fruit notes were still there with a bit of cherry and berry notes.  Some licorice lingers on the palate, as well.  The tannins have mellowed out for a smooth finish.  A touch of acidity does stand out, but it does not overpower. Rancho Ponte is no longer open, so savor those last bottles.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Trebbiano Toscano – 2013; William Chris Vineyards; Hye, Texas

There are many white wines that deliver great pleasure from start to finish. Trebbiano is one of those varietals that holds true to this when in the skillful hands of a good winemaker. Add to that a few years of bottle aging, and you’ll get a pleasant shade, as well as delightful taste and aromas with this wine.   William Chris Vineyards did well this grape in its 2013 release. Sourced from Granite Hill Vineyards, the maturity of this 20+ year vineyard is well represented in this white wine.  One still tastes lemon and floral notes. You can’t help but want to sip your way to paradise.  A great wine for the upcoming holidays as both a gift or to share and celebrate with family and friends. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Syrah/Shiraz - 2006; Dry Comal Creek; New Braunfels, TX

What just happened?  Something incredible! Take what would have initially been a bold strong red wine, let it lay for a dozen years in a wine cellar and presto…. greatness has arrived! It’s incredibly smooth with a light lingering finish.  Even for its age, this red Syrah holds some great dark fruit flavor with notes of blackberry and cherry. The hint of leather and pepper notes are still intact to provide additional depth. The woody tannins round out the finish on this wine. We can see why this 2007 Lone Star International Wine Competition winner caught the attention of so many. We were incredibly pleased to find this bottle was still delightful after all these years and it did not disappoint. Got more?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Family Reunion – 2008; Texas Legato Winery; Lampasas, Texas

Wow, what a treat! Quiet time in the cellar has treated this red wine nicely. This blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah, and Merlot was sourced from the Texas High Plains, Hill Country, and California. A lovely melding of places and varietals. The wine has aged well and time has allowed the marriage of these grapes to soften a bit with a lovely smoothness while still maintaining great fruit flavors to savor in every sip. The acids have withstood and are still holding up well with a good balance that is not overpowering. It’s about as perfect as you can get, and we couldn’t get enough, as we kept going back to pour another glass, only to be consistently and pleasantly surprised that each subsequent sip was just as wonderful as the first. The finish was light yet lovely and this red was a welcomed delight to find and taste again after 10 years in the cellar. This vintage has the potential to cellar a little longer, yet happy we enjoyed it recently as it was drinking well. Enjoy a bottle with family and friends and make your reunion memorable!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pinot Noir – 2009; Stone House Vineyards; Spicewood, Texas

A blast from the past, yes!  It’s always a pleasure to pull out a bottle from a winery when it first opened.  It’s like seeing the first drawings of an artist, only to be revealed later down the road.  The fruit from this first Pinot Noir from Stone House was sourced from the Adelaide Hills region of Australia.  One can still discern hints of spice and raspberries on the first swirl. The color has also held well for its age. You would not notice any degradation. It has a light bodied texture with moderate acidity.  The finish is clean and rather short.  This lovely red Pinot Noir has cellared well and still holds a good amount of its flavor.  This bottle can be enjoyed with your favorite lightly seasoned dish or alone. Let this beautiful red wine delight you and help you enjoy the transition the seasons.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Ab Astris Winery – Stonewall, Texas

This family-owned boutique winery near the LBJ ranch exemplifies what love, hard work, and patience can bring to the Texas wine business. You’ll have to take the “country road” off HWY 290, cross the river, and trek over a crushed gravel road, but it is well worth it!  Once you arrive at the estate, you’ll see their lush vineyard that is merely in its first year, a windmill, the fantastic tasting room, and the owners, Tony and Erin Smith, and possibly their daughter and son in law assisting for the day. The tasting room sits on the topographic high of their estate and is adjacent to the vineyard. You get a superb panoramic view of the country side and can immediately begin to relax and unwind. The Smith’s have been working on this winery idea for about 8-10 years. They were fortunate to cross paths with the well-known John Rivenburgh (wine maker and vineyard consultant) to help them fulfill their dreams. The last three years is where everything has come together, and you’ll see the results in the wine they are premiering on their tasting menu. The estate has about seven acres planted of Tannat, Souzão, and Clairette Blanche with plans to add Petite Sirah and Montepulciano.  With over 20 acres on the property to expand upon, they are off to a good start. There are currently eight wines available for tasting with one more on the way! All white wines are 2017 and fabulous!  The Solis is a Muscat/Roussanne blend with the lovely Roussanne notes adding a pleasant compliment to the citrus notes. There are two single varietal Roussannes allowing one to compare Texas High Plains and Texas Hill Country AVA fruit. The High Plans version features fruit from Reddy Vineyards with a rich aged golden color that is quite aromatic and loaded with pineapple notes. The Hill Country option features fruit from Hoover Valley and presents pronounced smooth buttery and honeysuckle notes. The Malvasia Bianca, is more floral with enticing peach flavor. The Smith’s were wise to let the 2015 reds age a bit before releasing to allow a greater depth of flavor to develop with their maturity. The! It is balanced with a smooth finish and a nice mouthfeel!  The Tempranillo is sourced from Newsom Vineyards and shines with great qualities of tobacco, leather and a fine finish. Their Tannat proves Texas is where single varietal Tannat wines rule.  It’s bold, rich, yet smooth for a fabulous experience. The red list includes Tribus, which is a unique blend of Mourvedre and Malbec. It is well balanced and has great character featuring cherry and plum rich notes. We had the special pleasure of tasting the Ausonius, a future Bordeaux style blend of 40% Cabernet, 35% Merlot, and 25% Petit Verdot. This red will be the shining star of Ab Astris Winery!  The notes, the mouth feel, the tannins…oh my! A future case worthy purchase that will only continue to get better with age. The tasting experience at this winery is memorable set back from the busy road, in a country side setting, amid trees on one side and the beautiful vineyard on the other. We hope to review each of these wines individually in the future. Tony and Erin’s dedication to 100% Texas wines holds true.  With John RivenBurgh’s guidance, and their son-in-law Mike’s passion of learning the wine making techniques, their future looks very bright.  Yes, from the stars, the owners are guiding this new vineyard and winery to future success.  Ab Astris Winery stands to be a stellar addition to the Texas wine industry!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Meritage – NV; Rancho Ponte; Fredericksburg, Texas

Wow, what can you say about this one.  This was one of first bottles we purchased in 2009 back in the early years after they opened their winery in Fredericksburg. Rancho Ponte had made some pretty good reds, but this one outshines them all! Originally pitched as a Bordeaux style blend, the exact mixture is not known, however it does have a strong sense of Syrah and Cabernet notes. The dark ruby color still holds well for its age.  A few swirls and a few sips, and you’ll still sense some jam, strawberry, and blackberry notes. There is some smokiness to the wine and it has a pleasant light finish. This red blend is worthy of a nice thick protein pairing!  Sadly, their Fredericksburg location is closed.  So, cherish this one with great friends if you have any bottles lingering in your cellar.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Barn Red – NV; Saddlehorn Winery; Burton, Texas

Non-vintage…yes.  But thanks to classic tech (post-it notes), we know this bottle was purchased back in 2010.  This was one of the first releases for Saddlehorn Winery.  We were impressed back then when we tasted the wine in the winery and still impressed that this red wine blend cellared so nicely! It has held up quite well over the years, and we are happy to report it still has nice fruit flavor!  There was no information on what comprised the blend, but it did present notes of Syrah and Cabernet. This medium bodied wine is well balanced and will please most palates.  The one surprise is that there is a delayed finish…or maybe that’s just the senses playing catchup!  Tasting is one part of the enjoyment of this wine.  Do take a trip to Saddlehorn Winery when you are out there way.  You’ll be very welcomed there and may find a bottle or two for your own cellars!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Bridal Bliss – 2012; Wedding Oak Winery; San Saba, Texas

What a great way to end off a long week! This Muscat Canelli sparkling blend has held up well in our wine cellar and still delivers a lovely pop of the top and lots of lovely bubbles of joy dancing in the glass.    With grapefruit notes, this smooth and slightly sweet sparkler delights and thrills as you enjoy every sip. The aged golden tone just adds to the visual sensation as you watch the ascension of bubbles rising. We were very pleased with this bottle when we initially tasted it and are delighted with its ability to cellar age. We think you will find similar enjoyment in sampling a chilled bottle to help put you in the right wine zen! Fantastic option for celebrations, special occasions, brunch and just because you’re worth it and shouldn’t every day be worth celebrating anyway? To many more years of happiness and Bridal Bliss! Cheers! 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Lucy – 2011; Perissos Vineyard & Winery; Burnet, Texas

This 2013 Texas Lone Star International Wine Competition Bronze Medal winning wine still holds its own after all these years!  The white wine is a blend of Roussanne (44%), Viognier (44%) and Muscat (12%).  It offers just a touch of sweetness on the palate and is an extremely gratifying chilled white wine treat. Aromas of apricot are still strong. Some of the fruit notes have mellowed with time, yet the wine is still quite pleasant and has held up nicely.  Pair with a stir fry spicy dish and you’ll be in heaven. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Red Montage – 2007; Unionville Vineyards; Rinjos, New Jersey

This softly tannic Bordeaux style wine offers a pleasant smooth approach to this classic blend. The absence of tobacco notes did not detract from the tasting experience.  After breathing for an hour, the subdued oak, cherry flavors, and smooth finish for this well aged red have balanced out nicely.  A touch of acidity provides solid structure for this medium bodied wine.  We’re impressed how well this New Jersey wine has aged.  

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Petite Syrah – 2010; Perissos Vineyard & Winery; Burnet, Texas

What words can describe the love that this wine evokes? Countless!  From the deep purple hue to its rich earthy texture, you can’t help but imaging soaking in this wine just for the joy. Time has smoothed the edges of this wine, but the fruit and aromas are still there to enjoy. From figs, to blackberry, and a touch of vanilla, you’ll get the A to Z tasting sensations that you have been anticipating after you pop the cork on this bottle. Touch it off with a light chocolate finish and voila! Yes, it is that good. Fortunately, this bottle is made for sharing and the extended enjoyment of additional glasses was a real treat. Double Cheers!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Menage a’ Trois – 2005; Folie a’ Deux; Napa, California

Sit back and enjoy the pleasant aromas.  Menage a’ Trois has arrived!  This three-blend red wine of Merlot, Zinfandel, and Cabernet offers some of California’s best blending grapes in a trifecta of beauty in the bottle. There is some thinning of flavor from aging this long, but it is still holding up and good. The wine still holds its depth, complexity, and the richness you would anticipate. The initial great fruit flavors are present and meld into a pleasant smoothness as it envelops your palate. This is a great value for the wine that you get. Paired with a lovely meal, you’ll get a something to complement your food and elevate what’s on the plate. So, give this blend a swirl. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Deck Wine – NV; Tara Vineyard & Winery; Athens, Texas

This rosé blend from Tara Winery exhibits some great flavors that East Texas winemakers are creating. This Blanc du Bois/Black Spanish blend has a nice fruit forward bouquet along with a delightful dark raspberry hue. After a half hour of sipping, the flavors really develop nicely. It’s smooth, refreshing and delightful for those warm summer evenings. This unique blend also exhibits the best that both grapes have to offer, with the Blanc do Bois adding more warmth and sweetness to the Black Spanish on the palate. A lovely wine to sit and sip by itself or enjoy with food. A great treat for watching the sunset on the deck, so we agree the name says it all.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Silver Spur Winery – Hico, Texas

Hico is a well-known Texas destination for pies, chicken fried steak, handmade chocolates, and Billy the Kid stories.  Now, add to this list, good wine with the addition of the latest boutique winery located in the heart of downtown.  Owner Phil Lopez is no stranger to wines and vines.  Having spent just over two decades in California working in the wine industry and vineyards, he is well versed in the art and science.  He is aware of the unique challenges that Texas poses grape growers, but that does not daunt him, in fact, it just makes him more determined to prove that he can use his experience and skills gained in California to improve and perfect his growing techniques and winemaking in Texas. Silver Spur has been opened for just over a year and currently offers eight wines on their tasting menu.  The ’15 and 16’ wines are from California. Phil has some vineyards he is leasing in Comanche County near Newburg, Texas to make his Texas wines.  He currently has one Texas wine available for sale while the others continue to mature.  His Texas Chardonnay is quite elegant and soft - not your typically strong oak and buttery Chardonnay, but it is quite pleasant for these hot Texas days when chilled.  The rest of the wines are California fruit, yet, worth your time to stop in to try.  The Viognier is very aromatic with honeysuckle notes.  The California Chardonnay is much different than the Texas one. It has more cream and vanilla notes with higher acids and is blended with Marsanne and Roussanne.  The first red,we tried was the 2016 Charbolla (Pinot Noir).  It had a light color and strong tannins affording a nice long finish.  Next up was the J.W II, which was a double blend Zinfandel with wonderful floral notes and dark fruit and pepper notes. The Cabernet Sauvignon, called Donaciano II, was lighter than most cabs yet still presented some bold earthy flavors and a touch of smokiness. Last, was the Flora, a full-bodied Syrah that was quite opaque and packed strong berry notes with a clean silky finish.  We got a bonus tasting of their upcoming inaugural Texas Tempranillo. It was aged in both American and French oak and had a smooth texture with some soft smokiness. It will be a few months before his first Texas red will be for sale.  Other Texas wines that are currently in the works include an Aglianico, Tannat, and Sangiovese.  We enjoyed our visit and having the opportunity to chat and learn more about their story. We look forward to trying these upcoming wines soon, as well.  Phil is very passionate about what he does and will be more than happy to talk to you about his love for wine making.  This winery fits right in with the town and is a great addition to the many shops and interesting places to visit when you pass through or stop and stay a while in Hico. Even if you still mispronounce Hico, they’ll be glad to teach you how to pronounce it correctly over some great wine. Do stop by and visit and enjoy meeting these fine folks and experience new and interesting wines you can enjoy as you try to beat this Texas heat! 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Syrah – 2006; Texas Hills Vineyard; Johnson City, Texas

A well-aged red wine can bring many pleasures to those who can wait. The patience is worth its weight in wine barrels. This wine jewel has an added uniqueness that is incredibly pleasing to the eye and soul. A fantastic wine label and a great personal story. The art work on the label is fabulous. It depicts how the owners met while an artist was painting. A great story! Being able to bring that personal touch to the story of this winery and wine, adds additional character and charm. As for the wine itself, superb! After sitting around a dozen years, this intense Syrah can still hold its own. The grapes are estate and reflect the love and commitment the owners have in their work. The color has diminished by about 25%. The fruit forward aromas still held well. At first taste, it appeared that some of the fruit forward notes may have diminished by half, but what remains is still quite enjoyable. A touch of tobacco, a touch of leather, and still offered a great mouth feel. The tannins are still showing a nice long-lasting finish. There are no signs of turning, so this bottle could still hold up well for several more years. Yes, some sediment is present, but that’s where the “vitamins” are located! This is one of those wines that will reminds you why it’s nice to occasionally pop the cork on a beautiful red during the summer because it provides not only enjoyment in the glass, but in the journey to make it. Enjoy well and cheers!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Rose’ 2010 – Vineyard at Gruene; Gruene, Texas

Imagine that you are on the back porch and it’s 110+ degrees outside.  The sweat is unbearable, the heat is unrelenting, and even with AC, it still feels like it’s roasting. Fortunately, there is relief in sight.  A great chilled Rose’ that can magically transport you to a cool place for a moment. Though we have no information on the bottle detailing the exact varietals this Rose’ was a blend of, we can tell you it’s still quite damn good for its age.  It’s smooth with a honey note and still very fruit forward. Sipping this chilled just helps cool your soul with satisfying sensations from the inside out.  If it’s not blistering hot outside, this wine still pairs wonderfully with a spicy dish and drinks nicely on its own, too. Stay cool, wine friends, fall is just a short few more weeks away! 

Monday, July 30, 2018

8 year anniversary!

If you had given us a Magic 8-ball eight years ago and asked it to predict the future of this blog, who knows how those vague answers would have been interpreted.  So, let’s give it a shot today and see what it says:

Will we continue to make new wine discoveries?  Yes

Will our insane wine collection continue to expand?  Most Likely

Will this blog last another 8 years?  Without a doubt

Rose’, White, or Red? Concentrate and ask again

Will we eventually have our own Netflix show? Better not tell you now.

As you can see, the Magic 8-ball can still be interpreted as a positive outlook for the future.  It is always enjoyable writing about what comes to mind with the wine we try and wineries we visit.  Who knows, with continued healthy wine in our diet, this blog might last 80+ years!  Oh yes, we can say that there will be a few surprises for the upcoming year!  Stay tuned, our wine friends.  Same wine time, same wine channel! Salud!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Tempranillo – 2007; Texas Hills Vineyards; Johnson City, Texas

Well, damn!  Sit back and enjoy these precious moments, because they don’t come that often.  This Tempranillo certainty began with some quality fruit and add to that a winemaker’s skillful talent, plus an owner’s patience in allowing the bottle to cellar in a constant temperature for years and you’ve got yourself a fine present! Although the wine was quite strong when first opened, it settled down quite nicely after an hour. Some of the fruit flavors have faded, yet it still held up very well. Overall, it had a good balance of fruit.  Notes of plum and pepper stood out for this 11-year-old Texas wine.  The tannins likewise held up well allowing for a pleasant lingering finish. This one could still hold the test of time for a couple of more years, but we were awfully glad we had the chance to enjoy it now. Cheers to another fine Texas Tempranillo!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Horn Winery – Hye, Texas

Welcome to Hye, Texas.  This town has now become the next fast-growing destination of new wineries in the Texas Hill Country while keeping its local charm.  Horn Winery is the latest addition to open here by owner Ryan Horn on his 16-acre estate.  We were fortune to catch him on grand opening day on June 16th. Ryan is certainly no stranger to the industry. He operates Vintner’s Vault next door which has become a one stop shop for all things a winery would need…. except the customer. Having spent a good amount of time with the California wine industry, Ryan is well seasoned at this and shows a lot of promise at making quality Texas wines. The tasting room is filled with musical instruments and records on the walls to help accent the theme. The current wines available for tasting are from Paso Robles.  Ryan currently has Texas wines aging in the back. The first Texas white should be ready in the next several months. The wine bar features eight wines available for tasting of which you can try six with a tasting. While enjoying your wine tasting at the bar, you get a clear view of the production area and tanks.  For the grand opening, we were fortunate to taste all the wines on the current menu! The 2014 Verismo is a Chardonnay that is crisp with a slight buttery note.  The Rosé is called Segue and you will note it has unique complex notes due to the oak it was aged in.  It is 2014 blend of five varietals and is very refreshing for those hot summer months of Texas heat. The first red on the menu was the 2014 Crescendo. This Merlot has some dusty notes with a strong enticing nose. For the 2014 Rhapsody, it is a Petit Verdot that along with its deep color, delights your senses with cherries and strong tannins.  The 2014 Duet is a 50/50 blend of Petit Syrah and Syrah that is pleasantly smooth with a touch of pepper and a light finish. Onward to the 2014 Melody, and you get to enjoy a Bordeaux style blend of one third each of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has light acids and a light body with a nice balance. The 2014 Aria is a Cabernet Sauvignon aged in Hungarian, American, AND French oak, so you will experience some intense black berry notes, yet a smooth and fine finish. Lastly, the 2006 Portamento is a Tawny Port. Made from Touriga Nacional, this bold dessert wine packs a bold mouthfeel and melds flavors of chocolate and raisins followed by pecan notes.  If you enjoy their wines, then hang out for a little while to pause for a bit before you go into the Distillery. Yes, right within the facility in a separate room is their onsite Distillery and cocktail lounge that is for members only. They feature their own Grape and Apple Vodka, Apple Brandy, Rum, Moonshine, Bourbon, Tequlia, and more!  They produce their own spirits and during their grand opening, guests were invited to stop in and visit their cocktail lounge.  It offers something unique to other options on the 290-wine corridor and is worth a visit. Horn Winery has a great future and a theme going for it. The staff are all knowledgeable and make you feel very welcomed.  Another great reason to stop in and say “Hi” in Hye!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Loken Cabernet Franc – 2007; Pahrump Valley Winery; Pahrump, Nevada

We could hardly believe that we were saying, “Wow! This wine can just keep aging…” Take note at the exception of this well-made hand-crafted wine from Nevada.  The acids are perfect for this beauty. The excellent tannins present a pleasant long-lasting finish. This one exemplifies why Cabernet Franc can be addicting. On the nose you will note the enticing aroma of black licorice tempting you. The notes range from bell peppers, to plums, and a hint of strawberry in this medium-bodied wine.  The flavors meld nicely and allow this wine to pair nicely with many dishes. If you’re patient and want the best that this wine has to offer, make sure you allow it to breathe for an hour or so before you drink it. Best of all, if you are really patient and have some of these bottles in your cellar, just let those extra bottles sit a little longer, as this one can still cellar for a while longer. There were no signs of degradation in this 2007 vintage. A wonderful long-term wine for the cellar to be enjoyed throughout the years to come! 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hill Country Cellars – Bandera, Texas

Located just east of Bandera, this family run winery has a fun, relaxed wine bar atmosphere to allow you to sit and sip for a while in a cool welcoming space. Turns out, the owners of Lost Maples Winery near Vanderpool are cousins of the owners Terry, Alice, Rhett and Kymberli Word of Hill Country Cellars.  Both wineries collaborate on sourced grapes and winemaking. Hill Country Wine Cellars opened two years ago. The inside decor is phenomenal with much detail in the reclaimed wood and use of wine barrels.  There were seven wines available during our visit. One Rosé, two whites, and three reds. The Rosé was made from Shiraz grapes and was smooth with strawberry and raspberry notes. Their Chardonnay was fermented in stainless steel and featured more citrus notes. The Symphony is a rare white not often used.  The 2016 vintage was quite floral with pear notes and honeysuckle and a slight tartness. For the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, we noted blackberry fruit on the nose and a hint of pepper.  It was clearer than most Cabs, but that didn’t detract from the experience. The 2016 Malbec is still young and was a bit hot initially but did have a smooth taste. Their 2015 Black Spanish wine was also well made fermented in French oak with a 15% alcohol content.  It was a bit hot and should be able to mellow with a little more aging.  The Black Spanish had a bold texture and a pleasant dry finish without the astringency of most Back Spanish wines. Terry was a great host and we were impressed with his presentation and knowledge of the wines. The winery also offers tapas to pair with your favorite selection.  So, come on out, sit back, relax, and enjoy what life has to offer here!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Super Texan – 2010: Flat Creek Estate; Marble Falls, Texas

Who says Texas Sangiovese wines can’t age? Given good fruit and a good winemaker, great things can happen. Let’s also not forget a good cork to keep the wine well protected. It’s always a pleasure to pour an aged red and see that little has changed for this ruby red wine. The fruit has lost some of its bright berry notes, yet still presents both cherry and plum making this still a very enjoyable wine. The tannins are notable, but are softening up a bit, however, there is still a decent finish. There is sufficient acid to help compliment your favorite Italian dishes. Anyone else still have a few bottles?  No problem!  Keep them well cellared and try one in couple of years and compare. We think you will be equally impressed with this one. Enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Scimitar Hill Vineyards – Camp Verde, Texas

One of the best pleasures of exploring Texas Hill Country wineries are the fantastic views and interesting people you get to meet along the way. Scimitar Hill Vineyards has one of those breath-taking views that are so majestic and a passionate owner. Tom Hendrix and his wife are the proud owners of this piece of paradise which opened a couple of years ago. His ranch is home to about 33 scimitar-horned oryx. Ironically, raising oryx was the original purpose of the ranch.  The vines and wine making came later.  This is Tom’s later in life hobby and next chapter after a career in information technology.  The tasting room sits atop a hill overlooking the animals and vineyard.  Inside the tasting room, Tom keeps two plaques on the mantle featuring his favorite wine quotes, one from Earnest Hemmingway and the other from Gerald Asher.  A sign that Tom’s passion and love IS in this business.  He and his wife have enjoyed traveling in France and they were inspired by similarities of climate and soil with central Texas. So they decided why can’t they do the same thing here in Texas? The initial plantings in the vineyard began in 2009 and they now have about 2.5 acres planted on two separate plots.  Varietals include Albariño, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.  His estate wines express the labor of love that he and his wife have put into this venture.  We tried all the wines available in the tasting room on our visit. Let the 2014 Malbec breathe for a bit, then you can soak in some great notes on this vintage. The 2016 Cabernet Franc needs some time to settle as it is still a bit tight, but you can discern the nice cherry flavors that will make this wine a keeper.  The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit young now, but has some lovely berry notes that will only improve with age.  The 2016 Merlot has a lot of great flavor and a nice long finish. The rock star of his selection is the 2016 Petit Verdot. The dark purple color and the enticing nice long finish puts a whole new meaning to bonding with great wine. This one has the potential to age and drink well for the next decade.  When Tom feels that the Albariño vines are mature enough, he’ll start making some estate wines of that, too.  Yet another excuse for a return trip!  Tom is a great guy to chat with and makes the hospitality of his place that much more welcoming. Another fine example of how small boutique wineries make Texas wines personal. This is a stunning spot to stop, that is a bit out of the way, but so very much worth your time and effort. Plus, on the way you can visit Bandera and enjoy some cowboy country, so what’s not to love? Plot your course for a new winery destination and stop in and say hi and see the wines being produced in Camp Verde, Texas.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Mourvedre/Grenache/Tempranillo Reserve – 2009: Solaro Estate; Dripping Springs, Texas

Another great wine has been blessed with age!  This red blend of Mourvedre (30%), Grenache (37%), and Tempranillo (33%) exhibits some of the most elegant characters of these three varietals. Yes, this wine does need some breathing time of at least an hour or more if you are to thoroughly enjoy what it has to offer. Once it breathes though, the notes can be complex initially, but you will find dark berries followed by some cherry and a touch of leather. This is a good medium bodied wine with a lingering dusty pleasant finish.  The tannins are holding up quite well, so if have a few bottles left, they can remain cellared for a while longer. Now that you’ve had a sneak peek on what to expect, invite some friends and enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Trebbiano – 2017: Pheasant Ridge Winery; Lubbock, Texas

Oh, how lovely it is!  This refreshing white wine is a blessing for all those who love Trebbiano.   Chilled, this relatively low acidity Texas High Plains wine makes a great pairing for vegetarian and spicy dishes.  The light bodied wine exhibits hints of apple and lemons.  Of course, as temperatures continue to rise, it will be a great one to sip on the back porch.  Enjoy and savor!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Merlot – 2000; Toasted Head Winery; Acampo, California

Look what jewel has been uncovered!  This delightful Merlot has stood the test of time. On the nose, you will detect subtle earthiness followed by cherry and coffee notes. The finish holds quite well for this medium bodied red wine. A bit dusty on the palate, but still lots of character left to it. Surprisingly, little sediment was found in the bottle.  Quite pleased with this lost little gem found hiding in the back of our wine vault and pleased that when uncorked and poured it has held up remarkably well for its age. Pair it  with your favorite hearty protein cuisine or enjoy on its own, cheers to a great turn of the century bottle that made it this far!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Viognier – 2010; Perissos Vineyards; Burnet, Texas

Great things come to those who await…or just lose track of a bottle, only to rediscover it!  This light bodied white wine is still holding up quite well. We are pleased to report that the bouquet was still intact with lovely bright fruitful notes. The color was darker than its original pale white spectrum, which is to be expected with aged whites.  There is some loss in flavor profile, but nothing to distract from the enjoyment as pears notes were a strong stand out that tapered off to a clean crisp finish. Due to the fruit notes, we feel this is a great white to celebrate the arrival of those warmer spring days!  Cheers!!